Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday, event post--Deborah Harkness Tonight (Come Early), Mary Kubica and Heather Gudenkauf Tuesday, Rebecca Makkai and Cristina Henríquez Wednesday, and Roxane Gay Friday.

Monday, August 4, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, and The Book of Life.

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

Boswellian's Jen Steele and Pam Stilp agreed that the series delivered until the final page. Here's Jen's recommendation: "Witches and Vampires and Daemons, oh my! The moment of truth has arrived; the past, the present and the future for all creatures. Diana and Matthew are back from their time-walk in London, 1590 and are faced with new losses and new beginnings. Reunited with their family, they must get to the Ashmole 782 before old enemies get to it. A combination of magic, mystery, science, romance and suspense--these threads, like a weaver’s knot, wrap you up in this book's powerful spell! Sink your teeth into the final installment of the All Souls Trilogy. Once you sit down to start it, you will not want to stop."

This event is free. Boswell will start giving out line letters at 5 pm. Ms. Harkness will sign new books, backlist, and pose for photos.

Tuesday, August 5, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Heather Gudenkauf, author of Little Mercies.
and Mary Kubica, author of The Good Girl.

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity--the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for. Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends' couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

Here's Boswellian Sharon K. Nagel's recommendation for The Good Girl: "When Mia Dennett, a 25 year old art teacher goes missing, there are various theories. Her mother is horrified and worried that she has been abducted, her father thinks that she just ran off to be difficult, and police detective Gabe Hoffman isn’t sure what happened, but is doing his best to locate her. Told by rotating points of view, both before and after Mia’s disappearance, this debut novel takes the reader on quite a ride, providing some unexpected plot twists and emotional tangles. A terrific thriller for summer or vacation reading."

Two Midwestern writers penning very different books--one will warm your heart, and the other will chill your soul. We met them both when they met us for lunch on a pre-publication tour, and I know you will enjoy them as much as we did.

Wednesday, August 6, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Cristina Henríquez (photo credit Michael Lionstar), author of The Book of Unknown Americans
and Rebecca Makkai (photo credit Philippe Matsas), author of The Hundred-Year House.

We've got two dual author events in a row. This time we asked if the authors would appear together, and it turns out they did know each other. They are also both on their second novels. Sometimes folks worry about a sophomore slump, but Makkai and Henríquez have written sophomore slam dunks!

Here's Boswellian Sharon's reommendation for Cristina Henríquez's The Book of Unknown Americans: "Everyone who comes to America from another country has a dream of how they want their lives to be. For Arturo and Alma Rivera, it is that their fifteen-year-old daughter, Maribel, will get better and once again be the person that they remember. She sustained a brain injury while on her father’s construction site. The family left Mexico in order to find a good school for Maribel to get the help she needs. They settle in Delaware where Arturo has a job, and make friends within their community. There are no minor characters in this novel. Everyone has a story to tell of where they came from and why. The author has done a phenomenal job of defining home and country, and the many different ways that it can be interpreted."

And here's my rec for Rebecca Makkai's The Hundred-Year House: "Zilla (Zee) and Doug move into her mom’s carriage house while Zee works at the nearby college and Doug finishes up his biography of poet Edwin Parfitt. The only problem is that Doug’s secretly working on a completely different project, Zee is sabotaging a department colleague, and new in-laws have been invited to share their living quarters. Alright, maybe there’s more than one problem. The home was once an artists’ retreat that numbered among its guests the very Edwin Parfitt, but the family made the house private again to give to Zilla’s ne’er-do-well father. There also seems to be a ghost making trouble. While the odds are on Violet, the family matriarch, to be the culprit, there are several other former residents that could be in the running. What starts as a combination academic-drawing room comedy heads into reverse to reveal the secrets of both the home and the family and become a moving meditation on family, money, art, and reinvention. "

Friday, August 8, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Roxane Gay (photo credit Jay Grabiec), author of Bad Feminist and An Untamed State.

We had such a great time with Roxane Gay for An Untamed State that she went back to her publisher and asked if we could be added to the tour for Bad Feminist. We're hoping that all the folks who attended told two more folks, and the results would be similar to an old shampoo commercial that finally put the powers of two in perspective.

Just as Bad Feminist is being released (it's on-sale date is Tuesday, August 5), An Untamed State has received another rave, this time in the "Briefly Noted" section of The New Yorker: "How does one survive thirteen harrowing days in captivity? The question animates this commanding début, whose protagonist, Mireille, is kidnapped in broad daylight while driving to the beach in Port-au-Prince with her husband and young son," it begins.

Boswellians Sharon (yes, this is really her week!), Carly Lenz, and I all read and recommend Bad Feminist. Here's Carly's take: "Roxane Gay does a fantastic job articulating an array of thoughts and ideas that people hoping to practice 'good feminism' struggle with verbalizing. Her collection of essays reads more like a sassy raconteur's memoir than a pointed feminist manifesto, though she offers a passionate spectrum of opinions in these pages. Gay explores issues concerning the conveyance of feminism in pop culture, encompassing movies, books, and television shows, as well as in every day actions and colloquialisms. She also touches upon racism, classism, and the nature of privilege. Gay's narrative voice is one rife with humor and seriousness simultaneously, which makes for an entertaining and eye-opening read."

Yesterday's Journal Sentinel column talks up the visit. Jim Higgins asks, "Are you really a bad feminist?" Gay replies "Oh, I'm a terrible feminist...I'm a human being, and that most bad feminists are just like me — human. So yes, we have contradictions, but ultimately we believe in the equality of women. Not only women who look like us, but women who embody different identities as well. I think it's very hard to be a 'good feminist.' So I openly embrace being a bad feminist, so I feel like I can be me and still connect to the movement in some way."

Next week we've got just two events and glory be, they are both on Tuesday. Come out for one or the other and go have some fun doing something else for the rest of the week. J.A. Jance is at the Milwaukee Public Library at 6:30 for Remains of Innocence and at 7 pm, we'll have Jeff Miller, author of Scoop, at Purple Door Ice Cream, in conversation with Mitch Teich. Just to be warned, Purple Door is a pretty small place with very limited seating

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