Monday, May 20, 2019

Boswell author bulletin - Sujata Massey, Tom Haudricourt, Daniel Steininger, Nora McInerny with Moe Richardson, Michael Koryta, Memorial Day hours

Here's what's happening with Boswell. Don't forget that our Memorial Day hours are 10 am to 5 pm.

Tuesday, May 21, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Sujata Massey, author of The Satapur Moonstone

Boswell hosts author Sujata Massey with her highly anticipated follow-up to the critically acclaimed novel The Widows of Malabar Hill, winner of the Agatha Award for Best Historical Novel, inspired in part by the woman who made history as India’s first female attorney.

In Massey's new novel, a curse seems to have fallen upon Satapur's royal family, whose maharaja died of a sudden illness shortly before his teenage son was struck down in a tragic accident. The kingdom is now ruled by an agent of the British Raj on behalf of Satapur's two maharanis, the dowager queen and the maharaja's widow. The royal ladies are in dispute over the education of the young crown prince, and a lawyer's council is required - but the maharanis live in purdah and do not speak to men. Just one person can help them: Perveen Mistry, India's only female lawyer. Perveen is determined to bring peace to the royal house and make a sound recommendation for the young prince's future, but knows she is breaking a rule by traveling alone as a woman into the remote countryside. And she arrives to find that the Satapur palace is full of cold-blooded power plays and ancient vendettas. Too late, she realizes she has walked into a trap. But whose? And how can she protect the royal children from the palace's deadly curse?

Haven't yet read Massey's first novel in the series, The Widows of Malabar Hill? I really enjoyed it - like the new book, it spins on the idea that only a woman can meet with women in purdah, and being that this has been a common practice for wealthy Hindus and Muslims, you only wonder why practical issues did not lead to more women in the legal profession earlier. The Widows of Malabar Hill packed with fascinating historical detail – it’s also is a little longer than your average mystery because it includes the backstory of Perveen’s ill-fated marriage, a mystery in itself. Massey has piled up best-ofs and awards for this first book in a series, including the Mary Higgins Clark Award at the Edgars, and it’s no wonder – it's that good.

Sujata Massey was born in England to parents from India and Germany. She was a features reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun before becoming a full-time novelist. She is also author of the acclaimed Rei Shimura mystery series and two historical novels.

Wednesday, May 22, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Tom Haudricourt, author of Special Brew: An Inside Look at the 2018 Milwaukee Brewers

Baseball beat reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Tom Haudricourt pulls back the curtain to provide an up close-up look at the inner workings of the Milwaukee Brewers remarkable 2018 season. Books now on sale at Boswell.

When the Milwaukee Brewers embarked on a rebuilding program in 2015, the expectation was that it would take four or five years to return to competitiveness. That’s the way it went with other rebuilding clubs, but the Brewers somehow got it done in a mere three years. It certainly didn’t hurt when star outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain were added to the team, a sign that management was all in.

The 2018 Brewers caught fire at exactly the right time, falling just short of the franchise’s first World Series since 1982. But the ’18 Brewers captured the imagination of fans in Milwaukee and across Wisconsin, creating a buzz not heard for decades. Special Brew is an inside look at the decisions, the decision makers and the players who made it all happen, some who were expected to excel, others who seemingly came out of the blue.

Tom Haudricourt covers the Brewers and Major League Baseball for Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He was voted Wisconsin Sports Writer of Year for 2011 and 2012 by National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

Wednesday, May 22, 7:00 pm reception, 7:30 talk, at Wisconsin Club’s Country Club, 6200 W Good Hope Rd:
Daniel Steininger, author of Moving Mountains Every Day: Lessons for Business Leaders in Creativity and Innovation

Celebrate the release of Moving Mountains Every Day, by Daniel Steininger, President and Founder of BizStarts Milwaukee and President of Steininger and Associates, at a cocktail party and book signing. Registration required to attend this event. Please email

Business leaders need the tools of creativity and innovation to navigate the never-ending obstacles to running a successful business. Drawing on the lessons he's learned in the corporate world and in his role as chairman of the board of harbor commissioners overseeing the Port of Milwaukee, Steininger shares lessons of how business leaders can successfully lead organizations to creative breakthroughs that drive innovation and success.

Daniel Steininger writes "Innovate or Die" for Biz Times. He is president of Steininger and Associates and president and founder of BizStarts. He also teaches courses on innovation for the UWM School of Continuing Education for business leaders, and served as chairman of the board of harbor commissioners that oversees the Port of Milwaukee.

Thursday, May 23, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Nora McInerny, author of The Hot Young Widows Club: Lessons on Survival from the Front Lines of Grief

Nora McInerny, the host of the Terrible, Thanks for Asking podcast, is coming to Boswell for a conversation with Moe Richardson, cofounder of the real-life Hot Young Widows Club, about a wise, humorous roadmap and caring resource for anyone going through the loss of a loved one - or even a difficult life moment. Register for free at or upgrade to registration with a copy of The Hot Young Widow's Club for signing line priority for $18, including tax and ticketing fee.

