Sunday, October 25, 2015

Peek Inside Boswell's Annotated Bestseller List for the Week Ending October 24, 2015--Plus the Journal Sentinel Book Reviews, Eight of 'Em!

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Death Wears a Mask, by Ashley Weaver (signed copies available)
2. Fortune Smiles, by Adam Johnson (signed copies available)
3. Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, by Bonnie Jo Campbell (signed copies available)
4. Career of Evil, by Robert Galbraith
5. Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff
6. All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
7. Rogue Lawyer, by John Grisham
8. The Nature of the Beast, by Louise Penny
9. Felicity, by Mary Oliver
10. Strangeness in My Mind, by Orhan Pamuk

Career of Evil, he third mystery from J.K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith, is this week's big fiction release, and it opens with our heroes getting a very special delivery, a severed leg. According to Daneet Steffens of The Boston Globe, it's the bloodiest entry yet. The take: "Copious bloodletting aside, the author’s trademark plotting has lost none of its propulsive readability, and Strike and Robin reveal more of their backgrounds as well as their charms."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Serial Winner, by Larry Weidel
2. Furiously Happy, by Jenny Lawson (event 10/27, 7 pm, at Boswell)
3. Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda (event 12/2, 7 pm, at Boswell)
4. Empire of Imagination, by Michael Witwer
5. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, by Sarah Vowell (event 10/31, 7 pm, at Centennial Hall*)
6. Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
7. M Train, by Patti Smith
8. Good Stock, by Sanford D'Amato (event with Lori Friedrich 11/24, 7 pm, at Boswell)
9. Binge, by Tyler Oakley (sold out event)
10. The Road to Character, by David Brooks

As I might have noted, we have a crazy packed fall event schedule but this week's nonfiction bestseller list offers the ominous refrain of the Jaws theme in terms of what we have ahead of us. Two more high-profile event books were released. Instead of crying about not being able to attend Tyler Oakley's sold-out Binge event (the truth is that you won't be able to get in the store without a ticket, as it's after we close), you can try to squeeze into Jenny Lawson on Tuesday (it should be packed) or have a comfortable and fun evening with Sarah Vowell for Lafayette in the Somewhat United States on Halloween night at the Centennial Hall. I love this interview by Lizzie O'Leary in Marketplace Weekend, where the host realizes that memorials to the Marquis de Lafayette are everywhere, and why the most important one might be the Square across from the White House.

*But some of the festivities start earlier.

Paperback Fiction:
1. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James (event 11/1, 3 pm, at Boswell)
2. Murder at the Brightwell, by Ashleey Weaver
3. My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante
4. Lila, by Marilynne Robinson
5. The Bishop's Wife, by Mette Ivie Harrison
6. The Martian, by Andy Weir
7. The President's Hat, by Antoine Laurain
8. The Coincidence of Coconut Cake, by Amy E. Reichert
9. All My Puny Sorrows, by Miriam Toews
10. Fourth of July Creek, by Smith Henderson

Just out in paperback is The Bishop's Wife, a mystery that was an Indie Next pick in hardcover, with Patricia Worth of River Reader calling this "a beautifully written story about a woman who supports her husband as the bishop while recognizing that her inner convictions might go against his will." This likely-to-be series features Linda Wallheim, wife of her LDS ward's bishop in Draper, Utah. In addition to his weekly sermons, he, like a Catholic priest, is often privy to the secrets of the ward members. And then one of the women in the community disappears, and while the husband claims she ran off, Linda is suspicious. But he's not the only suspect in town. More in Janet Maslin's New York Times review.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Beer Bible, by Jeff Alworth
2. The Tattooed Lady, by Amelia Klem Osterud
3. Milwaukee Mayhem, by Matthew J. Prigge
4. Tunnel, Smuggle, Collect, by Jeffrey Gingold
5. Mindfulness Coloring Book, by Emma Farrarons
6. Writing Picture Books, by Ann Whitford Paul
7. Voices from Chernobyl, by Svetlana Alexievich (Nobel winner)
8. Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson (Dayton Peace Prize winner)
9. Choose Your Own Autobiography, by Neil Patrick Harris
10. Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015, edited by Rebecca Skloot

For those of you who missed our great event with Jeff Alworth, author of The Beer Bible, at The Sugar Maple, you can read an interview with the author at Bobby Tanzilo asks him about pairing beer with food: "I know there are a lot of different theories on this. That's a good thing to acknowledge up front. One of the issues that I like to point out about beer and food pairings is that both food and beer are complex. But let's say a nice marzen would go with a good Mexican mole. The problem is there are a lot of different Mexican moles out there. And some of them are more nutty and some are more chocolaty and some of them are spicier. The same thing that's true with beer, depending on what brand you're dealing with – American styles are hop-forward and Belgian styles are yeast-forward, one IPA tastes very different from another IPA."

