Some weeks the opening note of the newsletter is slow to form, and sometimes we mull it over for quite a while. But this week? The books are clamoring for attention. We don't care about your twee need for a clever entrance! they shriek. Tell the world about us! We want to be read! Read us! Read us! Read us!
All right. All right. Wow. These books are pushy.
And pushing to the front of the line is Rainbow Rowell's closing book in the Simon Snow trilogy. Any Way the Wind Blows follows Simon, Baz, Penelope, and Agatha as they return to the Watford School of Magicks where they undertake one final adventure with their families. Oh, there will be tears, my dears. Lots and lots of tears.
Falling, T. J. Newman's debut, is also out this week. This one has been relentless about getting our attention in the last few months. It's a quiet little story about a family man who goes to his job—like he does every day. It's a pretty important job. He's a pilot, and every day, he flies a big plane full of people from one place to another. He does his job well, and people are happy that they get taken from that place to this place. It's a lovely circle of life. Can you see it in your head? Those perfect smiles. That absolutely marvelous filter on the sky that makes everything magical. Aw, shucks. What a lovely life.
And then one day, our pilot receives a message: "I have kidnapped your family. If you want them to live, you will crash the plane." This day will not be like the other days. Newman, a former flight attendant, delivers a crackling read.
And speaking of crackling reads, Camilla Läckberg's icy Faye Adelheim is back in Silver Tears. When we last saw Faye, she had gotten revenge on her abusive husband and sent him off to prison. Now, Jack has escaped and it's his turn for revenge. However, Faye is not unprepared, and as the pair circle one another like starved wolves, desperate for a pound of flesh, Läckberg intersperses backstory of Faye's childhood, letting us see how this woman became the cunning survivor that she is. Recommended.
Meanwhile, Spencer Quinn is back with another Chet and Bernie mystery. In Tender is the Bite, Chet sniffs out a mystery that isn't there, and an adorable ferret tries to wiggle in between man and dog. Can Chet figure out what the heck that elusive smell is AND deal with this cuddly intruder in his life? Naturally, there's a lot more at stake than what a dog's nose knows, and that's where Bernie comes in. This is the eleventh book in Quinn's series about the amateur sleuth and his faithful canine friend, and we are delighted to have another visit from them.
And speaking of furry friends, here is Catherine Raven's Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship, a delightful meditation on space and nature and the making of friends. Raven, who lives and teaches near Yellowstone Park, discovered a fox outside her cabin one afternoon. When the fox continues to show up, Raven decides it needs some company and starts to read to it every day. Some introspective moments follow.
Honestly, we're not all that surprised. It took the family dog all of about four days to figure out who was in charge of breakfast sausage, and there's no escaping that routine now.
And speaking of routines, Connor Sullivan's Sleeping Bear seems like it's a by-the-numbers wordy version of a Liam Neeson family adventure thriller, but Sullivan's debut is filled with clever plotting and wry confidence that elevates Sleeping Bear above the pack. Show up for the pretty landscape and the gruff ex-intelligence operative who is determined to find his missing daughter; stick around for the dastardly villain and his nefarious plot, as well as a nail-biter of a rescue mission.
Meanwhile, Jennifer Estep is back with Capture the Crown, a followup to her wildly successful Crown of Shards series. This time around young Gemma must disguise her secret mission to uncover a smuggling ring with all the sorts of nonsense that empty-headed princesses usually occupy their time with. Naturally, a young prince, the mysterious Leonidas Morricone, is a distraction and a complication. Can Gemma crack the case, figure out what her heart wants, and come to terms with some deep trauma from her past? Inquiring readers should queue right on up.
And speaking of fantastical landscapes, J. P. Oakes drops City of Iron and Dust this week. The titular city is our setting here, and the goblins are in charge. The fae are terribly oppressed by all this iron, you see, and it's only with the use of Dust—a dangerous narcotic—that they can regain their magic. Naturally, there's a criminal element within the city that has a Plan, and this Plan bumps into a dastardly Plot whereupon Hijinks ensue. Oakes, who might be familiar to readers who are hip to the ongoing tree-themed name changes, knows how to write acerbic and funny fantasy, and there's a darker undercurrent to City of Iron and Dust that makes it that much tastier of a read.
And speaking of tasty reads, Lisa Lutz's The Swallows is out in paperback this week. We dug this sordid tale of the explosive scandal among the private lives at a private academy. Subversive and darkly funny, The Swallows darts and swoops like its namesake. Highly Recommended.
And finally, Stephen Fry is continuing his marvelous and charming retelling of the Greek stories with Troy. This one has it all: a sea filled with a thousand ships; a timeless beauty; a father, enraged by grief; a proud man, ready for a fall; and—oh, wait. This is the story that started all those cliches. Okay, fine. This is where all those tropes began. But it's told with droll British wit and charm, so that makes it new again.
And that, dear readers, is the list this week. If you stand outside and listen, you can hear these books hollering for you. Save us from their racket. Please.