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!

Friday, December 18, 2015

My Top 10 Books for 2015

I find top 10 lists hard to put together. Mostly, because I know I didn't all the books in my pile for the year. One of these years, I might compile a top 10 books I am mad that I didn't read for that particular year. I have at least 5 for this year.


Lists are always subject to what the writer has had time to read. Did they read the right books? Why did they read those books? Could they have been in a reading groove with  certain subjects and just gravitated towards them? You can see the difference in reviews from different newspapers, as the New York Times Top 10 differs greatly from the Washington Post's Top 10 books of the 2015. So many books, so little time. It is good that these lists have differing opinions on what was the best books of 2015 (you can usually figure out what was a universal pick by seeing what overlaps from list to list to list), it gives us, the potential readers, a chance to find a book we may not have heard of or seen (or, perhaps, simply forgotten about).


Below is my list of Top 10 books I read this year. I only picked books out that were published in 2015, older books were excluded, as were future books. You should easily figure out where my reading interests gravitated towards this year.


Adam Briggle really takes a deep look at fracking as it embeds itself in Denton, Texas, where he made his home and living. Realizing that most people have no idea of what fracking really entails, he begins to ask a ton of questions that any field philosopher would ask. He looks at the environmental and health impact as well as the economical one. He would like to offer a system to fix fracking, to make it as beneficial for all concerned parties. He is ignored. He leads a citizens group with local activists as they lead a fight to stop the fracking that is causing all kinds of problems. It is a hard won fight. Having never lived anywhere near fracking, reading this has made me glad that there are groups out there willing to take on the big oil and gas companies and fight for what seems logical and right.

This could well be Neal Stephenson's best work to date, equal parts Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World. An event occurs that leaves humanity on the brink of extinction with very little time on the clock to attempt to survive. Most writers would start well after the event and leave out all the important how parts, the parts readers want to know, like how does civilization continue or barring that, humanity. The leaders of Earth hatch a harsh plan to save humanity; nothing is easy and survival is not assured, but there is true heroism in the early pages of this novel as humanity has to learn to live in a foreign environment without the cozy confines of atmosphere or terra firma. To say this was a great novel does not do it justice; Stephenson creates a breathtaking take on the catastrophic ending of the world and the saving of the human race. Then he brings it full circle, leaving me completely in awe.


Paolo Bacigalupi writes some bleak futures in his novels. First in, The Windup Girl, and now in his new intense, water-deprived world of The Water Knife, we come to see the many different ways our civilization and ecosystems could go terribly wrong. This is an intense and violent cli-fi (climate fiction) novel that follows Angel Velasquez and Lucy Monroe on a hunt for an ancient water deed that could change the southwest water rights. Can they trust each other? Is finding the deed going to solve the water problem or lead to a bigger ill for most everybody? Characters are multidimensional and you can never peg somebody as always being the good person or the bad, and that is how Paolo sucker punches you time again as the plot unfurls. Brilliant novel, if a bit too close to reality sometimes, but that could be what we need.


Bennett Omalu was the right person at the right time to discover CTE in football players. He was an outsider from Nigeria, he battled anxiety and depression, he was considered a bit too smart to be tough, and he was born to a very amazing family. Discovering the disease in Mike Webster completely surprised and shocked Bennett, but not enough to silence him. He started publishing papers. The NFL started slandering his name and reputation. He has never had much of the credit for being the first to look and find CTE, however he was instrumental to the NFL slowly changing their ways and stop ignoring an epidemic problem among his players. Jeanne Marie Laskas has woven Bennett's tale with thoroughness and careful consideration to his entire life, because it was not just one thing that put him on the path to helping so many, it was a series of hard and serious problems that made Bennett Omalu the person he was to be able to accomplish this heroic task.


This is a brilliant collection by Jesse Eisenberg, who is better known for his roles in The Social Network and Zombieland. Though, if he keeps this up, then he is going to be heralded as a great writer as well. The stories are soaked and riddled with characters anxieties and quirks. The first story, and possible my favorite,  is from the point of view of a nine-year-old, who has become a restaurant critic, because his Dad will pay for any meals that his Mother goes on with him, since the two are separated. He rates his experiences on a scale of one to 2000 stars. The best is when he has to endure a vegan Thanksgiving!