Books for Kids:
1. Bear Report, by Thyra Heder
2. Fraidyzoo, by Thyra Heder
3. Adventures of Beekle, by Dan Santat
4. Totally Irresponsible Science Kit, by Sean Connolly
5. Lizard Radio, by Pat Schmatz
6. Time for Cranberries, by Lisl Detlefsen
7. Inventor's Secret, by Suzanne Slade
8. Wherever You Go, by Pat Zietlow Miller
9. Sophie's Squash, by Pat Zietlow Miller
10. Ninja Red Riding Hood, by Corey Rosen Schwartz

We had very strong sales this week on the kids bestseller list (for kids, not belonging to kids), due not just to our regular school events, but also because of last weekend's SCBWI-Wisconsin conference. Among the most popular speakers was Pat Schmatz, author of the new Lizard Radio, a dystopian novel about Kivali, a gender nonconforming teen who begins to wonder what's going on at the reform school where Kivali has been sent. The starred Kirkus Reviews write-up offers this praise: "Sophisticated, character-driven science fiction, as notable for its genderqueer protagonist as for its intricate, suspenseful plot."

Over in the Journal Sentinel, it's time for Carole E. Barrowman's "Paging through Mysteries" column. First up is F.H. Batacan's debut, Smaller and Smaller Circles. Why this is a Barrowman bet: "Set in Quezon City in Manila in the late 1990s, Batacan has written a priest procedural (or Catholic noir), a novel where the righteousness of two Jesuits, Father Saenz, a forensic anthropologist, and his associate, Father Lucero, a psychologist, drives its gripping plot." This book also won the Philippine National Book Award.

Mrs. Roosevelt's Spy is a paperback original featuring Maggie Hope, England's most daring spy. Barrowman's take: "Maggie travels with the prime minister to Washington, where our intrepid heroine seasoned in 'spying and sabotage behind enemy lines"' is plunged into tensions between the U.S. and Britain in 1941, involving a murder plot to discredit the first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, and President's Roosevelt struggle to find a balance between "'the right thing to do' and 'what must be done.'"

And finally, Barrowman notes that the 19th book in Elizabeth George's Lynley and Havers series is as absorbing as the first one. In A Banquet of Consequences, "The deep friendship between the two detectives, the psychological motivations of engaging characters, especially a mother who makes Joan Crawford look like Mother Teresa, and a complex plot that opens 39 months before Lynley and Havers' investigation showcase all the elements that make George one of the reigning queens of the genre."

Mike Fischer reviews David Mitchell's Slade House, which the paper calls "a smart, spooky thrill ride." The book takes place in Slade House over a series of Octobers, each nine years apart, from 1979 to 2015. Talk about an enthusiastic review - Fischer fires off: "Mitchell combines such genre fiction staples with compelling, fully realized characters. Propulsive narrative drive. An impassioned moral conviction that even his wildest rides are simultaneously stories of the way we live now. And — most important — an accompanying belief that despite the seemingly closed and cruel system we inhabit, there's still always room to make game-changing choices. We read fiction because we believe such choices actually matter. If you haven't yet read Mitchell, choosing this novel just might make a believer of you."

Jim Higgins reviews two new poetry collections. On How to Avoid Speaking: "Jaimee Hills signals her intelligence, intensity and puckishness from the outset with "Synaesthesia," a sonnet suggesting that multisensory experience is a child's prelapsarian state, and 'Chlamydia,' which finds the 'melody cloaked in the malady' of that euphoniously named STD." A little more advice: "Take your time, these are high-calorie poems that can take a little while to digest; have a dictionary handy."

Alas this publisher is not selling to Ingram, Baker and Taylor, and even the traditional source for independent poetry, Small Press Distribution. It's online megastore only, alas, at least for now. There's better distribution out there for Ronald Wallace, University of Wisconsin-Madison poet and author of For Dear Life, from the Pitt Poetry series. Higgins notes: "Many of this collections' poems are sonnets that incorporate acrostic riffs on great haiku masters, including Basho and Issa." He also calls out the "compelling" selections about his father, who had multiple sclerosis.

Over in the Fresh section, Graham Elliot is profiled by Kristine M Kierzek in the "Fork, Spoon, Life" column for Cooking Like a Master Chef. She begins: "Bow ties, distinctive white glasses and inked arms tell only part of Graham Elliot's story. After dropping out of school at 17 to start a punk rock band, Elliot found his way into restaurant kitchens." Read more about his tattoos, how to judge dishes on a television show, and what Mars Cheese Castle has to do with his risotto. Check with Bacchus to see if seats are still available for his dinner on Friday, October 30. The meal is $108, including book, Elliot-insired meal, wine, tax, and gratuity.

And finally (yes, there were really eight books profiled in the Journal Sentinel this week, and I might have missed one along the way), Joanne Kempinger Demski profiles Outstanding American Gardens: 25 Years of the Garden Conservancy, put together by Page and Ed Dickey, with Marion Brenner. The Milwaukee garden that is profiled is called Greenfire Woods and is located in River Hills. It's part of the Open Days program. These are private gardens that are opened to the public for a period of time. More on the Garden Conservancy website

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