Friday, June 22, 2018

Myopic Bookstore

Bookstore: Myopic Bookstore

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Why I Love Them: Whenever I go somewhere I try to find a bookstore nearby to visit. One November I was headed to the Chicago area to go to a Lauren Willig event and the whole day would oddly, aside from Lauren, have been a book bust if not for the Borders on Michigan Avenue having a going out of business sale. Because earlier in the day I had decided to take a chance on a bookstore that everyone raved about but that left me oddly cold. You might be wondering why I would profile a store that didn't bowl me over... well truthfully, I just want to say my two cents on a store that so many people rave about and secondly, all bookstores deserve a second chance and I haven't been there a second time and everyone in this day and age needs to support brick and mortar stores. Let's get to the point, I'm talking about Myopic Bookstore. Myopic looks exactly like what you'd expect a used bookstore in Chicago to look like. The "L" is right behind the store and creates that clackity whooshing sound that is the lifeblood of the city. The building is old and the top two stories have a wonderful bay window. But inside the store feels tenuous. Some landings feel as if they'd collapse with too much weight on them. Ceilings are occasionally really low as you look through old crates that have been lashed together to create shelving. As for the basement? The least said the better, although it could easily have been in The Silence of the Lambs. But for all that, they had great marketing graphics, and for that I'm willing to forgive a lot.

Best Buy: For all it's rickety and temporary feel, some sections felt homey, like there was a glow about them, most likely from the 80s desk lamps strapped to shelves so you could see. It was in one of these comfortable nooks that I found my best buy: a few Angela Thirkell books. Now most people probably don't know her, but to those of use who crave things to be even more British in our lives, she is a comfort read. Anthony Trollope wrote a series of books set in Barsetshire. They were famous, loved, and memorable, and not just because of the miniseries starring Alan Rickman. Though Alan Rickman is sheer perfection so you should check out The Barchester Chronicles as soon as you can. In the 1930s, almost fifty years after Trollope's death, Thirkell started to write books set in Barsetshire. They were contemporary, much like Trollope was in his day. They were funny and satiric, and just lovely, making it no surprise why Virago Press finally got around to republishing many of these classics. This book buying excursion was before Virago got involved. At this time the only editions were pricey copies published by Moyer Bell, the same publishers as Helene Hanff if you're into those kinds of weird facts. In fact many of the editions I found that day at Myopic were never released and don't appear to be in the pipeline at Virago, no matter how many times I email them! So this proves that even in the most odd of stores I can still find a best buy... but in truth, I can always find an excuse to buy a new or new to me book.    

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Amaranth Books

Bookstore: Amaranth Books

Location: Evanston, Illinois

Why I Love Them: Amaranth Books is a bookstore I found by accident. I had headed to Evanston for a book signing at the local Barnes and Noble but what really drew me to the area was Bookman's Alley. This labyrinthine bookstore was mentioned in Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife and was, to me, the most memorable part of that book. So I made the pilgrimage and as I looked through the shelves and stepped over the piles of books I heard the owner, Roger Carlson, talking about the time Frank Sinatra hit on his wife. After I went into sensory overload from the sheer number of rooms and artifacts I decided to wander around the neighborhood and saw a Red Mango frozen yogurt shop. My friend Jess had recommended them to me so I went in for a post book binge treat and as I sat eating my pomegranate infused dessert I noticed a small storefront that said Amaranth Books: Used and Rare. I HAD to check it out. The store is very small, only a few aisles wide and not that deep. But for how small they are they have an amazing collection, especially of British authors that are rather hard to find stateside. There's something to be said for small stores that are well curated. Amaranth might not have had the lure of Bookman's Alley, but for all that, I bought more books at Amaranth...     

Best Buy: While I have only been able to get to the store a few times, my first visit was a true book buying success story. I adore P.G. Wodehouse. More than that I adore Overlook Press' amazing hardcover re-releases with the vintage style covers and the stripped endpaper. The problem is they are rather pricey, coupled with how prolific Wodehouse was as a writer, and this can put a serious dent in your wallet. Therefore, aside from the Jeeves and Wooster series which was worth any price, I have attempted to find all the rest of the books at used bookstores. I sometimes am successful, occasionally I have been very successful, but more often than not I strike out. That first day in Amaranth, oh, they had SO MANY of the Wodehouse books I just wanted them all. I NEEDED them all. But I was trying to be good. So I bought only the first Blandings story, Something Fresh, and then went to my book signing and then went home and stewed. I felt that I had just missed a big opportunity. I should have bought all the books they had, but I didn't. I held out hope that when I returned in the future they would still be there. But I knew, in my heart of hearts, they wouldn't be. Ironically when I did return for a book buying spree it was at Bookman's Alley and a local Half Price Books where I found more Wodehouse, because of course Amaranth had sold theirs. But I know that whenever I get the chance to return they will surely have something I need to buy.  

Monday, June 18, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Long-Lost Home by Maryrose Wood
Published by: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: June 19th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 448 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"For fans of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events and Trenton Lee Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society, here comes the final book in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, the acclaimed and hilarious Victorian mystery series by Maryrose Wood.

Unhappy Penelope Lumley is trapped in unhappy Plinkst! Even the beets for which Plinkst is inexplicably famous fail to grow in this utterly miserable Russian village. Penelope anxiously counts the days and wonders how she will ever get back to England in time to save all the Ashtons—who, she now knows, include herself and the Incorrigible children, although their precise location on the family tree is still a mystery—from their accursèd fate.

Her daring scheme to escape sends her on a wildly unexpected journey. But time is running out, and the not-really-dead Edward Ashton is still on the loose. His mad obsession with the wolfish curse on the Ashtons puts Penelope and the Incorrigibles in dire peril. As Penelope fights her way back to her beloved pupils, the three brave Incorrigibles endure their gloomy new tutor and worriedly prepare for the arrival of Lady Constance’s baby. Little do they know the danger they’re in!

In this action-packed conclusion to the acclaimed series, mysteries are solved and long-lost answers are found. Only one question remains: Will Penelope and the Incorrigibles find a way to undo the family curse in time, or will the next full moon be their last?"

