Monday, September 20, 2021

This week: Rebecca Donner and Jarrett Adams, plus Mary Roach next Monday

Here's what's going on with Boswell this week. All start times are Central Time.
   
Thursday, September 23, 5 pm
Rebecca Donner, author of All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days: The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler
in conversation with Sam Goldberg for a virtual event
Register for the event here.

This event is cohosted by the the Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center, and Jewish Museum Milwaukee. Sam Goldberg is the Director of Education for HERC. Please note this is now virtual only. When you sign up, please don't be confused by a sold-out-notice general admission. That's a residue of when the event was hybrid. Instead, you will see an active registration link, which will get you your Zoom link.

Wisconsinites know the story of Mildred Fish-Harnack. Born in Milwaukee, Mildred Fish went to UW-Madison, where she met and married Arvin Harnack. We recently celebrated her birthday - the Hoan Bridge was lit up red in her honor. Her story is not well know to others, but this new book, written by her great great niece, could be changing things.

From a profile by Jane Burn in Isthmus: "Donner, who has previously published a novel and a graphic novel, believed there was a story to tell beyond the basics of Mildred’s story (unfamiliar to many, especially outside Wisconsin). Beyond family insights and new documents, Donner says, there were errors and misconceptions that have been perpetuated over the years."

From her interview with Melissa Ingells on Wisconsin Public Radio's Morning Show: "It was very clear that she was hiding a lot, and she was profoundly misunderstood by family members who saw that 'the old Millie' was no longer there. And that the woman who had replaced her - there was something 'hardened' about her, was a quote from somebody. And she seemed very nervous, and when anybody questioned her about what was going on in Germany, she said, 'We don't talk about that.' She couldn't risk saying anything. And she was convinced at that point that she was under surveillance, too. So her brother actually thought she had lost her mind. And ironically, a few of her college friends thought that she had 'gone Nazi' because she was so stern. And because she seemed so severe. Little did they know."


Rebecca Donner is author of the novel Sunset Terrace and the graphic novel Burnout. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Bookforum, and The Believer. Donner was a fellow at the Leon Levy Center for Biography and is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University, and has taught writing at Wesleyan University, Columbia University, and Barnard College.

Friday, September 24, 12:30 pm
Jarrett Adams, author of Redeeming Justice: From Defendant to Defender, My Fight for Equity on Both Sides of a Broken System
in conversation with Mike Gousha for a virtual event
Register for this event here

This event is cohosted by Marquette University Law School. Mike Gousha serves as a distinguished fellow in law and public policy at Marquette University Law School. An award-winning journalist, Gousha explores important public policy issues through his work at the Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education.

Adams was seventeen when an all-white jury sentenced him to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Now, in this unforgettable memoir, a pioneering lawyer recalls the journey that led to his exoneration - and inspired him to devote his life to fighting the many injustices in our legal system.

Jarrett Adams talked to the Chicago Bar Foundation about why he wrote this book: "By opening myself up in this book, I hope to inspire a new generation to take up this cause. Jarrett Adams Law can make a real difference in representing young Black men who are my clients and the immediate lives around them. In order for me to really make a bigger impact though, we need to inspire everyone to understand and empathize with these issues to build the base of advocates and resources necessary for change."

From People Magazine on his nonprofit: "Life After Justice is the organization that I co-created to help exonerees - and we need support. We need monetary resources. More importantly, we need law firms to donate pro bono hours to help us fix this thing. You fix it by getting people out of prison and helping them gain stability and staying out. Over 50 percent of the people who are currently incarcerated have been incarcerated before. So, that means that our incarceration system is the problem, not the person."

Jarrett Adams earned his Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law. After working for the Innocence Project in New York, he launched the Law Office of Jarrett Adams, PLLC and now practices in both federal and state courts throughout the country. 

Monday, September 27, 7 pm
Mary Roach, author of Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law
In conversation with Roman Mars for a virtual event
Register for this event here

Join "America’s funniest science writer" (Peter Carlson, Washington Post), Mary Roach, on an irresistible investigation into the unpredictable world where wildlife and humans meet.

This event is cohosted by Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. Roman Mars is the host and creator of 99% Invisible, a sound-rich, narrative podcast about the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. He is also a co-founder of Radiotopia, a collective of ground-breaking independent podcasts. Most recently, he co-authored The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design. We still have a limited number of tie-in Fuzz patches available with purchase.