In the span of a few weeks, thirty-something Nora McInerny had a miscarriage, lost her father to cancer, and lost her husband due to a brain tumor. What Nora discovered is that, when you’re in these hard moments, it can feel impossible to feel like even a shadow of the person you once were. How do you find that person again? Welcome to The Hot Young Widows Club, Nora’s response to the toughest questions about life’s biggest struggles.

The Hot Young Widows Club isn’t just for people who have lost a spouse, but an essential tool for anyone who has gone through a major life struggle. Based on her own experiences and those of the listeners dedicated to her podcast, Nora offers wise, heartfelt, and often humorous advice to anyone navigating a painful period in their lives.

Nora McInerny is the reluctant cofounder of the Hot Young Widows Club (a program of her nonprofit, Still Kickin), author of the memoirs It's Okay to Laugh, (Crying Is Cool Too) and No Happy Endings, and the host of the award-winning podcast Terrible, Thanks for Asking. She was voted Most Humorous by the Annunciation Catholic School Class of 1998. Moe Richardson is cofounder of the real-life Hot Young Widows Club, a program of the Still Kickin nonprofit organization.

Tuesday, May 28, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Michael Koryta, author of If She Wakes, in conversation with Nick Petrie

Michael Koryta, the author Stephen King called “master” of thriller writing, chats with Milwaukee’s Nick Petrie about If She Wakes, Koryta’s electrifying new novel about two women fighting for their lives against an enigmatic killer. Cosponsored by Crimespree Magazine.

A horrific car crash leaves Tara in a vegetative state. Or so her doctors think. She’s a prisoner of locked-in syndrome: fully alert but unable to move a muscle. Trapped in her body, she learns that someone wants her dead, but what can she do, lying in a hospital bed? Abby Kaplan, an insurance investigator, is hired to look into Tara's case. Despite the fog of her own trauma, Abby can tell Tara's car crash was no accident. When she starts asking questions, things quickly spin out of control, leaving Abby on the run and a mysterious young hit man hard on her heels.

Booklist calls If She Wakes, “instantly gripping, with realistic action, (and) a breath-snatching twist," and Publishers Weekly says, “Adept at creating Hitchcockian moments, Koryta keeps the suspense high throughout.”

Michael Koryta is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen novels, most recently, How It Happened. His previous novels, including Last Words, Those Who Wish Me Dead, and So Cold the River, were New York Times notable books and nominated for numerous awards, including having won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Koryta is a former private investigator and newspaper reporter. Nick Petrie is the Milwaukee-based author of the award-winning Drifter series of thrillers, including The Drifter, winner of the ITW Thriller Award and the Barry Award for Best First Novel, and most recently, Tear It Down.

Alas, our Steve Raichlen event at The Urbanite with Heaven's Table BBQ is sold out. Signed copies of The Brisket Chronicles may be available after the event.

More listings on our upcoming events page.

Photo credits:
Sujata Massey - Jim Burger
Nora McInerny - Black Wolf Photography
Michael Koryta - Jonathan Mehring

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending May 18, 2019, plus Journal Sentinel summer reading picks

And we're off!

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Resistance Women, by Jennifer Chiaverini (event today at Boswell, 3 pm - registration has closed by walk-ups are fine)
2. Orange World and Other Stories, by Karen Russell
3. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
4. Circe, by Madeline Miller
5. Normal People, by Sally Rooney
6. Moby Dick Pop-Up, by Herman Melville and Gerard Lo Monaco
7. Black Leopard, Red Wolf, by Marlon James
8. The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
9. The Guest Book, by Sarah Blake
10. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles (because signed books are still available)

I tend to not mention when our top five books are written by men because I'd probably get in trouble, but I'm guessing that citing a female sweep is fine. Our big debut is Orange World and Other Stories, by Karen Russell, the rare young novelist who despite the acclaimed Swamplandia, might be even better known for her New Yorker stories. I feel compelled to buy it because I haven't gotten a pretty orange book since There There last year. Booklist writes: "Heir to Shirley Jackson and a compatriot of T. C. Boyle, virtuoso Russell, gifted with acute insights, compassion, and a daring, free-diving imagination, explores the bewitching and bewildering dynamic between the voracious appetite of nature and its yawning indifference and humankind's relentless profligacy and obliviousness."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Guardian, by Thomas Pecora
2. Outer Order, Inner Calm, by Gretchen Rubin
3. My Darling Winston, edited by David Lough
4. The Pioneers, by David McCullough
5. Howard Stern Comes Again, by Howard Stern
6. A Good American Family, by David Maraniss (MPL lunch reservations for 5/29 here)
7. The Four Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin
8. Educated, by Tara Westover
9. UWM The First Sixty Years, by John Schroeder
10. The British Are Coming, by Rick Atkinson