I'm sure there are other books out this week, it's just that none of them caught my eye... or perhaps I have severe tunnel vision because it's finally the last story of the Incorrigibles! Cassa-woof!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Anderson's Bookshop

Bookstore: Anderson's Bookshop

Location: Downers Grove, Illinois

Why I Love Them: Anderson's Bookshop is the Midwest mecca for book buyers wanting to support independent bookstores. The West Coast has Powell's, the South has Murder by the Book, but Illinois, and therefore the Midwest has Anderson's. I only wish it was a tad closer, but then I'd always be broke because they literally have events every night that I want to attend. I believe the first time Anderson's got on my radar was back in 2009 when Philippa Gregory was on tour promoting The White Queen. Why I hadn't heard of them prior is probably because 2009 is when my book addiction really started to go into overdrive and resulted in my starting this blog and as a result I started stalking authors. And stalking authors, I mean supporting them by going to events, means sooner or later you're going to end up at Anderson's Bookshop. They have three locations in the suburbs of Chicago, a new location I have yet to visit in La Grange, an intimate store in Downers Grove where most of the events take place in the Tivoli Theater across the street, and their flagship store that's in Naperville. If you're going to visit their store and not a specific event totally go to the Naperville location, the town is charming and has a lovely river walk. While the store with it's cape code shingles might look like your quintessential small town bookstore, the sheer number of signed volumes inside will make you realize this isn't your normal bookstore.  

Best Buy: Getting to meet so many of my favorite authors over the years, in particular Robin LaFevers who is an all time favorite, means that picking a best buy is extremely hard. But then, in the end, like most things, it's really easy, because I met Jason Segel! I met Jason Freakin' Segel!!! Yes, Marshall from How I Met Your Mother, Nick from Freaks and Geeks, so many of my favorite roles have been brought to life by Jason Segel and I got to meet him! Why? Because he co-wrote a kids book, Nightmares! and was on tour promoting it! He was warm, funny, he even sang! I seriously loved this man from afar so much and meeting him in person made my crush even worse. Because on the darkest night of my life, he was there for me. My cat of 22 years died and I was destroyed. I just sat in front of the TV blankly staring until Jason caught my eye. I watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall and my pain was slightly lessened. I knew my hell wouldn't last forever, much like the hell Jason's character was going through. Who knows, at the end there might even be vampire puppets... I told this story to Jason and he was so kind, and he listened, and seemed to genuinely care, and that made me realize how truly awesome he is. Here's someone who is a star and he cares about his fans, he made sure to not overlook the children in the audience with questions, which so many authors do. Your book Nightmares! isn't just a best buy, it's a cherished memory Jason.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Boswell Book Company

Bookstore: Boswell Book Company

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Why I Love Them: Back in 2009 when Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops announced they were closing after 82 years many people saw it as the end of an era. I viewed it as an opportunity to get as many books as I could at a discount, hitting up the two locations that were closing in one day. I was actually a little sad that the flagship store on Downer Avenue wasn't liquidating as well... I have since been very glad they didn't. Daniel Goldin who was the general manager of Schwartz bought the Downer Avenue location and inspired by the old Boswell logo for Schwartz renamed the store Boswell Book Company. Next year it will be ten years since the birth of Boswell and the store run by the charismatic if slightly daffy Daniel. He has steered his store through lean times in the book industry and has taken the initiative to bring in authors not just to the store, but to venues throughout the Milwaukee area, as well as local schools. The store's vibe is that of the best in independent bookstores, shelves crammed with books with employee recommendations that you'd never have heard of and are soon to become favorites. Knick-knacks for the literary inclined cover almost every surface. And if you get to an event early you might be lucky enough to sit on one of the coveted couches or upholstered chairs. You will never realize how bad folding chairs at other book signings are until you experience a signing in the lap of luxury. In fact there's an event I'm hoping to go to at Boswell tomorrow, better make sure to get there early!     

Best Buy: While I have had many wonderful buys from different events at Boswell Book Company over the years I have decided to go with an author who not only had an amazing presentation but also was unbelievably personable in the signing line. It's rare that this combination happens with an author, sometimes they just can't handle talking in front of a group or are fine talking in front of people but are rather rude one-on-one, I've had a whole gamut of experiences from the nerve-wracking to the downright bizarre, and I will say that Boswell did win on the bizarre front! But that's a story for another time. Today I want to talk about how awesome Tony DiTerlizzi is. He's an amazing artist, illustrator, and writer. He captures in his work the sensibilities of the golden age of illustration but coupled with the magic of someone raised on a diet of Star Wars and Dungeons and Dragons. But why mention Star Wars? Because in his wonderful and hilarious PowerPoint (he was prepared enough to have a PowerPoint!) he mentioned what a geek he was and how Star Wars really formed him. What impressed me most though was that my friend Janice, who is uber talented and makes these amazing felt creations, was coerced by me to bring one for him. He was over the moon. He thrust his phone at me and asked if I could take a picture with him and Janice, which I did gladly, he then even did an amazing drawing in her book. If that doesn't say class act I don't know what does? Best buy, 100%.   

Monday, June 11, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

Broken Ice by Matt Goldman
Published by: Forge Books
Publication Date: June 12th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the words of Lee Child on Gone to Dust, “I want more of Nils Shapiro.” Emmy-award winning author Matt Goldman happily obliges by bringing the Minneapolis private detective back for another thrilling, standalone adventure in Broken Ice.

Nils Shapiro has been hired to find missing Linnea Engstrom, a teenager from the small northern hockey town of Warroad, MN. Most of Warroad is in Minneapolis for the state high school hockey tournament, and Linnea never returned from last night’s game. Linnea’s friend Haley Housch is also missing―and soon found dead.

Shot through the arm with an arrow at the Haley Housch crime scene, only the quick work of medical examiner Char Northagen saves Nil’s life.

Nils should be in the hospital recovering from his near fatal injury, but he knows that the clock is ticking. Linnea could be anywhere, and someone doesn’t want her found. Is Linnea a victim, or is she playing a dangerous game? As bodies start piling up, the clues lead Nils and Ellegaard north to Warroad, a small, quiet town with many secrets to hide."

I got to meet Matt Goldman when he was touring to promote his first Nils Shapiro book, so be sure to see if he's coming to a town near you! Don't miss it!

The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier by Rosalind Brackenbury
Published by: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: June 12th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 318 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"What do you do when you’ve lost the love of your life?

Seb Fowler has arrived in Paris to research his literary idol, Henri Fournier. It begins with an interview granted by a woman whose affair with the celebrated writer trails back to World War I. The enchanting Pauline is fragile, but her memories are alive—those of an illicit passion, of the chances she took and never regretted, and of the twists of fate that defined her unforgettable love story.

Through Pauline’s love letters, her secrets, and a lost Fournier manuscript, Seb will come to learn so much more—about Pauline, Henri, and himself. For Seb, every moment of Pauline’s past proves to be more inspiring than he could have imagined. She’s given him the courage to grab hold of whatever life offers, to cherish each risk, and to pursue love in his life.

