February Newzine

Let’s start with some great news: Independent bookshops defy expectations during the Covid-19 pandemic with hundreds of new stores opening

Self-soothe with this video of a 120-year-old book of fairy tales being restored.

This Turkish library is shaped like a shelf of giant books.

What Fiction Can Teach Journalists: A Reading List From Maurice Chammah

Stating the obvious: Every Mystery Writer Knows, You Can Kill Anyone But The Dog

My Nudist, Holocaust-Survivor Grandma Spied on the Nazis

Suspect in Kim Kardashian’s Paris Robbery Writes Book … About Robbing Kim Kardashian

And something new and ridiculous: the final Daniel Craig 007 movie may have to have some re-shoots due to delays making product placement deals problematic!

Serious Stuff

Pharmacist Arrested, Accused Of Destroying More Than 500 Moderna Vaccine Doses

The 1954 Attack On The Capitol And The Woman Who Led It

How Online Sleuths Identified Rioters At The Capitol

A Serial Rapist Terrified a Black Sorority for a Decade. Police Just Cracked the Case.

Netflix’s Night Stalker Doc Details the Hunt For Richard Ramirez. But There’s More to the Story.

How a Whistleblower Helped Launch a Landmark Prosecution in the Battle Against the Opioid Epidemic

‘The Internet Is a Crime Scene’

A Vast Web of Vengeance: Outrageous lies destroyed Guy Babcock’s online reputation. When he went hunting for their source, what he discovered was worse than he could have imagined.

A Scoop About the Pentagon Papers, 50 Years Later

On the banned German novelist who disappeared herself from the Nazis.

Local Stuff

Saving Seattle’s National Archives will take a team effort

In Netflix’s ‘Cobra Kai,’ Seattle restaurateur Yuji Okumoto reprises a role — and a life — he thought he’d left behind

Melinda Gates has donated $250,000 to the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction.

Powell’s Books says Andy Ngo’s book will not be in store

Mossback’s Northwest: The Washington outlaw who couldn’t be caught

[and we include this just for fun: Mossback’s Northwest: The Palouse cowboy who inspired John Wayne]

Orca Post-Mortems Tell the Story of a Population Facing Numerous Threats

DNA puts a name to one of the last unidentified victims of the Green River Killer

Meet Book the Future founder Andrea Liao, a Bellevue high schooler honored for her work in the literacy field

Multnomah County Library saw record 4 million digital checkouts in 2020; here are the most popular titles

Judge orders DOJ attorneys to testify about improper questioning of witness in Thomas Wales investigation

Department of SPECTRE

Amazon and major publishers colluded to keep e-book prices high, lawsuit says

Amazon Is Helping to Fund a Militia That Stormed the Capitol

UW study:Amazon algorithms promote vaccine misinformation

Amazon seeks to block shareholder proposals on hate speech, diversity, workplace conditions and surveillance tech

Words of the Month

CHANTAGE – the extortion of money by threats of scandalous revelations aka Blackmail. French, from chanter to yield to extortion, be compliant, literally, to sing + -age

This word is first recorded in the period 1870–75. Other words that entered English at around the same time include: Mafiafifth wheelgiveawayimmobilizeupgrade

Awards

ALA Youth Media Awards (Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King, and many more!)

Mystery Writers of America Announces 2021 Edgar Allan Poe Award Nominations

3 books by Oregon authors win Pacific Northwest Book Awards

Book Stuff

The Great Gatsby and All Your Favorite Works from 1925 Have Now Entered the Public Domain

Shelf Life: Tana French:the famed mystery writer takes our literary survey.

American Dirt: How one of publishing’s most hyped books became its biggest horror story — and still ended up a best seller.

My First Thriller: Lawrence Block

The Life and Wild Times of O. Henry

You’re using the term ‘Orwellian’ wrong. Here’s what George Orwell was actually writing about

‘Invisible Men’ chronicles pioneering Black artists of the early comic book industry

At the Library: Spare some time for the overlooked books

Ernest Cline Was ‘Raised by Screens.’ Look How Well He Turned Out!

