Monday, May 4, 2015

Events for National Children's Book Week: Blue Balliett, Sandy Brehl, Julie Mata, Emily Demuth, Silvia Acevedo, Jamie Swenson, Kashmira Sheth, and Janet Halfmann. Don't Worry, There are Only Four Events.

Monday, May 4, 6:30 pm, at the Whitefish Bay Library:
Blue Balliett, author of Pieces and Players

In Pieces and Players, thirteen extremely valuable pieces of art have been stolen from one of the most secretive museums in the world. A Vermeer has vanished. A Manet is missing. And nobody has any idea where they and the other eleven artworks might be…or who might have stolen them. Calder, Petra, and Tommy are no strangers to heists and puzzles. Now they’ve been matched with two new sleuths: Zoomy, a very small boy with very thick glasses, and Early, a girl who treasures words…and has a word or two to say about the missing treasure.

The kids have been drawn in by the very mysterious Mrs. Sharpe, who may be playing her own kind of game with the clues. And it’s not just Mrs. Sharpe who’s acting suspiciously—there’s a ghost who mingles with the guards in the museum, a cat who acts like a spy, and bystanders in black jackets who keep popping up. With Pieces and Players, you have all the ingredients for a fantastic mystery sure to delight readers 8 and up!

Blue Balliett is the award-winning author of the bestselling art mystery novels Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, The Calder Game, The Danger Box, and Hold Fast. The Whitefish Bay Library is located at 5420 N. Marlborough Drive, just south of Silver Spring Drive.

Thursday, May 7, 6:30 pm, at Boswell:
A Middle Grade Panel with Julie Mata, plus Sandy Brehl, and Emily Demuth Ishida

This event is co-sponsored by MKE Teacher SPAce.

Boswell Book Company invites you to join us in celebrating National Children’s Book Week, the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country (established in 1919), with a distinguished panel of middle grade authors! Joining us for five-minute discussions of their books, followed by a Q&A and signing are Julie Mata, Sandy Brehl, and Emily Demuth

After her huge success with her first feature-length movie, seventh-grader Kate Walden is eager to start on her next film, a sci-fi romance called Bride of Slug Man in the latest in the Kate Walden Directs series by Juile Mata, a hilarious story about friendship and two rival filmmakers that tweens will adore.

Odin’s Promise is local author Sandy Brehl’s debut historical novel and the tale of the first year of German occupation of Norway as seen through the eyes of eleven-year-old Mari, who is supported and protected by her faithful elkhound, Odin.

Hattie’s War, co-authored by Emily Demuth, is a middle-grade historical novel about a girl, Hattie Bigelow, who lives in Milwaukee near the end of the Civil War and is far more interested in the emerging sport of base ball than in sewing circles and other women’s efforts to support the Union cause.

Friday, May 8, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Silvia Acevedo, who launches her debut young adult novel God Awful Loser

Cupid, the son of the God of War has it all, and the smooth-talking, jet-setting master knows it. The once chubby cherub now has adoring fans, a shiny red limousine, and a mansion nearly, almost, not quite big enough to hold his enormous and ever-growing ego. But everything changes for the sloppy, ill-aiming love god when a meddling stranger challenges him for his crown. Not even the advice of his war-mongering father, Mars, and embarrassingly underdressed mother, Venus, can save Cupid from the skids.

Facing enraged immortals, epic battles against hell’s most vile creatures, and the dread of becoming mortal himself, Cupid teams up with an unlikely band of misfit fallen angels in the hopes of saving himself, the Olympic kingdom, and humans the world over. But can such an inept team of losers finally win when it counts? Funny, rude, and planted smack in modern times, God Awful Loser is a new chapter on the ancient gods’ bad — and hugely entertaining — choices, that will entertain readers 12 and up!

Local journalist Silvia Acevedo with her husband, fantasy illustrator Jeff Miracola, are the founders of Three Points Publishing, a Wisconsin-based imprint dedicated to producing books and art instruction videos. God Awful Loser is Acevedo's first book.

Saturday, May 9, 2 pm, at Boswell:
National Children’s Book Week Picture Book Panel with Janet Halfmann, plus Kashmira Sheth, and Jamie A. Swenson

This event is co-sponsored by MKE Teacher SPAce.

We cap off our celebration of National Children’s Book Week with a panel of picture book authors! Joining us for five-minute discussions of their books, followed by a Q&A and signing are Janet Halfmann, Jamie Swenson, and Kashmira Sheth.

Award-winning local author, Janet Halfmann, presents her latest gorgeous picture book, Animal Teachers, which explores the world’s outdoor “classrooms” and the kinds of lessons baby animals learn in them, showcasing—in an entertaining combination of science and storytelling—the teacher-student dynamic between young and adult animals as they are taught crucial skills needed to handle daily challenges.