This Napoleon book stands out from others I have read in the last couple of years. Patrice Gueniffey takes Napolean from his days in Corsica to the declaration of Consulate for Life in 1802. Not only does Patrice demonstrate how Napoleon was "born in war," but he also shows how, after witnessing the Revolution, he comes down on the side of centralized authority. There are great passages of his courting Josephine de Beauharnais to secure his French nationality. In this first volume, in which there will be a second companion volume covering the second half of Napoleon's life, we see his single minded, tireless and creative approach to raising his future self to the highest his brilliant mind could fling him.

If you didn't have pleasure of coming to hear Mary Doria Russell talk about Epitaph earlier earlier in the year here at Boswell, then you should find her on her paperback tour and go. She is a dynamo when talking about what drove her to write this and Doc. This remarkable historical novel does what readers like me want, to take an event we think know about and give us an angle we have been blind to or blocked from. In this case, it is the O.K. Corral and one of the most famous gunfights in Old West history. Just read it, the prose will have you, the characters will have you and Mary will not let you go.

This was one amazing read - the language was lush and beautiful and the reality of the world that Marguerite Reed created was brutal and harsh. On the planet of Ubastis, Vashti is one of the original offworlders to settler here. The planet has been on lock down from more colonists coming, with the Earth dying and that last world that was colonized and brutalized, Vashti is part of a group that is attempting to preserve this world. There is so much going on in this book, so many dual meanings and dual stories entwining around Vashti and her Beast, a bio-engineered human (who she thinks of as non-human and her enemy). The next book can't come soon enough!


This is a novel of tragedy and love told on the landscape of World War I. The McCoshes have four daughters and they are neighbors to an American family called the Pendennis and their three sons. One of the sons proposes to Rosie McCosh before he enlists in the war, along with all his brothers. To say very little, the tragedy strike particularly hard on both families. This is a war like no other before it and the scenes depicting the horrors of war are frightening. Not only are the soldiers in the trenches of France, who are constantly wet, cold and dirty, but the wives and mothers at home in England are shown to be living in a blackish world of death and loss. Louis de Bernieres is a brilliant storyteller, mixing up the characters who tell the story and giving us detailed historical detail of the period, but not too much. Now, I have to somehow wait for another story from him


Johannes Fried doesn't focus so much on the kings and emperors of the Middle Ages, instead he is interested in the 'thinkers' like Thomas Aquinas, Dante Alighieri and William of Ockham. It is the revolution of thought through the Middle Ages that Johannes Fried wants to trace. In another scholar's hands this book could be dry and dull, but Fried has the ability to capture the readers attention at this monumental evolution of thought, which is counter of what we think of the Middle Ages as being. He successfully argues, at least I think, that there was more diverse, creative and mature reason than we think they had. Here is a history book for the holidays that can go to people who love history for a good story or for those who want their history to argue new points of view. A great read.














Friday, July 17, 2015

The Next Sci-fi Read in Your Summer Stack: Time Salvager


Wesley Chu has been on my radar for a couple of years. I had heard that The Lives of Tao was roller coaster ride of a read. Being in the book business, occasionally you let authors earlier works slip by, and in sci-fi it makes it hard to go back and pick them up as the one book becomes a series. When I learned of Wesley Chu coming for an event on July 21st, I decided this was my time to make up some ground. To find out that the book was the beginning of a new series made it so much easier to jump in feet first.


In Time Salvager, Wesley Chu has built a pretty bleak existence in the 26th Century. There was a golden age at some point between where we are and where Time Salvager goes, and something went horrible wrong. Humanity is running out of resources, energy, food--the Earth's oceans have a solid layer of dead brown muck on top of it and most cities are vast wastelands of abandoned and crumbling buildings. At times, this book reminded me of some of the best of the dreariest sci-fi ever, something akin to a Philip K. Dick or Paola Bacigalupi story. Having a lack of resources and with the world tumbling ever downward, the only hope humanity has is to look to the past.