Penny dreadfuls were the true crime podcasts of their time

The Thrill of Researching Your Crime Novel

The dramatic — and embellished — life of Graham Greene

Closure of an iconic Paris bookshop alarms French bibliophiles

Why do books have prices printed on them?

Open letter calls for publishing boycott of Trump administration memoirs

How Teaching Writing Makes Jonathan Lethem’s Own Writing Better

Patricia Highsmith – Jan 19, 1921

~ Patricia Highsmith at 100: the best film adaptations

~ Patricia Highsmith: the ‘Jew-hater’ who took Jewish women as lovers

~ Upgrade your writing soundtrack with Patricia Highsmith’s favorite songs.

Exploring the People of Middle-earth: Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, an Unexpected Hero

Indie bookstore to open a block away from recently shuttered Barnes & Noble

Rare Devon fabric book found in London archives

Here’s what you need to know about the book club service that just raised $40 million.

This new indie bookstore categorizes books by emotion.

Merriam-Webster just added 520 new words to the lexicon, but these are the best ones.

Paul Yamazaki on Fifty Years of Bookselling at City Lights

Today in cool internet passion projects: the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.

John le Carré Offered a Piece of Advice to a Struggling Novelist. She’ll Never Forget It.

It Takes a Village To Keep a Book In Print: A Chat with the Collins Crime Club

My First Thriller: Randy Wayne White

Other Forms of Entertainment

Sex and the City: New series announced but Kim Cattrall won’t return

The secret artists creating miniature buildings for street mice

His Vaccine Story Inspired His Father To Write A Disney Classic

The people who want to send smells through your TV

Don’t Toss Your Christmas Tree Yet! Here’s How You Can Cook With It

‘Where Are The Women?’: Uncovering The Lost Works Of Female Renaissance Artists [When JB was in college, he took an art history class entitled “Women in Art”, taught by Dr. Jeanne Stump. It was one of the first such classes in the US and he’s thrilled the painters he studied over 40 years ago are finally getting the attention they have always deserved.]

The True Story Behind Why the Original ‘The Twilight Zone’ Got Canceled

John Bishop Boards the TARDIS for Season 13 of Doctor Who 

Car Concerts Offer Choirs A Way To Rehearse And Perform

PI Storytelling Through the Ages: Books, Blogs and Podcasts by Real Private Eyes

‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 3 Unveils Cast For Sparrow Academy Which Includes… A Telekinetic Cube?

Hollywoodland: The Best Neo-Noir You Probably Haven’t Seen

Kevin Feige Confirms ‘Deadpool 3’ Is an MCU Movie

“Lincoln Lawyer” Series Lands at Netflix, Starring Manuel Garcia-Rulfo — Find Out Which Book It Will Cover

Evil Incarnate: The Aesthetics of On-Screen Villainy

What Happened To Michael Peterson From The Staircase?

Classic bands accused of crowding out new music on streaming services

Radiohead: School band demo up for auction

‘SNL’ And ‘Second City’ Announce Scholarships For Diverse, Emerging Comic Talent

‘Artists, Weirdos, Hellriders And Homies:’ Thrasher Magazine Turns 40

Timothy Dalton had Three Unmade James Bond Movies That Influenced the 007 Franchise After He Left

Words of the Month

RUB BUBBERS (OR CLANK NAPPERS) – A dexterous person/people who steal silver tankards from inns and taverns.

Thanks BBC America

Links of Interest

December 31: Serial squirrel: Neighbors keep eye out for fierce rodent

January 4: Inside the U.S. Army’s Warehouse Full of Nazi Art

January 4: Sherlock Holmes and the case of toxic masculinity: what is behind the detective’s appeal?

