Saturday, October 15, 2016

Octoberfest at Boswell

If you like the seasons changing and the days getting a bit colder, then you might also be excited about all the beers that get produced this time of year, like me. The dark porters and the Octoberfest beers definitely get me in the holiday mood. While, we are not into selling the alcoholic drinks (or any drinks really) we do have many fabulous books here about this fantastic drink. This is something I am calling Booktoberfest!
Beer FAQ by Jeff Cioletti answers all the questions you have about beer. Well, most of them at least.
He will give you the lowdown on Beer History, styles, and the explosion of the world of craft beer. We know a bit about that stuff here in Milwaukee. So does Jeff Cioletti, he has been an editor-in chief of Beverage World magazine and has written for both Draft and All About Beer magazines, which are both great for the beer lover in your midst. There is just a plethora of information from the different styles (using sweet potatoes or different flowers) to a detailed picture of regional brewing history throughout the world.

If you want a more detailed look at a Brewing history, then new this season is Beer of Broadway Fame by Alfred W. McCoy. He looks at the Brooklyn brewery Piel Bros., as they grow from a small production of 850 kegs a year, into the 16th largest brewery by 1952, when they were brewing over a million barrels a year. As you can figure out, the breweries history travels through Prohibition, which is amazing to think about now, we have no reference for this in our lives, but the fact that Piel Bros. sustained and expanded through and after Prohibition is a remarkable achievement. The story that McCoy unfolds through this period makes for fascinating and scandalous history of the brewery and the beer.

Enough of history, let's look at places where you can go to imbibe. Chris Santella's book, Fifty Places to Drink Beer Before You Die does just that.   The book is set up in alphabetically order by state, country or province that the beer destination lies in. He takes you Alabama to Melbourne to Denver and then over to Berlin, to name just a few. His destinations are pretty much all recommendations given to him by friends. For the Milwaukee section, he recommends going to Lakefront Brewery, Sprecher, Best Place at Historic Pabst Brewery, Romans' Pub, Sugar Maple, and Burnhearts. This seems like a good book to grab if you are planning a vacation that takes you to one of these areas.

Lucy Burningham did go on such a trip for beer imbibing in her new beer memoir, My Beer Year. The start of the description of this book captures the essence perfectly, 'A love note to beer--appreciating the hstory, craftsmanship, and tast of craft beer as told by a woman striving for beer-expert status.'  And I would say, she knows a whole lot more than myself. She visits hop farmers, craft brewers, rare beer tasting parties, as well as going to all the usual places that we would find ourselves (beer festivals, taprooms...) A brilliantly engrossing book that I can't wait to finish!

If you decide, after reading Lucy's beer memoir that you would like to host or attend a beer tasting party, then you should bring along a Craft Beer Tasting Kit (even if it is just a party of two!). It contains 200 tasting notes to fill in, a flavor wheel, beer mats, and a nifty bottle opener. The book included gives you a quick rundown on how to taste beer and all the different styles that you could possibly run into. Perfect for the party!

That's it! That's all I got. Happy Octoberfest to everyone and be safe!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Summer of Chris

I declare this the summer of Chris! No, I'm not just sitting at home in my velvet pajamas all day, calling the store to ask Daniel what's happening. Not yet, anyway. Rather, I've been at home reading through a stack of this summer's new releases. This summer, this is me:
Now Boswell's New and Noteworthy shelves are loaded with my summer recommendations. So here's a guide to the Summer of Chris reading list:
City of Secrets by Stewart O'Nan
Just after World War II, holocaust survivor Brand lives in hiding in Jerusalem's walled Old City and becomes reluctantly involved in the violent resistance to British colonial rule. The novel is disguised as a historic thriller, and it exposed me to a troubling chapter in Great Britain's history, but the real story is that of a man's conflicted heart. O'Nan is particularly adept at delving deep into his characters' internal conflicts, and explores how much a man can lose and still fight for life, and how much of his own moral code a man is willing to break for a larger cause.
Nitro Mountain by Lee Clay Johnson
Welcome to "the lost dog capital of the world." This novel, which reads like a hard, classic country song come to life, follows the doomed-just-for-living lives of two broke country musicians, one moonshiner full of rage and white lightning, and the mountain woman who loves them all. The novel is set in the foothills of Appalachia, the region where I grew up, and comes as close as any book I've ever read to capturing what we call "Appalachian fatalism" - the bone deep, born knowledge that if something bad can happen to you, sooner or later it probably will.
Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend
Based on the real life of Frances Conway, a quiet woman turned international spy in the Galapagos Island during World War II. A beguiling novel of island life and espionage, friendship, love, and betrayal, Amend's third novel is a exciting step forward for her career, all of her talents coalescing into a book that shows a writer coming into her full storytelling powers.
The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson
A man with a life that's average at best is surprised to discover he's officially the happiest man in the world. He's even more surprised when he's told that happiness isn't free. Riffing on Kafka but taking things in a new direction, Sweden's most popular TV-star-turned-bestselling-author has written a quirky book that's at turns dark and hilarious, anxious and rambunctious, an oddball affirmation of being alive.
Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong
The stories behind the stories of one very, very bad man, a terrible dancer, a pathetic loser, and a hipster doofus. A fascinating history of America's most famous sitcom, from its seat-of-the-pants inception to its culture-shifting influence, this book is so well written that it will give even the most hopeless George at least one conceivable reason to get up in the morning. This book glitters!
The Voyeur's Motel by Gay Talese
A disturbing and controversial book by one of America's preeminent journalists, Talese reconstructs the story of a Colorado motel owner who spent decades spying on his guests through secret vents in his motel rooms' ceilings. Along with the obvious, disturbing implications for the motel industry and its customers, the book raises uncomfortable questions about the writer's ethical, not to mention legal, obligations to the voyeur's victims. Yet even as these questions remain unanswered, the book persists in being compelling, a glimpse into the mind of a man driven by obsession that is at once repulsive and riveting.
After all that reading, this is pretty much me for the rest of this summer:

