Sunday, May 8, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: May 1st to 7th

The premise: my dog is super cute, so I make him pose with every book I read. Sometimes he's fine with this and sometimes it vexes him terribly.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I edit them and appear here in digest form every Sunday, with descriptive alt tags and longwinded commentary.

Not pictured: I made good progress with UNCANNY X-MEN. Whee!

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, lays on a brown cushion with his left paw tucked under him and his right paw stretched right out in front. Alongside and at a slight angle to the extended paw is a white Kobo with Blue Lily, Lily Blue's cover on its screen. The cover features the blue and green silhouette of a spikey-haired girl surrounded by vines and other growing things.

I finished THE DREAM THIEVES on Sunday morning and promptly began BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE. Then I went to a play on Monday and couldn't snatch even a little bit of prose-reading time. Woe!

I helped offset the disappointment by downloading the audiobook for this one, too, so I could keep reading it while I walked to the library on Tuesday (and found twenty-seven four- and five-leaf clovers along the way, because that's how I roll). And I blew through it as quick as ever I could from there.

I spent a goodly portion of this reread thinking about how much I love Blue. Y'all know Ronan is my favourite, but Blue is my other favourite, to the point where I'm pretty sure she'd be on the Highly Exclusive List if I didn't dither about this stuff for ages and ages. She's sensible and creative and disinclined to take crap. She loves trees and dogs. Adam thinks of her and Ronan as two brands of the same thing1, something I missed the first time through and that hit me so hard this time that I decided not to analyze my love for her any further, just as I'm disinterested in analyzing my love for Ronan.

Sometimes you love a character so much that you want to expound upon that love in a public sphere. Sometimes you love a character so much you want to let that love live unquestioned inside your own head. You know?

But yeah, I find I'm also disinterested in saying much more about this one, except that there were times when it felt like my own soul. Again, I tried to write about it after the first time I read it (mostly because Jenny was like, "Dude, when are you gonna write about it?" ), and I'll refer you there if you wanna hear about how I feel things for Adam Parrish and I think Mitsubishi is an adorable world. Please note my revised stance on the Blue-as-List-material issue. Sometimes Past Memory makes terrible mistakes.

I still think Mitsubishi is an adorable word. Not that we hear it often here. I should've mentioned it when I reread THE DREAM THIEVES instead.

Murchie curls up on a bronze taffeta comforter. In front of him, almost parallel with his body, is a trade paperback copy of Black Canary Volume One. Its cover features a very pale white woman with bleached blonde hair leaping off a stage, microphone raised above her head. She wears fishnets and a black leather jacket. The background is violently pink.

Okay! Comics!

BLACK CANARY has been on my radar ever since Annie Wu was announced as its artist. Wu drew L.A. WOMAN, the HAWKEYE arc that put Kate Bishop on the List, and I was excited to see what she'd do with another female-focused title.

As it happens, she does good things that rise to the challenge of depicting music visually, all spikey and hard and glorious.

Story-wise, there's lots of music and some found families and a goodly amount of destruction. I'll look forward to the second (and, sadly, final) volume.

Murchie poses regally atop a sheep-shaped pillow, a paperback copy of Paradise Kiss Volume One held up in front of him. The book's cover features a long-haired Japanese girl wearing a broad-brimmed black hat and an elaborately knotted polka dot scarf.

I snatched the first volume of Ai Yazawa's PARADISE KISS off the library shelf after it was featured on Panels, because it's not like I'm already following a million series or anything.

It starts off very well, with a protagonist who becomes entangled with a group of fashion students just as she's coming to realize the pass-your-exams-and-get-an-office-job life ain't for her. I'm excited to see where her dreams lead her from here, and I'm pleased to see queer folks on the page, including a bisexual love interest; however, I'm also a little worried said bisexual love interest will embody some troubling stereotypes as the action heats up. Right now, he reads like bad news of the "I'm gonna toy with your emotions for a while, then cheat on you in a really loud, public way I'll probably blame you for" variety. Here's hoping that doesn't happen.

Murchie stands on a concrete step, his face raised twisted towards the viewer. He squints against the sun. Behind him, propped up right, is a hardcover copy of Batwoman Volume One. The cover is in shadow, but the principal impression is of red hair and red-lined cape at the top of the image, with the suggestion of a skull down below.

Basically all I knew about Batwoman going into this first volume of her New 52 series was that she's a lesbian whose entire creative team left the book because DC refused to let them do a storyline where she marries her girlfriend. (Shame, DC. Shame.) Now I also know she's got a complicated relationship with her dad, and she has an evil twin, and she's the kind of superhero I want to hang around with. I'm praying the next couple of volumes live up to the promise this one shows.

Even if I can't get behind the story, I know I'm gonna be all over the art. I first discovered J.H. Williams III, BATWOMAN's cowriter and penciller, via his work on SANDMAN: OVERTURE. Ditto colour artist Dave Stewart. The two team up here, too, and they're fabulous. I can't praise Williams's layouts long or loud enough, and while BATWOMAN doesn't give Stewart quite as much space to play as SANDMAN did, he still delivers the goods.

Murchie displays his profile to the viewer from the comfort of his sheep-shaped pillow. The hair around his right eye is visibly stiff. Behind him is a hardcover copy of Wandering Son volume two. Its cover features two Japanese children standing against an indistinct, sketched-in background.

Please excuse Murchie's goopy eye. Little dude's been dealing with allergies this week, which is part of the reason he'll cede the floor to Tiny Thor in the picture below this one.

