Sunday, June 25, 2017

Now in Boswell-vision, the annotated bestsellers for the week ending June 24, 2017

The Boswell bestsellers brought to you through Boswell-vision.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Murder in Saint Germain, by Cara Black
2. The Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz
3. Here and Gone, by Haylen Beck (Stuart Neville)
4. Camino Island, by John Grisham
5. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
6. Testimony, by Scott Turow (ticketed event today at JCC, 2 pm. Walkups available)
7. Force, by Don Winslow
8. The Silent Corner, by Dean Koontz
9. The Little Paris Bistro, by Nina George
10. Men Without Women, by Haruki Murakami

Don Winslow may have picked up extra buzz for his newest, The Force, by taking out a full page ad in The New York Times criticizing the government's war on drugs. John Wilkens of the San Diego Union-Tribune, profiled area resident Winslow: "Winslow, 63, has spent almost 20 years researching and writing about drugs — America’s appetite for them, the Mexican cartels that torture and kill each other to control distribution, the police on both sides of the border who try to stem the tide or corruptly become part of the flow. His books The Power of the Dog and The Cartel are violent, searing and critically acclaimed epics about the cost and futility of the war" Wilkens explained that the newest ties into this as well: "Winslow is currently on a tour promoting his newest book, The Force, which came out Tuesday. It’s about the leader of an elite New York Police Department unit caught up in corruption while fighting the influx of drugs and guns to the city."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken
2. You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, by Sherman Alexie
3. Theft by Finding, by David Sedaris
4. Hunger, by Roxane Gay and Adam Grant
5. Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg
6. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
7. Janesville, by Amy Goldstein
8. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson
9. Milwaukee City of Neighborhoods, by John Gurda
10. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance (on Megyn Kelly tonight on NBC)

For the second week in a row, a review from Jim Higgins presaged a strong showing on our bestseller list the following week (and it was nice to see when I clicked on the Toledo Blade story, it was the Higgins review). There's more about Sherman Alexie's long-awaited memoir, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me. At his local paper, Claudia Rowe in The Seattle Times writes: "There is a guileless, everything-but-the-kitchen sink quality to these pages that sometimes feels as if we are leafing through Alexie’s private notebooks. We see Alexie as a boy, born brutally poor on the Spokane Indian Reservation to parents so desperate, they sometimes sold their blood for food money." Interesting that the book came out the same month as the Sedaris diaries, from the same publisher too.

I always have a sense of accomplishment when I've read a good amount of books on a list. My best showing is usually on paperback fiction (and indeed I read six of this week's ten) but this week I also had a nice showing on hardcover nonfiction, with a completion score of five out of ten. My nonfiction paperback score is not bad either (four) but let's not talk about hardcover fiction.

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Portrait, by Antoine Laurain
2. Lilac Girls, by Marth Hall Kelly
3. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
4. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
5. Murder in the Marais, by Cara Black
6. My Favorite Thing is Monsters, by Emil Ferris
7. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
8. Burning Bright, by Nick Petrie
9. Noise of Time, by Julian Barnes
10. My Name Is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout

It may be an older title, but that hasn't stopped fans from picking up just-released-in-the-United-States Antoine Laurain's latest, The Portrait, once again translated by Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce. His very first novel is about a man who sees a painting and realizes he looks just like the person in this heirloom work. So he purchases it, hiding it in his apartment, but weirdly enough, nobody else can see the resemblance. Is there something going on? Yes, there is! Wilda Williams in Library Journal called it a "delightful literary soufflee." OK, she also said "slight," but honestly, were you expecting Pynchon? I kind of love the Goodreads page as many of the reviews are not in English. Use the translate function! And also note that we once again have an assortment of Antoine Laurain books in French.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Preservation, by Christina Ward
2. Hot Pants in Hollywood, by Susan Silver
3. Borchert Field, by Bob Buege
4. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
5. Seinfeldia, by Jennifer Keisha Armstrong
6. We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby
7. North Point Historic Districts, by Shirley DuFresne McArthur
8. Live and Let Live, by Evelyn Perry
9. Wisconsin Literary Luminaries, by Jim Higgins
10. Magnificent Machines of Milwaukee, by Thomas H. Fehring

We have a big fan of Samantha Irby's New York Times bestselling We Are Never Meeting in Real Life in Sharon, who wrote "This is not the book for your Aunt Joan if she is put off by profanity or descriptive sexual detail. I found it hilarious as well as touching." We hosted Ms. Irby for her last collection, Meaty, back when she still lived in Evanston, and we've heard that Meaty will also be reissued by Vintage, her new publisher. Sharon's in great company, as other big fans include Roxane Gay, Rainbow Rowell, and Lindy West.

