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.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

24 in 48 Readathon

I've decided to join my first 24 in 48 Readathon! The 'thon challenges people to read for twenty-four out of this weekend's forty-eight hours, but it's totally low pressure. You read as much as you can in the hopes of maybe, possibly logging something close to twenty-four hours of reading time.

This is sort of like what I do with my Sundays anyways, so I figured I might as well join formally!

I'll be sampling and dipping into a variety of things over the next couple of days, including:

A square photo of a book stack with a white Kobo and a white iPod leaning up against it. The stack contains three volumes of Batmanga, Half-Blood Blues, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and Rise. The Kobo has the cover of Monstress on its screen, while the iPod has the cover of Yes, Chef on its screen.

  • BOOKBURNERS and WHITEHALL, the two serials to which I've give my heart. I hope to read at least one episode of each.
  • YOU DON'T SAY: GREAT NEW ZEALAND NONFICTION 2016. I've been poking at this anthology for about a week and want to wallow in it for a little while.
  • HALF-BLOOD BLUES by Esi Edugyan, for the Booker Short List square on my bookish bingo card.
  • WINTER ORANGES by Marie Sexton, for the Seasonal square on the abovementioned card.
  • THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil Gaiman, for the Shortest TBR Book square.
  • RISE by Mira Grant. I won't read the whole thing, but I'd love to get through a story or two.
  • MONSTRESS VOLUME ONE by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takada. I've been lusting after this comic for aaaaaages.
  • THE BATMANGA by Jiro Kuwata. I've got the first three volumes ready and waiting for my eyeballs.
  • YES, CHEF by Marcus Samuelsson, for those times when my eyeballs need a break.
  • UNCANNY X-MEN. Ten issues or bust, y'all.

I'll update this post every now and again with my progress and/or any mini challenges I attempt.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

An Uncanny Readthrough: #176-200

A single panel featuring a montage of mutants: Storm, Iceman, Cyclops, Colossus, Angel, Nightcrawler, Beast, and Wolverine. A blonde woman’s dialogue reads, ‘A new evolutionary branch of homo sapiens--possibly a new species altogether--gifted at birth with extraordinary abilities that set them apart from the rest of humanity. Most prominent among them are the X-Men.’
Mutants are officially born, not made. From UNCANNY X-MEN #176.

As per usual, this post contains spoilers that should be of little consequence to anyone who’s familiar with the modern X-Men, or with wider comics culture.

If you missed my early posts on this massive readthrough of mine, you can find them under my dedicated X-Men tag.

This slate of issues is written by Chris Claremont and pencilled almost entirely by John Romita, Jr; a big milestone for this title, with its frequent artistic shifts. Inker Dan Green appears in the credits most often, though Bob Wiacek, John Romita, Sr, and Steve Leialoha also lend their talents.

The two issues not pencilled by Romita--#186 and #198--are by Barry Windsor-Smith. We’ll talk about them a little more below.

And now, my friends, we stand in the Era of the Crossover.

NEW MUTANTS has found its footing and now often intersects with UNCANNY X-MEN in ways large and small. Members of the Power Pack appear as Special Guest Stars, with some indication the X-Men have done the same over in that all-ages series. Kitty and Wolverine disappear for a while to star in their own miniseries. There’s this whole thing with New York getting turned into a magical land from #189-91, with plenty of Special Guest Stars from other titles. And, of most relevance to modern readers, both SECRET WARS and SECRET WARS II go down in between the lines, with varying degrees of impact on UNCANNY.

These crossovers stand apart from the sort of thing we’ve seen before in that the creators try to present them as required reading. Yeah, you can power on through UNCANNY X-MEN without pausing to check out these other books, as in fact I did, but it’s no longer possible to get the full X-Story from UNCANNY alone, or from UNCANNY and the occasional miniseries about a beloved character (or two).

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: July 10th to 16th

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I bring the two together by making my dog pose with everything I read.

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: heaps more UNCANNY X-MEN. I've reached the early 90s and finished Chris Claremont's run on this particular series as he transfers his talents to the newly-minted X-MEN title. I'll likely dip into X-MEN here and there going forward, but Marvel Unlimited doesn't have the full run so I'm reluctant to get attached. Hopefully they'll have added all the issues I need by the time I reach the point where the two series essentially become permanent crossovers of one another.

I crept ever further through THE WITCH WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, too. It'll be a main focus this week as I race towards the finale.

Finally, I caught up on WHITEHALL so I can start reading each new episode as it comes available. We'll talk about the latest installment below.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, rests his chin on a white Kobo with the cover of Bookburners Season Two Episode Four on its screen. The red cover features a speckled blue map of the Mediterranean. A thin, glowing figure emerges from Turkey and arcs towards Italy.

I was so eager for BOOKBURNERS S2E4 that I threw all my reading plans to the wind and hunkered down with it last Saturday instead of waiting a decent interval. (Serial Box kindly provided me with an advance copy via NetGalley.)