Enter James Griffin-Mars, a chronman. His job is to pillage the past and bring back resources for the present. It is not an easy job. There are laws governing time travel and what can be taken from out of the past. ChronoCom controls all time jumps and sets up where and when a chronman will go and take his target. The target can be an energy source, a valuable item that was destroyed, or something else that is about to leave existence as to ensure that the time line does not become compromised. This reminded me a bit of the sci-fi b-movie Millennium, where the time travelers would replace airplane passengers with dead bodies just before a plane crash was to happen.

Long story short, James brings back a scientist from one of his missions, which is the biggest time law that he could break. If ChronoCom finds him, it will mean the execution of Elise Kim, the scientist, and it could mean his indentured servitude for the rest of his days. Of course, ChronoCom monitors all time travel activity and are wise to James law breaking. He and Elise go on the run and attempt to evade the corporations hunting them down.

There are a lot of neat story lines and concepts circling around in here. First, there is the concept of time travel, I really like the ethical dilemma that Chu puts the chronmen through. How would they react to always going  back to humanities greatest tragedies of death and destruction, how would that mess with their psyche? Next is the idea that humanity has gone to the stars but only made it to our closest neighbors. James was born on a colony on Mars. What stalled them or prevented the technology from being invented to move further? Then, there is how corporations really rule the future and are willing to do anything to keep it that way. I never witnessed any government actions in this book, it was all corporate controlled interests moving humanity forward or standing still in perpetual stagnation. Finally, the history that Chu creates feels so well thought out. There is a definitive set of events that leads to the 26th Century and humanities bleak existence.

You can think of all that as you read, or you can just read it as a thrill ride that is and hold on. The action starts off quick and goes by in a flurry. I am positive that I will sign up for more adventures in this universe. There has been some great reviews out for his new book, one of them is from SF Signal which I attempt to read daily and find out all the great things happening in the SF world.

Do yourself a favor if you are a sci-fi fan and come to the event on July 21st. And, if you are like me, start reading his early books. The Lives of Tao (full disclosure, I had my sci-fi book club read this book for July so I could sneak in two Chu novels in one month) is a brilliant amount of kick-butt fun. My book club agrees that it is worth the time to read this martial arts body snatching book!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

All Hail the King of the Seas!

 

With Shark Week starting July 5th, our shark-obsessed Boswellian Phoebe pushed for a Shark Week table to showcase all of the shark-related literature we have in the store. Due to her enthusiasm, Boswell has officially become part of one of the summer's biggest pop culture phenomena with the inaugural Shark Week table! As someone who is both terrified and fascinated by sharks, and who has been watching Shark Week for most of her 23 years, Phoebe is uniquely equipped to recommend books about sharks. Here are some of her favorites from the table with their corresponding shark species. Thoughts from Phoebe:

 


The Peter Benchley Collection is a must for any Shark Week table. We don't have a regular old copy of Jaws, but who would want that when this collection filled with multiple sea beasts is available? Plus, it's a bargain book, which means it's $5. I would be hard-pressed to find any shark and book lover who wouldn't pay that amount for this collection of books. The only drawback to this book is that the shark on the cover is not a Great White; it's an Oceanic White Tip.  I am trying my best to get over it (and failing)--but it remains the Tiger Shark of the Shark Week table. Tiger Sharks are indiscriminate in their eating habits, and this book is indiscriminate in its audience because anyone of any age (maybe not those under 8 who don't want to fear the ocean forever) would enjoy it.


 

Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart have a pop-up book called Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Sharks and Other Sea Monsters. This one is pretty self-explanatory. I mean, it has sharks that pop out at you. Robert Sabuda is a master of paper pop-outs, and this book doesn't disappoint. (There are other creatures included as well, although sharks are clearly the best.) This book is the Sand Tiger Shark of the Shark Week table because just like you can't look away from the ragged teeth of that shark in the tank, you can't help but look at the wonderful pop-ups in this book.

 


Neighborhood Sharks by Katherine Roy is indisputably the best book ever. And no, I do not mean the best book about sharks, I mean best overall book in the history of creation. Beautiful watercolors of the Great Whites hunting off the coast of the Farallon Islands in California grace the cover and the first few pages of this incredible book. Even better, the book includes tons of facts about sharks, their eating habits, and their oceanic ecosystem. Any bookseller in the store can tell you how obsessed I am with this book. It's beautiful and informative, and it includes conservation efforts. Neighborhood Sharks also earned a Robert F. Sibert honor for being one of the best illustrated nonfiction books of 2014. I am 23 years old, and I would be ecstatic if someone bought me this book because it is awesome. This book is the Great White Shark--the apex predator--of the Shark Week table because, just like the Great White stealth-attacks its prey, this book stealth-attacks your attention with its cover and you never see it coming.