Friday, July 22, 2016

It's a toy! It's a puzzle! It's a playset!

 New from Crocodile Creek are the Vehicle Puzzle & Play. Each Vehicle contains a 24 piece puzzle and 5 stand up figures. Perfect for ages 4 and up. Did I mention that the box doubles as a vehicle too?! For ages 4 and up.

Stop by Boswell to discover new and exciting puzzles and games for kids!
And while you're at it, meet the Creetures: Max the Monster, Zeke the Alien and Spike the Robot! Each Creeture contains a 48 piece puzzle and 1 stand up figure. Complete the puzzle and then use it as a play mat. For ages 4 and up.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Secondhand News - Boswell's Spectacular Secondhand Summer of Sports

As summer begins in Milwaukee, Boswell's faithful are wrapping up their spring cleaning, which means Boswell's secondhand crew is busy sorting through some fantastic collections of secondhand books. We're especially excited about the collection making its way onto our shelves now which we're calling the "Spectacular Secondhand Summer of Sports." These books are the perfect sunny day, back porch reading while you wait for the Brewers game to start, or before you hit the putting green. Maybe a little something to get your basketball fix in the off season? Or maybe you're like me, and you need something to hold you over until the first kickoff of fall.
In addition to all this great summer reading, some collectors' favorites have just hit the Recent Fiction Secondhand shelves, including:
- A gorgeous, near mint condition Library of America box set of John Updike's Collected Stories. I'm quite jealous of whoever gets to add this to his or her shelves!
- A few Modern Library Classics Paperback editions, including Vanity Fair and Uncle Tom's Cabin
- Several Oxford Paperback editions.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Independent Bookstore Day

Independent Bookstore Day
On Saturday, April 30, Boswell Book Company will be celebrating the second annual Independent Bookstore Day.
In addition to the wonderfully unique items available for sale on Saturday only, we are having a Literary Quiz Bowl. Last year we featured Authors vs. Critics, but this year will be a little bit different. This will be a pub-style quiz bowl requiring audience participation. For this to be successful, we will need an audience. The quiz bowl starts around 2:00 tomorrow afternoon. There will be three rounds, so that you don’t have to stay for the whole thing if you don’t have time. There will also be prizes – Boswell, Pizza Man, and Café Hollander gift cards. You may play with a team, but the prizes are awarded per winning answer sheet, not per team. That means you have to share, people.
Last year, this glorious new holiday fell on the first truly perfect (weather-wise) Saturday of the year. Everyone wanted to be outside and who could blame them? Thus, attendance was a little sparse. This year promises to be chilly and rainy; the ideal conditions to seek shelter in your favorite independent bookstore.
Pictured above are just a few of the exclusive items available for sale at Boswell on this special day only. There are no holds, no phone orders, and only one each of an item per customer. You will have to show up and get them in person. Once you are in the store, we hope that you will stay and enjoy the celebration with us.
Thanks to Boswellian Todd, who will be our host for the quiz bowl, and to Boswellian Chris who assisted me with the trivia questions. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you tomorrow.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Middle Grade Mania!

Recently Boswellian Tim had the pleasure of accompanying authors to a school event in Waukesha. Booksellers do this all the time, but it was a uniquely different experience to him, and this post explains why.

The three authors comprising Middle Grade Mania offered 4th and 5th graders a fascinating variety of literary genres and a heartfelt look at their personal lives. As a fifth grade teacher who has brought several authors to my school, I enjoyed their personal engagement with our children, all accomplished without the use of any technology. The kids were focused on and entertained by the writers’ stories of their home lives and of the inspirations for their writing. As a new bookseller with Boswell, I watched from the other side of an author event, with admiration for the way these skilled writers opened themselves to the students’ excitement!