January 5: HG Wells fans spot numerous errors on Royal Mint’s new £2 coin

January 5: Hemingway’s Politics Were No Secret—Just Read His Only Crime Novel

January 5: Sword Taken 4 Decades Ago Is Returned To Mass. Community

January 5: Fishermen rescue naked fugitive from Australian tree

January 6: Irving “Gangi” Cohen: The Man Who Escaped Murder, Inc. and Hid Out in the Movies

January 9: The mystery at heart of Milky Way: Astronomers are still arguing after 70 years over mushroom clouds at centre of galaxy… so were they caused by exploding stars or a black hole swallowing a gas cloud? 

January 10: Split in two ~ magicians to celebrate 100 years of sawing people in half

January 11: Megalodons gave birth to large newborns that likely grew by eating unhatched eggs in womb

January 11: A level results: Why algorithms aren’t making the grade

January 13: Gurlitt’s last Nazi-looted work returned to owners

January 13: Tower of London’s ‘queen’ raven Merlina missing

January 13: Italy ‘Ndrangheta group: Biggest mafia trial in decades opens

January 13: For Sale: Papers From the Planning of the 1963 March on Washington

January 14: Lizzie Borden’s House Is Up For Sale

January 15: A productivity tool company has solved writing by . . . reinventing the typewriter.

January 18: Man found ‘living in airport for three months’ over Covid fears

January 19: Stolen 500-year-old painting found in Naples cupboard

January 19: Those Guillotines are awfully close to your neck

January 27: Marie Dean Arrington: The Woman Who Fled From a Florida Electric Chair

January 27: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Murder: A Roadside Killing and The Novel That Captured an Era

Words of the Month

MASK OF SANITY – Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy—these serial killers were famous not only for their crimes, but their deceptively charming dispositions. This is what crime experts refer to as the Mask of Sanity. Coined by psychiatrist Hervey M. Cleckley in his 1941 book, this describes the phenomena of psychopaths easily blending in with their peers because they don’t typically suffer from more noticeable mental symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.

Thanks to MentalFloss

RIP

December 29: ‘Columbo,’ ‘Murder, She Wrote’ co-creator William Link dies

January 8: Michael Apted, Director Of The ‘Up’ Documentary Series, Dies At 79

January 8: Legendary Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda Dies At 93

January 9: Remembering Journalist And Friend Neil Sheehan

January 9: Marion Ramsey: Police Academy and Broadway star dies at 73

January 14: Siegfried Fischbacher: Member of magic duo Siegfried and Roy dies

January 17: Phil Spector, famed music producer convicted of murder, dies at 81 after contracting COVID-19

January 23: ‘Barney Miller,’ ‘Sanford and Son’ actor Gregory Sierra dies at 83

January 26: Cloris Leachman, Oscar-winning actress and prolific TV star, dies at 94

January 28: Cicely Tyson, Who Brought Grace And Gravitas To The Screen, Has Died At 96

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

While working the shelves of Seattle Mystery Bookshop, several series caused me no end of dismay when trying to space them out, so they looked pretty for you all! 

Agatha Christie often clogged the classics section with the sheer variety of sizes publishers used to reprint her mysteries. Earle Stanley Gardner also had his moments of causing classic section consternation due to the sheer volume of books he wrote – 82 in the Perry Mason series alone! 

M.C. Beaton and Alexander McCall Smith (in the general mysteries) eventually got their own sections due to the ever-expanding series. 

However, there’s one writer who often lead me to tear my hair out – J.D. Robb. 

Due to Robb’s overwhelming popularity, we needed to keep the majority of the In Death Series on hand at all times. Meaning? When Robb released a new book or we received a batch of used mysteries…We often needed to move entire rows & sections of books around, so Eve and her cohorts didn’t scrunch, encroach, or simply dominate the neighboring authors!

Now that Robb’s hit book number 51 in her In Death series, I shudder to think how we’d struggle to fit her prodigious output on the shelves! 

Speaking of book 51, Shadows in Death…Robb delivers yet another page-turning, read-late-into-the-night thriller you can devour in a single (long) sitting. One that will leave Eve & Roarke fans with a pleasant taste in their mouths; as we learn more about Roarke’s past, watch Eve work with her team and visit Ireland!

