Sunday, November 6, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: October 31st to November 5th

I make my dog pose beside everything I read, barring single issue comics. The resulting photos go live on Instagram as I edit them and appear here in digest form every Sunday, with descriptive alt tags and long winded commentary.

This week's Not Pictured comics include the first NIGHTCRAWLER miniseries, a bit more NEW X-MEN, and the very start of X-TREME X-MEN, which I turned to because I miss Storm so damned much. Why can't Storm be in every X-Men comic the way Wolverine is?

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, lies on a cow-shaped pillow. Propped up against the pillow is a white Kobo in a grey and orange case. It has the cover of The Purloined Poodle on its screen, featuring a red-haired white man seated in an armchair. A large grey Irish Wolfhound and a smaller black and white Boston Terrier sit to either side of him.

I drafted a mini review for THE PURLOINED POODLE [Amazon], Kevin Hearne's most recent Iron Druid novella, then realized it was substantial enough to warrant its own post. The short version is that this was a ton of fun and Murchie and I remain firm members of Team Oberon. The long version will go live on November 15th.

Murchie lies slightly in front of a hardcover copy of The Girl From Everywher. Its black cover features a black ship with red sails, poised atop a swirl of blue sea with a girl's eyes reflected in it.

I requested THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE [Amazon] because Jenny raved about it. As usual, Jenny was right. (Obligatory pause so Jenny can be adorably smug about how she was right.) Heidi Heilig's debut has diverse found families, sailing, maps, heists, difficult choices, social issues, mythology, time travel... the works, basically. I gulped down the last two hundred and fifty pages in a single evening (following a few days where I could not read, no matter how much I wanted to), and now I miss it something fierce. I can't wait for THE SHIP BEYOND TIME.

An iPod with the cover of A Bollywood Affair on it appears to the right of a lit pumpkin carved with Dancing Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy. The book's cover features a faceless woman in a pale gold and blue sari.

I carved a lot of pumpkins last weekend. I began with a Mona Lisa pumpkin for my grandma and her housemates, then did Dancing Groot and BB-8 for my own house. (The photo at that link is much better than the one you see above. Thanks, phone's dodgy camera.) My right arm was sore as hell from all that sawing.

I listened to HARDBOILED WONDERLAND AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Haruki Murakami while I worked on Mona Lisa, but its delightful weirdness didn't grab me hard enough to make up for its shortcomings; ie, the way the narrators clearly don't think of any of the women they meet as people so much as potential fucks.

Sigh. This was an issue with SPUTNIK SWEETHEART, too, but there it felt like a deliberate commentary on that viewpoint. Maybe it crystalizes into something similar here, but I didn't wanna stick around long enough to find out.

So I bailed, combed through Overdrive for recently-added, available, diverse titles (because I'd run through my October Hoopla credits; sigh), and came across A BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR by Sonali Dev [Amazon | Scribd]. And it was wonderful.

I cried so much, y'all. And I grinned, and I hooted, and I decided 2016 is formally my Year of Awesome Romances because I've read so damned many of them, even though my romance consumption is paltry compared to every other genre I enjoy.

I need to note, though, that while I've mostly been raving about romances that stress the importance of communication, this example is more in line with what I consider typical of the genre. Basically, when Mili was four her grandma joined her to a local boy as part of a mass children's marriage that's since been declared illegal in India--except the circumstances of Mili's particular marriage mean it's still valid, even though she and her husband haven't even seen each other in two decades. Mili has gone on to a career in a women's support centre and a degree she's eager to build on with a semester in America. Her husband, unaware his childhood marriage is valid, has married someone else, so he gets a very nasty shock when he receives a legal notice about his connection to Mili. He's desperate to get an annulment before he and his actual wife have their first child, so he dispatches his brother, Samir, to America to track Mili down and get her to agree to dissolve the thing.

But of course, there's this whole big snafu where Mili mistakes Samir for her recently-eloped BFF's vengeful brother, runs away from him before he can tell her who he is or why he's there, and busts up her ankle. The next thing either of them knows, they're friends and he's helping her out while she recovers.

Which means he lies to her about a lot of really important things. Which is something I wouldn't countenance in real life and want to see less of in romance as a whole, but will allow in this case because it leads to so much drama and such an amazing connection.

I love so many things about this book, y'all. I love that Mili and Samir are friends who support each other before they're anything else. I love that Mili has an intense connection with her BFF as well, and that she champions love and acceptance so damned hard. I love that she's fierce. I love that Samir is adopted but his mother is his mother, genetics be damned. I love that he's an asshole who's also explicitly a good person who looks out for people with less power than him. I love how their story reflects aspects of Mili's favourite movie.

