Sunday, February 7, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: January 31st to February 6th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by photographing my dog or one of his stand-ins 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, with descriptive alt tags and additional commentary.

Not pictured: I read My Marvelous Year's 1966 selections in a terribly slapdash fashion; which is to say, I read the ones about people who interested me and saved all the rest in case there was time at the end.

There was a bit of time, so I ended up reading all but a handful of the comics on offer. I'm still enjoying this look at Marvel's early years, but the novelty of assigned reading has worn off. From now on, I'll read what calls to me and ignore what doesn't.

I reread the first six issues of JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS, too, and dug into the annual for the first time. Hurray for Jem!

A black mini schnauzer, Duffy, and a silver poodle, Murchie, sit next to one another. Duffy's face is very close to the camera. Between them is a white Kobo with an indistinct image of a gold-hewed statue of a woman on its screen.

Behold! The dogs are now sitting buddies!

They professed themselves willing to pose with DOWNFALL OF THE GODS by K.J. Parker, but only if I didn't make either of them move. (Duffy was on my lap. Murchie was beside me on his beloved sheep-shaped pillow.) I had to pull the book up on NetGalley since my DRC doesn't have a cover, and the angle went funny, and I'm afraid I haven't left you with a terribly good sense of what the cover looks like.

The dogs are cute though, right? Right?

I'll do better with the cover image I attach to my review, which will be up on February 16th.

Duffy lays his head close against a white iPod with The Cutting Season's cover on its screen. the cover features a tunnel of interlocking tree branches leading to a plantation house barely visible behind a curtain of mist.

I was gonna listen to a YA fantasy next, but I found myself with a ton of leftover Hoopla credits at the end of January and a pressing need to read some frickin' crime fiction already. (My constant refrain.) Several Twitter friends recced Attica Locke when I asked about crime fiction by WOC last year, so I pulled up THE CUTTING SEASON and got it on my iPod.

It didn't take me long to realize I'll have to seek out and devour everything Attica Locke writes from now until the end of time. This book is glorious: beautifully written, tense, and concerned with the past's impact on the present in both the personal and the historic sense. Locke never downplays the horrific legacy behind her beautiful setting (a plantation that's now an interpretive centre and event venue), either.

I probably finished the book yesterday. Now I'm wondering how soon I can fit BLACK WATER RISING into my listening schedule.

(Not that I have a schedule, really. Just a bunch of books I want to get to, some of which are only available for a limited time.)

Duffy lays slightly behind a Bon Jovi CD and a white Kobo with Fit's cover on its screen. The cover features a white man's bare chest with the title superimposed over it.

I recently saw Rebekah Weatherspoon recced as a WOC romance writer to watch. I found her FIT Trilogy on Scribd, put some Bon Jovi on the stereo, and dove straight in.

These novellas are great, y'all. They're all about L.A. types who have kinky, communicative sex with their personal trainers. Book 1, FIT, follows a producer for the Food Channel who wants to get rid of some of the weight she's put on from sampling her show's output. Book 2, TAMED, features an interior designer who decides to explore her submissive side after she googles her new trainer and learns he's a Dom. There's a solid focus on consent throughout both books, with plenty of emotional hooks woven through all the sexy times.

Duffy flops atop a red and white blanket, a white Kobo beside him. Its screen shows the cover of Tamed, which features the title superimposed across a Latino man's bare chest.

The series is super diverse, too. There's one white guy in the whole thing; everyone else is Chinese, Egyptian, Latino, Black, or Korean. And even though all the main couples are m/f, Weatherspoon includes queer characters within her wider L.A. landscape.

Duffy lays close up against a white Kobo with The White City's cover on its screen. The cover features a coloured woodcut of two very pale people reclining on a blood red couch. An indistinct yet menacing figure hovers behind them.

After a month spent reading books that haven't been staring at me for years upon years, I'm finally feeling some drive to carry on through la TBR. To that end, I reread THE WHITE CITY by Elizabeth Bear and finally, finally got down to AD ETERNUM.

These are the third and fourth books in Bear's wampyr/New Amsterdam series (following NEW AMSTERDAM and SEVEN FOR A SECRET), and they're fabulous. THE WHITE CITY can be read as a standalone, if you are so inclined, though I think you'll get more out of it if you're familiar with the first two books. It's about two murders set six years apart in Moscow, and while I did enjoy it more the first time I read it I still thrilled to Bear's talent for evoking her settings and limning the relationships between her characters.

