Sunday, July 24, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: July 17th to 23rd

The premise: I make my dog pose with everything I read, barring single issue comics. He's less fond of this arrangement than I am.

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: tons more UNCANNY X-MEN. Lemme tell you, all these early-90s 40- to 60-page issues are gonna be the death of me. WHY, MARVEL? WHYYYYYYY?

I hit #325 last night, so now I'm gonna backtrack and read Age of Apocalypse. Let's hope the vast majority of the issues are twenty-four pages.

I finished THE WITCH WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, too, so expect a spotlight post about Serial Box Publishing in the near future.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, perches atop a fluffy, cow-shaped pillow. Below him, leaning up against the pillow, is a trade paperback copy of Flight Volume Eight. Its cover features an enormous winged creature silhouetted against a golden, reddish, purple sunset, with misty mountains visible down below.

Murchie's beloved sheep-shaped pillow has lost most of its floof and gained more than a few stains. Luckily, my local thrift shop yielded a brand new cow-shaped pillow he can use as a substitute.

The little dude's still getting used to this new level of comfort.

He curled up on it the other day while I finished rereading the eighth and final FLIGHT anthology. The FLIGHT series brings together a couple hundred pages of short comics per volume. Most of them are all-ages, with the caveat that some of the offerings may scare really little kids, and editor Kazu Kibuishi solicits work from non-Americans and POC as well as white American creators. The volumes are usually contain more work by men than women, but in every other respect they're a real treat. I'm glad I took the time to revisit this one.

A shot from above of a bluetooth speaker shaped like a Star Destroyer. It sits atop a puzzle of a large crowd of people in early 18th century dress standing before some columns. Beside it is a white iPod with the cover of Yes, Chef on its screen. The cover features a smiling black man.

I've been meaning to read Marcus Samuelsson's memoir, YES, CHEF, for ages and ages now, but I have a perennial nonfiction commitment problem and keep returning the print edition unread. Luckily, Scribd has the audiobook and I managed to start it this week, with a few hiccups due to illness and family stuff.

It's great so far; very food-focused, with reminiscences on family, race, and sport as well. I'm hoping to finish it over the next couple of days.

A water bottle shaped like a stylized grey fox leans upright against a pair of black and gold pillows, next to a trade paperback copy of Giant Days. The comic's cover features a white Goth-lite girl sitting on a dufflebag.

Sometimes I procrastinate on photographing Murchie with stuff (mainly because he spends soooooo much time on his cow, and I want to provide some variety but feel bad about making him move), and my library due dates creep up on me, and I end up photographing books with my hot water bottle instead of with my dog.

The hot water bottle's name is Roxy Foxy, because she's a fox and she rocks.

GIANT DAYS, written by John Allison and drawn by Lissa Treiman, is about three girls who start university, become instafriends, and have all sorts of intense everyday adventures. They grapple with colds, dudebros, failed romances, and all the tensions of trying to forge a life away from your roots. It's really good, but as is so often the case I think I'll need at least one more volume to decide if I can love it.

Murchie lounges on his cow-shaped pillow, his ears perked and one paw stretched out before him. Behind him is a white Kobo with Sweep In Peace's cover on its screen. The cover features the profile of a blonde white woman wearing a hooded blue robe. Her hair floats in a galactic breeze while stars swirl behind her.

And sometimes due dates force me to bump books up in my reading queue, whether or not I'm able to make Murchie pose with them. SWEEP IN PEACE was really high on my list of Stuff I Wanted To Read, until all of a sudden it was due in three days and I hadn't even started it.

Eep. The kick in the pants was an excellent thing, though, as the book clicked perfectly with my mood and provided a nice diversion from everything else going on.

If y'all missed the time I read CLEAN SWEEP, be aware this series is science fiction in urban fantasy drag. Vampires, werewolves, magic users, and all the other usual suspects exist, but they're aliens who use Earth as a stopover between various other galactic points. It's fun and cool, and this time around some of the characters from Andrews's Edge series show up. Hurray for crossovers!

It's also got me thinking about how much I love the practicality in Andrews's books. They tell stories about magic and super-advanced science, but their characters still worry about stuff like balancing their budgets, ensuring their businesses succeed, and cleaning up dog pee when their pets decide to show their displeasure. I appreciate that.

Murchie snuggles into his cow pillow. Slightly in front of him, angled so his face peeks out over its edge, is a white Kobo with Whitehall Episode Seven's cover on its screen. The cover features an eyeless, blonde white woman in historical dress, twisted slightly so the viewer can see her gown is undone at the top.

Circumstances kept me from getting to WHITEHALL's seventh episode as quickly as I wanted to, but I made sure it was my very first read for the 24 In 48 Readathon. If all goes well, I'll devour Episode Eight today as the 'thon continues.

This episode's a bit quieter than the last. Charles II's court is in a tizzy as a Muscovite delegation descends on Whitehall, simultaneously giving the royal treasury a boost with their luxurious gifts and draining it with their demands for forty days of celebration as part of their negotiations with England. Writer Barbara Samuel lets us indulge in the festivities from both the noble and common perspectives, then turns the focus to Catherine and Barbara's struggles. Catherine still desperately wants a child. Barbara misses sex in general and Charles in specific.