Intimately epic, The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier spans generations to explore every beautiful mystery of falling in love, being in love, and losing a love—and, most important, daring to love again and discovering just how resilient the human heart can be."

I love mysteries in the past and stories of lost love!

House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg
Published by: Candlewick
Publication Date: June 12th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"An affecting biography of the author of Anne of Green Gables is the first for young readers to include revelations about her last days and to encompass the complexity of a brilliant and sometimes troubled life.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Maud who adored stories. When she was fourteen years old, Maud wrote in her journal, “I love books. I hope when I grow up to be able to have lots of them.” Not only did Maud grow up to own lots of books, she wrote twenty-four of them herself as L. M. Montgomery, the world-renowned author of Anne of Green Gables. For many years, not a great deal was known about Maud’s personal life. Her childhood was spent with strict, undemonstrative grandparents, and her reflections on writing, her lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression, her “year of mad passion,” and her difficult married life remained locked away, buried deep within her unpublished personal journals. Through this revealing and deeply moving biography, kindred spirits of all ages who, like Maud, never gave up “the substance of things hoped for” will be captivated anew by the words of this remarkable woman."

Yes, yes, Anne of Green Gables, but will you look at that cover! 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Half Price Books Bookfield

Bookstore: Half Price Books Brookfield

Location: Brookfield, Wisconsin

Why I Love Them: While there are many Half Price Books that I have visited on my book buying excursions, the Milwaukee area used to have a Half Price trifecta. It was a triple crown winner if we're going with a metaphor that is very important with what is happening tomorrow. The three stores covered the three income brackets of the city, there were the lower, middle, and upper class stores. In the recent past it shouldn't come as a surprise that the store catering to those of a lower income closed. The middle class location remains unchanged and it's still the first Half Price location I ever went to requiring a key to use the bathroom. But the upper class store in Brookfield, which is to Milwaukee what Maple Bluff is to Madison, has just gotten better over time. Their rise to be the cream of the crop coincided with the downfall of another local chain. In 2009 Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops announced that they were closing after 82 years in business. Two of their locations were being liquidated (a sale from which I got much plunder) while one would reemerge as Boswell Book Company. The reason this is important is that the rather small and unassuming Half Price Books in Brookfield moved across the boulevard into the old Harry W. Schwartz location and their Renaissance began. They started having more books behind glass and more Folio Society editions. Harry W. Schwartz no longer had a stranglehold on the neighborhood and Half Price Books used this to soar to new heights.

Best Buy: As for my best buy... this is going to be a sad story. A story of the one that got away... Easily one of my favorite books of all time is William Goldman's The Princess Bride. From the first time I read this classic I knew I could never have enough editions of it. I have my original paperback edition, the movie tie-in edition, the standard British trade edition, the 25th Anniversary hardcover edition, the 30th Anniversary American trade edition, the audiobook read by Rob Reiner, the American trade edition with the couple dressed like Westley and Buttercup from the movie though there's totally something wrong with his mask, an old hardcover book club edition, the swanky Folio Society edition, and lastly the Easton Press special edition. But you will notice the one thing I lack, the one thing I long for: a first edition. Back in 1996 I passed on a first edition because at the time I was still convinced that the book existed in some form other than "the good parts version" by William Goldman. Yeah, I still can't fully explain why I thought this was the case, but my own ignorance let a first edition slip through my fingers. Many many years later the Half Price Books in Brookfield had a first edition. I remember it was quite pricey for it's condition, which means I'm guessing it was $250 or so. I pressed my face up against the glass and time and time again whenever I went to Milwaukee I would see if the book was still there. Finally one day I had a 40% off coupon and was determined to buy it. But I was too late. Now they go for at least double up to ten times what I thought was too pricey... But I live in hope...

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Books & Company

Bookstore: Books and Company

Location: Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

Why I Love Them: Because of Books and Company's tendency to hold their bigger events offsite at the local High School I had attended many events before I actually entered their store. But you can actually tell a lot about a bookstore by how they manage an event and their sales when away from their brick and mortar. The most obvious observation was that they were willing to cater to my crazy. And here I'd like to give a special shout out to all stores who've catered to my crazy over the years, it hasn't gone unnoticed and I thank you greatly. I was at an event with two of my friends and I noticed my copy of the book wasn't a true first. I've had it happen when even on release day you're not going to get a true first with that number line intact. But one of my two friends DID have a true first, so I took my copy back to their little stall in front of the auditorium and not only did they understand, they helped me look through the books to find what I was looking for AND made sure that it was in good enough condition to live up to a true book collector's standard. Seriously, thank you for that. When I finally went to their store for a stop on the Fierce Reads tour (Marissa Meyer, Ann Aguirre, Lish McBride, and Elizabeth Fama if you must know and I hope your curiosity has made you jealous) I really liked the store. It's not that big, but Oconomowoc isn't that big a town. With the carpeted floors and big upholstered furniture it reminded me of the kind of bookstore you'd stumble on when on holiday up north and then go back to repeatedly just to be surrounded by books and get away from your family.    

Best Buy: Not only does my best buy qualify as a best buy, it qualifies as the cherry on top of one of those perfect days you hope to but never can recapture. Erin Morgenstern was on tour promoting her book The Night Circus. It was a beautiful day with a crisp early fall blue sky and the trees were just starting to change color. I picked my two friends (yes the two friends from above) up from their respective workplaces and we drove to Oconomowoc. We had dinner on the back deck of this restaurant that was right on the water. There was brie and honey and so much goodness. But then there was Erin Morgenstern. She read from the very beginning of The Night Circus, a daring second person narration, and I was instantly hooked. Sitting in the rehearsal space for the local high school all I wanted to do was have this day, this reading, go on forever. I was first in line for the signing and eagerly drove home through the night, waiting for the moment that I could sink into bed and begin the book. First there was much news that night, Steve Jobs had died, but the book transported me away. I went to a place where you could sit with your friends and enjoy the crisp fall beauty all year long. Now I will be the first to admit that The Night Circus is a polarizing book. You either love it or you loath it, a fact born out when I re-read it with my book club. But for me it will always be a perfect book, a perfect day, brought to me by a perfect bookstore. Thank you Books and Company for this memory, it totally makes me forgive you for the time I broke out in hives in your store (which had nothing to do with you.)  

Monday, June 4, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

Brief Cases by Jim Butcher
Published by: Ace
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 448 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"An all-new Dresden Files story headlines this urban fantasy short story collection starring the Windy City's favorite wizard.

The world of Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, is rife with intrigue--and creatures of all supernatural stripes. And you'll make their intimate acquaintance as Harry delves into the dark side of truth, justice, and the American way in this must-have short story collection.

