Monday, April 12, 2021

Boswell events: Stephanie Dray, Andrew J Graff, Shelley Nolden, Lawrence Baldassaro, plus the Edgar Award finalists for the Sue Grafton Prize - Kathleen Kent, Laurie R King, Rosalie Knecht, Sara Paretsky, Ilaria Tuti, James Riskin, plus a Amy E Reichert preview

Here's what's happening this week at Boswell!

Monday, April 12, 7 pm
Stephanie Dray, author of The Women of Chateau Lafayette
Tickets for this event available here

The Lynden Sculpture Garden Women’s Speakers Series, produce by Milwaukee Reads and Boswell Book Company, presents New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray for a presentation of her latest book, a historical novel based on the true story of a castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy in some of humanity’s darkest hours. Admission for one device costs $5, or upgrade to a book-with-admission for $27, plus sales tax and ticket fee. $5 from each ticket will be donated back to the Lynden Sculpture Garden. Ticket link:

Dray, whose previous novels include My Dear Hamilton and America's First Daughter, both written with Laura Kamoie, brings to vibrant life the story of Chateau de Chavaniac and the Lafayette Preventorium, where socialite Beatrice Chanler cared for 25,000 children between 1917 and 1960 and hid Jewish children during WWII. Intricately woven and beautifully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we find from standing together on the shoulders of those who came before us.

From Amy Scribner's starred review in Bookpage: "In The Women of Chateau Lafayette, we move among the extravagance of Marie Antoinette’s royal court, the brutality of trench warfare in World War I and the misery of a French countryside slowly starving under Nazi rule. It’s an epic, gripping novel, a powerful depiction of the way brutal conflicts based on prejudice and greed tend to repeat time and again. And through it all, Dray poignantly reminds us of the undervalued contributions of women throughout history."

Monday, April 12, 7 pm
Andrew J Graff, author of Raft of Stars
in conversation with J Ryan Stradal for a virtual event
Register for this event here.

Boswell welcomes Andrew J Graff, who grew up in Wisconsin's North Woods, for a conversation about his debut novel set in 1990s rural Wisconsin with J Ryan Stradal, author of The Lager Queen of Minnesota and Kitchens of the Great Midwest. Pulitzer-winner Richard Russo calls Graff’s novel “a rousing adventure yarn full of danger and heart and humor.”

It’s summer in Claypot, Wisconsin, and the lives of ten-year-old Fischer “Fish” Branson and Dale “Bread” Breadwin are shaped by the two fathers they don’t talk about. One night, tired of seeing his best friend bruised and terrorized by his no-good dad, Fish takes action. A gunshot rings out and the two boys flee the scene, believing themselves murderers. They head for the woods, where they find their way onto a raft, but the natural terrors of Ironsforge gorge threaten to overwhelm them. Adults track the boys toward the novel’s heart-pounding climax on the edge of the gorge and a conclusion that beautifully makes manifest the grace these characters find in the wilderness and one another.

Raft of Stars
has been championed in The New York Times and The Washington Post. From Mark Athitakis's review: "Ultimately, though, Graff recognizes that his main job is to deliver a gripping adventure tale, which the concluding chapters offer plenty of - dangerous rapids leading to life-threatening waterfalls, menacing black bears and coyotes. To say who walks away and who doesn’t would spoil the story, but Graff closes with a foreboding mood that, in the long run, man is always the loser in any man vs. nature story." 

Tuesday, April 13, 7 pm
Shelley Nolden, author of The Vines
in conversation with Greer Macallister for a virtual event
Register for this event here.

Boswell hosts an evening with Wisconsin author Shelley Nolden for a conversation about her debut historical novel, a story that intertwines the horrific and elusive history of North Brother Island with a captivating tale of love, betrayal, survival, and loss. She’ll chat with Greer Macallister, author of The Magician’s Lie and The Arctic Fury.

Nolden was working on Wall Street when she first heard the history of North Brother Island, which rests in the shadows of New York City. At the age of 31, Nolden was diagnosed with leukemia, and the sense of isolation and fear she felt during her ordeal influenced her writing this thrilling historical novel. Booklist offered this praise: "In a debut that is part horror novel, part thought experiment, Nolden has accomplished the feat of getting readers to ask themselves what horrors can be done to serve the greater good."

Jenni Herrick covers Nolden's novel in The Shepherd Express as well: "Eerily relevant in today’s world hyper-focused on virology and immunization, this historically rich account imagines the tragic life of one long-persecuted patient who manages to survive alone on an uninhabited island."