Books for Kids:
1. The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Drew Daywalt with illustrations by Adam Rex
2. Amina's Voice, by Hena Khan
3. Ghost, by Jason Reynolds
4. Playbook, by Kwame Alexander
5. Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, by Rick Riordan 6. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
7. Dog Man Unleashed, by Dav Pilkey
8. Dragons Love Tacos 2 The Sequel, by Adam Rubin with illustrations by Daniel Salmieri
9. Be True to Me, by Adele Griffin
10. Real Friends, by Shannon Hale

When we inquired at the publisher why Hena Khan's first novel, Amina's Voice, took place in Milwaukee, we learned that Khan has not lived here but her husband's family does. Khan got a very nice writeup in her local paper, The Washington Post, with Mary Quattlebaum noting that "the novel, about a Pakistani American Muslim sixth-grader who struggles to stay true to her family’s culture while fitting in at school, is the first title in a new imprint, Salaam Reads, from Simon and Schuster. The imprint, whose name means “peace” in Arabic, focuses on stories featuring Muslim characters." Khan also wrote It's Ramadan, Curious George, which hit our bestseller list last year.

This year the Journal Sentinel takes its annual Summerfest book break, but Jim Higgins still has a review for Afterland, a new collection of poems from Mai Der Vang. He writes: "Growing up in a Hmong family that practiced shamanism accustomed Mai Der Vang to seeing things in both a literal and figurative way at the same time. She brings that experience with overlapping realities to Afterland, a collection of poems about the Hmong experience, from 17th-century China through the secret war in Laos and ultimately to resettlement as refugees in the United States. It won the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets in 2016."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Pizza Party Times Two: Adele Griffin at Greenfield Public Library on June 22, 6:30 (Pizzeria Scotty!) and then Brittany Cavallaro and Mackenzi Lee at Boswell on June 29 7 pm (Pizza Man)

Boswell presents two YA pizza parties.

Thursday, June 22, 6:30 pm, at the Greenfield Public Library, 5310 W Layton Ave:
Adele Griffin, author of Be True to Me

Adele Griffin is the acclaimed author of many books for young readers, including The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone, Agnes and Clarabelle, and The Oodlethunks.

More about the new book: "A riveting tale of romantic suspense set against the backdrop of the iconic Bicentennial summer, where It girl Jean and girl-next-door Fritz find themselves competing for the love of the handsome and mysterious Gil within the gates of a Fire Island colony of the super rich."

Where is the pizza coming from? We asked around and there was a lot of enthusiasm for Pizzeria Scotty!, located at 9809 W Oklahoma Ave. Go figure, I pass it all the time and didn't know how good it was. Very strong Yelp rating.

Will there be swag? Yes, Griffin is bringing some fun beach bags with flip-flops, water bottles, etc., for a beach theme, to use as a raffle prize.

Will there be YA galleys? Yes, we'll be giving away some YA novels to attendees.

What are people thinking of the book? From the starred School Library Journal review: "Eager to escape her sister's shadow for the summer, privileged but insecure Jean Custis is delighted to meet newcomer Gil Burke one early June night. Yet within a matter of days, Gil has been intercepted by Fritz, a girl with no family connections to the small town of Sunken Harbor, who humiliated Jean in last year's tennis playoff. As both girls interact with Gil through the summer of 1976, their relationships grow complicated and eventually lead to disastrous consequences for all three. Set against the backdrop of a Long Island beach town in the 1970s, Griffin's latest is peppered with historical references without being heavy-handed. From the evocative descriptions of the sun-drenched setting down to the tiny details of rickrack being sewn onto a summer dress, this book is an immersive experience."

The Greenfield Public Library is located just off the 60th Street exit of I-894.

Thursday, June 29, 7 pm, at Boswell: 
Brittany Cavallaro, author of A Study in Charlotte (now in paperback) and The Last of August and Mackenzi Lee, author of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue

Brittany Cavallaro is a poet, fiction writer, and old school Sherlockian. In addition to Charlotte Holmes series, Cavallaro is the author of the poetry collection Girl-King and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. Many folks locally know her from her years at the the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee PhD program in creative writing. And here's something pretty cool, even if it's an honor from a competitor--Cavallaro's A Study in Charlotte was chosen for the Target Book Club, a rare YA entry to receive this honor. 

Mackenzi Lee's MFA is from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults. Her previous novel, This Monstrous thing, is now in paperback. Lee loves Diet Coke, sweater weather, and Star Wars. What you might not know is that she is also a bookseller in Boston.

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue is the #1 Indie Next Pick for kids. The quote comes from Marika McCoola at Porter Square in Cambridge: “Get ready to swoon over this book... Monty and Percy, best friends since forever and Monty hopes maybe something more, are headed off on their grand tour. Despite severe prohibitions on alcohol, sex, and other vices, Monty is determined to have a decadent time. But they get more than they bargained for when Monty accidentally steals an important object from the French court. Filled with highwaymen, pirates, and heart-pounding exploits of a romantic nature, this is the summer road-trip adventure you’ve been waiting for.”

