There’s a big stack of books on the counter this morning that needs newsletter-ing, and the titles offer some interesting commentary. Shimmer and Burn. Spellbook for the Lost and Found. The Luster of Lost Things. This Is Not The End. Any Dream Will Do. So many would work as headlines for our ongoing disillusionment and despondency, wouldn’t they? But let’s not let such despair drag us down. Let us be like Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde and get up and punch back. 


Atomic Blonde started as a graphic novel called The Coldest City, by the way. Written by Anthony Johnson and illustrated by Sam Hart. Published by Oni Press, out of Portland, OR. Very minimalist. Black and white art. The film goes for broader palette of colors and a sexier soundtrack.

Regardless, let’s hit this list of books. Mary Taranta’s Shimmer and Burn is the story of Faris, an unloved urchin with unresolved family issues who is tasked by a power-hungry princess to sneak magic into a neighboring kingdom. Magic is kind of like mushrooms or a particularly aromatic flower in that it can be sensed by olfactorily advantaged, and in this case, these folks are quick to latch on to Faris's scent. Luckily, Faris and her evil-inclined mistress fall in with a roguish wandering wizard who, in addition to being dashingly handsome, can help them realize their goals. It burns a bit with intrigue, doesn’t it? 

And speaking of intrigue, over here we have Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s Spellbook of the Lost and Found, which follows along with six young adults as they attempt to recover that which was lost. The book neatly charts what is found and lost in each chapter through clever headings, and picks up a peculiar prickling under the skin as the story moves along. Some things aren’t meant to be found, you know, and we’re not sure this gang of erstwhile Scooby-Do-ers are going to be entirely pleased with everything they find. 


And speaking of lost things, Sophie Chen Keller’s The Luster of Lost Things follows Walter Lavender Jr, a kid with a knack for finding things, as he wanders New York City in an effort to find a missing book and resolve the long-standing hurt of Where in The World Did His Dad Go? Some hurts linger, as you know, and our boy Walter has been nursing this one for some time. 

And speaking of time, here is Chandler Baker’s This is Not the End, which is the story of Lake Devereaux, who is coming up on her eighteenth birthday. Now in this world, when you turn 18, you get to resurrect someone. Neat trick, right? It’s a nice gift that turns your big day into a bigger day for someone else. The only problem with Lake’s upcoming Resurrection Day is that she’s already promised that she’s going to use it for someone secret and special. Someone who isn’t even dead yet . . .

And speaking of not being dead yet, Debbie Macomber has a new book out this week. No, we’re not talking smack about Ms. Macomber; we’re talking about Shay and Drew, the main characters in her new novel, Any Dream Will Do. These two discover each other during a casual pew crossing, and wouldn’t you know it, but love starts to blossom between the two. Naturally, persons driving the Happiness Wrecker van show up and, well, we hope everyone lives happily ever after . . .

And speaking of happy endings, Karen Slaughter’s The Good Daughter drops this week, and as you can imagine, it’s full of terrible childhood trauma that is suppressed for years as survivors build brilliant careers, which are all put in jeopardy by bloody secrets that don’t stay buried. Which is to say: we’re going to be up all night reading it. 

And speaking of all night reading parties, there’s a new Maggie Hope book this week. Susan Ella MacNeal’s delightful wartime heroine returns in The Paris Spy, which takes her to the heart of Nazi-occupied France where she hopes to find her long-lost sister as well as an SOE agent with vital information about Churchill’s plans to invade France. Maggie’s got her hands full, and we’re turning the pages as quickly as we can. 

And that’s our secret to these days of sweltering summer and acrid air: turning pages quickly enough to generate a little wind. Thankfully, authors continue to put out books that warrant such enthusiastic page turning. Mayhap we’ll lift the dust and smoke with the wind of our reading . . . 

Overheard At The K's House »»

COLBY: Perhaps it is time for us to move past these churlish attempts to assassinate me and get down to the business at hand. 

K: And what business is that?

COLBY: You are a writer, and yet you are not writing. 

K: I may have been a writer once upon a time. 

COLBY: And is that time long gone? 

K: Long.

COLBY: Dead and buried? 

K: Deep. 

COLBY: Nothing more than worm-food? 

K: Generations of worms have fed on that corpse. 

COLBY: Perhaps your most widely consumed effort yet. 

K: Ah, clever, but no. 

COLBY: I had to try. 

K: You’re small. Trying is still an option. 

COLBY: So you’ve given up? 

K: I am not participating in any such charade. 

COLBY: It’s a lie, then. 

K: All of life is. 

COLBY: And you’re not partaking of the lie?

K: I am not perpetuating it. 

COLBY: No? What of Horace’s long-held hope that you will finish this book some day? Is your refusal not perpetuating his desire? 

K: His desire is of no concern to me. I am not his bitch, as one writer once said of another. 

COLBY: I think this is slightly different. Aren’t you under contract? 

K: I gave the money back. Years ago. 

COLBY: Well, then. I should go inform Horace that his hope is unfound, misplaced, ill-advised, and terminal. 

K: He will not hear you. 

COLBY: That is the trouble with the hopeful. 

K: It is. They are so persistent, even when the muse is not. 

COLBY: Is that your excuse? A lack of musery? 

K: Were there such a thing as ‘musery,’ I would indeed be well-drowned in the depths of it. Oh, for the misery of musery. Or lack thereof. 

COLBY: But you’re not, because you gave up. 

K: I most certainly did not. 

COLBY: You punked out? 

K: That is slanderous. 

COLBY: It got hard and so you took your toys and went home? 

K: You, sir, are rapidly becoming a malodorous houseguest. 

COLBY: You got afraid. 

K: That’s quite enough of that!

COLBY: . . . 

K: ! ! !

COLBY: So . . . that’s it, then? Fear? 

K: Fear is the mind-killer. 

COLBY: That may be true, but this isn’t spur-of-the-moment Bene Gesserit training. 

K: Indeed, you are like a little loathsome gom jabbar

COLBY: I am. Which do you chose? My wit or an endless life, trapped in this box? 

K: Your metaphor is weak. 

COLBY: As are your excuses. 

K: They are mine. 

COLBY: As is your sense of inadequacy. 

K: It is persistent. 

COLBY: So is a heat rash, but you can do something about that. 

K: And what is that? 

COLBY: Change your shorts, for one. Move around a bit, for another. 

K: And then what?

COLBY: I dunno. Maybe sit over there and write some words. 

K: That’s it?

COLBY: That’s it. 

K: Will you go away if I do?

COLBY: I’m going away regardless. I don’t care if you write or not. 

K: You don’t? 

COLBY: No. There are other books out there. Other writers who actually show up and entertain us. I—and the rest of the world—don’t have time to wait for you to get over yourself. 

K: But . . . 

COLBY: Are you suffering for your art?

K: No! I’m just—

COLBY: Afraid? 

K: I—I have nothing but the foulest—

COLBY: Shut up and write already, you bombastic bonehead. The days are getting longer. We’re going to want to have something to read during the dark nights. It might as well be your words.

K: Foul miscreant. 

COLBY: So, a thousand words by this weekend? 

K: I’d rather eat nails.  

COLBY: A handful of pages by mid-week next? 

K: I’d rather extract my own kidney through my left nostril. 

COLBY: A finished chapter by the end of the month? 

K: I’d rather put a fork in my eye. 

COLBY: Excellent. I look forward to reading something soon. 

K: Damn you, rodent. 

COLBY: Get over yourself already. Your fans await. 


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