Sunday, April 3, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: March 27th to April 2nd

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by making my dog pose with everything 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 finished my SKIP BEAT! reread, and oooooh boy. Vol 34 destroyed me. Seriously, Kyoko's meeting with Lory transformed me into a quivering pile of snot and tears, as I expect it'll do every time I revisit it from now until Armageddon. It's a miracle I can still function well enough to type this.

I also ditched my read-all-the-vintage-X-Men-comics schtick for a week so I could wallow in DEADPOOL for a while. I've missed Deadpool awfully much.

A grey poodle, Murchie, lounges on a sheep-shaped pillow. He wears an orange t-shirt with brown trim and has his front paws tucked underneath him. In front of him is a white Kobo with Afrofuturism's blue-tinted cover on its screen. It features an illustration of a black woman with shiny metal prosthetics around her face and neck. Her hair is thick metal cables.

AFROFUTURISM: BLACK SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY CULTURE knocked my socks off, friends. Ytasha L. Womack has created an interdisciplinary survey text that draws on such areas as prose fiction, comics, music, science, visual art, anthropology, and performance to explore the ways these fieldss intersect throughout black speculative art, with plenty of examples and recommendations. It's fascinating, must-read-more stuff.

It also reminded me how very much I like living in the future. The dedicated music chapter made Janelle Monae's work sound so interesting that I immediately borrowed her first album from Hoopla and listened to it via my Star Destroyer-shaped bluetooth speaker as I read on. And thanks to the book, I know this lightning quick awareness-to-engagement was possible in the first place because a black scientist invented the contemporary computer.

This calls for a musical interlude.

I'm painfully in love with that song, y'all. If you need me, I'll be crying over it while I wish SKIP BEAT! currently had seventy-two volumes instead of thirty-six so I could keep on reading, baby.

Multitasking is important, even during one's crying jags.

Murchie sits in profile, his attention fixed on something outside the right side of the frame. A pale hand holds a white iPod up against his ear. Its screen shows the cover of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, featuring red, green, and blue strands of chromosomes twining together in a triangle against the backdrop of space.

New audiobook time! Finally!

I knew I should expect a new relationship for Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan in GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN. It's implied in the title, after all.

I also knew I shouldn't expect said relationship to be entirely conventional, even if turned out to be romantic. And Bujold did right by me. Jole, as it turns out, is somebody Cordelia's known for more than twenty years, because he was Aral's boyfriend and an established part of Cordelia and Aral's marriage.

I grinned my arse off soon as that came out.

The book is satisfyingly queer right from the get-go, and it's about older people (such a rarity in SFF), and it's deeply concerned with parental responsibility, and it's an unconventional love story, and it's the sort of Vorkosigan novel where someone's life changes forever, as opposed to the sort where someone solves a mystery. I'm enjoying it very much, though I think it'll ultimately end up in the "I really liked this" camp rather than "I loved this deeply" territory.

Still, I'm quite happy to really like books, especially when they give me a chance to check in with beloved characters. Bring 'em on.

Murchie rests his chin on a trade paperback copy of Gensigns. The cover features a glowing, pale skinned fist raised in the air. Behind it, mostly obscured by debris-filled air, a hoard of people stand below tall office towers.

Stephanie Saulter's GEMSIGNS was already on my radar when Jenny told me I had to read it, I just had to, but her enthusiasm gave me the push to finally request it from the library.

Alas, I didn't love it as much as she did. While the story has a lot to offer, what with its focus on the ways disabled people get shafted when lawmakers draft human rights legislation, this SFnal future wasn't quite what I felt like last week. I might've soldiered on through anyways on the strength of everyone's rave reviews and my abovementioned willingess to really like books even if I can't love them, but I also found Saulter's syntax weirdly difficult. Each page took me forever to read, and I felt like I was stagnating.

So I put it aside. I'll probably try again in a year or two.

Murchie sits in profile on a burgundy rug. Beside him, propped upright, are two hardcover volumes of Batgirl. One features a pale-skinned, green-haired man in a purple suit standing over a masked, red-haired white woman in a form-fitting black outfit with a gold bat on the chest. The other features the same woman pulling her mask off while a red-haired white man points a gun at her from behind. On the floor is a trade paperback volume with the same girl delivering a high kick while three indistinct villains surround her.

Y'all, the first couple issues of BATGIRL VOLUME TWO: KNIGHTFALL DESCENDS excited the hell out of me. I could see myself exploring all the bat-titles as Stage One of my Connect With DC plan.

Alas, my interest waned somewhat throughout the rest of the volume as crossovers encroached on Batgirl's solo missions. By the time I got to vol 3, which is a mass of crossovers and storylines that depend on one's engagement with the entire Bat Family, I was downright bored.


I've backburnered vol 4 for the next few days, at least. Maybe I'll get to it; maybe I'll return it unread and jump ahead to THE BATGIRL OF BURNSIDE, which Kelly very much enjoyed.

A large-headed Funko Pop bobblehead of Rey from Star Wars stands beside a white Kobo with the cover of The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year Five on its screen. The cover features a massive castle-slash-fortress built into a cliff. The sky behind it is gold and blue.

Here's a lucky thing: it seems like I've still got access to all the Scribd books I downloaded before the changes went into effect, possibly because I'd already poked through them all1 and Scribd was like, "Meh, you've started this so we're not gonna charge you a credit for it." This includes THE BEST OF BENEATH CEASELESS SKIES, YEAR FIVE, which I actually started a while back and, um, forgot to photograph.

