Sunday, January 18, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: January 11th to 17th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by posing my (often unwilling) dog beside every book I read, barring the digital comics I get through Marvel Unlimited. That was a diverse bunch last week: some LOCKJAW AND THE PET AVENGERS, some ALL-NEW X-MEN, and some RUNAWAYS/YOUNG AVENGERS.

On the non-Marvel front, I also caught up on BtVS S10. I elected not to photograph Murchie alongside it because I have digital single issues and none of them look anything like the trade covers. Plus I was both sick and disinclined to bug Murchie.

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

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, presses his face close to the camera. Behind him sits a white Kobo with the cover of Rat Queens on its screen.

Please forgive me for choosing a picture that only hints at the cover of RAT QUEENS, Kurtis J. Wiebe and outgoing artist Roc Upchurch's comic about a band of female adventurers. Murchie's fluffy face was too much to resist.

The comic, too, proved tough to tear myself away from. I should have a proper review for you in the near(ish) future.

Murchie's face hovers behind a hardcover copy of The Young Elites. The cover depicts the title against a deep blue background.

Here we have Murchie's adorable fluffy face and the cover of THE YOUNG ELITES by Marie Lu. Imagine that!

The book, alas, was my second abandoned novel of 2015. I had such a good feeling about it at first, but I still wasn't really gripped by the 170-page mark. Sigh. It's tough to say whether that's down to the book or my current lack of novel-reaching mojo, but it's sad either way.

I mean, I haven't finished a novel since January 4th. That was a long time time ago.

A white Kobo displays the top of the green-tinged cover for The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year Four. Murchie's head rests in the space immediately behind it.

Back to short fiction, then.

I finished NEW CERES NIGHTS and that issue of F&SF, so I needed MOAR ANTHOLOGIES for my short fiction rotation. After very little debate, I settled on THE BEST OF BENEATH CEASELESS SKIES, YEAR FOUR, an anthology of stories from the online magazine devoted to secondary world fantasy.

It was pretty great. My favourite stories (all of which are still available to read for free on the magazine's website) were "A Place to Stand" by Grace Seybold, "Held Close in Syllables of Light" by Rose Lemberg, "The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Her Field-General, and Their Wounds" by Seth Dickinson (which was also the first BCS story I ever read), "The Governess and the Lobster" by Margaret Ronald, and "Scry" by Anne Ivy.

Murchie sprawls across a red blanket. He wears a black tank top. Before him lays a white Kobo with Retold's cover on its screen. The cover depicts a dark-haired woman of Asian descent holding a rifle.

I'm also trying to get some potential Hugo nominees into my rotation alongside the books I've pulled from la TBR, so I bought RETOLD as part of the Book Smugglers's anniversary sale and leaped right in.

Murchie sits on a sheepskin rug. Beside him, propped upright, is a trade paperback copy of This One Summer. Its cover depicts two young girls leaping into a lake.

I was shocked--shocked, I tell you--when Murchie consented to sit nicely next to THIS ONE SUMMER for upwards of five photos. I usually end up with at least three or four unsalvegable blurry ones per photo session, but every one from this set was decent, if rather poorly lit. (Thanks, early winter sunsets!) The tongue picture was the obvious choice even if it is a little blurry, because dogs with their tongues out are really frickin' cute.

The book was good, too, and it sparked an interesting Twitter conversation about cottages. Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki are Canadian comics creators who've produced what strikes me as a distinctly Canadian comic about cottage life, and it seems there's a lot of variation as to whether or not Americans can recognize their own experiences on the page. Some of the Americans I talked with said yes, this could easily represent their own cottage-bound summers or time "at the lake," while others weren't at all familiar with the idea of cottaging and cabin rentals/ownership. Some said renting (or owning) cottages was a very Rich Person thing to do in their part of the US. There were also some Canadians, mostly from BC and the Maritimes, who knew few people with cottages and said it wasn't at all a common thing there.

My own family has never owned or rented a cottage, but I went to school with a lot of people who spent their weekends at the lake. (For us, that's usually Lake Winnipeg or Lake Manitoba, which are the remnants of prehistoric Lake Aggasiz.) My aunt's parents owned a couple of cottages, too, and my parents and I occasionally went to the lakeside one for weekends. It had about a million beds within the cottage itself, plus a separate guest house, and it was all pretty rustic.

Where do y'all stand? What about those of you outside of North America? I know Russia has a whole culture surrounding dachas; is there anything comparable in other countries?

Next week: more short fiction. More comics. I might try another novel, too, though I'm rather nervous about it given my 2015 track record with longer fiction.


  1. I was doing well with reading when I started the month, but I have sort of slowed down...

    1. I'm trying to read a novel right now, as we speak, and I've got pretty well everything crossed. It's going well so far, but if it flies south at least I've got a bunch more short fiction on hand.

  2. That last picture of Murchie is too adorable!!!! I hear you on the reading novels. I kind of stalled on Cinder, which is not Cinder's fault since it is awesome, but just not feeling the reading love lately. Comics and novellas have been awesome lately.

    1. Comics are the best cure for a reading slump.