Feeney had stars in his eyes.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the mystery’s culmination teetered on the edge of sensationalism. But really, it only ever teetered, but Robb never actually jumped the shark, so we’re still fine!

Did you know the Western tradition of a bride wearing white didn’t come about until Queen Victoria wore a white dress to her wedding in 1840? The trend soon caught on amongst the elite across Europe as it became a symbol, not of the bride’s ‘purity’ but her family’s wealth. (i.e., they could afford to purchase an easily ruined dress.) Prior to this point, brides wore all kinds of colors – red being a particular favorite. 

It wasn’t until prosperity hit the middle classes after WWII, helped along by the silver screen, that white wedding gowns became commonplace across the US and Europe.

In 1981 the tradition received a significant boost when soon-to-be Princess Diana walked down the aisle in a stunning ivory dress which sported 10,000 pearls, a 25 ft train, and a 153-yard tulle veil. As one-in-six people around the entire world watched the wedding – her gown inspired generations of brides. 

Beyond the fact, it undoubtedly took some serious spine and determination to pull the weight of the dress down the aisle. The train and veil caused one wedding day hiccup. The designers failed to consider the size of the glass coach Princess Diana would ride in to St. Paul’s Cathedral. So, despite the bride’s best efforts, the dress became badly wrinkled on the ride over.

I know a few wrinkles in a dress doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but I know from experience, trying to create a perfect day – something like this can easily spin one out.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your view, Lindsey Norris doesn’t need to wait until the big day for something to go wrong! Not only did the guest list accidentally triple overnight – she and Sully find their officiant washed up on the beach of their wedding venue…dead!

So it’s a race against time as Lindsey & Sully work to solve a friend’s murder, find a new officiant, and expand their wedding venue – all before the big day! 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading One For The Books

The murder and the practicalities behind throwing a wedding provide an excellent counterpoint to well – the wedding. An event, which handled by a less deft mystery author, can edge towards the overly sweet – a trap McKinlay, thankfully, never falls into!

In addition, the possible motives of our cast of suspects are, for lack of a better word – intriguing. As no one, not even our victim, is innocent. It’s this tangled set of relationships, ones that neither Lindsey nor Sully ever suspected, and their revelations that make this mystery.

Then there’s The Lemon, Ms. Cole, who since announcing her aim to become Briar Creek’s next mayor – is endeavoring to loosen up and smile more….neither of which is precisely in her wheelhouse – thus adding an extra layer of sharp mirth to an already engaging read. 

All in all, One For The Books was a fun, fast-paced, and diverting book I would recommend to anyone looking for a biblio-mystery or a fun way to escape an afternoon or two!

Don’t Forget to Check out my other Blog – Finder of Lost Things!

This last week we’ve met Squiddy, The Brownie Stealing Bench and Phoebe’s Silver City Operative!

Fran

One of the questions we routinely got at the bookshop was, “Have you read every book here?” It was generally accompanied with a laugh, although sometimes it was a serious question.

We always grinned and responded that there was no way to read all of them, and that we all had areas of specialty. The fact is, of course, that not only could we not have read all 10,000+ titles, but we honestly had so many new titles coming in every week, we didn’t even pretend to try.

That didn’t mean we couldn’t sell books we hadn’t read. A good working knowledge of the standards and classics worked well, and the quality of writing helped several series sell themselves.

That’s why I was pleased to finally get around to reading my first book by Charles Todd. I prefer to start at the beginning of a series, and I should have begun with A Test of Wills, but it turns out that I had an Advance Reader Copy of The Red Door, so that’s what I read.

It was obvious there were ongoing things I would have gotten had I started at the beginning, and I will enjoy filling in the backstory, but the delight of Charles Todd is that each story stands by itself. So I got to meet Ian Rutledge and his internal companion, Hamish, and I’m thoroughly hooked.