From the Wild West to the bleachers at Wrigley Field, humans, zombies, incubi, and even fey royalty appear, ready to blur the line between friend and foe. In the never-before-published "Zoo Day," Harry treads new ground as a dad, while fan-favorite characters Molly Carpenter, his onetime apprentice, White Council Warden Anastasia Luccio, and even Bigfoot stalk through the pages of more classic tales.

With twelve stories in all, Brief Cases offers both longtime fans and first-time readers tantalizing glimpses into Harry's funny, gritty, and unforgettable realm, whetting their appetites for more to come from the wizard with a heart of gold."

I know everyone is excited for more Dresden Files... even if it's only short stories... 

Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton
Published by: Doubleday
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"For readers of Gillian Flynn and Donna Tartt, a dark, propulsive and addictive debut thriller, splashed with all the glitz and glitter of New York City.

They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them... They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste...

Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon.

Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship. A Talented Mr. Ripley for the digital age, this seductive story takes a classic tale of obsession and makes it irresistibly new."

Lets hope more Donna Tartt and Patricia Highsmith... 

Burning Meredith by Elizabeth Gunn
Published by: Severn House Publishers
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 192 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A huge mountain fire leaves destruction – and death – in its wake. But are the charred remains of a male body really the result of a natural disaster, or murder?

The Meredith Mountain fire starts on Labor Day weekend and rages for days – an awesome sight, leaving a trail of havoc and destruction in its wake. Alice Adams edits the Clark’s Fort Guardian newspaper, ably assisted by her nephew, Stuart Campbell, and the two cover the blaze for the paper, vowing the local community with their stunning photographs and features.

When the fire is finally contained and the mop-up crew discover a burned male body under a fallen log, Alice and Stuart investigate. It seems he died in the fire, but with no ID and nobody knowing anything about the body, they soon face a daunting task – and some disturbing revelations. Can they unravel the truth?"

I love murder hidden amongst chaos...

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz
Published by: Harper
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"SHE PLANNED HER OWN FUNERAL. BUT DID SHE ARRANGE HER OWN MURDER?

New York Times bestselling author of Magpie Murders and Moriarty, Anthony Horowitz has yet again brilliantly reinvented the classic crime novel, this time writing a fictional version of himself as the Watson to a modern-day Holmes.

One bright spring morning in London, Diana Cowper – the wealthy mother of a famous actor - enters a funeral parlor. She is there to plan her own service.

Six hours later she is found dead, strangled with a curtain cord in her own home.

Enter disgraced police detective Daniel Hawthorne, a brilliant, eccentric investigator who’s as quick with an insult as he is to crack a case. Hawthorne needs a ghost writer to document his life; a Watson to his Holmes. He chooses Anthony Horowitz.

Drawn in against his will, Horowitz soon finds himself a the center of a story he cannot control. Hawthorne is brusque, temperamental and annoying but even so his latest case with its many twists and turns proves irresistible. The writer and the detective form an unusual partnership. At the same time, it soon becomes clear that Hawthorne is hiding some dark secrets of his own.

A masterful and tricky mystery that springs many surprises, The Word is Murder is Anthony Horowitz at his very best."

Anthony Horowitz to me is must read!

The Vanishing by Sophia Tobin
Published by: Simon and Schuster UK
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 400 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"From the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Silversmith’s Wife comes an “undeniably page-turning (Daily Mail) novel: “Think Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre, but ten times darker…as eerie and gothic as the Yorkshire Moors it is set on” (Stylist).

On top of the Yorkshire Moors, in an isolated spot carved out of a barren landscape, lies White Windows, a house of shadows and secrets. Here lives Marcus Twentyman, a hard-drinking but sensitive man, and his sister, the brisk widow, Hester.

When runaway Annaleigh first meets the Twentymans, their offer of employment and lodging seems a blessing. Only later does she discover the truth. But by then she is already in the middle of a web of darkness and intrigue, where murder seems the only possible means of escape...

Stunning and vividly atmospheric, The Vanishing is thrilling historical fiction for fans of Sarah Waters and Tracy Chevalier."

Gothicy goodness!

Bought the Farm by Peg Cochran
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the third Farmer's Daughter Mystery from the national bestselling author of Sowed to Death, finding a dead body in her own backyard lands blogger and farmer Shelby McDonald in one trough spot...

Wedding preparations are in full swing at Love Blossom Farm as food-and-lifestyle blogger Shelby McDonald transforms the property for her friend Kelly's down-home country-style reception. But when the lead singer of the wedding band turns up dead--drowned in a trough full of rainwater and strung up like a scarecrow--the police round themselves up a barnful of suspects.

It seems that Travis sowed the seeds of discord wherever he went, and when it becomes clear that everyone from the groom to Shelby's own staff has motive, tracking down Travis' killer is going to be more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack. As Shelby finds herself drawn deeper into the investigation, she'll have to move quickly before the killer decides to put her out to pasture..."

I hadn't heard of this series until now, but seriously, that cover, I adore it! I like that it's different than most cozy covers!

Dreams of Falling by Karen White
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"New York Times bestselling author Karen White crafts evocative relationships in this contemporary women's fiction novel, set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, about lifelong friends who share a devastating secret.

On the banks of the North Santee River stands a moss-draped oak that was once entrusted with the dreams of three young girls. Into the tree's trunk, they placed their greatest hopes, written on ribbons, for safekeeping--including the most important one: Friends forever, come what may.

But life can waylay the best of intentions....

Nine years ago, a humiliated Larkin Lanier fled Georgetown, South Carolina, knowing she could never go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she realizes she has no choice but to return to the place she both loves and dreads--and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home.

Ivy, Larkin's mother, is discovered badly injured and unconscious in the burned-out wreckage of her ancestral plantation home. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly fifty years--whispers of love, sacrifice, and betrayal--that lead back to three girls on the brink of womanhood who found their friendship tested in the most heartbreaking ways."

One of the three W's with a summer sizzler!

When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger
Published by: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"HE SET HER UP. THEY’LL BRING HIM DOWN.

Welcome to Greenwich, Connecticut, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.

Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. After leaving Miranda Priestly, she’s been working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.

When Karolina Hartwell, a gorgeous former supermodel, is arrested for a DUI, her fall from grace is merciless. Her senator-husband leaves her, her Beltway friends disappear, and the tabloids pounce.

In Karolina, Emily finds her comeback opportunity. But she quickly learns Greenwich is a world apart and that this comeback needs a team approach.

