Friday, June 30, 2017

Cover Story: Edgy unromantic YA palettes, the stylized floral on black, the unfinished authentic white jacket, and more.

We had a wonderful evening with Mackenzi Lee and Brittany Cavallaro yesterday. Cavallaro is a former Milwaukeean (a UWM grad student) who's appeared at Boswell both for her poetry and her first YA novel, A Study in Charlotte. Her second Charlotte Holmes novel is The Last of August, with another to come. Mackenzi Lee is also promoting her second novel, the just released The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, the #1 Indie Next Kids Pick for summer 2017 and getting lots of buzz. It too has a sequel coming. We have signed copies on both hardcovers.

As Cavallaro is a avid reader and bookstore junkie and Cavallaro is all that and a bookseller two (at Trident, in Boston), I came to ask them if they observed that their book jackets almost match. guess it's not that surprising. They are targeting the same age range, and they probably have the same art direct, since both are published by Katherine Tegen books. And I guess the publisher was looking for something that poppped, and didn't want the pinks and purples that might signify more of a romance. So for each book they went with an off-black (one has a blue tint, the other green), an acid turquoise accent color illustrating iconic images, and a secondary color of red or yellow.

As I know that Bri is friends with Chloe Benjamin from Madison, I brought out The Immortalists galley (on sale January 9, 2018) and oohed and ahhed over how beautiful it was. But then I noted that her novel plays into another trend, ultra bright botanicals on a black background. Now I read The Immortalists with no jacket image, but I am immediately attracted to it a book I'd want to read, and I think these images speak to our customers. I don't know why. They skew female, for sure, but somehow they seem in the sweet spot between commercial and literary. That makes sense for an acclaimed literary (and also middle grade) writer like Maile Meloy, who's new novel, Do Not Become Alarmed, ventures into psychological suspense territory. And The Chalk Artist plays on the book's title a bit, but veers away from the breakout chalk artist Valerie McKeehan, whose work, though I think is beautiful, might be too sweet and commecial a tone. Read my review of Allegra Goodman's novel on our webpage, and Sharon's got a recommendation for Meloy.

For Alison Amend's Enchanted Islands, they wisely kept the same image and just changed the typeface. I was still sitting around with a hardcover, because I still want to read it. The book seems to say I'm reviewable in a way that images of women staring off into the disantace seems to say, I'm practicing for the chain store's new release table. No real judgment here, just observation. And the thing is, if the flowers were more realistic, or on a field of white or wood grain or a pastel, you'd get a completely different vibe, targeting a much older female customer. I think the black gives it more of an edge.

Here's another trend I've noticed. It's what I call the unfinished canvas. I'm noticing a lot of black and white images that almost look like sketches. Sometimes there's a hint of color, but there's in general, there's a purposeful underdoneness. I first noticed it on Don Lee's Lonesome Lies Before Us, because I obsessed about everything about this wonderful novel. I read a manuscript, with no jacket image, and then I got a galley and wondered if this was the final image. And it was. And I've gotten several compliments from customers on the book's jacket. It's raw and authentic. I consider it a funny book, but this jacket plays down the funny, unlike by beloved bushel of Brussels sprouts on Wrack and Ruin's hardcover. I was glad to know that Lee prefers the sprouts to the elephant on the paperback, which could have ridden the Brussels wave we just lived through.

And then I started looking at several other books that were doing this treatment, from Roxane Gay's Hunger (which I just finished) to Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness to Sherman Alexie's You Don't Have to Say You Love Me (not pictured but you can see for yourself) and authenticity and rawness I think are two adjectives these books are striving for. Works for literary novels and memoirs. While white is popular background color for many other genres, most notably business and self-help, those Gladwell-esque jackets have images that are smaller, more carefully delineated and cleaner, and pop with color. You would never mistake the two cover trends. Of the four, I think Hunger jacket is a bit of a crossover, indicating that it's an authentic memoir that might also speak to the human potential market. Click to our web pages to see reviews for Gay and Lee's new books.

I was surprised that they chose this technique for Rosencrans Baldwin's The Last Kid Left, being that it's being positioned as a literary mystery, that might have more crossover, but I think MCD (an imprint of FSG) is holding onto their literary creds by sending the jacket in this direction. I think it will work with a more commercial book, but probably one by a musician or actor who wants the book to say, take me seriously!

