January 2023

Book Stuff

An Exhibition Exalts the Book as a Bedrock of Cultural Memory

Smithsonian exhibit digs out the ‘nature’ in old books

These 5 Words Have Been Selected As 2022’s “Word Of The Year”

Napoleonic Conspiracy Theories, Unsociable Shabbiness, and More Occupational Hazards of the Second-Hand Book Trade

Woman’s Name and Doodles Found Hidden in 1,200-Year-Old Religious Manuscript

‘Join the club’: Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and more reassure debut author after lonely book launch

AI Bot ChatGPT Stuns Academics With Essay-Writing Skills.

The Baby Names Authors Chose for their Own Children

The Murky Path To Becoming a New York Times Best Seller

Want a Lesson in Hitchcockian Suspense? Look to Mr. Bean

Preserving Western Pulp fiction with Centuries of Western Dime Novels

Iconic Wizard Of Oz Prop Sells For Half A Million Dollars (don’t worry, some crime movie stuff sold, too. Take some time and look through all that was in the auction, it is astonishing and fun!)

Only four people have ever solved the puzzle contained in the pages of ‘Cain’s Jawbone.’ TikTok helped turn the obscure, 100-page British novel into a craze.

Words of the Month

fiddle-faddle: 1570s, “trifles” (n.); 1630s “busy oneself with trifles; talk nonsense” (v.), apparently a reduplication of obsolete faddle “to trifle,” or of fiddle in its contemptuous sense.

Serious Stuff

How Language Can Be Used to Destroy and Dominate, and How It Can Be Used to Remember and Reclaim

‘Shadow Libraries’ Are Moving Their Pirated Books to The Dark Web After Fed Crackdowns

‘Insufficient’ funds to provide free schoolbooks to all primary pupils, say publishers and booksellers

High-Ranking Prison Officer Aided a Neo-Nazi Gang Attack on Black Prisoners

*What’s More Important for This Town: A Library or a Police Station?

4 Indigenous Women Slain by Alleged Serial Killer But Cops Won’t Search for the Bodies

InfraGard, FBI Program for Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, Breached by Hackers

Developers Found Graves in the Virginia Woods. Authorities Then Helped Erase the Historic Black Cemetery.

How Dallas homemaker Mary Ferrell became main collector of JFK assassination records

DEA seized enough fentanyl to kill every person in the U.S. in 2022

Censorship Terrorism

*Louisiana Launches Tip Line to Accuse Librarians of ‘Sexualizing Children’

A Threat Against Justice For Emmett Till Protesters Led To The Cancellation Of A Christmas Parade

A Fast-Growing Network of Conservative Groups Is Fueling a Surge in Book Bans

How Your Book Club Can Fight Against Books Bans and Censorship

Drag Queens Are Fearing For Their Lives As Right-Wing Extremist Attacks Intensify

J.D. Vance Is Coming for Your Porn–Watch Out

*Huntsville Public Library (TX) Privatized After Pride Display

‘A streak of extremism’: US book bans may increase in 2023

Words of the Month

drivel (v.): Old English dreflian “to slaver, slobber, run at the nose,” from Proto-Germanic *drab-, perhaps from a PIE *dher– (1) “to make muddy, darken.” Transferred meaning “to speak nonsense” is mid-14th C., driveling being characteristic of children, idiots, and dotards. Related: Driveling, drivelling.

drivel (n.): early 14th C., drevel “saliva, slaver,” from drivel (v.). Meaning “senseless twaddle, idiotic speech or writing” is by 1852.

Local Stuff

National forensic pathologist shortage slows autopsies in WA

Has the SS Pacific’s gold-laden wreck been found 150 years after it sank?

Major King County drug bust nets $10M worth of meth, fentanyl, heroin

Two Tacoma Power substations, one PSE facility vandalized Christmas Day, authorities say

Armed robberies at WA pot shops hit decade high

Odd Stuff

On this day in literary history, Anthony Trollope died of the giggles. (For real.)

The Darkness Within: 8 Novels About the Devil

AI Reveals the Most Human Parts of Writing

‘People think I’m stupid’: the story of the man who shot himself 192 times

Someone paid $95,000 for this pair of jeans recovered from 1857 shipwreck

Words of the Month

fib (n.): “a lie,” especially a little one, “a white lie,” 1610s, of uncertain origin, perhaps from fibble-fable “nonsense” (1580s), a reduplication of fable (n.).

