Some of us are heading off into the woods for a few days of wrestling with gerunds and dominoing up a bunch of adverbs, which means this week’s newsletter is going to be heavy on the hyperbole and quick on the curation. Belt up, my dears. Slap on a crash helmet if you’re worried about whiplash. 

First up, we have Jenny Holiday’s One and Only, the first book in the Bridemaids Behaving Badly series. The series title alone wins us over, but some of the flap copy makes it even better. Our frisky heroine opts to babysit (figuratively speaking) the groom’s “slightly sketchy” half-brother as a means to get away from her bestie turned bridezilla, but then she discovers that Cameron (the sketchy half-brother) is “infuriating, annoying, and so-sexy-it-hurts.” Naturally, what follows is lots of witty banter and “off-the-charts hot” love scenes. 

Some of this hyperbole has been provided by Booklist. See? It’s not just us. 

And speaking of writing with verve and wit, Lawrence Krauss answers the Big Question this week with The Greatest Story Every Told—So Far: Why Are We Here?. Though we have to deduct some points for a really lazy title treatment. An em-dash, colon, and a question mark? That’s a lot of punctuation for a book that is supposed to answer the Big Question with a great deal of wit and simple language. So, ignore the cover. Check out the insides. 

Ain’t that the truth about so many things. 

And speaking of truth and many things, Michael Andreasen’s debut collection is out this week and it’s called The Sea Beast Takes a Lover. Now, we know collections are tough, but look, George Saunders got started with a collection, and he went on to win the Man Booker Prize for his first novel, so don’t get all snooty about collections. Think of it more as having access to the pie case and taking one slice at a time from a dozen different pies. You’ve got your sea monster love affair pie; you’ve got your unrequited love for a rocketboy pie; you’ve got your character exploding all over the page pie; and you’ve got your SoCal suburban sprawl pie.  

And speaking of a wild motley of characters, we also have Sue Halpern’s Summer Hours at the Robbers Library, which is the story of a plucky young gal named Sunny who is sentenced to community service at the local library (which happens to be one of the 1,687 libraries that Andrew Carnegie build during his time as a robber baron and titan of industry). Naturally, Sunny meets a crew of colorful characters who all have their quirks and tragedies, and Halpern deftly weaves all of these disparate strands together into a light-hearted dramedy. 

And speaking of pirates—wait, we weren’t? Damn. Okay, never mind. 

Anyway, on the topic of heavy reading and stacks of books, N. T. Wright—Anglican bishop by day, critical biographer by night—has put together a comprehensive and extremely readable biography of Paul. Not the Paul that was the walrus, the other Paul. The one who walked the road to Damascus (versus Walrus Paul, who was out of step while walking across Abbey Road). Wright’s approach is to get inside Paul’s head, and what he’s accomplished is nearly quite approachable. Almost like a Paul: Told by Roadside version. 

And speaking of history coming to life, Tom Clavin’s history of Dodge City, the wickedest town in the American West, is out in paperback this week. History gave Wyatt Earp all the good press, which just shows you what a decent movie with Kurt Russell can do for you, but Bat Masterson was was, like, the stealth badass of the late 19th century. Seriously. More huckleberry than huckleberry. 

Anyway, Dodge City is one of those places that sprang up as the railroads headed west and the cattle drives moved north, and if there ever was a place that quantified a “wretched hive of scum and villainy,” Dodge City was it. Of course, if you needed a fast ship—no questions asked—it was the place to go. 

No, wait. That’s a different planet. It’s not May. We don’t need to make Han Solo jokes yet. Forget that. We’ll use it again in a few months. 

Look! Pirates!

Because we had so much fun with Alosa in Tricia Levenseller’s first book, Daughter of the Pirate King, we are delighted that Daughter of the Siren Queen is out this week. What? You don’t remember that Alosa is half-fish? All good pirate princesses are, duh. Anyway, Alosa is back with her feisty crew, and they’ve finally got the map which will tell them were the ultimate treasure is. Why? Because they’re pirates. 

Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that, and you’ll just have to read it and find out. Why? Because pirates. Geez. 

And since we’re on the topic of ass-kicking heroines and pirates, over here we have Heart of Iron, by Ashley Poston. It’s got space pirates, whiffs of Czarist Russian, and a mind-controlling, crazy-making software package. Think Cinder meets Red Queen

And with that, we must leave you with a project as we scurry off into the woods where there is writing to be done. Try some window boxing while we’re gone. It’s like gardening, except you a) don’t have to go outside, and b) it fits in a bread box. What more do you need? 

Overheard At The Battered Casket »»

Horace: I say, that local school production of Alice in Wonderland was quite good. Those kids know a little something about play-acting, don’t they? 

Jasper: They had excellent direction. 

Horace: Of course. Of course. But no amount of direction can salvage something where there is no innate talent. 

Jasper: She’s good at finding talent. Drawing it out and making it blossom. 

Horace: She is. 

Jasper: . . . 

Horace: . . . 

Jasper: Yes, well . . .

Horace: Of course. How about another round? 

Jasper: I think that is a fine idea. 

Horace: And let’s talk no more of the past. 

Jasper: I wasn’t. 

Horace: I mean—oh, look! A pirate queen!

Jasper: You are the absolute worst at changing the subject without making an ass of yourself, Horace. Oh, hello, Alice!

Alice: Hello, gentlemen. 

Jasper: I, uh, you weren’t kidding, Horace. I thought—it was just—never mind. Ah, miss, could we have some more drinks here? 

Horace: <sigh> I miss Ginger. 

Alice: Where is Ginger? Is she out sick?

Horace: Vacation, we hope. 

Jasper: A temporary setback, we pray. 

Alice: I’m sure this person is well trained. 

Jasper: No disrespect, my dear, but I’ve seen what you drink. There is no training required in opening a bottle and pouring. 

Alice: Why make life complicated? 

Horace: Indeed. 

Jasper: We’re talking about pouring whiskey. 

Horace: Of course. 

Jasper: We’re not—oh, you are such a pain in the ass sometimes. 

Alice: Am I interrupting something?

Jasper: Not at all. 

Horace: Absolutely not. This conversation has been going on for more than a decade. 

Alice: That long? That's very . . . Shakespearean of you. 

Jasper: Oh, good lord. It's not like that at all! 

Horace: Oh, say, did you get a chance to see the local play? 

Alice: I did. I was quite impressed. Those kids were something. The local, um, “talent”—I guess you could call it—was a bit distracting, though. All that scenery chewing. 

Horace: Oh, dear. Did they actually chew on the sets the night you went? 

Jasper: She’s being hyperbolic, you nearsighted ninny. 

Alice: It’s a good sight better than being parabolic. 

Horace: Oh, I say! Very clever. 

Jasper: Para—what? What does that even mean? 

Alice: You’ve never been adrift in the horse latitudes for six weeks, baking under a capricious sun, have you?

Jasper: Uh, no. No, I haven’t. What does that have to do with anything?

Alice: Sunstroke, my dear fellow. It addles the brain. Makes one appear lovestruck, as it were. Ah, here’s my drink. Thank you, dear. Gentlemen: your health. 

Horace: Alice. 

Jasper: . . . 

Horace: . . . 

Jasper: What did she mean by that? Parabolic. 

Horace: I think she was speaking . . . enigmatically.  

Jasper: I am not love-struck. 

Horace: I didn't say you were. 

Jasper: That she-devil. 

Horace: Are we still talking about Alice? 

Jasper: Shut up, you thundering twit. 


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