 

So there you have it! Phoebe's top picks off the Shark Week table. Come check out Boswell's first ever Shark Week table for more books to sink your teeth into--and let us know what your favorite books about sharks are.
 
 

 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Heroines Break the Mold!


How to Be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis inspired Boswellians Jane and Jen to spark some conversation among their coworkers and customers. They created a display featuring fellow booksellers' favorite literary Heroines, and a raffle that enabled customers to submit their selections for a chance to win Ellis's book. Winners were drawn during Boswell's June 10th Book Club event. Congratulations to Rebecca G. and one of the event's audience members, who now own a copy of the book! Jane Eyre's title character and Pride & Prejudice's Lizzie Bennett tied for most nominated Heroines. The other nominated Heroines were quite diverse and included Scout from Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, Iris Griffen from Margaret Atwood's Blind Assassin and Granny Weatherwax from Terry Pratchett's Carpe Jugulum.  There were also great Heroines submitted from our favorite children's books, from L M Montgomery's Ann Shirley to Rick Riordan's Annabeth and many in between!

What is a Heroine? Customer nominations indicated that a Heroine is spunky, resilient, honest, witty, thoughtful, fearless, gorgeous (one entrant's observation of Scarlett O'Hara) and so much more. 

Who is your Heroine?  And what makes her so? Stop by and pick up  a copy of How to Be a Heroine by Samantha Ellis, to find out what it takes. Or even try a new book and discover your next Heroine.





  
 

Need a recommendation? Our staff picks were:

Daniel-Geraldine Colshares from Goodbye Without Leaving by Laurie Colwin
 
Amie - Lyra from The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

Anne - Dana from Kindred by Octavia Butler

Carly - Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

Conrad - Thursday Next from The Eyre Affair by Jasper FForde

Eric- Clora from Family by J. California Cooper

Jane - Alexandra Bergson from O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

Jannis - Franny from Franny & Zoey by J D Salinger

Jen - Pippi from Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lingren

Mel - Leila from Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan

Pam - Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

Phoebe - Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Sarah - Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

Sharon - Jo from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Todd - Eponine from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Boswellian #WordsOfLizdom

The Bloggess Jenny Lawson's book, Let's Pretend this Never Happened, is BYUCKing Boswellian Carly UP!!
Greetings from the Boswelliansphere

As you can see, we're all about punctuationally-motivated experimentation and novelomenclature--making up words!--in preparation for Wordy Weekend at Boswell:



Lizzie Skurnick is an author, columnist, blogger, and the founder and editor of Lizzie Skurnick Books, a publishing imprint that brings back stunning editions of 20th century young adult and teen classics. For this special event, she will lead the audience in a unique verbal wordplay game in the spirit of That Should Be a Word, her trenchantly witty compendium of indispensable new words derived from the popular New York Times Magazine feature of the same name. With 244 of Skurnick's wittiest wordplays arranged in ingenious diagrams detailing their interrelationships, That Should Be a Word features words that cover issues from the profound financial anxiety of a post-recession society ("bangst") to the hyper-vain celebrity circle that abstains from anything of import ("celebracy"), delving into all the most humorous--and maddening--aspects of life in the 21st century. 


Mary Norris draws from over three decades in The New Yorker's copy department for her debut Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, which includes wide-ranging and hilariously rendered examples (Henry James, Emily Dickinson, Moby-Dick, and The Simpsons) to address topics as diverse as gendered pronouns, the hierarchy of punctuation, and the diminishing power of the apostrophe, explaining why it's always "between you and me." Joining her in conversation about Between You & Me, lauded by Boswellian Daniel as "an education, an intellectual romance, and a delight, to go all Oxford comma on you," and Boswellian Todd as "a collection of writing-related ruminations...unstuffy, conversational while being correct," is beloved local legend Bonnie North of WUWM's Lake Effect

*          *          *
No need to PRE-ARDOR: That Should Be a Word and Between You & Me are on Boswell's shelves right now!!
In the Book Candy section of the January 6, 2015 edition, Shelf Awareness ran a link to an article posted in BuzzFeed the previous day (written by staff writer Alex Alvarez), titled "23 Words for Book Lovers That Really Should Exist." Captivated by this idea, your brave and stalwart Boswellians sought to come up with words for some of them...and quickly turned to expert Lizzie Skurnick for help, choosing our favorites, riffing on some from the article in BuzzFeed, even coming up with a book-related phenomenon or two of our own! And Lizzie, creative sort that she is, came up with words for all of them!! 

