Monday, October 5, 2015

A Whirlwind Week of Words: Marilyn Sadler Today (Monday) at 4, Amy Reichert at East Library (6:30) Tuesday, Luke Shaefer on $2.00 a Day at Boswell on Tuesday, Joe Meno and Nina Revoyr at Boswell on Wednesday, Greg Gerke and Ben Tanzer at Boswell on Thursday (these last three events are at 7), David Maraniss at Centennial Hall on Thursday (6:30) and Gary D. Schmidt on Friday (7)

Monday, October 5, 4 pm (note time:
Marilyn Sadler, author of Charlie Piechart and the Case of  the Missing Pizza Slice.

It's a delicious story about pizza! It's a mystery! It's a tale of fractions! Kirkus Reviews gives an explanation: "Charlie’s family of five is joined by his friend Lewis, which means that if they order a large pizza, each of them will get two slices. But can they agree on toppings? Four-sixths want nothing to do with veggies, and no one wants anchovies. Pepperoni it is. But between the pizza’s arrival and its serving, one piece has gone missing. Charlie goes into full detective mode (his dog is even named Watson!) and hunts for clues, then turns to his five suspects." Boswellian Barb Katz is a fan of the new book. She writes: "It's pizza night at Charlie's house, but wait -a piece of pizza is missing! Both a mystery and a very clever look at fractions, this is a fun book that will be read over and over." Barb added that kids who don't love math shouldn't be put off by Sadler's book, but if they do love math, Charlie Piechart and the Case of the Missing Pizza Slice will be even more fun."

And yes, we'll have pizza, 2/3 of which will be plain and 1/3 will be pepperoni. If you have 1 slice of the former and 1 of the latter, how fast was your train going at the time? Enjoy Eric Comstock's retro-modern illustration, also featured in this delightful trailer from HarperCollins.

Tuesday, October 6, 6:30 pm, at East Library, 2320 N. Cramer St.: Amy E. Reichert, author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake.

This popular romantic comedy is set in Milwaukee, featuring the owner of a small French restaurant who gets a blistering review from a freelance critic, only to run into him again at a local watering hole.

Brandi Megan Granett interviewed Reichert for the Huffington Post. Usually I find that books set in New York City are encouraged to be very placey, the rest of the coats and possibly Chicago a little less so, and all other cities are played down. To have Milwaukee featured so prominently in a novel from a major publisher is a bit unusual. Granett popped the question: "We would be remiss if we didn't talk about the biggest love story in the book--the one involving your clear love for Milwaukee. How did you decide to imbue the novel with so much of this place you love? What places did you leave out that we should visit as well? Can we actually visit in the winter?"

"When I decided to set my book in Milwaukee, I knew she had to be part of the love story. It's such a special city, that I wanted to share it with everyone. I love that readers are getting a chance to see Milwaukee through my book. There are many more places to visit, like the Harley museum, zoo, and the quirky East Side. And you can absolutely visit in the winter! Cold weather doesn't slow us down, it's just an excuse to head north to watch the Green Bay Packers play or tromp through the beautiful snow in one of the many gorgeous parks. If it's January 1, you can take the Polar Bear Plunge into Lake Michigan."

Being that we're hosting seven cosponsored events with the Milwaukee Public Library this fall, which I think is a new record for us, I would be remiss if I did not like you to their upcoming events page. You can also get more information about their events with Fanni's Viennese Kitchen and Living in the Shadow of Milwaukee.

Tuesday, October 6, 7 pm, at Boswell: H. Luke Shaefer, co-author of $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America.

This event is cosponsored by Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, as part of their "Working Our Way Out of Poverty" series.

My take: "Two academics chronicle the new face of the poor in America, post welfare reform. Edin, a sociologist at Hopkins, and Shaefer, at the School of Social Work at Michigan, look at eight families in four regions of the United States, Chicago, Cleveland, the Missisippi Delta and the Appalachian Foothills of Tennessee, with stories that will remind readers of Nickel and Dimed. The good news is that in a world where there are work incentives and term limits to certain benefits, there’s actually more government money than before reform. The bad news is that virtually no cash component allows poor people almost no flexibility. The lack of subsidized housing has deleterious effects—it’s not a question of doubling up, but of 20 people living in a three bedroom apartment. And heaven help a person with no job who can’t get on disability of some sort. Edin and Shaefer highlight the continuing plight of the poorest of the poor, noting what policites have worked and others that have backfired, offering a few prescriptive solutions for action." (Daniel Goldin)_

Our buyer Jason Kennedy has this to say about $2.00 a Day: "This punches you in the gut, as you read about people living in America making $1-$2 per day to live on. It shows what a broken society we are that we have seven siblings sharing a bed and they all have one outfit to wear day after day. If you growing up in this kind of poverty, what wouldn't you do to get out? Who would attempt to exploit you to get what they want? Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer have done a tremendous job shedding light on a very dark part of our country, one that we ignore in the media , except to bash the all the programs designed to help the poor, and one where generations of poor families are almost doomed to repeat. Edin and Shaefer also offer some possible solutions that could be a good starting point to bring hope."

