Monday, February 22, 2016

Events This Week: Brandon Sanderson, Joel Kriofske, J.A. White, Plus Info About Thomas Haigh and LeVar Burton at UWM, Plus a Preview of Doug Bradley and Craig Werner Next Week.

Tuesday, February 23, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Brandon Sanderson, author of Calamity.

Join us at Boswell as we welcome back Brandon Sanderson, talking about and signing copies of the exciting conclusion of the Reckoners series, Calamity. Mr. Sanderson will be speaking and taking questions, followed by a signing. We'll start giving out line letters at 5 pm, but please note, you must buy a copy of Calamity to get in the signing line.

If you don't know much about Sanderson, read this profile from Frannie Jackson in Paste Magazine that came out in 2014. It chronicles how Sanderson wasn't a reader until a teacher gave him a Barbara Hambly novel in eighth grade teacher. We learn that Sanderson, when he started writing, learned that your first five books are generally terrible, so his goal was to write six of them very quickly. But most of all, it explains Sanderson's three laws of magic. As Sanderson notes, "Superman is not his powers; Superman is his weaknesses."

 We'll see you on Tuesday, February 23, 7 pm, for our talk and signing with Brandon Sanderson. And don't forget, you must buy Calamity to get on the signing line. (Photo credit Nazrilof)

Tuesday, February 23, 2:45 pm, at Greene Hall, 3347 N Downer Ave:
Thomas Haigh, author of Eniac in Action: Making and Remaking the Modern Computer.

Unveiled seventy years ago, ENIAC was the first general-purpose programmable electronic computer. ENIAC plotted the trajectories of bombs and shells, simulated nuclear explosions, and ran the first numerical weather simulations. ENIAC in Action tells the whole story for the first time, from ENIACʼs design, construction, testing, and use to its afterlife as part of computing folklore. We view ENIAC from diverse perspectives—as a machine of war, as the “first computer,” as a material artifact constantly remade by its users, and as a subject of contradictory historical narratives. We integrate the history of the machine and its applications, describing the mathematicians, scientists, and engineers who proposed and designed ENIAC as well as the men—and particularly the women who—built, programmed, and operated it

This event is sponsored by UWM Geek Week and does require registration.

Wednesday, February 24, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Joel Kriofske, author of And Good Night to All the Beautiful Young Women: A Tale of Episodic Dementia—The Parent Becomes the Child.

Please join us in welcoming Marquette graduate and veteran journalist Joel Kriofske, who will talk about and sign copies of his new memoir, And Good Night to All the Beautiful Young Women, a tale of storm-ridden, dementia-challenged parent care told with laugh-provoking humor that makes for a great starting point for discussion about how we’d like to be cared for in our golden years.

A poignant look at what may await many of us: the care of an elderly parent with dementia. The author, in later middle age, cares for his father, a former FBI Special Agent with an extravagant sense of humor, but too often angry and combative. The book explores the relationship the two had as the author was growing up, a relationship clouded by his sense that he could never please his father, even into adulthood.

Joel Kriofske discusses his story on WTMJ's Morning Blend. And you can hear more from Kriofske on Wednesday, February 24, 7 pm, at Boswell.

Wednesday, February 24, 7 pm, at UWM Wisconsin Room:
LeVar Burton, who among other things, wrote a Reading Rainbow book called The Rhino Who Swallowed a Storm.

Also part of UWM Geek Week is a visit from LeVar Burton. Tickets are $14 for the general public, $12 for UWM faculty and staff, $10 for non-UWM students, with a $2 discount for buying tickets in advance. UWM students are free. But if I wanted to see Burton and I wasn't a UWM student, I would get my tickets right now. Start the ball rolling by by calling 414.229.5780 or emailing

Thursday, February 25, 6:30 pm, at Boswell:
J.A. White, author of The Thickety: Well of Witches.