Fifty shades of "What Did You Say?!" à lBINDAGE.
To give you a taste of what Wordy Weekend at Boswell will be like, here's our list and a few of the #WordsOfLizdom--as cleverly crafted and lovingly rendered GIF images of your very own Boswellians!!--that Lizzie Skurnick came up with for Boswell.

  • A word for dropping food on your book
  • A word for when someone insists that you read a book
  • A word for when you feel like the characters of the book are members of your family
  • A word for books that ALWAYS bring you to tears
  • "A word for the smell of a new book" (#1 from BuzzFeed)
  • "A word for the smell of an old book" (#2 from BuzzFeed)
  • "A word for not remembering whether something in a book happened to you...or you read it in a book" (#10 from BuzzFeed)
  • "A word for the totally unnecessary annoyed feeling you get when seeing a book you love reissued with a movie poster on it's cover" (#11 from BuzzFeed)
  • "A word for feeling such close kinship with an author that you feel they're writing just for you" (#14 from BuzzFeed)
Tweet your own witty wordplay to us (@boswellbooks--and don't forget @lizzieskurnick, @MaryNorrisTNY, and @Workmanpub) using the hashtag #WordsOfLizdom!! 

Dear Lizzie: Boswellian Mel is picking up what you're putting down here at Jezebel: she and Elizabeth George Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond are totally * SCROLLMATES.

* For this one, Lizzie also thinks KINDREAD would work just fine!


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Preview

Here are just a few of the books we're looking forward to seeing on the shelves in 2015, complete with our enthusiastic recommendations!



A Kim-Jong Il Production:The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and aYoung Dictator’s Rise , by Paul Fischer [Adult Nonfiction]

Paul Fischer does an exemplary job doing his research and making this book addictably readable. You've heard of Kim Jong-Il kidnapping people, but to the extent of what he did seem like an act of lunacy. Also, take in to consideration the painfully, slow process of acquiring western films to watch, and Kim Jong-Il appears to be a simple, insane son of a dictator. Nothing could be further from the truth. He used shrewd political moves to ensure his succession as the leader of the people by using anything he could lay his hands on; and that started with cinema of North Korea.”  —Jason Kennedy


The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, by Rachel Joyce [Adult Fiction]

“Miss Queenie Hennessey is dying and she starts writing an extended letter that takes readers into the backstory of her relationship with former brewery colleague, Harold Fry, who is walking a 637 mile trek to see her, sending postcards along the way, asking her to 'wait for me.' Simultaneous quixotic journeys taken, one by foot along the open roads and one with a pen on paper from the confines of hospice, this gracefully written story reveals Queenie's life and what led to her sudden move away from Harold 20 years ago to the consolation of a sea garden cottage in the north of England. Confessional in tone, this compassionately written novel can be read as a companion to the Booker shortlisted title The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye or as a stand alone story of one woman's life filled with steadfast hope and selfless love. Destined to be one of my favorite books of 2015, this is storytelling at its best. I loved it!”  —Jane Glaser

Jam on the Vine, by LaShonda Katrice Barnett [Adult Fiction]

“Following the life of Ivoe Williams, founder and editor of Jam! On the Vine, the first female-owned and operated African American newspaper, this splendid novel is one southern African American family’s Jim Crow survival story, the rare bildungsroman of a budding female activist and entrepreneur, and the alluring love story between two disparate African American women. Jam on the Vine is written in such evocative prose with so much historical accuracy that you’ll feel like you’ve traveled back in time—yet so familiar that you’ll jump to answer the call to action still so relevant a century later. Not since Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God have I been as sweet on a book as I am on this lovely and much-needed debut novel!”  —Mel Morrow
Etta and Otto and Russell and James, by Emma Hooper  [Adult Fiction]