And from the starred Booklist review: "Tongue-in-cheek, wildly entertaining, and anachronistic in only the most delightful ways, this is a gleeful romp through history. Monty is a hero worthy of Oscar Wilde ( What's the use of temptations if we don't yield to them? ), his sister Felicity is a practical, science-inclined wonder, and his relationship with Percy sings. Modern-minded as this may be, Lee has clearly done invaluable research on society, politics, and the reality of same-sex relationships in the eighteenth century. Add in a handful of pirates and a touch of alchemy for an adventure that's an undeniable joy."

In Cavallaro's latest, The Last of August, in which Jamie and Charlotte are in a chase across Europe to untangle a web of shocking truths about the Holmes and Moriarty families. Another starred review from Booklist cheers for the newest: "Beautiful prose, thrilling action, a touch of romance, and two complicated heroes to root for make this a not-to-be-missed sequel. Readers will be craving the final book in the trilogy."

Where is the pizza coming from? Pizza Man on Downer!

Yes, each attendee will be able to pick an upcoming YA advance copy, with a bonus book if you buy one of the featured titles. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Display tour: Adriana Trigiani's Festival lettorario, Downer Classic Bicycle Race, what to read after Evicted, EW's best of the half year 2017, and First Stage 2017-2018 tie-in books

Display #1: Festival letteratorio

In conjunction with our July 12 Boswell-and-Books-and-Company sponsored ticketed event with Adriana Trigiani at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts on Wednesday, July 12, we put together a display of books with Italian settings. Of course the recent runaway bestseller was Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend and its sequels, but it wasn't that long ago that everyone was reading Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins.

Today is the release day for Trigiani's newest, Kiss Carlo. In USA Today, Patty Rhule wrote: "If this plot sounds as contrived as a Doris Day-Rock Hudson screwball comedy, it is. But at a time when crass seems to trump class in popular culture, Kiss Carlo may be just what we need, a warmhearted romp that’s a welcome escape from novels about girls who are gone/on a train/tattooed." Tickets still available.

Display #2: Bicycle Race

Downer Avenue's annual ISCorp Otto Wenz Downer Classic Bicycle Race is this Saturday, June 24. We often have a themed table to celebrate the start of biking season. I asked Jason about the trend with bicycle books, observing that there weren't as many recent titles in the category that I've seen in last years, and he concurred that it was down. It's possibly a function of overpublishing.

Right now, the most-demanded book at our wholesaler with keyword bicycle is a Swedish memoir titled The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love, by Per J. Andersson. And Library Journal wrote: " Part biography, part travelog, and part love story, this book will appeal to the optimistic, the romantic, and the armchair traveler. This is a story of human connection that spans continents, class, and race."

In addition to books, we also have bike-related cards, journals, bells, and tools.

Display #3: What to read after Evicted

With Matthew Desmond's Evicted winning so many prizes, being so readable, and also set in Milwaukee, many readers just can't get enough, so we added a what to read after Evicted table. It's also helping me get ready for a talk on this very subject that I am giving at Osher in October. Evicted is Osher's Big Read.

Some of the books we're recommending are obvious, such as Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Schaffer's $2.00 a Day, which Matthew Desmond himself has been recommended. Others are classics such as Alex Kotlowitz's There Are No Children Here. I'm hoping to do a complete blog on this later in the year. I've still got several great books to read, because I want to read every book on my presentation list, as opposed to the display list.

Display #4: Entertainment Weekly's best of 2017, so far

I love year-end lists, both because they are fun, and also because they also sell books, so how could we pass up a half-year list?The magazine's picks, of which I've read two:
--Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid
--Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
--Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders
--Chemistry, by Weike Wang
--The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
--Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout
--The Rules Do Not Apply, by Ariel Levy
--The Animators, by Kayla Rae Whitaker
--The Fact of the Body, by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
--My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, by Emil Feris

Display #5: First Stage's 2017-2018 season

We just got catalogs for the 2017-2018 First Stage schedule, and as always, almost all the plays have book tie-ins. The schedule opens with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on October 6, based on the film, which in turn is based on Ian Fleming's novel. Yes, that Ian Fleming. That's at the Todd Wehr Theater. Over at the Milwaukee Youth Arts Center is Spookley the Square Pumpkin, opening October 1, but that book, by Joe Troiano, appears not to be available from Sterling at the moment.

