Sunday, April 19, 2015

Boswell's Annotated Bestseller List for the Week Endin April 17, 2015, Plus the Journal Sentinel Reviews.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Adeline, by Norah Vincent
2. The Fishermen, by Chigozie Obioma
3. A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler
4. The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
5. A Dangerous Place, by Jacqueline Winspear
6. World Gone By, by Dennis Lehane
7. Leaving Berlin, by Joseph Kanon
8. Trigger Warning, by Neil Gaiman
9. Lady from Zagreb, by Philip Kerr
10. Falling in Love, by Donna Leon

It's a suspense-heavy list this week with Hawkins, Winspear, Lehane, Kannon, Kerr, and Leon taking up more than half the spots. Though Lehane is known for his past mysteries, I wasn't sure if World Gone by qualified, but Ingram still classified it as mystery ahead of literary and historical on their website. From Janet Maslin on in The New York Times: "When The Given Day arrived in 2008, Dennis Lehane described his 704-page magnum opus as the beginning of a possible trilogy. That’s not exactly how things worked out. Instead of sequels, he wound up producing a very loosely linked trio, adding on Live by Night and now World Gone By. Each is written very differently: first, a research-filled epic; then a lean, classic Edgar-winning specimen of 1930s crime noir; and now a suspenseful but reflective accumulation of all the wisdom these books have offered."

Hardcover Nonfiction
1. Dealing with China, by Henry Paulson
2. Between You and Me, by Mary Norris
3. The Power of Being Yourself, by Joe Plumeri
4. Binoculars, by Philip DiMeo
5. The Road to Character, by David Brooks
6. Dead Wake, by Erik Larson
7. Edible Memory, by Jennifer A. Jordan (event at Boswell Friday, April 24, 7 pm)
8. In Defense of a Liberal Education, by Fareed Zakaria
9. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo
10. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande
11. H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald
12. Lentil Underground, by Liz Carlisle (event at Urban Ecology Center, Thursday, April 23, 7 pm)

I'm not sure if The Road to Character, the new book by David Brooks, was published for the graduation table specifically, but it should be noted that someone scheduled it for a timely April 14 release. He profiles everyone from Bayard Rustin to Dorothy Day to Dwight Eisenhower and the writers George Eliot and Samuel Johnson, notable for being the subject of a biography by James Boswell (yes, that Boswell). Publishers Weekly's advance review said that "Brook's poignant and at times quite humorous commentary on the importance of humility and virtue makes for a vital, uplifting read." And in his All Things Considered interview with Audie Cornish, he noted that at the end of World War II, "I was really struck at this supreme moment of American triumph that they weren't beating their chests...They weren't super proud of themselves; they were deeply humble. And I found that so beautiful and so moving. And I thought there's really something to admire in that public culture."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Meet Me Halfway, by Jennifer Morales
2. Shotgun Lovesongs, by Nickolas Butler
3. Listen and Other Stories, by Liam Callanan
4. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
5. The Mechanical, by Ian Tregillis (Boswell Science Fiction book club selection, Monday, May 11, 7 pm)
6. Starfish, by Peter Watts (And this is the June selection)
7. Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
8. Dry Bones in the Valley, by Tom Bouman
9. The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain
10. The Husband's Secret, by Liane Morarty

Every week I do a search on reviews for The Red Notebook, but the novel seems to be undeservedly snubbed by traditional reviewers and only bloggers seem to be taking notice. This one from From First Page to Last is pretty typical: "I was easily transported to the streets of Paris. In fact this story made me want to revisit it even more. Part of the romance of the story comes from the city itself, giving the story a wonderfully warm feel. Whilst short on words; there are approximately 200 pages, the story does not feel any less for it. It’s brevity in places was necessary and the flow of the novel felt just right. There is mystery, romance and friendship running throughout this book. It was a lovely little read and one I will probably revisit again." Why don't Americans use "whilst?" It's such a sweet word.