There's a female masturbation scene, too. I know that's something a lot of people look for in the spirit of normalizing women's sexuality through literature.

One major downside: Samir's ex falsely accuses him of hitting her; a terrible plotline on multiple levels. It wraps up quickly, thank goodness, but that's due in large part to Mili's refusal to accept he'd do such a thing, even though she works to empower women and one would assume she'd be in the business of believing them. This problematic element mars an otherwise entertaining and emotional romance.

Murchie curls up behind a paperback copy of Twin Spica Volume 1. Its cover features a very small Japanese girl holding two tiny stars between her raised hands.

I had to abandon CARDCAPTOR SAKURA as my new manga reading project because the library's cataloguing system made it too damned hard to tell what was an omnibus and what was a single volume. Sadness.

I've been on the hunt for a new manga series ever since I admitted that wasn't gonna work out, and I think I've finally found one with Kou Yaginuma's TWIN SPICA [Amazon]. It's about a fifteen-year-old girl who's always dreamed of being a spaceship pilot, even though her personal history is entangled with the most tragic rocket crash Japan has ever known. She makes it into Tokyo Space School as a prospective astronaut, but faces immediate challenges because of her tiny stature and her father's reputation within the business.

The first two volumes were all kinds of lovely. This is near future, human-focused SF with a tinge of fantasy to it as Asumi, the protagonist, regularly communes with the ghost of an astronaut who died during the big crash and has spent the last fifteen years haunting his hometown. (In a sweet way, not a creepy way.) I'm excited to read on, just as soon as a copy of Volume 3 becomes available.

I really, really hope no one loses (or steals) any of the subsequent volumes before I can get to them, too, because the series appears to be out of print aside from the Kindle editions.

Murchie stands at the end of a long, beige-carpeted hallway. In front of him, close to the camera, is an upright hardcover copy of Three Dark Crowns. Its black cover features three golden crowns adorned with flowers, flames, and a snake, from top to bottom.

Kendare Blake's THREE DARK CROWNS [Amazon] is every bit as gorgeous as everyone promised it would be, but d'you think I can manage to sit down with it? I'm barely a hundred pages in as I write this, and I've been reading it for aaaaaaages.

I blame the decent weather. I've been wandering the streets instead of sitting inside with books, or sitting on benches with books. (It's warm enough to walk, but not warm enough to pause for longer than thirty seconds). Hopefully I can wrangle some more reading time today. I've got a theory about Katharine and Arsinoe and I wanna see if it's right.

A white hand holds a red-bordered iPod up against a pond filled with Canada Geese. The screen holds the black cover of The Bollywood Bride, which features two henna-decorated hands cupping a lush red flower.

I've made much better progress with THE BOLLYWOOD BRIDE by Sonali Dev [Amazon | Scribd], in large part because it was super nice out yesterday and I was able to take a long-ass walk wearing just a blazer, with a bare head. (I find it awkward to manage earbuds and outerwear.) I crossed the river, met these Special Guest Star geese in a park, and tromped along a different part of the greenway in my quest for shrew-coloured yarn and a discounted Happy Planner punch.

I'm enjoying the book, but it hasn't captivated me in the same way as A BOLLYWOOD AFFAIR. It's an "exes who broke up ten years ago because of SECRETS and MISUNDERSTANDINGS" book, which is fun and emotional but not as much my catnip as the drama-fest related above.

I'm also braced for potential dodginess re: its treatment of mental health, too. I'm far enough in to know Ria's mother has psychosis, but few details have come to light just yet. It could be fine, or it could be a train wreck. We shall see.

Next week: hopefully more TWIN SPICA and Tiffany Reisz's final holiday romance.


  1. Looks like a great week in reading!

  2. I'm not much of a romance reader, but you make A Bollywood Affair sound like something I really must get my hands on. Three Dark Crowns sounds so good, but I actively loathed Anna Dressed in Blood so I'm nervous to even try it. =/

    1. Alas, I can't offer many reassurances because I looooooved ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD. TDC does have a whole different vibe, though, and it explores very different sorts of characters.

  3. I admit that I clapped my hands when you first told me you liked Girl from Everywhere, and I am clapping them again now. PARTLY because I love being right but also PARTLY because I am happy that you got to read a fun book and I helped to facilitate that. :D

    I enjoyed Three Dark Crowns for how suuuuuuuuper dark it was. I kept thinking Blake was going to flinch and make things better and easier for someone -- like literally anyone ever -- and she never did. I'm v. excited to see where the next book takes the girls.