Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spring Rep Night at Boswell--Selections from Anne, John, Terribeth, and Cathy.

Last Sunday, several of our sales reps presented spring titles to the booksellers at Boswell and Books and Company (editor's note--I inadvertently wrote Next Chapter here, with whom we used to co-host rep nights. My apologies!) We've been doing this in Milwaukee since, well, since before I was a bookseller, but I think this is only the third time we've done this in the spring. It's a nice way to emphasize Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduation, and summer reading, and the reps also get to highlight a fall title they're excited about too. We apologies for the blurry picture. One of my camera settings is off.

Cathy at HarperCollins gave us twelve great books to keep in our arsenal. I've mentioned how Mother's Day brings out the fiction releases. One that Sharon's already recommending at Boswell is Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight, which is a what-to-read-when-you've-finished-Gone-Girl kind of book. But I've already written this one up on our recently published posts, but don't forget that this mystery about a woman's daughter who may have beeen murdered "never bogs down and comes to a seamless and unanticipated conclusion," per Kirkus.

But why stick to the obvious for Moms? Why not try The Deadly Sisterhood: A Story of Women, Power, and Ingrigue in the Italian Renaissance, 1427-1527, by Leonie Frieda? Frieda, a British popular historian whose last book, Catherine de Medici, her new book has a faster pace than you might expect from what looks like it might be dense and serious. The London Sunday Times wrote: "A torrent of poisoned daggers, ruthless politics and sexual intrigue...An interesting introduction to the turbulent back story to all those serenely smiling portraits."

Just in time for Father's Day (releasing May 28), Philipp Meyer's The Son is coming. Author of the acclaimed novel, American Rust, this new book is already winning accolades from visiting author Kate Atkinson, who singled it out as perhaps the best thing she's read this spring. It's a multi-generational saga, tracing one Texas family from the Comanche raids to the oil boom. Jason's already read this one and is tossing about adjectives like "phenomenal" to describe it. We're very excited!

And here's a graduation gift from Neil Gaiman. His Make Good Art is coming May 14. It actually seems a little late for graduation for me, considering that we already have our table up, but who am I to judge? Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane is coming June 18, but alas, not to Milwaukee. But you can still get to Chicago, Minneapolis, or Ann Arbor pretty easily. I like the way each stop has a subtitle. The new book, by the way, is based on a commencement address.

Next up was Anne from Macmillan. One Mother's Day pick was Gail Godwin's Flora, a novel set in the 1940s, chronicling a ten-year-old left in the care of her guardian while her father does his secret work at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Library Journal called the new novel "a superbly crafted, stunning novel" and "an unforgettable, heartbreaking tale of disappointment, love, and tragedy." I've read a lot of Godwin over the years and this sounds very good.

If you're dad's baseball fan and also likes those Alex Kotlowitz-y kind of stories, it seems like Jonathan Schuppe's A Chance to Win: Boyhood, Baseball , and the Struggle for Redemption in the Inner City might be just the ticket. Schuppe, a Pulitzer Prize winner, follows a Little League team in Newark for one season, reminding me a bit of the format of education book narratives, like Sarah Carr's recent Hope Against Hope. The starred Booklist said "it may be peculiar to describe a book that looks unflinchingly at urban poverty as wonderful, but in the sense that this account will open eyes and maybe a few minds, wonderful just might apply."

A graduation gift might be How to Change the World by John-Paul Flintoff. From Picador's School of Life series, the newest is a recommended by Publishers Weekly with caveats, but "a first push toward directing one's energies outward, this is an encouraging primer." Another new title in the series is How to Find Fulfilling Work. Who doesn't need that?

A kid's pick was Sara Varon and Cecil Castelluci's Odd Duck, the charming tale of two unlikely friends. Theodora is prissy, while Chad, her new neighbor, is a hipster. Theodora is thoroughly organized to his slovenliness. When the two are together, they make an interesting pair. Kirkus notes that "this clever celebration of individuality delights" and we all agreed.

