Sunday, March 28, 2021

Staff Recommendation for the Weeks of March 23 and 30

Hope you're well and did not feel too abandoned last week when we neglected to post our (mostly) weekly roundup of staff recommendations. To make up for it, we return with a triple-dose of new books, plus one recently paperback'd pick.

First up we've got Tim McCarthy's recommendation for A Raft of Stars, the debut novel from Wisconsin-native Andrew Graff that came out last week. Here's what Tim has to say: "It’s a small northern Wisconsin town, tucked up against a massive forest, a place where they know Milwaukee folks won’t understand. Sometimes you just shoot coyotes when their numbers cross a line and you start losing cows. It’s a place where two young boys have father problems, and the problems suddenly get big, so the kids run. There’s a young new sheriff in town who had to leave his home, too. He was looking for a quiet place away from his Houston mistakes, maybe a dog, and some distance from complications, but he won’t get that now. The boys are out there alone, and distance doesn’t work anymore. Their stories drew me in right away. Many of the characters seem familiar because they’re like me. Any glimpse of close human connection brings a sense of both need and dread, in equal measure. The suspense works well, too, as lines get drawn and necessarily crossed. The emotions feel true, as an intense fight for survival draws out their full force. I enjoyed the ride!"

If you've enjoyed our virtual events, and you enjoyed this recommendation, then you're going to enjoy knowing that Graff joins us virtually on April 12 - click here (as this is the registration station) to sign up for this event and find out more.

Graff's book also just received this rave in the Boston Globe (paywall warning) from Jeffrey Ann Goudie, who says, "If this exquisitely crafted novel about two 10-year-old boys on the lam on a river raft has echoes of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it is still its own solid self."

Next up is Milwaukee author Erica Ruth Neubauer, who has just released the second installment of her Jane Wunderly historical mystery series, Murder at Wedgefield Manor. This one gets the recommendation treatment from Daniel Goldin: "Jane and her Aunt Millie are resting at an English estate on their way home to America, reunited with Millie’s birth daughter Lillian, who has been adopted by Edward Hughes, who is fortunately wealthy enough that Jane can take some flying lessons on his new-fangled plane. Lillian is flirting with Simon, one of the men working for her father, and when Millie questions the propriety of this, Simon storms off in one of Edward’s vehicles, only the brake line has been cut. And then Lord Edward’s knife is found. It sure seems like he’s trying to kill this man who is trying to court his daughter. But the truth is a lot more complicated than that, and fortunately, there’s a full estate’s worth of suspects, many with mysterious backgrounds. And one more mysterious person shows up at the scene: Redvert, the so-called banker who helped Jane unravel Murder at the Mena House. Neubauer’s sophomore effort is just as sparkling as her debut, filled with dashing adventure, a classic mystery, 1920s glamor, and a touch of romance. Murder at Wedgefield Manor once again updates a classic formula for contemporary audiences. And did I remember to say it was dashing?"

And in case you're reading the blog on Monday the 29th or Tues the 30th before 7 pm CDT, you'll be happy to know you can still catch Neubaer's virtual chat with Tim Hennessy (Editor of Milwaukee Noir) - visit the registration station right here, right now! Unless, of course, you are reading this after 3/30/2021 at 7 pm in the Central Time Zone. In which case, check out our youtube channel right here and perhaps that conversation will be recorded and posted for you to enjoy. Perhaps!

Finally in new release recommending, it's Jen Steele for The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade. And Jen says: "A poignant novel set in New Mexico, The Five Wounds follows the lives of the Padilla family: 33 yr. old Amadeo, his pregnant 15 yr. old daughter, Angel, the family matriarch Yolanda, and Tio Tive, who has initiated Amadeo into the hermandad and casted him to portray Jesus in their reenactment of the crucifixion. Jobless, living with his mother, and estranged from his teenage daughter, Amadeo searches for purpose and perhaps redemption. His daughter Angel has shown up unannounced and eight months pregnant, and Yolanda returns home with a life-altering secret. Amadeo and Angel’s fragile relationship starts to mend as they navigate through daily life and welcome the newest member into the family. Kirstin Valdez Quade tells a captivating story about family, loss, redemption and the power of faith. I could not put this book down! You will laugh, cry, get angry, and want to hug these characters. Masterful storytelling!"

One paperback release that gets love from the Boswellians is Anne Tyler's Redhead by the Side of the Road, which, upon its original release, got these write ups from Daniel and Tim:

Daniel: "If I wrote copy for mass market paperbacks (and Anne Tyler’s books used to be published in that format), I’d say that Micah Mortimer can repair computers, but he can’t figure out the connections of the human heart. His latest girlfriend has just dumped him, but he’s got a new guest, a college student who claims to be his long-lost son. As always, the novel is filled with gentle humor and the deep truth about connection. And don’t be concerned about the shorter length of Tyler’s latest; it might be stripped down to its essentials, but it’s no less enjoyable."

Tim: "Micah Mortimer's family says he's "finicky." He's a man of caution who doesn't like his routine disrupted, but he's got a girlfriend that he keeps at a safe distance by not moving in with her. Too much complication in that. He's also got loving sisters with raucous families, whose clutter he dutifully steps around, and a small Tech Hermit business that keeps him engaged with customers in various stages of techno-frustration. Nothing he can't handle. Still, he sometimes wonders if missing just one "Friday vacuuming" could send his world careening into chaos. Well, life has a way of messing with our best-laid plans, and messy human connections from his past and present life will team up to challenge him on what really matters. This novel is a quick read with sly humor. Tyler's natural writing style and clever take on the state of our day-to-day lives had me smiling to the end."

And, one final note for the paperback fans - if you've been saying, for two and a half long years, "I'll wait for the paperback" of Where the Crawdads Sing, today (well, if you're reading this on Tuesday, March 30th) is your day - wait no more, as you can now snag a paperback copy of WTCS right here.

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