Sunday, July 19, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: July 12th to 18th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by posing my tiny and adorable dog (or one of his able stand-ins) beside every book I read, barring the digital comics I read in single issue form.

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

Not pictured: I read the UNCANNY X-MEN arc in which the mutants find a new home in San Francisco so I'd be ready to carry on with ASTONISHING X-MEN. Then--surprise twist coming up--I carried on with ASTONISHING X-MEN. I'm now poised to start Marjorie Liu's run, and I'm praying it's more engaging than the stuff that came before it. The series hasn't really gripped me since Joss Whedon left.

I also read ETERNALS, Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr's 2007 miniseries, and now I'm convinced the entire Marvel Universe runs on mind wipes. Seriously, who hasn't been erased from existence at one point or another? Why hasn't the whole thing collapsed under the weight of all these false memories and psychological trauma?

Maybe it has. Maybe that's what Secret Wars is all about. Guess I'll find out in six months or so.

(Nah; I'm pretty sure Secret Wars is all about the stuff the New Avengers have been doing, with the worlds destroying each other. I should catch up on that. I'm behind.)

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, lays in a pink and beige striped dog bed. His head is very close to the camera so only his face and one paw are visible. Behind him is a paperback copy of Melusine. Its green-toned cover features a shirtless white man with red hair and vine-like tattoos on his forearms.

Behold! I actually reread Sarah Monette's MÉLUSINE!

If I start talking about this book I will never, ever shut up, so just let me say that Mildmay is the only literary character I love more than Kate Bishop and Kyoko Mogami. And I've been real subtle about it, so you might not have picked up on this, but I love Kate Bishop and Kyoko Mogami a hell of a lot.

Except no, wait, I've also gotta tell you MÉLUSINE used to be the book I read every April, along with its three sequels, but I decided to take a wee break so I'd have some time to forget things1. The wee break somehow stretched to four years, and this turned out to be an excellent thing. I had so many moments where I was like, "Ooh, I'd forgotten about [super great bit of worldbuilding]!" It was awesome.

And I've finally realized the Kalliphorne is a melusine (which is a snakey-fishy water monster, mythologically speaking). Sometimes I'm slow on the uptake.

And, this is one of my 6-star books. For a while there, I thought it was gonna be back up to 7 stars (a rank it achieved after my third reading; this was my fifth), but for some reason I wasn't quite as into the walk across Kekropia this time. Huh. I'm normally all over that part.

Maybe next time.

Murchie lays in his pink and beige dog bed. His left ear is inside out. He sniffs the corner of a white Kobo with Half Lies's cover on its screen. The cover features the title laid over a swirl of dark purple against a black background.

I've also been subtle about my feelings for Sally Green's books (no all-capsing here; not a bit of it), so let me remind you I've fallen hard for her witches. HALF LIES is a novella set in the same world as HALF BAD and HALF WILD, and it's a wonderfully reasonable $0.99 so I snatched it up to fuel my addiction and give Green some royalties at the same time.

(Although I listened to the two novels through Scribd, so I suppose she got some royalties from that, too. Hurray!)

The novella is about Gabriel's sister, Michele, and if you've read HALF WILD you know how it ends, so read this before that if you possibly can. Said ending is a bit abrupt, but I loved the rest of it. It's always interesting to see a beloved world from a new angle. Michele has had her share of devastating experiences, but she's been able to lead a far more normal witchly life than has Nathan. She gets plenty of opportunities to just be a teenager, albeit one who'll someday have magical powers and who has to conceal this from all her nonmagical friends.

She's also got a seriously sweet sibling relationship with Gabriel, AND I AM SUCH A SUCKER FOR A GOOD SIBLING RELATIONSHIP. Y'all don't even know.

And I don't want to get into specifics because spoilers, but Sally Green has the gift of making you formulate absolutely terrible theories about her characters. I'm so worried about everyone, always. It's great.

Aside from the emotional distress, I mean.

Murchie lays on a fuzzy white pillow. In front of him is a red-bordered iPod with Golden Son's cover on its screen. The cover features a gold laurel crown against a black background. One of the crown's leaves is on fire.