The rest of the reason is, of course, that he had so many emotions re: The Raven Cycle being over that he couldn't keep his head still.

I feel like I've found my readerly stride with the second volume of Shimura Takako's WANDERING SON. This installment sees the two trans kids deepening their friendship and exploring their identity even further, with partial help from an older trans woman named Yuki. While it's great to see the kids interacting with a happy, adult trans character, I'm nervous about Yuki's interest in Yoshino and I hope she doesn't conform to harmful stereotypes.

On a much less fraught note, I just learned Shimura Takako worked on ALDNOAH.ZERO. This has got me excited for the rest of the series.

A large-headed Funko Pop bobblehead of Thor stands next to a white iPod with The Raven King's cover on its screen. The cover features the silhouette of an Irish elk in twisted profile, swirls of blue within its face and ravens circling its antlers.

Sadness, friends. Kobo raised THE RAVEN KING's price from $11.77 (expensive but doable, especially with a coupon) to $16.11 (more than I can justify spending on anything nontransferable, especially when none of my coupons actually work), thereby quashing my plan to buy it and live happily ever after. I wanted to cry.

I couldn't buy the book, but I could still download the audio right away through Hoopla. It even made a certain amount of sense, since I've listened to all the other books at least once and I do usually try to finish a series in the same format I started it in. This time around, though, I loved reading the series in print. I loved pausing to think about things, or to reread paragraphs I especially loved, or to highlight lines that resonated with me. I wanted that experience with the final book, too.

So I started the audiobook halfway reluctantly, determined to make it my primary book instead of a side read as my audiobooks usually are. It wasn't long before the format didn't even matter. Will Patton's performance was as wonderful as always, and the story took me everywhere I'd ever wanted to go.

I walked miles with it, and I finally tackled a bunch of hands-on-brain-off things I'd been putting off, and when I ran out of productive tasks and couldn't face pausing long enough to switch to my earbuds and walk some more, I just sat there with my steepled fingers pressed to my forehead, wondering how many tears I'd shed before Will Patton intoned the final words.

It was amazing. I had to add the whole series to my Top 16 (formerly Top 12) list the moment I'd finished. I was mighty tempted to start over at THE RAVEN BOYS, too, but I did just read four books in a row by a white American woman and I figured it was time I injected some diversity back into my reading list.

If I want to reread the whole thing again immediately next time, I hereby give myself permission to do so.

With this one, I'm divided on the whole "I love it so much I don't wanna talk about it" thing, because I do want to talk about it but I want all that talking to involve me screeching spoilers, saying things like, "FUCKING [CHARACTER NAME], MAN," and maybe gushing about Henry and Robo-Bee. So I can I just tell you one thing?

ONE SPOILERISH THING IN THE PARAGRAPH RIGHT BELOW THIS ONE? With perhaps an implied spoiler in the one below that, depending on how you look at these things?

Y'all know I want to kill the Death of Magic with fire and/or a few well-placed stab wounds. I was terrified it'd crop up here, and I'm beyond relieved Maggie Stiefvater didn't take that route on any level. Right up until the end, she left me wondering if she'd done it; not in terms of the entire world, but perhaps for Adam and Ronan2 because of the nature of the final sacrifice. Everything that happened in the epilogue conceivably fit into a post-personal-magic world, until it didn't. And the bit where it didn't made me so frickin' happy I had to cry and squirm and grin for a while.

I love the multitude of things Stiefvater doesn't wrap up, too, because as Ronan notes, they're proof there's more out there. I adore endings that let me imagine the characters I've come to love striding forward into a new, exciting future. Maybe I won't get to hear about it, but they'll get to live it, and that's good enough for me.

Next week: a couple things I actually read at the end of last week and couldn't face writing about while I had a terrible cold and really just wanted to get to bed. More comics. Some prose fiction by WOC. A new audiobook. Murchie's adorably fluffy face.

  1. SPOILER: I also keep snickering over how they're also two brands of a thing he'd rather like to snog.
  2. Another book I recently loved and shall not name took the whole individual-Death-of-Magic route, so I'm hyper alert for it right now. Instances where someone loses their personal magic because the narrative requires a sacrifice are easier for me to deal with than instances where magic departs from the whole frickin' world, but they still break my heart.


  1. I figure I am going to have to get The Raven King on audio since I have the other 3 books in the series on audio... But as it stands right now, I will be reading it because I don't want to reactivate Audible yet...

    1. It's fabulous in any format. I'll be shocked (and delighted) if I read anything better in the rest of 2016.

  2. I JUST LOVE BLUE SO MUCH I LOVE THEM ALL SO MUCH. Like you, it took me a bit to get a handle on Blue -- everything clicked in for me so much in the third book when she finally figures out how to use her special brand of non-psychic power. BLUE SARGENT.

    And yes, one of my utter most favorite things about the book is how the magic isn't over at the end. Even their adventures as a group are not over, and I love that Stiefvater lets us see how much more there is for them all. ALSO THAT ADAM PARRISH WAS DRIVING RONAN'S CAR REMEMBER THAT PART.

    1. TEAM BLUE.

      Fuck it. She's officially on the list.

      My biggest fear for the ending, even above the Death of Magic and irrevocable character deaths, was that they'd all drift apart and stop being intense friends. Now we know they'll do their own shit, yeah, but they're a family and they'll still have adventures together. It brightens my soul.


  3. I've only read the first two volumes of Wandering Son, so I don't know what happens with Yuki in the long run - fingers crossed it's not anything like that :(


    1. I've got the next two volumes waiting for me at the library, so I'll report back.