The Red Door has two inquiries, one concerning a street thief who attacked Rutledge on a bridge, and escapes. However the thief, known as Billy, becomes more aggressive, and it’s up to Rutledge to stop him.

But a missing person case takes precedence, since the Talley family is very important, and finding Walter Talley is deemed to be of utmost importance. Rutledge is given the assignment to find Talley, and to keep news of his disappearance out of the press, to protect the family’s privacy. What Rutledge finds in his investigation will leave death and sorrow as secrets are revealed.

The combined talents that comprise Charles Todd are wonderful, and I am looking forward to reading them all. The depth of understanding they bring to our shell-shocked hero steeped in the times and turmoil of Great Britain in the wake of the Great War makes this book, and I can only assume all the rest, absolutely compelling.

Have we read them all? Not even hardly, but it’s great to start in on some of the ones I know I missed!

BUY SMALL ~ SUPPORT SMALL

December Newzine

denise-johnson-426641-unsplash          

Dictionary.com contends that the Word of the Year, 2018, is misinformation. Our point of view is why should there be only one?

      Stan Lee

As you’ve no doubt heard, American Master Stan Lee died on November 12th. While much has been written about his impact and accomplishments, we ran across this that we’d not heard about when it was originally printed. From November 2007 issue of The Atlantic, this is Stan Lee’s “powerful definition of the American idea”. Take a moment to read this: America is a Dream.

      Awards!

It’s that time of year again, award season for books! Announced on October 27th (we are a hair late) are the CWA Dagger Award Winners. Grats to one and all!

The CWA Diamond Dagger:Michael Connelly

The CWA Gold Dagger: Steve Cavanagh – THE LIAR

The Ian Fleming Steel Dagger: Attica Locke – BLUEBIRD, BLUEBIRD

The John Creasey Debut Dagger: Melissa Scrivner Love – LOLA

The CWA ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction: Thomas Harding – BLOOD ON THE PAGE

The CWA Historical Dagger: Rory Clements – NUCLEUS

The CWA Short Story Dagger: Denise Mina – “NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT”, BLOODY SCOTLAND

The International Dagger: Henning Mankell – AFTER THE FIRE 

The CWA Debut Dagger: Bill Crotty – THE ETERNAL LIFE OF EZRA BEN SIMEON

Highly Commended: Joseph James – RIVERINE BLOOD

The CWA Dagger in the Library: Martin Edwards.

November 15th: National Book Award Winners

      Word of the Month

Bunyip (noun – plural -s – bun·​yip | \ˈbənˌyip\) – impostor, phony

Bunyip comes to us from Australia, where the word originally had the meaning “a legendary wild animal usually described as a monstrous swamp-dwelling man-eater.” Bunyip comes from an Aboriginal language, and began appearing in print in the 1840s.

The “impostor” meaning came shortly thereafter, appearing the following decade.

“…and they one and all recognized the bone and picture as belonging to the “Bunyip,” repeating the name without variation.”

              — Geelong Advertiser and Squatters’ Advocate (Victoria, Aus.), 2 Jul. 1845

Thanks to Merriam-Webster website for the word & definition

      Links of Interest

October 31st: Judge’s copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover fetches £56K at auction

October 31st: The Scottish writer who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula

November 1st: Medieval ‘Porpoise grave’ remains a mystery

November 1st: Gunpowder Plot: 1605 Thomas Percy link found in archives

November 1st: Portland’s Rose City Book Pub, a bookstore and bar, now open

November 1st: Pride and Passion: Jane Austen novels the Brazilian way

November 1st: Killing Eve: How the hit BBC show’s killer soundtrack was made

November 2nd: West Side Story’s gangs get new moves after 60 years

November 3rd: Ian Rankin Interview ‘I couldn’t get on with War and Peace’

November 3rd: ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ to Release Campaign Setting Book in 2019

December Issue: Jack Reacher Still Won’t Quit, 23 Books Later

November 4th: Murdered mob boss gave stolen Boston art to IRA, says former Met detective