From Terry Gross's Fresh Air interview, on how Roach got the idea for this book: "I was flailing around looking for a book topic, as happens every few years, and I got interested in the forensics of wildlife crime - not when the animals are the 'criminals,' but when the animals are the victims. So I got interested in the forensics of animal trafficking, specifically a woman who published a guide for wildlife law enforcement on how to distinguish real versus fake tiger penis that is dried, which is sold medicinally. And I thought, that's kind of a bizarre expertise, and I spoke to her, and I kind of got interested in wildlife forensics. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to tag along on any open cases, and I always like to be on the scene in my books. And so that was a dead end. But as often happens, it morphed into a related topic in which I kind of turned it inside out: What if the animals were the perpetrators of these 'crimes'?"

From Bethany Brookshire in Science News: "The book brims with Roach’s irreverent humor, which particularly shines when she experiences human-animal conflict firsthand. She tastes rat bait to better understand its allure and gets training on how to tell if a human body was mauled by a bear or by a human pretending to be a bear. She even engineers a robbery: 'I had bananas. I was asking for it. I wanted to know what it was like to be mugged by monkeys.'"

Mary Roach is author of best-selling books of nonfiction such as Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, and, most recently, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. Her writing has appeared in Outside, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine.

Photo credits
Rebecca Donner by Beowulf Sheehan
Mary Roach by Jen Siska
Jarrett Adams by Nagine Sakandari

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending September 18, 2021

Another exciting fall week at Boswell - here are the bestsellers for the week ending September 18, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead
2. Beautiful World, Where Are You, by Sally Rooney
3. Apples Never Fall, by Liane Moriarty
4. Matrix, by Lauren Groff (NBA Longlist)
5. The Paper Palace, by Miranda Cowley Heller
6. The Love Songs of WEB Du Bois, by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers (NBA Longlist)
7. Velvet Was the Night, by Silvia Moreno Garcia
8. Slow Fire Burning, by Paula Hawkins
9. Lightning Strike, by William Kent Krueger
10. The Guide, by Peter Heller

Another week of high-profile new releases is led by Colson Whitehead's Harlem Shuffle, his take on a mystery. Bookmarks collected 16 raves and 4 positives on his latest, which also got a great recommendation by Tim at Boswell. From Clifford Thompson in The Wall Street Journal: "The book might be called 'Colson Comes to Harlem,' because in bringing his singular gifts to this storied place, the novelist turns to the crime genre ... In his eminently enjoyable new novel, Mr. Whitehead’s various powers have attained something like equilibrium. The humor and flashes of the old word-wizardry are there, as is the philosophical subtext; race, while not foregrounded the way it is in The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, is woven inextricably into the background, like subtle but effective film music."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Fuzz, by Mary Roach (Register for September 27 event here)
2. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
3. Feed the Wolf, by Jon M Sweeney (Register for September 30 event here)
4. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner (Register for September 23 event here)
5. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
6. Let's Do Dinner, by Antoni Porowski
7. The Reckoning, by Mary Trump
8. Redeeming Justice, by Jarrett Adams (Register for September 24 event here)
9. The Bomber Mafia, by Malcolm Gladwell
10. Wintering, by Katherine May

It usually seems like we have more bestsellers on the fiction side linked to upcoming events, but nonfiction takes the crown this week with four slots linked to programming. At the head of the pack is Mary Roach's Fuzz - the Fuzz patch give-away certainly helped. We're not quite out yet.

Peter Fish in The San Francisco Chronicle, with his of-the-moment comparison: "Mary Roach is the Deborah Vance of science writing. As played by Jean Smart in the HBO series Hacks, Vance is the raucous, sequin-suited Las Vegas comic who’s made a career mining laughs out of cheating husbands, sleazy boyfriends and botched plastic surgery. And Roach? She’s built her impressive literary presence in part by mining laughs out of topics that fascinate us but also make us squirm. In Stiff, the Oakland author explored what happens to our bodies after we die. (Spoiler alert: nothing pretty.)... Here is Roach’s and Vance’s shared secret: Beneath laughter lies wisdom. What the two grasp is that to truly understand life, death, sex, love and the other mysteries of the universe, it helps to wield some killer jokes."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
2. Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo (The current Literary Journeys selection)
3. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
4. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
5. Circe, by Madeline Miller
6. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox (Register for September 28 event here)
7. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
8. Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman
9. The Book of Two Ways, by Jodi Picoult
10. Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell

Our bestselling Louise Erdrich hardcover (since we opened in 2009, and going back a little further looking at the Downer Schwartz numbers) remains The Round House by a bit, but It won't be too much longer until The Night Watchman tops that National Book Award winner in paperback sales. It becomes a question of when the award is given and how that falls into the paperback release schedule.