Other highlights include Kate DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, opening January 12, 2018 at the Todd Wehr, and Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat, which is at the Todd Wehr starting January 21. Pick up a schedule!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Upcoming Events: Louis V Jones at MPL Loos Room, Bob Buege at Tippecanoe Library, Susan Silver at Boswell, Haylen Beck (Stuart Neville) and Cara Black at Boswell with Jon Jordan, Adele Griffin at Greenfield Library, Christinna Ward at Boswell, Scott Turow at the JCC, and Stefanie Chambers at Boswell

Monday, June 19, 7:00 pm, at Milwaukee Public Library’s Loos Room at Centennial Hall, 733 N Eighth St:
Louis V. Clark, author of How to Be an Indian in the 21st Century.

In deceptively simple prose and verse, Louis V. "Two Shoes" Clark III shares his life story, from childhood on the reservation, through school and the working world, and ultimately to, life as an elder, grandfather, and poet.

How to Be an Indian in the 21st Century explores Clark's deeply personal and profound take on a wide range of subjects, from schoolyard bullying to workplace racism to falling in love. Warm, plainspoken, and wryly funny, Clark's is a unique voice talking frankly about a culture's struggle to maintain its heritage. His poetic storytelling style matches the rhythm of the life he recounts what he calls, "the heartbeat of my nation."

Louis V. Clark was born and raised on the Oneida Reservation in northeastern Wisconsin. Clark turned to poetry to continue the oral tradition of his tribe, the People of the Standing Stone. A member of the Iroquois Confederacy, his family is of the Bear clan. He received a Fellowship Award for his work from the Oneida Nation Arts Program and the Wisconsin Arts Board. Two Shoes was Clark’s first chapbook.

Tuesday, June 20, 6:30 pm, at Tippecanoe Library, 3912 S Howell Ave:
Bob Buege, author of Borchert Field: Stories from Milwaukee’s Legendary Ballpark.

Anyone lucky enough to live on Milwaukee’s near north side between 1888 and 1952 could experience the world without ever leaving the neighborhood. Nestled between North Seventh and Eighth Streets and West Chambers and Burleigh, Borchert Field was Milwaukee’s major sports venue for 64 years. In this rickety wooden stadium (originally called Athletic Park), Wisconsin residents had a close-up view of sports history in the making, along with rodeos, thrill shows, and even the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius.

In Borchert Field, baseball historian Bob Buege introduces the famous and fascinating athletes who dazzled audiences in Milwaukee’s venerable ballpark. All the legendary baseball figuresthe Great Bambino, Satchel Paige, Ty Cobb, Joltin’ Joe, Jackie Robinson, the Say Hey Kid - played there. Olympic heroes Jim Thorpe, Babe Didrikson, and Jesse Owens displayed their amazing talents in Borchert. Knute Rockne’s Fighting Irish competed there, and Curly Lambeau’s Green Bay Packers took the field 10 times. Buege tells stories of other monumental moments at Borchert as well, including a presidential visit, women ballplayers, the arrival of television broadcasting, the 1922 national balloon race, and an appearance by scat-singing bandleader Cab Calloway. Borchert Field is long gone, but every page of this book takes readers back to the sights, sounds, and spectacle of its heyday.

Bob Buege is the author of The Milwaukee Braves: A Baseball Eulogy and Eddie Mathews and the National Pastime. He is president of the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association, director of the Wisconsin Old Time Ballplayers Association, and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

Tuesday, June 20, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Susan Silver, author of Hot Pants in Hollywood: Sex, Secrets and Sitcoms.

As the lyrics from the iconic Mary Tyler Moore Show said, “She made it after all!” Susan Silver left Milwaukee with all its 60’s values and normalcy, and went on to the big lights and fame of Hollywood. As one of the first women writers for TV sitcoms, Silver has been a trailblazer for the field.

Garry Marshall, director of Happy Days and Pretty Woman says, “Susan Silver examines everything funny, including her own life. A talented writer whose book should be read by those who like to laugh.”

Susan Silver was raised in Whitefish Bay. As a comedy writer and cultural commentator, Susan Silver has also written for The Bob Newhart Show, Maude, The Partridge Family and Square Pegs. She has appeared on CNN, HLN, and The Today Show, and has written for The New York Times and Refinery 29.

Wednesday, June 21, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
Cara Black, author of Murder in Saint-Germain and Stuart Neville writing as Haylen Beck, author of Here and Gone, in conversation with Crimespree Magazine's Jon Jordan

A night filled with thrilling mysteries and great conversation with two authors and Jon Jordan of Crimespree Magazine.

What a thrilling evening we have planned! We're welcoming back Cara Black, author of the Aimée Leduc series, as well as Stuart Neville, writing his first American-set thriller under the pen name Haylen Beck, both in conversation with Jon Jordan of Crimespree Magazine and Murder + Mayhem Milwaukee. If you love the conversations that make up this famous annual mystery conference (this year's is on Saturday, November 4, at the Irish Cultural Center), you'll love this event.