In Kashmira Sheth’s latest picture book, Sona and the Wedding Game, Sona’s big sister is getting married and she’s been given the job of stealing the groom’s shoes, no small feat for a girl who has never attended a wedding before and is unfamiliar with this Indian tradition—as well as many of the other magical experiences that will occur before and during the special event.

Wisconsin author Jamie A. Swenson, writer of Boom! Boom! Boom!, returns with playful interactive picture book perfect for reading aloud, If You Were a Dog, which uses spare, rhythmic, onomatopoeic text to draw in readers of all ages into the animal kingdom.

Tomorrow we'll have a list of our events for adult books this week.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Boswell Bestsellers Beckon: A Round Up of Our Top Titles for the Week Ending May 2, 2015

Here are Boswell's bestselling books for week ending May 2, 2015

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Dead Lands, by Benjamin Percy
2. All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
3. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
4. The Fishermen, by Chigozie Obioma
5. God Help the Child, by Toni Morrison
6. Gathering Prey, by John Sandford
7. The Dream Lover, by Elizabeth Berg
8. The Harder They Come, by T.C. Boyle
9. The Bone Tree, by Greg Iles
10. Inside the Obriens, by Lisa Genova

Schwartz Bookshops hosted John Sandford (the pen name of John Roswell Camp) back in the day, though not at Boswell. It seems that less thriller writers tour nowadays, though I should note that tickets are now on sale for our co-sponsored event for Daniel Silva at the JCC on Monday, July 6 for The English Spy. Of Gathering Prey,  the newest in the Lucas Davenport series, Publishers Weekly's anonymous critic called the story "engrossing", and observed that "Sandford handles the drawn-out action with his usual artful combination of suspense and humor." While I wasn't able to find reviews in the general press for this part-time Wisconsinite (one of his homes is in Hayward, Wisconsin), the Redding Record Searchlight critic noted in a recent write up that Deadline shot out too many f-bombs for her taste.

Signed copies still available for The Dead Lands and The Fishermen.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Elsie De Wolfe's Paris, by Charlie Scheips
2. Listen to Your Mother, edited by Ann Imig
3. The Man Who Stalked Einstein, by Bruce J. Hillman
4. Memento Mori, by Paul Koudounaris
5. The Road to Character, by David Brooks
6. Urgent Unheard Stories, by Roxane Gay
7. Heavenly Bodies, by Paul Koudounaris
8. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson
9. Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter
10. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
11. Empire of Death, by Paul Koudounaris
12. On the Move, by Oliver Sacks
13. Between You and Me, by Mary Norris
14. In Defense of a Liberal Education, by Fareed Zakaria
15. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo

This was by far a week for hardcover nonfiction, with bestseller sales outpacing all other categories. It didn't hurt that we had four strong events and a runaway bestseller in David Brooks' The Road to Character. Instead of another round of reviews, here's Husna Haq at the Christian Science Monitor looking at why the book has become so popular. OK, maybe one more review from Abigail Clevenger in The Federalist, pondering whether the book can save your soul, as Brooks set out to do with his own.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain
2. Listen and Other Stories, by Liam Callanan
3. I've Got Your Number, by Sophie Kinsella
4. The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett
5. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
6. The Husband's Secret, by Liane Moriarty
7. My Struggle, volume 3, by Karl Ove Knausgaard
8. The Life We Bury, by Allen Eskens
9. Summer House with Swimming Pool, by Herman Koch
10. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin

Momentum keeps building for Antoine Laurain's The Red Notebook, which in French is called La Femme au carnet rouge. At first I wondered, could lightning strike twice? After all, we had been sadly disappointed by Muriel Barbery's follow-up to The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but I should note that that was in fact an earlier book. But customers who've read Laurain's newest agree it is just as charming and delightful (in part do to the translation by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce) as The President's Hat. I can pretty much guarantee we'll be selling this through Christmas, as it will certainly appear as some bookseller's favorite in the holiday newsletter.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. At the Table, by Elizabeth Crawford
2. The Man Who Planted Trees, by Jim Robbins
3. The Art of War Visualized, by Jessica Hagy
4. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
5. The Opposite of Loneliness, by Marina Keegan
6. How to be Interesting, by Jessica Hagy
7. The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert
8. The Birds of Wisconsin Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela
9. The Pope and Mussolini, by David I. Kertzer
10. David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell

Two Pulitzer winners hit our top ten this week. The Sixth Extinction won the award for general nonfiction while The Pope and Mussolini garnered honors for biography/autobiography. The history prize went to Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People, by Elizabeth A. Fenn, which seems to be having some stock problems at our wholesalers, but note that it is available at Boswell. Here is Daniel K. Richter's Wall Street Journal review of that book. As for David Kertzer's book, here's James J. Sheehan's review of The Pope and Mussolini in Commonweal.