I could talk history, as there's a lot of it on this top ten (Pecora and Lough had events in town, while McCullough and Atkinson and flexing for Dad Day), but I'm more intrigued by the sales pop for Howard Stern Comes Again. Who knew he had an evolution? Terry Gross was so fascinated her interview aired over two days on Fresh Air. The things you don't know when you don't subscribe to Sirius radio. Per Janet Maslin in The New York Times, this book is "hefty all-star tutorial on the art of the interview."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng
2. Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy
3. Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan
4. Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng
5. Murder Knocks Twice V1, by Susanna Calkins
6. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
7. Park Avenue Summer, by Renée Rosen
8. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
9. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson
10. There There, by Tommy Orange

Dang! I missed reading our entire top 10 by one book, and it's one I promised to read at one point - The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. No lie, once I was told she wasn't traveling, I put it away for a bit to concentrate on our event titles.But we've still got something like six enthusiastic fans on staff without me, and so, even without a read, I've been doing some hand-selling. It's nice to see that the book is selling well enough that Ingram has reordered copies, the limited edition hardcover (for libraries) looks like it sold out, and the book has been showing up on the top 50 list of Bookscan for Milwaukee fiction. Publishers Weekly called it "a gem of a historical" noting that the history part isn't its strongest asset, instead noting that "readers will adore the memorable Cussy and appreciate Richardson's fine rendering of rural Kentucky life." I told the publisher we could sell 100 copies by Christmas - who doesn't love a challenge? - but I think at one point I better come back to it.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Mueller Report, by US Department of Justice and the Washington Post (Scribner)
2. Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin
3. How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan
4. The Milwaukee Anthology, edited by Justin Kern
5. Healing The Thyroid with Ayurveda, by Marianne Teitelbaum (event Mon 6/10, 7 pm, at Boswell)
6. Writing Fiction, tenth edition, by Janet Burroway (event Wed 6/19, 7 pm, at Boswell)
7. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
8. Lab Girl, by Hope Jahren
9. The Fire Next Time, by James A Baldwin
10. Drawdown, by Paul Hawken

From Michael Pollan comes a nice paperback pop for the release of How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. It's sometimes harder for big hardcover bestsellers to have a strong paperback showing but it seems like if they do hit again, they never leave. Who's placing bets that Educated will be in the top 10 for ten years, excluding a major scandal, and perhaps even in spite of one. What you generally won't see as much in paperbacks, bestseller or not, is an updated jacket. Pollan's paperback just adds the popular contrasting stripe and The New York Times seal of approval. It's rare that a book like this is proclaimed thrilling, but The Guardian did just that. It also has quotes from everyone from Andrew Weil to Errol Morris. I guess the former was more expected.

Books for Kids:
1. The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers V1, by Pseudonymous Bosch
2. Dactyl Hill Squad V1, by Daniel José Older
3. The Order of the Majestic V1, by Matt Myklusch
4. Freedom Fire: Dactyl Hill Squad V2, by Daniel José Older
5. Sport: Ship Dog of the Great Lakes, by Pamela Cameron with illustrations by Renée Graef
6. Dactyl Hill Squad V1 (hardcover), by Daniel José Older
7. Look Up, by Annette LeBlanc Cate
8. Tomorrow Most Likely, by Dave Eggers
9. Extraordinary Birds, by Sandy Stark McGinnis
10. Rabbit and Bear: Rabbit's Bad Habits, by Julian Gough

Who wants to start a middle-grade series? It turns out that everyone does! In addition to the authors who appeared for a public event as well as school visits, Matt Myklusch was also in town visiting schools for his new series, The Order of the Majestic. I don't normally quote the publisher pitch (as opposed to the copy), but hey, I'm speaking to adults I think would be more fascinated by this than just explaining how Joey Kopecky lands at a school with a minor in magic: "Fantasy has always provided metaphor for looking at society. The central conflict occurs between heroes who want to share hope and human connection, and an enemy who wants to control and hoard magic. The underlying theme of this action-packed plot is the message that regular kids have a magical ability of their own: they too can be forces of change in society and the world."

Over at the Journal Sentinel it's the book issue you've been waiting for, 81 books for Summer Reading, from Jim Higgins, with baseball and pop culture picks from Chris Foran. Here are the most important selections, the editor's picks
--An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago, by Alex Kotlowitz
--Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers, by Fred Rogers
--Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style, by Benjamin Dreyer
--A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father, by David Maraniss
--Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy
--Murder by the Book, by Claire Harman
--The Satapur Moonstone, by Sujata Massey
--Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea: Stories, by Sarah Pinsker
--Tear It Down, by Nick Petrie
--The Vanishing Man, by Charles Finch

Read the rest on the Journal Sentinel website.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Historical Fiction - Novels from Sujata Massey and Jennifer Chiaverini

What is it about historical fiction? The last two high-profile contemporary novels I read were both lauded, but I just found I had nothing interesting to say about them. But when my taste ventured historical, I felt compelled to follow up on a previous post where I wrote about Murder Knocks Twice and Park Avenue Women. If you're reading this on May 16, Calkins will be at Boswell tonight in conversation with Erica Ruth Neubauer. If you're reading this afterwards, I'm brainstorming the idea of a 1920s Chicago night with both Calkins and Rosen, who would focus on her Dollface novel. Somebody up for partnering with us? Let me know.