So it is that Emily, the scorned Karolina, and their mutual friend Miriam, a powerful attorney turned stay-at-home suburban mom, band together to not only navigate the social land mines of suburban Greenwich but win back the hearts of the American public. Along the way, an indispensable ally emerges in one Miranda Priestly.

With her signature wit, Lauren Weisberger offers an alluring look into a sexy, over-the-top world—and proves it’s style and substance together that gets the job done."

Because we're milking this whole The Devil Wear Prada thing until the end!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Westfield Comics

Bookstore: Westfield Comics

Location: West Side Madison, Wisconsin

Why I Love Them: I have been a fan of Westfield Comics long before I was a fan of comics or even books for that matter... Yes, it seems like an odd thing to frequent a comic store and not be there for the comics, but I went through a hard core trading card addiction in my late teens and early twenties and their old location on South Whitney Way sure supplied me with the goods. That little island in the center of the store was four sides of trading card heaven, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Farscape to The Avengers (Emma Peel obviously), if there was a show or movie I loved I HAD to have the trading cards and there was always that elusive chance of finding a signed one or even better a pieceworks one (AKA a bit of fabric from a costume)! This addiction was helped along by the fact that Westfield Comics was right next to Marshalls and my mom went there literally every day, so I'd tag along and see what was happening next door. Eventually my interest started to shift into British Science Fiction magazines that you could only get there and which I desperately needed to feed my Red Dwarf addiction. But when Joss Whedon started writing comics, that was the beginning of my shift to full on Westfield Comics addict. For a short while their new location was right next to Frugal Muse and I was living the dream. Sadly Frugal Muse moved but by this point I was a goner. I now even have a pull list. Reserved. In fact Giant Days issue number thirty-seven is out this coming Wednesday! Can't wait to see what else they've gotten in!

Best Buy: Now because this blog and these posts are all about books, ostensibly, I'm going to talk about my favorite book I've gotten at Westfield Comics. And yes, this could include a trade paperback or hardcover release of comics, but in this case it doesn't. Because my spending habits in regards to graphic novels got kind of out of control I instated a rule for myself, I wasn't allowed to buy a graphic novel unless I had previously read it. This is where my local library and their amazing graphic novel selection comes in. Under the advice of my friend Janice I started to read the Fables comics by Bill Willingham back in 2012. The modern take on Fairy Tales was right up my alley. Over the course of the next three years I devoured all of them, even the offshoots from the atrocious Jack of Fables to the hit or miss Fairest. During my first initial binge catching up on all the back issues I'd missed over the years I noticed that there was one prose volume, Peter and Max: A Fables Novel. I was expecting pretty much more of the same, but I was in for a surprise. I didn't check the book out from the library, I am literally only there for the graphic novels, so off I went to Westfield Comics and there it was on the shelf under "F" and up to the counter I went and when I got home I just fell completely in love with this book. The complex story of the two brothers Peter and Max became my third most favorite book I read that year and by best buy that might never be top from Westfield Comics.   

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

University Book Store

Bookstore: University Book Store

Location: Near West Side Madison, Wisconsin

Why I Love Them: For most of my life the University Book Store was the only book store around. Not that there was anything wrong with that. If I could only have one book store I was thankful it was a good one. One where I have many lovely memories of hours browsing or hanging with my friends. They had lovely dark bookcases that looked like they came from some fancy library, sliding library ladder included, and they even had their own children's store for awhile at Hilldale. Oh, and during the days they ran a remainder store? I was in heaven. I followed that remainder store to three different locations over the years and was sad to see it go, but thankfully by that time I was a student at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and I had found the used book section near where I went to buy my textbooks. Because all my textbooks were bought in the basement of their man branch right on library mall in the heart of the University of Wisconsin - Madison campus, which luckily was also right next to the art building. Especially lucky because they had a huge selection of art supplies so I didn't have to leave campus to get the tools of my trade. While I might complain that in recent years they've gone more to the branded apparel end of the spectrum, forsaking books, they haven't forsaken books completely and they always get in rare signed editions and books you can't find anywhere else. I have yet to check out their new store at Hilldale but can not wait.  

Best Buy: On Harry Potter's birthday in 2016 the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out. While no book store in town was having a midnight release party, I know, I'm just as shocked as you are, I couldn't wait for morning to come and to trek out to Barnes and Noble, where I'd gone to all my Harry Potter release parties, and come home and spend the day devouring this new Harry Potter story. Only I got to Barnes and Noble and THEY DIDN'T HAVE IT! They hadn't ordered enough copies, which in itself should be considered a crime, but what was worse was they were rude about it! They were hostile to me and I found out later to many of my friends who went there seeking the book. Their buyer fucked up and instead of taking the fall the blame was placed on the customers clamoring to get a copy. As you can see, two years later I haven't quite forgiven them. But this is the part in the story where everything turns out all right. I racked my brain and decided I'd try the University Book Store. Not only did they have a huge display, that I was allowed to search through for the perfect copy, but they were so nice. They were happy for my patronage and happy to be of assistance. In other words, they behaved like a wonderful book store should and I shall never forget that. As for the book itself? Yes, I would rather have seen the show, especially now that it's stateside with the original cast (I love you Alex Price!) But the book is a great little piece of fanfic. I don't consider it canon necessarily, but it's a wonderful little what if.  

Monday, May 28, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Angel Makers by Tessa Harris
Published by: Kensington
Publication Date: May 29th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In Victorian England, flower seller Constance Piper goes searching for the truth behind a new rash of murders in London’s East End...

In November 1888, the specter of Jack the Ripper instills fear in every woman who makes her living on the streets of London. But there are other monsters at large, those who shun fame and secretly claim their victims from among the city’s most vulnerable...

Options are few for unmarried mothers in Victorian England. To avoid stigma, many find lodging with “baby farmers”—women who agree to care for the infant, or find an adoptive family, in exchange for a fee. Constance Piper, a flower seller gifted with clairvoyance, has become aware of one such baby farmer, Mother Delaney, who promises to help desperate young mothers and place their babies in loving homes. She suspects the truth is infinitely darker.

Guided by the spirit of her late friend, Emily Tindall, Constance gathers evidence about what really goes on behind the walls of Mother Delaney’s Poplar house. It’s not only innocent children who are at risk. A young prostitute’s body is found in mysterious circumstances. With the aid of Detective Constable Hawkins, newly promoted thanks to Constance’s help with his last case, Constance links the death to Mother Delaney’s vile trade. But the horror is edging closer to home, and even the hangman’s noose may not be enough to put this evil to rest..."

Yes, it's true, say Jack the Ripper and I'm interested...

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
Published by: Gallery/Scout Press
Publication Date: May 29th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.

Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time."

I don't hold it against the publisher for denying me an ARC. Well, not much...

