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: MOAR X-MEN. I charged on through UNCANNY, with a few stop-overs in X-MAN and GENERATION X, then resumed my UNCANNY/X-MEN rotation once I reached the point where more issues of the latter were available on Marvel Unlimited. I'm back into Chris Claremont's second run on the series now, and I've almost finished rereading the stuff I devoured as a teenager.
Murchie flat out refused to pose nicely with A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT [Amazon | Kobo], so I put it on the glass coffee table and waited for him to lie down on his pillow stairs. (He injured one of his legs when he was three or four and has had trouble jumping ever since. Conventional doggie stairs scare him, but he's happy to use a couple of pillows piled together for the same purpose.) Victory! Little dude didn't even know he was posing.
This strategy is gonna come in handy in the future.
It breaks my heart to have to tell you I abandoned the book Murchie was so reluctant to sit nicely beside. I loved the hell out of Sabaa Tahir's first offering (AN EMBER IN THE ASHES), but try though I might, I couldn't find the spark with this one. There were a few brief moments where it reminded me of all the reasons I loved its predecessor so very, very much, but for the most part I struggled to connect. Around page 240, I admitted it was never gonna happen and took my bookmark out.
I'll try again after the third book's release, just in case it was a mood thing. If not, I'll take comfort in the fact that AN EMBER IN THE ASHES works well as a standalone in the Robin McKinley vein (ie, there are dangly bits but it's all part of the charm).
In contrast, Willow Scarlett's INTEGRITY [Amazon | Kobo | Scribd] hooked me fast and blew me away. It's a contemporary queer romance about two musicians who initially clash but soon realize they've got a whole lot more in common than just their mutual physical attraction. There's a strong emphasis on being true to yourself, and on recognizing that others' truths aren't necessarily gonna match yours but are still worthy of your respect. The characters have amazing chemistry both in and out of bed, their hangups feel genuine, and Scarlett's insider knowledge of the hardcore scene infuses the musical side of the equation with authenticity. I devoured it quick as ever I could.
Also worth noting: Scarlett is a kiwi, and even though this particular book takes place on a tour across the US she's made minimal attempt to Americanize her language. I appreciate that.
I'm forever grateful to Anastasia for tweeting about Scarlett a couple months back, too. Hurray for friends who rec awesome books!
(Oh, and Scarlett and I aren't related. Just in case you were wondering. A+ name though, Willow Scarlett. I approve.)
I loved INTEGRITY so much that I immediately spent another Scribd credit on COIN TRICKS [Amazon | Kobo | Scribd], a contemporary romance set in Auckland. (My city! My love!) This one's about a Māori loss prevention officer and a Pākehā librarian who meet when the librarian steals some soap. There's tons about clicking with people because of their oddities, not in spite of them, with a hefty emphasis on family into the bargain. Wire (pronounced like "widdy" with a kiwi accent, which is a bit different from "widdy" with a Canadian or American accent) has a large family that frequently expands to encompass members of his wider community. Sid has sole responsibility for his little sister, Gina, and the two of them quickly (if somewhat hesitantly) get pulled into Wire's family as well. It's charming.
Plus there are lots of books, and some stage magic, and a cool dog, and I'm only about a third of the way in as I write this but I love it so muuuuuuuuch. I want to give it to Alana from SAGA, if that means anything to you. I think she'd be super into it because it's intense and important in this really everyday way where the characters eat a lot of meals together and listen to books on tape and make friendship bracelets and do stuff for their little siblings. Y'know?
Next week: probably some more contemporary romance. Maybe a YA fantasy or two. A new audiobook.