SPECTRE

Amazon CEO says company won’t take down antisemitic film

Amazon Says It’ll Pay You $2 Per Month to Spy on Your Phone’s Internet Traffic

Amazon buyers beware: Scammers are targeting the bestseller badge

Amazon Agrees to Change Some Business Practices in EU Settlement

OSHA: Amazon failed to record some warehouse injuries

Amazon’s plastic packaging could circle the planet 800 times. Can it be stopped?

Amazon Has Conquered Christmas—but Its Reign May Be Ending

Amazon Investors Demand Answers About Its Cloud’s Human Rights record

Amazon Nightmare Is Reminiscent of the Dotcom Collapse

Amazon is ubiquitous. But it isn’t invincible anymore.

Words of the Month

fable (n.) c. 1300, “falsehood, fictitious narrative; a lie, pretense,” from Old French fable “story, fable, tale; drama, play, fiction; lie, falsehood” (12c.), from Latin fabula “story, story with a lesson, tale, narrative, account; the common talk, news,” literally “that which is told,” from fari “speak, tell,” from PIE root *bha- (2) “to speak, tell, say.”

Restricted sense of “animal story” (early 14th C.) comes from the popularity of Aesop’s tales. In modern folklore terms, defined as “a short, comic tale making a moral point about human nature, usually through animal characters behaving in human ways” [“Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore”].

Biblio Stuff

When No One Turns Up To Neil Gaiman Or Stephen King’s Book Signing

Thrilled and Intrigued: An Appreciation on Classic British Thrillers

A Foretaste of Culinary Cozy Mysteries

Martin Edwards on Murder in the Basement, A Pioneering Work of Suspense

How Edgar Allan Poe Reinvented American Literature – and Science Writing

Review: Louise Penny is beloved. Her latest novel reminds us why.

Interview: ‘Hillary and I were both broken women’: Louise Penny on writing a political thriller with Clinton

Louise Penny Wrote a No. 1 Best Seller During Her Year Off

Markus Dohle Steps Down as Penguin Random House CEO

Hundreds of authors give support to striking workers at HarperCollins

Saying Goodbye to Magic Realism

Legally bookish: Reese Witherspoon and the boom in celebrity book clubs

Nazi-Looted Beethoven Manuscript Returned to Original Owners

Evan S. Connell: The Man Who Mastered Minor Writing [if you like American history and haven’t read his Son of the Morning Star, treat yourself to it ~ JB]

RIP Bookforum

In the Era of iPhones, Is Rare Book Collecting an Increasingly Quixotic Mission?

Signed, Sealed, But Not Always Delivered: The Lost Art of Letterlocking

Ancient grammatical puzzle solved after 2,500 years

PEN America Town Hall Asks “Do Publishers Have a Moral Obligation to Diversify Literature?”

Elise By Olsen Delves Into the Extraordinary Print Archive of Vince Aletti

*Librarian Archives All of the Things People Leave Behind in Books

Kate and Greg Mosse look back: ‘The shirt I’m Wearing Has Since Been Made Illegal’

*One of the World’s Most Beautiful Libraries Was Born Out of Tragedy

Barnes & Noble Opening 30 Stores in 2023, Leading Big Real Estate Wave

*The Most Borrowed Books from New York Public Library in 2022

What’s it like to own a bookstore in our digitized age?

Author Events

Jan. 5: Gerald Elias presents ‘Murder at the Royal Albert’, Third Place/LFP, 7pm

Jan. 12: Seanan McGuire in Conversation With Amanda Cherry, Powell’s, 7pm

Other Forms of Entertainment

How Hollywood Made J. Edgar Hoover and the F.B.I. Into the Mythical “G-Men”

“True Detective” Season Two: An Unholy Mess, or Better Than You Remember?

Courtroom Drama: New Legal Battle Over ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

Matt Damon, Casey Affleck to Star in Doug Liman’s ‘The Instigators’

Canceled “Man Of Steel 2” Sequel Would Have Had The Best Superman Villain

“Watchmen” Prequel On The Way From HBO?