North Brother Island holds the remains of a shuttered hospital, which holds the haunting memories of century-old quarantines and human experiments. A young explorer arrives on the island and glimpses an enigmatic beauty. Interest turns to obsession as he seeks to uncover her past. Will he unravel the mysteries and help save the stranger, or will she meet the same tragic ending as those who’ve already perished on the island?

Wednesday, April 14, 7 pm
Mystery Writers of America Edgar Awards Virtual Event
The GP Putnam’s Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Award Reading and Discussion
Kathleen Kent, author of The Burn
Laurie R King, author of Riviera Gold
Rosalie Knecht, author of Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery
Sara Paretsky, author of Dead Land
Ilaria Tuti, author of The Sleeping Nymph
James Ziskin, author of Turn to Stone
Register for this event here.

Boswell Book Company is pleased to host the official Edgar Awards virtual author event for the G.P. Putnam Son's Sue Grafton Memorial Award, which honors the best novel in a series featuring a female protagonist. This event will include readings from each of the nominated authors and questions from the audience.

And the nominees are! Kathleen Kent, author of the Edgar Award-nominated The Dime. Detective Betty Rhyzyk decides to go rogue, heading straight into the dark underworld of Dallas's most dangerous drug cartel.

Laurie R King, author of the New York Times bestselling Mary Russell mystery series. In this installment, Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes turn the Riviera upside down to crack their most captivating case yet.

Rosalie Knecht, author of the genre-pushing Who Is Vera Kelly?. Knecht’s recently out-of-the-spy-game heroine finds herself traveling from Brooklyn to a sprawling countryside estate in the Caribbean in her first case as a private investigator.

Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Paretsky, who continues her legendary VI Warshawski series with a story that scrapes Chicago’s seedy underbelly when Warshawski’s goddaughter drags her into a fight over lakefront land use.

Italian author Ilaria Tuti, who follows up her award-winning Flowers Over the Inferno with a new tale of Superintendent Teresa Battaglia, expert criminal profiler with four decades of experience on the Italian police force, who returns to take on a chilling cold case.

And Anthony and McCavity award-winner James Ziskin, who offers up a 1960s-era locked-room mystery that takes Ellie Stone to Florence, Italy, an idyllic setting where a new case has sinister undertones.

Please note that portions of this event may be prerecorded.

Thursday, April 15, 7 pm
Larry Baldassaro, author of Tony Lazzeri: Yankees Legend and Baseball Pioneer
in conversation with Tom Shieber for a virtual event
Register for this event here.

Larry Baldassaro, Professor Emeritus of Italian at UWM and author of Beyond DiMaggio and Baseball Italian Style and editor of The Ted Williams Reader, joins us for an event celebrating the release of his new biography of the Yankees legend. He'll be in conversation with Tom Shieber, Senior Curator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and lead curator for exhibits on Babe Ruth and Moe Berg. Shieber has also served the Society for American Baseball Research board of directors.

Before there was Joe DiMaggio, there was Tony Lazzeri, the first major baseball star of Italian descent. Lazzeri paved the way for DiMaggio and so many other Italian American fans and players by forging his own Hall of Fame career as a key member of the Yankees’ legendary Murderers’ Row lineup between 1926 and 1937. An unwitting pioneer who played his entire career while afflicted with epilepsy, Lazzeri was the first player to hit sixty home runs in organized baseball and the first Italian player with enough star power to attract a whole new generation of fans to the ballpark.

Ira Berkow, the Pulitzer-winning author of How Life Imitates Sports, says, “Cheers to Mr. Baldassaro for mining this terrific story.” And from John Thorn, official historian of Major League Baseball, “In real life as in baseball, how one performs in a climactic moment may unfairly obscure a multitude of other feats; Larry Baldassaro’s book reveals its subject to have been not only a wonderful ballplayer but also a great pioneer on behalf of Italian Americans forevermore.”

Monday, April 19, 7 pm
Amy E Reichert, author of The Kindred Spirits Supper Club
in conversation with Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin for a virtual event
Register for this event here.
The April edition of our Readings from Oconomowaukee virtual event series celebrates the latest novel from Wisconsinite Amy E Reichert, author of novels like The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go and The Coincidence of Coconut Cake. Her latest is a story in which a woman must come home to Wisconsin Dells to face the (literal) ghosts of her hometown. She’ll join us for a conversation with bookstore proprietors Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin. Signed copies of The Kindred Spirits Supper Club available through Boswell or Books and Company.