Wednesday, October 7, 7 pm, at Boswell: Nina Revoyr, author of Lost Canyon, and Joe Meno, author of Marvel and a Wonder.

Joe Meno and Nina Revoyr are touring together for their two books from Akashic. Meno has appeared at Boswell before, while Revoyr visited Next Chapter upon the release of Wingshooters, which has sold about 80 copies at Boswell since its release. The Wisconsin setting certainly helped.

Sharon Nagel offers a recommendation on Lost Canyon: "Four casual acquaintances get together to backpack in the Sierra Nevada. Each of them is looking to escape something in his or her life. Gwen, a youth counselor, is running from job burnout and the suicide of one of her charges, Oscar, a realtor, is fleeing from the depressed housing market, and the pressure of being a single parent. Todd, an attorney, is bored with his job, and his marriage is crumbling. Finally, Tracy, the group leader, is a personal trainer looking for the adventure that she is missing from her regular routine. What starts out as a physical challenge quickly takes a turn for the worse when the group runs into a man who doesn't want to be discovered. Things rapidly go south, shots are fired, lives are threatened, and the struggle for survival becomes a very real thing that has more to do with courage than with endurance or physical fitness."

And here is her take on Marvel and a Wonder: "Jim Falls is a widowed chicken farmer struggling to make ends meet. His daughter is a drug addict who is uncertain of the father of her son. She leaves Quentin with his grandfather often and for unknown amounts of time. The two are as different as can be. Jim is a Korean War vet, tough, hardworking, and no nonsense. Quentin is a dreamer who is constantly playing video games and raising exotic pets. One day, out of nowhere, a horse is delivered to Jim. A beautiful white racehorse that has been left to him by someone he does not know. When Jim and Quentin find out that the horse can run, the neighborhood starts to take notice of this valuable new resident. Then two local losers steal the horse and try to sell her. Jim and Quentin are determined to pursue the thieves and get her back. The white racehorse is coveted by everyone who comes into contact with her. She represents a dream for each one of them, a better and more successful life. Jim and his grandson get to know and appreciate each other on their suspenseful trip across the country to reclaim their rightful property." (Sharon Nagel)

Here's a photo of Revoyr and Meno traveling together on tour that was posted on Twitter.

Thursday, October 8, 630 pm, at Centennial Hall, 733 N. 8th Street: David Maraniss, author of Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story. (Photo credit Lucian Perkins)

We've all been excited for the return of David Maraniss, whose new book has been winning raves. I'm reading it now, and was it too much that I mentioned our event with the Milwaukee Public Library and David Maraniss when I was approved for the Downer BID this morning? Hey, it was braodcast on The City Channel.

Mike Fischer wrote in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "What makes Maraniss' book so compelling is suggested by his title: Even as he foreshadows the troubles to come, Maraniss also vividly — and lovingly — captures the long-vanished glow of that heady time when Detroit truly was a great city."

And Joe LaPointe notes in The Detroit News: "Maraniss examines modern history in the dogged manner of David Halberstam and Robert Caro. Between the lines, he leaves an unwritten thought for both today’s optimists and pessimists. If things could go change so much in just 50 years, what might the next half-century bring?"

Need more prodding to come to our event? Here's Maraniss talking to Kathleen Dunn last week on Wisconsin Public Radio about 1963 Detroit, "a year in which the city was running on all cylinders — and how the shadows of the city's collapse were beginning to emerge."

Thursday, October 8, 7 pm, at Boswell: Greg Gerke, author of My Brooklyn Writer Friend, and Ben Tanzer, author of The New York Stories.

Raised in Milwaukee, Greg Gerke has decamped to New York, the inspiration for his latest work of fiction. As the publisher notes, regarding My Brooklyn Writer Friend, "Neurotic and funny, earnest and obscure, the voices that echo in these short stories resound with a clarion honesty that remains—and provokes and teases and endears—long after the final page is turned."

John Haskell, author of I Am Not Jackson Pollack, writes: "Greg Gerke writes like an anthropologist of love, or like a Brooklyn-based Sigmund Freud, walking down a Mobius boulevard, finding the truth as it flowers in the cracks of the sidewalk. Honest, deadpan, personal and smart, these stories conspire, like a dream, to create a world both uncanny and familiar, delirious and quotidian, funny and sad and completely mesmerizing."

Ben Tanzer is also a midwest migrant, but his New York tales are of small town life, following in the footsteps of such writers as Richard Russo and Joyce Carol Oates. This collection was previously published in three volumes. The publisher notes that the collection features "dark character studies of childhood, middle age, and (lack of) grace under pressure" transporting readers to "the black heart of the American small-town soul."

Chris Tarry in Atticus Review writes that "The stories are interconnected in as much as a beer at Thirsty’s connects everyone in a small town. Characters move in and out and around a place so familiar, it could be your town—or my town, because I’ve never quite forgotten the time I kissed Susan Smith under the bleachers at Homecoming, and the smell of the stagnant air as she bit my lip leaving me surprised at how much more experience she had than me."