November 5th: Booksellers show unprecedented act of solidarity

November 5th: Morbid exhibits of UCL’s Pathology Museum

November 6th: Why a Book Tour Is More Brutal Than a Political Campaign

November 6th: How Stan Lee led the 1960s superhero revolution

November 7th: Drowning cow saved by ‘mermaid’ on a swim

November 7th: Collection of ‘obscene’ books on display at Oxford University

November 10th: How Edgar Allan Poe Got Kicked out of the U.S. Army

November 12th: Enigma code veteran to take secrets ‘to end of my days’

November 12th: ‘A pas de deux of sex and violence’: a poet’s guide to film noir

November 12th: Amazon asked to share Echo data in US murder case

November 13th: Arrest in hunt for ‘Ross from Friends’ lookalike

November 14th: Reusable coffee mugs that can be borrowed like library books

November 14th: The Birth, Death, and Long Afterlife of The Gashlycrumb Tinies

November 14th: Too short’ Tom Cruise to be replaced for Jack Reacher reboot – Maybe they’ll get it right this time?

November 15th: John Sandford: By the Book

November 15th: Lost Disney ‘Oswald’ film found in Japan

November 15th: Megan Abbott’s Work Diary –‘My Psychiatrist Notes How Tired I Look, Which Is Great’

November 15th: Seattle high-school teacher shares ‘the wonder of books’ with students on a different kind of field trip

November 16th: Mark Twains Complicated Relationship with the Typewriter

November17th:Elite library sorters race to process books in cutthroat competition. Also: Aaron Sorkin talks To Kill a Mockingbird, a fanfic writer talks going pro, and the rest of the week’s best writing on books and related subjects.

November 18th: 4am Starts and Spinach Smoothies – Dan Brown on How to Write a Bestseller

November 18th: Dan Brown on Trump – “Reality Has Surpassed Fiction”

November 18th: Bookstore’s Tweet On The Sale Of A Children’s Book After 27 Years Goes Viral

November 19th: The Birth, Death, and Long Afterlife of The Gashlycrumb Tinies ~E is for Edward who wrote a gory masterpiece.


September 15th: French bookshops revolt after prize selects novel self-published on Amazon ~ Booksellers refuse to ‘jump into the wolf’s mouth’ and order Marco Koskas’ Renaudot-longlisted novel online

November 19th: Canadian literary prize suspended after finalists object to Amazon sponsorship


November 20th: How Agatha Christie hides her plot secrets in plain sight

November 20th: NYTimes ~ 100 Notable Books of 2018

November 23rd: Stop Thief! An otter on the loose is eating koi from a formal garden

November 23rd: Laura Lippman ~ Books That Made Me

November 26th: The isolated Albanian artillery base hidden in a cliff

November 28th: Margaret Atwood to write Handmaid’s Tale sequel

November 28th: Harry Potter are endless tie-ins diluting the magic?



      Word of the Month – Continued

phony (adj.): also phoney, “not genuine,” 1899, perhaps an alteration of fawney “gilt brass ring used by swindlers.”

His most successful swindle was selling “painted” or “phony” diamonds. He had a plan of taking cheap stones, and by “doctoring” them make them have a brilliant and high class appearance. His confederates would then take the diamonds to other pawnbrokers and dispose of them. [“The Jewelers Review,” New York, April 5, 1899]

The noun meaning “phony person or thing” is attested from 1902.

thanks to etymonline

      R.I.P.