For journalist Sabrina Monroe, moving back home to the Dells means returning to the Monroe family curse: the women in her family can see spirits who come to them for help with unfinished business. But Sabrina’s always redirected the needy spirits to her mom, who’s much better suited for the job. The one exception has always been Molly, a bubbly rom-com loving ghost, who stuck by Sabrina’s side all through her lonely childhood.

Then Ray, the new local restaurateur, invites Sabrina to his supper club, where he flirts with her over his famous Brandy Old-Fashioneds. He’s charming and handsome, but Sabrina tells herself she doesn’t have time for romance; she needs to focus on finding a job. But the longer she’s in the Dells, the harder Ray is to resist. It doesn’t hurt that he shows his affection through good old-fashioned home-cooked suppers. As the Dells starts to feel like home for the first time, Sabrina begins to realize that she can make a difference and help others wherever she is in this heartwarming tale about the power of love and connection.

More on the
Boswell upcoming events page.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending April 10, 2021

Here are the Boswell bestseller lists for the week ending April 10, 2021. This week we go a little deeper in hardcover fiction - the first week in April is generally a strong release date.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Hill We Climb, by Amanda Gorman
2. The Women of Chateau Lafayette, by Stephanie Dray (tickets for April 12 event here)
3. First Person Singular, by Haruki Murakami
4. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
5. Gold Diggers, by Sanjena Sathian (register for May 12 event here)
6. Good Company, Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney (Read with Jenna book club pick)
7. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff (register for April 12 event here)
8. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
9. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
10. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox
11. Northern Spy, by Flynn Berry (Reese's Book Club pick)
12. The Five Wounds, by Kirstin Valdez Quade (register for May 13 event here)
13. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell
14. Death Washes Ashore, by Patricia Skalka (register for April 21 event here)
15. The Paris Library, by Janet Skelsien Charles (register for May 5 event here)

The top debut this week is Haruki Murakami's new collection of short stories, First Person Singular. The book was first published in Japan last July and yes, it uses that particular voice in all its narratives. From David Means in The New York Times Book Review: "Whatever you want to call Murakami’s work - magic realism, supernatural realism - he writes like a mystery tramp, exposing his global readership to the essential and cosmic (yes, cosmic!) questions that only art can provoke: What does it mean to carry the baggage of identity? Who is this inside my head in relation to the external, so-called real world? Is the person I was years ago the person I am now? Can a name be stolen by a monkey?"

It's also the release date for one of my favorite novels of spring, Gold Diggers!  

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Broken (in the Best Possible Way), by Jenny Lawson
2. Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House, by Nicholas Hayes (register for May 17 event here)
3. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
4. Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
5. Philip Roth, by Blake Bailey
6. The Code Breaker, by Walter Isaacson
7. Broken Horses, by Brandi Carlile
8. What It's Like to Be a Bird, by David Allen Sibley
9. Light of Days, by Judy Batalion
10. My Broken Language, by Quiara Alegría Hudes

Top of the chart this week is Jenny Lawson's Broken (in the Best Possible Way), now published by Henry Holt, following Amy Einhorn from Flatiron. Lawson is a bookseller author as well - one of my old friends works for her at Nowhere Bookshop in San Antonio. Mary Cadden in USA Today gives the book four stars out of four: "The true beauty of Broken is how Lawson, like the gold of Kintsugi that mends the broken bits, brings universality to a book that is written to share one person's specific struggles. Her stories do become our own. Yes, we are all struggling, yes, we are all awkward, and yes, we all need to look back and find the humor in the moment. Yes, we are all broken. But broken in the best possible way."

I can't help but shout out Blake Bailey's Philip Roth, the first major biography of this writer, as while I've only read four of his novels (which turned out to be more than I thought - my brain was updated as I was indexing old reading lists), my mentor David Schwartz read all of them, and generally liked to talk about them. From Alexander C Kafka in The Washington Post: "...By the end of the book, such is the accrual of medical details, you’ll feel like Roth’s internist. Then again, you wouldn’t want someone vague and squeamish writing about the creator of Portnoy’s Complaint and The Anatomy Lesson. Moreover, this unsparing treatment seems perfectly apt considering that Roth portrayed himself or his counterselves with even more unsparing, unflattering precision.

