Sunday, August 21, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: August 14th to 20th

The premise: I love my dog, so I make him pose with every book I read (barring single issue comics). He's mostly okay with this, but he still hasn't learned to keep his head still.

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. They're now click-to-embiggen-able, too, because I got tired of resizing everything and I figure y'all might like that feature anyways. So hey! We both win!

(Unless you're just here for the alt tags and the commentary, in which case your experience stays pretty well the same barring any weird interaction between said tags and the embiggen code. If your screen reader can't pick up the descriptions, please let me know.)

Not pictured: I hit another crossover with UNCANNY X-MEN, so my reading slowed waaaaaaay down there. Still, I managed to pack in a few issues this week. Everybody's in space right now. Y'all know how much I love space.

I also read another chunk of Michelle West's SEA OF SORROWS, which is and shall continue to be my in-between book until I've polished it off.

A fuzzy grey poodle, Murchie, lies slightly behind a white Kobo with the cover of Whitehall Episode Eleven on its screen. The cover features a simple crown tilted against a sepia background.

Oh my goodness, this episode of WHITEHALL was intense. Writer Sarah Smith kept me reading at breakneck speed, so desperate was I to make sure things turned out as okay as they possibly could.

This was one of those instances where my sketchy knowledge of the Restoration worked in my favour. I knew one particular tragedy wouldn't come to pass, but there are a host of other possible tragedies herein and I couldn't be sure any of them was off the table. Catherine stands on the edge of great heartache. Jenny's got a major professional dilemma to add to the personal choice she faced last episode. And Catherine's illness forces Charles to make an important choice of his own, bringing Jamie's storyline to a head, if not a full resolution.

I couldn't put it down, and I once again struggled not to charge straight into the next episode. I try to space them out so y'all hear about them once they're already available to you (unless you've been following along on Instagram and Litsy, that is), but sometimes once must gush about things a little ahead of time instead.

Murchie sprawls with his front legs dangling off a cow-shaped pillow. Behind him is a hardcover copy of Necessity. Its orange cover borders a round detail from a Renaissance painting of some white dudes debating in a temple.

Y'know how sometimes I really, really want to talk about books and sometimes I really, really don't?

Well, sometimes I really, really want to talk about a book, but I know it's gonna expend a shitton of my mental energy (because philosophy and time travel and cool stuff with robots) and I don't know if I'm up for it. I want to be up for it, but it might not be in the cards.

So, maybe I'll write a whole big thing about Jo Walton's NECESSITY, since I loved the hell out of it in a totally Apollonian way and I wanna gush about time travel. Maybe I won't, since I know it's gonna take me ages to put my thoughts down and I'm not entirely sure where I want to start.

Also, I know might get a hundred pageviews if I'm really lucky and somebody with clout likes it enough to share it on social media.

Which is cynical, but a person's gotta consider these things before they spend hours on a review. Will the joy I get from writing about NECESSITY be enough to offset my despair at how little interest the rest of the world has in reading my thoughts on NECESSITY? It's a question for the ages.

In case I come down on the "I shan't write about NECESSITY" side of things, be aware I loved the hell out of it because it's got philosophy, time travel, mythology, people striving to be their best selves, and a sort of a Joan D. Vinge feel I can't put into words, plus a Jo Walton feel that's much easier to explain.

Murchie, fast asleep, curls up close against a white Kobo with the cover of Bookburners Episode 9 on its screen. The red cover features a train driving past a mountain.

Is Murchie fast asleep, or is he in a techno-magical trance? Let's hope it's the former.

Last week's episode of BOOKBURNERS didn't engage me the way I hoped it would, but this week's episode pulled me right back in. Margaret Dunlap delivers a tale where nothing is what it appears to be, then packs it with heaps of my favourite (fictional) things. There's kidnapping! Unreliable memories! A new and exciting use for the Orb! An ever-shifting techno-magical dreamscape! More insight into Liam's past! Deeper tensions between the members of Team Three, and between Team Three and the rest of the Vatican! Whee!

I fell straight into it and didn't emerge until I'd reached the last screen. It's another of those great answers-that-breed-more-questions episodes, with an especial focus on Liam and his accompanying mysteries.

This episode confirms Liam's been with Team Three for nine years, too, which I take to mean everyone on the team is thirty-ish at the absolute minimum, which is rare in fantasy of all stripes. Twenty-six seems to be the unspoken Protagonist Cut-off Age in SFF, so I'm always thrilled to encounter works where the main characters are all older than that.

Murchie hovers behind a trade paperback copy of Inés of My Soul. The book's cover features a black and white photograph of a Latina woman with long black hair.

Did y'all see that white lady a few weeks back who was like, "Yeah, slavery could be bad, but sometimes it was nice for slaves to be with people who loved them. Like my great-grandparents! They loved their slave so much, and they gave her a happy home, and then they buried her in their basement when she died."