“What a fantastic book to start the new year off with! Etta and Otto and Russell and James is full of kind-hearted, lovable characters. Everyone has a journey they need to take and at 83 years old Etta is finally taking hers. Leaving her husband Otto a note saying she's gone to see the ocean and will try to remember to come back, Etta sets off. She embarks on foot through the quiet farmland and dust she meets new friends and becomes somewhat of a celebrity through the towns she passes. Meanwhile, her husband Otto has been keeping himself busy trying out his wife's recipes, getting a pet and getting a hobby that will attract the attention of passerby. This book has heart & soul all over it. Pick it up and meet Etta and Otto and Russell and James. You'll be glad you did!” —Jen Steele



How to Be a Heroine: Or,What I’ve Learned from Reading too Much, by Samantha Ellis [Adult Nonfiction]

Traveling the Haworth moor of the Brönte sisters sets off a query between the author and a friend as to whether Jane Eyre or Catherine Earnshaw is to be the more admired heroine. Part memoir of growing up in an Iraqi-Jewish family and part literary commentary from an authorial perspective, readers will travel on a journey of self discovery focusing on the impact that  the joy of reading has on shaping our lives, in all its fluidity. Among chapters revisiting the heroines of favorite books, as diverse as fairy tales’ The Little Mermaid, Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennett, Margaret Mitchel's Scarlett O'Hara, E. M. Forster's Lucy Honeychurch, etc., the author culminates with a reflection of the tales of Scheherazade. Writers and readers alike will enjoy this multilayered examination for its honest and witty insights. For readers who enjoyed Rebecca Mead's nonfiction My Life in Middlemarch or Alan Bennett's fictional The Uncommon Reader, this is your next book! I was fascinated!”  —Jane Glaser


The Hunger of the Wolf, by Stephen Marche [Adult Fiction]

“Dale Wylie conjures a vast financial empire out of nothing as his brother Max disappears into the unsettled west to hustle another kind of American Dream: absolute freedom. The Hunger of the Wolf is the sumptuous tale of the Wylie family across three generations, following Dale, his son George, and former Alberta estate caretaker Jamie Cabot, who hopes to profit from unleashing the eccentric family's deepest secret upon the final heir's mysterious death. From the wilds of rural Canada to the urban jungle of penthouse parties featuring Manhattan's elite, Stephen Marche treats readers to a classic American adventure that's gossip column juicy, murder mystery intriguing, fairy tale ethereal, and reveals the humanity in beastliness. This book is sublime!” —Mel Morrow

Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Peña [Picture Book] 
 
“Every Sunday after church CJ and his nana take the bus to the last stop on Market Street. This Sunday however it's raining and CJ asks his nana why they don't have a car, why are some places dirtier than others, how come a blind man can't see. His Nana's responds by helping CJ see that there is beauty and kindness all around him. ‘To feel the magic of the music.’ A heartwarming picture book about a boy and his grandmother who shows him to see the beauty of the world around him.” 
Jen Steele

Sweetland, by Michael Crummey [Adult Fiction]

“Offers of money and new-job training cannot weaken Moses Sweetland’s connection to his home, the island of Sweetland. As the rest of the island’s population readies for relocation, Sweetland grips the island’s memories while battling with his relatives and friends about why he must give up his way of life. Sweetland knows he needs and wants connections to other people and creatures, though; therefore, as the population shrinks, Sweetland cherishes his bonds with those who also don’t care to leave: a friend’s dog and the devoted youth Jesse. Told in two parts, one of resolve and one of grief and survival, Sweetland is never so simple that the reader can think Moses Sweetland should have done one thing over another to thrive.” —Todd Wellman



Emma: A Modern Retelling, by Alexander McCall Smith [Adult Fiction] 

Emma, one of Jane Austen's most admired novels, comes alive in the 21st century as part of the 2015 contribution to The Austen Project, which invites modern writers to rework the novels of one of the most infamous authors whose six titles are ageless in their popularity. Under the expert pen of celebrated author, McCall Smith, readers, including dedicated Janeites, will enjoy this entertaining retake of a classic that is endlessly yielding!”  —Jane Glaser
 