Books for Kids:
1. Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan
2. Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir
3. If You Were a Dog, by Jamie Swenson (event 5/9, see below)
4. Oh the Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss
5. Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
6. Stick and Stone, by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
7. Orion and the Dark, by Emma Yarlett
8. The Penderwicks in Spring, by Jeanne Birdsall
9. Funny Ha Ha, an Independent Bookstore Day collection
10. Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life, by Dean James

It's National Children's Book Week and we have so many events (four) that I'm going to chop up our event blog into two parts, adult and kids. One of our featured authors is Jamie Swenson, who will appear for a picture book panel on Saturday, May 9, 2 pm, along with Kashmira Sheth and Janet Halfmann. Swenson's newest book is If You Were a Dog, which has gotten great write ups, such as Susan Murray's at School Library Journal: " The text has a rhyming, sing-song quality that makes it a great match for preschool storytimes. Raschka brings movement, energy, and personality to his vibrantly colored art. With just a few strokes, he makes a hissing cat puff up in anger at a nearby dog, ferocious and threatening. Readers can act out the characteristics of that cat or fish as the story is read. However, this could also be used in a classroom, both as a model for creative writing or as a beginning point for expanded study on a given species. A fun way to get readers to use their imaginations in the natural world."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins profiles Elizabeth Berg, who is the featured speaker at this year's Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library's Literary Lunch on May 14, at the Wisconsin Club for The Dream Lover. The deadline for tickets is May 8th; get them here! Higgins writes: "Berg has Sand tell her own life story, moving back and forth between her childhood and her years as a prominent writer, friend or lover of such greats and near-greats as the poet Alfred de Musset, composer Frédéric Chopin and novelist Gustave Flaubert. It's a passionate, dramatic story of strong-willed women: not only Sand, but her mother and grandmother as well." If you are not going to the event, you can purchase a copy from us and get it signed by the author.

From Jon Gilbertson, here's a review of The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915-1964 (on sale Tuesday), by Zachary Leader. "With lightly displayed learning and a practiced sense of how to couch analysis in narrative, Leader gives each piece of writing context in its time and in the long artistic view. Next to the contemporaries whose reviews he cites, he is more forgiving than Bellow's harshest critics and less rhapsodic than his most supportive critics," Gilbertson notes.

And returning to Jim Higgins, this Journal Sentinel review covers the newest from Kate Atkinson, A God in Ruins, which follows Teddy, the brother of Ursula Todd, the heroine of Life After Life. "While Atkinson granted Ursula 17 or more lives in the temporally tricky Life After Life, she limits Teddy to a single long one in A God in Ruins, though she moves deftly back and forth through his life span. In compelling scenes, she captures the routine and the tedium of a bomber pilot's life, punctuated by random moments of airborne terror." But yes, there does turn out to be a twist.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

It's Independent Bookstore Day.

It's day 2,221 of Boswell being in business. We're officially celebrating our 6th birthday today.

And why not? It's the first annual Independent Bookstore Day. This is an evolution of the very successful California Bookstore Day that started last year. In addition to Boswell, the following stores in Wisconsin are celebrating:
--Books and Company in Oconomowoc
--The Book World stores in West Bend and Mequon
--A Room of One's Own in Madison
--Mystery to Me, also in Madison
--Arcadia Books in Spring Green
--Northwind Book and Fiber in Spooner

We have an assortment of limited edition items for sale
--An archival Chris Ware print (4)
--A Literary Map of the Seas print (we only have 3 of these)
--A Margaret Atwood wood stencil (5)
--An Allie Brosh poster (5)
--A Stephen King poster (5)
--A Huckleberry Finn map (5)
--Christopher Mooore throx (10)
--Sweet and Salty tea towels--each is a set of two (15--these were staff favorites)
--A joke book illustrated by popular children's illustrators (15)
--A collection of essays on despair, featuring Anne Lamott, Meghan Daum, and other writers (5)
--A boxed set of our favorite book-themed novels, including 84 Charing Cross Road, Shadow of the Wind and The Borrower (5)
--A Roxane Gay mini-collection of essays (15)
--A Guess How Much I Love You Onesie (5)

Spend $50 at the store, whether IBD merchandise or anything else, and we'll give you a free Roz Chast Independent Bookstore Day tote bag. Like everything else, this offer is "while supplies last."

There are a few rules:
--No holds, phone orders, web orders for Saturday
--It's one print, wood stencil, or onesie per person before Noon and only 3 of each other item.

We'll have refreshments in the morning, baked by Phoebe.

At 11 am, we're featuring a book-themed storytime from Jannis. Don't forget, our animal themed storytime is tomorrow (May 3) at 11 am. There is no storytime on Mother's Day.

At 2 pm, we're featuring a critics vs. authors quiz game. Mike Fischer and Carole Barrowman are playing against Lauren Fox and Larry Watson.
--Don't forget that Lauren Fox's third novel, Day of Awe, comes out August 4, and we're hosting the launch event at Boswell.
--I should also note that Barrowman is also an author. The third book in the Hollow Earth series is out this fall. We could have also structured this writing instructors (Barrowman and Watson) against people whose last names begin with F, but we didn't think of that in time.
--Both teams are playing for charity. The winners will each have $100 donated by Boswell to their favorite charity.
--Thanks to Sharon for setting this up.

