This edition of the newsletter is for everyone who hasn't taken a vacation yet this year. We are now in the back half of the year. Have you taken the proper number of mental health days so far? You should. And here are some recommendations of books to take with you when you scamper off to someplace where no one can find you for a few days. It'll just be you and . . . uh . . . at least one James Patterson book, right? 

But first, for those who would rather not get away, how about something on tempering the ugly walls of your house with color and art and huzzabuzzawha? 


Now, Bernadette Meyers has distilled life down to a pretty simple equation, which is "Art Equals Happiness." That's right. It's one of those math truthisms that doesn't require any adding or subtracting or long division. Just A = B. Boom. Done. It's too bad everything else in the world isn't this simple. 

Okay, okay. We know that even Art and/or Happiness aren't this simple either, but Meyers's point is—hang on, let's do another truthism—"Blank Walls Equal Blank Minds." That's right. You've got to have something to look at if your brain is going to spin some cycles. And if you're going to look at something, it should be something other than your damn phone. 

That's our assessment. Not Bernadette's. She's a little more gentle than that. But yes, put your damn phones down. Read a book! Hang some art! Make a nest! 


Does it give everyone whiplash if we pivot to talking about the newest Pokémon training guide? Probably. Okay. We won't. But it's out, and it details all the Pokémon EVER. Including the new ones in Alola. We don't know where Alola is. It's probably not a real destination. But there are new Squidglies and Sputternuts and Squashtalkers there. Or something. We can't keep up with all the things these kids are hyped about. 

Stay Home! Go catch Pokémon! Hang some art! Run away for a few days! We know we are giving very discordant directions. We need something to center ourselves with. Something constant. Unchanging. Always there for us. Like . . . 

You walked right into that one, didn't you? Anyway, it's out in mass market this week. 


Speaking of mass market paperbacks, here's Wind River Protector by Lindsay McKenna. That golden retriever has been photoshopped in to capture The Art of Racing in the Rain audience, who are flocking in to pick up the wordy version of the new film. 

Why? Because Kevin Costner basically reads all the best parts of the book as the "voice of the dog" in the film. Yet again, demonstrating that words aren't pictures, kids. Even if you try to cram a thousand of them into a single frame. 

Still, hang some art. It's not the same thing, but you know, different is good. Just don't hang a page from a book on your wall. That's weird. Unless it's a page written by Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman and hand-lettered by Todd Klein. Have some standards! 

So many exclamation points this week. We blame the cold brew. 

Meanwhile, Grace Burrowes's The Soldier has a cover that would be banned from Tumblr. Hopefully the words inside are as equally scandalous. And yes, we know, sometimes pictures are better than words. Whatever. Move along. We've hit quota on nipples for the month. 

(And yes, the quota is ONE nipple, which is why we went with The Soldier and not with Alyson McLayne's Highland Captive, the fourth book in the Sons of Gregor MacLeod series. And no, we're not going to "accidentally" add it to the newsletter, because that would bring us up to THREE nipples this month, and that's just too many.)

And since we're still getting hung up on pictures, here's the cover for Holly Castillo's A Seal Never Quits. We'll give you a moment to take that in. 


Yup. It's got that banded color design that is all the rage. It's got those keywords that make the algorithm hop. It's got a sexy man with a gun, and yet . . . well, let's hope the words are better than that picture, shall we? 

Lorret Vivienne's The Rogue to Ruin hits all the right notes, by the way. Fun title. Good cover. Delightful marketing copy. 

Ainsley Bourne needs the family business to succeed. But one obstacle stands in her way--Reed Sterling, the huge, handsome, former prize fighter and owner of the gaming hall across the street. His scandalous customers scare off all her marriage-minded patrons, and since the devilish brute has no intention of relocating, she sets out to ruin his unsavory establishment. Yet when a vile suitor from her past reappears, Ainsley hastily claims an attachment to the first man who comes to mind . . . Mr. Sterling, to be exact.

What a set-up. We approve. 

Oh, and William W. Johnstone (really, still dead) has a Bold New Series! out this week. Frontier America! Except it stars Preacher and Jamie Ian MacCallister, who have their own individual series with Johnstone already. So, yeah, books are now doing crossover events like comics. It's Marvel Team-up! It's The Brave and the Bold!  

You know Team Johnstone (AKA the rest of the family who are still alive) probably considered The Brave and the Bold, but went with something more finely-tuned to their audience.  

Meanwhile, Charlaine Harris's alternative history western, An Easy Death, is out in paperback this week. Fractured US States! Female Gunslingers! Russian Wizards! It's got all the things that make the West weird, and we're happier for it. 

And finally, we have Tana French's Witch Elm, Susan Elia MacNeal's next Maggie Hope book (The Prisoner in the Castle), and Paulo Coelho's The Hippie in trade paperback. You can pick two, but not all three. That's a little too wide of a spread. You don't have to impress us any more with the range of your reading. We know. We know. 

(Also, they could have totally photoshopped in a golden retriever. No one would have noticed anything out of the ordinary, and it probably would have doubled sales.)


And finally, here is Thich Nhat Hanh's How to See, the latest in his pocket-sized Mindfulness Essentials series. Because it's not about the pictures—or the words—it's about how we allow them to affect us. Remember, dear readers, words and pictures are just words and pictures. It's the real you that's important. Make sure you take care of you. 

Overheard At The Store »»

PODGE: We found a box!

HODGE: It's the right box!

COLBY: Are you sure?

PODGE: It's the only box!

HODGE: Therefore, it must be the right one. 

COLBY: Somehow I'm not sure that works like you think it does, but okay, you found a box. What's in it?

PODGE: There's—there's nothing in it. 

COLBY: Nothing at all? 

HODGE: Hang on, now. I think you are having a laugh. 

COLBY: Not at all. Well, not in your presence, at least. 

PODGE: So . . . we don't need a box? 

HODGE: It was never about the box. 

COLBY: Oh, it's always about the box. 

HODGE: He is just toying with us. 

COLBY: True. Unless there is something in the box. In which case . . . well, it doesn't matter . . . 

PODGE: What? What doesn't matter? 

COLBY: What I wanted you to do with the box. 

PODGE: What? 

HODGE: This is ridiculous, Podge. He's just—


COLBY [DRAMATIC PAUSE}: That depends on you now, doesn't it? 


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