Sunday, September 6, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: August 30th to September 5th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by cajoling my tiny and adorable dog into posing beside every book I read, barring the digital comics I get 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 finally managed to read some comics last week! I started with the end of THE MIGHTY AVENGERS, which had its moments but was also pretty rough in places thanks to crossovers and the like.

Then I read the latest MOON KNIGHT series, which was very strange but also very good; MAGIK, a wordy yet compelling 80s miniseries about Illyana Rasputin; 5 RONIN, a miniseries that explores seventeenth century Japan through the eyes of characters similar, but not identical, to Wolverine, the Hulk, the Punisher, Psylocke, and Deadpool; and the second arc of INHUMAN, which was both really good and a tad confusing as it draws heavily on crossovers I haven't read yet.

My Marvel Unlimited subscription expires at the end of this month, and I'm still not sure if I'll renew it. I want to--there's still so much left to read--but the Canadian dollar is currently terrible and another year of service'll cost me anywhere from $90-100 depending on what the exchange rate does between now and my renewal date. Sigh. That's a big hike from last year and a lot to shell out all at once.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, shoves his face very close to the camera lens. Behind him is a red-bordered iPod with the cover of Dorthy Must Die on its screen. Said cover features a gingham pinafore dress and a pair of silver heels against a charcoal grey background.

Kelly recommended Danielle Paige's DOROTHY MUST DIE a couple weeks back, and I decided to prioritize the audiobook since it's a soon-to-expire Scribd title by a WOC.

I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I don't think it'll stay with me for long. Still, it's always interesting to see another take on Oz, especially one that fudges the absolute (and often terrifyingly immoral) line between good and evil that endures throughout Baum's books. It left me keen to revisit WICKED soon, like I've been meaning to do for at least the last five years.

Murchie lays on a red tapestried comforter. His head rests on his paws, slightly twisted towards the viewer. His eyes are closed. Beside him is a white-bordered iPod with the cover of The Girl of Fire and Thorns on its screen. The cover features an indistinct picture of a girl encased in a blue-tinted jewel against a variegated blue background.

Look at that sleepy dog. Is he not adorable? Do you not want to tousle his tiny wee ears?

Or not. Whatever.

DOROTHY MUST DIE only took me a couple of days (thanks, large wallpapering project!), so I turned to Rae Carson's GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS in short order. I'd heard good things about this one, too, but I just couldn't seem to click with it. I always felt like I'd missed some essential detail that'd clue me in to what was going on with the politics in play, so I turned it off about a quarter of the way through.

I'll admit, I was also nervous the whole god-loving exiles thing was gonna morph into an inescapable Christians Who Left Our World For Another Because Of Something An Awful Lot Like The Rapture thing, and I'm really not in the mood for secret Christian books right now. The secret Christian part of Narnia was fun because I was a secular kid who cottoned on to it late in the game, once my emotional investment in Lucy et al was mostly nostalgia and I could view the religious parallels as an intellectual puzzle. I didn't experience that sense of betrayal so many other non-Christian children apparently do.

In this case, though, I felt less like I was invited to figure things out and more like the text was gonna start preaching at me. And I try not to put myself in positions where texts start preaching at me.

Maybe I got the wrong end of the stick there, though. I might try it again in print somewhere down the line.

Murchie lays on a sheep-shaped pillow, his head twisted to one side and his ears perked. Directly in front of him is a paperback copy of Corambis. Its yellow- and purple-tinged cover features a golden-skinned, shirtless man chained in a cell with barred windows.

I procrastinated for a long, long time after I finished LAIR OF DREAMS, but I finally managed to start Sarah Monette's CORAMBIS late on Wednesday. And in a shocking turn of events, I finished it yesterday, not quite four days after I started.

Is my reading mojo creeping back? Damn, do I ever hope so.

This is the last book in my very favourite series, featuring my very favourite characters, and I'm in so much danger of tl;dring y'all to death because I love so much about it. I love the big things, like Felix actually making progress and all the talk about monsters, and I love a million little things like the scene in the bookstore and the mammoth and the MAGICAL FORENSIC ANTHROPOLOGY and the bit where Kay can't remember getting an arrow shot through his leg.

There's also this one scene that always, always makes me bawl my eyes out, and this time around I started bawling even earlier than I usually do. There was some pre-bawling, then some early bawling, then some regularly scheduled bawling. I had to take a break and watch an episode of GOSSIP GIRL after that because my tear ducts were pretty well drained.

I only low-key bawled at the very end, though, and some of that was tied up with how Noelle Stevenson's NIMONA is dedicated to me1.

A big part of me wants to turn around and reread all four books again right now because they mean so much to me and I already miss the characters so very, very much, but I'll resist. I really do enjoy novels more when I leave at least a year between rereads. In this case, I'm a little glad it took me a full four years to return to them because it gave me time to forget things and to become a different person. I'm even a little glad it took me two months to finish rereading the series because I got to spend nearly two months with Felix and Mildmay instead of the week or so I usually get2.

Thank you, Sarah Monette. These books mean a great deal to me.

An observation for everyone else: every time I reread the series, I intend to pay close and careful attention so I can decide whether the readers who feel Mildmay says fuck too often have a point. And every time, I'm unable to judge because I myself am also a person who says fuck a lot3 and I'm not at all sensitive to it. It was exactly the same this time.