Here's another cover trend that speaks to me. It's the handwritten lettering around a quirky image on the field of a bright cover. I just spotted Hap and Hazard and the End of the World, by Diane DeSanders, a first novel by a writer in her seventies that just got a nice write up in Publishers Weekly, and it reminded me of The Awkward Age, by Francesca Segal. I think a little sleuthing would turn up some more examples. This is definitely saying quirk. I can imagine Issa Rae's The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl having this sort of cover treatment. To me, it looks nice and fresh until I see it a lot and it becomes iconic, and well, not so fresh, like the Swastika that used to be part of every spy thriller for decades, or the aqua backqround on a cover that in the last few years has come to signify funny.

Now you know yet another way that booksellers pass their time. And no, it's really not just me.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The evolution of Milwaukee's love affair with Adriana Trigiani (who will be at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts on July 12, 7 pm)

Boswellian Jane Glaser and I have shared a lot over the years. We first started working together when I was the manager of the Harry W. Schwartz Bookshop in Mequon. But one thing we've never really shared was an event with Adriana Trigiani. She may have come when I was working at Schwartz, but back then I was buying, and didn't attend as many events, particularly the ones in Mequon and Brookfield, being that they pretty much required a car.

Jane first read about Trigiani in 2001, where she was featured in a St. Mary's College of Notre Dame alumni magazine, where '81 Trigiani offered to talk to reading groups about Big Stone Gap (published in 2000) and Big Cherry Holler (from 2001). Through the Saint Mary's College office, Jane (I'm sure you've figured out that she's also an alum) wrote and told her about the active Schwartz Bookshop book club program that she ran.

And she responded. I'm not really sure, but I'm guessing this was by traditional letter. I remember doing this myself with several authors. If you were lucky, you'd get a postcard back about six months later.

Adriana (I'm using her first name here because she and Jane have a longstanding bookseller-author friendship) first came to Milwaukee in 2003 for the novel Lucia Lucia. It started with a group of 30 people and grew to over 150 in 2009. That was for the novel Very Valentine. Her note to Jane: "We're planning the tour now and how could I ever skip my beloved Harry's." In the book, she mentioned Mequon's Picardy Shoe Parlor. Jane tells me it's on page 123.

Jane noted that in 2005, Trigiani was interviewed by Bill Goldstein* in Publishers Weekly. You can read the whole interview here. The focus is on the rise of book clubs at bookstores. They were working on the publication of the novel Rococo. You'll definitely want to go back and read this article. In addition to the Adriana love, Glaser tells the now legendary story about how her store went on to sell a ton of copies of Gail Tsukiyama's The Samurai's Garden.

Her last visit to Milwaukee was at Mequon's Next Chapter Bookshop on April 24, 2012. The featured title was The Shoemaker's Wife. As Adriana and Jane were planning this event, Jane wrote and told Trigiani that one of her favorite sales was to a retiree who bought The Shoemaker's Wife, Lucia Lucia, Rococo, and Queen of the Big Time to give to former patients, loving how Trigiani's characters "persevere to work out their lives with steadfastness and a good outlook."

Rudy Cotolo profiled Trigiani in 2013 for The Supreme Macaroni Company in Publishers Weekly. We both love this excerpt: "On tour, Trigiani has developed an act that she says is closer to stand-up comedy than to straightforward reading. 'I’m here to serve my readers; I’m not in this for any other reason.' She describes herself as overly optimistic. 'I don’t like any art form barraged in violence or hurt,' she says. And she’s 'crazy' about her readers, most of whom are female. 'I see them in their complexities, these women; I see how a book from me is an escape, and my role as a storyteller is to lift these readers out of something sometimes, or to turn the mirror on them.' She wants her readers to 'have fun, connect, laugh, and cry together,' she says."

And now it's 2017 and time for her Boswell debut. This joint event from Boswell Book Company and Oconomowoc's Books and Company on July 12 at the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts will be her sixth visit to the Milwaukee area. Tickets are $32 and include a copy of Kiss Carlo.

Here's what Jane says about Trigiani's newest, Kiss Carlo: "Set against the post-World-War-II streets of South Philadelphia, a mountaintop village in Italy and the golden age of New York television, this is a story that celebrates the expansive life of one Italian-American family. As branches of the Palazzini family are involved in a decades old feud over their cab driving business, ironically it is the orphaned cousin Nicky Castone who brings about a reconciliation. While he drives a cab by day, Nicky begins to fulfill his dream of becoming an actor by volunteering at the struggling Borelli Theatre in the evening and there he meets the love of his life. From page one, readers will engage in this vibrantly drawn heartwarming epic story of family and friendship, love and forgiveness and ultimately dreams fulfilled. Perfect choice for summer reading!"

