Sunday, June 1, 2014

Sunday Bestsellers for Boswell, The Last Week of the Fifth Month of 2014, Featuring the Return of Chicago Wizard Harry Dresdne in Jim Butcher's Latest.

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Skin Game, by Jim Butcher
2. The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt
3. Delicious, by Ruth Reichl
4. My Struggle Volume 3, by Karl Ove Knausgaard
5. Beowulf, translated by J.R.R. Tolkien

Skin Game, the 15th book in the Dresden Files series came out this week, and as is the inclination of popular speculative series, this one in particular of the urban fantasy variety, it popped nicely. Harry Dresden is the only practicing wizard in the city of Chicago, and this time he must work with some super-powered villains, including his archenemy Nicodemus Archleone, break into a high security vault so they can steal the Holy Grail, of course. Being that the works are set only two hours south, one day we'll perhaps cast a spell on the author to take the Hiawatha, though by take, in this case I mean ride, not steal. On June 4, Butcher signs at the Old Orchard Barnes and Noble. If you go, tell him Boswell sent you.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. The Fight for the Four Freedoms, by Harvey J. Kaye
2. Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty
3. Sons of Wichita, by Daniel Schulman
4. Tibetan Peach Pie, by Tom Robbins
5. The Hall: A Celebration of Baseball's Greats: In Stories and Images, with introduction by Tom Brokaw

One of the higher-profile releases this week is Tom Robbins' long-awaited memoir, Tibetan Peach Pie. We had an old friend working to get him to Milwaukee, but the tour is very, very limited, maybe three cities. He wanted us to convince Kopps to name a flavor after the book, not a bad idea really. The book's been widely reviewed, with Dwight Garner noting: "The story of how Tom Robbins became Tom Robbins is a pretty good one, and in relating it, he’s written his best book in many years. Tibetan Peach Pie should be sold in one of those marijuana vending machines now extant in Colorado. Like them, it provides an afternoon’s affordable buzz."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, by Joël Dicker
2. Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon
3. Wicked Girls, by Alex Marwood
4. Back Country, by Alex Grecian
5. Holy Orders, by Benjamin Black

It's kind of a mystery-thriller driven week, with a nice pop from Dicker, who is visiting Boswell on Tuesday, June 3, and Alex Grecian, who came to Boswell last year. Another pop comes from Alex Marwood's The Wicked Girls, about two 11-year-olds who commit a terrible act and what happens 25 years later when they meet each other again, one now a journalist and the other an amusement park manager, when the former begins investigating a series of murders. The book when the Edgar for best paperback original.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Graduates in Wonderland, by Rachel Kapelke-Dale and Jessica Pan
2. Strength for the Struggle, by Joseph Ellwanger
3. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown (ticketed event June 12)
4. The Widows' Handbook, edited by Jacqueline Lapidus and Lise Menn
5. Studying Wisconsin, by Martha Bergland and Paul G. Hayes (event is Monday, June 9, 6 pm, at MPL Rare Books Room)

It's all event books this week. A nice Milwaukee launch was held for Graduates in Wonderland  (signed copies available) was held this week, while Joseph Ellwanger pops from an event two weeks ago. Plus we had nice advance sales for events a week from now (noted above), plus Cary Feldman is doing events at various venues around the city for The Widows' Handbook.

Books for Kids
1. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
2. The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
3. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, by Mem Fox
4. City of Heavenly Fire: This Mortal Instruments Volume 6, by Cassandra Clare
5. Allegiant: Divergent Trilogy, Volume 3, by Veronica Roth

I usually talk about how we have strong bestseller level sales of pictures books, but noticing that this week's top five consists of three books for young adults including City of Heavenly Fire), one middle grader, and one board book, I'd say a bit of our core constituency is missing. I can tell you that our top three picture books for May, exucluding both events and bulk sales, are The Day the Crayons Quit, Oh the Places You'll Go, and President Taft is Stuck in a Bath. I'm happy to report that Mac Barnett, the author of the last title mentioned, will be visiting Boswell with illustrator Jon Klassen for Sam and Dave Build a Hole, on Tuesday, October 14, 7 pm, at Boswell.

In the Journal Sentinel, Jim Stingl has written a column about Dear Mrs. Griggs': Women Readers Pour Out Their Hearts from the Heartland, written by Genevieve McBride and Stephen Byers. Griggs wrote an advice column for the Milwaukee Journal's Green Sheet. She retired in 1985, well past the age of 90.

Alas, Mike Fischer, a Stephen King fan from way back, had no love for Mr. Mercedes. It's not horror but more of a sociopath thriller. Fischer observes the plot "trundles along in tired prose as a classic game of cat-and-mouse, in which close third-person narration spotlights Hodges and Brady."

Jon Gilbertson in the Journal Sentinel seems equally disappointed by Carsick, unlike our own Jen, who enjoyed it. He writes that "Waters can't offer many profound or even amusing observations, and the best parts of the journey--a ride in the van of Brooklyn indie band Here We Go Magic, two rides with a 20-year-old Republican town councilman--read like rehashes of the buzz those parts created in media from Twitter to The New York Times two years ago."

Fortunately Jim Higgins was much hotter on Charity and Sylvia, a new dual bio by Rachel Hope Cleves. "Drawing on documents and letters, and occasionally reading between the lines and interpreting silences, Cleves meticulously reconstructs their lives together in Charity and Sylvia. She explores fascinating and difficult questions, such as how the two women squared their relationship with their religious community and whether this was a sexual union."

And also, also, also in the Journal Sentinel, Chris Foran reviews Midnight in Europe, the newest novel from Alan Furst. "A Spanish émigré working in the Paris office of an international law firm in 1937, Ferrar is approached by Spain's Republican government to secure weapons for its fight against Gen. Francisco Franco and his Hitler-backed forces. Even though his life is safe and comfortable — Paris is lovely, he has tender but untangled relationships with women on both sides of the Atlantic, his family is safe in France — Ferrar agrees to help."

From several days ago, here's Jim Higgins' appreciation of Maya Angelou, who passed away at the age of 86.

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