As fans of Black's series know, Leduc's adventures are not quite playing out in real time. In Murder in Saint-Germain, it's still July of 1999. Private investigator Aimée Leduc is walking through this Paris neighborhood when she is accosted by Suzanne Lesage, a Brigade Criminelle agent on an elite counterterrorism squad. Suzanne has just returned from the former Yugoslavia, where she was hunting down dangerous war criminals for The Hague. Back in Paris, Suzanne is convinced she's being stalked by a ghost - a Serbian warlord her team took down. She's suffering from PTSD and her boss thinks she's imagining things. She begs Aimée to investigate - is it possible Mirko Vladic could be alive and in Paris with a blood vendetta?

Here's a little more about Here and Gone, a tense thriller about a mother's desperate fight to recover her stolen children from corrupt authorities. It begins with a woman fleeing through Arizona with her kids in tow, trying to escape an abusive marriage. When she's pulled over by an unsettling local sheriff and is taken into custody, things soon go awry. When she gets to the station, her kids are gone and the cops say they never saw any kids with her. If the kids are gone, she must have done something with them.

Of Here and Gone, Booklist writes in their starred review: "Good news. Here's the perfect handoff for fans desperate for something like Lee Child, Harlan Coben, and Lisa Gardner...Don't be surprised if this one becomes the thriller everybody is reading this summer." Lee Child himself says, "A fantastic thriller - a lone woman, a nightmare scenario, high stakes, breathless suspense, and a satisfying conclusion. It doesn t get better than this.." And Murder in Saint-Germain earned great advance reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Booklist. It's a great Crimespree-worthy evening, all happening Wednesday, June 21, 7 pm, at Boswell.

Cara Black is the author of seventeen books in The New York Times bestselling Aimée Leduc series. She has received multiple nominations for the Anthony and Macavity Awards, and her books have been translated into German, Norwegian, Japanese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Hebrew.

Haylen Beck is the pen name of internationally acclaimed, prize-winning crime writer Stuart Neville. Neville won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for his Serena Flanagan detective series.

Wednesday, June 21, 7:00 pm, at Boswell:
YA Pizza Party with Adele Griffin, author of Be True to Me.


A riveting tale of romantic suspense set against the backdrop of the iconic Bicentennial summer, where "It girl" Jean and girl-next-door Fritz find themselves competing for the love of the handsome and mysterious Gil within the gates of a Fire Island colony of the super-rich. In addition to this exciting author event, delicious pizza will be served as well... The idea of there being a gate separating the two different communities, juxtaposing convention against the bohemian and artistically free, made Fire Island such a strange place. A strange place to be young. A strange place to be gay."

From School Library Journal: “An atmospheric and engaging piece of historical fiction, this work will haunt and resonate with readers long after it ends. An excellent selection for YA collections.”

Adele Griffin and Sara Grochowski talked about Be True to Me for Publishers Weekly. Why 1976? Why Fire Island? Griffin answers: "I had read a book called Tom Bianchi: Fire Island Pines: Polaroids 1975-1983, which was about the gay experience in the 1970s. It had beautiful pictures of men who would leave New York City for Fire Island, where they could be free to be out in a time when you couldn’t be out. It was so different from the very socially conventional communities on Fire Island. I thought it would be interesting to set one community against the other, then create all kinds of suspicion and unease."

Adele Griffin is the acclaimed author of many books for young readers, most recently The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone. Griffin is also a two-time National Book Award finalist.

This event is best for ages 13 and up

Friday, June 23, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Christina Ward, author of Preservation: The Art and Science of Canning, Fermentation and Dehydration.

More than a cookbook, Preservation: The Art and Science of Canning, Fermentation and Dehydration demystifies the scientific concepts that inform the methods of food preservation in an easy to understand way. Taking Julia Child as her inspiration, certified Master Food Preserver Christina Ward has collected and translated scientific and experiential information that has long been the sole domain of academic scientists and elite chefs.

Fueled by her mission to correct online misinformation and scientifically outdated materials, Ward guides readers through a comprehensive survey of methods that will ensure your preservation projects are safe and delicious. Included are highly adaptable recipes that demonstrate every method and technique of preservation.

Here's Ward in the Fork Spoon Life column of the Journal Sentinel, as reported by Kristine M. Kierzek: "Canning, the more you do it, the more confidence you build. You can do everything 100% right and still have something go wrong. When I was trying to figure out the new steam canners, I was swearing up a storm. The first few batches, I could not get those jars to seal."