I also read Trigiani, but it was my very first time. I was a little daunted by the 500+ pages (Jane noted that this is a little longer than the average Adriana novel) but the story truly rushed by. Trigiani brings such joy to the Italian American experience. Even if the family's are fighting, they do so with gusto. I'm sure we all wish we had a Nicky who could bring everybody together. Here's another link to tickets.

*Coincidentally, Bill Goldstein is coming to Boswell for his first work of nonfiction, The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster and the Year That Changed Literature.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Event alert: Stefanie Chambers, Courtney Yasmineh, Lawrence D'Attilio, plus YA favorites Brittany Cavallaro and Mackenzi Lee

The authors are coming, the authors are coming! Also pizza.

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.

Tuesday, June 27, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Courtney Yasmineh, author of A Girl Called Sidney: The Coldest Place.

After first spiriting her mother away and then running away herself to the family’s remote Northwoods cabin in Minnesota, Sidney challenges herself to survive alone and find her voice over the course of a brutal winter.

The narrative takes the reader on a dark and moody ride back and forth in both time and place, between Chicago and a tiny rural town. Getting inside Sidney’s head as she tries to make sense of a cast of characters – family, hangers-on, and old and new friends – the novel examines the roots of their dysfunction while Sidney plots the future and works to make real her pursuit of music.

Appealing to readers of women rocker bios and contemporary fiction of the heartland the story back to a distinct time and looks with a fresh perspective on the experiences of a young woman that will resonate with many adults.

Courtney Yasmineh is a rock musician and singer-songwriter. She has several albums and thousands of road-gig miles to her credit. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Wednesday, June 28, 7 pm, at Boswell:
Lawrence D’Attilio, author of The Soul of Vietnam: Photographs and Stories.

The book’s images mitigate the decadent ideas many people have about Vietnam. Today it is less a place of rice fields, disenfranchised peasants, and backwards economics. It also is not a country of overwhelming social conditioning determined by a paternalistic government. It helps to know it is the world’s thirteenth largest population and among the fastest expanding economies. It is endless beautiful sand beaches, very high mountains, a greatly expanded middle class, and a culture that beckons you to go there and stay for a long time.

Each image in the book is a contribution to a fresh understanding of Vietnam. The five-fold increase in population since 1975 can be considered one of history’s greatest human accomplishments.

Lawrence ‘Larry’ D’Attilio obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Louisville. Larry has taught photography since 1971 and currently teaches one on one and at workshops he organizes in the U.S and Vietnam.

Thursday, June 29, 7 pm, at Boswell:
YA Pizza Party with Mackenzi Lee, author of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and Brittany Cavallaro, author of The Last of August.

It's a YA pizza party featuring two authors and Pizza Man Pizza. In addition to pizza, we'll be offering a free YA galley to each attendee. We'll let you choose a second galley if you buy a book from one of our authors and you'll get a third if you buy a book from each author:

About The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue:

Henry "Monty" Montague doesn't care that his roguish passions are far from suitable for the gentleman he was born to be. But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quests for pleasure and vice are in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family's estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a hilarious and swashbuckling stand-alone teen historical fiction novel.

About The Last of August:

In the follow up to the acclaimed A Study in Charlotte, Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are in a chase across Europe to untangle a web of shocking truths about the Holmes and Moriarty families. So begins a dangerous race through the gritty underground scene in Berlin and glittering art houses in Prague, where Holmes and Watson discover a complicated case that may change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.

Mackenzi Lee holds a BA in History and a MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults. Her short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Atlas Obscura, Crixeo, and The Newport Review. Her debut novel, The Monstrous Thing, won the PEN-New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award. She is also a bookseller at Trident in Boston.

Brittany Cavallaro is a poet, fiction writer, and old-school Sherlockian. She is the author of the poetry collection Girl-King and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She earned her BA in literature from Middlebury College and her MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. You may know her from her days at the PhD program of UWM's Creative Writing Program. After this, we're talking a Summerfest break. We'll be back with programming in mid-July.

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.