Bernie Madoff’s Historic Ponzi Scheme Focus of Upcoming Netflix Docuseries

Watch Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux Accidentally Topple the Presidency in ‘White House Plumbers’ Trailer

10 Best Neo-Noirs Of The 1980s

What the Mall Scene in ‘Jackie Brown’ Can Teach Us About Tarantino’s Quietest Film

Veronica Lake’s Long Escape: A Deeply Sad Page from Hollywood History

Golden Age Whodunits Are Back—and a Sign of Our Times

Why ‘Jackie Brown’ Remains Tarantino’s Coolest Movie

‘The Pale Blue Eye’ is a truly macabre military murder mystery movie

Tom Cruise’s Only Directing Credit Is A Bizarre ’90s Noir Short

Why Clint Eastwood Never Considered Another Song For Play Misty For Me

Words of the Month

falderol (n.): also falderal, falderall, folderol, etc., 18th C. nonsense words from refrains of songs; meaning “gewgaw, trifle” is attested from 1820.

RIP

Dec. 5: David Lifton, respected JFK assassination researcher, dead at 83

Dec. 12: Stuart Margolin, Director, Emmy-Winning Actor on ‘The Rockford Files,’ Dies at 82

Dec. 29: Oscar White Muscarella, Sherlock Holmes-quoting archaeologist who exposed looted artifacts and fakes, dies at 91

Links of Interest

Dec. 2: Japanese Cannibal Who Got Away With Eating and Raping a Dutch Woman Is Dead

Dec. 5: ‘Torso Killer’ admits killing 5 women decades ago near NYC

Dec. 7: DOJ watchdog finds missteps by prison officials ahead of Whitey Bulger’s killing

Dec. 7: Man Who Mysteriously Vanished Turns Up Dead a Decade Later Under New Name

Dec. 8: Philadelphia police identify body of ‘boy in the box’ after 66 years

Dec. 9: Georgia girl, 12, killed by father after family court grants him custody

Dec. 10: How Did ‘the Father of the Western’ Die on William Randolph Hearst’s Yacht?

Dec. 11: One of Britain’s most respected art dealers, who has supplied the British Museum, must repay £4 million after selling fake ‘ancient’ sculptures to sheik friend of the Royals

Dec. 13: A DEA agent tracked the source of fentanyl in Mormon country — a Mexican cartel

Dec. 13: Unassuming N.H. Craft Shop Owner Helped Run Sprawling Russian Spy Ring: Feds

Dec. 13: Chinese Police Bust Massive $1.7 billion Crypto Money Laundering Ring

Dec. 13: Lawmakers introduce bill to ban TikTok in US

Dec. 16: Glenda Cleveland – How She Tried To Stop Jeffrey Dahmer

Dec. 17: A Gruesome Mutilation. A Global Manhunt. Inside One of the Most Twisted Crimes Ever

Dec. 17: He Googled ‘How to Get Away With Murder’—Then Wife Vanished

Dec. 21: Hackers Swatted Victims and Taunted Police Through Ring Doorbell Cameras

Dec. 21: The US Is Trying to Take Down the Family Behind the Notorious Gulf Cartel

Dec. 21: Botched Executions Aren’t New—but Americans Finally Seem to Be Noticing Them

Dec. 23: GirlsDoPorn Founder and FBI Most Wanted Fugitive Arrested in Spain

Dec. 23: Retiree Accused of Offing Her Boyfriend With Toxic Milkshake

Dec. 24: Russians Hacked JFK Airport Taxi Dispatch in Line-Skipping Scheme

Dec. 27: How America’s Biggest Heist, the Great Brinks Robbery, Fell Apart

Dec. 30: Britain backed plan to kill Osama Bin Laden nine months before 9/11

Words of the Month

twaddle (n.): “silly talk, prosy nonsense,” 1782, probably from twattle (1550s), of obscure origin.

What We’ve Been Up To

Amber

Mia P. Manansala – Blackmail and Bibingka

The third installment in the Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery series finds Lila in a much better head space. Both the Brew-Ha Cafe and her personal life are starting to take off in extremely happy directions. (If you hear nerve-jangling music at the end of the sentence, there’s a reason.) On the other hand, her family life has hit a rather large speed bump — in the form of her cousin, Tita Rosie’s son, Ronnie. The teenage ne’er-do-well has returned home, still carrying all the emotional baggage he left with, to start a new business with some college chums. This powder keg of past resentment blows when Ronnie’s primary investor is poisoned, and he becomes a suspect in her murder….and Lila feels duty-bound to snoop despite Ronnie’s insistence she stays out of his affairs.

