Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Staff Recommendations, Week of February 28, 2023

A couple of staff recs to finish off the month. Sounds good to me!

First, Oli suggests you read A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon, which is a standalone prequel to The Priory of the Orange Tree. Oli says: "Samantha Shannon delivers the best of epic fantasy once again, in a standalone novel worth all eight hundred and eighty pages. I was hooked on this glorious, sprawling tale from the start. The lives of four main characters - one each from the North, South, East, and West - are about to change: a long-slumbering evil wakes, bringing fire, plague, and a draconic army raised against humanity. Set 500 years after The Nameless One rose from a mountain of fire and was vanquished, and 500 years before the events of The Priory of the Orange Tree, A Day of Fallen Night is rich in history, legend, and depth to both the world and its characters. I'm obsessed, and you should be, too!"

And what better way to hope for spring than along with The Greedy Worm, a new picture book by Milwaukee author/illustrator Jeff Newman. Recommended by Chris: "What a delight! The Greedy Worm feels like a classic picture book that you’ve loved your whole life, yet it’s still full of imagination and surprise. What do you get when you combine an apple, a cohort of bugs, and one greedy worm? A perfectly illustrated, wordlessly imparted, life-long lesson about sharing, caring, nurturing, and sheltering one another. The kind of picture book that you’ll reflect on throughout life as you navigate how to be a friend."

We'll see you next month with more recommendations. Until then, read on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Staff Recommendations, Week of February 21, 2023

We've got a few recommendations for you this week, so let's get right to them.

First it's Daniel with his write-up of the latest from Pulitzer finalist Rebecca Makkai, author of The Great Believers. Her new novel is I Have Some Questions for You, and of it Daniel says: "Bodie Kane arrives back at Granby, the New Hampshire prep school of her youth, to teach a short class on podcasting, and one of her students asks to take as a project the case of a student death where she posits that the wrong person is in prison. And being that Bodie was her former roommate, this unearths a torrent of memories, while at the same time confronting a #metoo case focusing on her separated husband. As the story unfolds, a panoply of sexism emerges, from microaggressions (who's watching your kids?) to abuse and assault, leading Bodie to question her entire school experience while also trying to figure out exactly what happened in this case. This a twisty and sophisticated take on psychological suspense - I dare you to stop reading!"

Kathy brings us a recommendation for a YA novel by Patricia Park entitled Imposter Syndrome and Other Confessions of Alejandra Kim. Kathy says: "I loved this often poignant, sometimes funny story that is full of insights about identity and the struggle to fit in. 18-year-old Kim doesn't feel like she belongs anywhere - not at her expensive private school, nor in her diverse Queens neighborhood, or even with her own family. A well-written exploration of the lives of people who immigrated to the US, people with multiple identities, the distance between the haves and have nots, and the frequent missteps of even well-meaning white people attempting to support people of other races and ethnicities."

And a middle-grade novel recommendation comes from Tim, who suggests Whale Done by Stuart Gibbs. Tim says: "Teddy Fitzroy would never have seen the whale explode if a kangaroo hadn't burned down his house, but this tends to be fourteen-year-old Teddy's world. He’s always in the middle of trouble while solving crimes involving bad things that people do to animals. He's good at it, and living at FunJungle Wild Animal Park, where both his parents work, gives him the desire and the opportunity to nail perpetrators. This time, he's far from his Texas FunJungle home, on a trip to Malibu with his rich girlfriend, whose parents own FunJungle. She cares a lot more about animals than money, and together it's time to figure out why anyone would want to detonate a massive, beached blue whale that already died, right in front of a bunch of mansions. There’s a lot to love about this book. The writing is smooth and fun, the characters are excellent, and I learned a lot. For example, rich people don’t like huge chunks of whale crashing through their obscenely expensive stuff, but more than that, Gibbs does a fine job of explaining nature and environmental issues without lecturing. I truly enjoyed learning from him while I was sailing through his story."

That's it for this week, we'll see you back here in 7 days with more staff recommendations from the Boswellians. Until then, read on.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Staff Recommendations, Week of February14, 2023

Welcome to February and welcome back to the Boswellians weekly recommendations blog. 

This week, Kay Wosewick has a short, sweet write-up for On Writing and Failure: Or, on the Peculiar Perseverance Required to Endure the Life of a Writer by Stephen Marche. Kay says: "I am not a writer, and after reading Marche’s astonishingly quotable book, I am very grateful I’m not a writer. If you are or want to become a writer, beware: Marche will give you dozens of pithy reasons why you shouldn’t. But if you insist, Marche helpfully describes exactly what it takes to be a writer. This is a tiny gem!"

At Kay's urging, Chris also read Marche's book, and he recommends it, too! Here's his write-up: "A central (perhaps the central) paradox of the writing life is this: in order to churn out the freest, most generous, truest work possible, the writer must embrace the utter and complete futility of the task of writing. As a writer at the beginning of a new project, I couldn’t ask for a better companion to carry me through the coming, inevitable, necessary days of failure, joy, and frustration. Marche’s essay is such a heartening guide through the writer’s life (of failure). As a reader, Marche’s perspective on the lives, hopes, frustrations, and failures of some all-time greats is nothing short of a marvel. It’s like being able to see into the upside-down of centuries of literature. Any person interested in language, books, stories, and meaning-making will find themselves richer for reading this exceptional little book."

And that's the rec of the week! We'll be back soon with more recommendations, and until then, read on.