For its second week on sale, the paperback of Jodi Picoult's The Book of Two Ways jumps into our top ten. I can't say whether she's done this before, but this is Picoult's Sliding Doors novel, or should I now call it her Midnight Library novel, about a woman who has two possible futures after a crash landing. Karin Tanabe wrote in The Washington Post, "In the mood to contemplate your own mortality? Then Jodi Picoult has the book for you...The Book of Two Ways is a return for Picoult to the themes of her earliest books - motherhood, complicated romantic love...Picoult, at this point in her career, could skillfully build tension in a broom closet, but the best part of this book is not the suspense; it’s the look at the complexity of a woman as she enters middle age." If you love Picoult, her next book, Wish You Were Here, is coming late November. You might wish to put off preordering for a few weeks - fingers crossed.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Gift of Years, by Joan Chittister
2. My Meteorite, by Harry Dodge
3. New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes, by Sam Sifton
4. We Keep the Dead Close, by Becky Cooper
5. The Lazy Genius Way, by Kendra Adachi
6. Milwaukee River Greenway, by Eddee Daniel
7. On Story Parkway, by Jim Cryns
8. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
9. The Dressmakers of Auschwitz, by Lucy Adlington
10. Universal Christ, by Richard Rohr

There's a story for just about every book in the top 10. We could shout out We Keep the Dead Close, a true crime book that had strong sales and several great recommendations from Boswellians. Or I could note that Milwaukee Greenway (we're getting this book indexed for our website still) inspired a walk with my friend John along the Milwaukee River on Saturday - we found steps to nowhere that probably were the remnants of a path from the train tracks down to the river, where there were several shacks in the past.

Congrats to Jim Cryns for getting his book On Story Parkway: Remembering County Stadium in our top 10 - he's written all kinds of books, but this is selling the best for us of the last few. It's a good year to have a Milwaukee baseball book - The New York Times just profiled Craig Counsell. On Story Parkway has 152 never-seen-before photos.

Books for Kids:
1. Fast Pitch, by Nic Stone
2. Stamped, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi
3. Defy the Night, by Brigid Kemmerer
4. Egg Marks the Spot, by Amy Timberlake and Jon Klassen
5. The Last Kids on Earth and the Doomsday Race V7, by Max Brallier
6. Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, by Barbara Joosse and Renee Graef
7. How to Find What You're Not Looking For, by Veera, Hiranandani
8. Eyes of the Forest, by April Henry
9. Playing with Fire, by April Henry
10. Room on the Broom board book, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler

Speaking of baseball, Jenny's been working on a school program for Nic Stone, the author of Dear Martin and other Boswell favorites. Fast Pitch is a middle grade (8 and up) story of the Fulton Firebirds, a girl's softball team and a pitcher, Shenice Lockwood, whose aiming for a regional championship, who is given her Great Grampy JonJon's baseball mitt and uncovers a mystery about his life. Kirkus writes, "This energetic, engaging, complex novel will appeal to readers whether or not they are fans of baseball. A grand slam of an adventure." And Publishers Weekly proclaimed, "Black Girl Magic hits a home run in Stone's latest novel." 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Busy, Busy Week - Steve Sheinkin virtual school visit, Naomi Hirahara with Carole E Barrowman, Amy Timberlake talks to Lisa and Daniel, Brigid Kemmerer in person (registration required)

A family-friendly week of Boswell programming includes one virtual school visit (Sheinkin), one virtual daytime event that is also school friendly (Timberlake), one in-person YA event (Kemmerer) and one historical mystery with great cross-over potential for teens (Hirahara).
 
Tuesday, September 14, 2:15 pm
Steve Sheinkin, author of Fallout: Spies, Superbombs, and the Ultimate Cold War Showdown
A virtual school visit - Open to the Public!
Register for this event here. 
Ask for your signed bookplate when you purchase a copy.

Boswell is pleased to host Newbery Honoree Steve Sheinkin for a virtual school event that we’ve made open to the public for everyone to enjoy. Sheinkin will give a presentation on Fallout, his new book, a follow up to his award-winning book Bomb, which takes readers on a terrifying journey into the Cold War and our mutual assured destruction. Great for ages 10 and up.

Kirkus Reviews
called Fallout "a gripping adventure that isn't over yet."  

This virtual school visit is open to the public and will last 40 minutes. If you're an educator who doesn't want to jump through the hoops to set up your own author program, just register for the event and you're set. Also great for homeschoolers and children's book lovers too. This is a great way for schools and even classrooms to experience our school visit program. 

Steve Sheinkin is author of nonfiction histories for young readers, including Born to Fly, Undefeated, and The Notorious Benedict Arnold. His accolades include a Newbery Honor, three Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, a Sibert Medal, and three National Book Award finalist honors.