Paperback Fiction:
1. Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik
2. Circe, by Madeline Miller
3. Interior Chinatown, By Charles Yu
4. Dune, by Frank Herbert
5. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
6. Sex with Strangers, by Michael Lowenthal
7. Deacon King Kong, by James McBride
8. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
9. Dead Land, by Sara Paretsky (register for April 14 event here)
10. Glass Hotel, by Emily St John Mandel

Out in paperback is Dead Land, one of six titles nominated for an Edgar Award, notably the GP Putnam Sue Grafton Memorial Award. All six of the nominees will be reading at a virtual Boswell event on April 14, though notably Ilaria Tuti will be on tape delay because it's something like 2 am in Italy. From the Kirkus Reviews write up: "As usual, Paretsky is less interested in identifying whodunit than in uncovering a monstrous web of evil, and this web is one of her densest and most finely woven ever. So fierce, ambitious, and far-reaching that it makes most other mysteries seem like so many petit fours."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Walking Milwaukee, by Royal Brevvaxling and Molly Snyder
2. Classic Restaurants of Milwaukee, by Jennifer Billock (register for April 22 event here)
3. Vegetarian Flavors with Alamelu, by Alamelu Vairavan
4. New York Times Cooking No Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton
5. American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hagner
6. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
7. Why Fish Don't Exist, by Lulu Miller
8. Tightrope, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
9. The Russian Revolution, by Sean McMeekin
10. Minor Feelings, by Cathy Park Hong

Vegetarian Flavors with Alamelu: Wholesome, Indian Inspired, Plant-Based Recipes is the latest collection from the Milwaukee-area host of Healthful Indian Flavors with Alamelu. Included are over 100 recipes, featuring many new ones that enhance vibrant vegetables with spices and legumes. They range from appetizers, soups, salads, and vegetable entrees to chutneys and desserts, and each one is accompanied by a full-color photo and step-by-step instructions.

Books for Kids:
1. The Night Diary, by Veera Hiranandani
2. The Unexpected Friend, by Raya Rashna Rahman
3. Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales
4. The Proudest Blue, by Ibithaj Muhammad
5. The Most Beautiful Thing, by Kao Kalia Yang
6. Kids on the March, by Michael Long
7. Yang Warriors, by Kao Kalia Yang
8. Islandborn, by Junot Diaz
9. Guess How Much I Love You?, by Sam McBratney
10. Peek a Who, by Nina Laden

Lots of school orders this week, but I should note one is a new release from Kao Kalia Yang, the Twin Cities writer who has spoken several times in Milwaukee. Her latest kids book is Yang Warriors, the story of a resourceful group of kids confronting adversaries in a refugee camp. Kirkus Reviews called it "A powerful tale about finding purpose and strength in the face of extreme adversity."

Monday, April 5, 2021

Boswell virtual events - Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, Michael Lowenthal, Middle Grade authors Sara Allen, Lisa Fipps, Tanya Guerrero, Joy McCullough, plus next week previews for Andrew J Graff and Stephanie Dray

We're going a bit out of order this week!

Thursday, April 8, 6:30 pm
Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of Good Company
in Conversation with Kate Flannery for a Virtual Event
Tickets for this event include the book and are available at

Boswell Book Company presents a ticketed virtual event with the bestselling author of The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney in conversation with actor, singer, and writer Kate Flannery, best known for her nine seasons as Meredith on NBC's The Office. Good Company was just named the Today Show Read with Jenna Book Club April selection.

Much of what made The Nest so beloved is back in play with Good Company, including Sweeney’s distinctive wit and her incisive examination of the way people and their relationships - with others and themselves - evolve over decades. The novel follows two couples entering the midpoint of their lives against the backdrop of the New York theater scene and Hollywood. The novel tells a story of what it means to “truly love but never truly know another person,” as Sweeney says in her own words.

Ron Charles is a fan of Good Company. From his Washington Post review: "Sweeney’s effectiveness as a novelist stems from her protean sympathy, her ability to move among these characters and capture each one’s feelings without judgment. As we see some of the same events from various points of view, we don’t learn who was right - who could ever be right, after all? - but we get a poignant, sometimes comic sense of the way we each experience the same events, the same decisions, the same mistakes. In Sweeney’s hands, that’s not a recipe for endless conflict, but a road to understanding and - maybe - forgiveness."    

