Monday, April 26, 2021

This week in virtual world: Volcanologist Jess Phoenix with Davita Flowers-Shanklin of Urban Ecology Center, Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul virtual school visit, Suzanne Staubach for the Villa Terrace gardening series, Tayari Jones with Shannon Sims at Marquette University Raynor Memorial Libraries fundraiser

A little of everything - Boswell programs and cosponsorships week of April 26

Tuesday, April 27, 10 am
Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul, authors of Peace
A virtual school visit
Register for this event here.

Jenny at Boswell has been working with school districts all over to bring authors to students. During Independent Bookstore Day, one Wauwatosa parent told me that the virtual visit with illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser (Escape Goat, Lambslide, Fancy Nancy) was a highlight of her daughter's year. Feedback like this warms my heart!

While the technology for many events are handled by schools and districts themselves, for about 25% of the events, we handle the back end on Zoom, and this sometimes gives us the opportunity to bring in more schools, sometimes just an individual classroom from a school, to the program. Students working remotely can also join in. And sometimes we're even able to open the program up to the public, like this event from Baptiste and Miranda Paul

In their new book, the Pauls teamed up with illustrator Estelí Meza to create an inspiring look at things we can all do to bring peace into our lives and world. Peace is on purpose. Peace is a choice. Peace lets the smallest of us have a voice. From a hello and pronouncing your friend’s name correctly to giving more than you take and saying I’m sorry, this simple concept book explores definitions of peace and actions small and big that foster it.

This beautiful book has been winning praise from trade outlets like Kirkus, which calls the book “A visually splendid primer on peace.” And in a starred review, the School Library Journal says “This striking picture book informs young readers of the benefits of peace and that it is attainable for each of us… Delivered in perfectly scanning rhyming couplets, this important lesson is easily understood in the words that define peace…. A valuable, necessary lesson that beautifully defines peace for children.”

Tuesday, April 27, 7 pm
Jess Phoenix, author of Ms. Adventure: My Wild Explorations in Science, Lava, and Life
in conversation with Davita Flowers-Shanklin for a virtual event 
Donate to the Urban Ecology Center here.

The Urban Ecology Center and Boswell Book Company present volcanologist and extreme explorer Jess Phoenix, Executive Director of Blueprint Earth and a known expert on the Science and Discovery Channels. Do note that while this event is free, we encourage anyone who wants to attend to consider making a donation to the Urban Ecology Center, our event cohost. Donations help support the programming that the UEC offers. In conversation with Davita Flowers-Shanklin, the Volunteer Manager for the Urban Ecology Center.

Jess Phoenix is executive director and co-founder of Blueprint Earth. Phoenix is a fellow in the Explorers Club and the Royal Geographical Society and a featured scientist on the Discovery and Science channels. As a volcanologist, Jess Phoenix has dedicated her life to scientific exploration. Her career path has also inspired her to devote her life to making science more inclusive and accessible.

Ms. Adventure skillfully blends personal memoir, daring adventure, and scientific exploration, following Phoenix’s journey from sites deep in Ecuadorian jungles to Andean glaciers. Readers will delight in her unbelievable adventures, all embarked on for the love of science. From Patton Oswalt, beloved funnyman: "Jess Phoenix's work encompasses science and representation in such a delightful melding that it could only come from as spry and playful a soul as hers! Open this book and jump into the volcano!"

Great for geologists like my niece Jocelyn.

Wednesday, April 28, 6:30 pm
Suzanne Staubach, author of A Garden Miscellany: An Illustrated Guide to the Elements of the Garden
A virtual event cosponsorship
Tickets for this event here. $10 goes to the Villa Terrace garden fund.

Back when a cosponsorship was often billed as an offsite, we'd be traveling all over the community supporting authors with book sales. Sometimes the organization would come up with the event itself, and sometimes we'd place the event, figuring that they could probably build a better base audience than we could. Sometimes the group would ask us to help find someone. And that's kind of what happened here, only virtually. We've worked with Villa Terrace on several interior design events in the past, and they hold a special place in my heart, because I actuallly did an offsite with them before I owned a car, walking the books over on a cart.

The Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum has had a spring garden lecture series for years, with series sponsor Angela Westmore LLC Design Build and Susan Strecker in honor of the Memory of Barbara Strecker. The Friends raise money for that beautiful Italian garden you can see from the lakefront. And when they asked if we had a suggestion for the gardening series, I immediately thought of my old friend Suzanne Staubach, a retired bookseller at the U Conn Coop, who was also an avid gardener and ceramicist, also author of Clay: The History and Evolution of Humankind's Relationship with Earth's Most Primal Element and Guy Wolff: Master Potter in the Garden

Do you know a folly from a ha-ha? Can an allée be pleached? Does a skep belong on a plinth? Answers to these questions, plus a gazebo-ful of information, stories, and visual delights, await in this charming exploration of the stuff gardens are made of. Garden historian Suzanne Staubach covers everything from arbors to water features, reveling in the anecdotes that accompany each element. Filled with revelations and fanciful illustrations by Julia Yellow, A Garden Miscellany promises new discoveries with each reading - a book to be returned to again and again.

Thursday, April 29, 6 pm
Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage
A Virtual event cosponsorship
Tickets to this fundraiser event here.

Raynor Memorial Libraries invites you to an evening with Tayari Jones, celebrated author of An American Marriage, a New York Times best-selling novel and Oprah's Book Club selection. Tayari is also the 2021 Marquette University Ralph H Metcalfe, Sr., Chair. Jones will be in conversation with WTMJ4 Anchor Shannon Sims. Tickets for this event start at $25 per person, which includes admission to the main program beginning at 6 pm CDT only. Tickets available for $50 include an optional pre-event virtual reception (5:30 pm CDT), a signed copy of An American Marriage, access to the 6:00 p.m. program, and a tax-deductible donation to support the Raynor Library Digital Scholarship Lab. Young alumni tickets for the program only are available for $15 to Marquette students and alumni, undergrad years 2011-21.

We've been fans of An American Marriage since its release, and what acclaim! Winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction. Winner of the NAACP Image Award. Long-listed for the National Book Award. We've event been lucky enough to host Jones for two events and a school visit to Riverside High School. But not all of you were able to attend these events, and you truly know what a special thing it is to hear Jones speak. Those of you who tuned in to our event with Nancy Jones for The Kindest Lie also know what a great job TMJ4 Anchor Shannon Sims does in an interview. Wow! Truly this is a great pairing.

Tayari Jones's An American Marriage is the novel that former President Barack Obama calls "a moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple." This stirring love story is a profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control. Jones is also author of the novels Silver Sparrow, The Untelling, and Leaving Atlanta and Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University.

I love that every event this week highlights another great asset of the Milwaukee area - The Urban Ecology Center, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, the Raynor Memorial Libraries at Marquette University, and of course our K-12 schools. We've got schools from Racine, Pewaukee, West Allis/West Milwaukee, Cudahy, Wauwatosa, Waukesha, and Milwaukee signed up. And yes, at least one classroom from Dallas!

Check out the following week and the rest of our virtual event series on the Boswell upcoming event pages.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending April 24, 2021

Boswell bestsellers - week ending April 24, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff
2. Early Morning Riser, by Katherine Heiny (register for May 6 event here)
3. The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles (register for May 5 event here)
4. The Hill We Climb, by Amanda Gorman
5. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
6. Death Washes Ashore, by Patricia Skalka
7. Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro
8. The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett
9. The Five Wounds, by Kirstin Valdez Quade (register for May 13 event here)
10. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell

No new titles on this list, but it's nice to see The Five Wounds make our top ten, with four of the copies we sold this week selling on Saturday, when I was outside for Independent Bookstore Day with our prize wheel, talking up the book. Honestly I can't figure out how you wouldn't be drawn to buy this book after Scott Simon's interview with Kirstin Valdez Quade on Morning Edition: "There is so much in here that speaks of your knowledge of religion, your knowledge of faith, your knowledge of humanity in that area of the country. Did you also have to learn a lot about windshield repair?" More here.

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. World Travel, Anthony Bourdain with Laurie Woolever
2. Dare to Lead, by Brené Brown
3. Crying in H Mart, by Michelle Zauner (register for May 4 event here)
4. Goodbye Again, by Jonny Sun
5. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
6. Cook This Book, by Molly Baz
7. Broken in the Best Possible Way, by Jenny Lawson
8. Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House, by Nicholas Hayes (register for May 17 event here)
9. Madam Speaker, by Susan Page
10. Most Remarkable Creature, by Jonathan Meiberg

I was so ready to talk about Michelle Zauner's Crying in H Mart when Anthony Bourdain's World Travel (with Laurie Woolever) swept in for the win. This posthumous travel guide, based on his writings in various sources, has won raves including this from Publishers Weekly: "The book's power comes from Bourdain's joyfully combative stances ('Once you've been to Cambodia, you'll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands'), unabashed enthusiasm, dense overlay of cinematic references, and world-weary advice ('Sardinia's the kind of place you better know somebody'). This gloriously messy miscellany of off-kilter observations and lightning-in-a-bottle insights will make one want to read, eat, and experience the world the way Bourdain did. Bourdain's fans will devour this."