Somewhat to my surprise, I was hard into RED RISING by the time it ended. I still have reservations about it (which: the whole dead wife angle2, and the way sexual violence is wielded exclusively against the girls at the school even though it's presented as a power thing, and the seeming lack of POC3), but I got involved nonetheless. I wanted to see what happened next. kindly gave me a second free credit because I reviewed their app, so I spent it on GOLDEN SON and dove right in.

And hey! I loved it! A lot! I could've done without the extra level Brown added to Darrow's motivation (it's super obvious and cliched, and I'll bet you can guess what it is), but the story pulled me in like that. Brown's awfully good at making things worse for his characters. Nobody ever gets to enjoy their successes for long, because there's always another threat lurking around the corner. It's all dreadfully exciting.

There are plenty of thrilling turns, too. At one point, I legit made the Selena Gomez face.

Selena Gomez widens her mouth into a surprised, delighted O. Her hands are clasped before her.

And there are space battles. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE SPACE BATTLES.

I also remain pleased with the narrator, who does some great, potentially spoilery, stuff with Darrow's accent. It's the sort of thing you can do within a printed text if you deploy syntax in just the right way, but I think it's extra effective in an audio production.

I'm as much a sucker for a good audio performance as I am for a good sibling relationship.

Books like GOLDEN SON are the reason I revisit DNFs. Sometimes the book still fails to grab you, sure, but sometimes it's more than worth it. I've already put my name on the library list for MORNING STAR (which they've only preordered in print; sigh), and I'll put in a request should it crop up on NetGalley. I've gotta know how this ends.

Hawkguy, a bobbleheaded version of Clint Barton, stands beside a red-bordered iPod with We Have Always Lived In the Castle's cover on its screen. The cover features a black and white line drawing of one white person clutching another's shoulders from behind, while more people mill around in the distance.

I finished GOLDEN SON on my Friday evening walk, gave myself a brief break to listen to the LOCK, STOCK, AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS soundtrack4, and began WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE so I could get in on Shirley Jackson Reading Week.

Better late than never, right?

As I write this on Saturday afternoon, I'm about two chapters in and I think I'm gonna love it. I've already had a great time considering how much faith I ought to place in Mary Katherine, because y'all know I never entirely trust first person narrators. I always wonder what they're concealing from the reader, especially when they scream Unreliable As Fuck.

Which Mary Katherine does.

Murchie sits in his dog bed, his head turned to regard something outside the left side of the frame. Before him sits a hardcover copy of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. Its turquoise cover features black and white line drawings of the two main characters emerging from gear-shaped holes. They smile at one another.

I was going to be a good little Hugo voter and start THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM (even though I'm aching to reread THE VIRTU), but then I realized THE THRILLING ADVENTURES OF LOVELACE AND BABBAGE a) is possessed of a great number of prose foot- and endnotes, rendering it Not A Quick Read, and b) is due back on Monday.


I dove in yesterday morning and am enjoying it very much. The comics (many of which originally appeared online) form the book's core, of course, but the extensive notes make this really more a history of science text disguised as an alternate history. It's a lot of fun. With any luck, I'll manage to finish it today so I don't have to return it to the library partially read.

Next week: THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM, because I really am a good little Hugo voter. Then THE VIRTU, because fuck everything else. Also, a new audiobook.

  1. I memorize books I've read multiple times. It's not a deliberate thing; it just happens. This sometimes makes it difficult to keep on enjoying beloved stories, so I try to leave at least a year between rereads of any prose book that means a lot to me. (For some reason, comics don't get old in the same way, so I often reread my faves two or three times per year.) Sometimes that does the trick, but I eventually reach a point where I've read a book so many times that I remember every little thing that happens in it no matter how long a break I give myself. This was a bit of an issue with THE BOOK OF THREE, which I recently reread for the first time in five years but the twelfth time in total.