“Most people have had some kind of an addiction or obsessive hobby at some point in their life. For Patton Oswalt it was the silver seduction of celluloid. For four years in the late 90’s, Patton Oswalt becomes a ‘sprocket fiend’ at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles. He spends most of his free time and thought on movies to see so he can check them off in one or more of his 5 movie encyclopedias. But this is all for a higher purpose...to become a director. Silver Screen Fiend is funny, engaging, and filled with wonderful trivia (look up The Day the Clown Cried—he didn't make that up!). Pick up Silver Screen Fiend and not only will you learn about Patton's journey through the alternative comedy scene, you might just feel the sprocket junkie itch yourself.” —Jen Steele

The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds [Young Adult Fiction] 

“At the beginning of Matt Miller's senior year of high school, his mom dies of cancer. Then his dad is involved in a horrific accident. Rather than sit alone in his suddenly empty house, Matt takes a job at his neighbor's business: a funeral home. A place where, suddenly, people seem to get it. It's a hard world for young African-American men forced to grow up too fast, but in the realistic Bed-Stuy of The Boy in the Black Suit, Jason Reynolds captures the myriad tiny graces and acts of compassion that keep people going when the world seems vicious and cold--the very things that make us believe in hope and love.” —Mel Morrow



The Bookshop, by Penelope Fitzgerald [Adult Fiction]

When middle-aged widow Florence Green opens a bookshop in a small British town's abandoned building, she is met with a sudden challenge by the local patron who wishes to turn the Old House into an arts center. Provincial pettiness ramps up when the just published Nabakov's Lolita becomes the featured window display. First published in 1978 and shortlisted for the Booker award, this literary gem of a novella is being republished with an introduction by British writer David Nicholls. Following upon the Hermione Lee biography Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life, named as  one of NYT's top ten books of 2014, the author is now receiving the well deserved recognition, posthumously, that she deserves. More reprints of her novels will soon be released with new introductions, but The Bookshop is my favorite for its elegant writing and thought provoking look at the power of money and class.”  —Jane Glaser


Act of God, by Jill Ciment [Adult Fiction] 

“If you find a strange glowing mushroom in your closet—like twin sisters Edith & Kat did—you’d better get rid of it quick or risk losing precious artifacts. If you're a landlady/Shakespearean actress like Vida, and happen to discover the same glowing substance in your closet, you should call your insurance company! Unfortunately for Vida, when she does alert her insurance company, they consider the mold to be an ‘Act of God’ and refuse to cover the cost of removal or repairs. Soon, this 'supermold' spreads all over the neighborhood and everyone has to endure HAZMAT showers, eviction, and the loss of everything they hold dear. Act of God is a delightfully dark comedy that shows us the touching beauty to be found even during hard times.” —Jen Steele

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli [Young Adult Fiction] 

“Becky Albertalli weaves a sweet mystery for higher school student Simon to solve: who is the mysterious, flirtatious, emailing guy codenamed Blue who also goes to Creekwood High? From page one, Albertalli also amply—and convincingly—heaps other mysteries into Simon’s life: how can he stop a fellow student from blackmailing him? Why don’t straight people have to come out as straight? Should he tell his friends and family he’s gay? Simon relies on a mix of authentic teenage voices, red herrings, and diverse characterizations to inspire the reader to accompany Simon on his journey.” —Todd Wellman


Yeti and the Bird, by Nadia Shireen [Picture Book]

Yeti and the Bird is about the biggest, hairiest, and loneliest Yeti in the forest. All of the other animals are afraid of the Yeti because he is so big and hairy. Only one little bird is not afraid of the Yeti. What begins with a THUNK! ends with lasting friendships. Written and wonderfully illustrated by Nadia Shireen, Yeti and the Bird is a great read aloud picture book for the whole family.” —Jen Steele

Jillian, by Halle Butler [Adult Fiction]