Paperback Fiction:
1. Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
2. The Kindred Spirits Supper Club, by Amy E Reichert
3. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune
4. Circe, by Madeline Miller
5. In the Tall Grass, by Stephen King (we're sold out)
6. The Fortress of Magi V3, by Mirah Bolender
7. Deacon King Kong, by James McBride
8. The Last Bookshop in London, by Madeline Martin
9. Afterlife, by Julia Alvarez
10. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich

What with the popularity of bookstore novels and World War II historical fiction, it was only a question of time before we'd see The Last Bookshop in London, Madeline Martin's tale of a young woman who starts work at dusty old Primrose Hill in the heart of London. Plus it's on the what to read after The Paris Library list. From Booklist: "Martin capably portrays the horror of nightly bombings, but where she really shines is in depicting Grace's rebirth as a reader, which parallels her growth as a readers' advisor and book-club leader, her nightly readings providing welcome respite to the shell-shocked locals. This engaging mix of books, romance, and war is not without tragedy, but the unapologetically uplifting ending will find booklovers wiping away a tear or two."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Growing Up Below Sea Level, by Rachel Biale
2. Driven by Data 2.0, by Paul Bambrick Santoyo
3. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
4. Classic Restaurants of Milwaukee, by Jennifer Billock
5. The Birdman of Koshkonong, by Martha Bergland
6. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe
7. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
8. Hood Feminism, by Mikki Kendall
9 New York Times Cooking No Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton
10. American Birding Association Field Guide to Birds of Wisconsin, by Charles Hagner

The Wisconsin State Historical Society (or The Society, to friends) has a new bestseller in The Birdman of Koshkonong: The Life of Naturalist Thure Kumlien, written by Martha Bergland, the co-author of Studying Wisconsin, the story of another Wisconsin naturalist, Increase Lapham. The Society notes: "His detailed observations of Wisconsin’s natural world - including the impact of early agriculture on the environment - were hugely important to the fields of ornithology and botany. As this carefully researched and lovingly rendered biography proves, Thure Kumlien deserves to be remembered as one of Wisconsin’s most influential naturalists."

Books for Kids:
1. What Stars Are Made of, by Sarah Allen
2. Peace, by Baptiste Paul and Miranda Paul (register for April 27 event here)
3. Breathing Underwater, by Sarah Allen
4. How to Go Anywhere and Not Get Lost, by Hans Aschim
5. Jungle Night Soundtrack with Yo Yo Ma, by Sandra Boynton
6. Magic Tree House: Dinosaurs Before Dark, by Mary Pope Osborne
7. Unicorn Day, by Diana Murray/Luke Flowers
8. Apple, by Eric Gansworth
9. The List of Things That Will Not Change, by Rebecca Stead
10. Firekeeper's Daughter, by Angeline Boulley (register for June 29 event here)

This time of year we still have lots of school visits curriculum orders in the top ten. I'm always interested when a fairly recent book gets picked up for the latter purpose. Eric Gansworth's Apple: Skin to the Core, a novel in verse of growing up an enrolled member of the Onondaga Nation, but living on the Tuscarora reservation, is must reading in at least one school and made the National Book Awards longlist. From Booklist: "Gansworth's art, a mix of gouache paintings, photographs, and collages (reproduced in black and white), is interspersed throughout, adding interest and detail. With language rich in metaphor, this is a timely and important work that begs for multiple readings."

Monday, April 19, 2021

Boswell events - Amy E Reichert, Patricia Skalka, Jennifer Billock, plus MPL Friends Kiley Reid lunch, JCC's Rachel Biale, AF Milwaukee's Pamela Druckerman

Here's what's happening (virtually) at Boswell this week. I've read four of the six books we're featuring this week.

Monday, April 19, 7 pm
Amy E Reichert, author of The Kindred Spirits Supper Club - on sale tomorrow!
in Conversation with Daniel Goldin and Lisa Baudoin for a Virtual Event
Register for this event here

Yesterday I drove to Books and Company in Oconomowoc to get our copies of The Kindred Spirits Supper Club signed by Amy E Reichert. I got to chat with her mom there, and later in the day, I traded emails with her mother-in-law. You can only imagine that Reichert's books are as much as about family as they are about romance. And ghosts too. Reichert's latest novel takes a turn for the supernatural as heroine Sabrina's family, the women at least, can talk to spirits who are stuck on the Earth with unfinished business. It's their mission to solve the problems of the deceased so they can go on to the next place. But one ghost, Molly, can't seem to be helped.