Bethanne Patrick talked to D'Aprix Sweeney about her book for the Los Angeles Times: "The strife and self-doubt of middle age - that went into the book. “I don’t think it’s any surprise that shortly after I did something in midlife that changed my life - getting my MFA, moving across the country - that I found myself writing a novel about hitting a moment in life when not everything is possible anymore.”

Hosted in collaboration with Boswell Book Company is working with Books Are Magic, Book Passage, Book Revue, The Briar Patch, The Book Stall, Chevalier's Books, Fiction Addiction, Oblong Books & Music, Politics & Prose, Porter Square, and The Strand.

Tuesday, April 6, 7 pm 
Michael Lowenthal, author of Sex with Strangers
In conversation with Stephen McCauley for a virtual event

Boswell presents an evening with writer Michael Lowenthal, author of  The Same Embrace, Avoidance, and The Paternity Test, for a conversation with Stephen McCauley, author of  seven novels, including his most recent, My Ex-Life 

Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men, says “In this pitch-perfect collection of sly, shapely stories, Michael Lowenthal turns his discerning eye on relationships up and down the Kinsey scale. What a tremendous gift to read such wise insights into the various ways people seduce, betray, surprise, and ultimately transform each other.”

Recognizing that any partner is unknowable on some level, Lowenthal writes about how intimacy can make strangers of us all. A newly ordained priest struggles with guilt and longing when he runs into his ex-girlfriend. A woman weighs the cost of protecting her daughter from a man they both adore. A young man tries to salvage a long-distance relationship while caring for his mentor, an erotic writer dying of AIDS. In edgy, disquieting stories, Lowenthal traces the paths that attraction and erotic encounters take, baffling and rueful as often as electrifying. This fraught and funny collection forces us to grapple with our own subconscious desires and question how well we can ever really know ourselves.

From Brandon Taylor in The New York Times Book Review: "The stories are studded with memorable flashes of brilliant writing and stunning details. A scene of a character’s night out, for instance, offers this meditation on the nature of club culture: 'The generations of club kids succeeded themselves as rapidly as lab mice.' There are also moments of genuine human connection, such as when Father Tim wrestles with his responsibility to a new charge: 'Can he condemn her thrill in a change he, too, has felt? She’s just described - better than he’s ever managed to - the centripetal force of opening himself to God, when suddenly he started living at life’s hub.'"

Wednesday, April 7, 7 pm
Middle Grade Educator night!
Sarah Allen, author of Breathing Underwater,
Lisa Fipps, author of Starfish
Tanya Guerrero, author of All You Knead Is Love
Joy McCullough, author of Across the Pond

Boswell celebrates the release of four new books for middle graders with an educator night for teachers, librarians, and children's book lovers. Hosted by Boswellian Jenny Chou, this evening will feature lively conversation about new middle grade books plus giveaways for virtual attendees.

Manila-based writer Tana Guerrero is the author of All You Knead Is Love. This story features twelve-year-old Alba, who feels hope and love while exploring a newly discovered passion for bread baking after being sent to her abuela’s in Barcelona. Guerrero's previous novel is How to Make Friends with the Sea.

Joy McCullough’s debut novel, Blood Water Paint, was shortlisted for the National Book Award. Her latest, Across the Pond, is about seventh-grader Callie, who hopes to escape friendship problems in San Diego when they move to a Scottish castle, only to find making new friends a challenge. McCullough is also the author of the current bestselling picture book, Champ and Major: First Dogs.

Lisa Fipps, a library marketing manager based in Indiana, presents her debut novel, Starfish. Ellie, a twelve-year-old girl who has been bullied and shamed for being fat her whole life, finally gains the confidence to stand up for herself, with the help of some wonderful new allies.

Sarah Allen is the author of Breathing Underwater. In this novel, thirteen-year-old Olivia, a budding photographer, tries to recreate a Treasure Hunt she once shared with her sixteen-year-old sister, Ruth, while watching for signs that Ruth's depression is back. Allen is also the author of Where Stars Are Made, and like the protagonist in that novel, she lives with Turner Syndrome.

Coming next week...  

Monday, April 12, 7 pm
Andrew J Graff, author of Raft of Stars
in conversation with J Ryan Stradal for a virtual event
Resister for this free event here.

Boswell welcomes back to Wisconsin (virtually) Lawrence graduate Andrew J Graff for a conversation about his debut novel set in 1990s rural Wisconsin with J Ryan Stradal, author of The Lager Queen of Minnesota. Pulitzer-winner Richard Russo calls Graff’s novel “a rousing adventure yarn full of danger and heart and humor.”