Friday, October 9, 7 pm, at Boswell: A Teacher Appreciation evening with Gary D. Schmidt, author of Orbiting Jupiter, and the Newberry-honor title The Wednesday Wars.

Everyone is welcome to this event, but we'll be honoring teachers with giveaways (lots and lots of advance readers copies for kids) and educators who are with schools signed up for our authors-in-schools programs will get a special discount for the evening.

Teacher's favorite Gary D. Schmidt will be appearing. Jannis Mindel is a fan of his new book, Orbiting Jupiter: "Joseph is a withdrawn 13-year-old father to an infant daughter he has never met. He comes to live with Jack and his family on their farm as a foster child after leaving a juvenile detention facility. Although Jack is warned to keep away from Joseph by his peers and teachers, Jack only sees a withdrawn and hurting boy. Eventually Joseph trusts the family enough to tell them his story and his need to find and meet his baby daughter. This is a spare, sad, and beautifully told story of love, sacrifice, and loss."

I just finished reading Orbiting Jupiter and Jannis and I had a chance to discuss the story. It's tricky subject matter. Joseph is a kid whose been through some hard times, including abuse by his father, and a stay in a detention facility. And the fact that he's a father at such an early age - it can be hard to handle that. But through the eyes of Jack, you see the spirit in this kid and Joseph slowly comes to learn that Jack has his back. It's hard for him to accept - he can't be touched, you can't walk behind him, and even the fact that he insists on calling Jack "Jackie", despite protests, sort of is an indication that he's lost basic connecting skills. It's a beautiful story, very sad, and there's much to talk about afterwards.

I don't know how many people caught this but this the second middle grade book I've read in the last month where the protagonist was named Jackson. Name trending alert!

Monday, October 12, 7 pm, at the Pitman Theatre at Alverno College: Brian Selznick, author of The Marvels.

1. The physical book is fabulous. Have you seen it? Gold edging and everything.

2. The insides are beautiful too.

Random Riggs in The New York Times Book Review: "What’s fiction made of? Do true stories “matter” more than invented ones? These are heady questions for any book to ­tackle, especially one aimed at young readers. But Brian Selznick’s “The ­Marvels” takes them on and, like the best children’s literature, doesn’t shy away from complex answers. The book revels in complication, echoes and mirrorings, and peeling back its layers makes for a rich and surprising reading experience."

Brian Selznick on Maurice Sendak in The Atlantic.

Starred Kirkus Reviews: "In the final volume of a trilogy connected by theme, structural innovation, and exquisite visual storytelling, Selznick challenges readers to see."

3. The event is now free! Please register on the Brown Paper Tickets site and tell your friends.

4. Trailer!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Annotation Celebration: The Boswell Book Company Bestseller List for the Week Ending October 2, 2015

Hardcover Fiction:
1. This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!, by Jonathan Evison
2. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
3. The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny
4. After You, by Jojo Moyes
5. The Aeronaut's Windlass, by Jim Butcher
6. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
7. The Heart Goes Last, by Margaret Atwood
8. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
9. X, by Sue Grafton
10. Purity, by Jonathan Franzen

Regarding After You, The Library Journal prepub alert wrote: "In million-copy best seller Me Before You, Louisa Clark becomes caretaker to Will Traynor, wheelchair-bound after an accident and embittered enough to be planning suicide. Moyes initially had no plans to follow up, but readers kept asking what happened to Lou, and Moyes got an inspiration that she turned into this book." And the result? Well, Maureen Corrigan in Fresh Air sang it's praises on Fresh Air, starting off: "Writer Jojo Moyes has a name that lacks gravitas. To be honest, I even feel a bit silly saying her name when I recommend her novels to people — which I do, often and energetically. It's hard to imagine a 'Jojo' ever winning the Nobel Prize for Literature; but Moyes has already won a pretty good consolation prize — that is, the kind of staunch, adoring readership that will follow her novels anywhere they go."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
2. Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson
3. Pope Francis Among the Wolves, by Marco Polito
4. How We Got Barb Back, by Margaret Hawkins
5. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
6. Trisha's Table, by Trisha Yearwood
7. The Making of Milwaukee, by John Gurda
8. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
9. Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
10. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
11. Owls, by Matt Sewell
12. 1944, by Jay Winik
13. Once in a Great City, by David Maraniss (event 10/8, 6:30, at Centennial Hall)
14. Modern Romance, by Aziz Ansari
15. $2.00 a Day, by Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer (event 10/6, 7 pm, at Boswell)