At 7 pm, we're having part two of our Best of the Undergraduate Readers series. This time we're featuring author from Alverno College, Cardinal Stritch University, Carroll University, and Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

From MIAD: Krista Toms and Michelle Sharp
From Carroll: Cory Widmayer and Taylor Belmer
From Strich: Raveen Lemon and Emlyn Dornemann
From Alverno: Jennifer Fazal and Celeste Johnson.

We had 55 people last night at our UWM and Alverno event. This is really a cool program--many of these students have really not read their work before outside of a campus setting.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Boswell Events for the Week of April 27: Jessica Hagy, Benjamin Percy, Charlie Scheips, Bruce Hillman, Paul Koudounaris, Undergraduate Writers, Independent Bookstore Day. See Below for Some Offsite Locations.

Monday, April 27, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Jessica Hagy, author of The Art of War Visualized: The Sun Tzu Classic in Charts and Graphs, a presentation followed by a conversation with Mitch Teich of Milwaukee Public Radio's Lake Effect.

It’s the perfect meeting of minds. One, a general whose epigrammatic lessons on strategy offer timeless insight and wisdom. And the other, a visual thinker whose succinct diagrams and charts give readers a fresh way of looking at life’s challenges and opportunities. A Bronze Age/Information Age marriage of Sun Tzu and Jessica Hagy, The Art of War Visualized is an inspired mash-up, a work that completely reenergizes the perennial bestseller and makes it accessible to a new generation of students, entrepreneurs, business leaders, artists, seekers, lovers of games and game theory, and anyone else who knows the value of seeking guidance for the future in the teachings of the past. It’s as if Sun Tzu got a 21st-century do-over.

Hagy, author and illustrator of How to be Interesting, is a cutting-edge thinker whose language-comprising circles, arrows,and lines and the well-chosen word or two-makes her an ideal philosopher for our ever-more-visual culture. Her charts and diagrams are deceptively simple, often funny, and always thought-provoking. She knows how to communicate not only ideas but the complex process of thinking itself, complete with its twists and surprises. For The Art of War Visualized, she presents her vision in evocative ink-brush art and bold typography. The result is page after page in which each passage of the completecanonical text is visually interpreted in a singular diagram, chart, or other illustration-transforming, reenergizing, and making the classic dazzlingly accessible for a new generation of readers.

Our evening tonight, April 27, 7 pm, consists of Hagy’s presentation, followed by a conversation with Mitch Teich of Milwaukee Public Radio’s Lake Effect. Get inspired!

Tuesday, April 28, 7 pm at Boswell:
Bruce J. Hillman, author of The Man Who Stalked Einstein: How Nazi Scientist Philipp Lenard Changed the Course of History.

The Man Who Stalked Einstein highlights a little-known but important story about the antagonistic relationship between Albert Einstein and Philipp Lenard that changed the course of history and still influences the science of today.

Einstein and Lenard were opposites in virtually every way. That both men were brilliant scientists and Nobel laureates with opposing views about what constituted important, believable science made some degree of conflict inevitable. Lenard’s experimental physics and Einstein’s theoretical physics represent two opposing schools of thought that came into conflict throughout Europe. However, the enmity that each felt for the other was based on much more than their science. It was personal.

Lenard was so consumed by his own narcissism, his envy of Einstein’s fame, and his hatred for Jews that he sacrificed the integrity of his science and his personal reputation among the community of scientists on the altar of his personal prejudices. For nearly fifteen years, Lenard had led the opposition that finally forced Einstein to flee his native Germany. Driven by professional disagreement, intense envy over the public’s adoration of Einstein, and virulent anti-Semitism, Lenard unrelentingly harassed Einstein and publicly denigrated his theory of relativity.

In The Man Who Stalked Einstein, Bruce J. Hillman, MD, Professor and former Chair of Radiology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, traces the convergence of influences and events that turned Lenard from a productive and highly respected scientist to a man consumed by racial hatred and an early supporter of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.

Wednesday, April 29, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Benjamin Percy, author of The Dead Lands.

It's always a treat when former Marquette professor Benjamin Percy returns to Milwaukee. His newest book is The Dead Lands, a darkly reimagined Lewis and Clark saga told in the tradition of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. And speaking of Stephen King, he calls The Dead Lands “a case of wonderful writing and compulsive reading,” asserting that “[y]ou will not come across a finer work of sustained imagination this year. Good God, what a tale. Don’t miss it.” That’s high praise, indeed!