November 2nd: Raymond Chow: Film mogul who discovered Bruce Lee dies at 91

November 7th: Kitty O’Neil: Wonder Woman stuntwoman dies at 72

November 7th: Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, Long-Serving Times Book Critic, Dies at 84

November 12th: Douglas Rain: Actor who voiced Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey dies

November 12th: Stan Lee

November 25th: magician, author, and actor Ricky Jay (he was in a terrific crime movie filmed here in Seattle, David Mamet’s House of Games)

      Word of the Month – Lastly

huckster (n): circa 1200, “petty merchant, peddler” (often contemptuous), from Middle Dutch hokester “peddler,” from hoken “to peddle” (see hawk (v.1)) + agent suffix -ster (which was typically feminine in English, but not in Low German). Specific sense of “advertising salesman” is from 1946 novel by Frederick Wakeman. As a verb from 1590s. Related: Huckstered; huckstering. (thanks to etymonline)

       What We’ve Been Doing

    Amber

Don’t forget to check out my original mystery! Finder Of Lost Things

Jenn McKinlay – Hitting The Books

IMG_1506Lindsey Norris, Library Director of Briar Creek Library, didn’t seek out trouble this time. She just gazed out the window during the weekly crafternoon meeting, when she witnessed the hit-and-run of one her patrons. The weird thing? Lindsey is pretty sure the car sped up and swerved into Theresa Huston. But who would want to hurt the former tennis pro? When the driver turns up dead in the car with a stack of library materials in the passenger’s seat – Lindsey can’t help but do her own investigating…

I am so glad I stuck with this series! This installment is an excellent read! The mystery itself is engaging, and the variety of subplots (which are woven in flawlessly) are hilarious. I also enjoy how McKinlay is able to keep her library angle fresh and interesting for her readers.

I would recommend this book (which you can start with, provided you know going in that this installment isn’t close to being the first-in-series) to anyone looking for a fun fastpaced cozy read! Seriously this book moved at a quick clip from cover to cover!

Brandon Sanderson – Legion

Stephen Leeds is a genius.IMG_1472

Kinda.

Stephen can learn any new skill in a matter of hours, has a photographic memory and is considered the smartest man on the planet. But unlike Sherlock, who utilizes his mind palace to recall information from the depths of his psyche, Stephen speaks with his aspects.

What’s an aspect? Glad you asked…An aspect is how his brain outsources its knowledge. Stephen only has access to the information when that particular hallucination is advising him. A new aspect pops into existence each time Stephen acquires a new skill, like learning Hebrew or astrophysics. Each aspect (or hallucination, but most of them don’t like this term) comes complete with their own name, unique physical features and is nutty as a fruitcake in their own unique way. Stephen has forty-seven aspects and counting.

Having gotten tired of being studied by people with strings of letters after their names (which made him rich), Stephen and his team of imaginary experts now solve mysteries; such as locating a missing scientist and his revolutionary prototype or figuring out who stole a dead body and why.

Perfectly ordinary cases, well except for the teleporting cat…

Stephan Leeds is one of the most unique characters I have read in a very long time, and I’m kinda bummed that Sanderson only wrote these three novellas featuring this extraordinary detective!

While this novel is composed of three individual components – it doesn’t feel that way. There’s an overarching mystery which helps to marry the three together. Plus Stephen Leeds’ (as well as his aspect’s) voice is consistent thru the entire book, which also helps keep the continuity.

Then there’s Stephen himself who provides a fascinating point of view to read from. He’s quirky (not crazy as he repeatedly tells us), but all of his aspects are mad as March hares – which causes no end of hilarity! Plus watching how he’s learned how to cope with the nuances of his own mind is inspiring (for those of us still trying to master our own).

Then there are the mysteries themselves, which Sanderson jampacks with action, levity, and depth. Skin Deep’s (the second novella) resolution contains one of the comical twist endings I’ve read in a long while.

Overall I think anyone who enjoys mysteries with a splash of strangeness will enjoy reading Legion and I cannot wait to badger Fran into reading this book! (Which, BTW, is much harder now that we don’t see each other five days a week – perhaps a letter writing campaign? Everyone likes getting mail that isn’t a bill…Right?)

Seriously if the shop was still open I’d be putting this book into your hands and telling you to trust me – you’re going to love it!

    Fran

9781616957759-1-400x600Okay, I know you don’t like short stories. I get it, I do.

(Not you. You love short stories, and you probably already have this anthology. Just have my back, ‘kay?)

