You’re going to need more than two hands and a pack mule for this week’s list of books. Check your sofas for change. The bookstore wants to clean out your wallet. Turn back now. This is your only warning. 

No? All right, get your Reader shirt on. Here we go. 

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. is a collaboration between Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland. The title is pure Stephenson, as D.O.D.O. stands for “Department of Diachronic Operations,” and is the name of a secret organization that seeks to undo an event in 1851 that stopped magic from working. How are they going to accomplish this trick? Time travel, duh. Stephenson and Galland have worked together before (*cough* Mongoliad *cough*), and The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. gives us all the wit, charm, humor, and snarky commentary that we expect from these two authors. It’s basically Outlander meets A Discovery of Witches as if Science Nerd and Shakespeare Scholar were playing Celebrity Jeopardy

The previous summary was the literary equivalent of a brain freeze. Kinda nice in this weather, right? How about something else like that? 

Cruel, we know. Which begs the question of when is Sumner going to get a literary bar? Can we not have an ongoing contest to name cocktails after more and more obscure literary references? 

And speaking of obscure literary references, how about Matthew Sullivan’s debut novel, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore? [And yes, look, the references start with the title.] A young bookseller is bequeathed a suicide’s book collection, and she discovers a mystery hidden in the marginalia. What did this young man know? And what is the connection to her past? It’s like The Name of the Rose meets Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore with a dash of Nancy Drew thrown in for good measure. 

And speaking of detecting, the latest anthology of thriller and detective characters solving crimes together is out this week. Following last year’s FaceOff, we now have MatchUp, wherein the pairings get even wilder and the stories get stranger. If you have a hankering for new characters this summer, MatchUp will give you a great introduction to a number of great series. What? Oh, look, we have most of them on the shelves, waiting for you to take them all home. How helpful of us. 


And speaking of wild mashups, Hard Case Crime has managed to wrangle the publication of a Bond Film That Never Was. Once upon a time, Bond producers approached Donald E. Westlake about writing a script for a Bond film. It was, like all Westlake ideas, clever and smart and savage. But it was also a little too hot for the current political climate and so the producers passed on the idea. Westlake shrugged, wrote the novel instead, and put it in a drawer. And then he died. Now that “forever and a death” has passed, we actually get to read it. Joy!

And speaking of joyous publications, the sequel to Victoria Schwab’s This Savage Song is out this week. Our Dark Duet brings to conclusion the story of monster hunter Kate and hunted monster August as the war between the monstrous and the mundane threatens to destroy Verity and everything that everyone loves. 

And speaking of all the lovely things, Kirsten Hall and Matthew Forsythe have written and illustrated The Gold Leaf, the story of a titular leaf that appears in the forest one day and what happens next. It’s a gold leaf, so you know everyone covets it, but what happens when that struggle becomes all too real? The Gold Leaf is a beautifully drawn story book that reminds us of the power of beauty and nature. 

And speaking of pretty pictures, we’ve added a few decks to the Tarot cabinet by the front counter, and the one we’re especially pleased to have in stock is Marie White’s The Mary-el Tarot. Gorgeously rendered, this deck speaks of an alchemy of the soul in its imagery and symbolism. 

And while not quite as revelatory or spiritually insightful, The Illustrated Art of Manliness by Brett McKay and Ted Slampyak offer a useful hands-on guide on how to not be a jerk. Well, okay, there are some other useful skills detailed herein as well, and it’s all suffused with a lovely self-deprecating sense of humor and a healthy dose of self-awareness. 

And speaking of self-awareness, Naomi Klein brings together the last decade or so of her work with No is Not Enough, a polemic about the shape of the world and our ability to be the change we want to see. Sure, we’ve wandered into terribly unscripted territory (much like, gasp!, a reality TV show, right?), and there are lots of signs that say “This way to utter blackness and despair,” but Klein would rather we keep our heads and get things figured out. And we can get behind that plan. 

Overheard At The Battered Casket »»

GINGER: The usual?

BOB: No, I’ll try something different today. 

GINGER: Here’s the menu.

BOB: Hmm. Kind of sparse. 

GINGER: I can get the cocktail book down, if you like. Dust it off. 

BOB: Really? You have to dust it off?

GINGER: Not a lot of call for things that aren’t on the menu. Oh hey, Jasper. 

JASPER: Good afternoon, Gingham. 

GINGER: Ginger. 

JASPER: Good afternoon, sir. I believe we’ve met.

BOB: We have. 

JASPER: Walden. That’s what you were reading. That modern edition of Thoreau’s Walden

BOB: That’s right. I was. 

JASPER: You finish it. 

BOB: I’ve read it a few times. 

JASPER: You have? Well, you are a rare bird. 

GINGER: Where’s your other half? 

JASPER: He’s watching the monitor. 

GINGER: The monitor? 

JASPER: We’re doing a thing. 

GINGER: A thing?

JASPER: It’s not important. 

GINGER: It must be, because you’re not talking your head off about it. 

JASPER: How about a martini? Couple of olives. 

GINGER: One martini. And you, Bob? 

BOB: I’m still considering my options. 

GINGER: Don’t rush. I’ll be here all day. 

JASPER: Ah, the infamous Battered Casket cocktail menu. 

BOB: It’s not very adventurous.  

JASPER: Well, there’s not a lot of adventure left in the world. 

BOB: As I’m starting to realize.  

JASPER: People aren’t in a rush to try something new, even something as insignificant as a cocktail. 

BOB: Maybe we should push them a little . . .  

JASPER: What you do mean by that? 

BOB: People know the standards, so why put them on the menu? Martini. Manhattan. Gimlet. Old Fashioned. Cosmopolitan. If they want to see the menu, it should have options that aren’t the norm, don’t you think? 

JASPER: I wholeheartedly endorse that idea, sir. We should embrace the mirage of mystery, the urgency of the unknown, and the remarkable romance of the remote. 

BOB: You were in sales, once upon a time, weren’t you? 

JASPER: Ha. It is my penchant for lavish locution, isn’t it?

BOB: Something like that. 

GINGER: Here you go. One entirely unassuming gin martini.

JASPER: Ah, thank you, doll. 

BOB: You’re really embracing the mystery there, aren’t you? 

JASPER: Oh, posh.

GINGER: I like you, Bob. 


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