Benjamin Percy’s new thriller, The Dead Lands is a post-apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark saga in which a super flu and nuclear fallout have made a husk of the world we know. A few humans carry on, living in outposts such as the Sanctuary-the remains of St. Louis-a shielded community that owes its survival to its militant defense and fear-mongering leaders. Then a rider comes from the wasteland beyond its walls. She reports on the outside world: west of the Cascades, rain falls, crops grow, civilization thrives. But there is danger too: the rising power of an army that pillages and enslaves every community they happen upon. Against the wishes of the Sanctuary, a small group sets out in secrecy. Led by Lewis Meriwether and Mina Clark, they hope to expand their infant nation, and to reunite the States. But the Sanctuary will not allow them to escape without a fight.

Boswellian Sharon Nagel is a fan. She writes: "Ben Percy’s last novel Red Moon may have seemed like it was part of a trend of werewolf stories. However, he took it a step further and created a social commentary on civilization. Werewolves were living openly amongst humans and even running for political office. Percy’s latest book appears to follow the fashion of post-apocalyptic worlds, but again, he elevates the genre with something more, along with his sharp and captivating writing, a retelling of the Lewis and Clark saga. Mina Clark and Lewis Meriwether set out for the west in a bold attempt to connect with survivors of the devastating flu and rebuild their nation."

In this Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, critic Carole E. Barrowman offers this praise: "Elegiac descriptions and poetic details morph into high-energy action scenes as the travelers battle mutants with their limited arsenal and Lewis' strange magic. Most quests end with the travelers wondering if the journey was worth it. If you ask me, it certainly was." And it's worth attending our event with Percy (photo credit Jen Percy) on Wednesday, April 29, 7 pm.

Thursday, April 30, 5 pm (reception), 6 pm (talk) at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum:
A ticketed event with Charlie Scheips, author of Elsie De Wolfe's Paris: Frivolity Before the Storm.

The Friends of the Villa Terrace present Charlie Scheips, discussing and signing copies of his latest gorgeous book, Elsie de Wolfe’s Paris. The reception begins at 5 pm, followed by the presentation at 6 pm, and a signing immediately after.  Admission is $20 (our apologies on a previous typo) with admission going to the Friends to continue their work and this fine decorating series. The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum is located at 2220 N. Terrace Avenue in Milwaukee, several blocks southeast of Boswell.

The American decorator Elsie de Wolfe (1858-1950) was the international set’s preeminent hostess in Paris during the interwar years. She had a legendary villa in Versailles, where in the late 1930s she held two fabulous parties-her Circus Balls-that marked the end of the social scene that her friend Cole Porter perfectly captured in his songs, as the clouds of war swept through Europe. Charlie Scheips tells the story of these glamorous parties using a wealth of previously unpublished photographs and introducing a large cast of aristocrats, beauties, politicians, fashion designers, movie stars, moguls, artists, caterers, florists, party planners, and decorators in a landmark work of social history and a poignant vision of a vanished world.

Gotham magazine writes: “Scheips utilizes 170 black-and-white and color images-some previously unpublished-to visually illuminate his fascinating narrative of this peerless woman's life, one that intersected with some of the most colorful and important characters of the day on both sides of the Atlantic, including Elsa Maxwell, William Randolph Hearst, Cecil Beaton, Janet Flanner, Gertrude Stein, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. The tome culminates with de Wolfe’s final grand fête, the second Circus Ball, which defined the glamour and decadence of international society before the lights went out all over Europe.”

Shorewood-bred Charlie Scheips is a curator, art advisor, artist, writer, and cultural historian who has curated exhibitions in the United States and Europe. He has contributed to Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and Vanity Fair, and was the founding director of the Condé Nast Archive in New York. Your chance to hear Scheips is Thursday, April 30, starting at 5 pm.

Please note our event with Sandy Tolan has been rescheduled to Monday, May 11, 7 pm, at Boswell.

Friday, May 1, 6 pm, at the Walkers Point Center for the Arts:
Paul Koudounaris, author of Memento Mori: The Dead Among Us

In Western society, death is usually medicalized and taboo, and the dead are strictly separated from the living, while in much of the rest of the world, and for much of human history, death has commonly been far more integrated into peoples’ daily existence, with human remains kept as much a reminder of life, memento vitae, as of death, memento mori.

With Memento Mori's remarkable color photographs taken at more than 250 sites in thirty countries over a decade, Koudounaris, whose previous works The Empire of Death and Heavenly Bodies focused on European traditions, presents a thought-provoking examination of how human remains are used in decorative, commemorative, or devotional contexts around the world today.

From Bolivia’s “festival of the little pug-nosed ones,” where skulls are festooned with flowers and given cigarettes to smoke and beanie hats to protect them from the weather, to Indonesia’s burial caves, where human remains are prominently displayed, to visits with Indonesian families who dress mummies and include them in their household routines, the book’s photographs affirm life while confronting the specter of death. A gifted narrator, Koudounaris vividly recounts the stories and traditions that lie behind the macabre pictures—including naturally preserved Buddhist monks in Thailand, memorials to genocide in Cambodia and Rwanda, the Chauchilla necropolis in Peru, and Europe’s great ossuaries—reminding us that our own lives are, and forever will be, linked to those of the dead in an endless cycle.

