Earlier this week, someone said, “Oh, hey, it’s a quiet week for new books, we should play mumbly-peg or something,” and then we started to trip over a ginormous stacks of books. “What the heck are these?” we asked. “Oh, the new releases.” “That’s not a small stack,” we squawked. 

Like chickens, we did. Squawk squawk a-squawk squawk!

Now that we’ve put that image in your head, let’s grab the first book on the stack and start this week’s booksapalooza. 

You know those folks who are always saying, “Smile. It doesn’t hurt your face,” or “Come on, be happy,” or some other equally rage-inducing cereal box platitude? Well, we know it’s been a struggle to convince them that their definition of “happiness” is about as meaningful as a tub of mismatched socks, and now, with The Oatmeal’s How to Be Perfectly Unhappy, you can help them understand just how banal and obnoxious are their calls for more “smiles” while you’re out hauling full honey buckets around town. 

Next up, we have The Legends of Luke Skywalker, a collection of tall tales as recorded by Ken Liu, recounting some of the more dubious adventures of ole One-Hand, the galaxy’s remaining curmudgeon. The Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been underway for awhile, and this rollicking collection of bar stories is the latest teaser for those many years between when Luke saved the universe and rescued his dad to when his exile vacation was interrupted by that young lady with his old lightsaber. 

Oops. Did we just spoil the end of The Force Awakens? Our mistake. You should just forget what we told you. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for . . . 

And speaking of spoilers, Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier arrived this week. It’s Agent Preston’s summary of what happened to all the Peakers over the last twenty-five years, and it also includes some interesting secrets in regards to what the fudgity-fudge happened in those last two episodes of the revival. Definitely worth your time if you’re still scratching your head about some (or all) of the events during Twin Peaks: The Return

On a less-complicated note, Garth Nix and Sean Williams have produced a comic tale of a two kids and a sword named Biter. Have Sword, Will Travel takes exactly that sort of tone with its goofy spin on the fantasy genre (while thumbing its nose at both Heinlein and Moorcock, naturally), as Odo and Eleanor try to figure out how not to get killed while hauling around this talking magic sword. 

And speaking of magical adventures, we also have James R. Hannibal’s The Lost Property Office, which tells us the story of Jack Buckles and his talent for finding things. Lost things. Mysterious things. Things better left un-found. Naturally, nefarious agencies want Jack to find the wrong sorts of things, while Jack just wants to find his dad before, you know, doomsday. 

And speaking of young people tasked well beyond their years, we also have Tara Sim’s Timekeeper, the first volume in a new series about how the city clocks control time in a very literal fashion. Stop a clock and you fracture time. Ruin a clock, and time stops altogether. What happens to those who are trapped in Stopped Time? Well, we guess terrible things happen, and naturally, our protagonist’s father is trapped in one such town. Oh, if only someone would rescue him, but to do so, would be to repair time itself . . . 

And speaking of the relentlessness of time and tides, we have Hugh Aldersey-Williams’s The Tide, this week’s non-fiction choice of our Bright-Eyed Readers Book Club. The tide is a mysterious thing, after all, and Aldersey-Williams attempts to chart its influence on us—from shore to circadian rhythm. Part nature travelogue, part historical investigation, The Tide is an insightful glimpse into how we interact with our world and how our world shapes us. 

And speaking of strange orbits and lifestyle influencers, this week’s celebrity celebration of L-I-F-E is Kate Hudson’s Pretty Fun. Delightfully—and artfully—arranged, Pretty Fun sets out to help you create and celebrate a lifetime of tradition. We shared it around the store, and discovered that both Ken and Mark share a deep appreciation for John Carpenter and Big Trouble in Little China (in fact, both could quote the dialogue in the screenshot that appears in Ms. Hudson’s book), whereas Rich attempted to argue that Big Trouble in Little China was so imbedded in the public consciousness that he didn’t need to actually see the film. It’s part of his cultural make-up, as it were. Sure, but Rich didn’t know about paying one's dues and the check being in the mail, so, whatever.

Anyway, apparently there are some recipes in Pretty Fun too. 

Over here, we have Gregory Maguire’s latest re-imagining of our cultural heritage/fairy tales with Hiddensee, the story of the once and future Nutcracker. Now, being as this is Maguire, we’re sure there’s a whiff of a hint with that subtitle, and so we’ll poke around inside and check out this story of the stoic strong-jawed hero and his creator, the one-eyed Godfather Dosselmeier. Mmm. Tasty mythic overtones for this holiday season. 