OK, the (UK) Telegraph did review it. Christian House wrote "In light of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Laurain’s gentle Paris, with its café crèmes and eccentric bibliophiles, could have seemed bogus. However, what emerged in the wake of those awful events was a shared investment in the city’s character and its culture, and Laurain’s book captures something of that communal spirit. Aided by Jane Aitken’s elegant translation, reading The Red Notebook is a little like finding a gem among the bric-a-brac in a local brocante." Americans, get on the ball!

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Milwaukee Mafia, by Gavin Schmitt
2. A General Theory of Love, by Thomas Lewis
3. The Emotional Life of Your Brain, by Richard Davidson
4. My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor
5. Dying to be Me, Anita Moorjani
6. The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
7. The Lady in Gold, by Anne Marie O'Connor
8. We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
9. America's Test Kitchen Complete Vegetarian Cookbook
10. Citizen, by Claudia Rankine

From the publisher: "The Lady in Gold, considered an unforgettable masterpiece, one of the twentieth century’s most recognizable paintings, made headlines all over the world when Ronald Lauder bought it for $135 million a century after Klimt, the most famous Austrian painter of his time, completed the society portrait. Anne-Marie O’Connor, writer for The Washington Post, formerly of the Los Angeles Times, tells the galvanizing story of the Lady in Gold, Adele Bloch-Bauer, a dazzling Viennese Jewish society figure; daughter of the head of one of the largest banks in the Hapsburg Empire, head of the Oriental Railway, whose Orient Express went from Berlin to Constantinople; wife of Ferdinand Bauer, sugar-beet baron." The Woman in Gold, starring Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds, is now playing at the Oriental and Avalon Theatres.

Books for Kids:
1. The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds
2. When I Was the Greatest, by Jason Reynolds
3. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madelein L'Engle
4. The Tapper Twins Go to War with Each Other, by Geoff Rodkey
5. Ms. Rapscott's Girls, by Elise Primavera
6. A World Without Princes, by Soman Chainani (event today, Sunday, April 19, 3 pm)
7. Stick and Stone, by Beth Ferry, illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld
8. Home, by Carson Ellis
9. The Penderwicks in the Spring, by Jeanne Birdsall
10. Genuine Sweet, by Faith Harkey
11. The Trap, by Steve Arntson
10. On the Wing, by David Ellitott

I was chatting with Joe, one of the our favorite teachers (his author school visits are stupendous!) about new middle grade books. Of course my thoughts turned to The Trap, by Steve Arntson, and of course course Joe had already read it. He really liked it but became fixated on whether the Texas Rangers existed in 1963, when the book took place. We discussed how there really isn't a fact checker for novels; it's up to the author, the agent, the acquiring editor, and the copy editor to catch gaffes. I know how that feels, as while we try to proofread our event calendars and email newsletter, the blog is written without a net, with only Sharon to email me later with corrections. So one point for Joe; the Washington Senators moved to Texas and became The Rangers in 1971.

From the starred Publishers Weekly review: "Henry’s introspective, self-effacing narration brims with evocative details and descriptions...unspooling a haunting and suspenseful story that will resonate with science-fiction fans as well as anyone who has needed to find the courage to ask a date to the big dance."

Over in the Journal Sentinel, critic Mike Fischer reviews God Help the Child, a contemporary novel that, per the publisher, explores "the way the sufferings of childhood can shape, and misshape, the life of the adult." Fischer is generally a fan of Toni Morrison, but was disappointed with the latest. But there are plenty of raves too, such as Bernardine Evaristo at the (UK) Guardian and Steve Gigerich in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Oh for the days before the internet, when publishers could hide a weak review from an author.

From reviewer Sarah C. Lange, an assessment of the latest from Ann Packer. "Many readers will remember Ann Packer's bestselling first novel, The Dive From Clausen's Pier, in which a young woman must choose between pursuing her dreams or standing by her injured fiancé. That book took place in part in Madison, where Packer once lived as a creative writing fellow. In her third novel, The Children's Crusade, she covers similar emotional territory but takes a different, more ambitious approach: weaving back and forth in time and offering first-person accounts from several characters in between the third-person narrative."

In other news, Matt Cook is named Milwaukee's newest Poet Laureate and Tess Gerritsen is coming to Milwaukee for a sold-out lunch, but an open to the public signing on April 25.

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