Rey stepped in to give Murchie his union-mandated break. Murchie's mighty grateful.

As of last week I've settled into a story-per-day routine, and I haven't found a dud yet. Year Five was an excellent year for BCS and I'm excited to see what they've got for me throughout the back half of the anthology.

Murchie sits on a beige leather chair with a fuzzy red and white blanket draped over the back. He wears his orange t-shirt and has his paws shoulder width apart. Behind him is a hardcover copy of Me Before You. Its cover features the title and author's name in white and black text, alternating by word, against a red background.

It took him close on two years, but Murchie's finally learned the drill. Presented with yet another book yesterday morning, he took a big stretch, turned two circles in place, and adopted a perfect pose.

Watch. Next time I ask to photograph him, he'll freak out and refuse to keep his head still, just like always.

Here's the thing about ME BEFORE YOU, Jojo Moyes's much-lauded novel (coming soon to a cinema near you): as soon as you start it, you know exactly how it's gonna play out. Yeah, some of the details might surprise you, but the relationship arcs and the ending are never in any doubt because they can't be. It wouldn't be fair on the reader or the characters.

And yet, it's still compulsively readable. Moyes is awfully good at writing the sort of characters you're happy to get to know inside and out, even if you can already outline the shape of their lives. I'll certainly try more of her books, probably starting with AFTER YOU.

The cover of Paper Girls appears on a white Kobo. It features four girls of various ethnicities on their bikes, paused but ready to ride. The girls are coloured a flat, teal blue. The sky behind them is variegated pink and yellow. A small BB-8 model appears beside the Kobo, against a Union Jack pillow.

I promised you a Special Guest Star, and a Special Guest Star you shall have. Meet Tiny BB-82, the delight of my heart.

The second I saw Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang's PAPER GIRLS on NetGalley, I mashed the hell out of the Read Now button. Y'all know I'm a huge fan of Vaughan's SAGA, and I've recently enjoyed Chiang's WONDER WOMAN. I couldn't wait to see what they'd produce together.

Going in, all I really knew was that the series centered on paper delivery girls in the late 80s. That's probably all you need or want to know about the basic plot, because the comic is full of glorious surprises. At first, I rested firmly in, "But what is going on?" mode. As things became clearer (and, in the manner of stories everywhere, a hell of a lot more complicated), I skyrocketed into, "OMG THIS IS SO COOL!!!!!!one!!!!!" mode.

I want you to have that same experience, so mum's the word on the plot.

I will tell you this's a comic that firmly centres girls who're determined to do well in a job that's previously been treated as a male preserve, and I don't just mean paper delivery. Not all of them are white. Some of them have complicated families. As a group, they're deeply concerned with looking out for one another and not much interested in being "likeable."

I like them very much.

Vaughan's script is as inventive as one might expect. (I'm especially taken with the not-quite-English, if you'll let me engage in some vague gushing.) Chiang's art packs a major wallop both in the General Set Dressing department and the Important Visual Clues department. The two of them ramp the tension up higher with each issue, until this first volume ends with an extremely hooky cliffhanger.

I'll eagerly await volume two.

  1. I'm an inveterate book-opener. Doesn't matter if it's a paper book or an ebook; I've gotta flip through it about a dozen times before I even start it. Kobo keeps track of how long it takes me to read anything I've loaded into its dedicated app, and it always says I've spent anywhere from five to fifteen minutes with a book before I've officially started it.

    This messes up the "how long will it take you to finish" predictor thingy.

  2. I ordered Tiny BB-8 and its buddy, Tiny Poe (not pictured), from Chapters almost three weeks ago. I'd been longing for a BB-8 Pop! since pretty well the second BB-8 appeared on screen, but it's incredibly difficult to find since everyone else had the same idea. Most online retailers who'll ship to me want $20-30 for it, which is well beyond my price range, but Chapters had it for $11.

    Except it was always, always out of stock, so I took to checking their website periodically on the offhand chance they'd finally have a few to sell. And one day they had a single BB-8, just waiting for e to buy it.

    So I did. But even after Tiny Poe wandered into my cart, I was still under the free shipping minimum unless I got the package sent to my local store. Whenever I've done this in the past it's arrived far before the estimated delivery day, so I took the plunge.

    This time, it took a day longer than estimated. I guess it all equals out in the end, but it was still a bit of a bummer. I should've got off my wallet and ordered Tiny Finn as well so I could've had the package sent right to my house, likely at a far speedier pace.


  1. I am looking forward to Paper Girls! I really liked issue 1!

  2. I love Tiny BB-8 and I can't wait to read Paper Girls! And I'm sorry (again) that Gemsigns didn't work for you. Maybe I was just wrong and it's not the right book for you -- I finished the second one in the trilogy this afternoon and still really liked it (although maybe not QUITE as much? because it was an origin story and I like aftermath stories better). I am well excited for the third one.

    If I may offer some Jojo Moyes advice? After You is fine, but my truly most favorite of her books, and the one that I keep returning to when I am feeling crummy, is One Plus One.

    1. I WILL try it again, Jenny. I WILL.

      Please be aware, also, that I've borrowed ONE PLUS ONE because of this comment.