Tuesday, September 14, 7 pm
Naomi Hirahara, author of Clark and Division
in conversation with Carole E Barrowman for a virtual event
Register for this event here.
Ask for your signed bookplate when you purchase your copy.

Boswell presents a Thrillwaukee event with Edgar-Award-winning author Naomi Hirahara, with a stand-alone novel set in Chicago during the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. For this event, Hirahara will be in conversation with book critic, mystery writer, and Alverno Professor Carole E Barrowman.


Hirahara’s eye-opening new mystery, the story of a young woman searching for the truth about her revered older sister’s death, brings to focus the struggles of one Japanese American family released from mass incarceration at Manzanar during World War II. The central mystery is based on a true crime, ignored by the police at that time, that terrorized the resettled Japanese Americans in Chicago.

Here's what Carole E Barrowman wrote about Clark and Division: "Hirahara’s beautifully written and deeply moving historical family saga is set in 1943 and focuses the lives of two sisters after their release from a Japanese concentration camp and their forced relocation to Chicago. Hirahara’s novel is an accomplished and important book about a time in American history that I felt privileged bearing witness to through this story. A perfect Book Club read." More of Carole's summer recommendations here.

Here's my recommendation: "Set during World War II, Clark and Division features a young Nisei woman resettled in Chicago with her family after a stay in a forced internment camp. Aki and her parents expect to be reunited with Rose, Aki’s older sister, but when they arrive, they learn she died on the tracks of the El. The police say it was suicide, but Aki is convinced she was pushed. Clark and Division has a dynamic heroine, a compelling plot, and lots of Chicago detail that would appeal to not just mystery fans but readers of Renée Rosen’s historical novels." (Daniel Goldin)

Naomi Hirahara is the Edgar Award–winning author of the Mas Arai mystery series, including Summer of the Big Bachi, a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year, Gasa Gasa Girl, and Hiroshima Boy. She is also author of the LA-based Ellie Rush mysteries. A former editor of The Rafu Shimpo newspaper, she has co-written non-fiction books such as Life after Manzanar and Terminal Island: Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor.

Amy Timberlake, author of Egg Marks the Spot
a virtual conversation with Lisa Baudoin and Daniel Goldin
Wednesday, September 15, 2 pm
Register for this event here.
Ask for your signed bookplate from Amy Timberlake and Jon Klassen.

Wisconsin native Amy Timberlake returns for a virtual Readings from Oconomowaukee event featuring the sequel to Skunk and Badger, her instant-classic odd couple story: Egg Marks the Spot! Roommates Skunk and Badger head out on a rock-finding expedition that becomes much more dangerous than they ever expected.

Schools and classrooms are welcome at this event. This is more of a conversation than a presentation, but we'll be sure to focus on kid-friendly subjects for this event. And we'll all discuss some of our favorite middle grade books for fall. 

Buried in the heart of every animal is a secret treasure. For rock scientist Badger, it’s the Spider Eye Agate he found as a cub, stolen years ago by his crafty cousin, Fisher. For Badger’s roommate, Skunk, the treasure is Sundays with the New Yak Times Book Review. When an old acquaintance, Mr. G Hedgehog, announces his plan to come for the Book Review as soon as it thumps on the doorstep, Skunk decides an adventure will solve Badger’s problems as well as his own. Together they set off on an agate-finding expedition at Badger’s favorite spot on Endless Lake. But all is not as it seems at Campsite #5. Fisher appears unexpectedly. Then a chicken arrives who seems intent on staying. Something is up!

In a volume that includes full-color plates and additional black-and-white illustrations by Caldecott medalist Jon Klassen, Newbery Honor author Timberlake takes readers on a second adventure in her series that’s been compared to Frog and Toad, Winnie-the-Pooh, and The Wind in the Willows. From Kirkus’s starred review: “Even as its often fantastical premise careens over the edge (and thrillingly so), the series’ titular duo keep it grounded thanks to Timberlake’s clear admiration for these characters and their quirks.”

Amy Timberlake is also the author of One Came Home, which received a Newbery Honor and an Edgar Award. She grew up in Hudson, Wisconsin, is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, and holds an MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois.

Friday, September 17, 7 pm
Brigid Kemmerer, author of Defy the Night
Hybrid Event at Boswell Book Company - now in conversation with Jenny Chou
Register to attend this event in person here.
Register to watch this event virtually here.

Join us for a special, in-store appearance by Brigid Kemmerer, the New York Times bestselling author of A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Kemmerer joins us with the first book in her new, blockbuster fantasy series about a cruel prince, a corrupt kingdom, and the girl who will risk everything to bring it all down.

