Sunday, March 15, 2015

Murchie Plus Books: March 8th to 14th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two of them together by photographing my dog with every book I read, barring the comics I get through Marvel Unlimited.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I edit them and appear here in digest form every Sunday.

Not pictured: my Marvel Unlimited reading suffered this week thanks to an extended Internet outage during my designated comics reading time, but I did finish the latest available arc of UNCANNY X-MEN. I've decided to add this series to my wee list of comics I'll read by issue rather than arc henceforth. I'm having almost as much fun with it as I am with ALL-NEW X-MEN. The new mutants are pretty great, and Current Me likes Cyclops far more than Teenage Me did.

I hope I also read some X-FORCE on Saturday evening (I'm writing this on Saturday afternoon), but I can't speak to that as it hasn't happened yet.

A grey cat, Ollie, stares out a French window. Beside him is a paperback copy of Half-Resurrection Blues. Its cover features a Puerto Rican man in a black suit. He draws a sword as he walks away from a triumphal arch.

Murchie has a full week off, but never fear! He'll return next Sunday, and in the meantime I've got two adorable animals for y'all to gaze upon.

Young Ollie discovered an exciting new game in the course of this photo shoot with HALF-RESURRECTION BLUES, Daniel José Older's debut urban fantasy. Wait for human to prop book up next to you; knock book over with chin; wait for human to prop book back up; knock book over again; and so on and so forth

Ollie informs me this game can last for ages. I caught the above shot bare seconds before he realized the book was upright again and took appropriate action.

HALF-RESURRECTION BLUES was mostly great, though my attention did wane over the last hundred pages or so. Still, you can bet I'll be reading the rest of the series as it comes out. The world needs more fantasy with POC protagonists, and I'm excited to reach the point where Older's novels catch up with the short fiction collected in SALSA NOCTURNA. There's a shitstorm on the horizon, that's for sure, and y'all know how much I love (fictional) shitstorms.

A white Kobo with Cuckoo Song's cover art sits on a stone table. The cover features a hairless, white china doll with a cracked face. Behind the table sits Buster, a large yellow lab. His face is turned away from the Kobo.

Buster was scared of Frances Hardinge's CUCKOO SONG. Can't imagine why.

Oh, right; it's got a creepy fucking doll's head on the cover.

Dolls, man. So creepy.

Anyways, Ana told me I had to read CUCKOO SONG when it came out in North America. Then she told me it was on NetGalley and I should, like, totally request it or whatever, if I wanted to, nbd. I took the hint, and here we are.

Wow, y'all. Wow.

I'll have a full review for you on its North American release date (that would be May 12th; so far away, I know), but in the meantime y'all should be aware I loved it. It's like if Diana Wynne Jones's books hooked up with Elizabeth Knox's books and had a gorgeous, creepy-ass baby. I'm gonna have to seek out and devour everything else Frances Hardinge has ever written, just as soon as I've got some space in la TBR.

TBR rules work, but they can be really bloody frustrating. I'm down to a mere 40 TBR titles as of yesterday, though, so I'm gonna stick with 'em. I will vanquish la TBR. I will.

(I say this now, but the Hugos are coming and I won't vote in a category unless I've read a sizable chunk of each nominee, which means lots of reading and lots of time away from la TBR. Bloody Hugos. I'll tell you, there'd better not be another 14-book series on this year's ballot.)

Buster curls up in a tight ball behind a white Kobo with Hexed's cover on its screen. The cover depicts a hooded, pale-skinned woman kneeling above an indistinct mass of black, yellow, and green.

Buster had far less trouble with Michael Alan Nelson and Don Mora's HEXED. I dug the first four issues out of Scribd's archive at Kelly's urging and promptly fell in love with Lucifer the spellcasting thief and her various associates.

This is exactly the sort of contemporary fantasy comic I crave: smart, exciting, creepy, gorgeously drawn, and unabashedly focused on women. Like Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's THE WICKED + THE DIVINE (which we'll discuss in more detail on Tuesday), HEXED is very much about women helping, and clashing with, women. There's a male villain on hand during this initial arc, but he's basically a monster of the week. The true threat comes from an assortment of female baddies, one of whom has hexed a male proxy so he acts as her voice. This effectively robs him of his own voice in a neat, chilling reversal of an oft-told tale.

More like this, please.

And hey! There is more! Scribd doesn't have another full arc (their library cuts off at #7; I assume Volume 2 will end with #8), but this most recent series isn't Nelson's first outing with Lucifer et al. I've requested Lucifer's premiere solo adventure from the library and hope I'll be able to track down a few more in the coming months.

Buster lays beside a white Kobo while Ollie stands over it. The Kobo's screen shows the cover of Queenie Chan's short story collection, featuring a multitude of black and white panels encased in a red and yellow border.

Both Buster and Ollie wanted a piece of Queenie Chan's short story collection. Neither one of them would pose with it by themselves, but neither one of them could stay away once we made it a team effort.


Chan is an Australian mangaka, and this book collects her short comics across a ten-year period. As was the case with HEXED, I came to it at Kelly's urging. (Kelly is bad for my comics wishlist). Kelly actually recommended I try FABLED KINGDOM, Chan's new, ongoing fairy tale retelling, but I turned to the short stories instead when the other series failed to gel for me. It, like so much else, is available on Scribd.

Ollie lays beside a white Kobo with Wake's cover on its screen. The cover is drawing of a variety of people of different genders and races throwing a wrapped body into a grave.

Elizabeth Knox felt like an appropriate follow-up to Frances Hardinge, so I spent much of yesterday morning with WAKE. It's excellent so far: chilling, beautifully written, and difficult to pull oneself away from. Ollie agrees. He gives it two paws up.

Next week: I might cheat on my TBR rules and read THE VIRGIN, Tiffany Reisz's forthcoming Original Sinners novel. (I let myself add two books by white people for every five titles I clear from la TBR. I can read as many comics and non-TBR books by non-white folks as I want. Once I finish WAKE, I'll be three books away from my next opportunity to read a random title.) I feel like it might be time to read Barbara Hambly's DRAGONSBANE, too, and I may start on THE PATH OF DAGGERS. It'd be nice to finish rereading/catching up on the Wheel of Time by mid-June, which is about a year after I started.

(Yes, I read the first three books before I voted for last year's Hugos; a "sizable chunk of the nominated work" if ever there was one. I told y'all, I take this Hugo thing really frickin' seriously.)


  1. I am glad you like Queenie Chan if not what I recommended. I have her short stories bookmarked, too. And, I am hoping HEXED will continue on Scribd... Fingers crossed!

    1. Yes, here's hoping they add #8 to Scribd good and soon.

      The first HEXED series is waiting for me at the library, so I'm pretty durned exciting about that!