I never understand the placement of books on The New York Times bestseller list. Surely there have been other books about creativity that have gone on the nonfiction list. Somebody explain to me why The Art of Memoir is nonfiction while Big Magic is advice and how to. On a side note, Gilbert was recently profiled in The Guardian. Here's her take on her TED Talk: "I say this with all love and gratitude to the TED conference, but it’s hell. It’s terrifying. No one does anything to make it less terrifying for you either. No one hides from you that this is probably the most important speech you will ever give, in front of the most intimidating audience you will ever have. It’s scary. I mean, it’s not relaxing! And all of the other speakers I was with – apart from one guy who I think is a legitimate sociopath – each one of us felt we were the one who shouldn’t have been there. That’s a terrible feeling to grapple with."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
2. Euphoria, by Lily King
3. Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
4. Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope
5. Dog Songs, by Mary Oliver
6. Boston Girl, by Anita Diamant
7. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert (event 10/6, 6:30 pm, at East Library)
8. The Martian, by Andy Weir
9. Blackhouse, by Peter May
10. Best American Poetry 2015, edited by David Lehman

We had a great day with Celeste Ng for her Everything I Never Told You visit. While we tend to work our kids' authors a bit harder, or at least the ones who are amenable to school visits, Ng was game for a trip to Nicolet High School and Mount Mary University. Here's Ng at the latter. My suggestion is that someone start a fundraiser to buy the room drapes; they need something to absorb the soundwaves. If we were a nonprofit, I would start a fundraiser campaign to fix our shared bathroom, but alas, I don't think it would pass muster with the IRS.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Center Cannot Hold, by Elyn Saks
2. Milwaukee Mayhem, by Matthew Prigge (event 10/20 at MPL's Loos Hall, 6:30 pm)
3. What's Math Got to Do With It?, by Jo Boaler
4. Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler
5. Mindfulness Coloring Book, by Emma Farrarons
6. Fields of Blood, by Karen Armstrong
7. Milwaukee Mafia, by Gavin Schmitt
8. The Enchanted Forest, by Johanna Basford
9. Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, by Karen Abbott
10. Silence (Object Lessons), by John Biguenet

Recently out in paper is Karen Armstrong's Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence, a timely book if there ever was one. James Fallows wrote in The New York Times Book Review: "Just after finishing Karen Armstrong’s new book, I happened to hear a discussion on television about the latest outbreak of violence in the Middle East. 'We have to hope that this disagreement stays on the political level, rather than becoming a religious dispute,' one of the experts said. “Political differences can be resolved. Religious ones cannot. Fields of Blood can be thought of as a long, wide-ranging and overall quite effective rebuttal to the outlook expressed in that comment."

Books for Kids:
1. Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate
2. All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds, and Brendan Kiely (event 10/14, 7 pm, at Boswell)(
3. Shipwreck Island, by S.A. Bodeen
4. The Graham Cracker Plot, by Shelley Tougas
5. Finders Keepers, by Shelley Tougas
6. Lost V2, by S.A. Bodeen
7. Archie the Daredevil Penguin, by Andy Rash
8. The Marvels, by Brian Selznick (event 10/12, 7 pm, at Alverno, now free registration)
9. Jack, by Liesl Shurtliff
10. Rump, by Liesl Shurtliff
11. Charlie Piechart and the Case of the Missing Pizza Slice, by Marilyn Sadler (event 10/5, 4 pm, at Boswell)
12. Why is This Night Different from All Other Nights?, by Lemony Snicket

You know we're heavily into our authors-in-schools program and fall event calendar when you have to go all the way to #12 to find a book that isn't a recent or upcoming event. Lemony Snicket's Why is This Night Different from All Other Nights? is the 4th (and said to be final) book in the All the Wrong Questions series. Here's an Entertainment Weekly piece on quirky author bios.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, we've got five (updated!) home-grown reviews this week, which is a treat. First up is Mike Fischer's review of Jeanette Winterson's The Gap of Time. He explains the concept: "Next year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, but he's still very much alive, with the latest evidence involving the just-launched Hogarth Shakespeare series, through which the likes of Margaret Atwood and Anne Tyler are writing novelistic riffs on selected Shakespeare plays." He calls it a "wise and wondrous novel" which is a "great opening choice."

Arts editor Jim Higgins reviews the two Rosemary Kennedy biographies just out. As you may know, Kennedy spent much of her adulthood at St. Coletta's in Jefferson. She was also the inspiration for creating the Special Olympics. He writes: "Kate Clifford Larson's biography Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter concentrates on her early years, and reads like a tragedy, with Rosemary's needs and difficulties increasingly conflicting with her parents' social and political aspirations, until her father Joe unilaterally ordered a prefrontal lobotomy for her."

Of The Missing Kennedy, which covers her later years, Higgins writes "Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff's aunt, Sister Paulus, became one of Rosemary's caregivers at St. Coletta. Koehler-Pentacoff's memoir The Missing Kennedy recounts their relationship, and the author's visits with both women. Rosemary's privacy at St. Coletta was closely guarded; this book offers details and friendly anecdotes about the late Kennedy's daily life in Wisconsin." Koehler-Pentacoff appears at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books in November.