I really enjoyed this part of the book, but I'd be lying if I didn't note that at its heart, The Kindred Spirits Supper Club is a romantic comedy. Sabrina Monroe has moved back to Wisconsin Dells after the loss of her journalism job, and yes, she meets cute at a water park. Ray has moved back to, to be closer to his uncle and start up a supper club. And yes, Sabrina's old demon shows up too. She's not supernatural, just an old high school bully.

If you are one of the millions of people obsessed with the Hallmark-Lifetime-Netflex Christmas movie explosion, you're going to love this book. I can't see how they wouldn't want to adapt this, especially because small town Wisconsin has become a popular setting for return from the big city romances.

Want to know more? Read Jim Higgins's review in the Journal Sentinel. To quote: "Reichert handles the ghosts (there are multiple) deftly, using them to advance plot, reveal character and spark humor. A long flashback about Molly's life generations ago is a neat historical interlude that brings the Dells of the '20s back to life, including a visit to the famed H.H. Bennett photography studio."

Our copies are signed. You can purchase a personalized copy from Books & Company.

Wednesday, April 21, 7 pm
Patricia Skalka, author of Death Washes Ashore: A Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery
in Conversation with Barry Wightman for A Virtual Event
Register here for this event.

We should have called this week genre Wisconsin - we've got everything but some Badger high fantasy and vampire horror. But maybe ghosts fit that bill. I wouldn't be surprised if the LARP resort in Patricia Skalka's latest mystery didn't have a script that involved Wisconsin monsters.

In Death Washes Ashore, a storm along the coast brings the usual amount of damage, as well as one unusual piece of flotsam - a wrecked boat complete with a dead body. It turns out the victim had just started a live-action-role-play (LARP) resort on a former farm, and he's already gotten his share of noise complaints from the neighbor. It also turns out that the guy had a lot of enemies, and so did his family. Oh, and did I mention he's dressed in a knight's armor?

Note that while it's before pub date, so the book doesn't show up on our website, it's available now for purchase. 

As Publishers Weekly noted: "Finding the murderer is complicated by the close-knit neighborhood, since one serious suspect is the godfather of one of the sheriff’s assistants and another used to babysit for the Cubiaks. The local color is the book’s main attraction."

Patricia Skalka's books are great road trip reading, and from what I hear, we're going to be doing a lot of them this summer. She's talking to Barry Wightman, novelist and President of the Wisconsin Writer Association.

Thursday, April 22, 2 pm
Jennifer Billock, author of Classic Restaurants of Milwaukee
In conversation with Daniel Goldin for a virtual event 
Register for this event here

Writer and editor Jennifer Billock joins us for a virtual conversation featuring her latest book, which offers a glimpse into the classic restaurant scene of the Cream City. In preparation for this event, I followed up reading Classics Restaurants of Milwaukee (which brought back my own Milwaukee restaurant memories). I knew she had done archival research for the book, but I was curious about who she was able to talk to directly about the subject.

It turns out that so many of the businesses were happy to share their histories, from Old Town Serbian and the Five O'Clock Steakhouse to Solly's and Zaffiro's. For some of our lost treasures, Billock was able to talk to past customers, including Watt's Tea Room, Coffee Trader, and even the Public Natatorium. There's one restaurant I wish I'd been to before it closed!

Now if I could only remember the name of the classic old cafeteria on West Wisconsin Avenue that Mrs. Schwartz told me about. And no, I'm not talking about the Woolworth's. I hope I'll figure this out by Thursday!

Friday, April 23, 12 pm
Kiley Reid, author of Such a Fun Age - on sale tomorrow
in conversation with Chloe Benjamin for a virtual event
Tickets here  

If this were in person, it would probably too late to make a reservation to the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library Literary Luncheon, but being that it's not, I'm guessing reservations are still available. The grab-and-go lunch from the Wisconsin Club is no longer available, alas.

This is going to be such a great event. I've actually been looking forward to it for more than a year, as Chloe Benjamin was initially meant to be in conversation with Kiley Reid for the hardcover of Such a Fun Age last March. I remember the date - March 19. Everything then was cancelled one event at a time as the theme from Jaws played in the background.

Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. and winner of an NAACP Image Award. And yes, a selection of the Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine Book Club.

