Sunday, February 22, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: February 15th to 21st

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by posing my dog beside every book I read, barring the comics I get through Marvel Unlimited. Last week, these included LOKI: AGENT OF ASGARD (fabulous!), an arc of Hudlin's BLACK PANTHER (no longer so enjoyable as it once was), and the first NYX arc (really good, if a bit set-uppy). I also hope to have read at least six issues of ARA√ĎA: HEART OF THE SPIDER by the time y'all see this. I loved Anya Corazon in Kelly Sue DeConnick's AVENGERS ASSEMBLE and can't wait to learn more about her.

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

A sleek grey poodle, Murchie, stands on a buff leather chair with his ears perked. In front of him is a trade paperback copy of Goddess of Vengeance, featuring a pale-skinned girl with long, dark hair. She wears a black halter top and large gold earrings.

I know I said I was taking a break from novels, but the worst Jackie Collins craving hit last Sunday and, well, I had to satisfy it.

Good choice, me. Good choice.

Right after I started GODDESS OF VENGEANCE, I realized it had been a full ten years since I last read Jackie Collins. Madness! Collins is trashy and turgid and wonderful, and I'm gonna have to revisit her backlist good and soon because darlin', I've missed having this sort of entertainment in my life. GODDESS OF VENGEANCE is peppered with problematic stuff, unnecessary repetition, and uninspired phrasings, and I strongly suspect it retcons details from the previous Lucky Santangelo novels, but none of that matters because it's also awesome.

Like, everybody's really rich, and some of them are famous, and sex is a super big deal, and each of the dozen characters has their own tormented storyline. Is the hotshot assistant DA's rich-as-fuck boyfriend right for her, or should she get together with the safe, boring screenwriter who's finally started to make a name for himself? Will that sexy movie star want to hook up with the wild girl again, or is the fact that she's his ex-wife's best friend's barely-legal daughter too much for him? How does the heir to that massive shipping fortune maintain his chain of super-exclusive clubs without dipping into his enormous trust fund? And so on and so forth.

Plus, there's this nasty-ass misogynistic rapist dude with a cocaine problem who's probably also insane? And he wants to steal Lucky's fancy-ass hotel/casino/apartment complex/generally awesome place from her? And he might be her random half-brother? You just know Lucky's gonna grind him into the dirt, thereby ruining him both personally and professionally--but can she manage it before he does dastardly things to her large and beloved family, all of whom have gathered to celebrate her daughter's eighteenth birthday?

I live for this shit, y'all. Don't you ever try to take this away from me.

Murchie sits on a fuzzy red and white blanket. He wears an orange t-shirt and has his mouth stretched wide open. Behind him is a white Kobo with March's cover on its screen. It features a number of black people of various genders dressed in mid-20th century clothing. Their heads and torsos appear along the bottom of the cover, while their feet are along the top with the title sandwiched between.

This is Murchie's OMG I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT LITERATURE face. It is not a yawn.


The book about which Murchie is so very, very excited is my first venture into Scribd's new comics archive. I decided to start with MARCH because it's all over the Twitters these days, but until I loaded the file I had no idea what it was actually about. I just assumed it was a LITTLE WOMEN spin-off centered on the girls' father, much like how FINN is about Huck's pappy.

It's actually a memoir of John Lewis's work during the Civil Rights Movement. So, nothing at all like I thought it'd be.

I intended to share a mini review of it here today, but my first draft quickly approached the 900-word mark so I've decided to hold off and give it its own post sometime in the future. Given the number of reviews I've got in the pipeline, it'll likely be up on April 7th.

Sometimes, this one-review-per week schtick is rough. I want to discuss these books with y'all right away, but I don't want to bombard you with new posts or leave myself with nothing to write about down the line.

At least we've got this weekly feature for in-the-moment reactions. And of course, there's always Twitter.

Murchie curls up inside a blanket cave. He wears his orange shirt. A white iPod leans against his hip. Its screen displays the cover of The Hero's Guide To Saving Your Kingdom, featuring a gaggle of pale-skinned people.

Another Scribd book, this time from their audio collection. Kelly recommended it to me when I asked her what I should get with my Audible credit, and since it was on Scribd I decided to take that route instead. [Usual shameless thingy about how y'all should try Scribd free for two months because they've got lots of great stuff and then you can join Kelly and me in our no-holds-barred Twitter rec fest.].

THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM is so cute, y'all! It's a middle grade fairy tale subversion in which all the various Prince Charmings are kind of useless, so their princesses get fed up with them and strike out on their own. The princes would very much like to win the princesses back and maybe become, like, less useless, so they team up to do so. My listening time dried up soon after I started it, but I'm hoping to carve out some more in the near future.

And I'm still taking recs for that Audible credit. Pretty well everything I light on my own self is either on Scribd or at my library, and I don't want to waste my precious discounted credit on something I can get elsewhere for free. Suggestions? I'm weirdly drawn to RED RISING by Pierce Brown, even though I abandoned the print version in a huff after--totally guessable spoiler coming up--the main character's wife died so's she could inspire him to do Great Things. Is it worth going past that point?

Murchie sits on a brown-toned rug. He wears his orange shirt. Beside him is a trade paperback copy of Mad About the Boy. Its cover features an overflowing red handbag. The photo is shot from above, looking down on the dog and the book.

Yes, Murchie wore the same shirt all week. Am rubbish dog-mum.

Am also, apparently, on something of general fiction kick with particular emphasis on authors I haven't read in a decade or so. Huh.

