Sunday, March 20, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: March 13th to 19th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by making my dog (or one of the animals I petsit for) 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, with descriptive alt tags and additional commentary.

Not pictured: I read a bit more X-FACTOR, including an issue in which Theresa Cassidy refuses to believe in her father's death because she knows all the tropes the X-Men run on, thanks, and there's no use worrying when he's sure to stop being dead good and soon.

I found this both sad and delightful.

On the previously-pictured front, I'm still working my way through that massive pile of SKIP BEAT! I showed y'all last week. It's been glorious (and time-consuming, which is why there are so few pictures below).

I also made solid progress through ACADEMIC EXERCISES, the K.J. Parker collection I've been reading for weeks upon weeks. Only two novellas, two short stories, and an essay left! Granted, that's about half the book....

Finally, I read HALF TRUTHS, one of Sally Green's witch stories. It's more of an extended vignette than a full novella, so I didn't figure I'd make Ollie pose with it. If you love Gabriel and you want to see what he gets up to between HALF LIES and the point where he meets Nathan, you should read it. Otherwise, it probably won't make much sense to you.

A pale ginger, cat, Ollie, sits on a stone-patterned linoleum floor. A pale hand holds a red-bordered iPod in front of him. It has A Darker Shade of Magic's cover on its screen, featuring the silhouette of a cloaked figure stepping from a red, circular street map to a black, circular street map.

Y'all remember Ollie, right? Feisty and adorable little cat? Has a brother who's a golden lab? Said brother, Buster, went off on a driving holiday this past week, so Ollie and I hung out all by our lonesomes and really bonded. He's a sweetie-pie, and a fabulous reading companion to boot.

I bumped A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab up my To-Listen-To list partly because Kelly recently enjoyed the print edition and partly because it's one of Scribd's unlimited picks for March. And I dunno why, but until the very moment I started it I thought it was contemporary fantasy. Hell, I was a couple chapters in before I accepted that all the Londons were historical(ish), not just the first one we visit.


It's intriguing so far, and decidedly moreish. My listening time's been at a premium here in the country, but I hope to wallow in it when I'm back in the city next week.

Ollie flops on his back in a beige and green striped chair, his paws in the air. In front of him is a white Kobo with the cover of Where Loyalties Lie on its screen. The cover features two indistinct, pale green silhouettes in what might be a romantic embrace. Gold filigree borders the figures, and a clear glass carafe of red wine rests in the left hand corner, as if perched on the edge of the border.

I requested a review copy of WHERE LOYALTIES LIE, Logan Taylor's debut novella, because it's a poly romance and y'all know how I long for more stories that resolve their love triangles with #teamthreesome. Alas, I enjoyed the idea more than the execution. Taylor clearly loves her characters and their world, but her prose is so consistently tell-over-show that I could never share in that love. The story could've used a couple more rounds of rigorous edits to pare away extraneous detail, add more dynamic action, and emphasize the sort of sensory cues that let readers experience the characters' emotional landscapes.

Ollie lays in his striped chair, eyes closed and head bent over one paw pressed close against his chin, like he's thinking very hard about something. In front of him is a white Kobo with Stormbringer's cover on its screen. The cover features a very white, very blonde young woman with fur draped over her shoulders and a large, two-headed hammer held in front of her.

Alis Franklin's STORMBRINGER, in contrast, was everything I wanted it to be--which is to say, all mythological and queer and geeky from multiple angles.

I'm trying to decide whether or not I want to write about this series. On the one hand, I loved both books and I want tell y'all why so perhaps you, too, will buy them and love them. (Or get them from the library and love them, if your library's better about buying digital-first titles than mine is.) On the other, they hit me in a weirdly personal way that makes me wonder if I've got a proper review in me.

Then again, when have I ever let "I don't have a proper review in me" stop me from writing about something?

I've been playing around with an outline, and so far I've got a lot of, "Lemme tell you how twelve-year-old me remained spoiler free for Norse mythology and got a nasty shock." The finished product (if I ever finish it) is liable to be tangential, but maybe that ain't entirely a bad thing.

Next week: Murchie returns, along with another Very Special Surprise Guest (who probably ain't such a surprise if you follow me on Twitter).


  1. I really want to read Alis Franklin's books. Just haven't got to them yet!

  2. Would I like Stormbringer? Do you think?

    1. Sorry, sorry, that was me! Me commenting!

    2. I wondered how an unknown personage thought I could judge whether or not they'd like something!

      I think you should try a sample of LIESMITH (the first book in the series) and see if Alis Franklin's prose agrees with you. Her syntax is probably a full 25% of why I loved these books so much, but I tend to gravitate towards love-it-or-leave-it styles. The rest of it is because the books are unabashedly queer and geeky--two things I value highly--and because there's a ton of emphasis on boundaries, consent, and connection on the romance side of things. I think these are things you might enjoy too, yes? If you like Franklin's prose?