Sunday, April 18, 2021

Staff Recommendations, Week of April 20, 2021

Our mostly-weekly wrap up of the recommended books as chosen by the Boswellians begins with a couple of recs for books by Wisconsinite authors we're pleased to be hosting this week, and the write-ups come from our proprietor, the one and only Daniel Goldin. Let's dive right in.

First is Daniel's recommendation of the latest from Amy E Reichert, author of books like The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and The Simplicity of Cider. And her latest is The Kindred Spirits Supper Club, releasing on Tuesday as a paperback original. And Daniel says, "Sabrina has moved back to the Wisconsin Dells after being fired from yet another reporter job, her fifth. She wants to move away again, but she is broke, so she takes a job driving one of the Wisconsin Duck boats for tourists. And isn’t it great that her boss is her one-time high school rival-slash-bully? One other thing – the women in her family can see ghosts, who are stuck on Earthly purgatory until they can complete unfinished business. And because this is a romance with a capital R, that kinda cute guy who brings Sabrina a towel when she’s caught in a drink-throwing brawl in the waterpark? He’s taken over the local supper club, a refugee from the big city, so you’re going to see more of him. He also makes a mean brandy old fashioned. The Kindred Spirits Supper Club is a charming story, packed with Wisconsin Dells color and a suitable number of cheese curds references, perfect for a relaxing afternoon on one of those fake beaches for parents while their kids go down water park slides."

Reichert joins our Readings from Oconomowaukee series (hosted with Books & Company of Oconomowoc, authors chat with bookstore proprietors Daniel and Lisa Baudoin) Monday, April 19, 7 pm CDT - more info and registration for that right here.

Next we have the new Dave Cubiak Door County murder mystery from Patricia Skalka: Death Washes Ashore. Daniel says, "Door County isn’t just fish boils and cherries. One day Sherriff Dave Cubiak gets a visit from a local farmer – mostly dairy, some sheep and chickens – with a noise complaint. Are wild parties disturbing the livestock? No, it’s a new LARP (live action roleplay) business, offering immersive programs from King Arthur to cavemen. The only problem? One of the knights is now a dead body. It turns out the victim is no stranger coming to the peninsula, leading to any number of suspects and motives. Jealousy? Revenge? Vigilante justice? The result is a classic whodunit, and don’t worry, you don’t have to have read the earlier entries in the series to enjoy the latest."

And Skalka joins us for a Thrillwaukee event in conversation with Barry Wightman, president of the Wisconsin Writers Association, on Wednesday, April 21, 7 pm CDT - more info and registration here.

Next on the list of recommended new releases is Stalin's War: A New History of World War II by Sean McMeekin, as recommended by Jason Kennedy, who says. "We could learn a lot about the times we live in (while dealing with Russia and Putin) if we took the time to read about Stalin. Stalin was playing the long game in the 1930s and balancing his schemes on what he was seeing in Nazi Germany, France, and Britain. His goal was never to get into a war to just win it, but to gain as much political advantage as he could while forcing the other powers to battle each other. We know about the antisemitism that plagued Germany at this time, however we gloss over how much Stalin purged his own ranks throughout the 30s. Letting Hitler run amok in Europe was, as Sean McMeekin details, allowed by Stalin (or at least Stalin didn’t care to get involved, see the non-aggression pact signed between Hitler and him) to stir up as much turmoil as possible. In the end, it worked. World War II causalities were huge on the Russian population, but Stalin would be fine with that (in fact, he was good at killing his own people in large amounts as well). It helped Stalin secured enough political capital, slave labor and new territories to grow the Soviet Union into a world power."

One high profile paperback release this week is Kiley Reid's breakout novel Such a Fun Age. Daniel's write up follows: "Emira finds that her friends are passing her by in the growing up department, but she’s enjoying babysitting (not even nannying!) for professional influencer Alix (née Alex) Chamberlain and has become particularly attached to daughter Briar. An uncomfortable grocery-store incident with racist overtones seems likely to blow up, but Emira really wants to put this behind her and convinces bystander Kelley, who recorded the incident on his phone, to not release it. When Emira and Kelley meet again, they start dating (even though she doesn’t usually date white guys), but what Emira doesn’t know is that Alix and Kelley have a past that ended poorly and they each have very different takes on it. With a story that bounces between the three viewpoints, Kiley Reid’s debut novel features a wonderfully engaging and wiser-than-she-thinks-she-is heroine and is alternatingly inspired, infuriating, hilarious, and thought-provoking, touching on race, class, gender, friendship, dating, and motherhood, and filled with a whole mess of bad advice from everyone concerned. Lots of bad advice!"

And one more event note - Reid is appearing virtually for a ticketed event hosted by the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library - she's the virtual guest speaker at their Spring Literary Luncheon this coming Friday, April 23, at Noon. In conversation with Madison-based Chloe Benjamin, author of The ImmortalistsClick here for more information about that and tickets for that.

Another new-in-paperback book comes with a recommendation from Jason: Fire in Paradise: An American Tragedy, by Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano. Jason says, "The fire in Paradise (called the Camp Fire) moved swiftly, and the authors, Gee and Anguiano, made me feel the heat inducing panic of being trapped in a town that had firenados raging through it. This fire was thoroughly devastating to both land and life. A town of 27,000 that was there mere hours before was gone. This book highlights what it means to be in a community- the sadness of loss, the euphoria of saving lives, and the harrowing escapes. My personal gripe is highlighted in this briefly in the aftermath of the destruction. Fires like the Camp Fire are getting more and more common with climate change, and the longer we ignore it the worse it will get. And it’s already a nightmare."

One last paperback release worth mentioning is Valerie Hansen's book The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World - and Globalization Began. Though I don't have his official write-up to share here, this book made Conrad's top 5 best books of 2020 list, which seems reason enough to include it here, right? Right! So, more about this book: Celebrated Yale professor Hansen offers a groundbreaking work of history showing that bold explorations and daring trade missions connected all of the world’s great societies for the first time at the end of the first millennium. For readers of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, this book is an intellectually daring, provocative account that will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about how the modern world came to be. It will also hold up a mirror to the hopes and fears we experience today.

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