G. (Greg) Neri opened the event by discussing his contact with alligators near his Florida “jungle” home. The children’s attention never wandered from that moment on, staying tuned to his explanation of Tru and Nelle, his southern style, character driven novel based on the real 1930’s Mississippi childhood friendship between Truman Capote and Nelle Harper Lee. These two diametrically opposed children, Capote the fastidious intellectual in a white sailor suit and Lee the barefoot tomboy in torn bibs, find their love of Sherlock Holmes and their small town boredom to be the right combination for launching mystery solving in their own town.

Elana K. Arnold explained the personal basis for her novel Far From Fair by recounting the experience of her family selling their home and deciding to live on the road in an RV. Odette, the narrator of the book, comes to terms with the result: selling her possessions, losing her home, missing her friends, and facing the grave illness of her grandmother far from her own known world. The novel’s emotions are true, the descriptions of nature are beautiful, and Odette’s discovery that every door which closes has new life on the other side is convincing and warm.

Beth Fantaskey then captured us all by describing her extended research for Isabel Feeney, Star Reporter, a fast paced murder mystery set in 1920s gangland Chicago, where Capone is king and very few women reporters cover the crime beat. Young Izzy, who sells Tribunes on the street corner, wants to be one; and when an adult woman customer (and friend) is accused of a crime which Isabel almost literally stumbles over in an alley, she enlists her crime reporter hero and a skeptical police detective to help her clear the case. Fantaskey’s historical note describes the lives of early Chicago women crime reporters and completes the sense that we were really there!

Teachers and children left touched by an event which seemed to have something for every type of book lover!

If you're an enthusiastic educator in metro Milwaukee, contact Todd Wellman about how you can bring an author (or authors) to your school through Boswell.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Four Great YA Reads - Bon Voyage Recommendations from Phoebe.

It’s the last hurrah for Phoebe at Boswell as she ventures off to New York to conquer the world of children’s publishing. Before she goes, here are her four last recommendations for books coming out this spring.

First up is The Hunt, by Megan Shepherd, Balzer and Bray. Phoebe’s take: “After being deceived so thoroughly, Cora wants nothing to do with Cassian or the rest of the Kindred. Problem is, she doesn't have a choice. She has been reassigned to a menagerie known as "The Hunt" and Cassian is training her to complete the Gauntlet. If she succeeds, humans will be elevated to intelligent status. But there are some who don't want that to ever happen, and Cora will have to battle them and her inner turmoil in order to survive the Hunt and pass the Gauntlet. Meghan Shepherd delivers an explosive sequel to The Cage that had me flipping pages as fast as possible. The characters continue to evolve as they are thrust into their new environments. I still love the POV switches. The story reads like a sci-fi political thriller and Cora's character adds the dystopian element of a reluctant, desperate, and selfless heroine. This book is awesome!” It's out in May!

Emily Henry's The Love that Split the World is per Phoebe, one of a kind: "Natalie Cleary knows she has three months to save him, at least that's what Grandmother told her the last time she appeared in her room. The only problem is that she has no idea who this mysterious "him" is. Then she meets Beau, a captivating boy who lives in her small town in Kentucky, but also doesn't. Unraveling the mystery of what connects them leads Natalie to truths that will change her world and her life forever. Oh my goodness, this book. I loved it in a way that is tough to put to words. Henry weaves folklore, parallel worlds, questions of identity, and powerful romance together into a beautiful story. This book is poignant, and magnificent, and one of a kind." This novel comes out at the end of January.

Coming February 16 is The Shadow Queen, by C.J. Redwine, Balzer and Bray. The Phoebe facts: "Irina, the wicked queen of Ravenspire, is a mardushka with magic that is slowly destroying the land from the inside out. Lorelai, the rightful heir to the throne, is a mardushka herself and has been on the run ever since Irina killed her father. With her people and the land dying, Lorelai has to decide what she is willing to risk to save her kingdom. This is a standalone fairy tale retelling/ fantasy. Yes, a standalone! And it's wonderful. The world is fully fleshed out, the characters are very original spins on the standard fairy tale characters (especially the Huntsman), and the pacing of the book is spot on. This book is a stellar example of a retelling done right and a satisfying and gripping fantasy that perfectly fits inside of one book."

You'll have to wait until May for The Last Star, the final book in Rick Yancey's Fifth Wave series. "Perfect" is Phoebe's take on this one: "Cassie, Ringer, Zombie, Evan, and the others in their group are nearing the inevitable conclusion to what started with the 1st wave and is now ending with the 5th. Either the others go, or humanity does. Wow doesn't even begin to cover it. After the greatness of the first book, I admit the second one let me down a bit. I was worried about this book, excited to read it, but worried. I shouldn't have been worried. This conclusion to the trilogy matches and then surpasses the brilliance of the first book. From the first page to the last, it blew me away. It's so humanly, heart-wrenchingly, edge-of-your-seat good."

Soon enough, Phoebe will be talking up these publisher's books from the inside. All the best to her!