It’s summer in Claypot, Wisconsin, and the lives of ten-year-old Fischer “Fish” Branson and Dale “Bread” Breadwin are shaped by the two fathers they don’t talk about. One night, tired of seeing his best friend bruised and terrorized by his no-good dad, Fish takes action. A gunshot rings out and the two boys flee the scene, believing themselves murderers. They head for the woods, where they find their way onto a raft, but the natural terrors of Ironsforge gorge threaten to overwhelm them. Adults track the boys toward the novel’s heart-pounding climax on the edge of the gorge and a conclusion that beautifully makes manifest the grace these characters find in the wilderness and one another.

From Sam Graham-Felsen in The New York Times Book Review: "Andrew J Graff’s engrossing, largehearted debut novel, Raft of Stars, is a book with a distinctly Rousseauian vibe. It is the story of what happens when two 10-year-old boys flee into the northern Wisconsin woods and how they, and their various adult pursuers, don’t merely survive, but shed their landlocked inhibitions and become better, bigger versions of themselves.

From Dale Singer in the St Louis Post-Dispatch:"After Dale Breadwin’s long-abusive father is found lying on the floor in a pool of blood, four residents of Claypot, Wisconsin, set out to find Dale and his best friend, Fischer Branson, a pair of 10-year-olds who have fled the scene. All four have their own reasons for being involved in the hunt, and novelist Andrew J. Graff sets them out clearly in the impressive Raft of Stars, mixing personal profiles with a steady parceling out of plot points to keep the story moving." 

Also on Monday, April 12, 7 pm
Stephanie Dray, author of The Women of Chateau Lafayette
Cohosted by the Lynden Sculpture Garden and Milwaukee Reads

You loved Laura Kamoie at the Lynden when she visited the Lynden with two of her collaborators for Ribbons of Scarlet. Now you can virtually visit with her sometime writing partner (My Dear Hamilton) Stephanie Dray, whose latest novel, The Women of Chateau Lafayette, was the subject of a heated auction among publishers. This novel is based on the true story of a castle in the heart of France and the remarkable women bound by its legacy in some of humanity's darkest hours.

Dray brings to vibrant life the story of Chateau de Chavaniac and the Lafayette Preventorium, where socialite Beatrice Chanler cared for 25,000 children between 1917 and 1960 and hid Jewish children during WWII. Intricately woven and beautifully told, The Women of Chateau Lafayette is a sweeping novel about duty and hope, love and courage, and the strength we find from standing together on the shoulders of those who came before us.

Here's Amy Scribner in Bookpage, raving about Dray's latest: "Dray is a bestselling historical novelist who has previously written about Eliza Hamilton and Patsy Randolph, Thomas Jefferson’s daughter. Her ability to create engaging narratives from history, incorporating rich details and fully drawn characters, is downright magical. Adrienne and Beatrice are both based on real women whose stories come vividly to life here, while Marthe is a composite character inspired by the manor’s female resistance fighters, an artist-in-residence and other figures from the château’s history."

Photo credits
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney by Bader Howar
Michael Lowenthal by Michael Salerno
Stephanie Dray by Kate Bailey

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending April 3, 2021

Here's what's selling at Boswell for the week ending April 3, 2021

Hardcover Fiction: (and poetry, obviously!)
1. The Hill We Climb, by Amanada Groman
2. Murder at Wedgefield Manor, by Erica Ruth Neubauer
3. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishigruo
4. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff (register for April 12 event)
5. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
6. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, by Charlie Mackesy
7. The Four Winds, by Kristin Hannah
8. The Paris Library, by Janet Skelsien Charles (register for May 5 event)
9. The Invisible Life of Addie Larue, by VE Schwab
10. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox

I've always got this dilemma about poetry - fiction or nonfiction? I suppose one has to make this judgment based on the book itself, but I'm not sure if I'm able to have rigorous internal intellectual debate every week, so I tend to keep it fiction. So with this week's big release being The Hill We Climb, I thought it would I'd keep it simple and add poetry to the category header. From The New York Times: "At 22, Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet ever in the United States. She joins a small group of poets who have been recruited to help mark a presidential inauguration, among them Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Miller Williams, Elizabeth Alexander, and Richard Blanco."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Vibrant, by Stacie Stephenson
2. A Little Devil in America, by Hanif Abdurraquib
3. What It's Like to Be a Bird, by David Allen Sibley
4. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
5. The Sum of Us, by Heather McGhee
6. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders
7. Trustworthy, by Margot Bloomstein
8. Dust Night Dawn, by Anne Lamott
9. The Code Breaker, by Walter Isaacson
10. Tony Lazzeri, by Lawrence Baldeassaro (register for April 15 event)

