Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Staff Recommendations, Week of November 8, 2022

Evening comes earlier and the days are only getting shorter. Which means it's time to spend more time cozied up by a lamp with a good book. Here are our recommendations.

Jen Steele rings in the end of daylight savings time with supernatural noir from CL Polk entitled Even Though I Knew the End. She says: "Helen Brandt’s time is almost up. Instead of heading west with her gal, she’s pulled into one last case, a mystery only she can solve. The White City Vampire is striking fear into the hearts of Chicagoans and Helen may have to make a deal with a devil. Even Though I Knew the End is a clever, supernatural, and suspenseful noir making you wish you didn’t know the end!"

Cold weather is also arriving, which means it's probably time for reading about Vikings. Right? Jason Kennedy has just the remedy: The Wolf Age: The Vikings, the Anglo-Saxons and the Battle for the North Sea Empire by Tore Skeie, translated by Alison McCullough. He says: "This a bloody and violent history of the struggle of power in Scandinavia and England around the 10th century. This period has few actual records that are completely trustworthy, yet Tore Skeie brilliantly uses the poems of the Skalds to help craft his tale. This is a page-turning burner of a history tale that will reshape your understanding of this time period."

Oli Schmitz gives us a glowing review of Scattered Showers: Stories, the new short story collection from Rainbow Rowell. They say: "I’ve been waiting for this book since I knew it existed, and each short story was well worth the wait. It’s time! Scattered Showers is here for you! For best friends and fans and breakups and falling in love and complicated family Christmases (two, and they’re my favorite stories of the bunch). I will go on about the short story that takes place in the Simon Snow universe ('Snow for Christmas') to anyone who’ll listen, but this book is more than just one story. New characters and some familiar favorites take the stage in a short story collection made for all the feelings. There’s plenty of the expert humor and dialogue that fans of any Rainbow Rowell novel will recognize, with storytelling that invites any reader to connect with the characters, different as they are, wherever they are in their lives."

Rowell fans rejoice (at least if you're reading this before Saturday!) - Rainbow Rowell appears in-person at Boswell this coming Saturday, November 12, 7 pm central. Tickets for this event cost $19.99 plus tax and fee and include admission to the event and a copy of Scattered Showers. Click here to purchase tickets for this In-Person event now. Masks required at this event.

Even though this book came out in October, Jason Kennedy just snuck in a recommendation, so let's show it some love. You Are My Sunshine: A Story of Love, Promises, and a Really Long Bike Ride by Sean Dietrich. Jason says: "At the start of Covid, Sean and his wife are battling both a health scare (the math teacher, as Sean calls her often, was in recovery from breast cancer) and lack of jobs. Jamie (her actual name) gets it into her head to bike the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Towpath Trail. Sean steadfastly refuses, yet he still ends up in Pittsburgh on his trike looking for the start of the journey. Told with great humor that will have you laughing out loud, Sean also has a way of making himself the butt of his own jokes."

Oli also recommends a paperback original entitled Legends & Lattes: A Novel of High Fantasy and Low Stakes by Travis Baldree: "Legends and Lattes is the perfect comfort read, with a story as sweet as Thimble's cinnamon rolls, as warm as a fresh cup of coffee, with a subtle dash of queer romance. In a Dungeons and Dragons-type world, Viv the battle-weary orc hangs up her sword for good, intending to settle down and open a coffee shop. What follows is a cozy adventure about creating a home and building a new life, one of found family and formed community. Rarely do I find myself exclaiming aloud while reading, but I couldn't contain an "aww" here and there - and some scenes were so cute that I nearly cried. I want to join the regulars at Viv's coffee shop, with its promise of coffee, conversation, and the sense of things falling into place. This book is so cozy!"

In books getting their second life as paperback releases today, we have a recommendation from Daniel Goldin for the first novel by Milwaukee native Rachel Kapelke-Dale - The Ballerinas. Daniel says: "Delphine, Lindsay, and Marqaux were inseparable friends and fellow dancers at the Paris Opera Ballet. Now Delphine is back as a guest choreographer, hoping to make Lindsay the star dancer in her new work about Rasputin and the Tsarina Alexandra. But there are a lot of stumbling blocks to this show’s success, like Delphine’s old beaus Jock and Dmitri, Lindsay’s husband Daniel, and Natalie, the head of the company, who wants to push Delphine in a more feminist and modernist direction. So many secrets! So many betrayals! The Ballerinas is a page-turning story of friendship dynamics with an interesting take on the physical tolls and psychological abuses borne by women dancers. Sometimes the author blurbs seem out of left field, but in this case, the Jessica Knoll comparison and the Andrea Bartz recommendation lead readers in the right direction."

Kay Wosewick impatiently yet passionately recommends Termination Shock by Neal Stephenson: "Termination Shock is set about two decades out, when climate change is wreaking havoc in nearly all corners of the world. Someone must take action ASAP, right?! Politics are messy, technology is clever, and the characters are an eclectic lot. This is top-notch Stephenson, though he leaves us hanging. Speed it up Neal!!"

That's all for this week folks. Stay warm, keep the sun lamps going, and check in next week for more great reading. Until then, (vote, then) read on!

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