Paul Koudounaris received his doctorate from the art history department at UCLA. His previous books include The Empire of Death, a cultural history of ossuaries and charnel houses, and Heavenly Bodies, a study of lavishly decorated Baroque skeletons originally from the Roman Catacombs. Join Koudounaris at The Walker's Point Center for the Arts, located at 836 South Fifth Street in Milwaukee. Our thanks to Howard Leu and Christina Ward for their help on this event.

Friday, May 1, 7 pm, at Boswell:
The Best of the Undergraduate Readers, Part 1: University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and Marquette University.

We've asked the creative writing professors at Marquette and UWM for their best undergraduate writers to read at a program of Boswell. We've been holding this periodically since 2009, when it was part of our grand opening ceremonies. Here are this year's readers.

From Marquette:

Sarah Smithy is a junior Digital Media student at Marquette University. She grew up just outside Milwaukee in the city of Waukesha. Sarah enjoys writing, reading and all other leisurely activities. After graduation, Sarah wants to work in the film and television industry.

Alexandra Whittaker is a senior journalism and Writing-Intensive English double major at Marquette. She has interned for InStyle, Elle, The Wall Street Journal, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Woman’s Day. She has also freelanced for USA Today, and Women’s Wear Daily during New York Fashion Week. Whittaker is from Naperville, Illinois.

Michael Welch is a junior with Writing Intensive English and Public Relations major at Marquette University. He also serves as an editor for the Marquette Literary Review. A native of Chicago, he is planning on applying for graduate school after graduation.

Krystin Kantenwein is a senior Writing-Intensive English student at Marquette University. She lives in the Chicago suburb of Fox Lake, Illinois. Krystin enjoys hiking, photography, and hanging out with friends. After graduation, Krystin plans to attend Concordia University Chicago for a Masters in School Counseling. And to learn how to cook something other than oatmeal.

This is not the easiest event to put together logisitically, but goodness, is it rewarding! If you're planning your evening on Friday, May 1, each budding author reads for up to ten minutes. And who knows? Maybe they'll be back when their books are released.

From UWM:

Valerie Vinyard studies Secondary English Education at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. She lives and works in Waukesha, as a tutor and a nanny. She has had her work published in local undergraduate literary magazines such as Furrow and The Windy Hill Review, where she also served as an editor. Besides teaching and writing, she is an amateur photographer, trombonist, and hoop-dancer.

Ashanti Anderson is a junior psychology major attending University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Through UWM's domestic exchange program, Ashanti is visiting from Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans, where she will return in May to launch a music-based summer program funded by Keds and TMI (a agency) to improve literacy amongst urban high school students. When not engaging in her own creative processes, whether writing poetry or essays or painting, Ashanti studies the psychological effects of creativity on the brain.

Matthew Farr grew up in Oak Creek. He currently attends UW-Milwaukee, and upon graduating he plans on hiking across America. His poetry can be found online or in print at Verse Wisconsin, Shepherd Express, and Furrow.

Amber Scarborough is graduating form UWM in May with a major in creative writing. Her favorite novel is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and when's not writing, she loves watching cat videos, perfecting her winged eyeliner and log rolling. She'd like to thank her parents and friends for always supporting her. She also wants to give a huge thank you to her professor Liam Callanan for nominating her. Amber hopes to continue studying literature in the UK this coming fall.

Saturday, May 2, Independent Bookstore Day!

Inspired by Comic Book Day and National Record Store Day, Independent Bookstore Day was the brainchild of several California booksellers, most notably Pete Mulvihill at Green Apple Books. I know that he would say hear that there were many people involved in putting this together, and there really were, most notably Hut Landon, the executive director of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, but nobody I have seen has been more of an evangelist for the cause than Mulvihill.

And all of us are rewarded with the results. This year's Independent Bookstore Day has an amazing selection of one-of-a-kind limited edition offerings for sale, only at independent bookstores, on May 2, with no pre-orders, web orders, phone orders, or holds. We're celebrating the day old school--arrive here, wait in line, and make your purchase. And yes, there will be quantity restrictions on the items as well.

Among the items for sale:
--An archive quality Chris Ware print
--An Literary Map of the Seas print
--A Guess How Much I Love You bunsie onesie. It's a bunny, get it?
--New collected essays from Roxane Gay
--A boxed set of our favorite book-themed novels
--Two sets of dish towels, one sweet and the other salty
--Christopher Moore throx. If you read his novels, you know what these are.
--the Margaret Atwood wood stencil (pictured)
--A joke collection illustrated by your favorite children's book artists
--Stephen King and Ally Brosh posters
and that's not all.