Special to the Journal Sentinel is Cathy Jakicic's review of The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World, written by David Jaher. She explains: "The book is as much about spiritualism itself — a system of belief based on communication with the spirits of the dead — as it about the showdown between illusionist and medium debunker Harry Houdini and Margery, the so-called Witch of Lime Street, a Boston physician's wife who became one of the country's best-known mediums of the era." Jakicic praises the "meticulous" research and compares it favorably to the "exaggerated" version that was recently aired on The History Channel

Elfrieda Abbe contributes A House of My Own: Stories From My Life, the new memoir from Sanda Cisneros. The Journal Sentinel review notes that the collection of essays "puts a gifted storyteller at your fingertips, one who offers a panoply of life in apartments, rented rooms and borrowed houses, a journey with a curious, lively mind and reflections on cultures, families and traditions."

And from Christi Clancy, there's a review of The Secret Chord, the new novel from Geraldine Brooks. The setup is explained: "We gain access to David through the perspective of Natan, David's prophetic courtier and a lifelong 'pebble in his sandal.' The Secret Chord is the fictional "lost book" of Natan that uses the Old Testament and the scant (but well-researched, as Brooks' legion of fans will anticipate) historical record to provide the scaffolding on which Natan can probe David's complicated psyche." Clancy offers that the story is "studded with action, interesting characters, sweeping timelines and moving scenes filled with drama and conflict." If you'd like to see Geraldine Brooks on tour, she'll be at appearing for Women and Children First in Chicago on October 30. Admission is ticketed - get more information here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Virtual Boswell Display Tour for Early October 2015.

1. It's Banned Book Week. We talked about taking a full window but we needed that for The Marvels (see below).  Instead we put the books in inaccessible cubes. I did not that the examples from our booklet are mostly about challenges in the United States and Canada, not outright bans.

2, HarperCollins suggested we do a display for Kevin Henkes' Waiting. Carly and Sharon found plush animals that approximated the characters in the book and Carly cut out cloud shapes that matched the cover images. I hate taking pictures of window displays - so much glare! Alas, Mr. Henkes is not coming to the Milwaukee area this fall, but he is visiting Winnetka on October 13, Naperville on October 14, and Madison on October 24, so you can see him there. Please tell him that Boswell sent you.

3. I mentioned we had a window up for The Marvels. Because it's theater themed, we needed curtains, which Anne procured from The House of Amie. Our event at the Pitman Theatre at Alverno College on October 12 is now free, but we're asking you to register. It's going to be a great show!

4. We have two Halloween displays up, one in the front of the store and another in the kids' section. All well and good, but I just wanted to point out that we're completely in love with these zombie products. There are bibs and sippy cups and plate sets and utensils and water bottles. So cute!

I was sad to say goodbye to our novels about math and San Francisco, which I should note are two different displays, but new ones are always coming. Interestingly enough, in the fourth quarter you don't get to be as creative, as calendars, holiday boxed cards, gift books, ornaments, and best of the year selections will fill the space. But come next February or so, we'll have to put our thinking caps back on again.

Monday, September 28, 2015

An Eight-Day Bookish Bonanza from Boswell--Celeste Ng, P.S. Duffy, Jonathan Evison, UWM's United We Read, Andy Rash, Stuart Neville, and Marilyn Sadler.

What's going on at Boswell for that?
Monday, September 28, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Celeste Ng, author of Everything I Never Told You.

We are so excited about this event! From the moment I closed the advance reading copy of Everything I Never Told You, sent to me with a note from the author (we get a lot of these, but I still can't read them all, alas), I knew the book was something special. But I still thought, "Family drama in the seventies, with the interesting multi-cultural twist. I've read this story, but I've never read it quite like this, and it's told so well. This will be a wonderful small book to tell people about, my gem of a find."

The first time I got the hint that this book was going to be something more was at Book Expo. I was seated at a table with someone from Amazon's editorial department. I know, I know, strange bedfellows, and we asked each other what we were reading that we liked. I mentioned Ng's book and the other person (sorry, keeping this one nameless) got this intense look in this eye, turned to me and said "I LOVE that book." It went on to be named their #1 book of the year.

In addition to our free event at Boswell, we've helped set up an event with Ng at Mount Mary University at Steinke Hall at 2 pm. The free event is at Steinke Hall. Because we're not able to sell books on the campus of Mount Mary, we're working with the Barnes and Noble College Store there to sell books (strange bedfellows, the sequel). Of course you can bring your book from home.

And finally, here's Jane Glaser's recommendation for Everything I Never Told You: "Set against the social fabric of 1970's small town Ohio, this is a complex portrait of a Chinese American family living through the tragic death of their beloved 16-year-old daughter. As parents and siblings search for truth, they face coming to terms with the regret of 'never' honestly sharing their unrealistic ambitions for and deep resentments of each other. Is it too late for this shattered family to repair itself if they are willing to pick up the pieces? Beautifully written debut novel, with exceptionally moving character development that will provoke a variety of reader reactions. Perfect book club reading!"

Tuesday, September 29, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Jonathan Evison, author of This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!, in conversation with Mitch Teich.

We had a great time with Jonathan Evison for The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving when he was in conversation with Mark Krieger, who was working on a novel in progress. This time he'll be in conversation with Mitch Teich, one of our friends from Wisconsin Public Radio's Lake Effect.