And speaking of tasty holiday treats, how about Samantha Silva’s Mr Dickens and His Carol? A riff on Shakespeare in Love and Dickens’s own Christmas Carol, Silva’s book imagines a world where Dickens was having a bit of trouble with a not-so-adoring readership and looming financial ruin. However, during a long winter’s night walk through London, he encounters all manner of interesting individuals who persuade him to look at his life somewhat differently . . . 

And speaking of looking at things differently, Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller are back this week with a new series. It’s called Otherworld, and its about a virtual reality game that isn’t virtual and it might not even be a game. It might, in fact, be terribly deadly! Oh noes! When you look at the screen, the screen looks at you! One must be careful of what appears to paradise, after all. 

And speaking of things not turning out like they were planned, we’ve got Barbary Station, a SF debut novel from R. E. Stearns about a pair of rough and tumble systems engineers, who hatch a clever plan to steal a ship, hop to Barbary Station (where all the pirates hang out, of course), and get themselves aboard a ship. and sail off into the ether to earn all sorts of fame and fortune. Alas, Barbary Station is kind of under siege by a wickedly no-fun artificial intelligence, and the AI isn’t keen on folks coming or going. And now, our two engineers have been tapped to take down the AI, but the best the pirates can do is place bets on which of the two is going to get decapitated first. Talk about a hard core job interview!

And finally, as we gather ourselves up for this holiday season, we’ve been adding to our roster of fanciful Blind Date Paperback categories. Genre markers like Bring Out Your Dead, Deep Feels, Conspiracy Theories, So Sexy So Deadly, Weird World, Wretched Hive, Kinky Sh*t, and NASAgasm. There will probably be more before the year is up, but don’t wait! Someone might grab that title that will bring joy and delight to your holiday. 

And, you know what? They’re great stocking stuffers.

Overheard At The Store »»

FERDIE: What’s all this?

COLBY: Oh, it’s all part of my rider. 

FERDIE: Your what?

COLBY: My rider. The contractually mandated things I need in order to perform effectively. 

FERDIE: Uh, perform?

COLBY: Yes. In the movie they’re shooting here this weekend. 

FERDIE: A movie? When is this happening?

COLBY: You don’t work Sundays, so don’t worry about it. 

FERDIE: We’re not open on Sundays. 

COLBY: Well, we are, more often than not. But don't worry. It'll be fine. 

FERDIE: I don’t know . . . and all this . . . this stuff. 

COLBY: I couldn’t have it all showing up Sunday morning, so . . . 

FERDIE: And—what? There are giant rats back here!

COLBY: They are not rats. They’re otters. 

FERDIE: What are they doing? 

HODGE: I say, we’re on M & M duty. 

FERDIE: M & M duty? 

PODGE: He doesn’t like the brown ones, so we have to pick them all out. 

COLBY: They have a very sinister vibration. I learned that from the David Lee Roth biography I read last year. 

FERDIE: Is that a peacock? 

COLBY: It’s okay. It’s stuffed. 

FERDIE: Stuffed? 

COLBY: What? You think I’d want a real peacock around? 

FERDIE: I . . . I feel like you are pranking me, or something. Is this an elaborate joke? 

COLBY: I take my thespianism very seriously. 

PODGE: Uh, excuse me . . . 

FERDIE: What did you say? 

PODGE: I don’t think that is a word. 

COLBY: Of course it is. Escapism. “An inclination to escape into fantasy.” Surrealism. “An inclination to extrude 4-D space into Jell-O.” Therefore, thespianism: “an inclination to act out or perform as extraordinary personalities.” 

HODGE: Also, “narcissism” and “isolationism.” 

COLBY: There. See? 

PODGE: But those aren’t particularly positive words . . . 

COLBY: Ho, boy! I think you missed an M & M! I can feel it eating into my brain!

FERDIE: M & Ms aren’t . . . 

COLBY: My frontal lobes are under attack! 

HODGE: Quick, Podge! Get in the bowl. Dive! Dive! I’ll hold it steady! Find that errant candy-coated brain worm!

FERDIE: Oh. Oh, my. I can’t . . . I won’t be able to—

COLBY: It’s best not to watch. 

HODGE: Podge! You’re getting them all over the floor! Oh, dear. He’s like this in the tub too. Always splashing over the side. 

PODGE: [muffled]

COLBY: So, is there anything else, Ferdie? 

FERDIE: No. I . . . I think I’ll go out of town this weekend. 

COLBY: I think that’s an excellent plan. I have everything under control. 

FERDIE: Yes, well, yes. Okay. 

PODGE: Found it! I found it! I found it! The last brown M & M! 

HODGE: Excellent work, Podge! Excellent work. 

[Ferdie exits]

PODGE: Is she gone?

COLBY: She is. 

PODGE: Can we have some M & Ms now? 

COLBY: Knock yourselves out. Why else would I have them on the rider? 


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