The other great thing about a virtual lunch is that with the costs being lower, much more of your ticket goes to the fabulous cause of buying books and other materials for Central Library and the neighborhood branches. Look for an appearance from Mayor Barrett and the new Milwaukee Public Library Director, Joan Johnson.

From my review: "Kiley Reid’s debut novel features a wonderfully engaging and wiser-than-she-thinks-she-is heroine and is alternatingly inspired, infuriating, hilarious, and thought-provoking, touching on race, class, gender, friendship, dating, and motherhood, and filled with a whole mess of bad advice from everyone concerned. Lots of bad advice!" One of my favorite books of 2020!

Independent Bookstore Day
Saturday, April 24, 10 am – 5 pm
The last Saturday of April is Independent bookstore day! Be sure to stop by your favorite Milwaukee Indie to celebrate this most bookish of holidays.

Independent Bookstore Day is a one-day national party that takes place at indie bookstores across the country. Every store is unique and independent, and every party is different. At Boswell Book Company, we’ll have giveaways, outside games, and more. We have a prize wheel!

Two more cosponsorships.

Tues April 20, 7:30 pm
Rachel Biale, author of Growing Up Below Sea Level: A Kibbutz Childhood
a virtual Harry and Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center event 
Register here for this event.

Rachel Biale has written informative memoir of kibbutz life that reveal a piece of Israel's early story that should not be forgotten. Linked stories about growing up on a kibbutz in Israel in the 1950s and 60 also offer a window into the lives of the adult kibbutz members, including Holocaust survivors. Biale is author of Women and Jewish Law: The Essential Texts, Their History, and Their Relevance Today. She grew up on Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin in Israel.

Pamela Druckerman, author of Paris by Phone
a virtual Alliance Française de Milwaukee event
Wednesday, April 21, 2 pm
Email Erin at AF to register for this event.

Pamela Druckerman will chat about her latest work, a whimsical adventure that little travelers and little homebodies will love! When Josephine Harris decides that Paris is where she really belongs, all it takes is a quick call on her magical phone to whisk her away. The city of lights has fancy cafés, baguettes under every arm, the Eiffel Tower, and a fabulous new family who can't wait to show her around. The city is a feast for the senses, but each new discovery brings a pang of melancholy. There's something missing here. Could it be the person who loves Josephine's best - her own mother? Druckerman is also author of Bringing Up Bébé.

This week's sponsors above. More on the Boswell upcoming event page.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Boswell bestsellers for the week ending April 17, 2021

 Boswell bestsellers, week ending April 17, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff
2. The Hill We Climb, by Amanda Gorman
3. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
4. Early Morning Riser, by Katherine Heiny (register for May 6 event here)
5. First Person Singular, by Haruki Murakami
6. The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles (register for May 5 event here)
7. Gold Diggers, by Sanjena Sathian (register for May 12 event here)
8. Klara and the Sun, by Lauren Fox
9. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox
10. Leonard and Hungry Paul, by Rónán Hession

Our explosion of sales for Raft of Stars after three strong weeks shows that while pre-orders are now way more important for us in terms of event sales, there's still something to be said for an event convincing attendees to buy the book. We're well aware that only about 300 stores report to Edelweiss, but it's still nice to say we're #1 in sales by a large margin. And here's a note to the stores - reporting is anonymous to other bookstores and it really helps everybody!

I'm hoping to see a similar trajectory for Gold Diggers, which had a nice second week of sales, and Early Morning Riser, the second novel from Katherine Heiny, which had a great first week out of the gate. Allow me to quote Stephen McCauley, who just did our conversation with Michael Lowenthal. Using his quote is also a shout out to our FOB Margaret, who is a big fan of both authors. From McCauley: "Katherine Heiny is as warm and moving as Anne Tyler at her best, as funny as David Sedaris at his most hilarious, and one of the truly original voices in current fiction. Her wonderful second novel is a much-needed reminder that no matter how flawed, foolish, and downright annoying people can be, they’re still capable of immense kindness and outrageously unselfish love. Be forewarned: reading Earlier Morning Riser could make you believe we’re not necessarily all doomed."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. World of Wonders, Aimee Nezhukumatathil
2. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
3. Empire of Pain, by Patrick Radden Keefe
4. The Code Breaker, by Walter Isaacson
5. The Sum of Us, by Heather McGhee
6. Tony Lazzeri, by Lawrence Baldassaro
7. Our Team, by Luke Epplin
8. Frank Lloyd Wright's Forgotten House, by Nicholas Hayes (register for May 17 event here)
9. Dusk Night Dawn, by Anne Lamott
10. What It's Like to Be a Bird, by David Allen Sibley

