Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Events Tuesday Through Monday--Dasha Kelly, Kathie Giorgio, Max Brallier at North Shore Library, Jonathan Maberry at West Allis Library, Leslie Parry, plus Jen Lancaster next Monday.

Yesterday I had two options--send out the email newsletter to 10,000 people or send out the event blog to, well, a lot fewer people. I went with option A, which means that today I'm following up with B. You can read the email newsletter here, though I should note that there are a few events that have suspiciously similar copy. That said, we do have very nice recs posted for Medicine Walk, Housebreaking, and The Book of Aron. 

Here are our event options for this week and into next!

Tuesday, May 12, 6:30 pm, at the North Shore Library, 6800 N. Port Washington Road:
Max Brallier, author of Galactic Hot Dogs: Cosmoe's Wiener Getaway.

A number of years ago, a feature appeared on a website called Funbrain entitled "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." It has proven quite successful. So while kids' authors don't always tour for their first book in a series (though surprisingly, many of them do), it can be an uphill battle, as kids are as brand concious as adults, and just saying that a story is really great or an author is fun is not enough to convince them.

Due to the web component, we're hoping many kids' area already aware of the series. So in addition to Max Brallier's school visit, we're also hosting an event at the North Shore Library tonight at 6:30 pm. We picked that location because it is down the block from Dr. Dawg, because of course we are serving hot dogs. I spoke to Dave, Dr. Dawg himself, who gave me some guidelines--close to 90% of kids want plain dogs with ketchup (not mustard). No Chicago style dogs for these pups.

And the book itself? Well our kids' buyer's daughter read Cosmoe's Wiener Getaway twice and gave it two thumbs up. And Kirkus Reviews says "This highly illustrated story has something for every demographic, offering robots, zombies, hot dogs, a princess, video games and wrestlers...The book is so frenetic that some readers will need caffeine to get through it, but in the end, that turns out to be an advantage: If a joke doesn't work, or if readers get bored, all they have to do is turn the page."

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...
Tuesday, May 12, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Dasha Kelly, author of Almost Crimson. (Photo credit Catina Cole)

At Boswell, we've carried Dasha Kelly's poetry and worked with her on a writing program, and we're very excited to be hosting this event for her long-awaited novel, Almost Crimson.

This event is co-sponsored by the Milwaukee Public Library. A representative will be on hand to sign you up for, and issue you a library card on site. Doesn't your wallet seem a little empty without one?

Read Jim Higgins' review in the Journal Sentinel. It begins: "Dasha Kelly's novel Almost Crimson isn't set in New York, but it kept bringing to mind what Aretha Franklin sang about a rose in black and Spanish Harlem: 'It is a special one / It never sees the sun.'"

"For much of the story, both conditions apply, figuratively, to Crimson (CeCe) Weathers. CeCe grows up not only poor and black but also as the only child of a mother with depression so paralyzing that her little girl has to make sure the bills are paid and their underwear is washed."

From Kirkus Reviews: "Shifting between past and present, Kelly deftly weaves a narrative extending from Carla's college days during the civil rights movement through Cece's girlhood and present adulthood. But it's Cece's vibrant, personable voice that carries us through the novel. A multilayered exploration of the intricate nature of family ties in defining who we are-and how, ultimately, we can choose who we want to become."

Here's Jenni Herrick in The Shepherd Express: "Milwaukee author Dasha Kelly’s second novel Almost Crimson is a true work of art. It is a multi-layered story of hope and perseverance in the face of huge obstacles. Crimson (CeCe) is raised surrounded by inner-city single-parent poverty with a severely depressed mother. Forced to grow up too early, CeCe comes of age paying the family bills, caring for her mother and navigating life on her own. As she struggles with her own changing self of self, this brave protagonist shows a grim determination toward a better future."

Wednesday, May 13, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Kathie Giorgio, author of Rise from the River.

This event will benefit Milwaukee's Sojourner Family Peace Center, established in 1975 and dedicated to the mission of transforming lives impacted by domestic violence. More on the Journal Sentinel book page.

Young single mother Rainey Milbright's life has been shattered by a violent assault, witnessed by her young daughter Tish. With compassion and unflinching honesty, Giorgio chronicles the way a night of violence reverberates through Rainey's life, the life of her young daughter Tish, and this family's emotional journey to healing.

Writer Mary Grimm offers this praise: "Say that Kathie Giorgio's new novel, Rise from the River, is an assault on the senses, a torrent of feeling. Say that it is a manifesto for independent choices, a primer on women's issues taken to their extreme. That it is funny and awful and poignant and that you will be unable to put it down. It's all these things, but most of all it's about Rainey, to whom the unthinkable happens, and who then has to make one of a woman's most difficult choices..."

Several of you have come in, telling us of working with Kathie Giorgio at All Writers Workplace and Workshop in Waukesha. More about this program, which offers both online and on-site programs and classes, here.

Thursday, May 14, 6:30 pm, at at the West Allis Public Library, 7491 West National Avenue: Jonathan Maberry, author of many books for adults and teens, and his new middle grade book, The Nightsiders: The Orphan Army.