This is a hybrid event - it will be live and in-person and broadcast via Zoom webinar. Due to our limited in-person capacity for events, registration is required If you'd like to watch the event from home, click here to register for the Zoom broadcast. 

A rec for Defy the Night from Kemmerer's conversation partner, Boswellian Jenny Chou: "Tessa Cade, the heroine in Brigid Kemmerer’s exciting new fantasy series, is full of rage but also just enough hope to throw herself into danger for the survival of her country. Though she feels the weight of responsibility that a ruler should have, she’s actually an apothecary in a land whose citizens are dying of a plague. And the real rulers are hoarding the Moonflower leaves that offer an antidote for a few lucky citizens in the upper classes, leaving the poor to struggle and die. Helping Tessa is the fearless Weston Lark, a mysterious Robin Hood-like character, who appears at night. Together they make perilous trips to the royal lands to steal whatever Moonflower leaves they can find. Weston is keeping one really big secret though, one that changes everything when Tessa finds out. Defy the Night has plenty of adventure and heart-wrenching romance, but it’s the courage that both Tessa and Weston show when faced with deceit that really keep the pages turning."

And here's an enthusiastic writeup from Rachel Copeland, the Boswellian handling the tech for this event. It's due to Rachel that you can watch this event at home! Defy the Night, the Rachel rec: "In the kingdom of Kandala, people are dying, and Tessa Cade is risking her own safety to bring medicine to those who need it. With King Harristan and his brother, Cruel Corrick, in power, it seems as though only the elite will have a chance of surviving the strange sickness that's persisting throughout the kingdom. But all is not as it seems, and the enemy in the shadows might be the key to saving a kingdom. I thoroughly enjoyed this one! Kemmerer deftly balances the perspectives of her main characters while giving the right amount of weight to the issues of illness, poverty, and the improper use of power and authority. I will be waiting impatiently for the next book in this series."

Brigid Kemmerer is author of the Cursebreaker series and the contemporary young adult romances Call It What You Want, More Than We Can Tell, and Letters to the Lost, as well as paranormal young adult stories, including the Elemental series and Thicker Than Water.

More upcoming Boswell events here.

Photo credits:
Steve Sheinkin credit Erica Miller
Naomi Hirahara credit Mayumi Hirahara
Amy Timberlake credit Phil Timberlake

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Boswell bestsellers - week ending September 11, 2021 - lots of new releases!

Boswell bestsellers for week ending September 11, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. Beautiful World, Where Are You?, by Sally Rooney
2. Matrix, by Lauren Groff
3. The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All, by Josh Ritter (another debut)
4. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
5. The Madness of Crowds, by Louise Penny
6. The Magician, by Colm Tóibín (another debut)
7. We Were Never Here, by Andrea Bartz
8. In the Middle of Others, by Leila Slimani
9. The Nature of Middle Earth, by JRR Tolkin
10. The Heron's Cry, by Ann Cleeves (another debut)

Five debuts in hardcover fiction this week in our top 10. This is where the action is. Topping the newcomers is Sally Rooney's third novel, Beautiful World, Where Are You? It's unusual to see a publisher change after a breakout. Sometimes the new contract was already signed. There's always the case that an Irish author is more closely tied to the UK than the American publisher and FSG's publisher is Mitzi Angel, who came from Faber and Faber, Rooney's UK publisher. Who knows? I'm just watching from the peanut gallery. Over 50 reviews are indexed for this at Bookmarks.

Lauren Groff's Matrix has fewer reviews on Bookmarks (16), but it looks like that is due to an American launch, rather than a worldwide one. She does have a lot of raves. Ron Charles writes in The Washington Post: "Though Matrix is radically different from Groff’s masterpiece, Fates and Furies, it is, once again, the story of a woman redefining both the possibilities of her life and the bounds of her realm... Although there are no clunky contemporary allusions in Matrix, it seems clear that Groff is using this ancient story as a way of reflecting on how women might survive and thrive in a culture increasingly violent and irrational."

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
2. Feed the Wolf (Register for September 30 virtual event here)
3. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days (Register for September 23 virtual event here)
4. On Freedom, by Maggie Nelson
5. The Afghanistan Papers, by Craig Whitlock
6. Poet Warrior, by Joy Harjo
7. Misfits, by Michaela Cole
8. History Makers, by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
9. American Experiment, by David Rubenstein
10. Noise, by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, Cass R. Sunstein