Based on how much I like Say Nothing and how much I whine about not reading enough nonfiction, you'd think I would have gotten a running start on Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, but there were no advance copies to be had. Now my to-be-read list is stacked to the ceiling, and I think I'd need to have an event booked for it sneak in. That said, I read Patrick Radden Keefe's last book really last too. Here's Keefe (or maybe Radden Keefe, apologies) talking to Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air: "'One of the stories I tell in the book is about how Barry Meier, a New York Times reporter who was really one of the first to break the story about how OxyContin was not as great as the company had cracked it up to be, he dealt with these same types of threats 20 years ago. And so there's a continuity in their tactics, this tendency to throw their weight around and try and control the narrative.'"

Paperback Fiction:
1. All Adults Here, by Emma Straub
2. Open Water, by Caleb Azumah Nelson
3. The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd
4. The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett
5. Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stewart
6. Sheltering with Poems, by Bruth Dethlefsen
7. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
8. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune
9. The Sympathizer, by Viet Thanh Nguyen
10. The Parable of the Sower, by Octavia E Butler

Congrats to Grove Atlantic, who under the Grove and Grove Black Cat (paperback original) imprints, has three of this week's top 10. Their new entry is Open Water, a first novel about "two Black artists (a photographer and a dancer) in London falling in and out of love." From Michael Donkor in The Guardian: "In its interweaving of the romantic arc with meditations on blackness and black masculinity, this affecting novel makes us again consider the personal through a political lens; systematic racism necessarily politicises the everyday experiences of black people. The police profiling that the photographer endures as a young black man moving through the city is recounted with painful emphasis on the effects of feeling constantly observed. Azumah Nelson emotively demonstrates how these pressures influence black men’s psychic lives and their forging of connections with others."

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
2. Hidden Valley Road, by Robert Kolker
3. The Entangled Life, by Merlin Sheldrake
4. How to Change Your Mind, by Michael Pollan
5. The Color of Law, by Richard Rothstein
6. The Artists Way, by Julia Cameron
7. Why Fish Don't Exist, by Lulu Miller
8. Say Nothing, by Patrick Radden Keefe
9. Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing, by Lauren Hough
10. The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook, by America's Test Kitchen

I was just telling one of our our authors, who asked me to remove their day job from their bio, that working class creds have always been popular in author bios. The resume of Lauren Hough, author of Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing, includes stints as (per her publisher) an airman in the U.S. Air Force, a green-aproned barista, a bartender, a livery driver, and, for a time, a cable guy. She also grew up in the Children of God cult. From Roxane Gay: "Hough’s writing will break your heart. The ways she lays herself bare will leave you marveling at the strength it takes to reveal such delicate vulnerabilities. And when you come to the breathtaking end, you will know what it means to be entrusted with the beautifully messy truth of a person’s life."

Books for Kids:
1. The Night Diary, by Veera Hiranandani
2. Dear Teacher, by Paris Rosenthal
3. The Long Way Down graphic novel, by Jason Reynolds
4. Breathing Underwater, by Sarah Allen
5. Unicorn Day, by Diana Murray/Luke Flowers
6. Talk, by Wade Hudson/Cheryl Willis
7. How to Go Anywhere and Not Get Lost, by Hans Aschim
8. The One Thing You'd Save, by Linda Sue Park/Robert Sae-Heng
9. The Old Boat, by Jarrett Pumphrey/Jerome Pumphrey
10. The Old Truck, by Jarrett Pumphrey/Jerome Pumphrey

So many school visits! One was from Hans Aschim, author of How to Go Anywhere and Not Get Lost, a guide to using everything from trees to the stars to navigate, plus how to make a sextant and compass. Another new favorite is Dear Teacher: A Celebration of People Who Inspire Us, from Paris Rosenthal, daughter of the beloved, now-deceased writer Amy Krouse Rosenthal. As Kirkus Reviews notes, "Teaching is more than just grades."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Jim Higgins reviews The Kindred Spirits Social Club, the last novel from area-writer Amy E Reichert. From Higgins: "Meddling parents and an egregiously mean high school classmate ensure enough complications to make the payoff satisfying. In addition to the Dells setting, The Kindred Spirits Supper Club is suffused with Wisconsin food and drink talk, even including a recipe to help people from lesser states make old-fashioneds correctly." Register for April 19 event here.

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.