From Publishers Weekly: "In this opening installment of the Nightsiders series, Maberry mixes genres to admirable effect. Six years after the alien Swarm invaded Earth, the remaining free humans exist as nomadic refugees and rebels, scavenging to survive while plotting ways to fight back. Eleven-year-old Milo Silk belongs to one such group. Troubled by recurring dreams in which the so-called Witch of the World exhorts him to become the hero Earth needs, Milo is astounded to discover that creatures of myth and legend--werewolves, faeries, spirits of wood and stone--exist and are also fighting the Swarm. ..It's a strong start to what looks to be a highly entertaining story line."

While our school events really tried to focus on the new book, and thus were targeted towards 3rd through 6th graders (maybe 7th), for the public event, we're happy to get fans of any age who read all the different things Maberry writes--horror novels for adults, his various Marvel comic books (Punisher, Marvel Zombies, Captain America), the teen Rot and Ruin sf/horror series, the Joe Ledger mystery/thriller/horror hybrid series, the Pine Deep horror series, an upcoming mystery series for teens, and many, many nonfiction books. This guy knows a lot about everything creepy; read more here.

Friday, May 15, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Leslie Parry, author of Church of Marvels. (photo credit Adam Farabee)

Chicago writer Leslie Parry has already gotten a lot of great buzz for her first novel, Church of Marvels, but I want to particularly congratulate her on being one of the Indies Introduce titles for spring 2015. You may have seen our display at the front of Boswell, highlighting books for both kids and adults. These are all debut works,with a panel of booksellers plowing through many, many books to find ones they can all stand behind.

Here's the official Indie Next recommendation, from fellow bookseller Cathy Langer at The Tattered Cover: "In this page-turner of a debut very little is what it first appears to be. Set in Coney Island and Manhattan at the end of the 19th century, Church of Marvels is populated with carnival folk and others living on the edge of society with either much to hide or much to discover. The characters are richly drawn and their circumstances exceptionally intriguing as they seek and find the complicated truths of their lives in the dark underbelly of New York."

Here's more about the program. Another author who was picked for spring who is coming on June 10 is Emma Hooper, author of Etta and Otto and Russell and James.

Steve Nathans-Kelly's review in Paste magazine starts out by saying that to really capture city life in late 19th, early 20th century America, you need to "make the city feel real", capturing the squalor, but do it your own way. He continues: “Backhanded compliment though it may seem, that’s precisely what Leslie Parry has accomplished in Church of Marvels, a mesmerizing new novel of 1895 New York, situated squarely in the city’s rankest, dankest back alleys, flophouses, brothels, prison cells and opium dens. From the book’s opening pages, which concern a crew of night-soilers harvesting the feces from tenement privies for delivery to a riverside fertilizer factory, the novel reeks of authenticity. The only way to come up for air is to close the book, made increasingly difficult by Parry’s eye-popping prose as the story digs in."

Monday, May 18, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Jen Lancaster, author of I Regret Nothing: A Memoir.

This event features a headstart to one of the items on Jen Lancaster's bucket list, an introduction to self-defense by a very special guest: local martial artist, personal trainer, and founder of Anthro EX, Paul Boyajian.

So for this event, our first with Jen Lancaster, we were given a challenge by the publisher. Come up with an event that ties in to an item on Jen's bucket list. I asked around to my project Jen team (that's a fancy way of saying Sharon, Phoebe, and Carly, who were working with me that day) and we decided that the self-defense intro would be the most interesting thing to put together. So after checking in with Mel, who knew a lot more about self defense than I first imagined, she connected us with Paul Boyajian.

With over 30 years of martial arts experience, personal trainer and founder of Anthro EX Corrective Exercise Functional Training Programs Paul Boyajian is skilled in Tae Kwon Do, Thai Boxing, Savate, Jeet Kune Do, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is an American Council on Exercise certified personal trainer and fitness nutritionist and a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified Corrective Exercise Specialist, and has taught and trained clients of all ages locally for many years in various disciplines, including a popular class on self-defense for women. Here's his profile on Sage Arts Unlimited.

Boswellian Sharon Nagel says that I Regret Nothing shows the author in top form. She writes: "For many years I have been a fan of Jen Lancaster and her hilarious memoirs. Her latest does not disappoint. Coming to terms with the fact that she is of a certain age, Jen decides to complete as many items as possible on her bucket list, that compilation we all have of experiences we want to have before we die. A few of the items on Jen's list are: starting a business, traveling alone to Italy, and learning a new language. She tackles these goals with her usual enthusiasm and the support, mostly, of her husband, Fletch, and the dogs, Hambone and Loki. You might even be inspired to start your own bucket list.

And of course Jen Lancaster is the bestselling author of ten previous books, including Bitter is the New Black. She has appeared on a whole mess of shows, and resides in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband and their ever-expanding menagerie of ill-behaved pets.

I know that she's only a car ride away, but it would really suck if our events did not measure up to her sold-out ticketed events in other cities. If you fans in Boston couldn't get into Lancaster's event, I should note that is nonstop service on Southwest. Heck, make a week of it.

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