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The monstrous steed thundered toward us. Its ponderous paws slammed into the ground, leaving craters in the earth and shaking leaves from nearby trees. The massive jaws opened to allow for a bellowing roar, exposing rows of sharp teeth. The tongue lolled along the side of its head and flapped back to its ears. The nostrils flared, exhaling its hot breath and shooting flames that scorched the earth.
Though the size of a horse, it wasn’t equine, but canine—an incredible wolf-like creature of gargantuan proportions. We wouldn’t be able to outrun it, not even on the bicycles we rode, but nor could we defend ourselves against such a muscular creature. We could only strive to avoid discovery, but we were exposed on the open road and surprised by the sudden appearance of the demonic dog. Our slim hope of escape vanished when its eyes focused, the pupils peering into our souls.
A voice called out, the rider of the giant beast issuing her battle cry. The elfin figure straddled the wide back and gripped the thick fur in her hands, using it as reins to turn the broad head. She guided the brute, rapidly closing the distance as she eyed us with malevolent intent.
Our options exhausted, we could only stand our ground and fight, despite the slim chance of survival, much less victory. We had only seconds to map out our battle strategy.
Knowing our time was short, I turned to my ever-patient partner-in-life, described what I saw, and hoped for the best in our final seconds. The response was but a sigh and a roll of the eyes—an all too common suggestion that I extract myself from my over-active imagination. With those instructions, I reassessed the scene in front of me.
The shaggy white dog was large, its tail wagging slowly as it sniffed the ground. The woman walking it with a leash might be described as diminutive, but she was fully in control of the lumbering animal. Their pace was leisurely as they ambled past us after sharing a friendly greeting.
We pedaled on, enjoying our afternoon ride, our short break from my writing stories to spend some time in the real world. I looked up to feel the warm sun on my face as a heron flew overhead.
No, wait, it was a fire-breathing dragon swooping toward us…
Books I’m Reading
In the days after the JFK assassination, a member of the New Orleans mob is running for his life when he does the unexpected (even to himself)—he stops to help a woman with her broken down car. She has her own reasons for being on the road and he decides having her, her daughters, and their dog in a car with him could be a perfect disguise. Together, they set off across the country to Las Vegas and each do the unthinkable—they fall in love. They aren’t just running from their old lives, they are heading to a new life on the November Road (Lou Berney).
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German Librarians Catch A Thief—Time after time, a man convinces librarians to give him access to rare books and then steals valuable maps. With his many aliases and secretive ways, he proves elusive, so librarians set a multi-national trap to catch a thief.
Prisoners Help Book Reading High School Student—Members of book clubs often form tight friendships, but an unusual club led to an unexpected result. Students at a preparatory high school formed a book club with California prisoners, but when one of those students faced financial troubles, the prisoners came to his aid.
A Funny Jack Reacher Review—Jack Reacher books may be quite formulaic, but in the hands of author Lee Child, the stories are always entertaining. This particular review gushes over how fun the books can be while throwing out some funny digs (including a line about the movies “improbably starring the elfin Tom Cruise as the hulking Reacher”).
Reinventing Retail—While traditional bookstores have certainly been challenged during the pandemic with sales shifting to online giants, this McKinsey report is about the impact to the entire retail scene.
Can Barnes & Noble Be Saved?—Sorry this story is behind a paywall, but if you have access to the Wall Street Journal, this is a terrific article about the attempts to change Barnes & Noble and save it before it joins the long list of former bookstores.
Gratuitous Dog Picture
My favorite dog picture of the week features a quite bored Landon. Like me, I don’t think he cares much for TV. Unlike me, I can’t get him to read a book.