Monday, November 5, 2018

Games and Puzzles


I can't think of a single argument why we shouldn't play games. Games and Puzzles are a great way to interact with your friends and family. Besides, who doesn't enjoy a little friendly competition during game night? Here are some great games and puzzle you may want to consider for your next gathering.

Photosynthesis by Blue Orange Games is a 2018 Mensa Select Winner. And 2017 Golden Geek Best Family Board Game Nominee. The sun shines brightly on the canopy of the forest, and the trees use this wonderful energy to grow and develop their beautiful foliage. Sow your crops wisely and the shadow of your growing trees could slow your opponents down, but don't forget that the sun revolves around the forest. This green strategy board game is great for ages 10 and up!

Forbidden Desert by Gamewright is a thematic sequel to Forbidden Island. Players take on the roles of brave adventurers who must throw caution to the wind and survive both blistering heat and blustering sand in order to recover a legendary flying machine buried under an ancient desert city. For ages 10 and up.


A game for the 18+ crowd is Bards Dispense Profanity: a Party Game Based on the Works of William Shakespeare put out by whysoever games. This is a party game in which you use direct quotations from Shakespeare's plays to propose answers to mock-serious questions. It's a hilarious game about playing irreverently with words and meanings.

A puzzle recommendation from boswellian Conrad: Vintage Library by Phat Dog  "Perfect for the holidays. It has all the elements that make working a puzzle fun."  This 1000 piece foil stamped puzzle would make a great gift for the puzzle lover in your life.
Another new party game is Coaster games by Ginger Fox. This is a set of 25 double-sided cardboard party coasters. Worthy of adorning any coffee or dining table, this eclectic collection of games and challenges will keep visitors of all ages entertained, puzzled or simply in hysterics!


And for the younger crowd:

Where's Mr. Wolf? by Blue Orange Games is an entertaining cooperative game for ages 4 and up. Work together to help all the farm animals get back to their barns for the night before Mr. Wolf comes around!&nbspKeep an eye out for him as you flip over the animal tokens. Every time you find Mr. Wolf, he creeps one space closer, and every time you find a farm animal, try to remember to which barn they belong. Fill the barns before Mr. Wolf comes around, and you all win!


Monkey Around: The Wiggle & Giggle Game by Peaceable Kingdom for ages 2 and up. Monkey Around is a wonderful first board game for kids that was created specifically for you and your two year old. Kids love getting to move about while playing a game!
And last but not least, these 500 piece puzzles from Hanmade Milwaukee make a perfect gift and souvenir! Easy enough for kids, but challenging for serious puzzlers. Interesting shaped pieces and unusual sizes make this a great family activity at the cabin or cottage-or anywhere, anytime!


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

From Boswellian Jen Steele - Why I Love the Kopp Sisters Novels

I admit it. The first time I saw Amy Stewart’s book Girl Waits with Gun, I judged it by its cover. In fairness, though, it’s an eye-catching cover. This thing pops. Plus, I’m a total sucker for historic novels, especially starring strong women who refuse to conform to the expectations of their time. Constance Kopp is the middle sister of three real women who lived at the beginning of the twentieth century, and she is just the kind of woman I love to read about. She was strong in a time when women were expected to be meek. She was a trailblazer, the kind you never hear of or find in history books. Add on top of all that an engrossing, mysterious tale, and I could not put this book down.

It's 1914 and the world is changing fast. Yet Constance and her sisters, Norma and Fleurette, live a quiet life out in the country. They tend to their farm animals and chores and go into town only when supplies are needed, until one ordinary day, when an automobile crashes into their buggy while in town. The reckless driver turns out to be Henry Kaufman, an ill-behaved Industrialist, the spoiled brat heir to a local textiles fortune, armed with his very own gang. Following the crash, his constant threats and harassments shatter the Kopp sisters' quiet existence.

Constance could easily have backed down and hid out on the family farm until the whole thing had been forgotten. But she won’t let her family be taken advantage of. Still, Henry Kaufman runs with the wrong crowd, and soon bullets are flying and bricks are crashing through the Kopps’ windows.

