Sunday, April 17, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: April 10th to 16th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by photographing my dog with every book I read, barring the comics I get as single issues.

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 felt ready to continue my UNCANNY X-MEN read-through, so I had myself a most enjoyable binge--until I discovered Marvel Unlimited doesn't have the whole series after all. Their library jumps right from #66 to #94, so I'll have to rejig my plans. Sadness.

I'm so bummed I'll miss the issue where Beast becomes blue and hairy. I've been wondering about that for decades, and googling it would be way too easy.

I've been picking away at another TALES OF THE JEDI miniseries, too. Someday I'll even finish it.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, lays on a sheep-shaped pillow. He wears an orange t-shirt with the continent of Australia printed in brown on the back, and his chin rests slightly above a white Kobo with Skip Beat Volume 36's cover on its screen. The cover features a young Japanese man wearing a grey three-piece suit with the jacket slung over his shoulder.

I resisted SKIP BEAT!'s siren song for as long as I could, desperate to lessen the wait between volumes 36 and 37, but last Sunday I caved and used my Amazon affiliate earnings to get volume 36. (This is what I plan to do with all my thus far unimpressive takings. Please buy stuff through the link in my sidebar and help me collect the whole series! #shamelessplug) I gulped it down as quick as I ever I could, and when I was done my face hurt from all the grinning.

Now I've gotta wait months upon months for volume 37, which I expect will make me sob as well as grin because it looks an awful lot like we'll finally meet Kyoko's mom. FEELS.

Seriously, though, how long do you think it'd take me to learn Japanese so I could read each chapter as it comes out? Because I don't buy anything in issues, but I'd buy this.

Murchie stands on a pale wood floor. A massive hardcover copy of The New Frontier rests upright slightly behind him. Its cover features cartoon-style illustrations of many DC superheroes flying towards the viewer, foremost among them Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the Flash.

Panels recently ran a list of five excellent standalone DC stories, and I promptly searched my library's catalogue for the lot. Unfortunately, my library's rather spottier with older DC trades than they are with Marvel, and THE NEW FRONTIER by Darwyn Cooke is the only title I've got easy access to. (Thank goodness for the recent reissue!) I requested it, picked it up, and dug in with the intent of reading a chapter or two a day until I'd finished this massive tome.

A hundred and fifty pages later, I admitted I was in it until the end and damn anything else that might crop up.

THE NEW FRONTIER begins at the end of World War II and stretches through to the very end of the 50s. It's deeply rooted in the company's core set of heroes, but it celebrates them in a way established fans and newcomers can both enjoy. It hit all the notes I knew to expect from my patchy knowledge of DC even as it took me places I didn't expect. While Cooke celebrates this era, he doesn't ignore its dark side. There's war here, and racism, and horrific perversions of justice. The sort of stuff a League devoted to Justice could help with, maybe?

I devoured the whole thing, then went back and reread large chunks of it as I worked my way through the extensive endnotes. My enthusiasm for my DC reading project waned somewhat during my disappointing experience with BATGIRL, but I'm now primed and ready to keep reading. I'm especially looking forward to exploring Green Lantern, since THE NEW FRONTIER made me ridiculously fond of Hal Jordan.

Murchie lays on his sheep-shaped pillow, his ears perked towards something outside the frame to the right. In front of him is a white Kobo with A Gathering of Shadows's cover on its screen. The cover features a minimalist illustration of a masked person in a knee-length red and black coat. They hold a dagger in each hand as they float above the map-filled silhouettes of nine hands outstretched to grab them.

I had this wonderful, wonderful plan for A GATHERING OF SHADOWS by V.E. Schwab. It involved a couch and Murchie and a marathon reading session, possibly with Led Zeppelin or Janelle Monae playing in the background.

So of course, I struggled to focus on prose fiction in print last week. Blah.

I finally managed to find the time yesterday, and once I settled in (with Tori Amos and The Doors in the background) I could hardly tear myself away. A GATHERING OF SHADOWS is my third 5-star book of 2016.

And as I approached the end, I realized something odd. I loved this book with all my soul, and I did not want to talk about it.

I paused and reflected on how that never, ever happens to me. Then I realized it actually happens on a fairly regular basis, but I always push through. I always make myself write a review, or engage in some short(ish)-form gushing during a Murchie Plus Books segment, or at least ALL CAPS on Twitter.

In the past, the books I've loved in this particular over-the-moon-about-it-don't-wanna-gush-about-it way have been review copies, or books with smaller readerships, or books I felt I should talk about because they did important things and I felt the need to prove I grasped their importantness. This time, I've fallen in love with a library book with a good-sized readership (and a TV option), and I don't want to muck around with justifying that love in any way, shape, or form.