Can 't wait for the date? Why not get the limited-edition Roz Chast tote to get you in the mood? It's available in red or blue.

At 11 am, Jannis will be presenting a special book-themed storytime. And don't forget, May's regularly scheduled storytime has moved to Sunday, May 3, 11 am. So take your pick, Saturday or Sunday. Both will feature books, rhymes, finger play, and fun! (Please mark your calendar - no storytime on Mother's Day (May 10).

At 2 pm, Sharon has organized a critics vs. authors book-themed quiz game.

And at 7 pm, we'll be hosting Best of the Undergraduate Writers, part two:
--MIAD: Michelle Sharp and Krista Toms.
--Cardinal Stritch University: Emlyn Dornemann and Raveen Lemon.
--Carroll University: Taylor Belmer and Cory Widmayer.
--Alverno College: Celeste Johnson and Jennifer Fazal

Sunday, May 3, 11 am, at Boswell: Join Jannis for storytime. This week we feature Lion Lion, written by Miriam Busch and with illustrations by Larry Day, and other books about animals

Here's a little about the book. A little boy is looking for Lion. Lion is looking for lunch. And so our story begins. But look closely. . . . In this tale, nothing is quite as it seems Children will delight in this classic picture book with a mischievous twist.

Monday, May 4, 6:30 pm, at the Whitefish Bay Library:
Blue Balliett, author of Pieces and Players.

Blue Balliett is the award-winning author of the bestselling novels The Wright 3, The Calder Game, The Danger Box, and Hold Fast. Her debut novel, Chasing Vermeer received an Edgar Award, a Book Sense Book of the Year Award, and was named a New York Times notable book of the year. Now she's back with Pieces and Players, which brings together some of Balliet's most beloved characters.

Thirteen extremely valuable pieces of art have been stolen from one of the most secretive museums in the world. A Vermeer has vanished. A Manet is missing. And nobody has any idea where they and the other eleven artworks might be…or who might have stolen them. Calder, Petra, and Tommy are no strangers to heists and puzzles. Now they’ve been matched with two new sleuths: Zoomy, a very small boy with very thick glasses, and Early, a girl who treasures words…and has a word or two to say about the missing treasure. The kids have been drawn in by the very mysterious Mrs. Sharpe, who may be playing her own kind of game with the clues. And it’s not just Mrs. Sharpe who’s acting suspiciously—there’s a ghost who mingles with the guards in the museum, a cat who acts like a spy, and bystanders in black jackets who keep popping up. With Pieces and Players, you have all the ingredients for a fantastic mystery sure to delight readers 8 and up!

Kirkus Reviews writes: “Juggling multiple pieces of art and multiple suspect players, Balliett again deftly merges mystery, art, and friendship into another perplexing puzzler.” The Whitefish Bay Library is located at 5420 N Marlborough Drive, just south of Winkie's on Silver Spring. For more information, contact the library at (414) 964-4380.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Annotated Boswell Bestsellers for the Week Ending April 25, 2015 Plus the Journal Sentinel Book Reviews.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
2. God Help the Child, by Toni Morrison
3. The Dream Lover, by Elizabeth Berg (ticketed lunch 5/14 at Wisconsin Club)
4. Memory Man, by David Baldacci
5. The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro
6. At the Water's Edge, by Sara Gruen
7. Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule, by Jennifer Chiaverini
8. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
9. The Dead Lands, by Benjamin Percy (event 4/29 at Boswell)
10. Falling in Love, by Donna Leon

For a review of The Dead Lands, see Carole E. Barrowman's take below, when we look at the Journal Sentinel book page. Kirkus has a review of David Baldacci's Memory Man, concluding that "although the crimes and their perpetrators are far-fetched, readers will want to see Decker back on the printed page again and again." And here's Publisher's Weekly's thoughts on Donna Leon's newest, Falling in Love: "Leon’s Venice is peopled with urbane, sophisticated characters, and she flavors the novel with insights into stagecraft, Tosca, and the storied La Fenice opera house. Series aficionados as well as those who appreciate elegant settings and cultured conversation should find this a deeply satisfying escape."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Edible Memory, by Jennifer A. Jordan
2. Youthnation, by Matthew Britton
3. Tapping Solution for Pain Relief, by Nicolas Ortner
4. The Road to Character, by David Brooks
5. Missoula, by Jon Krakauer
6. Lentil Underground, by Liz Carlisle
7. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
8. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
9. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson
10. Between You and Me, by Mary Norris

David Brooks' The Road to Character debuted on The New York Times bestseller list at #1 and it's not doing bad at Boswell either. The Washington Post features this review from Michael Gerson: "The literary achievement of The Road to Character is inseparable from the virtues of its author,,,The voice of the book is calm, fair and humane. The highlight of the material is the quality of the author’s moral and spiritual judgments. Across the pages, Brooks is a reliable guide and a pleasant companion."