Constance does not back down. Instead, she learns how to shoot and intends to use her gun, if needed, to protect her family. All Constance wants is justice for the car accident. But as she chases after justice, a whole new world is opened up for her. Once she has a taste for making things right, she can’t stop.

I am not a big mystery reader. I definitely gravitated to this book more because of its historic angle, though I can see how some will classify it as a kind of light noir, or perhaps even fit it in with the cozies, though to me it doesn’t feel like that’s the heart of the novel. Rather, it’s this funny, quirky world based around the sisters’ relationships to the town and to each other that drew me in. There’s Constance’s homing-pigeon loving older sister Norma, who marches to the beat of her own drum and has no time or interest for anything going on in town. And then there’s Fleurette, Constance’s younger sister who wants to be a star – she’s pretty, feminine, a wannabe actress in love with the theater and all the gossip around it. And then there’s Constance, who I can best describe as the Bea Arthur type (there’s a great scene of her beating up a quite unsuspecting tough guy) whose strong will drags all of them into the center of attention in town.

I’ve read along as the series has continued. Stewart’s Kopp Sisters continue to chronicle women who, just by being themselves, rather than what they are told, broke into the boy’s clubs of nearly a century ago. Like the journalist Constance meets in the second book who’s trying to get out of writing a paper’s ‘women’s interest’ column and into the hard news on the front page. Or the paralegal who wants to become a lawyer, definitely not a woman’s job. The Kopp Sisters series is a great alternative look at history and the women decided to live their lives the way they want!

Jen Steele, Boswell Book Company

***

Amy Stewart appears at Boswell for the Kopp Sisters series on Wednesday, August 22, 7 pm. Tickets are $17 and include a copy of Girl Waits with Gun, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, Miss Kopp Just Won't Quit, or upgrade to the forthcoming (available September 11) Miss Kopp's Midnight Confessions for just $24. Purchase your ticket at stewartmke.bpt.me.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Boswellian Top 5's of 2017 part the last

Jenny has only recently started work at Boswell, but I worked with back in the days of Harry W. Schwartz bookshops. I can say that she knows her books and she knows the publishing industry. She has an extensive knowledge of YA and teen books (and much, much more besides!). Even though, she is new here, Jenny has read a lot of the great books in 2017, and here are her top 5 books to prove it:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Starr Carter is one of the few black kids at Williamson Prep, where she plays Varsity basketball and has a cute, white boyfriend. At night she goes home to a neighborhood of gun violence and gangs. When her unarmed friend, Khalil, is shot by a cop and Starr is the only witness, her two worlds crash together, leaving her devastated and questioning not only her long-time friendships but also her place in the world. Angie Thomas has written a smart and compassionate character in Starr and brought her struggles brilliantly to life. Please don't miss this important book, a great read for both teens and adults.
$17.99 on Boswellian Best till the end of the year for $14.39
 At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson
Ozzie's boyfriend Tommy has disappeared. Not run away or been kidnapped, but literally vanished from the minds and memories of his friends and family. Only Ozzie remembers. His parents drag him to psychiatrists and in between visits, Ozzie searches for clues. Soon he realizes that not only is Tommy gone, but bit by bit the entire universe is vanishing, too. Shaun David Hutchinson's sharp writing veers between funny and poignant as he captures the heartbreak of losing your first love. His previous book, WE ARE THE ANTS, was one of my top reads of 2016.   

$17.99 on Boswellian Best till the end of the year for $14.39

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

Tina is a teenage street-thief who wants to know two things- who killed her mother and why? Set in Kenya, this YA thriller is fast paced, with memorable yet flawed characters. Tina's divided loyalties between the boy she loves but doesn't trust and her gang of fellow thieves force her to make tough choices as long buried secrets about her mother’s past are revealed.  $18.99 

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
Young Adult sibling stories are my favorites-those complicated, often messy relationships with the people who are in your life for good. Ramona and Hattie are so endearing as they struggle through the year where EVERYTHING is changing. Six foot tall, blue-haired Ramona wants out of the small Mississippi town that never recovered from hurricane Katrina, but she’s wrangling with the guilt of abandoning her needy family, especially now that Hattie is pregnant. And then her childhood friend Freddie moves back. With his middle-class upbringing, college is a given for him. Over the course of senior year they bond over a shared passion for swimming that leads to a surprising romance. Brilliant characterization is the strength of this novel, which asks readers to contemplate the fluidity and complexities of love. $17.99