Having decided that we have an awful lot of great mystery novelists coming to Boswell (that's for another post), I thought I better catch up on them. Being that Sujata Massey's latest novel, The Satapur Moonstone, it seemed timely to read one of her books. And here's the question on mysteries - do you dive right into the latest book or do you head back to #1 in the series, The Widows of Malabar Hill? One thing I have realized is that when I was reading mysteries in my twenties, I never paid attention to series order. What has changed - my reading or authors writing?

Being that Widows just received the Mary Higgins Clark Award as part of the Edward Awards, that seemed to be the best choice, especially because I could pass the book on to Anne, who is reading the novel for our Boswell Mystery Book Group in July. I also so enjoyed Massey's presentation when she came to the Lynden Sculpture Garden for book #1.

The Widows of Malabar Hill is about Perveen Mistry, the first female lawyer in Bombay. The story takes place in the 1920s and the character is based on Cornelia Sorabji, which Massey talks about here. There are some important differences - Perveen's family are practicing Zoroastrians, whereas Sorabji was the daughter of a Hindu mother and a Parsi (Zoroastrian) father who converted to Christianity. Sorabji, like Mistry, earned her degree at Oxford, but she wasn't granted it until 30 years after she took the exam.

In this case, Mistry law has a longtime family client whose patriarch has died. He leaves behind three widows, and curiously enough, the agent has documents saying they all want to leave their dowries to the wakh, or charity. Only the charity, which previously helped veterans of all religions, is now going to refocus to helping build a madrassa, or Muslim boys school. Something seems funny, especially in the signatures.

Now the key here, and I think this may be a twist that shows up again, is that in order for the firm to investigate, they need to talk to the widows, only they practice purdah, living in seclusion from men. Even the agent talks to them through a curtain. Perveen is the only woman who can get answers, but those answers lead to more questions. And then! And then! I'm not going to give much away here.

In this case, I'm glad I read the The Widows of Malabar Hill because there's a lot of backstory. Perveen, in her travels, spots someone who looks like her estranged Calcutta husband, and that opens the story of how she met him and exactly what happened that she is now back working with her family in Bombay (Mumbai). And there's no question for me that Massey's novel works equally well for historical fiction and mystery fans.

The Satapur Moonstone, just released, is won raves from all the advance trade publications, with Julie Ciccarelli saying Massey did a superb job combining the history with a "top-notch mystery" in Library Journal.

On the subject of historicals, I just finished Jennifer Chiaverini's latest novel, Resistance Women. It's hard to believe that Chiaverini has now written eight historical novels, being that many still think of her as the author of the twenty-book Elm Creek Quilts series (soon to be twenty-one). For a while, her focus was on the Civil War era, featuring women were often footnoted and marginalized in historical retellings. Now that we are highlighting the accomplishments of women and people of color, their stories, like that of Ada Lovelace in The Enchantress of Numbers, are becoming better known.

For her latest, she's turned to World War II, and the story of Mildred Fish Harnack, the only American executed by the Germans under explicit orders from Hitler. For many years, her accomplishments were minimalized as a Communist sympathizer, but as Chiaverini notes, records have been released since then that tell a very different story.

And while there are actually four women at the core of Resistance Women, we give an extra shout out to Harnack because she was raised in Milwaukee* and then attended UW-Madison. Harnack's story rotates with Greta Kuckhoff, a German translator, and Martha Dodd, the daughter of the United States Ambassador to Germany who is well-known to readers from Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts. Joining them is Sara Weitz, a fictional character drawn from several Jewish women in the Resistance movement. I was a little sad that Sara was fictionalized, but I've read enough historical fiction to know that this is something you just have to do, just like sometimes you have to play with facts and timing. Every author has a different philosophy of what their line is that they will not cross. And I do sometimes have to remind people that it's historical fiction, not history.

Of course it's hard to not be transfixed by a World War II narrative, but I think Chiaverini did a particularly excellent job telling the stories of these women, particularly when there were a lot of other characters to keep track of. And the book is a relative doorstopper at over 580 pages. But the story compellingly moves along, and is neither overly reliant on dialog or that way that some writers have of overly focusing on things like clothing details.

Every so often I hear from a customer saying they can't read another novel about World War II. But there are so many stories left to tell, and I think that Resistance Women really highlights the dangers of fascism and dictatorships and how our liberties can be lost in incremental ways that many of us don't notice what we've lost until it's too late. And then of course one can see The Tattooist of Auschwitz and The Lost Girls of Paris both ensconced on the bestseller lists for multiple weeks.

And from a booksellers's perspective, it does something one hopes every great book will do - it left me hungry to read more - not just In the Garden of Beasts for the Dodds, but Julie Orringer's The Flight Portfolio. I loved The Invisible Bridge, but it newest hasn't gotten to the top of my pile. Hey, I'd love to read more but I have a bookstore to help run.