I spent a lot of this episode thinking about Barbara and whether one ought to consider her a villain. Personally, I don't. She's often an antagonist because both she and Catherine are in love with the same man and because all her paths to courtly success take her across Catherine's path, but she acts in her own interests instead of maliciously tripping Catherine up. Sometimes that's a side effect, yes, but her intent is to preserve her own station rather than to revel in cruelty.

There's a great bit here where she wonders whether she and Catherine are enemies at all. Could this be a hint at a future truce, if not an outright friendship?

Tell me nothing. I'm determined to remain spoiler-free for this period in history.

Except I was telling my aunt about WHITEHALL, since she used to keep King Charles Cavaliers, and she informed me that Charles II put a law in place to ensure Cavaliers could go anywhere at all in England, up to and including Parliament. This is still the case. I'm delighted.

I tried to see if Queen Elizabeth has done anything similar for Corgis, but it doesn't look like it. I did learn several of the Corgis she had in the 1980s were so vicious a pet psychologist was called in, so maybe she decided it was best to place some limits on her dogs.

A pale hand holds a trade paperback copy of Princess Jellyfish Volume Two up against a grey wall covered in artistic postcards surrounded by washi tape frames. The book's cover features two Japanese people in ball gowns and crowns.

The second PRINCESS JELLYFISH omnibus helped me sustain my 24 In 48 momentum, and since Murchie was still asleep I held it up against my gallery wall as part of the first mini challenge.

I looooove this series, y'all. It's about loving things deeply, and going beyond that love to engage with other parts of the world even when it scares you. Amars don't always succeed in their interactions with non-otaku (or with stylish don't-you-call-me-otaku-even-though-I-am-one like Kuranosuke), and sometimes they backslide into their comfort zones because change is a process. Whatever happens, though, nobody's life remains the same for long.

I do hope the series doesn't end with everyone backing down from the stuff they love, though. I especially don't want Kuranosuke to stop wearing womens' clothing, since fiction needs more gender nonconforming characters. Plus I like it when he and Tsukimi play dressup.

On another note, I still feel like I'm missing something with Mayaya's hand gestures. Do any of y'all read this manga? Can you tell me what's up with that? Is it, like, a traditional Three Kingdoms thing, like the grammatical poses people adopt in Daniel Abraham's Long Price Quartet? Or is Mayaya just really into body language?

Murchie lies on a bronze comforter, his paws over his nose. Beside him, at an angle, is a white Kobo with the cover of Bookburners Season Two Episode Five on its screen. The cover features a stylized illustration of a cup of tea with a skull drawn on the tea in milk.

Then it was on to BOOKBURNERS with Sleepy!Murchie, who does this adorable paws-plus-nose thing pretty well every day.

"Debtor's Prison," written by Mur Lafferty, brings Asanti back to the forefront as we learn that a) she owes the Maitresse of the Black Market a debt for an unspecified favour, and b) the Maitresse is her ex.

Which is great on a bunch of different levels. One, recurring characters are fun, especially when we get to explore them from a new angle. Two, Asanti's Complicated Past is bound to be tied into the larger goals she's working towards this season, so we get more pieces of the puzzle. Three, y'all know I always want more queer women in my fiction, and while we've heard mention of Asanti's grandchildren I can't recall anything about her past partners' genders. Hurray for confirmation that at least one of them was a woman!

So Lafferty gives us all that, and delivers the sort of mystery that has the members of Team Three pooling their strengths as only they can. Sal gets to detect, Liam gets to do tech stuff (and experience an existential crisis when there's no tech omg), and Grace gets to punch stuff, while Asanti uncovers truths and MenchĂș politics it up back in Rome.

I had a great time with it, as always, and hope to read the next episode today as part of the abovementioned 'thon.

A pale hand holds a hardcover copy of The Ocean At The End of the Lane up against an open French door that gives onto a wooden deck. A ginger cat sits on the deck, his mouth open in a yawn.

I zipped out to the country for a bit to visit Ollie, my favourite cat. He helped me with THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE for the Shortest Book square on my bookish bingo card, and in exchange I made sure he was well supplied with cuddles, outdoors time, and his favourite untreated well water. (Something about the salt content really does it for him.)

I somehow managed to make it this far through life without learning what THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is actually about. (This might not have been an issue if I read jacket copy like a normal person.) Turns out, it's a smorgasboard of mythology, some of which draws on traditions I'm familiar with and some of which springs from Neil Gaiman's imagination. I shall tell you no more than that in case you, too, avoid jacket copy and haven't yet learned what else is going on here.

Gaiman's writing is as wonderful as always, but I ran into the usual problem. I love his stuff, I really do, but I gravitate more towards his longer work because for me, Gaiman is perfectly all right until all of a sudden he's fucking awesome--and that transition usually comes a fair ways into any given story. His shorter work is still great, but it's rare for me to find the click point that transforms one of his short stories or novellas from something I really like to something I love deeply.

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE was still great, y'all. Please don't think I disliked it.

Next week: all the stuff I read during the second half of the Readathon; so, comics and serials and perhaps a novel or two.


  1. I am slowly reading Bookburners. Need more reading time!

  2. You should have seen me light up when I saw you were reading Giant Days. I've heard about it from a bunch of different bloggers at this point and it sounds excellent. My library just got the second volume in, so I'm hoping to get both of the first two volumes on my next library run.