Lady, what the fuck is wrong with you that you think being kinda nice to someone who you own and then burying them in the basement makes up for them having been enslaved?

I'm not saying INÉS OF MY SOUL is only and ever the historical fiction equivalent of that lady's Facebook post. There are plenty of interesting and engaging scenes in here too--but then we get down to the atrocities the Spanish inflicted on the Indigenous populations they encountered in South America.

"But you see," Inés tells us (and I'm paraphrasing), "the Inca weren't great rulers either. They treated their people very badly. The Spanish just did more or less the same thing, with a healthy dose of Jesus and the expected amount of rape. And some people really did love their Indian 'servants' awfully much. They worked hard to give these people good lives, just as I did with my best friend who I called Catriona even though that wasn't her name. And who I buried under my patio when she died."

(In case you were wondering where the contemporary lady came in.)

Isabel Allende's writing is lovely and immersive, but there are certain topics I don't want to be lovingly immersed in. Like colonialism, related by characters who agree that yes, other people treated the Indians in unpleasant ways, but they became BFFs with their slave and buried her under their patio!

So I bailed.

Can any of y'all recommend some Chilean historical fiction from an Indigenous perspective? I'd like to read something along those lines instead.

A large-headed Funko Pop of Finn from Star Wars stands next to a white iPod with The Dreamer's cover on its screen. The cover features the star-filled silhouette of a boy against a forested background.

Friends, I have two superpowers: finding four-leaf clovers and injuring my feet and legs. Superpower #2 kicked in the Friday before last, when I stepped in a hole and twisted the hell out of my ankle.

My ankle promptly swelled up and prevented me from doing everyday things like sitting cross-legged and navigating stairs as they're meant to be navigated. It also meant I couldn't run (just as I was set to start Week Three of C25K; grrr) or take my trademark long-ass walks, which meant I had far fewer opportunities to listen to audiobooks, which meant I only finished Emily Lloyd-Jones's ILLUSIVE this past Friday.

It was great. I'm now bummed neither my library nor Scribd has the sequel.

Once I'd finished it, I dove straight into THE DREAMER, written by Pam Muñoz Ryan and illustrated by Peter Sís. (Obviously I didn't get to enjoy Sís's illustrations, because audiobook.) It's also set in Chile's historical past, this time at the beginning of the twentieth century, and while it's not from the Indigenous perspective it is strongly anti-racist.

It's also steeped in creativity, and I loved it.

Seriously, y'all, I'm so glad Pam Muñoz Ryan writes such intense and inclusive books for young people. This was my second experience with her work, after ECHO, and it definitely won't be my last.

Murchie lies slightly behind a white Kobo with Winter Orange's cover on its scren. The cover shows a dark-haired white boy in 19th century dress trapped within a glass globe surrounded by snow.


A couple months back, I saw some people gushing about Marie Sexton's WINTER ORANGES on Twitter. Scribd has it, so I added it to my library and eventually used a credit on it. Then I dove in this past week so I could daub the "with a season of the year in the title" square on my bookish bingo card.



It's one of those books where I wanna gush out the premise, so: it's about this actor, Jason, who moves to Idaho because his career is kinda slipping away and the tabloids have decided he's their favourite mark evar on account of how they outted him a while back. Jason's new house comes mostly furnished because he doesn't wanna have to run around searching for tables and stuff, and his new possessions include a snow globe with a guy trapped inside. Ben's been tied to this frickin' snow globe for a hundred and fifty years, and he's beyond excited because Jason can see him and nobody's ever been able to see him before. Whee!

They become friends. Then they fall in looooooooove. And it's seventeen kinds of awesome from start to finish.

I'm gonna write about it because the joy I'll get from describing this masterpiece will definitely outstrip the despair I feel at how few people care about my longform opinion of WINTER ORANGES.

Next week: the last thing I need to read to finish my bookish bingo card, and probably a fuckton of manga.


  1. Awesome books here that I really need to check out!!

    1. I want everyone to read WINTER ORANGES and WHITEHALL.

  2. How did I not know that the Jo Walton book had time travel? Does that whole series? I just downloaded The Just City because it was free from i09, I think.

    1. The first few have some off-the-page time travel with definite consequences, but it doesn't become a super big thing until NECESSITY.

  3. One time when I was living in New York, I went to this incredibly excellent exhibition at the Museum of Arts and Design called Otherworldly, and one of the artists made these snowglobes that appeared to be regular, delightful snowglobes but then when you looked closer it turned out they were quite morbid and disturbing. This sounds like that except with an additional pivot back out to regular and delightful. :p


    I did not see that white lady who said that thing but I dearly hope that she has seen the error of her ways. What a garbage person. Lady, just accept that your ancestors were assholes and move on with your life.

    1. Those snow globes are so deep. I love them!

      The Facebook post was a screencap that got passed around Twitter. I dearly hope she realized she was being awful, deleted the original, and repented her ways.