Also! I've basically been on a Favourite Literary Characters Tour since the beginning of June or so, and I've realized I can break my Highly Exclusive List of Favourite Literary Characters into two broad categories: the characters I want to talk about and the characters I don't. Felix is a character I want to talk about. (I tl;dred about him a couple weeks back, if you're interested.) The same is true of FitzChivalry Farser (who I also tl;dred about in the recent past), Malta Vestrit, Kate Bishop, Kyoko Mogami, Mat Cauthon (who I'll tl;dr about just as soon as I get this Wheel of Time reminiscence post in order), and Jean Tannen4.

On the other hand, I don't particularly want to analyze my love for Mildmay (who I'll remind you is my favouritest of favourites), the Fool, or Ronan Lynch5. I could, and I've sort of attempted it in past reviews, but I don't want to. And nobody's making me, so I'll keep right on not doing it.

Also, I've completely failed in my attempt to not tl;dr. Sorry. Maybe next time.

A trade paperback copy of Hairstyles appears in the foreground. Its cover features a black and white photo of a white woman with a dark, asymmetrical bob. Some distance in the background, Murchie leaps away with his mouth spread wide so it looks like he's roaring. His two front legs are off the ground.

Okay! Here's a book about which I am incapable of rambling because I've barely started it!

It's also a book Murchie was beyond reluctant to pose with, but that might be a good thing since I caught him in mid-yawn/retreat and the results were pretty durned cute.

Anyways, HAIRSTYLES is about the political unrest between Russia and the Anatolian Peninsula in the late seventeenth century.

Nah, I'm kidding. It's about exactly what you think it's about.

It's also picture-heavy, so I'm hoping I can comb through it quickly and have it back to the library by Tuesday.

Tiny Deadpool, a four-inch tall bobblehead dressed in a red and black bodysuit and brandishing a gun and a katana, stands beside a red-bordered iPod with the cover of American Gods on its screen. The cover features a burst of bright light in a cloudy sky. The iPod is propped up against a stack of books by Anne Rice, Elizabeth Willey, K.J. Parker, and Michelle West.

Murchie needed a break after the HAIRSTYLES incident, so Tiny Deadpool volunteered to step in. He's such a star.

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS didn't work out, so I needed another audiobook. I'd initially resisted the 10th anniversary edition of AMERICAN GODS because it's twenty hours long and I wanted to at least try to fit in a few more things from my Scribd expiration list, but it really was the thing I most wanted to read. So I caved and downloaded it.

And it looks like I'm gonna grin my way through the whole thing. I've read AMERICAN GODS four times before, but the last time was nine years ago. (Eep!) I know it much better than I expected to, given that looooooooong gap between readings, and I get ridiculously excited every time I get to one of the bits Gaiman added back in for the author's preferred edition.

As I write this, I'm about a quarter of the way through. If I can keep to my current pace, I should finish it next week and manage to squeeze in one more audiobook before Scribd switches to their new system.

Next week: Something from my priority TBR, but I have no idea what. Maybe THE HAND OF ISIS? Probably some print comics, too.

  1. I also spent some time thinking about Wolfgang from SENSE8, partly because he's a monster, partly because he has an adoptive brother named Felix (Felixes follow me around), and partly because I had a strong emotional reaction to him even before the monster thing came to the forefront.

    No, it wasn't because we see his penis. Stop being a pervert.

    (I didn't mean that. You be as much of a pervert as you want to be, and I'll do the same.)

  2. Not that they're ever far from my thoughts. All my favourite literary characters stay with me. A couple months back, I zoned out and missed part of my audiobook because I was thinking about Kate Bishop. I have an excellent auditory memory that works even when I'm not paying super-close attention, so it takes a pretty big distraction to pull me completely away like that.

  3. The other day, Kelly asked whether her swearing offended me. I laughed at the text for ages before I typed, "Nah, I swear more than just about anybody."

    Fun fact: every week, I draft these Murchie Plus Books posts, then go back and edit out several of the fucks so I don't offend those of y'all who believe profanity is a sign of poor comportment and/or a tiny vocabulary. This is probably a lost cause, seeing as how even one fuck is enough to put some people off, but oh well.

    And my vocabulary is fucking gargantuan, if were wondering. I don't know all the words, but I know a hell of a lot of 'em and I make an effort to learn new ones.

  4. Sometimes I ask myself if Jean Tannen really belongs on the list, since he's the member I gush about the least, but then I remember he's a canny badass who doesn't take crap from anyone and who also reads trashy books. (Fictional readers are far from uncommon, but the ones who populate SFF usually seem to favour dense academic texts Hermione.) Plus, I'll fight you over him.

  5. I know I have Ronan Lynch feels all the frickin' time, but you'll notice they're usually general feels. I don't get into why I love him so much because it's not something I want to pick apart.


  1. I've been down an Iron Man/Captain America fanfic rabbit hole all weekend, and I DID actually try to get my dog to pose with my computer set on this guy (, but she declined. PER USUAL. Rotten dog. She's so fluffy and lovable, yet so reluctant to pose with my reading choices.


    1. Dogs, bro. They're so cute, and they get so grumpy when you ask them to pose for photos. Murchie and I've been doing this for over a year now, and he still gets squirrely about it.