Duffy and Murchie lay side my side, their faces pointed away from the viewer. Between them is a white Kobo with ad eternum's cover on its screen. The red-toned cover features a woodcut of a man standing in the rain on a street lined with neon signs. His trenchcoat mostly swallows his figure, but his eyes are illuminated.

AD ETERNUM, now, is a capstone to the series and really doesn't stand alone. It hit me hard because I know the wampyr, and I know his world, and I know the friends he's made over the sixty years the core series covers. Bear builds off of everything that's come before to deliver a quiet, emotional ending that left me in tears. I'm eager to reread the whole thing now, and to tackle GARRET INVESTIGATES, which collects the chapbooks that came with the special editions of each novella. Next week, hopefully, if my mood allows.

Murchie reclines against the rolled edge of a red comforter. Slightly behind him is an omnibus of Blood Alone. Its cover features a dark-suited Japanese man seated beside a young Japanese girl in a red dress.

Hey, I'm actually doing Comics February this year! All official-like, I mean, instead of just reading lots of comics without tagging them on any social media platforms!

My first Comics February pick was WONDER WOMAN: IRON, which I enjoyed much more than the series' second volume. My second was the premiere volume of Masayuki Takano's BLOOD ALONE, a manga about a young vampire and her protector. The next two volumes followed close on its heels.

So far, BLOOD ALONE is exactly the sort of manga I like: hooky, atmospheric, and beautifully paced, with time out to explore the characters' regular lives alongside the occasional crisis. The first volume left me deeply worried about the possibility of pedophilia, but thankfully nothing like that has materialized so far. Misaki, the young vampire, clearly has an enormous crush on her caretaker, Kuroe, and she's eager to command his attention; however, Kuroe doesn't seem to view her as anything but a kid he's determined to keep happy and safe.

Whew. I hope this remains the case throughout the whole series, which I'll be reading as soon as I can track down the rest of the volumes.

Duffy snuggles up in a red blanket nest, a trade paperback copy of Hellblazer: Original Sins in front of him. The book's cover features a blonde white man holding a beer. He sits in front of an indistinct fallen god-thing.

Yes, I know there's a lot of Duffy this week. He's much more willing to pose than Murchie is, so I figured I'd give Murchie a bit of a vacation. Little dude's earned it.

A confession: I basically filter the DC Universe through SANDMAN, which means I get ridiculously excited about DC characters who appeared in the series. Like, John Constantine was in an issue of SANDMAN, and his ancestor was in another, and that makes me weirdly fond of him even though he and I have had minimal contact otherwise.

This wasn't a no-contact-by-choice thing. It was a no-contact-because-I-had-no-fucking-clue-where-to-start thing. Sometimes trade numbering gets awkward (or doesn't bloody exist), and books go out of print and/or disappear from library shelves, and everything's just too confusing to bother with.

No longer! My library recent bought ORIGINAL SINS, which collects the first nine issues of HELLBLAZER and a couple related issues of SWAMP THING. While these opening issues are good stuff, they didn't hook me on the series in quite the way I wanted them to. Instead of considering the material in front of me as its its own thing, I spent a lot of time thinking about how much out-of-the-box stuff DC published in the late 80s and early 90s, and how deep an influence it had on the way we view comics today.

I'll definitely read at least the next collected edition, library willing, and I've got a sudden urge to read (and reread) some more comics from this general time period.

A Funko Pop of Rey from Star Wars stands next to a white Kobo with Falling For Him's cover on its screen. the cover features a woman of Iranian descent hugging a smiling white guy.

Then Duffy went home to his mom--theirs was a heartwarming reunion--and I couldn't ask Murchie to pose with this week's great disappointment: FALLING FOR HIM by Alisha Rai.

The emotional side of this romance novella was great. It's about longtime friends who work past their age difference and a certain amount of awkwardness to be together. The physical side, however, was so far from my brand of hot that it froze my connection to the characters and decided me against trying any more sweet romance in the near future.


Next week: more comics. A very long YA novel. Perhaps a bit more Bujold on audio.


  1. You read lots of good stuff! I should take pictures of what I read so my Week in Review post has more pictures... I never think of it. Maybe I will make it an experiment for this week.

  2. YES helluva big YES to cooperative puppies!

    1. I want them to become BFFs. I want it so bad.

  3. Rebekah Witherspoon! I hear such good things! She's on my list for the next time I'm in a romance novels mood. I trust your recommendations, friend.

    Also YAY to liking Attica Locke! I wasn't as wild about her first book, but the most recent one, Pleasantville, I thought was again quite good. I just really like the way she writes about race and the way history continues to touch the present day.

    1. Yes yes yes. I really need to get to her other books soon.