Christina Ward is a Wisconsin native and Master Food Preserver for Milwaukee County. She writes about food history and preservation for numerous publications, including: Edible Magazine, Remedy Quarterly, and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Sunday, June 25, 2:00 pm at the Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center, 6255 N Santa Monica Blvd:
A ticketed event with Scott Turow, author of Testimony in conversation with Lake Effect's Mitch Teich

The Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center and Boswell Book Company present a ticketed appearance with Scott Turow, the #1 New York Times bestselling author, returning with a page-turning legal thriller about an American prosecutor's investigation of a refugee camp's mystifying disappearance.

Tickets are $30 and include admission, a copy of Turow's novel Testimony, and all taxes and fees. $5 of every admission goes back to the JCC.

In Testimony, former prosecutor Bill ten Boom has walked out on everything he thought was important to him: his law career, his wife, Kindle County, even his country. Still, when he is tapped by the International Criminal Court - an organization charged with prosecuting crimes against humanity - he feels drawn to what will become the most elusive case of his career. Over ten years ago, in the apocalyptic chaos following the Bosnian war, an entire Roma refugee camp vanished. Now for the first time, a witness has stepped forward: Ferko Rincic claims that armed men marched the camp's Gypsy residents to a cave in the middle of the night - and then with a hand grenade set off an avalanche, burying 400 people alive. Only Ferko survived.

Boom's task is to examine Ferko's claims and determine who might have massacred the Roma. His investigation takes him from the International Criminal Court's base in Holland to the cities and villages of Bosnia to secret meetings in Washington, DC, as Boom sorts through a host of suspects, ranging from Serb paramilitaries, to organized crime gangs, to the US government itself, while also maneuvering among the alliances and treacheries of those connected to the case.

A master of the legal thriller since his first novel, Presumed Innocent, and continuing through his most recent work, Identical, Scott Turow now returns with his most irresistibly confounding and satisfying novel yet.

Scott Turow is the author of ten bestselling works of fiction, including Identical, Innocent, and Presumed Innocent, and two nonfiction books, including One L, about his experience as a law student. His books have been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and have been adapted into movies and television projects. He has contributed essays and op-ed pieces to publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, and Vanity Fair.

Mitch Teich is the executive producer of Lake Effect. He brings over 25 years of broadcasting experience from radio stations across the country - in Iowa, Minnesota, New York, and Arizona.

Monday, June 26, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Stefanie Chambers, author of Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus: Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations

In the early 1990s, Somali refugees arrived in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Later in the decade, an additional influx of immigrants arrived in Columbus, Ohio. These refugees found low-skill jobs in warehouses and food processing plants and struggled as social “outsiders,” often facing discrimination based on their religious traditions, dress, and the misconception that they are terrorists. The immigrant youth also lacked access to quality educational opportunities.

Stefanie Chambers provides a cogent analysis of these refugees in Midwestern cities where new immigrant communities are growing. Her comparative study uses qualitative and quantitative data to assess the political, economic, and social variations between these urban areas. Chambers examines how culture and history influenced the incorporation of Somali immigrants in the U.S. and recommends policy changes that can advance rather than impede incorporation.

Stefanie Chambers is the Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of Political Science at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She is the author of Mayors and Schools: Minority Voices and Democratic Tensions in Urban Education.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Boswell's annotated bestseller lists for the week ending June 17, 2017, plus the Journal Sentinel TapBooks page

Here's what's on this week's Boswell bestseller lists.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Leavers, by Lisa Ko
2. Lonesome Lies Before Us, by Don Lee
3. The Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz
4. Anything Is Possible, by Elizabeth Strout
5. Camino Island, by John Grisham
6. Testimony, by Scott Turow (tickets still available Sun 6/25, 2 pm, at the JCC)
7. Edgar and Lucy, by Victor Lodato (event Tue 7/25, 7 pm, at Boswell)
8. A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
9. The Essex Serpent, by Sarah Perry
10. A French Wedding, by Hannah Tunnicliffe

A breakout from Harper is Anthony Horowitz's The Magpie Murders. Horowitz, whose known both for kids series, including the Alex Rider novels, and writing new Sherlock Holmes and James Bond adventures, hit both the Indie Next list and the national bestseller lists with this novel. Ken Favell of Oconomowoc's Books and Company has the Indie Bound quote: "We're treated to two mysteries for the price of one: One set in a peaceful village in England during the 1950s with the one and only Detective Atticus Pund taking the case, and the other set in contemporary times with a book editor who becomes an amateur sleuth. Horowitz pays tribute to the golden age of British crime with references to mysteries created by the likes of Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie. How many hidden gems can you come up with?"

