Other books may have come out this week, but we’re obsessed with Mincing Mockingbird’s Guide to Troubled Birds. We’ve read it about a dozen times already, and it still makes us laugh. 

Why? Not only is it profusely illustrated (as it says so on its cleverly designed torn dust jacket cover), but because the stories are absolutely hilarious. Any one of us will be delighted to provide you an earnest reading if you merely ask. Heck, you don’t even have to ask. Just point at the book and innocently ask: “Hmmm. What’s that?” 

We’ve also discovered Tim Fowers’s Paperback card game, which is a bit like Rummy meets Scrabble meets Pulp Fiction A-Go-Go. Which is good, because, you know, game night. Did we mention that we’re going to start a game night? Oh, we’re going to start a game night. Well, a game afternoon, actually. Probably in May, though we could start earlier if there’s enough enthusiasm. 

We’ve also been reading Doug Lain’s Bash Bash Revolution, which is kind of like what would happen if you had a Silicon Valley Marxist rework Ready Player One for the millennial generation. We know. But Lain’s been dipped in a vat of whatever it was that Philip K. Dick was storing behind his house back in the ‘70s, and Bash Bash Revolution mobiuses the lingo, if you can grok the meta-textual there. 

That’s what we’ve been up to. How about you? Got those allergies under control? Packed away all the winter jackets yet? Started to think about this summer’s beach reads? Yeah, neither have we. Well, let’s do something comfortable and familiar then, and see what is actually new in book land this week. 

There’s a new Bernie Gunther novel out, which is always cause for celebration, though in this case, the joy is somewhat bittersweet. The author of the series, Philip Kerr, passed away a few weeks ago, and so this adventure of Bernie’s will likely be the last. Alas. Though, let’s enjoy Bernie’s latest adventure in Greeks Bearing Gifts while we can. The time is 1957, and Bernie—who has been roaming about Europe since the end of WWII—is working as a claims adjuster for an insurance company. His job takes him to Greece where he is to investigate the strange sinking of the Doris, a ship that was supposedly searching for ancient artifacts when it caught fire and sank. Naturally, being a Philip Kerr novel, things get complicated and old haunts come round again. 


And speaking of things coming round again, this week’s interesting debut is from Charles Soule. The Oracle Year follows the misadventures of one Will Dando, a down on his luck bassist who wakes up one morning with exactly 108 future predictions neatly lined up in his head. They’re all true, of course, and the ramifications of having this knowledge make Dando’s life more than a little complicated. Especially when Dando and his pals start to realize that all of the predictions might be the work of a single agency. 

And speaking of winding up to a big climax, Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles comes to a close this week with Scourged, the ninth and final book in the series. Now, we know this is the sort of news that makes one rend their garments and tear their hair, but we’re pretty sure that Oberon—Atticus O’Sullivan’s wolfhound sidekick—is going to survive, and probably have more adventures. In the meantime, though, Atticus has to deal with Loki and Hel, who are intent on doing that Ragnarok thing on Earth. As you can imagine with Norse deities, an Irish druid, and a talking dog, there’s a broad mix of elements at play here, and Hearne gleefully mashes it all together for one final dust-up. 


And speaking of mashing things together, Henry Lien’s middle grade debut, Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword, comes out this week. Peasprout Chen is studying the ancient art of wu liu, aka martial arts figure skating.  Lien has been dancing through this world for awhile now with some short stories, which means that this full-length book arrives with a lushly realized world and an delightful cast of secondary characters. Now, Peasprout has a bit of attitude about her, which gets her in all kinds of trouble, but she’s also feisty enough to fight for what is right, and Lien’s debut is a delightful entry into an equally delightful world.

And speaking of feisty female characters, this week’s historical novel is My Dear Hamilton, a well-researched tale about Eliza Schuyler Hamilton written by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. Now, we’re all caught up on what Alexander did during those formative years, but Dray and Kamoie offer the aftermath. After Hamilton’s death, it’s up to Eliza to make sure the legacy of her husband’s accomplishments aren’t buried by his enemies. Because, after all, none of what he did wouldn’t have been possible without her . . . 

And speaking of behind the scenes machinations, Michael Kardos’s Bluff is the story of Natalie Webb, a failed stage magician, whose life goes from bad to worse when she nearly blinds a heckler with a thrown playing card. Natalie needs to earn some cash quick because this heckler is going to sue her into oblivion, and Natalie falls in with Ellen Garret, a notorious card shark. Naturally, things get complicated and the sleights of hand start stacking up. 

And finally, the other delightful book we've been having fun with this past week is Notes from a Public Typewriter by Michael Gustafson and Oliver Uberti. Gustafson, who is co-owner of Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, set up a typewriter in the bookstore, and over the years, there has been many beautiful and heartbreaking missives that folks have anonymously typed out. It's the sort of book that seems like you'd glance at once, but there's something magical about this one. As if it summons some of that innocence and delight that is the bookstore. And it fits in your pocket!

This way you'll always have a bookstore with you. 

Overheard At The Store »»

BOB: What are you up to this afternoon, marmot?

COLBY: I’m working on my card skills. 

BOB: Are you trying to—am I supposed to pick a card? 

COLBY: Sure. 

BOB: That one. 

COLBY: Okay, look at it. Put it back. Now, watch . . . wait . . . keep an eye on it . . . almost . . . 

BOB: Am I supposed to figure out which card it is when you are done doing whatever it is that you are doing? 

COLBY: . . . just . . . crap. 

BOB: I think my card is that one there. The one on the floor. 

COLBY: Of course it is!

BOB: You planned that, didn’t you? 

COLBY: <sigh> No. My hands are too small for this sort of thing. 

BOB: It’s a tough gig, marmot. Not everyone can do three-card monte. It’s okay. 

COLBY: I’ve got to come up with something new, though. It’s spring. We’re going to have new customers in the store. We need a hook. 

BOB: A hook? Why?

COLBY: Something that sets us apart from the other bookstores. 

BOB: A talking marmot isn’t enough? 

COLBY: Haha! You would think so, wouldn’t you? But, alas, I am last year’s novelty. I must reinvent myself for the new season. That’s what publishers are always doing, right? You can’t keep putting out the same books all the time. You have to keep changing it up. 

BOB: But I like things being sorta the same. I like reading familiar things. That’s part of why I do it. 

COLBY: So I could tell the same joke every time you show up? 

BOB: No, it’s not quite like that. You have to change the names a bit. Or the set-up. 

COLBY: Ah. “Two squid walk into a leather emporium and—“ 

BOB: Not like that. Geez. It’s too early in the day for jokes like that. 

COLBY: I didn’t even finish the setup! How do you know what joke I was going to tell? 

BOB: I’ve been—no, wait, never mind. Anyway, how about that weather we’re having? 

COLBY: Wow, Bob. Is there a story you want to tell me? 

BOB: I absolutely do not want to tell you that story. 

COLBY: I kinda want to hear it. 

BOB: I’m not telling it. 

COLBY: It sounds new and exciting. 

BOB: It isn’t. 

COLBY: Are you sure? 

BOB: Weren’t we just agreeing that we’re happier with the staid and true? 

COLBY: No, I’m pretty sure I was working on something new and flashy. 

BOB: Well, it’s not my job, so I’ll just go over here and pick out a Western or something. 

COLBY: Sure, Bob. You do that. 

BOB: Right. Off I go. 

COLBY: Right . . . So what about the two squid and the leather bar? 



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