Speaking of which...

Jennifer Chiaverini will be at Boswell on Sunday, May 19, 3 pm, to discuss Resistance Women. Register for our event at and give me a better handle on how many chairs to put out. Thank you in advance. She'll then be at Books and Company in Oconowoc on Thursday, May 30, 7 pm.

Sujata Massey will be at Boswell on Tuesday, May 21, 7 pm, to discuss The Satapur Moonstone, as well as The Widows of Malabar Hill. No registration for this one - I'm winging it.

*Alas, I should note there is not much about Milwaukee in Harnacks's story.

Photo credits:
--Susjata Massey credit Jim Burger
--Jennifer Chiaverini credit Michael Chiaverini

Monday, May 13, 2019

Event alert - Daniel José Older, Tim Hennessy and friends, Pseudonymous Bosch, John H Schroeder, Celeste Ng, Susanna Calkins, Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft, Annette LeBlanc Cate, Jennifer Chiaverini

Here's what's happening at Boswell this week

Monday, May 13, 6:30 pm, at Boswell:
Daniel José Older, author of Freedom Fire V2: Dactyl Hill Squad

New York Times bestselling author Daniel José Older appears at Boswell with his series that Dav Pilkey calls “an unforgettable historical, high-octane adventure,” blending history and fantasy like never before. This event is great for adults and kids age 8 and up.

Daniel José Older’s work highlights the importance of writing roles for people of color in fantasy and adventure for kids and adults, and his debut YA series, Shadowshaper Cypher, earned the International Latino Book Award and New York Times Notable Book and NPR Best Books of the Year picks, among other accolades. Booklist says of his latest, “History comes alive... Older also continues to shine a light on heroic people of color... Older has middle-graders' number with this dino-charged series. Stampedes are likely!”

Magdalys's powers and her mysterious connection to dinosaurs might be the Union's last hope, but she doesn't want to abandon the search for her brother. Kirkus Reviews starred review says, “Showing great respect for his readers, Older doesn't pull any punches. Readers will be relieved that in a cruelly unjust world [Magdalys] gets a happy ending, though it's clear her story is far from over. Blisteringly paced, thought-provoking adventure.”

Daniel José Older is author of the Dactyl Hill Squad series, the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, Star Wars: Last Shot, and the award winning Young Adult series the Shadowshaper Cypher.

Monday, May 13, 6:00 pm, at Milwaukee Public Library, Tippecanoe Branch 3912 S Howell Ave:
Tim Hennessy, editor of Milwaukee Noir

Milwaukee writer and anthology editor presents Milwaukee Noir, the latest entry in Akashic Books's award-winning series, set in the Cream City.

Fourteen free-wheeling stories document the grit and glory of Milwaukee. The Cream City is going through a renaissance, as abandoned factories are converted to condos and craft breweries push out corner taverns, yet at the same time it is among the most segregated and impoverished cities in the country. Such an environment and atmosphere make excellent fodder for noir fiction.

Of the anthology, Publishers Weekly says, “Hennessy does justice to the harsher aspects of his hometown in this fine anthology… Contributors show that violence is not a prerequisite to crafting a haunting depiction of despair... The selections make the different neighborhoods, seedy or otherwise, come to life, even for those who have never set foot in them.”

Tim Hennessy is a bookseller and author living in Milwaukee. His work has appeared in Midwestern Gothic, Crimespree Magazine, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Tuesday, May 14, 4:00 pm, at Boswell: Pseudonymous Bosch, author of The Unbelievable Oliver and the Four Jokers

Boswell hosts an afternoon event with the infamously anonymous author of The Name of This Book is Secret, Pseudonymous Bosch, the author whose ridiculously mischievous writing LA Weekly says is, “like Lemony Snicket with a little Monty Python,” whose latest is a funny chapter-book mystery about a third-grade magician and the wisecracking rabbit who is the secret brains behind his act. Perfect for adults and kids 7 and up.

Oliver dreams of being a magician, even though he has terrible stage fright. And now, his friends have gotten him invited to a classmate’s birthday party as the paid entertainment! Desperate for help, he visits The Great Zoocheeni’s Magic Emporium, but comes away with nothing more than a moth-eaten top hat.

Oliver is in for a lucky surprise. Inside that top hat hides a wisecracking rabbit who agrees to help. But at the party, Oliver is accused of robbery! He must solve the mystery of the missing robo-cat to clear his name before he can amaze the crowd with a grand finale.

Pseudonymous Bosch is author of the New York Times bestselling Secret series and the Bad books such as Bad Magic. He is definitely not the alter ego of Raphael Simon, a totally unrelated author.

Oh, and we'll be giving away magic wands at this event with purchase.

Tuesday, May 14, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
John H Schroeder, author of The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: The First Sixty Years

Former Chancellor of UWM and Professor of History Emeritus, Schroeder recounts the history of UWM, from welcoming its first students in 1956 through 2016, when the prestigious Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education recognized UWM for “highest research activity."