Warcross by Marie Lu
In a futuristic world, the virtual reality battle game of Warcross is a world-wide obsession. When Emiko hacks into a match, she catches the attention of the game’s reclusive creator who offers her a job-as a spy. Out of money and in danger of eviction, she has no choice but to accept Hideo’s offer. As their relationship turns romantic, Emiko learns some shocking news about Hideo’s past and the secret behind the creation of Warcross. A great read for teens and anyone who loved READY PLAYER ONE. $18.99


Peter has been on the this block a long while, starting back with his days working at Starbucks. When he was looking for something a bit more full time, I knew we had to bring him over. His reading fills in gaps of our knowledge when it comes to comics and graphic novels. If you ever want to know how the Marvel or DC universes work, then come on over and ask! Here are his top 5's for 2017:

On the Camino by Jason


Norwegian cartoonist Jason, in his first autobiographical work, marks his 50th birthday by walking the Camino de Santiago. A pilgrimage in north west part of Spain that leads to a cathedral, Camino de Santiago, in honor of the apostle James (or jimmy, if you're friends). Jason's humor dry and absurd. How he interacts with people he meets on the trail, and just the simple things such as washing your socks or finding a good coffee. I enjoyed the calm ride of this story and is great reflective story that partners well with a cafe con leche (black coffee works fine too).

$24.99 on Boswellian Best till the end of the year for $19.99

Descender by Jeff Lemire, art by Dustin Nguyen

 A sci-fi odyssey that is grand in it's size, but beautifully presented through the perspectives of Tim-21, a robot boy, and his unlikely companions. A incident leads to a conflict of humans against machine, with Tim-21 possibly being the hope ease this conflict, but with danger of bounty hunters and the dangers of their own personal shortcomings, how can they hope survive? This deluxe volume is the perfect presentation for such a breathtaking conceived story, from the intensely personal story to the visual stunning art. $49.99

PaperGirls by Brain K. Vaughn, artist Cliff Chiang 

Four young girls are on a paper route in the early Halloween morning in 1988, when they discover an invasion has come to their Cleveland suburb, but from where, from when! Amazingly well written, beautifully presented.

$34.99 on Boswellian Best till the end of the year for $27.99

Doom Patrol by Gerard Way, illustrated by Nick Derington
“The Worlds Strangest Superheros.” Surreal and experimental fun. This title gets written off because it's weird, but part of the fun is to embrace strange. Is Casey, a young E.M.T., a daydream of a sentient ambulance? Who will protect us from the men from N.O.W.H.E.R.E., a robot with a human brain, a person made of living negative energy or perhaps Crazy Jane? What are you feeding your cat? All and nothing will be answered, it's 3am and nothing makes sense but it's all beautiful. $16.99
Shade:The Changing Girl by Cecil Castellucci,illustrated by Marley Zarcone 

Loma Shade is bored with her life on Meta. So she drops out of school, breaks up with her boyfriend and steals the madness coat, an multidimensional doorway which allows Loma to leave her word as an astral projection. Loma travels to Earth, by way of the madness coat, where she takes up residence the body of Megan, a popular high school “mean girl,” who had suffered brain damaged and at death's door. Loma, who now just goes by Shade, in Megan's body tries to experience life on Earth. Surving the reputation that Megan had left as a bully, and not succumbing to the “madness” that ties her to this world. Surreal and existential fun that's wonderfully written and astoundingly gorgeous artwork. $16.99

Chris is a bit of a chameleon here at the shop. He works in Second Hand Books, receiving room, offsite events and, I believe, he has introduced authors in the shop as well. His book selections are always interesting, as he has a way of finding a gem, in the midst of tons of small press books that appeal to our customers. His top 5 of 2017 is exactly what you didn't know you wanted:
The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan
A nurse and a teacher marry and divorce in a small town in West Virginia. This is the greatest love story ever written. Scott stares down Sarah with crocodile tears shimmering in his eyes and laughter growling inside his toothy grin. His heart is punch-drunk, and he dies every day then gets up again the next morning, fists swinging and full of life. His writing will humble you with its honesty and leave you embarrassed by every tiny fib and little white lie you've ever told in your whole life. If you don't like this book, you must already be dead inside. $16.95

You Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann

Terrifying. Reading Kehlmann's latest novel is like watching a horror movie from the inside. A writer takes his family for a mountain retreat, hoping to escape the city, finish his newest screenplay, and maybe find a bit of serenity. But something in the rented house isn't right. Rooms shift, hallways expand, reflections fade. Brisk and gripping, you'll read this slim novel in one sitting, consumed, disappearing into the book as the writer disappears into the house, stunned as you turn the last page, compelled to check in a mirror to be sure you still exist, then turning back to the first page to immediately begin rereading. $18.00

Since I Laid My Burden Down by Brontez Purnell
DeShawn looks in the mirror and sees a man absent from himself. A San Francisco punk, he feels his hard-won years of partying and promiscuity coming to a close yet cannot envision the rest of his life. An uncle’s death brings him home to the deep south of rural Alabama, his mother’s church and the women who raised him, the specter of his father, and the boys and men of his youth who shaped him. A deeply human story of a man unapologetically defining himself against expectations and labels yet struggling to feel that he still deserves to be loved. $17.95


Vacationland by John Hodgman
It's the book we've been waiting for. Hodgman puts his one man show onto the page with all the personality and wit, at once absurdly silly and bone dry, of his unmistakable voice. And this time, it's personal. Really -- there's only one fake fact in the whole thing. Hodgman writes about summers spent in Maine and Western Massachusetts, telling wry stories of trash dump laws, kitchen-drawer-usurping mice, and taking drugs at the swimming hole, using them as windows into his reflections on approaching middle-age, parenting, inheritance and loss, grief and mortality. The book is perfectly balanced, honest and vulnerable, and funny as ever, unfolding ideas like the best deep-thought, figure-out-your-whole-life daydreams you've ever had on vacation.


$25.00 on Boswellian Best till the end of the year for $20.00
South and West by Joan Didion
This one I couldn't find anything written by Chris but I wanted to include all his picks!
$21.00 on Boswellian Best till the end of the year for $16.80

That is it for 2017--bring 2018! It looks like it will start off with some wonderful new books!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Boswellian Top 5's of 2017 part three