"Ghosts," written by Margaret Dunlap, was well worth shunting everything aside for. The team heads off to Turkey to investigate a string of suspicious happenings and discovers they're the work not of demons or rogue magic users, as per usual, but of ghosts.

Which is super exciting for me, ghost-hound that I am, but rather less so for some members of Team Three. Their discomfort makes for good reading (assuming you're that sort of reader, which I fear I am), and since the ghosts are a new addition to the series' mythology there's heaps of discovery potential for reader and characters alike.

"Ghosts" provides a similar thrill where Liam's backstory is concerned. He knows nothing concrete about the two years when he was possessed by a demon, but his involved encounter with these particular ghosts triggers a few memories and gives him some clues as to where he can search for more answers. Dunlap lays some good groundwork for Liam's future discoveries, along with hints as to Asanti's plans going forward. I can't wait to see where this all leads.

Murchie would like you to know, too, that this episode was as good a chin rest as it was a story.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: July 1st to 9th

The premise: I make my dog pose with every book I read. You'd think he'd be used to it after two years of this schtick, but he still has a lot of trouble keeping his head still. Sigh.

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: I made real headway through UNCANNY X-MEN despite some crossover events that demanded I read issues of X-FACTOR, too. #275, here I come!

I'm also plugging away through THE WITCH WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, and it's great. I may make it my primary read this week so's I can finish it and discuss it--and Serial Box--with you quicker.

A sleek grey poodle, Murchie, lies curled up just behind a white Kobo with the NetGalley page for The Bourbon Thief on its screen. The page is zoomed in on the book's cover, which features a forest of thin, red-leafed trees against a misty blue-green background.

I reviewed THE BOURBON THIEF last Wednesday, so I'll curb my verbosity and tell y'all to go read that if you want to know what I thought of Tiffany Reisz's latest.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Review: The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz

Cover of The Bourbon Thief, featuring red-leafed trees against a smokey, blue-green backdrop. The title appears in yellow down the centre of the cover, with the words 'a family with bourbon in its blood, and blood on its hands' slotted into the lines between each word.
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Cooper McQueen is pretty damned miffed when his gorgeous one-night stand tries to make off with his million-dollar bottle of bourbon. He’s even more incensed when the woman, Paris, insists the bourbon rightfully belongs to her, as he’ll soon acknowledge if he listens to her story. Hearing her out beats involving the police, so McQueen reluctantly agrees--and soon finds himself immersed in a torrid tale of secrets and lies steeped in the best bourbon Kentucky has ever produced.

THE BOURBON THIEF [Amazon | Kobo | The Book Depository] is Tiffany Reisz’s first full-length work outside the Original Sinners series. It’s not erotica (though there are certainly sexy times herein), but in every other way it offers up all the goodness Reisz’s fans have come to expect from her books.

The most important of these, and the one I revelled in as I read, is the feel. Reisz’s style is the perfect fusion of Jackie Collins and vintage Anne Rice (assuming we're talking Rice’s pure historical novels, rather than her vampiric and witchly offerings). Shit gets wild here, y’all. Reisz has zero interest in nurturing cliches or placing limits on plot or character. Reading her is like exploring a long-abandoned chateau in the heart of a reclaimed swamp; ie, it's dark, terrifying, beautiful, and irresistible. You know there’s always more to discover, and you can’t wait to poke into every nook.

Fair warning: you’ll probably never find your way out again. Once you’ve had one Reisz, you want more and more and more and more.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Best Of 2016 (So Far)

Gif of a redheaded white woman popping straight up in bed to announce it's her birthday.

It was my BIRTHDAY yesterday, friends! The DAY of my BIRTH!


I spent it hanging around with people and eating trashy things, so I figured I’d bump my traditional birthday/middle of the year Best Of (So Far) post back a day. Here it is, featuring all my 4.5- and 5-star reads for 2016 to date in the order I discovered them:

Gif of a dark-haired Latino man in an orange jumpsuit biting his lip in a sexy fashion.
to the sky without wings by leupagus - 5 stars

I know. I read a fic, and I loved it so much that it’s a prime contender for my overall Best of 2016 list. Who even am I?

This one’s also notable in that it uses a trope that normally squicks me out: the "I knew them when they were a kid and I was an adult but now they’re an adult and I want to bone them" thing. (It squicks me out so much that I've never bothered to learn its proper name.) Most of the time, I run across this and I'm like, "Ew." Here I was like, "Okay, whatevs."

It helps that all the desperate longing we see on the page comes from the younger person.

Speaking of which, the fic's about Poe Dameron having this massive crush on Luke Skywalker for pretty well his whole life, and I've always disliked Luke. (He's so whiny, then so full of himself, then so whiny and full of himself.) HOW DOES LEUPAGUS MAKE ME LIKE THINGS WHAT IS THIS SORCERY.

I bought Tiny Poe because of this fic and I ain’t even sorry.