Against a backdrop of intense scrutiny, UWM seemed to fight above its weight class, providing opportunities for a distinctive set of students and steadily forging a reputation as a Milwaukee institution.

In this expansive history, the first in-depth book about the university’s history in more than twenty years, Schroeder chronicles UWM's bold mission as Wisconsin's sole public, urban university, accessible to Milwaukee students underserved by more expensive private colleges and more distant universities. With fine detail and a clear-sighted approach, Schroeder charts the milestones of UWM's sixty-year journey, chronicles the obstacles UWM has faced, and shows how UWM has risen and become stronger with each challenge faced.

John Schroeder is author of five books on 19th century American history, including a biography of Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, which won the Roosevelt Prize for American Naval History. He is former Chancellor of UWM and Professor of History Emeritus.

Wednesday, May 15, 7:00 pm, at UWM Student Union’s Wisconsin Room, 2200 E Kenwood Blvd:
Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere, in conversation with WUWM Lake Effect's Bonnie North

Celeste Ng, in conjunction with UWM's Department of English, Creative Writing Program, Humanities Division, and Asian Faculty and Staff Association, is coming to the UWM Student Union, as part of the paperback publication tour of Little Fires Everywhere. For this event, Ng will be in conversation with Bonnie North, a producer and cohost at WUWM's Lake Effect.

Tickets cost $19 for the general public and are available at Specially priced tickets for the UWM community are available only at the UWM Student Union box office. Each ticket comes with a signed paperback edition of Little Fires Everywhere. Already have the book? It makes a great gift, for birthday, graduation, or holiday. It's never too early, right?

The bestselling Little Fires Everywhere traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. Named a Best Book of the Year by too many publications to list, (okay, here are a few: The Washington Post, Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, People, and NPR) Ng’s novel was recently picked up by Hulu to go into production as a limited series starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. And Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train, says, "witty, wise, and tender. It's a marvel."

The event is ticketed, but UWM students can now receive free admission tickets at the UWM Union. This special admission does not include a book.

Celeste Ng is author of Everything I Never Told You, winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the ALA's Alex Award

Thursday, May 16, 8:00 pm, at Turner Hall Ballroom, 1040 N Vel R Phillips Ave:
Happier Hour: An Evening with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft

Boswell is cosponsoring an evening with Gretchen Rubin, voice of the Happier podcast and author of Outer Order, Inner Calm: Declutter and Organize to Make More Room for Happiness and The Happiness Project, in conversation with her sister, Elizabeth Craft. Tickets are still available - $35 for general admission or $75 for the VIP meet-and-greet.**

Boswell is cosponsoring Calling all Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels! Gretchen and Elizabeth are taking their show on the road. See the sisters’ disembodied voices take human form live on stage in Happier Hour: An Evening With Gretchen And Elizabeth. You’ll participate in a real-time 'Try This Right Now,' enlighten fellow Happierites in an audience Happiness-Hack lightning round, and find out if Gretchen is actually learning to play the ukulele (#7 on her 19 for 2019 list). Because this event won’t be televised, Gretchen and Elizabeth will even share embarrassing photos from the European trip that turned them from just sisters into actual best friends. Remember: the things that go wrong often make the best memories!

Whether Gretchen and Elizabeth remind you of your sisters, make you wish you had sisters, or make you wish you had different sisters, you’ll love this IRL evening packed with fun, laughter, and practical tips about how to be happier, healthier, and more creative. Bring your friends, your family, your co-workers… or just bring yourself. Follow the one-minute rule, and order your ticket now.

**VIP Tickets include a pre-show meet-and-greet with Gretchen and Elizabeth, preferred seating, an exclusive Happier Hour experience, and as many photos with the sisters as you want to take. Ticket link here!

Thursday, May 16, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Susanna Calkins, author of Murder Knocks Twice, in conversation with Erica Ruth Neubauer

Author of the award-winning Lucy Campion series chats with Crimespree Magazine’s Erica Ruth Neubauer about the first book in a captivating new series that takes readers into the dark, dangerous, and glittering underworld of a 1920s Chicago speakeasy.

Gina Ricci takes on a job as a cigarette girl to earn money for her ailing father and to prove to herself that she can hold her own at Chicago’s most notorious speakeasy, the Third Door. But when her friend, a socialite photographer, is brutally murdered, with Gina as the only witness, she’s determined to track down his killer. What secrets did Marty capture on his camera, and who would do anything to destroy it?

Renée Rosen, author of White Collar Girl and Windy City Blues, calls Calkin’s Murder Knocks Twice, “A page-turning romp through Prohibition-era Chicago! … Filled with bootleggers, speakeasies, intrigue and murder, you're in for a wild ride once you step inside Calkins' action-packed world at the Third Door.”

Susanna Calkins is author of the Lucy Campion series, holds a PhD in history, and teaches at the college level. Her historical mysteries have been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark and Agatha awards, among many others, and The Masque of a Murderer received a Macavity. Calkins now lives in the Chicago area.