We're having a pizza party with Jerry White, featuring pizza from Ians. We'll have plain, pepperoni, and mac and cheese. There's no charge but we request you register at Brown Paper Tickets.

It's always tricky promoting the third book in a series for those who haven't yet started the series. And that's why we're using this space to talk up the first installment, The Thickety. We've had a lot of great reads on this book from Boswellians, and can vouch that many kids have felt the same way.

From Todd: "A scary opening comparable to Gaiman's The Graveyard Book thrusts Kara Westfall into questioning her sheltered island-world. Community members come to believe she is a witch, like her mother before her, and her future is divided into terrible choices: should she hate what her mother may have been? Hate what she may become? Head for the forbidden forest? Adventure and suspense await any reader!"

From Jen: "It all starts when Kara is woken up in the night and taken to the village square where she witnesses her mother being sentenced for the worse crime of all...witchcraft! Seven years later, the villagers are still wary and cruel to Kara and her family. They fear Kara is a witch just like her mother. On the outskirts of the village is The Thickety, a magical forest that is home to strange and ferocious beasts and full of secrets, like the book Kara finds there, which may or may not be her mother's grimoire. This book had me in its grips from the very beginning. I can't wait for the sequel!

From Mel: "Imagine Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow crossed with Arthur Miller's The Crucible and you've got J. A. White's debut middle grade fantasy thriller...Readers will be sucked into the world of The Thickety, which feels at once completely original and instantly familiar."

From Pam: "Well-rounded characters populate this dark and intriguing tale, and the interesting twists kept me guessing. I’d recommend this book for ages 10 and up."

From Conrad: "This is eerie and creepy and utterly compelling reading. It's not often that I race through a 689 page book in, essentially, one sitting!"

Register here!

And coming up next week:
Monday, February 29, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Doug Bradley and Craig Werner, authors of We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack to the Vietnam War.

Please join us at Boswell as we welcome Doug Bradley and Craig Werner, authors of, and Bill Christofferson, contributor to the best music book of 2015 according to Rolling Stone magazine, We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War, which places popular music at the heart of the American experience in Vietnam, exploring how and why U.S. troops turned to music as a way of connecting to each other and the World back home as well as coping with the complexities of the war they’d been sent to fight.

For a Kentucky rifleman who spent his tour trudging through Vietnam’s Central Highlands, it was Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.” For a tunnel rat who blew smoke into the Viet Cong’s underground tunnels, it was Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” For a black marine distraught over the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., it was Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools.” And for countless other Vietnam vets, it was “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” or the song that gives this book its title. Demonstrating that music was important for every group of Vietnam veterans - black and white, Latino and Native American, men and women, officers and “grunts” - whose personal reflections drive the book’s narrative, many of the voices are those of ordinary soldiers, airmen, seamen, and marines.

But there are also solo pieces by veterans whose writings have shaped our understanding of the war - Karl Marlantes, Alfredo Vea, Yusef Komunyakaa, Bill Ehrhart, Arthur Flowers - as well as songwriters and performers whose music influenced soldiers’ lives, including Eric Burdon, James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, Country Joe McDonald, and John Fogerty. Together their testimony taps into memories - individual and cultural—that capture a central if often overlooked component of the American war in Vietnam.

From Steve Nathans-Kelly in Paste Magazine, which has apparently become our go-to source for quotes: "Fascinatingly, Bradley and Werner investigate the mechanics of how music featured so prominently in the soldiers’ experience in Vietnam, and how music sometimes united and often exposed deep and contentious divisions between soldiers of different racial and regional backgrounds. Perhaps most fascinatingly of all, We Gotta Get Out of This Place demonstrates how the music that found its way into the lives of the men and women who fought the war changed as the war dragged on, reflecting the dramatic changes 'back in the world.'”

Doug Bradley and Craig Werner will be joined by Bill Christofferson, who contributes one of the solo pieces. Join us Monday, February 29, 7 pm.

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