Blackmail and Bibingka is an excellent read! With just a fringe of the winter holiday season on display and a well fused food motif, neither theme ever threatens to overwhelm the book’s main plot. Blackmail and Bibingka is a thoroughly engaging mystery I enjoyed reading, as it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen poison other than arsenic, cyanide, or thallium used as a murder weapon.

A Note From The Office of Fair Warning: Our author also deftly fuses genuine family tensions and resentments in ways that push the plot forward rather than stopping it cold, which isn’t an easy feat. But they could prove a tad uncomfortable for readers who’ve dealt with similar situations.

That said, I really can’t say enough nice things about this book. Technically speaking, you don’t need to read the first two books in order to understand what’s going on in Blackmail and Bibingka — but you should just because they are both awesome reads!

Fran

What Goes Around

Back in 2020, when we were all locked down and feeling grumpy, John Connolly helped ease us through the time with a serialized story that he released weekly (if I recall properly) to keep us alert and giving us something to look forward to. He called it “The Sisters Strange”, and oh my, they certainly were.

But not everyone who loves John’s work gets his newsletter, so he decided to flesh the story out a bit and put it into a book called The Furies. Because “The Sisters Strange” was more a novella than a novel, he added another story, “The Furies”, and the two of those stories comprise the book, The Furies.

During my knee replacement recovery, I was basically locked down again, so I jumped into The Furies with wild abandon. It was good to meet up with the Sisters Strange again — well, as good as meeting them can be, what with their troubles and all — and it certainly took me away from the required exercising.

Jumping into “The Furies”, I was once again reminded why John Connolly is so good at writing creepy stuff. He picks up on our collective awareness and turns it sideways. What he writes is absolutely relatable, but also just odd enough to hold you hostage.

But it’s not just that. John has created some amazing recurring characters, and there’s a special place in my heart for the Fulci brothers, as I know is true of many of you. There’s something endearing about two bear sized men with anger issues who completely adore their mother that just makes you smile. And be glad you don’t have to repair what they break.

John knows this, so with this book, he included a little something extra, if you ordered at the right time from the right place, and I did. So I’m the proud owner of a Fulci tote bag.

Don’t look too closely at the number of fingers on the fist. *grin* Otherwise their slogan will come into play.

If you haven’t read John Connolly, what the hell are you waiting for? Start with Every Dead Thing and I promise, you’ll just keep going. If you have, but you didn’t pick up The Furies because you already read “The Sisters Strange”, it’s time to rectify that oversight because the sisters are stranger than you remember, and the furies set free in the other story will haunt you. Best get to it!

JB

I don’t have a book to write up so I’m recommending a few of songs that I’ve fallen for this year. A couple of years ago when Mom was dying, I asked my cousin Tom to recommend a radio station I could tap into when in the car running errands. He said “The Bridge, 90.9”. It’s the same type of station as KEXP here in Seattle – independent, listener supported – but I like their music more. Why? – just good rock, maybe not so “experimental” as just joyful. I listen to it everyday on some computer-like device. (Be Warned~ it’s out of KC, so all the ads and concert announcements are from there.) Monday’s are great as, mid-day, it’s all new music, I can’t link the songs themselves but I’ll like the youtube videos. In no particular order:

Samia’s “Mad at Me” (my latest obsession)

Hiding is easy, it’s like a daydream/You can be nowhere all the time
Hurts to be somewhere, ’cause you gotta stay there
After you say what’s on your mind

Aida Victoria’s “Ain’t Killed Me Yet”

She turned this house into a tomb/Ghosts rattle in every room, they’re doin’ their best
But they ain’t killed me yet

The National’s “Weird Goodbyes”

What was I even leaving for/I keep going back and forth
I think now I’m about to see/Didn’t know how sad it’d be

Panda Bear & Sonic Boom’s “Edge of the Edge” (for some reason, it reminds me of Beach Boys…)

One taste to break the fall/One wave to take us all to the shore
Can’t say it’s what you bargained for/It’s forever at the push of a button

Talk’s “Run Away to Mars”

What If I run away to Mars?/Would you find me in the stars? Would you miss me in the end/If I run out of oxygen When I run away to Mars

LCD Soundsystem’s “new body rhumba” (great dance tune!)

Yeah I try not to hide it/I try not to buy it
But you can’t just sit on the fence/It’s true

And, finally, my anthem for the year:

Paramour’s “This is Why”

This is why I don’t leave the house/You say the coast is clear
But you won’t catch me out/Oh, why? This is why

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And, of course…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!