  2. The thing is, I'm so sympathetic to characters who swear to destroy the no-good bastard who killed their loved one. Hell, I'm bloodthirsty about it, for which we may blame Inigo Montoya. But I'm also beyond sick of the loved one being a wife or girlfriend whose death inspires the male main character to rethink his life, because it's part of this pernicious pattern of fictional women only existing in relation to their male relatives. And that sucks.

    It's also so expected. Like, I'm shocked when a male character's wife or girlfriend isn't murdered and/or raped after a handful of scenes meant to show the reader how special she is.

    I should probably tell you MÉLUSINE comes equipped with both a dead ex-girlfriend and a dead adoptive sister, though they're both less of an inspiration and more of a haunting. Not even beloved books are immune from this pattern.

  3. It reminds me of that CABLE & DEADPOOL arc where the religious leader tried to eliminate race by turning everyone blue. The people in Pierce Brown's future all have different hair colours and maybe slightly tinted skin that tells everyone what social class they belong to (I'm not sure on this, since it's tough to fact check on audio), but it feels to me like everyone's still coded as different varieties of white. Even the Obsidians have pale skin to go with their black hair.

    That's probably for the best, though, given that the whole "Obsidians as downtrodden slave race" angle is already REALLY FUCKING DODGY.

    (Am I right about Ragnar being an Obsidian? I think I also remember him having white hair, but like I said, it's hard to fact check audiobooks. And maybe he has white hair because he's old, like Cable.)

    (Sidebar: until about midway through CABLE & DEADPOOL, I had no idea Cable was old. I thought his white hair was just a mutant thing.)

  4. This was maybe a bad idea. I firmly believe LOCK, STOCK, AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS to have the best film soundtrack of all time, and I have every note memorized. This means my lip syncing instinct kicks in whenever I've got it in my eardrums, and one must be careful about lip syncing in public. Especially when one is also inclined to dance.

    Hey, you try not to undulate to Dusty Springfield's "Spooky." IT IS IMPOSSIBLE.

    So I tried not to listen too enthusiastically until I was alone on the path, but I'm pretty sure I failed.


  1. So I ?might?maybe? be on a break from the revenge plotline as a device. I'm not saying never ever ever will I ever read another revenge book, but I might like pop culture to take it easy on that particular trope for a little bit. Because -- yeah, my love for Inigo Montoya notwithstanding, it's often used as a lazy sort of motivating trope. AND also cause, yeah, in a book that's going to have a revenge plot, very often it involves women being victimized, whether the woman is the POV character or someone beloved of the POV character.

    (Thaaaat story you sent me that I am enjoying? I like that the protag is angry but she's not, like, driven by the though of obtaining vengeance for her parents. She's driven by wanting to be in a less shit situation than she's currently in, and I love that.)

    1. Oo, but, I'm excepting stories where people are getting like COMPREHENSIVE REVENGE a la The Count of Monte Cristo. Where they're doing some legitimately complex and interesting revenge that's particular to each person who done em wrong, I am pretty much always up for that. The early episodes of the ABC show Revenge, when it was what some reviewer called a Revenge Procedural, were magical.

    2. This is the thing about Miss Fisher. I love it, but she's also on a quest to avenge her dead sister, and I must sigh over that. I can't help it. I'm so tired of women needing to be avenged, even when they were a sister rather than a wife or girlfriend and even when other women do the avenging.

      Which is maybe a weird thing to bring up in relation to a murder mystery show...

      I LOVE THE TERM REVENGE PROCEDURAL. These tend to be my favourite sort of revenge stories, too. I like intricate, long-form revenge enacted against no-good bastards who preferably did something other than kill the protagonist's wife or girlfriend. I'll be rather more happy if Miss Fisher gets complex and interesting revenge against her sister's killer.

      (This is something I like about Ave, too. Tesca's all, "You must get revenge!" but Ave's like, "Or, I could try to make a happy new life for myself? Maybe? Especially since revenge is liable to get me killed?" I think if you're gonna charge forward seeking revenge against a powerful opponent, you've gotta accept that you might not make it out alive. Ave would much rather live, thanks.)