Terribeth of Scholastic may not have the hot novel or history book for the spring celbrations of parenthood, but there's a lot of great summer reading on her list. Among the picture books, there was The Three Little Pigs and the Somwhat Bad Wolf, by Mark Teague. In this version of the classic fairytale, the farmer moves to Florida and leaves the pigs to build their own homes, but two of the pigs choose cheap materials so he has money for junk food and the second, while their sister builds a strong house and saves money with a vegetable garden!  Publishers Weekly calls this twist " fit for the era of Michael Pollan." (May I note that Pollan tickets are still available for Monday, April 29th's event a the Oriental Theatre?)

Amie's already a fan of The Highway Rat, from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, but I hadn't yet mentioned it on the blog, so I'm glad it was on Terribeth's recommended list. This rat plunders food from all the countryside, but then he meets a duck who sets him off to search for a stash hidden in a cave by his sister. Kirkus thought the story more akin to Robin Hood and the Three Billy Goats Gruff rather than Alfred Noyes's poem, and School Library Journal observed that this "well-paced, rollicking tale is a guaranteed storytime treat."

For older readers, Jeffrey Salane's Lawless might be the ticket. M Freeman has been homeschooled all her life, so she doesn't know what to expect when her family enrolls her in the Lawless School. It turns out that her new teachers are preparing her for a life on the wrong side of the law. But when she attracts the interest of The Masters, the school's most secretive clique, she's in for yet another surprise. This is ages ten and up.

For ages 13 and up, Paul Rudnick's forthcoming Gorgeous might just be the thing. Becky Randall has been plucked from a trailer park after her mom dies and she is whisked to New York to be made over into a fashion icon by a mysterious designer. Filled with Rudnick's trademark caustic humor (in addition to his New Yorker columns, he's the voice of Libby Gelman-Waxner in Entertainment Weekly), David Sedaris says Mr. Rudnick is"a champion of truth and love and great wicked humor, whom we ignore at our peril."

And finally John came to talk about books from Consortium, Chronicle, Candlewick, and even some other publishers and distributors that don't start with a C. His picks ran a little more to the kids' side this time, so no mom/dad/grad business for him. But we did get John read us the story of The Black Rabbit, by Philippa Leathers. As the publisher notes,  Leathers introduces us to a plucky rabbit and a friend he can't shake. I think you can guess who that is.

With all the Great Gatsby madness out there, John wanted to give a shout out to Superzelda: The Graphic Life of Zelda Fitzgerald, by Tirziana Lo Porto and Deniele Marotta. The beautiful two-color illustrations complement the life of this writer whose success was overshadowed by her famous husband.

We'll be talking more about Bennett Sims's A Questionable Shape, a very different kidnd of zombie novel from Two Dollar Radio. Jason loved it, the recommendations from other writesr are piling up, and Stacie noted that Sims is appearing with Fiona Maazel, who just appeared at Boswell yesterday for Woke up Lonely. That seems like an inspired pairing!

And finally we've already got piles on our impulse table of the new book from Jeffrey Brown, Vader's Little Princess. Leia starts out as a sweet little girl, but in this sequel to Darth Vader and Son, she grows up into a rather trying teen, with the Sith Lord facing all the tribulations of any father, even one who doesn't lead the Galactic Empire.

So those are our some of our reps' suggestions for spring. Did I mention dinner was catered by Beans and Barley? Black bean enchilada casserole, turkey pot pie, spinach cous cous, vegetable tart, plus we also had pie pops, courtesy of an upcoming cookbook that Anne is selling in the fall called Easy as Pie Pops, from Andrea Smetona. They were good!

We're hoping the books all get a little more attention, and are on the tips of our tongues when folks come in looking for suggestions.

1 comment:

Karen McQuestion said...

Another great post! I love hearing about all the new books.

So, has Next Chapter reopened now?