If you have been shopping with us over the years, then I’m pretty sure that you know who Conrad is. He is the special order guru. Much like Aaron in a previous post, Conrad is a fixture of Boswell. I started working with him back in 2003, when this was Harry W. Schwartz bookshop. He’s been here longer than that even. He has some great diverse choices below, he’s reading range is long and wide and it’s always interesting to see what has sparked his interest this past year.
Café Neandertal by Beebe Bahrami
 The Dordogne is one of the most concentrated areas in Europe for archaeological research into our ancient past. Café Neandertal explores not only the ancient history of our ancestors and our closest relatives  the Neandertals, but also delves into the culture and people of the region now. Written by the travel writer Beebe Bahrami, this is the perfect travel companion for anyone vacationing in France, and in particular a region that has been the perfect travel destination for over 400,000 years. $26.00
World Broke in Two by Bill Goldstein
Some years mark a stark division, separating what comes before from what comes after in uncompromising and irreversible terms: 1776, 1865, 1945 are obvious examples. For literature, 1922 is such a year. Bookended by the February publishing of James Joyce's Ulysses, considered by many to be the single greatest novel in the English language, and the translation of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time in the fall, the year marks a clean break from traditional forms of linear narrative storytelling, and plunges us deep into the psychological explorations and innovative structures of modernist writing. As Willa Cather reflected in 1936, "The World Broke in Two in 1922 or thereabouts." Goldstein's book is a lively, nuanced, and utterly enthralling tale of how this break affected four writers in particular: Virginia Wolff, TS Eliot, EM Forester and DH Lawrence, who all struggled with and found renewed inspiration from this new world.
$30.00 on Boswellian Best till the end of the year for $24.00
The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash
The early Twentieth Century cotton mills of North Carolina prove a fertile ground for union organizing and for this deeply troubling and engrossing novel. An impoverished single-mother, deserted by her husband and struggling to provide for her kids, chooses to fight her bosses and unionize. In the face of overwhelmingly toxic opposition from the mill owners and their hired thugs, she becomes an organizer and troubadour for worker's rights. Ultimately, it costs her her life. Her example compels her family and compatriots to continue the struggle without her. This is a pretty grim read, but it's filled with hope and inspiration, and is lyrically written in the elevated prose of Southern Gothic at its best.
$26.99 on Boswellian Best till the end of the year for $21.59 
Fresh Complaints by Jeffrey Eugenides (perhaps a few signed copies still left)
These short stories span Eugenides' long career, and are filled with the provocative, carefully observed lives of some of his most intriguing characters: people who meet their circumstances head on, the kind of characters we have come to expect from this gifted writer. Some of the stories are clearly dry runs for his later novels (see if you can spot them!) and hint at how Eugenides develops character and plot. All fit neatly into his body of work. The stories, while filled with angst, and world-weariness, and a questing search for identity that challenges fate, are nonetheless leavened with dark humor and a self-deprecating awareness of the foibles of grandiose self-delusion. $27.00 
The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa
A new translation of a book that took a lifetime to write and which quickly settled into the canon of great European literature after its posthumous release. Largely autobiographical and written in the form of a diary, this is nonetheless a monumental achievement in fiction (or as Pessoa described it with tongue planted firmly in cheek, 'factless autobiography'). In many ways he prefigures the existentialists of the mid-Twentieth Century, grappling with ideas of identity and meaning with a languid shrug of fatalism. Dive into the 'somber majesty of splendours no one knows' and learn why Pessoa stands shoulder to shoulder with the world's most profoundly original and engaging novelists. $24.95  
Barbara has been a wonderful addition to our staff over the last few years. Her knowledge and love of books is infectious! If I know she is working and I have children’s book question, then I go straight to her as she will have an answer right at her fingertips. I can only imagine it was painful to narrow down her books of 2017 to a top 5, but her list looks fantastic.
Restart by Gordon Korman
Why are students backing away from 8th grader,Chase Ambrose as he walks down school corridors? Chase has a problem: he doesn't recognize his family or friends since he fell off his roof and developed amnesia. Short chapters alternate between Chase and six classmates' point of view, as readers learn that Chase is a very different person after the fall! He begins to realize the impact he had on classmates' lives before falling, when perhaps he was a bully. Restart is filled with memorable characters, humor, and surprising twists and turns in the story. Can Chase make amends for his previous bad behavior and re-invent himself? Will he make the most of the second chance he has been given?
$16.99 on Boswellian Best till the end of the year for $13.59
Podkin One-Ear by Kieran Larwood, illustrated by David Wyatt
This exciting fantasy adventure tale tells the story of Podkin, the lazy rabbit son of the chieftan of Munbury Warren. When evil creatures called Gorm invade Podkin's home, he, his older sister Paz and little brother Pook are able to escape. They take and protect a magical daggar the Gorm are seeking. Beautiful descriptive language brings the rabbits' many adventures to life, as they flee to safety. With the help of his sister and brother, as well as friends made on his journey, Podkin gains confidence to become a brave chieftan. This is storytelling at its best!
$16.99 on Boswellian Best till the end of the year for $13.59
Undefeated by Steve Sheinkin 
"Undefeated" is another gem from award winning author, Steve Sheinkin. It is the compelling biography of Jim Thorpe, a famous Indian football player in the early 1900's and also the 1912 Olympic track star who was said to be "the best athlete on the planet." In a conversational style, master storyteller Sheinkin presents an extremely readable and well researched look at Thorp's complicated and stranger than fiction life. It highlights his time at the Carlisle Indian School and tells the story of his head coach, "Pop" Warner. How the game of football evolved during Thorp's active years is fascinating. This book is a MUST READ for lovers of exceptional biographies. $19.99
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia, illustrated by Frank Morrison
This small book grabs readers' emotions as they begin to know Clayton Byrd. Playing the blues harp (harmonica) with his beloved grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd and the Bluesmen band is the highlight of Clayton's life. When Cool Papa Byrd dies suddenly, Clayton is devastated, and has to face his mother, who seems not to understand Clayton or his grandfather. Running away to find the Bluesmen, Clayton goes underground to the New York subway, where he finds TROUBLE! Written with beautiful rhythmic language, the complex dynamics of a family comes to life. Rita Williams-Garcia has crafted a powerful and exceptional book! $16.99
Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley, Marjory Wentworth, illustrated by Ekua Holmes
This is a poetry book unlike all others. Original poems are written by award winning poet, Kwame Alexander and two other respected poets. The authors celebrate twenty famous poets from around the world who lived from the 1200's to the present. In one section, the poems copy the style of poets such as Nikki Giovanni and Robert Frost, while another section highlights feelings and themes of authors such as Pablo Neruda and Emily Dickinson. The last section thanks many poets for their talents. Breathtaking multi-media collages enhance each poem with vibrant colors and dramatic compositions. More information about each poet is at the end of the book. Children and adults will be motivated to read each poet's work and even write their own poems. This is a stunning book to treasure!
$16.99 on Boswellian Best till the end of the year for $13.59