A Sharp Solitude by Christine Carbo
Published by: Atria Books
Publication Date: May 29th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A gripping new mystery from the “fresh new voice in the thriller genre” (Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author) and author of The Wild Inside, set in the magnificent and brutal terrain of Glacier National Park—for fans of C.J. Box and Nevada Barr.

In the darkening days of autumn, in a remote region near the Canadian border, a journalist has been murdered. Anne Marie Johnson was last seen with Reeve Landon, whose chocolate Labrador was part of an article she had been writing about a scientific canine research program. Now Landon is the prime suspect. Intensely private and paranoid, in a panic that he'll be wrongfully arrested, he ventures deep into in the woods. Even as he evades the detective, Landon secretly feels the whole thing is somehow deserved, a karmic punishment for a horrifying crime he committed as a young boy.

While Montana FBI investigator Ali Paige is not officially assigned to the case, Landon—an ex-boyfriend and the father of her child—needs help. Ali has only one objective for snooping around the edges of an investigation she’s not authorized to pursue: to save her daughter the shame of having a father in jail and the pain of abandonment she endured as a child. As the clock ticks and the noose tightens around Landon's neck, Ali isn’t sure how far she will go to find out the truth. And what if the truth is not something she wants to know?

A Sharp Solitude is a study of two flawed characters, bonded by a child, trying to make their way in an extraordinary place where escape seems possible. But no one can ever really outrun their demons, even in the vast terrain of Glacier, the ultimate backdrop for a journey of the soul."

I'm in Northern Exposure withdrawal, I need my wilderness! 

Probable Claws by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown
Published by: Bantam
Publication Date: May 29th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"With the New Year just around the corner, winter has transformed the cozy Blue Ridge Mountain community of Crozet, Virginia, into a living snow globe. It’s the perfect setting for Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen to build a new work shed designed by her dear friend, local architect Gary Gardner. But the natural serenity is shattered when out of the blue, right in front of Harry and Deputy Cynthia Cooper, and in broad daylight, Gary is shot to death by a masked motorcyclist.

Outraged by the brazen murder, Harry begins to burrow into her friend’s past—and unearths a pattern of destructive greed reaching far back into Virginia’s post-Revolutionary history. When Harry finds incriminating evidence, the killer strikes again.

Heedless of her own safety, Harry follows a trail of clues to a construction site in Richmond, where the discovery of mysterious remains has recently halted work. Aided as always by her loyal, if opinionated, companions, crime-solving cats Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, and Tee Tucker the Corgi, Harry hunts for a link between the decades-old dead, the recently violently deceased—and ancient secrets that underlie everything. And while other deaths are narrowly averted in a flurry of fur, the killer remains at large—ever more desperate and dangerous. The deep-rooted legacy of corruption that’s been exposed can never be buried again. But if Harry keeps pursuing the terrible truth, she may be digging her own grave."

I'm a sucker for cat mysteries.

Murder in Greenwich Village by Liz Freeland
Published by: Kensington
Publication Date: May 29th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"A year before World War I breaks out, the sidewalks of Manhattan are crowded with restless newcomers chasing the fabled American Dream, including a sharp-witted young woman who discovers a talent for investigating murder...

New York City, 1913. Twenty-year-old Louise Faulk has fled Altoona, Pennsylvania, to start a life under dizzying lights. In a city of endless possibilities, it’s not long before the young ingénue befriends a witty aspiring model and makes a splash at the liveliest parties on the Upper East Side. But glitter fades to grit when Louise’s Greenwich Village apartment becomes the scene of a violent murder and a former suitor hustling for Tin Pan Alley fame hits front-page headlines as the prime suspect...

Driven to investigate the crime, Louise finds herself stepping into the seediest corners of the burgeoning metropolis—where she soon discovers that failed dreams can turn dark and deadly..."

Yes please, the time, the place, can not wait! 

Then There Was You by Miranda Liasson
Published by: Forever
Publication Date: May 29th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 368 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Welcome to Angel Falls, a town so delightful even enemies can't help falling in love!

Angel Falls is the last place Sara Langdon wants to be. Her hometown may be charming, but it's also filled with memories of her "wedding-that-never-was." Yet Sara's grandmother needs her, and joining her dad at his medical practice gives Sara time to figure out what she wants for her future. But when her first patient turns out to be Colton Walker, the man who sabotaged her wedding, Sara starts to wonder if she'll ever be able to escape her past.

As police chief, Colton Walker is devoted to his small town, and he's equally determined to avoid its newest resident. He and Sara have always gotten along like oil and water, and since the bachelor party incident, he's her Enemy #1. But after sharing an unexpected--and unexpectedly hot--kiss, Colton starts to wonder if the woman he's always fighting with is the one he should be fighting for."

For when you've gotten sick of all the murder... 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Browzer Bookshop

Bookstore: Browzer Bookshop

Location: Downtown Madison, Wisconsin

Why I Love Them: Browzer Bookshop didn't start out as a cavernous bookstore made labyrinthine by all the shelving above the UW Credit Union at the bottom of State Street. Originally it was at the exact opposite end of this iconic street, right at the top overlooking the state capital. Of course this location, romantic in outward appearance by it's turn of the century Midwestern town square vibe, had the misfortune of being badly lit and a bitch to park near. Therefore when they decided to move from top to bottom and go from Shakespeare's Books to Browzer Bookshop, I didn't lament the decision. Though I did become fascinated for awhile with the store that moved into their old location. They were never open and had arresting displays of taxidermy lions and British Empire ephemera where once books had filled the storefront. Then one day they were gone. But Browzer Bookshop remains. The new location showed just how much they were jamming into all the nooks and crannies of their old location. Mercifully brightly illuminated the bookstore goes back for days. Through the center of the store there are large glass display cases showing some of the most wonderful editions of books sadly at a reasonable, though out of my reach, price range. While the inventory doesn't turn over that frequently if you are a fan of the big doorstop books and Masterpiece Theater tie-in editions that your grandmother read in the 70s and 80s, then this is the store for you.

