Sunday, October 4, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: September 27th to October 3rd

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by posing my tiny and adorable dog 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 read a bunch more JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY last week, and it continues to delight me. There was an entire issue devoted to puppies. PUPPIES.

Thori, who becomes Loki's particular puppy, reminds me of Murchie.

I also pushed through to the end of A DEEPNESS IN THE SKY, which has emerged as my favourite Vernor Vinge novel to date. While the first two I read (A FIRE UPON THE DEEP and THE CHILDREN OF THE SKY) started beyond strong but slowly lost me as they wound towards their conclusions, A DEEPNESS IN THE SKY kept me fully engaged the whole way through. I'm so, so glad I read it, and I recommend it to those of y'all in search of some epic science fiction.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, lays within a red blanket cave so only his head his visible. His eyes are almost slits, and one of his ears is askew. Two comics lay in front of him. On the one closest to the viewer, a white man in a red jacket points a gun at someone laying on the ground, who points one back at him. On the other, a jumble of people mill around a stand mirror with an elaborate, humanoid frame.

I'm less than pleased I've had to put another blanket on my bed, but Murchie's thrilled. It makes his traditional morning blanket cave all the comfier.

He spent last Sunday sleeping, as per usual, while I gleefully wallowed in a few hundred pages of Marvel Cosmic via the second volume of LEGENDARY STAR-LORD and the collected edition of THE BLACK VORTEX.

Both volumes basically boil down to, "Ain't Kitty Pryde the greatest?" She is, books. She so totally is.

Hey, I've just realized both Kate Bishop and Kitty Pryde are named Katherine. It's like Marvel rounded up all their writers and said, "How 'bout we pepper this universe with awesome Katherines?" Wise choice, Marvel. Who else you got for me?

Murchie sprawls underneath the overhang of a red tapestry comforter, his paws stretched before him and his ear askew. He wears an orange t-shirt with brown cuffs. In front of him is a white Kobo with The Dogist's cover on its screen. the cover features a picture of a young chocolate lab with her head cocked.

The astute observers among you will notice Murchie's beloved blanket is missing from this picture. That's because I sometimes take my photos out of order. Shhh. Don't tell anyone.

I received an advance copy of THE DOGIST, Elias Weiss Friedman's book of the dog photos he takes on the streets of Manhattan and elsewhere, and of course I shared it with Murchie. He feels that observing all the happy, satisfied dogs in this book has inspired him to be his truest self.

He still draws the line at taking walks, even though I explained that Friedman found all these dogs while they were out for walkies. Exercise is not Murchie's scene, thanks very much.

I'll have a proper review for you a bit closer to the book's October 20th release date.

Murchie lays on a sheep-shaped pillow, his ears perked. In front of him is a paperback copy of The Price of Blood and Honor. Its cover features a painting of a brunette white woman drawing a bow in a forest directly before a gnarled tree.

THE PRICE OF BLOOD AND HONOR by Elizabeth Willey called out to me last week, so I snatched it off la TBR and got down to it. It's the direct sequel to a book I read nearly two years ago, it having taken me ages to find a copy of this out-of-print title and ages more to actually, like, read it, but luckily I remembered the earlier book well enough to follow along.

I also, um, kind of sped-read it (or what passes for speed-reading with me), because while I was super interested in the story and eager to see where it ended up, I find Willey's prose really dense and I wasn't in the mood to deal with it. I expect I'll reread this one, and the books that precede it, at a less skimmy pace at some point in the future.

I read THE WELL-FAVORED MAN and A SORCERER AND A GENTLEMAN ages before I started Murchie Plus Books, so let's digress and talk about 'em for a little bit. They're fantasy of manners (I suppose; I feel like I've mostly lost my grip on what the various subgenres of fantasy even mean and am inclined to ignore them these days unless I'm trying to describe something to y'all) about a long-lived family with the ability to travel between worlds. The prose is sorta-Elizabethan and sorta-Victorian and sorta-ultra-modern. And while I found the books difficult to read quickly on account of Willey's syntax, they're exactly the sort of fantasy I wish we had more of; all rich and layered and disinclined to listen to the established divisions between things.

I suspect they're also incomplete. A SORCERER AND A GENTLEMAN and THE PRICE OF BLOOD AND HONOR read like one book split in three--which is awkward, because there are only two of them. Sadness. It's possible to intuit what must have happened in the nonexistent third book because THE WELL-FAVORED MAN, which Willey published first, is the latest book in the series' chronology, but it's a shame we miss out on all the little details as to how the characters got from here to there.

