Sunday, September 25, 2016

Murchie Plus Books: September 18th to 24th

The premise: I make my beloved dog pose with every book I read. This week he was super good about keeping his head still. Excellent work, Murchie!

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 moar X-Men. I took a break last week, then dove back in and finally, finally reached the stuff I read when I was a teenager. I'm surprised at what I remember and what I've completely forgotten, as we'll discuss in more detail when I write about this chunk of issues.

A sleek grey poodle, Murchie, curls up behind a white Kobo with the cover of Mrs Vargas and the Dead Naturalist on it. The cover features a mexican woman dressed in an enveloping blue top and a broad white skirt. She stands in a forest, surrounded by toucans, butterflies, and a small, spotted jungle cat.

I wish I could remember who urged me to read Kathleen Alcalá. It might have been Eva, who I've thanked just in case. It was certainly someone with amazing taste.

MRS VARGAS AND THE DEAD NATURALIST [Amazon | Scribd] is fucking transcendent. I loved it so much I don't even want to try to analyze why.

If you require something more than my word, you may want to know Alcalá reads like early Francesca Lia Block aimed at grownups and sans cultural appropriation.

Otherwise, I'm out. Just leave me alone to wallow in this woman's glorious prose and fantastical take on the everyday world.

Murchie, dressed in a blue and white striped T-shirt, lies beside a white iPod with the cover of Noughts and Crosses on its screen. The cover features a white O against a black background and a white X against a black background.

Malorie Blackman's NOUGHTS AND CROSSES has been on my radar for aaaaaaaaages, so when the audiobook popped into my library's ereserve I figured it was about time I gave it a go. And I'm of two minds.

For the most part, the book is great. It deals with racial tensions in an alternate world where African conquistadors acquired advanced technology that allowed them to gain dominance over everyone else. There's a hefty emphasis on confronting one's privileges, and of recognizing the sheer amount of work that needs doing before society can build the foundations it needs to productively combat racism. There are no easy answers or easy outs.

It feels extremely British, too; something I always appreciate, even though I'm not entirely sure it fits with this world's history.

But y'all know endings mean everything to me, and Blackman takes the story in such an expected direction that I spent the last hour or so scowling and whispering, "You've gotta be kidding me." The actual ending fits; the event that prompts it is far too cliched for my tastes. I feel awful saying that, given what it is and how it, too, ties into the book's wider themes and to real-world events, but I'm so tired of this particular plot twist.

I'd probably have reacted a bit better if I'd read NOUGHTS AND CROSSES earlier in the year. As it stands, this is the third or fourth time I've encountered this particular gambit in 2016 alone. I'm saturated. No more, please.

Y'all, I'm a thousand kinds of excited about Jay Kristoff's NEVERNIGHT. It's every fantasy I've ever loved, all mashed up together, and it looks like a prime contender for my Best of 2016 list.

But you know those weeks where you cannot fucking read, no matter how much you want to? I just weathered one of those. I desperately wanted to hunker down and wallow in NEVERNIGHT, but it felt like there were eleventy billion other demands on my time (even though I there really weren't) and reading slipped down the priority scale except on those days when I specifically added it to my to-do list. Even then, I struggled to do it for more than half an hour at a time, and with my glacial reading speed that doesn't come close to cutting it.

Part of it might've been that I'm scared to read on in case NEVERNIGHT betrays me by becoming terrible. This is not an unfounded fear.

Part of it was definitely my renewed enthusiasm for the X-Men. Comics are glorious, but they do take time away from prose fiction. Sadness.

I hope I can zip through the back half this weekend, after which point I'll either write a longer thing about why I loved it so much or give y'all my quick take on Twitter. Depends on the nature of my love (or the depth of my betrayal).

Next week: hopefully THE OBELISK GATE, if I can ever finish NEVERNIGHT. Maybe a trade collection or two, too.


  1. I hope you end up liking Nevernight!

  2. I have no recollection of what precipitates the major crisis of Noughts and Crosses. What is it! I cannot remember!


      Sephy gets pregnant.