Best Buy: Before I state my best buy, here's a little fact about me that you should probably already know, and that is that I love the author Lauren Willig. I love her books, and I love her book recommendations; so therefore, whenever she says "read this book" I do it. I believe it was around when she started to work on her first standalone novel, The Ashford Affair, that she was talking about M.M. Kaye's work that isn't The Far Pavilions, such as her "Death In" series, but most importantly her book Trade Wind. A book set in 19th century Zanzibar was instantly what I wanted to read next. Of course it just so happened that at the time I desperately wanted to read this book it was out of print. But then I searched my memory for what used bookstore might just have this book I was looking for and I instantly thought of Browzer Bookshop! It wasn't just that this book fit perfectly into the genre of most of their fiction stock, it's that I actually remembered seeing The Far Pavilions there in hardcover, and while I had my own paperback edition of that book I had my fingers crossed that they would have other M.M. Kaye books... and indeed they did! I went to the far wall and then skirted the little jag until I hit the straight shot of fiction that's on the wall opposite the door all the way to the back of the store. When I hit "K" not only did they have Trade Wind but they also had one of the "Death In" books, Death in Zanzibar... it was turning into quite the day for M.M. Kaye books set in East Africa! I continued browsing for awhile and eventually made my way to the register and these two books made their way into my library.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Room of One's Own

Bookstore: A Room of One's Own

Location: Downtown Madison, Wisconsin

Why I Love Them: A Room of One's Own has been around since shortly before I was born. My early experiences weren't of much note. Known as the feminist bookstore they didn't have much variety when they were restricted by their smaller storefront and therefore really leaned into their feminist bent. But every so often I would trudge up State Street to buy my course materials for the overly PC profs who didn't want the University Book Store getting all the students money and would therefore have either A Room of One's Own or the Rainbow Bookstore Co-Op (RIP) carry the required reading or prospectus. I really gained familiarity with them oddly enough not onsite but at their booth at WisCon, which made me really appreciate how they worked with the convention to support the authors. But they still hadn't reached their full potential, which would happen due to a domino effect. The domino effect started thus: Canterbury Booksellers, which had a phenomenal location on West Gorham Street, went out of business and Avol's Books, a used bookstore that was in the basement of the historic Woman's Building which was built for the Woman's Club of Madison took over the lease on Canterbury's space. The space was too much for just Avol's and they were struggling, A Room of One's Own came to the rescue. The two stores' symbiotic relationship has made them reach the full potential they were capable of, as well as bringing the Canterbury space it it's full potential. A store of new and used and the unique all in a wondrous location.

Best Buy: As for my best buy, oddly enough this will be the second post in a row dealing with the Wisconsin Book Festival. The Wisconsin Book Festival usually has their events in the main branch of the public library downtown with different independent bookstores selling their wares at the events. Occasionally, if you're lucky, the event will be at one of these bookstores. Now this isn't because I have anything against the library, far from it, it's just their rooms for speaking are rather sterile and I love to have my book talks surrounded by books, and not just because if the author talk is bad I can still amuse myself by admiring the shelves, though this is a perk. Last year I was very excited to see that Natasha Pulley was coming to the book festival to support her newest book The Bedlam Stacks. The reason I was excited about this is that her books are slightly Steampunk and she's British, and it's rare to get to see a British author on tour. I do not jest, they are like unicorns whenever they appear stateside and then usually it's only on the coasts. The event was in the middle of the store under the skylight that houses biographies. I have found many great biographies in this section and during this event I found another great book. Through my blog I had gotten an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) or The Bedlam Stacks but hadn't had time to read it yet. Most of the time I actually like going to author events prior to reading their book because you get a little foreknowledge and a little insight that aids you while reading. While I did get this with Natasha's lovely tales, it was her writing that captured my heart. The Bedlam Stacks was easily one of the best books I read last year and is therefore not just a best, but a cherished buy.  

Monday, May 21, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

The Outsider by Stephen King
Published by: Scribner
Publication Date: May 22nd, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 576 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can."

Summers coming and I know you just need a big old new Stephen King book to read. Go get it!

Hush, My Inner Sleuth by M.E. Meegs
Published by: Lycophos Press
Publication Date: May 22nd, 2018
Format: Kindle, 326 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the fall of 1947, the pulp-inflected ghost of Skip Ryker—a recently atomized Hollywood detective—hijacks the head of a literarily precocious young woman named Willie Tigue. The results are anything but predictable.

The serpentine saga opens at a New England women’s college, where the ever-playful Betty escapes a meddlesome narrator by slipping her friend Willie a mickey and assuming her identity. Undaunted, the plucky storyteller adopts Willie as her new protagonist and travels with her to L.A.

Meanwhile, the ethereal Ryker—whose corporeal being is reduced to lawn fertilizer when his pool house is provisioned with plastic explosive—tries in vain to solve his untimely demise. What he needs, it quickly becomes apparent, is a willing instrument.

The ensuing collision of these disparate narratives sparks a battle royal for control of Willie’s suggestible psyche—and subsequently, movie rights to the book."

I just love the whole pulp feel of this from cover design to writing! 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Mystery to Me

Bookstore: Mystery to Me

Location: Near West Side of Madison, Wisconsin

Why I Love Them: Who ever thought that the murder mystery reader's paradise, Booked for Murder, would ever find new life as Mystery to Me? During Booked for Murder's years off University Avenue it felt like every time you went in there was a new owner. In fact at one time my mom really wanted to be the owner but thankfully we talked her out of it. Some of the owners were more adept at handling their customers and authors, I would be remiss if I didn't give a special shout-out to Terri Bischoff at this point, thanks to her I got to meet Charlaine Harris! But almost five years ago now the revolving door stopped on Joanne Berg who took the forward thinking approach of renaming the bookstore Mystery to Me (there were royalty payments with the old name that no one in their right mind should have paid) and moving the store onto Monroe Street, giving it a more community vibe. The first time I visited I was skeptical of the store's success, having seen so many owners come and go over the years I wasn't sold on the same stock in a new location and as for those bright green walls... Thankfully I have been proven wrong, and come to really like that shade of green. They are really committed to offering wonderful authors, last year I felt like I was there weekly. But more than that, it's just such a welcoming environment, they have become a part of the neighborhood in a way Booked for Murder never was. Here's to the next five years!