A Little Devil in America: Notes on Black Performance, by Hanif Abdurraqib has already won praise from Brit Bennett, Jacqueline Woodson, Marlon James. And Lauretta Charlton in The New York Times noted, regarding the book: "In it, this poet, cultural critic, essayist and music buff uses the tales of Black performers to make poignant observations about race in America while using Black performance as a metaphor for the transcendent imagination, gliding through television, music, film, minstrel shows, vaudeville and even space."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
2. Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens
3. Oona Out of Order, by Margarita Montimore
4. The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
5. Deacon King Kong, by James McBride
6. Circe, by Madeline Miller
7. Murder at the Mena House, by Erica Ruth Neubauer
8. The Last Tourist, by Olen Steinhauer
9. The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah
10. The Rose Code, by Kate Quinn

Top paperback release at Boswell is Louise Erdrich's The Night WatchmanLouise Erdrich's biggest seller at Boswell since The Round House. From Patty Rhule in USA Today: "Erdrich, who is part Chippewa, is a gifted, award-winning storyteller whose writing introduces readers to Native American characters they will be sad to leave at book’s end. She subtly tells the story of the ruinous way this country treated its native people. As night watchman Thomas fights off sleep, he is often visited by the impish spirit of his friend Roderick, whose story unspools the cruelties of Indian schools designed to erase a people rather than educate them. Vera’s story of sexual enslavement was inspired by the real-life sexual trafficking of native women."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. We Want to Do More Than Survive, by Bettina Love
2. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, by Phyllis Balch
3. The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein
4. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe
5. Why We Swim, by Bonnie Tsui
6. Hood Feminism, by Mikki Kendall
7. The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
8. The Motherlode, by Clover Hope
9. Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
10. Classic Restaurants of Milwaukee, by Jennifer Billock (register for April 22 event)

Out in paperback (our website thinks it's not on sale until April 13, but Algonquin uses pub dates, not on-sale dates - someone should tell the ABA e-commerce people that) is Why We Swim, by Bonnie Tsui. According to the publisher notes, swimming is the third most popular activity in the world, and it ranks even higher if you include fishes in the data. From Martin Wolk in the Los Angeles Times: "Why We Swim is peppered with scientific findings on the health benefits of swimming, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure, decrease arterial stiffness and improve function for patients with arthritis. Tsui also is enthusiastic about the psychological benefits of an activity that has been described as 'moving meditation.'"

Books for Kids:
1. The House That Wasn't There, by Elana K Arnold
2. The One and Only Bob, by Katherine Applegate
3. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
4. Rebound, by Kwame Alexander
5. Locomotion V1, by Jacqueline Woodson
6. Peace Locomotion V2, by Jacqueline Woodson
7. Prisoner B-3087, by Alan Gratz
8. Just Ask, by Sonia Sotomayor
9. Maybe Something Beautiful, by Isabel F Campoy
10. Milo Imagines the World, by Matt de la Peña/Christian Robinson

A Elmbrook school read led to a virtual visit from Elana K Arnold, a Boswell favorite. The House That Wasn't There. It's the story of two kids who wind up living next door to each other - it's a book about connections, which is something that always interests me. From a starred Publishers Weekly review: "Told through alternating perspectives that offer clearly rendered details, this compassionate novel gives a unique twist to familiar situations - feeling lonely, adjusting to new environments, forging new bonds - while inviting readers to open their imaginations to all sorts of wonderful possibilities."

Monday, March 29, 2021

Events this week - Martha S Jones in conversation with Joanne Wiliams, Erica Ruth Neubauer in conversation with Tim Hennessy, Margot Bloomstein in conversation with Ash Dzick

Here's what's going on at Boswell this week

Monday, March 29, 7 pm
Martha S Jones, author of Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All
In conversation with Joanne Williams for a virtual event

Boswell Book Company presents and evening with Martha S Jones, Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History of Johns Hopkins. Her new book Vanguard documents the epic history of African American women's pursuit of political power, and how it transformed America.  We're thrilled that for this event, Professor Jones will be in conversation with longtime television journalist Joanne Williams, producer of the forthcoming documentary, Kaukona & King: 50 Years Later.