From the publisher: "In This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! Jonathan Evison has crafted a bighearted novel with an endearing heroine at the helm. Through Harriet, he paints a bittersweet portrait of a postmodern everywoman, her story told with great warmth, humanity, and humor. Part dysfunctional love story, part poignant exploration of the mother-daughter relationship, nothing is what it seems in this tale of acceptance, reexamination, and forgiveness."

We've had several good reads on the new book, which also hit the Indie Next List for September. Here's Sarah Lange's recommendation for This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!: "After Harriet's husband dies, she takes his place on an Alaskan cruise. But is he really gone, and can Harriet forgive him when she finds out his secret? As her daughter joins her on the trip in another unwelcome surprise and Harriet's present story unfolds, Evison makes use of a series of smart, engaging flashbacks--this is Harriet's life, after all. Filled with charm, humor and hope, Harriet Chance will appeal to the author's many fans and those of Wally Lamb. It will also earn Evison new admirers, as there's plenty to love in this insightful, feel-good story."

Tuesday, September 29, 7 pm (reception), 7:30 pm (talk), at the Lynden Sculpture Garden:
A ticketed event with P.S. Duffy, author of The Cartographer of No Man's Land.

The Women's Speaker series at the Lynden Sculpture Garden is please to present P.K. Duffy for her most recent novel. Produced by Margy Stratton of Milwaukee Reads, the program is co-sponsored by Bronze Optical with food from MKE Localicious.  Tickets are $25 and include a copy of The Cartographer of No Man's Land, $20 for Lynden members. You can click to the ticket link or call them at (414) 446-8794.

Here's a little more from the publisher: "When his beloved brother-in-law goes missing at the front in 1916, Angus defies his pacifist upbringing to join the war and find him. Assured a position as a cartographer in London, he is instead sent directly into battle. Meanwhile, at home, his son Simon Peter must navigate escalating hostility in a town torn by grief...The Cartographer of No Man s Land offers a soulful portrayal of World War I and the lives that were forever changed by it, both on the battlefield and at home."

Thursday, October 1, 7 pm, at Boswell:
United We Read, featuring UWM's Rebecca Dunham, plus graduate students Loretta McCormick, Jenni Moody, and Andrew Ruzkowski.

From the publisher, regarding Rebecca Dunham's Glass Armonica: "Winner of the 2013 Lindquist and Vennum Prize for Poetry, Dunham's stunning third collection is "lush yet septic, at once beautiful and unnerving."

Visit the UWM English department Facebook event page for more info.

Friday, October 2, 7 pm at Boswell:
Andy Rash, author of Archie the Daredevil Penguin.

Brooklyn's loss is Milwaukee's gain. Andy Rash is a wonderful kids' illustrator whose work has been showcased in Superhero School, Sea Monster's First Day, and Game Over, Pete Watson. The publisher profile: "Archie has no fear except a secret one--the ocean and the creatures that lurk in it--so he tries over and over to invent a way to fly to Iceberg Nine, where his fellow penguins are having a fish fry."

Publishers Weekly writes that "Rash illustrates the slapstick action in bold cartoons whose bright colors, clean shapes, and slightly weathered-looking backgrounds feel simultaneously contemporary and retro. Panel sequences keep the story moving brisklya during an especially nifty one, Rash uses arrow-shaped panels to trace Archieas underwater barrel rolls as he conquers his fear of swimminga and the joke-heavy dialogue should make this a read-aloud winner."

Here's my recommendation for Archie the Daredevil Penguin: "Archie is one amazing penguin! He’s tobagganed through Craggy Pass and tiptoed through the Leopard Seal Bunks. And now he is preparing for his greatest challenge yet, creating an invention to fly across to Iceberg Nine for a fish fry. As he comes up with one wild idea after another, the truth comes out that Archie can’t swim. While cartoon penguins call to mind such classics as Tennessee Tuxedo and Chilly Willy, and more contemporary icons like Mumble from Happy Feet, Archie is more like a kind-hearted Wile E. Coyote. Rash’s penguins have a charming style all their own and the dialogue is filled with droll asides that lightly addresses the fears of many kids. Fun for everyone, but if you know someone afraid of swimming, even better!"

What's another great reason to see Andy Rash? He'll draw a cool picture in your book when you get it signed, not just one of those unreadable signatures from one of those novelists we go on and on about.

Sunday, October 4, 11 am, at Boswell:
Stuart Neville, author of Those We Left Behind.

This is our second event with Mr. Neville, who previously visited for Ratlines. He's a wonderful speaker and this promises to be a great event.

Here's a little more from the publisher: "Ciaran Devine, who made Belfast headlines seven years ago as the schoolboy killer, is about to walk free. At the age of twelve, he confessed to the brutal murder of his foster father; his testimony mitigated the sentence of his older brother, Thomas, who was also found at the crime scene, covered in blood. But DCI Serena Flanagan, the only officer who could convince a young, frightened Ciaran to speak, has silently harbored doubts about his confession all this time. Ciaran's release means several things: a long-anticipated reunion with Thomas, who still wields a dangerous influence over his younger brother; the call-to-action of a man bent on revenge for his father s death; and major trouble for Ciaran s assigned probation officer. Blood has always been thicker than water for two Northern Irish brothers caught in the Belfast foster system, but a debt of past violence will be paid by not just them, but also by those they left behind."

