Sunday, October 25, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: October 18th to 24th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by making my dog pose with every book I read, barring the 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 think I'm gonna focus my Marvel sights on Asgard and a galaxy far, far away over the next little bit. Get through some more Thor-related comics and finally, finally, finally tackle the 90s Star Wars stuff I've longed to read ever since I was fifteen.

So I read some more JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, then doubled back to THE MIGHTY THOR when the two series crossed over. I also dipped my toe into Star Wars with the first issue of the first TALES OF THE JEDI series. Hopefully I managed to read the rest of it after I scheduled this post yesterday.

I also read the latest issue of THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL to hit Marvel Unlimited, and omg you guys, I am in love. Doreen is so great. I need her to team up with Kate Bishop and Kitty Pryde and Carol Danvers and Jessica Drew to form the Super-Awesome Superheroic Women Squad.


Finally, I also finished THE SHINING COURT and made room in my life for another in-between book. I fully intended to start it (well, continue it; more on that next week) mid-week, but then I lapsed back into Slow Reader Mode and all my plans whooshed out the window. Sigh.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, lays on a sheep-shaped pillow. He wears an orange t-shirt with brown trim. In front of him is a small, slender paperback copy of Report From Planet Midnight with its author, Nalo Hopkinson, on the cover. Hopkinson is a black woman with her bangs twisted and two long longs on the left side of her head. She wears glasses.

And now for the stuff I read during last week's Readathon and was too exhausted-drunk to tell you about at the time, starting with REPORT FROM PLANET MIDNIGHT by Nalo Hopkinson.

This slender volume is half fiction, half nonfiction. Two of Hopkins's short stories slot in between a speech she gave on racialized issues in SFF and an interview in which she discusses her life and career. It's great stuff, all of it. The speech is exactly the sort of shut-up-and-listen any white person committed to diversity needs to read, while I found myself nodding and smiling over so many of the things she brings up in the interview. I wish I'd thought to jot down some quotes before I took it back to the library, but it was the middle of Readathon and I was drunk on exhaustion and I dropped the ball. Sigh.

The first of the short stories is science fiction concerned with art, childhood, and the impact we have on the future. The second is fantasy that riffs off THE TEMPEST, casting Ariel and Caliban as siblings with different views on the power they exert over reality. It took a little while to let me in, but then it knocked me on my ass in the best possible way.

Murchie sits shamefaced in the middle of a red blanket spread on a bed. He still wears his orange t-shirt. In front of him is a trade paperback copy of the first volume of Angela: Asgard's Assassin. Its cover features a white woman with flowing red hair and patterned ribbons twisting around her. She wears a brown leather bra and loin wrap and resheaths a massive sword in a scabbard on her back as she walks along a rainbow road.

Look at Murchie in his sea of fire. This is what happens when you combine post-sundown lighting with red blankets.

My library won the race to get ANGELA: ASGARD'S ASSASSIN (written by Kieron Gillen and Marguerite Bennet; drawn by Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans) into my hands. Good for you, library. You've made a great show of it these last few months, what with the quick processing times and the multiple copies of each comic so everyone can read the books in a timely fashion. Keep it up.

I dug in during the Readathon, and Gillen and Bennet punched me in the gut and ran away laughing. This was great. I want more, partly for the blend of Asgard, Marvel Cosmic, and Heven and partly because Sera is another potential member for the Super-Awesome Superheroic Women Squad.

I mean, Angela's pretty interesting her own self, but Sera is the queen. She's a snarky, loyal trans woman of colour who can shoot fiery bolts out of her fingers, and she's got a story for everything. She and I totally need to be BFFs.

Murchie lays in a red blanket nest with his chin on his outstretched paws. In front of him is a white Kobo with Bitch Planet's purple-tinged cover on its screen. The edge of the photo cuts off most of the cover, but the title and the silhouette of two upraised hands giving the finger are visible.

Then I read some stuff on Marvel Unlimited (see above) and thought, "This is it. This is the end. I must sleep."

But BITCH PLANET, she called to me. And I went.

I reviewed this one on Thursday, so let's avoid the tl;dr in favour of a good ol' link to my attempt to summarize the comic's awesomeness..

Murchie sprawls partway out of a blanket cave, his front paws stretched out before him at an angle and his eyes slightly slitted. Before him is a white Kobo with a NetGalley page displaying An Apprentice To Elves's cover on its screen. The cover features a white woman with very pale blonde hair. She wears a helm and brandishes a spear as she runs, two enormous wolves close beside her.