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken
2. Helping Children Succeed, by Paul Tough
3. Theft by Finding, by David Sedaris
4. Hunger, by Roxane Gay
5. Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance
6. Coach Wooden and Me, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
7. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, by Dan Egan
8. Raising Human Beings, by Ross W. Greene
9. You Don't Have to Say You Love Me, by Sherman Alexie
10. Churchill and Orwell, by Thomas E. Ricks

Roxane Gay's Hunger was finally released to a lot of attention. Originally scheduled for 2016, the wait was worth it. The Atlantic's Adrienne Greene writes: "Hunger is about weight gained and lost and gained—at her heaviest Gay weighed 577 pounds. It’s also about so much more: the body she built to shield herself from the contempt of men and her own sense of shame, her complex relationship with parents who took great interest in solving her weight “problem,” and what it has meant for her to be highly visible and yet feel unseen." If it does as well as Difficult Women, her recent short story collection, expect to see Gay's presence on the list for weeks to come.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Arrow the Dark Archer, by John Barrowman and Carole E Barrowman
2. World Without End, by John Barrowman and Carole E Barrowman
3. Pestiferous Questions, by Margaret Rozga
4. Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly
5. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
6. The Thing Itself, by Adam Roberts
7. Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
8. Commonwealth, by Ann Patchett
9. The Light of Paris, by Eleanor Brown
10. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The SF Book Club's July pick is The Thing Itself, by Adam Roberts. This Victor Gollancz book is recently imported into the United States through parent company Hachette, and is about two people in an Antarctic research station who find they are not alone, but to say this is to oversimplify the novel, according to Julian Baggini at The Guardian: "This main narrative alternates with other chapters involving different characters and stories, each written in a completely different style, including Joycean stream of conscious, 17th-century vernacular, and a pastiche of Thomas de Quincey." For folks who like a good philosophical novel, Baggini adds: "Roberts offers a mystical reading of Kant that has some parallels with recurrent ideas in Indian philosophy. We live trapped in the world of appearances, unable to touch the thing in itself." Should be a great discussion on Monday, July 10, 7 pm.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. 30 Days to the Cotaught Classroom, by Paula Kluth and Julie Causton
2. If At Birth You Don't Succeed, by Zach Anner
3. Empowering Students with Hidden Disabilities, by Margo Vreeberg Izzo and LeDerick Horne
4. Evicted, by Matthew Desmond
5. How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough
6. Lost at School, by Ross W. Greene
7. The Close Encounters Man, by Mark O'Connell
8. No Is Not Enough, by Naomi Klein
9. The Educator's Handbook for Inclusive School Practices, by Julie Causton
10. The Principal's Handbook for Leading Inclusive Schools, by Julie Causton

Can you tell we were at two different educator conferences for four days?

The breakout book (and actually, the only nonconference book on this list besides Evicted) here is Naomi Klein's No Is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, from Chicago's Haymarket Books. John Semley in Canada's Globe and Mail notes that Klein does not think the correct response to Trump is other billionaires taking him on, like "two towering behemoths clobbering each other with pointy-edged briefcases full of money, while way down below, normal, everyday people dash around in a blind panic, watching helplessly as their homes, places of business and their very livelihoods are pitilessly stomped on." Semley notes the book, in the end, is optimistic.

Books for Kids:
1. Hollow Earth, by John Barrowman and Carole E Barrowman
2. Bone Quill, by John Barrowman and Carole E Barrowman
3. Book of Beasts, by John Barrowman and Carole E Barrowman
4. The Conjuror, by John Barrowman and Carole E Barrowman
5. The Watson Go to Birmingham, by Christopher Paul Curtis
6. The Jacket, by Andrew Clements
7. Felita, by Nicholasa Mohr
8. The Dark Prophecy V2 (The Trials of Apollo), by Rick Riordan
9. She Persisted, by Chelsea Clinton with illustrations by Alexandra Boiger
10. Dog Man Unleashed V2, by Dav Pilkey

Chelsea Clinton's new picture book, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World, is #1 on The New York Times bestseller list for picture books. Ella Ceron in TeenVogue explains the book's title: "In March, Chelsea Clinton announced her next book, She Persisted, which tells abridged stories of 13 'girls and women who didn't take no for answer.' If that title strikes you as familiar, it should: In February, Senator Mitch McConnell used the term "Nevertheless, she persisted" as an indictment against Senator Elizabeth Warren when she refused to be silenced and read Coretta Scott King's 1986 letter regarding now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Facebook Live outside the Senate doors. The phrase went viral, though not in the way McConnell intended it. #ShePersisted quickly became a trending hashtag, and people across social media used it as an opportunity to highlight the way women have persisted to change the world for the better."

And here's what's happening on Journal Sentinel's TapBooks page.

First up is Jim Higgins on the new memoir from Sherman Alexie about life with his mom, You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: "Writer, poet, filmmaker and performer, Alexie is best known for his acclaimed and occasionally banned classic The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, which won the National Book Award for young people's literature in 2007. His new memoir mixes short prose chapters with related poems. In both modes, he's compulsively readable, a literary writer with the guts of a stand-up comedian."