From Carole Barrowman's review in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "In Neville's latest taut psychological thriller, Those We Left Behind, the author has stayed in Belfast but moved on, introducing new characters whose lives are just as compelling and troubled...The dread in this novel is palpable from the first pages until the heartbreaking final ones. It's Neville's best yet."

And here is Daneet Steffens in The Boston Globe: "Stuart Neville has been masterfully capturing the mean streets of Belfast in a series of thrillers, each arguably more powerful than the last. His latest, “Those We Left Behind,” in which he ups his game by about 10 notches, is a robust police procedural that also impressively plumbs his varied characters’ psychological vulnerabilities."

Monday, October 5, 4 pm (note time):
Marilyn Sadler, author of Charlie Piechart and the Missing Pizza Slice.

From the publisher: "Charlie's family of five is joined by his friend Lewis, which means that if they order a large pizza, each of them will get two slices. But can they agree on toppings? Four-sixths want nothing to do with veggies, and no one wants anchovies. Pepperoni it is. But between the pizza's arrival and its serving, one piece has gone missing."

Here's Barbara Katz's recommendation for Charlie Piechart and the Missing Pizza Slice: "It's pizza night at Charlie's house, but wait -a piece of pizza is missing! Both a mystery and a very clever look at fractions, this is a fun book that will be read over and over." Barb added that kids who don't love math shouldn't be put off by Sadler's book, but if they do love math, Charlie Piechart and the Case of the Missing Pizza Slice will be even more fun."

And yes, we'll be having a pizza snack!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Reagan, Gutenberg, and More Math Books Than Even I would Expect, All Featured on This Week's Annotated Boswell Bestseller Lists for the Week Ending September 26, 2015. Plus Links to the Journal Sentinel Book Page.

You know it's autumn when what might have been the #1 nonfiction hardcover book in July or August is now a solid #4.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Trisha's Table, by Trisha Yearwood
2. Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson (event 10/27, 6:30 pm)
3. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda (event 12/2, 7 pm)
4. Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
5. Why Not Me?, by Mindy Kaling
6. How to Bake Pi, by Eugenia Cheng
7. Rising Strong, by Brene Brown
8. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
9. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson
10. The Magic of Math, by Arthur Benjamin

Not one but three math books land in this week's top tens. In addition to my faves How to Bake Pi and How Not to Be Wrong, there is also The Magic of Math: Solving for X and Figuring Out Y, by Arthur Benjamin. Speaking of magic, we had a very strong pop for Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic, and how could we not - she completely charmed 300+ people at her visit to Boswell for her novel The Signature of All Things. Jennifer Reese in The Washington Post writes that "Gilbert’s love of creativity is infectious, and there’s a lot of great advice in this sunny book about setting your own agenda, overcoming self-doubt and avoiding perfectionism, a buzzy subject these days thanks to the popularity of vulnerability guru Brené Brown, who has appeared on Gilbert’s podcast." And yes, Brown's Rising Strong is also in our top ten.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine, by Alex Brunkhorst
2. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
3. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
4. Girl Waits with Gun, by Amy Stewart
5. Finale, by Thomas Mallon
6. The Girl in the Spider's Web, by David Lagercrantz
7. Make Me, by Lee Child
8. Purity, by Jonathan Franzen
9. Secondhand Souls, by Christopher Moore
10. Did You Ever Have a Family?, by Bill Clegg

Thomas Mallon has written a lot of praised novels, and I've been doing bestseller lists for a long time (seven years for Boswell, and another 20 or so for Schwartz), but I think this is the first time that this fine author has hit the top five for a week. I checked and his last novel, Watergate had a week at #7. Finale: A Novel of the Reagan Years was reviewed by Janet Maslin in The New York Times, who didn't think it hit quite the heights of Watergate, while Chris Tucker in the Dallas Morning News writes that "even readers who don’t remember the waning days of the Cold War will find masterful performances, by the author and by his subject, in Finale."

Paperback Fiction: 1. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng (event 9/28, 7 pm, at Boswell*)
2. Barchester Towers, by Anthony Trollope
3. The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters
4. Saving Kandinsky, by Mary Basson
5. The Martian, by Andy Weir
6. Dear Committee Members, by Julie Schumacher
7. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain
8. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
9. Again and Again, by Ellen Bravo
10. Gutenberg's Apprentice, by Alix Christie

As I'm checking through our top ten, there are a lot of repeats (including a classic being read by an area book club), but first time on is Gutenberg's Apprentice, by London journalist Alix Christie. This historical novel is told through the eyes of scribe who is called to Mainz to be an apprentice to Gutenberg by his foster father, a wealthy bookseller. Needless to say, their plan to print the Bible hits some snags, and Gutenberg himself is not the greatest boss. But reviews say that the true hero of the novel is the press itself. Bruce Hosinginger in The Washington Post offers that "Christie’s novel is a worthy tribute to the technological revolution it re­imagines, as well as a haunting elegy to the culture of print."