I read the Bridget Jones books back in the day, just like everyone else. Then I read them a couple more times because they were really funny and I enjoy laughing. Then I didn't read the third one right when it came out because I was terribly busy wallowing in other books, and also because people on Twitter were put out about Mark Darcy dying and I took their distress to mean the book was Not Really Very Good.

I also got the impression Mark's death was a convenient plot twist to make Bridget single again, but it actually drives the whole book as she deals with her grief, manages life as a single mum to two small children, and figures out how to move forward after such a devastating loss.

It's deeply affecting, but it's also incredibly funny. I laughed just as much as I teared up, and I had no choice but to add it to my permanent collection when I'd finished. It's my first paper keeper of the year.

I do question the whole Twitter followers thing, though. Bridget on Twitter is tons of fun, but I seriously doubt any non-famous person loses or gains hundreds of followers at a time because they tweeted something silly. It's certainly never happened to me1.

Perhaps my Twitter experience is atypical.

Murchie lays beside a white Kobo with Mystery Society's cover on its screen. The cover depicts a white man, seated, while a woman of perhaps Indian descent leans across the back of his chair holding a skull. The photo is dark and gold-toned, with a light source coming from the left side of the screen.

I asked Murchie to be atmospheric beside MYSTERY SOCIETY, and lo! He obliged.

This's another Scribd comic, chosen because Fiona Staples's name carries a lot of weight with me. MYSTERY SOCIETY is her collaboration with writer Steve Niles, and it's pretty durned fun. Nick and Ana Mystery acquire a ton of money and decide to pour the lot into their dream: paranormal investigations, with an eye to exposing cover-ups and righting wrongs. They recruit a motley crew of associates and get right down to it, but of course the powers that be are keen to take them out before they can vanquish injustice.

The powers that be are such squares.

The book reads like a series opener, but alas, the creators never published any more. I guess it didn't sell well enough to justify an ongoing series, or perhaps they both decided to do other things. One of Staples's other things was SAGA, so I can't be too put out.

Hey, it's the return of the sheep-shaped pillow! You'll be pleased to hear Murchie threw up on it mere minutes after this picture was taken.

Aren't dogs great?

(Of course they are. Vomit and all.)

I discovered Brad Boney at the last BookExpo America I attended. One of the signing area line-wranglers asked if I liked contemporary romance; when I said yes, she pointed me Mr Boney's way. I brought home a signed copy of THE NOTHINGNESS OF BEN and fell in love when I devoured it during a past Readathon.

It's like Brad Boney has a direct line on my emotions, y'all. THE RETURN, in which a music critic connects with two men across a thirty-year gap, proved deeply affecting and almost impossible to put down. It's as concerned with music as it is with romance, too, and I'm so there for books about music.

As an added bonus, most of the music they talk about is pretty old, so I know it. I'm really, really bad at contemporary pop culture, but I've got about a million twenty-year-old songs in my head and twice that number of forty-year-old ones2.

That said, THE RETURN also got me thinking about how I listen widely but not deeply. I know most of the major songs from 1963-2000 or so, but I'm not equipped to pinpoint, say, the best songs from each artist's oeuvre because I haven't listened to enough full albums and whatnot. I'm also absolute shite at song titles.

A slight mar on the overall reading experience: I'm weird about reincarnation in general fiction. Like, I'm on board with reincarnation in real life--[longwinded thing about soul's journeys and stuff]--but I find it really uncomfortable when it crops up in books that aren't marketed as fantasy. It's a weird, hypocritical reaction and I can't explain it. Maybe it's got something to do with how everyone in reincarnation fiction spends so much time talking about it? (What the hell else do I expect them to do in a book about reincarnation?) It gives me a case of what Jenny calls premise denial--which, like I said, is really fucking weird because I don't deny the premise.

Anyways, I fought through the premise denial (and a certain amount of tell-not-show writing) and absolutely loved the book. It also features some of the characters from THE NOTHINGNESS OF BEN, and it was mighty nice to get an update on them.

Next week: at least one more thing from la TBR so's I finally reread SERAPHINA and start SHADOW SCALE. Probably a bunch of comics, some of which I'll show you and some of which I won't. I guess I should get back into my Image stack...

  1. Though someone once unfollowed me on every social media platform mere minutes after I tweeted about how angry I get when people use "gay" to mean "stupid/bad/not worth your time." I've always wondered if they misinterpreted what I'd said, since they didn't seem like the sort of person who'd get up in arms about someone being pro-queer people, or if maybe they'd been frustrated with me for a while and the timing was just a coincidence.

  2. I do know some recentish rock, too (though my radio station rebranded a few weeks back, so I guess that'll dry up soon), but I'm totally clueless about contemporary pop. I heard "Blank Space" for the first time last Monday.

    I always mean to investigate contemporary pop, since I'm not averse to it, but I always get distracted and end up, like, not doing that. Please leave long comments about all the songs I've missed so I can check them out on YouTube.


  1. I am sad The Mystery Society wasn't a series, too. :(

  2. This has been happening to me all night - Blogger keeps eating my comments!

    I'm sad too that The Mystery Society isn't a series. And it's been so long since I last read Jackie Collins! I think I was in high school, actually, which makes it a very long time ago. I seem to have a tendency to save up my Audible credits and then use them on their 3 for 2 sales.

    1. I have a feeling I'll end up saving my Audible credits until my other audiobook sources let me down, or until there's a good sale. I keep forgetting I can actually do that with credits I've purchased. Whenever I've used the service in the past, I've either had a free trial credit or I joined to get one specific book I immediately acquired and listened to.