How about this week? Still staying strong? Us too. We keep reading and walking and shuffling things around the house, and so far all of this activity hasn't made things better or worse, and so we're taking that as a win. Though, we've been enjoying reading again because we have the time to do it. We're not sneaking a flashlight under the covers—though, to be fair, we usually only read one paragraph before falling asleep and waking up an hour later when our hair starts to crisp from being pressed against the flashlight housing for the last sixty minutes, but that's a minor inconvenience. We're planning on getting a haircut—oh, right. 

So, ahem, yes. When we see each other again, we'll all have shaggy bangs and weird split ends from sleeping on our flashlights. It's okay. It'll be a secret sign that we're in the same club. 

And speaking of clubs and reading, what's new this week? 

How about a Stephen King book? If It Bleeds is his latest collection of novellas, and we all know how good he is in this format. Short (comparatively) and on-task, these four novellas showcase King as his folksiest and his scariest. The title story features Holly Gibney, the private investigator from his Mr. Mercedes series and The Outsider. Gibney is one of his great characters, and we're delighted to see her in action again. 

And speaking of characters seeing action again, David Baldacci is  back this week as well with Walk the Wire, a new Amos Decker novel. Decker, who, like Gibney, is an investigator with unusual skills, takes on a strange murder case in a burgeoning North Dakota town. The town is growing faster than the local infrastructure can support it, and all sorts of nefarious individuals and organizations are taking advantage of this loosey-goosey windfall. There are sleazy politicians, greedy landowners, and a mysterious government agency that is secretly running a local religious sect. Oh, dear readers, it's a powder keg waiting for a match, and Decker is running out of time . . . 

And speaking of things moving quickly, we've restocked our puzzle selection. You should wander over to our Facebook page and see what we have. This post will show you pictures of the fabulous Charlie Harper and Olga Suvorova puzzles that are waiting for you to dump all over your dining room table, as well as some other maddeningly complicated brain-busters. 

Oh, and we've managed to wrangle a new genre edition of the Random Thing in a Box. They're $29.99, and you get three mass market paperbacks that have been selected by our erudite moose and that have been snark-wrapped by our grumptarian marmot. The standard sort of packaging in other words. Let us know if you want one, and we'll get it to you! Don't wait, though, as we only have a handful of them. 

Meanwhile Janelle Brown is back with Pretty Things, a twisty caper novel about down-on-their-luck grifters, obnoxiously bored socialites, and family secrets that make for surprising plot twists. It's like Ocean's 2.5 meets The Bling Ring, but with even more awful people. Show up for the plot twists; stick around for the schadenfreude. 

Speaking of capers, Dan Bilefsky's The Last Job: "the Bad Grandpas" and the Hatton Garden Heist is out in paperback this week. As you may recall, back in 2015, a gang of septuagenarian criminal masterminds hatched a plan for one final gig. They managed to pull off one of the greatest heists of the twenty-first century, and it's only through Bilefsky's exhilarating narrative that we even know what really happened. We can readily imagine Stephen Soderbergh approaching George Clooney and Brad Pitt in another twenty years to do this story as the final Danny Ocean movie. 

[No, we don't believe that thing we learned in Ocean's 8. We won't spoil it here, but we think it's a ruse. It's okay. You can go watch them all and come back later. We can stand on opposite sides of the street and nod knowingly, like Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock do in that one scene. You know the one. Ooh, that fancy emerald green pantsuit.]

Meanwhile, in a setting that isn't nearly as well outfitted as Debbie Ocean and her slippery sisterhood is Lauren Wolk's Echo Mountain. Set in very woodsy Maine shortly after the Depression, Echo Mountain tells the story of young Ellie, who finds herself in charge of the family after her father gets conked on the noggin with a tree. Ellie, of course, has to figure out how to make things work if the family is going to survive, and Wolk does a marvelous job of this tale of connectedness, responsibility, and maturity. There's even a bit of the spooky in this one. 

And speaking of the spooky, Robert Jackon Bennett is back with Shorefall, the sequel to 2018's Foundryside. Bennett does great world building, and we were delighted with the quasi-industrialized fantasy world he built previously. We are equally delighted to see him delve deeper into this place with Shorefall, which starts off as a caper book, but ultimately falls into a deep hole and becomes something much darker. 

We love that Tarot-influenced cover, too. 

Meanwhile, Tom Clavin, who knows how to tell a story of the Old West, returns with Tombstone: The Earp Brothers, Doc Holliday, and the Vendetta Ride from Hell. Now, you probably know this story (or have seen one or two of the films that are based on these events), but Clavin goes back to primary sources to lay bare what really happened. 

And speaking of Doc Holliday, Val Kilmer's memoir is out this week. It turns out that Kilmer, who has had a number of interesting roles (and equally interesting romantic partners) over the years, actually has a decent sense of self-awareness and humor about his career in Hollywood, and I'm Your Huckleberry is actually quite entertaining. Much like his on-screen personas, Kilmer always seems to be aware that life doesn't need to be taken too seriously. 

Except when you get throat cancer, which is what Kilmer has been dealing with these last few years. 

Oh, and Christina Henry returns with Looking Glass, a series of interconnected novellas set in her dark and fantasy version of Wonderland. Henry, who charmed us with The Girl in Red last year, has some unfinished business with Alice and the other denizens of the City, the savage and magical place where Alice went after she got back from her surreal adventures. Much like Stephen King's If It Bleeds, Looking Glass is the sort of book that offers sharp little tales. They won't take long to devour, but they're going to linger awhile. 

And we think we'll end on that note. "Linger awhile." Do it, dear readers. Nothing requires your absolute attention today. Take a little more time for yourself. Finish that project. Start another one, because why not? The world continues on. We'll all be here. 

Overheard At The Store »»

HODGE: It's a good thing we found this stack of fashion magazines, isn't it? 

PODGE: Oh, yes, yes. Look at all those sequins! So shiny. 

HODGE: No, Podge. Sequins are a bad look. People notice you when you wear sequins. 

PODGE: But isn't that—oh, right. 

HODGE: Right. 

PODGE: <sigh> Fine. 

HODGE: How about this? 

PODGE: It looks like a fire hazard. 

HODGE: Now don't be grumpy about the sequins. 

PODGE: I'm not grumpy. That's just what that is. It's a bunch of gossamer and taffeta. It's very flammable. 

COLBY: How's the project going? 

HODGE: Fine. Fine. 

PODGE: He says I can't wear sequins. 

COLBY: Who? Hodge? 

PODGE: I think he's trying to suck all the joy out of this project. 

HODGE: What? I am not!

PODGE: <slurping noise> That's all the joy. Going away. 

HODGE: Sequins are dangerous, you pie-eyed galoot!

PODGE: What? And that outfit isn't? 

HODGE: Guys . . .

HODGE: It's versatile. Look, add a handbag and you're totally ready for an afternoon of antiquing and shrimping. 

COLBY: I don't think that's how—

PODGE: It's not even shrimp season!

HODGE: But when it is, you'll be ready!

PODGE: Who eats shrimp anymore!

COLBY: Maybe we could—

HODGE: Your head is made of shrimp. And I'd—I'd eat it!

PODGE: Not if I blinded you first. With all my dazzle sequins. Phew! Phew! Phew!

COLBY: <wandering off> It's week four. We were warned it would get like this. It's okay. It'll pass. Just remain calm. 

PODGE: (distantly) Phew! Phew phew phew!

HODGE: Your sequin laser can't hurt me. I'm wearing taffeta!


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