Sunday, April 12, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: April 5th to 11th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by making my tiny and adorable dog pose beside every book I read, barring the comics I get through Marvel Unlimited.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I edit them and appear here in digest form every Sunday, with commentary on the books in question.

Not pictured: I finished Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir's run on NEW X-MEN: ACADEMY X last week. While I didn't love any of the story arcs, I enjoyed them quite a bit and was consistently excited to see what was next for the characters. So I guess I loved the whole package, even if I didn't love its individual bits.

I'm going to hold off on the next creative team until I've caught up with House of M and all that.

I read THOR #1, too, because it went up on Marvel Unlimited last Monday and I was curious. The issue is largely concerned with setting up the new Thor's arrival, as everyone said when it hit stands a few months back, but I'm certainly intrigued and I look forward to the next one.

I also blasted through some more DEATH NOTE, which I showed you last week, and made it a little bit further into WARRIORS, which you may recall I started an embarrasingly long time ago and have sort of been ignoring because I always forget even the longest stories fly by when you're enjoying them.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, perches on a pillow shaped like a sheep. He wears a red and green t-shirt. In front of him sits a white Kobo with Valor's cover on its screen. The cover depicts a brown-skinned girl wearing armour and wielding two flaming swords. An assortment of other girls and winter flank her to either side.

VALOR is an anthology of comics and prose stories about girl heroes. Mostly. There's one story about a trans boy (who was maybe intended to be a girl in disguise? Did I interpret that wrong? Or should I assume the editors considered him a girl, and respond with an appropriate level of horror? He does help a girl, so maybe she's the female hero in this case...), but the majority of the protagonists are girls and women, many of them non-white and/or queer, who navigate fairy tale-like situations. Some of these situations are outright retellings from Grimm and Perault et al, while others simply utilize familiar themes.

Overall, the comics quality is wonderfully high. The art is uniformly great, while the stories range from pretty good to excellent. The prose stories, too, are mostly enjoyable, but I get the sense that two in particular weren't edited at all. They're rife with awkward tense shifts and clunky writing. This is a shame, all the moreso because one of these tales is the first non-comic to appear. It led me to expect the rest of the prose offerings would be equally clunky, though thankfully this wasn't the case.

That blip aside, I highly recommend VALOR. It's good value for money, too; if you missed out the Kickstarter (which is how I acquired it), $5 gets you the 312-page PDF straight from the publisher. A print edition will be available this summer.

Murchie stands beside a paperback copy of The Path of Daggers. His feet face the right side of the frame, but his head is twisted to look at something off to the left.

I always say I'm ready to reread another volume of the Wheel of Time, but do I ever actually do that? NO!

Except for this week, I mean, when I totally did. Go me!

I had such a strong urge to fight my way a little further through the series that decided to put K.J. Parker's PATTERN aside for a few days and do just that. And I made it through THE PATH OF DAGGERS at a halfway decent clip! Hurray! That's become mighty rare for me of late.

We're well into Robert Jordan's "let's describe everything to death and end the book when we've written a fair number of scenes instead of when we've explored a theme" period, but I still mostly enjoyed it. The bits about the various women kept me entertained even when they were more or less extraneous, and I was weirdly pleased to see more of the Seanchan. The bits about the various men (mostly Rand and Perrin) bored me silly more often than not, even when they served to advance things.

So it was a mixed bag. Still! Progress! I'm more than halfway through the Wheel of Time now, too, so there's a homestretch kind of a feel to it all. I'm gonna get through this. I'm gonna see how it ends.

Only took me twenty years.

(Unless I fail to finish it this year, in which case we can adjust that number accordingly.)

Related: I strongly suspect Murchie is the littlest Wheel of Time fan, unless somebody's been working their way through the series alongside their pet gecko or something. Maybe we'll call him the littlest canine Wheel of Time fan just to cover our bases.

Murchie curls up on a red blanket. He wears his red and green shirt. Before him sits a red iPod with Bone Gap's cover on its screen. It depicts a bee against a beige honeycomb background.

He wasn't happy I wanted to photograph him with my current audiobook yesterday morning. Not. At. All. Other dogs' parents don't go shoving books into their faces at ungodly hours (ie, 8:30am). How dare I.

I finished LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR during an epic walk (thank you, slightly nicer weather!) and began Laura Ruby's BONE GAP straight off. Some of y'all have had nothing but praise for the book and the audio is on Scribd, so it seemed like a logical pick.

And at first, it really, really wasn't. The book starts in the middle; a classic narrative trick I'm usually 100% in favour of but struggled to connect with here. I felt like I needed considerably more than the text gave me if I was to make any sort of meaningful connection with the story.


I probably would've abandoned it if y'all didn't love it so much, but I kept plugging on through--and damned if didn't win me over.

I love it when that happens.

I expect I'll review this one in full somewhere down the line (and I've still got about a third of the book to listen to besides), so let's leave it at that.

Next week: a chunkster of some sort. I want chunksters right now. I've got ANCILLARY SWORD out from the library so I can start on my Hugo reading, so maybe I'll also tackle that. Too bad it ain't a chunkster.


  1. yay, I'm glad to hear Bone Gap did win you over in the end. I loved it a ton.

    1. I'm looking forward to the last little bit of it!

  2. Oo, chunksters, I surely have some of them to recommend. Have you read Special Topics in Calamity Physics yet? Cause that is a damn good one.

    1. I'm sticking to chunksters from la TBR or the Hugo ballot right now! Gotta stay on task so I can finally get through all the books I've bought and/or make some informed voting choices.

  3. I want to get through The Wheel of Time too but my problem is, with my awful book memory, I always feel like I need to reread the first books because most of the storylines are a blur. Which I've probably done a few times now to "prepare" for the ones I haven't read. And by the time I do the rereads, I end up not reading the one I haven't read yet (which, I think, would be book 6).

    1. I've reread the earlier books four times in preparation for new installments, but I decided to quit with that right after CROSSROADS OF TWILIGHT came out. I'd reread the whole series straight through twice within about two years, and that proved to be too much. I resolved to wait until the whole thing was complete and in paperback, which turned into waiting until it was nominated for a Hugo and I had to reread at least a few volumes so I could make an informed decision as to how to vote. I've been plugging away at this most recent reread since last June, my series stamina being markedly less than it used to be, and I'm so excited to finally finish it.