So let's leave it at that for now. Maybe I'll change my mind and write a couple thousand words on my response to both A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC and A GATHERING OF SHADOWS. Maybe I won't.

Or maybe I'll feel up to some long-form justification when I reread them in preparation for the third book, which I hope and pray will be out early next year because I need moooooooore.

(But if it's not, no worries. I can be patient! Just look at how well I've been waiting for THE DOORS OF STONE by Patrick Rothfuss!)

Murchie lays on his sheep-shaped pillow, his paws crossed in front of him. He wears his orange Australia t-shirt. Beside him is a white iPod with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up's cloudy blue cover on its screen.

I dislike owning things, so I've spent the last few years divesting myself of craploads of stuff and asking people not to give me physical presents for birthdays or holidays. This being the case, I figured it was about time I compared notes with Marie Kondo.

There are areas where she and I diverge1, but for the most part I did a lot of nodding and smiling and resolving to find a copy of THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP for certain family members who shall remain nameless.

I'm also all fired up to get rid of some more crap, because owning stuff you don't love is the woooooooorst.

A white iPod leans up against a speaker shaped like a Star Destroyer. Its screen shows the cover of A Corner of White, featuring a brunette white girl holding a gleaming white piece of paper up to her face as an orange umbrella blows by in the background. Underneath the speaker and the iPod is a puzzle consisting mainly of horrid purple grapes still on the vine.

My iPod's almost full and Sync is fast approaching, so I figured it was about time I listened to (and deleted) some of the audiobooks I got last summer. I decided to start with A CORNER OF WHITE by Jaclyn Moriarty because I couldn't even sort of remember what it was about and there was a chance I'd end up abandoning it right away, thereby freeing myself up to listen to something else.

Nope. Turns out, A CORNER OF WHITE is quite wonderful. It's about a girl in Cambridge who ran away from her old life, mother in tow, and isn't quite sure how to adjust to her new circumstances. And it's about a boy in the Kingdom of Cello who can't abandon hope of finding his vanished father, even though everyone knows the odds of surviving a Purple attack are really frickin' slim. They start writing to one another via a crack that connects a Cambridge parking metre with a Cello art installation, and everything's gloriously weird and off-kilter. It reminded me a little of Laura Ruby's BONE GAP2 and a little of Kerstin Gier's RUBY RED, less for the plot than for the atmosphere.

Thankfully, Hoopla has the sequel on audio. I'm gonna listen to some nonfiction to preserve my readerly balance, then dive in in defiance of this whole "clear shit off my iPod" plan.

Please note, also, that the puzzle I set the book (and my trusty Star Destroyer speaker) atop kicked my ass while I listened. I hereby swear off close-in vineyard puzzles for the rest of my natural life.

Next week: hopefully both THE QUEEN OF THE NIGHT and HALF LOST. They're due back within a couple days of each other, so I've gotta hurry the hell up if I want to avoid going back in the queue.

  1. You'll be unsurprised to hear we're furthest apart on books. Kondo believes one shouldn't own more than thirty books or so, because who the hell rereads their books anyways?

    Uh, me? For the last ten eight or nine years, I've only kept books I intend to reread. For the last two, I've only kept those that're important to me. (When I want to reread the ones I discard, I'll borrow them from the library.) I replace physical copies with ebooks whenever they show up in $2.99 or lower sales, too, but even with this strategy in place I doubt I'll ever have fewer than thirty physical books in my life.

  2. Which, FYI, will be free during the final week of Sync 2016. Y'all want to listen to it because it's initially confusing but ultimately awesome. I bawled my fucking eyes out when Roza did the thing. BAWLED. THEM. OUT.


  1. Okay but Memory let me draw your attention to an important problem which is that my library has a totally confusing number of volumes of Skip Beat and after I have read through the first ten, it will all be chaos. And right now that's okay, I don't care that much, but once I'm TEN VOLUMES IN I will care a very great deal. What would you advise? As my friend?

    1. Ooooh, Jenny, this is a tough one. Things really start to intensify around Volume 10. Are your librarians nice people? Would they be sympathetic if you were like, "I noticed you're missing a bunch of volumes in this manga series and I'd appreciate it if you ordered the missing ones so the city's entire library-using population could benefit"? Because that's what I'd most advise.

      Alternately, I can try to tell you the missing bits as you require them, but that's maybe not the best solution because the volumes also blend together when you read thirty-six of them in a row, as I did, and I can't guarantee I won't tell you Volume Twenty-Six stuff when I mean to tell you Volume Eighteen stuff.

  2. A GATHERING OF SHADOWS!! I am looking forward to that!