Paperback Fiction:
1. What's Done in the Dark, by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
2. Let the Church Say Amen, by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
3. Imaginary Things, by Andrea Lochen
4. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain
5. Meet me Halfway, by Jennifer Morales
6. Euphoria, by Lily King
7. Listen and Other Stories, by Liam Callanan
8. Family Affair, by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
9. No Book but the World, by Leah Hager Cohen
10. The Martian, by Andy Weir

We had a very nice day with ReShonda Tate Billingsley at the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority luncheon at the ICC. In addition to the featured title, What's Done in the Dark, attendees were particularly interested in Let the Church Say Amen, which is due for release soon. It's on the shelf, as we say. And folks were also excited about Billingsley's next book Mama's Boy. Here's the setup: ""When her son is accused of a violent crime, church first lady Gloria Jones finds herself battling his prosecutor--as well as her own inner demons--to save him."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Call Me Captain, by Susan Scott
2. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
3. Lady in Gold, by Anne Marie O'Connor
4. Multiplication is for White People, by Lisa Delpit
5. The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson
6. The Opposite of Loneliness, by Marina Keegan
7. The Art of War Visualized, by Jessica Hagy (event 4/27 at Boswell)
8. How to be Interesting, by Jessica Hagy
9. How to Walk, by Thich Nhat Hanh
10. One Pot, by the editors of Martha Stewart Living

We've had a nice pop for The Opposite of Loneliness, in part due to a strong recommendation from Carly Lenz. She writes: "This posthumous collection of short stories and personal reflections is a testament to the extraordinary literary talents of Marina Keegan, a promising young writer who tragically passed away days after her Yale graduation. Her writing is relevant, realistic, funny, and touching."

Books for Kids:
1. World Without Princes, by Soman Chainani
2. The School for Good and Evil, by Soman Chainani
3. The Tapper Twins Go to War with Each Other, by Geoff Rodkey
4. Nothing but Drama, by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
5. In Mary's Garden, by Tina and Carson Kugler
6. Blessings in Disguise, by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
7. Rumor Central, by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
8. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers
9. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, 75th anniversary, by Virginia Lee Burton
10. I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson

So let's check in on The Tapper Twins Go to War With Each Other. Geoff odkey was in Milwaukee doing schools but in order to get him to his next event, we did not have a public event. Enthusiasm was strong from both schools, who had never before had an author visit through our program. Once you do it, you know how great it is. The (UK) Guardian has reader reviews and Amazed Earthling wrote: "This picture filled book gets five out of stars from me as it is an entertaining and often hilarious read for both boys and girls 9+. There are annotated photographs and even texting threads used to illustrate the story which was a format that works well with the pace of the book. (Warning boys, there are many derogatory remarks about males in here but don't let that put you off!)"

Still available with a slot each is Max Brallier's Galactic Hot Dogs: Cosmoe's Wiener Getaway, on May 12, and The Nightsiders: The Orphan Army, by Jonathan Maberry on May 14. Contact Phoebe for details.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews On the Move: A Life, by Oliver Sacks. The neurologist behind the books The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings writes a sequel to his childhood memoir, Uncle Tungsten. Higgins notes: "As this memoir makes clear, the Whitmanesque Sacks truly contains multitudes: the compassionate scientist who writes beautifully and travels to Mexico to look at ferns has also been a motorbike buff, a competitive weightlifter, and in the past, a drug abuser."

Jim Higgins also reviews the new Grateful Dead biography from David Browne, So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead. Per Higgins, the "new book arrives in time for the Dead's 50th anniversary, which the band's surviving members will celebrate by playing a few stadium shows this summer." Browne chronicles the band's long, strange, trip, through the development of their sound and their use of now-commonplace techniques such as income being driven more by tours than record sales, and directly building relationships with fans. Per Higgins, this is "an engaging account of an idiosyncratic American musical institution."

Early Warning, the second novel in the new trilogy from Jane Smiley, early warning, gets a great write-up from Christi Clancy. "The unconventional form of Smiley's undertaking (an Iowa farm family's journey through the 20th century) works for a long, sprawling epic, because the first two books int he trilogy somehow capture the feel and aestetic of an American family. You meet the Langdons in Some Luck, but by the time you finish Early Warning, you'll feel like you are one of them."

And finally, in advance of our event with Benjamin Percy on Wednesday, April 29 (7 pm), comes Carole E. Barrowman's review in the Journal Sentinel of The Dead Lands. Barrowman notes that "Minnesota writer and former Marquette University instructor Benjamin Percy imagines the historical journey of Lewis and Clark as a post-apocalyptic quest with monsters and magic merging the past and the future in astonishing ways." She observes that "along with parallels to Lewis and Clark's real journey, Percy's story is layered with allusions to other quest narratives and his prose, like his Lewis character, displays a kind of alchemy all its own."