But I’m asking for a leap of faith here – this is a “trust me” moment.

Last year, Soho Press put out a Christmas/Holiday anthology called The Usual Santas. Eighteen short stories, all holiday themed although not necessarily Christmas themed. And you must read this book.

I’m not kidding! Holy cats, is it FUN! Dark in many ways, laugh-out-loud funny in others, compelling no matter what. Stash it in the car so you can read while you’re waiting in line. Tuck it into your jacket for when you’re on the bus. Hell, put it in the bathroom, and read the occasional story there.

This is a holiday buffet that simply can’t be beat. And see, just look at all the authors – Martin Limón, Peter Lovesey, Helene Tursten, Stuart Neville, Cara Black, Colin Cotterill, and James Benn, whose quote about the anthology,  “The Usual Santas: a very good example of that kind of thing.” is perfect.

Oh, and fair warning. When I get older, I’m changing my name to Maud.

You’ve been warned.

    JB

I have stacks of books around here that I had gathered during my decades at the bookshop that I never allowed myself enough time 9780671869205to read. I have one pile of biographies of jazz masters, or painting masters, of history and biography and I am now getting to some of them. Starting in early October, I picked up David McCullough’s Truman. While the President and I come from the same area, and I knew the basics of his life, I have to say I really knew very little about HST’s life.  This thousand-page book won McCullaugh the Pulitzer Prize and every page shows why. It has been worth every moment of the nearly two months it took to read it!

I did take a couple of breaks. One was to read the latest Lee Child (great news they’re going to find someone LARGER to play Reacher) and Stephen Ambrose’s Band of Brothers (disappointingly thin on detail in comparison to the Truman tome…).

From page 947-8 of the McCullough:

“The opening installment of the Memoirs, titles ‘The Most Momentous First 18 Days’ appeared in the September 25th issue of Life, with a cover photograph of the former President and the First Lady standing in front of their Independence home.  Doubleday’s publication of Volume One, called Year of Decisions, followed five weeks later, with an author’s autographing party in the grand ballroom of the Muehlbach, on Tuesday, November 2, 1955.

“To the delight of the publisher, Truman had agreed to sign books for all who came. ‘I expect to use, probably, a couple of $1.75 fountain pens that I bought at the Twenty-five Cent Store, along with a half dozen others that I happen to have, and I don’t want any advertising stunt [for the pens] whatever,’ Truman had written to Samuel Vaughan, Doubleday’s advertising manager. ‘I will go along with any party arrangements which you make for Doubleday, but don’t get me into any advertising for pens, cakes or anything, because I won’t do it.’

“Arriving in Kansas City a few days in advance to make arrangements, Vaughan was distressed to hear people asking why they would want to come to such an occasion for Truman, ‘when we see him all the time anyway.’ Greatly concerned, Vaughan worked to line up Battery D {Truman’s WWI comrades} veterans, the Boy Scouts, anyone he could think of, to be sure there was a crowd. But he need not have bothered. More than three hundred people were already in line waiting before the party began.

“‘Hand Firm to the End’ was the headline in the next morning’s paper.

“It was almost unbelievable. ‘I had no idea it would be anything like this,’ Truman said as he saw the crowds grow, the people still coming, hour after hour. His hand fairly flew as he signed books, until he was doing six to eight autographs a minute. If there ever was a demonstration of his extraordinary vitality, this was it. He kept going hour after hour, not only signing his name but greeting people. ‘There, that one’s all slicked up,’ he would say with satisfaction, finishing his signature and handing over the book.

“By the end of the first session, he had signed over a thousand copies. In all, incredibly, he turned out four thousand autographs in just five and a half hours. Reporters on hand, his publishers, watched in amazement. Earlier, when Ken McCormick of Doubleday has suggested to Truman that perhaps he might prefer to have the autographs done by a machine, Truman had replied, ‘I will autograph as many as I can. I am not an expert with a machine, and I would rather do it by hand.'”

Truman turned 77 six months later on May 8th.

So what to read next????????

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