Maybe Elizabeth Willey will surprise us all with the last book someday.

Murchie lays in his blanket cave. Directly before him is a hardcover comic with its cover angled so only a red-haired white girl's flame-shrouded eye is visible. The flame is in roughly the shape of a large bird.

Once I'd finished THE BLACK VORTEX, I was free to read the latest arc of ALL-NEW X-MEN. This remains my favourite ongoing Marvel comic despite the thing I'm gonna talk about below.

Though I guess it's only still ongoing to those of us who read via Marvel Unlimited and trades. Oh, Secret Wars. I sure hope you didn't muck things up for any of my faves.

Speaking of faves, this is the volume that collects the issue where the thing happens. You know. The thing I'm about to discuss under my Representation Is Not A Spoiler (Especially When It Involves the X-Men) policy.

Yep. This's the one where Iceman comes out as gay. Except everyone's spent the past however many months talking about how problematic that is, since he doesn't come out himself. Jean outs him.

I tried not to read too many other peoples' detailed takes on it since I wanted to form my own opinion of what goes down, and this whole time I've been hoping it'll all tie into Jean's persistent issues with the ethics of telepathy. Much of her character arc throughout ANX has involved her struggle to avoid crossing lines when she wields her powers. And she's bad at it without Professor X around to keep her in check (code for wipe her mind every so often and/or place artificial blocks on her, I'm sure. Fuck Professor X). I mean, "struggle" is probably the wrong word because she often doesn't even try to behave well unless someone, usually Kitty, is around to shout at her afterward.

So I was really, really hoping this would be another of Jean's inescapable ethical violations. Because while it wouldn't be great to see the creators throw a gay character under the bus in service to a female character's arc, at least it'd be better than the alternative.

Alas, we got the alternative. Yeah, Bobby's pissed at Jean for poking around in his mind, but I don't feel like it's really presented as wrong. She outs him, clearly far sooner than he wants to be outed. Then she speaks for him a few more times, and shoots down his objections, and they hug it out. That's that.

At least she does it well away from all their friends, so he's got the chance to tell them in his own time. And I like to hope that when she tells Bobby Angel isn't gay, she's just respecting Angel's boundaries.

(Every issue, I hope Angel will do something queer because I first met him in MARVEL 1602 and he was queer there. Every issue, he lets me down. Dammit, Angel.)

Murchie lays on his sheep shaped pillow, very close to the camera with his face in profile. Behind him is a white Kobo with Of Dukes and Deceptions's cover on its screen. The cover features an indistinct picture of a dark-haired white woman in a pale purple dress looking over her shoulder at a white man behind her. The tops of their faces are cut off.

I fancied some historical romance last week, so I shopped around a bit and eventually settled on Wendy Soliman's OF DUKES AND DECEPTIONS. It's been on my wishlist for ages and ages, and when I sampled it I was more than pleased to see the hero referred to by his name rather than his title.

I always feel so bad for noblemen, y'know? How dehumanizing it must be when everyone, even your own mother the Dowager Duchess of Madeupduchy, refuses to use your name.

This duke, Nick, doesn't have that problem. Unfortunately, he's an asshole otherwise so I can't bring myself to root for him. Like, he calls women "females" and believes they should be totally submissive in the bedchamber so they can give their man the most pleasure possible. And yes, submission is great if you've talked about it beforehand and determined your partner is, in fact, a sub, but don't go assuming it's your fucking right.

I'm about 60% of the way through the book as I write this, so maybe Nick will eventually stop being an asshole. Alicia, the heroine, seems to think he'll be capable of it once he's spent a bit more time around people who don't automatically kowtow to him on account of the duke thing. Perhaps Soliman can convince me of that, too.

In the meantime I'll just have to focus on the plot against Alicia's life, which is considerably more interesting than the romance.

Next week: lots and lots of books by POC for Diversiverse. Barring that, a couple of books by POC and some griping about my reading speed.


  1. Mmmm, too bad about the romance. "Females" indeed. Those assholey versions of alpha heroes are my very least favorite romance novel trope, and it's usually enough to make me give up on the book.

    Have Kitty Pryde and Kate Bishop ever gotten together to do a project? That would be an AMAZING team-up, and now that I've thought of I can't unthink it. Can we make that happen somehow? I want it!

    1. I might've abandoned this book if I hadn't just bought it, meaning the whole, "I paid $2.25 for this" impetus was still strong.

      Now I desperately want Kitty Pryde and Kate Bishop to team up and fight space pirates or something. Kate could totally use some more time in space, and Kitty could totally use another young person with whom to trade witticisms.