Then there's Mike Fischer, who compares the opening of balli Kaur Jaswal's Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows to Pride and Prejudice: "As with Austen’s breakthrough book, Jaswal’s novel – her third – unfolds in England. This time, though, the community under the microscope is composed of Sikhs, in which both young women and older widows are no more expected to have their own needs and desires than were the Bennet sisters residing in Austen’s Hertfordshire." In the end, Fischer says the book has potential but perhaps veers away from its strengths (that's me paraphrasing). Read and decide.

Carole Barrowman's summer vacation reading offers five new thrillers:

--Unsub, by Meg Gardiner, for folks who like Val McDermid’s serial killer novels

--The Marsh King's Daughter, by Karen Dionne, for fans of William Kent Krueger’s wilderness mysteries

--The Silent Corner, by Dean Koontz, if your taste runs to Karen Slaughter’s Atlanta mysteries

--Death on Nantucket, by Francine Mathews, if Anne Cleeves’ Shetland novels is your thing

--Afterlife, by Marcus Sakey, for connoisseurs of Stephen King's The Stand. If you're wondering, there are still tickets to Stephen and Owen King in conversation on September 30 at the Riverside. At least on June 18 in the morning.

What starts out as a Chicago spree killer chase turns into something very different when an FBI agent becomes one of the killer's victims. Of Sakey's latest, Barrowman writes: "His world-building is epic and the community of characters Brody connects with are fully realized and compelling. It's amazing what a skillful writer with a 'sense of theater' and brilliant imagination can do."

Thursday, June 15, 2017

It's time for our event with Don Lee: a little more about "Lonesome Lies Before Us."

I've been reading Don Lee for over 15 years, since a copy of the short story collection Yellow was put in my hands. I skipped Country of Origin, as I wasn't reading thrillers at the time, but I came back to him with Wrack and Ruin, which turned out to be my favorite book of the year it came out.

Then I read The Collective. Once again, a very different book, but with his strong voice coming through. I called it Lee's college novel. It's a rite of passage for many writers. Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot comes to mind. 

And now it's Lonesome Lies Before Us. And while I think that he never writes the same book twice, in a way, Lonesome is a companion book to Wrack. For one thing, they both take place in Rosarita Bay, that fictional representation of Half Moon Bay. And for another, they are both about artists, Lyndon Song is a sculptor, while Yadin Park is a musician.

And what a musician he is - stage fright, a little stocky, Ménière's disease, and oh yes, probably Korean. I say probably because there are only hints of his cultural identity: a meal, and well, that last name. 

I love so many things about Lonesome Lies Before Us, most notably the characters. There is so much yearning in the novel, and I don't really mean that in a leering, cheating sort of way, though at the heart of the story is a bit of a love triangle between Yadin, Jeanne (his girlfriend, a hotel cleaner whose dad owns the carpet installing business Yadin works for) and Mallory (who sold out when Yadin ran out on her, and now might be his ticket back to recording) . No, it's a yearning that captures what is true from what might have been, and the intense and sometimes improbably ability to change paths.

But I think my love for his writing has gone beyond explanation. If you ask a trained critic why they love a sculpture, you'll get a very detailed answer, maybe an essay or event a book. But if you ask me, I would probably say, I just love it. It just does everything right for me. And if you want that sort of feeling, or the chance at that sort of feeling, you should read it too. 

The Mark Athitakis Washington Post review wrote: "If Lonesome Lies Before Us isn’t the best American novel of the year, it’s one of the most American American novels. It’s intensely concerned with the civic institutions that shape everyday lives, and with who’s affected when they disappear. That’s too much weight for the average country song to bear, but Lee’s novel carries it just fine." (Will Johnson is at right)

From Jim Higgins in the Journal Sentinel: "Lee's novel shares some of the character of alt-country music, low-key and trafficking in folks who will never be gold-card members. Deftly, he finds gentle comedy in the town's tiny Unitarian Universalist congregation while also respecting the impulses that brought them together. (And thank you, sir, for informing me about the prison-cassette industry.)"

Yes, it really was the best special-guest-star showing of the Unitarian Society since Michelle Hunevan's Jamesland. I should have remembered to use that.

So now it's the day of our event and Lee will be here with musican Will Johnson. I worked so hard to make this happen and now I'm panicking that I didn't work hard enough.

Oh, and while there's really no connection with Wrack and Ruin that I found, there is a little wink.  I hoped to spot at least one character in the new book from the old, but it turned out the character in question is not a person. There's a golf resort now in Rosarita Bay, and that's got to be Lyndon Song's old Brussels sprout farm, right? Guess what? It's not doing too well. Ha!

Oh, this blog post is a blithering mess, but I have to get ready for the event. Hope some of you come, and that even more of you are there in spirit.