Actually half this list is debuts as well, only the numbers at the top are lower than fiction for the newcomers and the Journal Sentinel's History Makers Bucks chronicle isn't first-week new - it's just as fast as we could get it (Call to order it). Three-term poet laureate Joy Harjo's Poet Warrior gets six reviews, all but one raves, but it strikes me that four of the six are the trades (PW, Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus) and the only traditional review is from Marion Winik in the Star Tribune. Don't know why, though I must acknowledge the heavy release schedule. Gabino Iglesias on the NPR website calls the memoir "a wonderful hybrid text that mixes memoir, poetry, songs, and dreams into something unique that opens a window into the most important events of Harjo's life and invites readers to reconnect with themselves - as well as with the land and the knowledge of their people."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich
2. Dune (two editions), by Frank Herbert
3. Circe, by Madeline Miller
4. Shuggie Bain, by Douglas Stuart
5. Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
6. Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi
7. Send for Me, by Lauren Fox (Register for September 28 event here)
8. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
9. Dune Messiah, by Frank Herber
10. Thursday Murder Club, by Richard Osman

Not a lot of turnover here, but even without the once grand pops of paperback releases (the paperback prices are creeping up faster than hardcovers, making paperbacks less of a deal, exacerbated at Boswell because we discount a lot of hardcovers, but not many paperbacks), there's also the issue that publishers tend to release high profile paperback reprints from January to July more than in the fall. We close to hosting a virtual event for Richard Osman, but our format fell apart when Osman's schedule was condensed. Alas. Rochelle O'Gorman writes of The Thursday Murder Club in the Christian Science Monitor: "Humor is everywhere, and it is very British - smart and a little prickly - but it would not be lost on an American audience. The wit and the plot will bring readers back for more of this series." This paperback release was August, the traditional slot for a series whose hardcovers come out in September (The Man Who Died Twice). Lately we're seeing them faster, but this is the way they used to do them, with the paperback coming out 30-60 days in advance of the next hardcover.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. The Displaced, edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen
2. My Meteorite, by Harry Dodge
3. Milwaukee River Greenway, by Eddee Daniel
4. The Best of Me, by David Sedaris (Tickets for Riverside appearance on December 10 here)
5. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
6. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
7. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
8. Undocumented Americans, by Karla Corneyjo Villavicencio
9. Built for This, by The Athletic
10. Reaganland, by Rick Perlstein

We've got an actual first-week pop in paperback nonfiction with David Sedaris's The Best of Me, with his new release, A Carnival of Snackery: Diaries (2003-2020), coming out in October. Hey, it's another paperback 30 days in advance! As noted, the Sedaris appearance at the Riverside now looks firm at December 10, 2021. It was originally scheduled for 2020 spring. In addition to this rescheduling, there are a lot of new dates - my friends at fellow bookstores have been promoting. From Andrew Sean Greer writing about The Best of Me in The New York Times Book Review last year: " Is Amy here? Yep. His mom? His dad? The Rooster who becomes The Juicester? Bien sûr. In fact, this book is all about his family and … all right, I’ll say it: love."

Books for Kids: 
1. Willodeen, by Katherine Applegate
2. The First 100 Words, by Priddy
3. Everywhere Babies, by Susan Meyers
4. Giraffes Can't Dance, by Giles Andreae
5. Baby Faces, from DK
6. Fallout, by Steve Sheinkin (Register for September 14 virtual school visit here - open to the public)
7. Indigenous People's History of the United States for Young People, by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz
8. Fast Pitch, by Nic Stone
9. Eyes of the Forest, by April Henry
10. It's Not the Stork, by Robie H Harris

I wish a switch was thrown and on the first of September, families streamed into Boswell to buy our favorite kids books in bestseller quantities, but that's not the case. However, something does happen, which is that our school visits (all but one virtual this fall) start having an impact. Like regular author tours, these school visits are scheduled by publishers not just to have the initial pops but to prime many of these titles for holiday sales later. Our first big appearance was for Katherine Applegate, whose new book is Willodeen. Booklist writes: " You know you're in for a treat with an Applegate fantasy, but when she dreams up hummingbears - tiny, winged bears that nest in bubbles - it's instantly catapulted into irresistible territory. For Willodeen, who happens to have a flightless hummingbear as a pet, her heart is far more occupied with the welfare of unlovable creatures, namely the widely detested screechers - grumpy combo of skunk (odor), warthog (snout, tusks), beaver (tail), and porcupine (quills)."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, I missed giving a shout out to Jim Higgins' piece on which Wisconsin writers appear in the New Yale Book of Quotations. 

Coming up next, four Boswell events on the docket.

Monday, September 6, 2021

This week - Anna Lee Huber, author of Murder Most Fair - in conversation with Erica Ruth Neubauer

We're having a run of Thrillwaukee events - William Kent Krueger last week, Anna Lee Huber this week, and next week Naomi Hirahara for Clark and Division. Kent's latest book, Lightning Strike, just debuted at #5 on The New York Times - according to him, that's his highest debut to date. Lisa Baudoin did a great job interviewing him for a joint event with Boswell and Books and Company. You can watch it here.
 