More about the Murder Knocks Twice on the Boswell and Books blog.

Friday, May 17, 6:30 pm, at Boswell: Annette LeBlanc Cate, author and illustrator of Look Up: Birdwatching in Your Own Backyard

Author/Illustrator Annette LeBlanc Cate has been watching and drawing birds for many years. She visits Boswell with her appealing introduction to observing these easiest-to-see wild creatures that is perfect for adults and kids age eight and up.

You don’t have to own binoculars and know a bunch of fancy Latin names to watch birds. As LeBlanc Cate (also the author/illustrator of The Magic Rabbit) points out in her Robert F Sibert Honor Book, no matter where you live, birds are in your neighborhood - just look up. This conversational, humorous introduction to bird-watching encourages kids to get outdoors with a sketchbook and really look around. 

Publishers Weekly's starred review says, "An array of talkative cartoon birds bring energy and humor to this small-format guide to bird-watching... Cate’s informal hobbyist tone and all-around enthusiasm is infectious, as she emphasizes that bird-watching is as much about being aware of one’s environment as it is about identifying specific birds."

Sunday May 19, 3:00 pm, at Boswell:
Jennifer Chiaverini, author of Resistance Women

Madison-based author Jennifer Chiaverini is back and her latest novel is a textured, nail-biting WWII historical novel based on the true story of Mildred Fish Harnack, an American from Milwaukee who helped lead the resistance in Nazi-era Berlin. Register for the event at, or upgrade to book-with-ticket by on-sale date (May 14, before opening) and get 20% off on Resistance Women. Chiaverini's novels will be available at the event, but attendees must pre-register to get the discounted price.

Chiaverini’s latest is an intimate and historically sound exploration of the years leading up to and through WWII which draws inspiration from the real life of Mildred Fish Harnack, a Milwaukeean who married German economist Arvid Harnack and led an exciting life in Berlin until the Nazis came to power. She then organized her American and German friends to resist.

Resistance Women is an enthralling, unforgettable story of ordinary people determined to resist the rise of evil, sacrificing their own lives and liberty to fight injustice and defend the oppressed. Publishers Weekly wrote: "This fictionalized version of real-life heroes is told with prose that ranges from forthright to eloquent, and the focus on the road to war and evolving attitudes regarding fascism and Nazism is exceptionally insightful, making for a sweeping and memorable WWII novel."

Don't forget, today is the last day to upgrade to book at our Jennifer Chiaverini event on Sunday at a special price of 20% off. Just want to register? That's free and will help us gauge attendance.

Sold out - Monday, May 20, 6:30 dinner, at The Urbanite Steven Raichlen, author of The Brisket Chronicles: How to Barbecue, Braise, Smoke, and Cure the World's Most Epic Cut of Meat

Sold out -

Our event with Heaven's Table BBQ for Steven Raichlen has hit capacity. While we do not have a waiting list, cancellations do occur so if you are still interested in attending, please check back at for availability. And yes, you can order a signed copy of The Brisket Chronicles in paperback. Alas, we are no longer able to take orders for The Brisket Chronicles hardcover. And don't forget to sign up for our email newsletter so you don't miss another event.

You'll never miss an event (well, almost never) if you sign up for the Boswell email newsletter. Also get the first scoop about our events on the Boswell upcoming events page.

Photo credits!
Daniel José Older: Kevin Kane
Tim Hennessy: Lucien Knuteson
Celeste Ng: Kevin Day
Susanna Calkins: Lisa Bagadia

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending May 11, 2019

Here's what sold at Boswell last week.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Farm, by Joanne Ramos
2. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
3. The Flight Portfolio, by Julie Orringer
4. The Guest Book, by Sarah Blake
5. Circe, by Madeline Miller
6. The Island of Sea Women, by Lisa See
7. Spring (V3), by Ali Smith
8. Exhalation, by Ted Chiang
9. Lost Roses, by Martha Hall Kelly
10. The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, by Juliet Grames

Our buyer Jason is a big fan ("amazing and heart-rendering") of Julie Orringer's The Flight Portfolio, her long-awaited follow-up to The Invisible Bridge. It's a historical novel inspired the life of Varian Fry, an American journalist who helped run a network that helped Jews and other refugees escape from Nazi Germany. Cynthia Ozick wrote about the novel in The New York Times Book Review, who wrote: "If the young Varian Fry once resembled a type of dramatically evolving character in fiction, he has now become, in Julie Orringer’s sympathetic and prodigiously ambitious novel, a fictional character himself."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. What it Takes, by Raegan Moya-Jones 2. Bailey, No Ordinary Cat, by Erin Merrin
3. A Craftman's Legacy, by Eric Gorges
4. Nanaville, by Anna Quindlen
5. Educated, by Tara Westover
6. Becoming, by Michelle Obama
7. The Pioneers, by David McCullough
8. Save Me the Plums, by Ruth Reichl
9. The Matriarch, by Susan Page
10. The Furious Hours, by Casey Cep

It's Mother's Day and that means, here come the books that work well not just for moms but for Dads too (as Father's Day is in five weeks). One newcomer is David McCullough's latest, The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West, and hey, it's about the Northwest Territory, which includes Wisconsin. In this Smithsonian interview, McCullough notes his inspiration was born of a commencement address at Ohio University (in Athens).

