Monday, March 30, 2020

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 3/28/20

So I think these two books have been in my hands for at least a week and maybe longer. Apologies to the fine publishing companies responsible for them (and for getting them into my hands), but I've been even more busy/distracted than usual the past little while.

(I've said to a couple of people that this pandemic has a severely asymmetrical affect on different people -- a lot of people have nothing to do, but a substantial group have vastly more to do. Obviously, medical personnel are in Category Two, but so are lots of attorneys, tax professionals, and risk-management/compliance folks, all of whom are the folks my company supports. So we're a bit busy, too. If you happen to be in one of those buckets, we have a global COVID-19 resource page with lots of free resources for your profession to help you navigate it for yourself and your business and/or clients. Hope it helps; hope you and your operations make it through this relatively unscathed.)

Anyway: books! They came in the mail!

I haven't looked at them, since I haven't picked up a book to read, um, this year? Maybe longer.

Catch-22 is on the corner of my desk mocking me right now, and the book I thought would be next off to the side and would be mocking me if it weren't under my Vassar alumnae magazine and so decently hidden. Some day I will read books again. These may even be the ones. Anyway, that ritual debasement out of the way, here we go...

The Immortal Conquistador is a standalone short fantasy novel (maybe novella? it's 184 pages in a 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 paperback format with reasonably sized type, so it might sneak it right around 40k words, and I'm not about to do a cast-off on it right now) by Carrie Vaughn, set in the world of her Kitty Norville books. (Which I where I point out I still have four of those -- not even including the last two -- sitting on my shelf to be read, even though the series has been dormant for five years now.)

Conquistador is about the vampire Rick, the five hundred year-old ex-conquistador (hence the title) originally known as Ricardo de Avila. It's not clear if this is his life story -- the whole "who he is and how he came to be!" thing -- or if it's a modern story in which he's the main character. It's available right now, in paperback form, from the fine people at Tachyon Publications. (Whose base in San Francisco I would have called one of the epicenters of the current pandemic in the US a couple of weeks ago, before my much-too-competitive NYC area muscled up to the top of the chart.)

The other book is entirely different: Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit by Lilliam Rivera, which apparently is based on a comics series by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams. Goldie herself is an amateur teen detective, of the kind we've seen so many of over the years, based in the Crossed Palms resort in Florida, where her father is the manager. It's a middle-grade novel, and I suspect the comics series is pitched as the kind of "all-ages" book that kids actually do read, maybe more than the usual comic-shop crowd.

My guess is that Goldie is set in the modern day, but the plot of this novel has a major studio filming a big monster movie on Crossed Palms premises, so it may be a more interesting version of the modern day. This is the first Goldie novel, but I imagine the hope is that there will be many more; middle-grade readers love to fill up a shelf with the same thing and the publishers love to accommodate them. It's from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, and was officially on sale March 17th.

Also: Goldie is biracial and some variety of queer, which will be a positive for a lot of those middle-grade readers (among others), and possibly a negative for people whose reaction will cause the rest of us to judge them. Just so you know, in case you have either of those reactions.

(Note that I'm giving links to that big hegemonic Internet bookstore, since I always do. But, given circumstances in the world, I'd actually recommend going to IndieBound instead and seeing if your local is doing mail-order and/or delivery/pick-up. It's tough out there right now for small business, so support the ones you want to still be around when we stop sheltering in place.)