This week!
Thursday, September 9, 7 pm Central Time
Anna Lee Huber, author of Murder Most Fair
in conversation with Erica Ruth Neubauer
Register here for this virtual event

In the new normal, one change in the way we go about events has been flipped. In the past, we'd either write a proposal for an author or be offered an author and then we'd try to find a conversation partner if needed. But in the age of virtual events, sometimes the conversation partner comes first.

I was chatting with mystery writer Erica Ruth Neubauer (Murder at the Mena House, Murder at Wedgefield Manor) and I asked her who she'd most like to talk to for an event. She came up with several names, including former Greendale librarian, Edgar winner Ashley Weaver. We were able to put that event together (watch them discuss A Peculiar Combination here) and during the event, they started talking about Anna Lee Huber. Ashley Weaver was a fan. And Anna Lee Huber was on Erica Ruth's shortlist of faves.

And so...we present a virtual evening with Anna Lee Huber, author of Murder Most Fair.

All is far from quiet on the home front in 1919 Yorkshire Dales, England, when former Secret Service agent Verity Kent receives a visitor who is being trailed by a killer. After years in war-ravaged Germany, Verity’s Great Aunt Ilse has come to England to repair her health - and to escape trouble. When Ilse’s maid is found dead, Verity must uncover whether this is anti-German sentiment taken to murderous lengths, or if a more personal motive is at work. Could Verity’s shadowy nemesis, Lord Ardmore, be involved? And if so, how much closer to home will the blow land when he inevitably strikes again?

Publishers Weekly calls Murder Most Fair, “A treat for WWI buffs and the legion of fans who have grown fond of Verity.”

Wendy Hinman in Foreword Reviews writes: "In the engrossing historical mystery Murder Most Fair, the heroine’s grief, and her relationships with her also grieving family, add texture to the dramatic investigation, while era details, as of cars, fashions, medical practices, and post-war British hostility toward Germans, contribute to the fascinating backdrop.

Gail Byrd in Mystery and Suspense writes: "This book is much more than just a mystery/espionage novel. There are themes of isolationism, and the distrust of foreigners, the after effects of war even for the winning side, and grief in its varied forms are all part of the backdrop that provides the setting for the mystery. It is well written, and offers some good understanding, all couched in an engaging fictional story that is well plotted. This may be the best book of the series so far."

If you like to start with #1 in a series, the book on your list is This Side of Murder.

Anna Lee Huber (photo credit Sharon Lee Aycock) is the Daphne Award-winning author of the Lady Darby Mysteries and the Verity Kent Mysteries. She is a graduate of Lipscomb University and a member of Mystery Writers of America, Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. 

More upcoming Boswell events here.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending September 4, 2021

Boswell bestsellers, week ending September 4, 2021

Hardcover Fiction:
1. The Madness of Crowds, by Louise Penny
2. Lightning Strike, by William Kent Krueger
3. The Last Thing He Told Me, by Laura Dave
4. A Slow Fire Burning, by Paula Hawkins
5. The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig
6. The Final Girl Support Group, by Grady Hendrix
7. The Comfort of Monsters, by Willa C Richards
8. Raft of Stars, by Andrew J Graff
9. Shoulder Season, by Christina Clancy
10. Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir

The top debut this week is Paula Hawkin's A Slow Fire Burning, following Into the Water and the megahit Girl on the Train. To me, four years is a long time for thrillers, but she can't beat Gillian Flynn. It's been nine years since Gone Girl. Malcolm Forbes called her latest a "compulsively readable whodunit" in the Star Tribune. The story focuses on three women who might have killed the man in the houseboat, repeated stabbed with a smile carved into his face. As Forbes notes, "The source of its narrative force is its compellingly unpredictable characters. As Miriam (one of the protagonist/suspects puts it, 'We all have our monstrous moments.'"