Paperback Fiction:
1. Milwaukee Noir, edited by Tim Hennessy (event at Tippecanoe Library, Mon May 13, 6 pm)
2. The Gown, by Jennifer Robson
3. The House of Broken Angels, by Louis Alberto Urrea
4. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson
5. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
6. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
7. The Milkman, by Anna Burns
8. Paris by the Book, by Liam Callanan
9. There There, by Tommy Orange
10. The Widows of Malabar Hill (V1), by Sujata Massey (event at Boswell Tue May 21, 7 pm)

Several award-winning titles are in this week's top 10. The Overstory received the Pulitzer Prize, The Milkman won both the Man Booker and the National Book Critics Circle Award, There, There also had a double dose of awardness, winning the PEN/Hemingway and John Leonard Prizes. Add to that Paris by the Book, just was named winner of the Council for Wisconsin Writers Edna Ferber Prize, and The Widows of Malabar Hill, which was received the Mary Higgins Clark Award at the Edgars. And prize season isn't over yet! And a thank you to Vintage, for keeping Tommy Orange's jacket in paperback.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Keep Going, by Austin Kleon
2. The Mueller Report, by US Department of Justice and the Washington Post (Scribner)
3. Show Your Work, by Austin Kleon
4. Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon
5. Sisters First, by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush Pierce
6. The Mueller Report, by US Department of Justice (Melville)
7. The Milwaukee Anthology, edited by Justin Kern
8. The Brisket Chronicles, by Steven Raichlen (event 5/20 sold out)
9. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
10. 100 Things to Do in Milwaukee Before You Die, second edition, by Jenna Kashou

It's getting towards summer and that means an increase in regional titles, as more people stop by to get Milwaukee keepsakes. This week we've got three - The Milwaukee Anthology and 100 Things to Do in Milwaukee Before You Die, now in its second edition by Jenna Kashou - the first edition was from Jennifer Posh. In fiction, there's Milwaukee Noir. The contributors will be at Tippecanoe Library on Monday.

Books for Kids:
1. Fables, by Arnold Lobel
2. Luigi and the Barefoot Races, by Dan Paley, illustrations by Aaron Boyd
3. Oh the Places You'll Go, by Dr. Seuss
4. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse, with illustrations by Renée Graef
5. The Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid: Rowley Jefferson's Journal, by Jeff Kinney
6. Babu's Song, by Stephanie Stuve, with illustrations by Aaron Boyd
7. The Story of Civil Rights Hero John Lewis, by Jim Haskins, with illustrations by Aaron Boyd
8. If I Was the Sunshine, by Julie Fogliano, with illustrations by Loren Long
9. Sport: Ship Dog of the Great Lakes, by Pamela Cameron, with illustrations by Renée Graef
10. Who Lives Where, by Stephanie Babin, with illustrations by Kiko

Hey, a new hardcover picture book debuts this week with If I Was the Sunshine, from Julie Fogliano and Loren Long. Kirkus writes: "Younger readers will wrap themselves in Long's art while older kids strive to parse the meaning behind each of these gentle rhymes.Gentle on ear and eye, a keen display of relationships bound together in love and complexity." And from Publishers Weekly: "Elements of the landscape (the mountains, the ocean) and the creatures that inhabit it (bear cubs, squirrels) are seen interacting in ways that mirror the relationships described in the poem. The word love never appears in Fogliano's text, but it can be felt on every page."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Kerry Lengel interviews E.L. James, whose new novel is The Mister. Originally from the Arizona Republic comes James talking about her influences: "I used to love reading a good historical romance, and this book is kind of a homage to all of those writers that I read. And they’re generally American, actually, people like Johanna Lindsey and Judith McNaught and Catherine Coulter and Brenda Joyce and Laura Kinsale, all of these extraordinary romance writers who have a huge body of work."

Steph Cha (USA Today) reviews Jennifer Cody Epstein's Wunderland, novel about two girls in 1930s Germany. It was People Magazine's Book of the Week: "The title of this searing account of life in Nazi Germany alludes to Alice’s Adventures—and the surreal feeling of watching what you thought was true exposed as false...Inspired by the memoir of a Hitler Youth member, it’s a heartbreaking page-turner."

Tembi Locke's From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home is reviewed by Kim Curtis (Associated Press). This cross-cultural love story is another story of finding love amidst the food and romanticism of Europe (well, France and Italy): "Yes, the literary debut from the Houston-born actress is the no-longer - unique combination of travelogue, recipe book and love story. And, yes, it’s primarily set in Sicily." But Curtis goes on to note that as Locke is a Black woman building a career as an actress, she has a different spin on many of the other memoirs.  Read the rest in the Racine Journal Times.