The Mincing Mockingbird folks (they put out that awesome Guide to Troubled Birds that we were all ga-ga about last week) have done some clever journals. Not in that “oh, hey? Where did the lines on the pages go, and what do you mean I have to write sideways while folded in half?” sort of way, but in that—hang on, here’s an example. 

We’re going to show off some of these journals in this week’s newsletter because we are incapable of passing up an opportunity to do snarky commentary while highlighting products we love.

And so, here are this week's new books with slightly different visual aids to accompany them. 

Carl Hiaasen joins the “I’ve done a commencement speech and here’s the collectible book edition for you to share with your friends” club. Assume the Worst is Hiaasen at his snarky best—the Carl we all like to read anyway, right?—and he tackles the “lame platitudes” that most commencement speakers offer up. They’re all crap, as far as Carl is concerned, and he’s going to tell you why. It’s pithy, it’s straight-talking, and it’s pretty damn funny. 

For most of us, putting fire near wood is what we do when we’re getting ready to make s’mores. Lora S. Irish is under the impression that you can actually control that raging blaze at your fingertips and make pyrographic landscapes. [We’ll pause for a moment while everyone parses the penultimate word in the last sentence once or twice more, ensuring that we’re all on the same page before we continue.] Whether you’re raising mighty grain silos or sculpting the delicate folds of intricate flowers, a steady hand will guide you to creating art that makes your friends go “Oooh!” Ms. Irish’s Landscape Pyrography Techniques & Projects will guide you step-by-step through some really amazing techniques. 

On the poetry shelf this week, we have r.h. Sin’s latest collection of heartfelt insights. she felt like feeling nothing (sic, because it’s all becoming an extended E. E. Cumming’s riff) is a collection of hymns, scenes, and other poetic forms that will speak to those inclined to reflection, self-realization, and wondering what that special someone is thinking about and whether those thoughts include them. 

Meanwhile, Steven R. Gundry’s The Plant Paradox Cookbook is on the shelves too. This one is a collection of one hundred recipes meant to cure that weight problem, fix that gut, and dispense with lectins in your life. So, lectins are those things in nightshades and some grains and dairy, and they have a tendency to wallop your gut lining and turn it into a piece of Metzgerian Auto-Destructive Art 

[Ed. Note: Don’t feel bad; we didn’t get the reference either. This happens sometimes with the newsletter writer. He goes off into the weeds, and we hope he comes back before the big-eyed night creatures come out. If you are interested in the reference, this link is a good place to read up on Gustav Metzger.]

Anyway, Gundry has been doing his Plant Paradox thing for awhile, and now we have a cookbook to go along with all his talk about how we should avoid eating those things that are not good for us. Beyond that entire cheesecake sitting in the backroom or all those donuts. 


Also this week is the 34th volume of Writers of the Future (along with Illustrators of the Future), the yearly anthology that collects the winning stories in the Writers of the Future contest. This contest is a pretty big deal for emerging genre writers, and we’ve seen a good number of the writers and illustrators collected in these volumes go on to have amazing careers (Patrick Rothfuss, Nnedi Okorafor, David D. Levine, and Shaun Tan: to name a few whose books we have mentioned in previous editions of this newsletter). Get in on the buzz before there is buzz about these new writers and illustrators!

Meanwhile, Veronica Roth is upping the ante in her book, The Fates Divide. He’d die for her. She’d kill for him. Kids, these days. Things get so complicated, so quickly. But, in the time-honored tradition of star-cross’d lovers, Cyra and Akos are fated to be going in opposite directions, even though they’ve got swoony eyes for each other. As their world hurtles toward a barbaric war that will wreck everything, these two are forced to make some really tough choices. Choices that will keep you flipping pages until the very end. 

Meanwhile, Frances Hardinge is rambling around in the other room with Fly Trap, a delightfully Dickensian oddment about Mosca Mye and Eponymous Clent, two rogues who are forced apart by some silly laws in a border town called Toll. This separation is good for the rest of us, because these two are always up to some sort of mischief, and Fly Trap charts their efforts to escape the letter of the law in Toll. Along the way, they are assisted by an ill-tempered goose named Saracen. It’s like Philip Pullman working on a book with James Thurber in some metaphysical library where Mark Twain wanders through every hour or so to make some sort of marginalia that ends up being part of the final manuscript. 

Jo Nesbø is taking a go at the Hogarth Shakespeare series of retelling the Bard’s classics with Macbeth. Now, new Nesbø is always cause for celebrating, but Nesbø doing Macbeth as a ‘70s crime drama? Uh, yes please and thank you! In Nesbø’s version, drug dealer Hekate sets up Inspector Macbeth as the possible replacement for that gosh-darned goody-two-shoes police chief Duncan. Macbeth isn’t all that keen on the bloody work involved, but Macbeth’s girlfriend, a local casino owner named Lady—oh, she’ll get her hands dirty. Oh yes, she will. 

And, finally . . . 

Nope. This one is what it says it is. Y’all know you need one. Pocket-sized, too!

Meanwhile, In a Secret Place Above the Lake »»

ALICE: I know you are there, otter. I can hear your breathing. 

PODGE: Oh, hello. Yes, I, um . . . 

ALICE: It’s all right. You’re not disturbing me. Come here. 

PODGE: This is a nice spot. You can see the whole lake from here. 

ALICE: You can. 

PODGE: It’s a little high up, though. 

ALICE: You are a ground critter. I understand. But back when I was at sea, the crow’s nest was the only place to get some privacy on the ship. And the view . . . well, the view was fantastic. 

PODGE: Sometimes I dream about being up in the clouds—like a bird. All the clouds are enough to touch. They tickle my nose when I pass through them. 

ALICE: That does sound like something a bird would do. Flying is like swimming, in a way. 

PODGE: I suppose it might be. 

ALICE: What brings you up here, otter? 

PODGE: I have a letter for you. I got it from Leonard. 

ALICE: Ah, you uncovered the old duck box. 

PODGE: I did. And now I have to deliver all the letters. 

ALICE: It was buried for a reason. 

PODGE: No one told me. There wasn’t a sign. 

ALICE: There might have been once. But yeah, that was a long time ago. 

PODGE: I am still new to this world. 

ALICE: Of course you are. It’s okay. Having new things in the world keeps hope alive. 

PODGE: You know about this letter, don’t you? 

ALICE: I am not surprised by its appearance. 

PODGE: You buried the duck box. 

ALICE: I did. 

PODGE: But I uncovered it. And Leonard found it. And I took the letters. 

ALICE: Aye, you did. 

PODGE: And now I have to deliver them all. And this is the last one. 

ALICE: I accept the letter, otter. It was wrong for me to set the world on course to put the onus of delivery on you. I apologize. 

PODGE: It’s okay. I’ve met some interesting people. 

ALICE: I bet you have. 

PODGE: I learned about labradonkapoodle. 

ALICE: Labra—what?

PODGE: It’s a game with drinks and yelling. 

ALICE: Ah, one of those. 

PODGE: It seems fun. 

ALICE: It probably is. 

PODGE: Anyway, here’s your letter. Thank you for accepting it.  And . . .  uh . . . my condolences. 

ALICE: Why? 

PODGE: The seal. On the back. And the return address. The Ministry of Mythological Mysteries. They’re the ones that keep the Map, aren’t they? They're in charge of knowing where things go dark and . . . 

ALICE: They are, but I don’t think that it is what you think it is. 

PODGE: What is it then? 

ALICE: They want me to come back to work.


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