Paperbck Nonfiction:
1. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown
2. Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler
3. The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray, by Robert Schnakenberg
4. The Beer Bible, by Jeff Alworth (event 10/19, 7 pm, at Sugar Maple)
5. Deep Down Dark, by Héctor Tobar
6. Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook, by Mary Bergin
7. Milwaukee Food, by Lori Friedrich (event 11/24, 7 pm, at Boswell)
8. Impulse Society, by Paul Roberts
9. How Not to Be Wrong, by Jordan Ellenberg
10. This Changes Everything, by Naomi Klein

Regional cookbooks tend to hit the restaurant circuit in lieu of traditional visits and Mary Bergin's Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook: Iconic Fare and Nostalgia from Landmark Eateries has a series of dinners planned around the state. They launched at Smoky's in Madison and followed that up with Joey Girard's this week. Coming up is the House of Embers is the Wisconsin Dells on October 15 and The Red Mill in Stevens Point on November 7. Here's the author talking about the book on Wisconsin Public Radio's Jo Caridin Show.

Books for Kids:
1. Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate
2. Rump, by Liesl Shurtliff
3. Jack, by Liesl Shurtliff
4. Finders Keepers, by Shelley Tougas
5. Shipwreck Island, by S.A. Bodeen
6. Lost, by S.A. Bodeen
7. Rump (cloth edition), by Liesl Shurtliff
8. The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate
9. The Orphan Army, by Jonathan Maberry
10. The Graham Cracker Plot, by Shelley Tougas

If you follow the blog regularly, I'm sure you know that we just hosted visits from Katherine Applegate and Liesl Shurtliff, but because they only did schools and had no public event (there was one with Books and Company in Oconomowoc), you might not be aware of Wisconsin writers Shelley Tougas and S.A. Bodeen. They were a big hit at the four schools that Phoebe set up for them to visit, and you'll likely be seeing future pops on this list as we process the sales. Yes, there's a bit of a delay.

The most popular choice turned out to be Finders Keepers, which sort of reminds me of a Wisconsiny Three Times Lucky (but that's a shot in the dark as I haven't read it) but other critics have referenced Gennifer Choldenko, likely because of the use of a similar mobster reference. A young girl's family spends their summers on Whitefish Lake, but when her dad loses her job, they have to sell the cabin and Christa decides to find Al Capone's hidden blood money to save the family. Kirkus called it "entertaining and humorous."

S.A. Bodeen's Shipwreck Island chronicles a blended family's vacation in Tahiti that goes...horribly wrong. Kirkus wrote: "The book ends abruptly and on an ominous note, with a "smear of red" in the sky and many unanswered questions.More tantalizing appetizer than full entree, this book will leave readers hungry for a second helping." Fortunately Lost is already out, which Kirkus called "enjoyable castaway fare enhanced with a touch of sci-fi futurism." The reviewer was anxious for part three.

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews Edwidge Danticat's Untwine, a novel for young adults that comes out September 29.It's about a family whose lives are shattered figuratively (the parents have separated) and literally (a car crash). Higgins writes "Scholastic Press is targeting Edwidge Danticat's new novel Untwine at readers 12 and older. But this tale of grief and resilience should appeal to people who love Danticat's fiction for adults, too, such as Breath, Eyes, Memory and Claire of the Sea Light.

Not so much for Mike Fischer and his review of Margaret Atwood's The Heart Goes Last, where only the wealthy can have police and live on tax-free sea platforms, while the middle class struggles under a constricting economy that allows them to live half the year in relative comfort but the other half in a prison. Fischer notes that Atwood raises: "interesting philosophical questions, but the way they're presented here undermines what could have been a much better novel." Dave Burdick in The Denver Post has a more positive take, offering that the humor here lands a bit better than in the recent Year of the Flood: "It's skin-crawling satire and doublespeak mastery. It's too close to some version of our shared truth for comfort." Out September 29.

And finallym also out September 29, there is The Doldrums, a novel from Nicholas Gannon, reviewed by Erin Kogler. A young boy yearns for adventures like his grandparents. And then, "When a stranger with an eye patch shows up at Archer's door and suggests that Rachel and Ralph Helmsley might still be alive, Archer begins to hatch a plan, albeit not a great plan, to travel to Antarctica to rescue his grandparents from the iceberg." Kogler's take: "Gannon's prose is filled with wit and humor and many literary allusions that reference classic adventure stories that will entertain adult readers as well as children."

Speaking of the Journal Sentinel, check out our ad in today's Tap section. We've got info about six of our most exciting events coming in October and November--Graham Elliot, Sarah Vowell, Marlon James, Jennifer Chiaverini at the Hose Tower, The Night Vale creators (Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, in conversation with Patrick Rothfuss), Rainn Wilson (!!!!), and Chris Van Allsburg (not enough exclamation points).