Hello dear readers!

Are you bored with reading? Neither are we! Let's find some more books, shall we?

First up is a lovely collectible edition of Amanda Gorman's marvelously moving inaugural poem, "The Hill We Climb." Remember the inauguration? Only two months ago. Seems like forever, but a pleasant forever for a change, right? 

Anyway, Gorman is the youngest presidential inaugural poet in US history. She's also an amazing writer and a stupendous advocate for the environment, racial equality, and gender equality. If you need some words of encouragement or an uplifting reminder of what we can aspire to, well, this is a handy little tome to have around. Get two! Put one in your car for when you're stuck in traffic and need a little time out. Put the other one on the shelf by the back door, where you've been standing lo these long hours, waiting for the pets to do their pet business in the yard. So many opportunities for uplifting your mood!


Hey, we're far enough into the year that we're starting to see marketing copy claiming that Book X and Book Y are the "most anticipated release of 2021," and we're going to have to differ on this. The most anticipated release of 2021 is, frankly, the paperback edition of Where the Crawdad Sings. 

Your wait is over. Paperback edition is on the shelves now. Plan accordingly. 

It's sort of spring out there, and that means the ground is getting soft enough to bury bodies to grow some vegetables. Look, here's Toot & Puddle!

It's been a while since we've had a visit from T & P, and in Toot & Puddle: How Does Your Garden Grow?, the adorable pigs are confounded by a mysterious visitor who keeps eating all the vegetables in their garden every night. Confounded! we say. Poor piglets. What monster is lurking in their spinach patch? 

And speaking of monsters, Leigh Bardugo returns with Rule of Wolves, the follow-on to King of Scars, which took us back to her beloved Grishaverse. Things are tense in Fjerda, and our delightful cast of characters must survive all sorts of political infighting, personal growth, and devious machinations. Bardugo is in fine form here, so clear some space on your calendar for this one. You're going to want to read it straight through. 


And speaking of gripping reads, here's Jonathan Meiburg's A Most Remarkable Creature: The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World's Smallest Bird of Prey. Meiburg, who dabbles with a bunch of fellows in a band called Shearwater when he isn't writing evocative naturalist prose, sets off for the Falkland Islands to track down the elusive caracara, a bird which caught Darwin's fancy a long, long time ago. 

At the time, Darwin had other things on his mind, and for many years, the caracara was merely an interesting footnote in Darwin's work. "Not a hawk or raven; pesky, but curious; stole my damn hat, twice." In his debut work of investigative naturalist reporting, Meiburg turns a phrase or two as he tracks down this rare bird. This is a book armchair naturalists will adore, as well as readers who enjoy John McPhee's style of educational and enchanting digressions and asides. 


And speaking of witty writing, Hard Case Crime has unearthed another Donald Westlake caper novel. The genius bit of the marketing copy for Castle in the Air is "A Dirty Dozen with a French Connection." Not that we needed further encouragement, right? This is Westlake. Doing a caper novel. Set in Paris. Oh, and guess what? There's no common language between all the thieves, adding yet another layer of hilarity to the proceedings. 


And speaking of reading for pleasure, here's Margaret Mallory's Rogue Warrior, a two-fer that includes Knight of Desire and Knight of Pleasure. Now, we remember when "Rogue Warrior" was a Richard Marcinko series of SEAL Team novels, and there's a pun there in the two "Knight" titles. All of which has crossed wires in our brains, but having glanced at the bare-chested feller on the cover (his nipples carefully covered by the diaphanous sleeve of a medieval maiden's gown), we believe this is not an urban fantasy special ops romantic suspense novel with a divinatory gloss and a symbolic subplot. 

We may have just confused everyone, including ourselves. Our apologies. 


Look! Here's an impossible thing. Well, here's Hugo, deciding whether or not he can traverse the Impossible Thing. A delightful picture book by Renée Felice Smith, Chris Gabriel, and Sydney Hanson, Hugo and the Impossible Thing is a story about daring to ask "why not?" as well as the perseverance necessary to attain goals that seem impossibly out of reach. 


And speaking of getting from here to there, Hallie Bateman's Directions is exactly that: "Really Good Advice for Getting From Here to There." Filled with hand-lettered bon mots and insightful Post-it notes, Directions is a fantastic little book to keep close for when you're not sure which way is the right way. Also includes postcards you can slip in your friends' lunch boxes!


And we see that William W. Johnstone (still extremely dead) has been upgraded to hardback this week with Till Death, the third book in the Have Brides, Will Travel western series. As per usual, whoever is writing the cover copy is having a marvelous time. "The real trouble begins when they reach the Alaskan boomtown. It's a hotbed of gold and greed, as wild as any Texas frontier. It's clear to Bo and Scratch that the ladies' eligible bachelors are definitely not as advertised. But—to Bo and Scratch's surprise—neither are their mail-order brides. Before anyone starts exchanging vows and tossing rice, this gold-hungry wedding party will be swapping lead. And the RSVPs will be RIPs." 


And finally, here is Tiger Girl and the Candy Kid, a historical true-crime book by Glenn Stout. A decade before Bonnie and Clyde became celebrity gansters, Richard and Margaret Whittemore were robbing banks and knocking over jewelry stores. Set against the riotous backdrop of the Jazz Age, Stout's criminal biography is a compulsive page-turner that showcases an interesting period of American history. 

Overheard At The Old Barn »»

HODGE: What do you say, Podge? Have we undulated enough for today? 

PODGE: I don't think it is possible to over undulate. 

HODGE: I am, however, getting a little sore. My back . . . 

PODGE: That's a sure sign you aren't undulatting enough!

HODGE: Oof. Podge. I am not as spry as I used to be. 

PODGE: Why is that Hodge? 

HODGE: Oh, don't start with me. You know exactly why I am not as flexible as you are. 

PODGE: I do? 

HODGE: Who has to run and get emergency rations when you trap yourself on a high shelf? 

PODGE: There were snacks on the shelf!

HODGE: And you ate them. 

PODGE: I did!

HODGE: And then what happened?

PODGE: Well . . . 

HODGE: Hmmmm? 

PODGE: I got hungry . . . ? 

HODGE: Exactly. And who had to get more snacks? 

PODGE: You . . . ? 

HODGE: Precisely. And that time when you crawled inside that shipping tube? 

PODGE: I was looking for snacks . . . 

HODGE: Did you find any?

PODGE: No . . . 

HODGE: And who had to hook up the hose and sluice you out of that tube? 

PODGE: You . . . ? 

HODGE: Absolutely!  

PODGE: I feel like this is leading somewhere . . . 

HODGE: I'm always having to rescue you, which leaves me with no time to practice undulating. 

PODGE: But you could undulate while you are rescuing . . . 

HODGE: Pfft! We are otters. We can't do two things simultaneously. 

PODGE: Well, actually—

HODGE: We can't do two things at the same time very well. 

PODGE: Oh, yes. Yes. I agree with that.  

HODGE: Wouldn't you rather be rescued? 

PODGE: Well, of course, but . . . 


PODGE: I feel like you are suggesting that this is all my fault somehow. 

HODGE: No, not everything. Just some things. 

PODGE: Oh, well, that makes me feel so much better.


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