Then the Readathon ended, and I slept, and I took a couple days to finish THE SHINING CITY before I dove headfirst into AN APPRENTICE TO ELVES by Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear.

This is the third book in the authors' Iskryne series, after A COMPANION TO WOLVES and THE TEMPERING OF MEN (both of which we talked about last week), and I loved it every bit as much as I expected to. I should have a full review for you on Thursday, assuming I can wrangle my thoughts into something vaguely coherent, so I'll restrain myself for now and just emphasize that there are FUCKING MAMMOTHS herein. Y'all know how much I love it when there's mammoths.

There's also women doing all sorts of different things, and a trans guy, and ginormous psychic wolves, and plenty of How Stuff Works because the titular character is a rabidly curious apprentice smith. (Y'all also know how much I love How Stuff Works.)

Basically, it was a very me sort of a book, and I want you to read it after you've read the first two.

It also left me eager to reread my favourite Elizabeth Bears. (I reread my favourite Sarah Monettes this summer.) Just gotta clear a couple more things off la TBR so I can buy myself some reread privileges.

Murchie lays on his sheep-shaped pillow. His chin rests atop a white Kobo with Shutter's cover on its screen. The cover features a brown-skinned woman with long, black hair drawn back in a pony tail. She runs across a white and sepia map of Manhattan and the surrounding area, a black cartoon cat with a clock on their belly beside her.

Soon as I finished AN APPRENTICE TO ELVES, I hunkered down and finally, finally read the first volume of SHUTTER, Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca's comic about a young woman who gets dragged back into the adventuring & exploration racket when the siblings she never knew she had burst into her life in a hell of a big way.


You'll be unsurprised to learn I loved SHUTTER right from the get-go. Del Duca's layouts are so cinematic that I couldn't help but compose a score inside my head as I read. Keatinge's script jives perfectly with the art and delivers delight after delight on the dialogue front. Kate, our protagonist, is a super-capable and super-compassionate woman of colour who maybe has an authority problem and who tells herself she just wants to live a regular life as a photographer who cohabitates with her (so far non-tragic) trans BFF, but who is just so good at exploring and adventuring. And she lives in a version of our world where magic and science fiction blend together in glorious ways.

Like, Kate's other sorta-roomie is Alarm Cat, a perpetually cheerful Felix-the-cat-shaped robot who bakes cookies, keeps Kate abreast of all the awesome stuff that's going on in the world, and stores candy behind their clock-shaped tummy. I totally want to be friends with an Alarm Cat.

I'm terribly sad my library doesn't own volume two. Murchie feels the same. He tells me SHUTTER is as good a chin rest as it is a comic, and he'd very much like to cosy up to some more of it.

Murchie lurks inside a blanket cave, his face in shadow. In front of him, occupying most of the shot, is a white Kobo with The Headmaster's cover on its screen. It features a door knocker reminiscent of a Chinese lion, attached to a peeling grey door.

Then I intended to start my new in-between book, but Overdrive informed me I only had three days left with THE HEADMASTER by Tiffany Reisz and I obviously needed to prioritize that.

When I shared my plans with Murchie, he retreated into the lightless depths of his traditional morning blanket cave and refused to come out again. Gothic fiction creeps him out.

Reisz is one of my favourite authors, and this novella doesn't disappoint in the slightest. It's about a young teacher who stumbles across an insular yet charming boys' school in the wilds of Appalachia. She feels an instant connection to the students and she needs a job in the worst possible way, so she convinces the headmaster to give her a trial run. And hey, if he wants to give her something else while he's at it, she'd be fine with that.

But of course, there's also dark shit going down, like a mysterious woman in white who walks atop the school's enclosing wall on select nights, and the alluring headmaster's disdain for all things modern (coupled with his Secret Past), and the last English teacher's swift and mystery-shrouded departure.

It's delicious and creepy and erotic. Vintage Reisz.

Those of you who're on the hunt for Hallowe'en reads should seek it out.

Next week: more Reisz! A new in-between novel. Possibly a new audiobook, too, if I can scrounge some more listening time. Some comics.


  1. Just when you think you're out they pull you back in: Is one of the most alluring descriptions of stories in the entire world. When I read my epic Carry On fanfic about Agatha Wellbelove (my fave), THAT WILL BE THE PLOT OF IT.

    1. My father firmly believes THE GODFATHER is a metaphor for life, so this concept gets bandied around all the time in my family.