Sunday, April 10, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: April 3rd to 9th

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 take them and appear here in digest form every Sunday, with descriptive alt tags and additional commentary.

Not pictured: I finally read SILK, Marvel's first comic with an Asian-American lead, and it was great.

I finished the fifth BEST OF BENEATH CEASELESS SKIES collection, too. The back half was every bit as fabulous as I hoped it would be.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, sits with his chin extended over a white Kobo with Illuminae's orange and yellow cover on its screen. The Kobo's backlight casts a glow over his beard, while the rest of him gradually fades into shadow.

Pretty well the moment I started Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff's ILLUMINAE, I knew it was gonna be special. The opening was intense... but alas, things died down a bit after that.

It was still really good, mind. It just wasn't the can't-tear-myself-away read I'd been led to expect, both by that opening and by friends who'd already finished it.

I resigned myself to another book I'd really like rather than love (which, I'll remind you, is not a bad thing), until I reached the 45% mark and my attitude suddenly transitioned from, "This is pretty good," to, "OMG WHAT IS THIS BEAUTY." And it never let up after that.

ILLUMINAE's got so many of my favourite things. It's epistolary, so it allows us to see each character from multiple angles. It's not necessarily reliable, since the characters are emotionally compromised by the trauma they've endured and under orders not to talk openly about the seriously bad shit going down around them. There are space battles. Someone goes mad.

(Madness isn't necessarily one of my favourites, but it does tend to crop up in the stuff I love. Consumption--of the lungs, not conspicuous--usually follows hot on its heels, but not this time. Maybe in the sequel.)

It ends with one hell of a bang. I'm so glad there's more forthcoming later this year.

Murchie sprawls on a red blanket, his eyes barely open. He wears an orange t-shirt with brown trim, and has all his paws bunched together and pointed towards a white Kobo with Half Bad's cover on its screen. The cover depicts a male face silhouetted in swirls of white smoke against a black background.

It's always interesting to revisit a book I first fell in love with on audio. Sally Green's HALF BAD remains intense and immersive, and I enjoyed picking up on all the foreshadowing I missed the first time around just as much as I missed narrator Carl Prekopp's stunning performance.

Murchie lounges on a fuzzy white pillow, his head raised and in three-quarter profile. A pale-skinned hand holds a white iPod parallel with his chin. The cover of Flight appears on the iPod's screen and features the black silhouette of a boy brandishing two guns and wearing a feather in his hair. The boy appears against a bullseye with yellow, red, blue, and black rings radiating out from the centre.

Twenty minutes into Sherman Alexie's FLIGHT, I knew I'd have to read his entire backlist. This is the sort of funny, tragic, immediate, compelling, shut-up-and-listen stuff I need more of in my life. Zits, FLIGHT's protagonist, is a smart, well-informed kid who's been completely betrayed by the system, and Alexie does a phenomenal job of taking us inside the influences that make Zits who he is. It's not a nice book, by any means. Zits has had a shit life, and he gets a firsthand look at some brutal history when he's catapulted backwards through time. But ultimately, he finds reason to hope things can be better, no matter how awful life was in the historical past or in his own early years. I cried.

Murchie pokes his head out of a red blanket cave. Directly in front of him is a trade paperback copy of Lady Killer. Its cover features a very thin brunette white woman wearing a pink A-line dress splattered in blood. She stands in a similarly bloodspattered kitchen and holds a mop.

I took note of Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich's LADY KILLER as soon as word of the first issue hit my inbox, but it wasn't until it showed up on a Panels recs list that I rushed to my library to request the trade. I'm pleased to report I enjoyed it very much. It's a fresh take on female assassins, and the art is stellar. Word on the street says a sequel's in the works, too; excellent news indeed.

Murchie gives the viewer the side-eye as he sits on a burgundy rug, slightly in front of an upright, pale green trade paperback copy of Kings Rising.

I didn't love the Captive Prince Trilogy the way the rest of the world does, and that's largely because I ain't here for master-slave romantic relationships. I can't root for two people to end up with one another when one of them owns the other.

KINGS RISING removes that obstacle, so you'll be unsurprised to hear it was my favourite of the three. I even loved it, in a quiet sort of way. Pacat delivers plenty of between-the-lines emotional resonance, plus a fair amount of machination. I read it in a single evening.

You may recall, too, that one of my big issues with CAPTIVE PRINCE was Damen's attitude towards slavery. He's horrified at the slave conditions he encounters in Vere, but he's still fine with the institution itself. It's not a matter of, "Oh hell, slavery is terrible!" but of, "I wish slavery were like it is back home." By KINGS RISING, he's realized that's a fucking awful opinion and has decided to abolish slavery once he regains his throne, with the acknowledgement that it won't be easy because the whole frickin' culture runs on slavery.

Good for you, Damen.

Murchie lays on his fuzzy white pillow with his ears perked and his attention fixed on something to the right of the frame. A white iPod with The Winner's Crime's cover on its screen rests across his front legs. The cover features a blonde white woman in a blue dress, holding a sword over her shoulder a horrifically awkward angle.

I also held myself aloof from THE WINNER'S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski due to my strong feelings on the master-slave relationship issue, and I didn't rush towards the sequel, THE WINNER'S CRIME, as quickly as I might have done. Jenny loves this series, though, and the final book came out late last month, so I figured it was about time I dove back in.

I've only just scratched the surface, but I already like THE WINNER'S CRIME so much more than its predecessor. Nobody's enslaved to anyone else anymore, and Kestrel's got lots of strategery1 to be getting on with, and Jenny's enthusiasm has bolstered my own in the most delightful way. I hope I scrounged lots more time with it yesterday as I tackled my to-do list.

A large-headed Funko Pop bobblehead of Poe Dameron stands to the viewer's right of a white Kobo with Half Wild's cover on its screen. The cover features acid green smoke that swirls into the outline of a howling wolf against a black background.

Meet Tiny Poe. He wandered into my cart when I bought Tiny BB-8, and it would've been rude to kick him out again seeing as how those two are such buddies.

I'd hoped to tear through HALF WILD yesterday afternoon, but I was quite ill last week and lost Saturday morning to the same old ailment. That left me with the abovementioned to-do list (including finalizing this post), and it's anyone's guess whether I finished the book or not.

It's another reread I first fell in love with on audio, as I discussed at great length last summer, and I'm loving it again now. I'm both excited to finish it and read the final book in the trilogy and really, really nervous, since I think I saw a life-destroying spoiler on Twitter a week or so back. It may apply to some other series with a similar romantic setup, so I'm trying to ignore it until I've read it for myself.

Tell me nothing, please.

Next week: A GATHERING OF SHADOWS, HALF LOST, and whatever else my library due dates require me to read post haste.

  1. Years and years ago, SNL ran a sketch where George W. Bush cited "strategery" as the number one word to summarize his platform. It's been a favourite of mine ever since.


  1. Hahaha, Memory, our friendship makes me smile sometime. I ALSO immediately went back and tried again with Half Bad, and I'm already liking it way more than I did when I first tried it. As soon as Half Third One shows up on my library's ebook service, I'm going to check out all three and tear through em. Boom. BOOK FRIENDS 4 LIFE.


  2. I all ready commented on this post via text... lol This is the post I am reading while we are texting! :) I am looking forward to several of these...

    1. I'm unsurprised you loved ILLUMINAE. :)