“Megan is a mess. Her coworker, Jillian, is a hot mess. Both are depressed: the former totally aware and using it as bridge-burning fuel; the latter so self-deluded that any inkling of it bubbling to the surface is prayed away or written off as low blood sugar. Oh--and they hate each other. Except that they really just hate themselves for being so far behind on what they thought they should have achieved in life by 24 and 35, respectively. Halle Butler's debut novel Jillian is a scathing depiction of internalized patriarchal rhetoric. Readers sit within the heads of two women who have bought into oppressive language: one who believes she is an unlikable, crazy bitch, and the other who believes she is ever in need of rescue. This book made my skin crawl, which is certainly one of the hallmarks of great literature. Jillian is an uncomfortable reality check for those curious about how the other half lives.” —Mel Morrow

I Don’t Like Koala, by Sean Ferrell [Picture Book]

“What do you do when your parents give you a most terrible terrible stuffed animal? If you're Adam, you try to get rid of it. His parents don't understand. They don't see Koala's terrible face & paws or the eyes that follow him everywhere. Every day, Adam tries to get rid of koala, and every night koala is back and too close to him. Until a stormy night then perhaps koala isn't the most terrible terrible thing there is. A funny book with perfect illustrations to show you just how terrible koala is. A must read for the whole family!” —Jen Steele


The Room, by Jonas Karlsson [Adult Fiction]


“Björn is determined to make a good impression in his new position at the Authority. He creates and adheres to a strict, efficient routine, using his free time to catch up on only the most pertinent office jargon and politics. On one of his scheduled breaks, he discovers a room in which he feels more confident, focused, and efficient. Soon, his trips to the room start to freak out his coworkers: to them, Björn is staring at the wall for minutes on end. The office manager and a therapist are called on for a resolution. Eventually, with the room’s help, Björn turns in exemplary work that earns him a huge promotion, just as some of his coworkers start losing their minds. The Room is a freaky, savvy psychological novel that will destabilize you and lead to intense philosophical debate—a great pick for book clubs!”  —Mel Morrow

She Weeps Each Time You’re Born, by Quan Barry [Adult Fiction] 

“Barry reveals a Vietnamese people who are easy to imagine as characters in a post-apocalyptic novel a la The Road—except the sting is that these are images of people from our past, those who survived war and being carted about their country. Spanning 30 years, the novel features an artful narrator who poetically reveals the landscape while unwinding the life of Rabbit: daughter, friend, lover, ghost-whisperer, and more to those around her. It’s easy to revel in Barry’s language and story—lingering on description like it was dessert, attending scenes that coalesce as footage of a life of endless searching for what calls.” —Todd Wellman


The Sculptor, by Scott McCloud [Graphic Novel]

“A young sculptor refuses to leave New York until he makes a name for himself. Unfortunately, his name is David Smith: nothing special to strangers, but infamous in the art world for betraying his benefactor. Rejected from galleries, despised by critics, pitied by friends, kicked out of his apartment, and nearly penniless, David makes a deal with Death. He has 200 days to restore his name, trading the remainder of his life for a gift that makes work faster and easier. And then he meets Meg. Scott McCloud's The Sculptor is a brilliant fable and fraught love story reminiscent of Blankets and A Christmas Carol, with twists you won't see coming—a great read for those who want a high-stakes narrative, be they comics neophyte, veteran, or any range in between.” —Mel Morrow


My Sunshine Away, by M. O. Walsh [Adult Fiction] 

“Like most people, the older I get, the more I enjoy stories that take me back to a time when I was young. This is the case in this debut novel from Walsh, but there are many other reasons that I liked this book so much. The events of the summer of 1989 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, are related by a 14 year old boy. He, much like the rest of the boys in his neighborhood, is in love with Lindy Simpson, the girl across the street. When Lindy is violently raped one night by an unknown assailant, she, and the neighborhood, are changed forever. The story centers on our narrator doing his best to find the identity of Lindy’s attacker, but there is much more going on. A parent’s hopes and fears for her child, high school survival, first love, lost innocence, and the often difficult passage into adulthood. A fantastic offering by an author that remembers what it is like to be a teenager, and allows the reader to do so as well.” —Sharon Nagel


Boswellian Pam is really excited for the sequel to The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove, The Golden Specific, which is scheduled for publication on July 14, 2015. 

And Boswellian Jane Glaser is currently reading--and loving--Anne Tyler's novel A Spool of Blue Thread, Aislinn Hunter's novel The World Before Us, and Emma Hooper's novel Etta and Otto and Russell and James.