Olivia S is our resident Harry Potter expert, I’m not saying the rest of us know nothing, but she knows pretty much everything. Come in and try to stump her with a Potter question, I dare you. She is one busy person, as she balances school, family, clubs and work. It's amazing her top 5 list is so good, because her interests pull her in a bunch of directions.  
It Devours! by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Immerse yourself in the phenomenally strange town of Night Vale and the stories of those brave enough to try and save it in this captivating new novel. Nilanjana Sikdar, avid scientist and outsider to Night Vale, takes on an investigation that leads her to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God as devastating seismic events occur around town and the data leads to dangerous hypotheses. Science and religion collide as Nilanjana works with Darryl, a devoted member of the Congregation, growing closer to him despite their very different ideals, beliefs, and worldviews while they struggle through confusing leads and frightening realizations surrounding the nature of the Smiling God. As the Congregation cheerfully proclaims- or perhaps warns: it devours. Surrounded by beings of uncertain malevolence, Nilanjana and Darryl soon realize that the true threat to Night Vale may lie closer to home than anyone- especially logical,  Nilanjana or trusting, committed Darryl- suspects. This is an original, stand-alone story and can be read by die-hard fans of the podcast and newcomers alike. $21.99
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling and Illustrated by Jim Kay
The third book of the phenomenal and beloved Harry Potter series joins the first and second illustrated editions; the story we all know and love is filled with beautiful illustrations on every page. Join Harry, Ron, and Hermione in their third year at Hogwarts school, where they find mystery, magic, and danger- now in full color!
$39.99 on Boswell Best till the end of the year for $31.99
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman's retelling of classic Norse myths is an amazing piece of storytelling, with wildly interesting tales in Gaiman's beautiful and distinctive narrative voice. Discover the stories behind Odin's cunning, Loki's mischief, Thor's strength, Freya's counsel, and the beginning and end of all things. A perfect gift for fans of history, mythology, and powerful stories.
$25.95 on Boswellian Best till the end of the year for $20.76
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls tells the stories of 100 brave, intelligent, resilient, and determined women from a wide variety of cultures, specializations, and walks of life. These inspiring stories of strength, innovation, and accomplishment against all odds will educate and encourage all who read them- and there's even space at the end for you to tell your own story.
$35.00 on Boswell Best till the end of the year for $28.00
All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Steifvater
In a marvelous feat of storytelling and an ode to wonder, Stiefvater's beautiful narrative voice brings readers to the small desert town of Bicho Raro, Colorado, 1962. Waiting there is a community of saints and pilgrims, miracles and darkness, and owls and radio waves. Dive into a tale of family, love, sacrifice and discovery. These characters will steal your heart; the story's end will melt it.
$18.99 on Boswell Best till the end of the year for $15.19
One more post and we'll have toured the booksellers top 5's for 2017.