Sunday, December 13, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: December 6th to 12th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by photographing 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 every Sunday, with descriptive alt tags and additional commentary.

Not pictured: having finally finished my ginormous stack of library comics (as detailed below), I dove back into Marvel Unlimited with DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON. It's always nice to see Misty Knight and Colleen Wing.

I took a break from TREMONTAINE, partly because my listening time shrunk after I finished KOMARR (which was great!) and partly because it's on hiatus this week and this way it'll feel like I've had less of a wait between episodes.

A tiny grey poodle, Murchie, stands on a sheep-shaped pillow. He wears an orange t-shirt and has a red and white blanket draped over him. Hardcover copies of Aya and Aya of Yop City are propped up on either side of him. Both books' covers feature the same young black woman standing in a city street. She has braided hair, and on one cover she carries a baby on her back.

Friends, please be advised that Marguerie Abouet and Clément Oubrerie's Aya comics are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. They're about young women in Côte d'Ivoire in the late 1970s, and they offer a fascinating look at African youth culture, family dynamics, and traditional practices in a country in the midst of an economic boom that's created a much larger middle class than anyone's accustomed to.

I'm reading the series completely out of order. When I first discovered it about two years back, it seemed like my library only had the omnibus of the last three volumes in English, so that's what I read. A bit of careful catalogue-searching late last month determined they also have volumes one and two in translation, and I wasted no time in requesting them (though I did take my sweet time about in them). Alas, they don't have volume three in English. I'll have to hope I can find a used copy at some point so I can get that part of the story.

Murchie stands on a white fur rug, his back to the viewer. He wears his orange t-shirt. In the foreground is a paperback copy of Warrior and Witch, featuring a red-haired white woman clutching a sword beneath her chin as she stared out at the viewer.

Sometimes Murchie up and wanders away during our photo shoots. Dogs, bro.

WARRIOR AND WITCH is the sequel to DOPPELGANGER, Marie Brennan's first novel. (You might be familiar with her from her Lady Trent series, now entering its final stretch.) I read DOPPELGANGER (now retitled WARRIOR, just to keep things super confusing) a few years ago and promptly set out on a search for WARRIOR AND WITCH (or WITCH, as it's been retitled), but it took me a long time to find a copy and even longer to actually read it, and the delay worked against me. I read slightly less than one hundred pages I decided that while I was enjoying it, I'd enjoy it a lot more if I could reread DOPPELGANGER first.

So that's what I'll do, just as soon as I can find another copy of DOPPELGANGER. Hello, vicious cycle made worse by my must-liquidate-all-the-things mindset.

Murchie lays partly on and partly off his sheep-shaped pillow. He wears his orange t-shirt and has his ears perked. Beside him, overlapping his paws, is a trade paperback copy of Moonshot, featuring a painting of a man in white and black face paint. Yellow, white, and black shards surround him.

I heard of MOONSHOT, an anthology of indigenous comics edited by Hope Nicholson, via CBC Books. Luckily, my library had already ordered it and was able to provide me with a copy fairly quickly. Thanks, library!

The short stories herein place a strong emphasis on the truths that lie behind every tale, and on telling traditional stories in new ways without erasing what they mean to the cultures they spring from. There's a little bit of everything: far future SF, fantasy, horror, and contemporary fiction. It's good stuff, and a must-read for anyone in search of more work by First Nations creators.

The afterward mentions there's a Volume Two in the works. I'll look forward to it.

Murchie lays inside a blanket cave formed by a red tapestry comforter. A hardcover copy of The New Deal rests parallel to him. The cover features a red-haired white woman posing in 1930s evening wear against an orange background. In a grey-tinted panel behind her, a black maid and a white bellhop race madly along.

I took casual note of THE NEW DEAL by Jonathan Case when Dark Horse first released it, but it wasn't until it appeared in a Panels round up that I decided I had to read it. Panels didn't steer me wrong. This was so good I didn't want to put it down until I'd turned the final page.

It's set in Depression era New York, at the Waldorf Astoria. Theresa is an actress attached to Orson Welles's Voodoo Macbeth, but she pays her bills by working as a chambermaid. When a rich lady's jewels go missing Theresa falls under immediate suspicion because she's black, but she's sure her friend Frank stole the goods to pay his gambling debts. They team up to learn the truth, which is far wilder than either of them could've dreamed.

...and that was a bit more summary-ish than I intended. What I'm saying is, THE NEW DEAL tackles race and class in the midst of a ripping yarn about thieves, actors, and con artists. It's a hell of a lot of fun, and the art is fabulous. Case knows his way around a page layout. Each scene effortlessly draws the reader to the next. The monochromatic colour scheme adds to the period feel, too, and provides a nice counterpoint to the sheer lavishness of the hotel guests' lives.

THE NEW DEAL stands alone, but I'd love it if Case penned a couple more adventures for Theresa and Frank. They're a great pair.

Murchie lays on his sheep-shaped pillow. In front of him is a white iPod with Binti's cover on its screen. It features a young black woman painting her face with streaks of reddish clay.

Scribd has three of's novellas in their unlimited audio selection for December, and I've put my Vorkosigan binge on hold so I can gulp 'em down before they disappear.

I started with Nnedi Okorafor's BINTI, which follows a young mathematician who weathers a devastating encounter with aliens as she travels to a prestigious offworld university. It's got a lot to say about culture, prejudice, and the raw power of math. Now I've got to explore Okorafor's novels, too; something I've been meaning to do for ages upon ages.

(This is how it always is with me and books. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to living in a post-TBR world, where I'll feel free to read whatever the hell I want as soon as it comes into my hands.)

Alas, the book is only 96 pages long; four below the cutoff point for Shaina's Twelve Books of Christmas challenge. The next two on my to-listen-to list will count, though!

Next week: THE WITCH HUNTER by Virginia Boecker, which I'm actually reading right now but decided to save for next week's post so I can pen something resembling a mini review for it. More audio novellas. Possibly more Vorkosigans. Another library comic. Something else from la TBR.

12 Books of Christmas Tally:

  • MEMORY by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • STATUS UPDATE by Annabeth Albert
  • KOMARR by Lois McMaster Bujold


  1. You are so winning at library use. I need to try that again, even though I doubt the Frankfurt library is suddenly carrying more English books. Still, you never know until you try, and as of now I almost only take out movies for my daughter from the library.

    1. I'm lucky my library buys so many comics. They make it easy for me to read almost everything I want to read without shelling out large chunks of money!

  2. Murchie-moo! I read two comics for Shaina's challenge, but I may count them as just one cause I do worry I'm slightly cheating. I read a book about rape culture also, and it was...pretty depressing. And now I am reading one set in modern-day Congo, and that is also depressing, and I'm going to probably have to read something unbelievably cheery to compensate.

    1. Not cheating so long as they're 100+ pages! Was the rape culture book Missoula?

    2. I decided not to count comics, even 100+ page ones (which is most of the ones I pick up), since I'm such a comics junkie that it'd be too easy with them in the mix. You throw comics in there, and I've already won this challenge so hard.

      You left this comment before you read Squirrel Girl, right? (I'm behind, thanks to illness and family issues and other fun stuff.) So now you have her cheerful, kick-all-the-butts influence to compensate for the depressing stuff!

  3. I would comment on the written content of your post, but my goodness that pup and blanket distracted me.

    1. Sometimes I want to tell him he's too cute, but I don't want to give him bad body image or anything so I eliminate the "too." He's exactly the right amount of cute.