We might do that bit where we ask you to watch the ball and then shuffle the cups around on the table. And then we’ll fumble the shuffle and accidentally knock over one of the cups and the ball will roll off the table, and then we’ll try to find where it rolled but we can’t, and it will seem like the game is over, but what is this? The ball is under one of the other cups? How can that be? That sort of game. Are you ready? We are.
Our first book is a bit of a brain-teaser. It’s filled with puzzles, mysteries, and all sorts of references to dusty libraries. Is it Neal Stephenson’s and Nicole Galland’s The Rise and Fall of DODO? Gosh, no. That came out earlier this summer, and we talked about it a few newsletters back. Or did we? Are you going to check the archives? We might have. Or maybe we didn’t. Dare you look away? The Rise and Fall of DODO is a puzzler—filled with that quintessential Stephenson wit and mixed with Galland’s fantastic talent at making distant time periods seem so alive and vibrant. We’re sure there is a library or two in it. Archives, even. [Are you watching our hands?]
Ah, but yes, you caught us this time. We were, in fact, talking about Mr. Lemoncello’s Great Library Race, the latest installment in Chris Grabenstein’s madcap puzzle-packed series. No amount of shuffling cups could distract you. Mr. Lemoncello, as you may know, has an enormous gee-whizz! gosh-wow! library filled with all sorts of high-tech trickery, and once again, he’s gotten bored and concocted another intense puzzler to entertain the local kids. It’s a good thing this isn’t a morality tale, or Lemoncello’s puzzles would end with dismemberment or being baked in an oven. Fortunately, if you lose, you are merely ridiculed by all of your peers, which, come to think of it, may be worse than losing your head or being baked at 400° for 45 minutes.
And speaking of kids being clever, Ben Ripley is back in the fifth book in the Spy School series. In Spy School Secret Service, author Stuart Gibbs sends Ben to the White House to stop a SPYDER operative from assassinating the President. Gone are the days when kids just had to figure out who was lifting the lunch money stash from the office safe or stealing the school mascot. Harry Potter wrecked it for all school-agers everywhere, frankly. Now, in order to finish a grade level, you also have to save the world—without the world knowing! Geez. We can only imagine what the senior projects are going to be like.
And speaking of kids growing up with extra rulesets, Alice Hoffman is back this week with The Rules of Magic, a prequel to her mega-successful Practical Magic. This time around we get to follow the adventures of Franny and Jet (who are the eccentric and delightful aunts in Practical Magic) as they struggle to deal with the rules laid out by the Owens family curse. Naturally, love gets in the way and things get complicated.
All right, let's shuffle these cups around a bit. We'll put the ball here, move it here, and then over here. Ooup! Did you see where it went? No? Well, how about a new John Green book to distract you? Turtles All The Way Down tells the stories of Aza and Daisy, and if you know Green at all, the story of these two fearless souls is going to be breathtaking, heartbreaking, and astounding. So, you know, come get a copy and we’ll leave you alone for an hour or two while you squirrel yourself away on one of the comfy chairs and dig into this book. We don’t mind. [Watch our fingers, though!]
And here, hold this book for second while we switch positions with these two cups. No, it's not an effort to distract you. Would we do that? Oh, right. Yes, we would. But look, new Maggie Stiefvater! It's All The Crooked Saints which follows the three cousins of the Soria family in 1960s Bicho Raro. Each kiddo is unique and sparkling and filled with wonder, and they're all looking for a miracle. Not the same miracle, of course. Different miracles, and naturally, these miracles aren't cheap . . .
And just before we ask you to pick which cup has the ball under it, how about this book? Lisi Harrison’s The Dirty Book Club is about a woman who had the picture perfect life (until she realized it was all a sham), and who ends up in a small beach town in California. Queue the long lonely walks along the water and the persistent encouragement of the elderly neighbor. But then, Elderly Neighbor scampers off to Paris, leaving behind a mysterious invitation to join a secret book club—a club that only reads really racy stuff. Naturally, things get interesting from there.
And so, where's the ball? Under this cup? Nope. Sorry. Nope, not that one either. It's probably under the last one, right? We'll just put this big book on top of it, though. Just to keep up the suspense for a little while longer. It's a hefty book, isn't it? This Chernow character, as you recall, wrote a biography of Hamilton not too long ago, and that bio was the basis for a bunch of songs those damn kids won’t stop singing in the car. A musical about Grant will be much more percussive, we fear, and until such time that we get our first drum-n-bass musical, we’ll have to settle for Chernow’s thousand plus page reconstruction of Grant’s proper place in history.
And here we are: one cup left. The ball should be there, shouldn't it? Hmmm. What if we didn't look? Can you stand not knowing . . . ?