Sunday, December 14, 2014

Murchie Plus Books: December 7th to 13th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by making my long-suffering dog pose with every book I read, barring the comics I get through Marvel Unlimited. Last week, that included a pinch of Doctor Strange and a further foray into Kelly Sue Deconnick's work via OSBORN.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I take them and appear here in digest form every Sunday.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, lays on a bright orange pillow. At an angle in front of him sits One Weird Trick, a comics trade collection with a blurred image of two pale-skinned people kissing on its cover.

If you've ever asked me for comics recs, I've told you to read HAWKEYE. It's my favourite current superhero title, not only because it features Kate Bishop (light of my heart; breath in my lungs) but because the writing is really fucking awesome. Matt Fraction plays fast and loose with timelines, and he's horribly good at dialogue.

I wanted more of this glorious package, so I asked my library to send me ONE WEIRD TRICK, the first volume of Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's Sex Criminals. And my friends, it was a solid move. Sex Criminals is just as nonlinear and clever as HAWKEYE, with bonus orgasms and fabulous art by Zdarsky. I can't wait for my library to get the next volume through processing.

Murchie lays atop a sheep-shaped pillow. He wears a blue and white striped tank top. Before him sits an upright white e-reader with Into the Dark Lands's cover on its screen. The cover depicts a tiny figure passing through a massive stone gate flanked by statues of toga-clad warriors.

Alas, THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION worked out about as well as I thought it would--which is to say, not very--so I put it aside and began INTO THE DARK LANDS by Michelle Sagara West instead.

Sagara West (who also writes as both Sagara and West), is another of my oft-recommended authors. I love her Averalaan universe and was curious to see how this, her first published novel, would compare.

Alas, I struggled with it. Hell, if it hadn't been a series opener by a favoured author, I'd have bailed. I do try to give series at least a book and a bit to get going, though, especially if I've enjoyed the author's other work, so I slogged on through to the end.

INTO THE DARK LANDS reminded me of THE HERO AND THE CROWN by Robin McKinley, and I'm pretty sure it failed to engage me for the same reason I can't love the middle chunk of McKinley's book. This is mythic fiction, rooted in destiny and guided by feel. Erin/Sara does things not so much because they're what she would do as because they're what her immortal grandmother has foreseen she should do, and it robs the story of its human element.

This sort of fiction has its place and its readership, but it almost never affects me the way character-centric fiction does. Not when it's novel-length, at least.


Murchie lays on his side within a blanket nest. He wears a red t-shirt with green cuffs. Behind him sits a paperback copy of Cagebird. Its cover features a pale-skinned blonde man in a tight red shirt and black pants.

But once I'd finished it, I was free to start CAGEBIRD! Which my lovely mother found on her recent vacation in Victoria, BC, land of many used bookstores (and also Murchie's Tea Shop, for which my wee dog is named)! And gave me as an early Christmas present! With the price tag still attached!

I gulped it down and am now so, so sorry the series is over, partly because I want heaps more of Lowachee's writing and partly because I want more closure on the war front than this book gave me. Character closure, it's got; war closure, not so much.

I wonder if Lowachee intended to write more in this universe but had to cut things short because publishing is a fickle business. I recently saw something about how she's reissuing BURNDIVE and CAGEBIRD as self-published ebooks, and if she should happen to self publish more fiction in this setting while she's at it... well, I'd buy it mighty fast. I'd buy it without even waiting for a coupon, and I am the frickin' queen of waiting for coupons. So you know I mean business.

Anyways, I'll probably have a full review of CAGEBIRD for you in the future, so I shall say no more for now save that I loved it.

Murchie lays on his sheep-shaped pillow, head turned to one side. In front of him sits a white iPod with Ethan of Athos's cover on its screen. The cover depicts someone jumping off a catwalk.

I loved the hell out of THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE, so I jumped straight into Lois McMaster Bujold's ETHAN OF ATHOS when I needed a new audiobook. Alas, my listening time dried up shortly after I started it, but I'm enjoying it very much so far. It does weird me out that Ethan is in a relationship with his brother, though. Yeah, the guy is his father's husband's son, not his bio brother, but it sounds like they were raised like there was no difference. And now they sleep together.


Anyways, I look forward to the part when he inevitably dumps Yanos's sorry ass, since the dude is clearly a user as well as his all-but-blood brother.

Murchie lays beneath a red comforter with only his face poking out. His nose is raised in the air. Behind his head sits a hardcover copy of Red: A Haida Manga. Its cover depicts a red-haired First Nations man with blue vertical lines painted beneath each eye.

Panels recently highlighted two must-read comics by First Nations writers and I, ever aware I should read more work by First Nations folks, promptly requested RED: A HAIDA MANGA by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas. (My library only has David Alexander Robertson and Scott B. Henderson's 7 NATIONS in French, or I'd have borrowed that, too.)

While the art is gorgeous, the story struck me as something I'd have preferred to hear rather than to read. This is an old issue between me and folklore of any sort. I love the stuff--but only when I hear it. You make me read it for myself and I inevitably lose interest.

Makes it hard to get a decent amount of folklore down me, I'll tell you that much. I'd hoped comics might prove an alternate mode of delivery, but alas, I was mistaken.

Murchie lays on his sheep-shaped pillow, twisted so his boddy faces the viewer but his head is turned to the left. In front of him sits a white e-reader with Children of the Blood's cover on its screen. It depicts a tiny person standing on a raised platform surrounded by arches and rimmed with an orange glow.

Time and again, I find that disappointing series openers lead to awesome series1. With this in mind, I started CHILDREN OF THE BLOOD yesterday morning. It's the sequel to INTO THE DARK LANDS, and you surely remember how I felt about that one. (If you don't, scroll up a bit.)

I was prepared to abandon it after three chapters, but I'm delighted to report that won't be necessary. As I write this, I'm 30% in and loving it. It feels much more human than its predecessor, with fewer POV shifts and some heartwrenching relationships. I look forward to wallowing in it today.

Next week: more by Michelle Sagara West, if this keeps up. Possibly some Robert Jordan if it doesn't; I feel like it's finally time for A CROWN OF SWORDS. I've got Kate Beaton's book to pick up at the library, too, and I'll doubtless dip into that.

  1. Other prominent examples include THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner, KUSHIEL'S DART by Jacqueline Carey, and LUCK IN THE SHADOWS by Lynn Flewelling.

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