From The New York Times, Jennifer Szalai writes: "Jones has written an elegant and expansive history of Black women who sought to build political power where they could... Jones is an assiduous scholar and an absorbing writer, turning to the archives to unearth the stories of Black women who worked alongside white suffragists only to be marginalized, in what often amounted to a 'dirty compromise with white supremacy.'"

In the standard story, the suffrage crusade began in Seneca Falls in 1848 and ended with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. But this overwhelmingly white women's movement did not win the vote for most black women. Jones offers a new history of African American women's political lives in America. She recounts how they defied both racism and sexism to fight for the ballot, and how they wielded political power to secure the equality and dignity of all persons. From the earliest days of the republic to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and beyond, Jones excavates the lives and work of black women - Maria Stewart, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Fannie Lou Hamer, and more - who were the vanguard of women's rights, calling on America to realize its best ideals.

Martha S Jones is also President of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, the oldest and largest association of women historians in the United States. She is author of Birthright Citizens and All Bound up Together and has written for The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and USA Today. Longtime television journalist Joanne Williams was a longtime Fox6 television journalist and most recently the host of Milwaukee PBS's Black Nouveau. More about Kaukauna & King: 50 Years Later here.

Tuesday, March 30, 7 pm
Erica Ruth Neubauer, author of Murder at Wedgefield Manor
in conversation with Tim Hennessy for a virtual Thrillwaukee event

Erica Ruth Neubauer is an eleven-year military veteran and has been a police officer, high school teacher, retail worker (like us!), mystery reviewer, and even a detective. But we're celebrating her work as a novelist and the recent nominations of Murder at the Mena House for Best First Novel for the Agathas (Malice Domestic) and the Leftys (Left Coast Crime) with a launch event for the release of the second novel in her series featuring the adventures of amateur detective Jane Wunderly. For this event, Neubauer will be in conversation with Tim Hennessy, mystery critic and editor of Milwaukee Noir.

England, 1926: Wedgefield Manor, deep in the tranquil Essex countryside, provides a welcome rest stop for Jane and her matchmaking Aunt Millie before their return to America. While Millie spends time with her long-lost daughter, Lillian, and their host, Lord Hughes, Jane fills the hours devouring mystery novels and taking flying lessons - much to Millie’s disapproval. But any danger in the air is eclipsed by tragedy on the ground when one of the estate’s mechanics, Air Force veteran Simon Marshall, is killed in a motorcar collision.

The sliced brake cables prove this was no accident, yet was the intended victim someone other than Simon? The house is full of suspects - visiting relations, secretive servants, strangers prowling the grounds at night - and also full of targets. The enigmatic Mr. Redvers, who helped Jane solve a murder in Egypt, arrives on the scene to once more offer his assistance. It seems that everyone at Wedgefield wants Jane to help protect the Hughes family. But while she searches for answers, is she overlooking a killer hiding in plain sight?

Ask for your signed copy. Personalizations also available.

Wednesday, March 31, 6 pm
Margot Bloomstein, author of Trustworthy: How the Smartest Brands Beat Cynicism and Bridge the Trust Gap
in conversation with Ash Dzick for a Virtual Event
Cohosted by Brew City UX
Register for this event here.

Margot Bloomstein is content strategist, author, and principal of Appropriate, Inc whose work has influenced a range of industries. She’ll chat about Trustworthy, which looks at the problem of how marketers need a strategy to earn trust, act with transparency, and help consumers and citizens make confident decisions without being undermined by cynicism. She'll be in conversation with Ash Dzick of Brew City UX, a group of professionals passionate about crafting meaningful user experiences and growing the vibrant Milwaukee UX (user experience design) community.

To regain the trust of consumers and citizens, marketers talk about empathy and authenticity. But how do you get beyond those buzzwords? In Trustworthy, Bloomstein examines what works among teams of all stripes and sizes, She casts a broad net to capture the experiences of copywriters, designers, creative directors, and CMOs - people who work to build trust through imagery, editorial style, storytelling, and retail design. She brings her trademark blend of insight and encouragement to guest lecture in business, design, and humanities programs, sparking students to embrace a more thoughtful vision of their role in the broader industry.

Design professionals are raving about Trustworthy. Khoi Vinh Senior, Direct of Design for Adobe, says "We live in a time where cynicism reigns. This book shines a light for those who want to build companies and brands that are honest, optimistic, enduring, and able to contribute real value to the world."