Hardcover Nonfiction:
1. All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, by Rebecca Donner (Register for this now-virutal September 23 event here)
2. Caste, by Isabel Wilkerson
3. Giannis, by Mirin Fader
4. Refugee High, by Elly Fishman
5. Hero of Two Worlds, by Mike Duncan
6. Weekday Vegetarians, by Jenny Rosenstarch
7. Four Thousand Weeks, by Oliver Burkeman
8. The Afghanistan Papers, by Craig Whitlock
9. How the Word Is Passed, by Clint Smith
10. Finding the Mother Tree, by Suzanne Simard

Published on the date of the final withdrawal, The Afghansitan Papers: A Secret History of the War, is written by three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist Craig Whitlock of The Washington Post. The book was reviewed with Carter Malkesian's American War in Afghanistan in The New York Times by Fredrik Logevall. He writes: "The two volumes constitute a powerful one-two punch, covering as they do the key developments in the war and reaching broadly similar conclusions, but with differing emphases. Malkasian provides greater detail and context, while Whitlock’s United States-centric account is fast-paced and vivid, and chock-full of telling quotes. Both authors paint a picture of an American war effort that, after breathtaking early success, lost its way, never to recover."

Paperback Fiction:
1. The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich (Book Club authorless discussion on October 4)
2. People We Meet on Vacation, by Emily Henry
3. Dune (two paperback editions), by Frank Herbert
4. Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller
5. The Overstory, by Richard Powers
6. Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe 
7. The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune
8. Lakewood, by Megan Giddings
9. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
10. On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong

Several authors on the paperback top ten have new releases coming this fall. Louise Erdrich's The Sentence is a ghost story mystery set in an independent bookstore in Minneapolis, much like the real-life Birchbark Books. It comes weeks after the In-Store Lit Group discusses The Night Watchman. The follow-up to Richard Powers's The Overstory is Bewilderment, a story about an astrophysicist set in Madison, Wisconsin. Pub date for that one is September 21, just two weeks away! Also out that day is Under the Whispering Door, the next novel for adults by TJ Klune, author of the bestselling The House in the Cerulean Sea, is about a newly dead man who is given a week to live out his life before crossing over. I think I got that right - we already have a great rec from Boswellian Jen Steele.

Paperback Nonfiction:
1. Indigenous People's History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz
2. Banned Book Club, by Kim Hyun Sook
3. Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
4. Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
5. Life in Short, by Dasha Kelly
6. The Vapors, by David Hill
7. The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
8. Epic Hikes of the World, by Lonely Planet
9. The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel van der Kolk
10. American Nations, by Colin Woodard

Speaking of the In-Store Lit Group, which hasn't met in store for the last 18 months, our November selection is The Vapors: A Southern Family, the New York Mob, and the Rise and Fall of Hot Springs, America's Forgotten Capital of Vice, a nonfiction book (I like to include at least one narrative nonfiction title) by David Hill. It is crime history of Hot Springs, which once looked like it might be the Southeast equivalent of Las Vegas, but it's also a family story, so in that way, it reminds me of Rich Cohen's work (Sweet and Low et al). 

From Jonathan Miles's New York Times review which convinced me to read it: "Most mob stories — even The Godfather — are essentially business stories, their dramatic conflicts arising from structure, succession and competition (and their appeal, I suspect, deriving from their portrayal of capitalism without its inert ingredients). In The Vapors, Madden and Harris’s rise is fueled by palm-greasing, ballot-stuffing, judge-bribing, loophole-hunting and various other tricks and ploys designed to keep the feds and rival mobsters at bay. The closest we get to a mob hit is when Frank Costello, the New York crime boss, visits the Maddens for dinner, and, after a single taste, insults Agnes Madden’s spaghetti and meatballs. 'Agnes did not hesitate,' Hill writes. 'She picked up the bowl and dumped it right on Costello’s head.' Southern hospitality has its limits."

Books for Kids:
1. Stamped, by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi
2. Ghostly Tales of Milwaukee, by Anna Lardinois (Register for October 2, 11 am outdoor event)
3. Rite of Passage, by Richard Wright
4. Egg Marks the Spot V2, by Amy Timberlake/Jon Klassen (Register for September 15, 2 pm virtual event with Timberlake)
5. Skunk and Badger V1, by Amy Timberlake/Jon Klassen
6. Mindful Mr Sloth, by Katy Hudson
7. Tomatoes for Neela, by Padma Lakshmi
8. Any Way the Wind Blows V3, by Rainbow Rowell
9. Ace of Spades, by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
10. Take Me With You When You Go, by David Levithan

The kids numbers are still a bit low before school starts and our schedule is crowded with virtual (and one in-person) school visits, but Ace of Spades has been selling consistently well since its spring release to deserve special mention. Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is a contemporary YA thriller (and Indie Next pick) about two students attempting to confront an anonymous bully. School Library Journal noted in their star review that "readers will love this thriller-mystery reminiscent of Gossip Girl and Get Out. The plot keeps readers guessing."

Over at the Journal Sentinel, Book and Arts Editor Jim Higgins profiles two book about Marquette, Black Marquette: In Their Own Words, and Linked by Ink: Marquette Journalism Grads Reflect on Six Decades.