Best Buy: As for my best buy... this is a little different in that the event was not onsite and was run by the Wisconsin Book Festival with Mystery to Me selling books at the event. But it's TOO good a story to pass up... though my story about Tasha Alexander's event with Margaret George in the audience is a great one too and that one was onsite. Back to my initial story. So the big author for the Wisconsin Book Festival last year was Alexander McCall Smith. I was determined to go because years earlier I was sick when he came to speak at Borders so I missed him and since then my mom had christened his 44 Scotland Street series as the best book series ever written, a fact I made sure to mention to him. Therefore while he was there to promote the new book in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series I had one book I wanted to buy, the newest 44 Scotland Street book, The Bertie Project. So I went up to the Mystery to Me table and was warmly greeted, they'd been seeing me a lot over the course of the book festival, and picked up one of their two copies of The Bertie Project. Now as it happens, when Alexander McCall Smith took to the podium he asked if anyone in the audience had a copy of The Bertie Project because he wanted to read from it. I leapt from my seat and handed him my newly purchased book. At the end of the talk he asked me to step forward, once again in front of this huge crowd, and he signed my book to me. So while I may have many events to attend at Mystery to Me in the future, as well as many awesome books to buy, I literally can not believe a find from Independent Bookstore Day, THIS will be the memory I cherish most.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Barnes & Noble East

Bookstore: Barnes and Noble East

Location: East Side of Madison, Wisconsin

Why I Love Them: I'm not quite sure when the Barnes and Noble higher-ups decided that the east side of Madison needed some book love, probably around the same time the Waldenbooks in East Towne Mall closed, but in 2004 a new Barnes and Noble opened in Madison. Much smaller than it's west side counterpart and having the disadvantage of being attached to the food court of East Towne Mall, it has still found a place in my heart over the years. Beyond the parking lot nightmare, the echoing noises and smells from the food court, this Barnes and Noble has a different vibe. While the stock is condensed due to size restrictions, whomever is responsible for the culling has somehow curated sections better than the west side location despite them having more room. In particular the sales section and the science fiction and fantasy section are top notch. They almost always have exactly what you are looking for, and back when I was desperate to fill out my Terry Pratchett paperback collection I turned to this Barnes and Noble and was very successful. At this point my brother would say I am being remiss if I didn't mention their CDs and DVDs. Their selection is spot on, I seriously don't know if this store just has better buyers, but if there's something rare and unique you are looking for you are sure to find it here.    

Best Buy: But what I feel really sets this Barnes and Noble apart from it's west side counterpart is their signed books. I don't know how they get so many in! I know that Barnes and Noble as an organization has been trying to get more customers through signed edition but these are usually only available online so to find them in-store, to just stumble across them, it makes my book loving heart pitter-patter with glee. They always have a plethora of Patrick Rothfuss, seeing as he lives up in Stevens Point and this Barnes and Noble is right off the interstate north it makes sense. But he isn't my best buy, that would be Blood and Beauty: A Novel About the Borgias signed by the author, Sarah Dunant. While I will wax lyrical later on about my love of Sarah Dunant and another Barnes and Noble in New York City, I still must provide a little context as to why this is my best buy. Back in 2005 I read Sarah Dunant's The Birth of Venus and something inside me clicked. I had always liked the concept of historical fiction, but I had never found a book that I instantly loved, until The Birth of Venus. If not for this book I would have probably given up on the genre and never found my favorite authors, from Lauren Willig to Tasha Alexander. I had been needing to buy Dunant's newest book, Blood and Beauty for awhile, and months after it's release I felt really bad about not supporting a favorite author, and then, there in Barnes and Noble was a signed copy. The reasons for dragging my feet were clear, I was meant to find this signed edition and add it to my library! Thank you Barnes and Noble! 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

Fall of Angels by Barbara Cleverly
Published by: Soho Crime
Publication Date: May 15th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Barbara Cleverly, bestselling author of the Joe Sandilands series, introduces an ingenious new sleuth who navigates 1920s Cambridge, a European intellectual capital on the cusp of dramatic change.

England 1923: Detective Inspector John Redfyre is a godsend to the Cambridge CID. The ancient university city is at war with itself: town versus gown, male versus female, press versus the police force and everyone versus the undergraduates. Redfyre, young, handsome and capable, is a survivor of the Great War. Born and raised among the city’s colleges, he has access to the educated élite who run these institutions, a society previously deemed impenetrable by local law enforcement.

When Redfyre’s Aunt Hetty hands him a front-row ticket to the year’s St. Barnabas College Christmas concert, he is looking forward to a right merrie yuletide noyse from a trumpet soloist, accompanied by the organ. He is intrigued to find that the trumpet player is—scandalously—a young woman. And Juno Proudfoot is a beautiful and talented one at that. Such choice of a performer is unacceptable in conservative academic circles.

Redfyre finds himself anxious throughout a performance in which Juno charms and captivates her audience, and his unease proves well founded when she tumbles headlong down a staircase after curtainfall. He finds evidence that someone carefully planned her death. Has her showing provoked a dangerous, vengeful woman-hater to take action?

When more Cambridge women are murdered, Redfyre realizes that some of his dearest friends and his family may become targets, and—equally alarmingly—that the killer might be within his own close circle."

Yeah, yeah, a new Barbara Cleverly... personally I'm all in this for 20s England!

The Plastic Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
Published by: 47North
Publication Date: May 15th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 236 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Alvie Brechenmacher has arrived in London to begin her training in Polymaking—the magical discipline of bespelling plastic. Polymaking is the newest form of magic, and in a field where there is so much left to learn, every Polymaker dreams of making the next big discovery.

Even though she is only an apprentice, Alvie is an inventor at heart, and she is determined to make as many discoveries—in as short a time frame—as she can. Luckily for her, she’s studying under the world-renowned magician Marion Praff, who is just as dedicated as Alvie is.

Alvie’s enthusiasm reinvigorates her mentor’s work, and together they create a device that could forever change Polymaking—and the world. But when a rival learns of their plans, he conspires to steal their invention and take the credit for it himself.

To thwart him, Alvie will need to think one step ahead. For in the high-stakes world of magical discovery, not everyone plays fair..."

I need to fill the void left my The Magicians... I hope this does the trick!

The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall
Published by: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 15th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The finale you've all been waiting for: The Penderwicks at Last is the final, flawless installment in the modern classic series from National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author Jeanne Birdsall!

Nine years, five older siblings, a few beloved dogs, and an endless array of adventures--these are the things that have shaped Lydia's journey since readers first met her in The Penderwicks in Spring.

Now it's summertime, and eleven-year-old Lydia is dancing at the bus stop, waiting for big sister Batty to get home from college.

This is a very important dance and a very important wait because the two youngest sisters are about to arrive home to find out that the Penderwicks will all be returning to Arundel this summer, the place where it all began. And better still is the occasion: a good old-fashioned, homemade-by-Penderwicks wedding.

Bursting with heart and brimming with charm, this is a joyful, hilarious ode to the family we love best. And oh my MOPS--Meeting of Penderwick Siblings--does Jeanne Birdsall's The Penderwicks at Last crescendo to one perfect Penderwick finale."

The end, sniff sniff. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Barnes & Noble West

Bookstore: Barnes and Noble West

Location: West Side of Madison, Wisconsin

Why I Love Them: While Borders had opened in Madison four years earlier, RIP Borders, the opening of Barnes and Noble seemed like a far bigger deal. Or maybe because 1996 was when I officially came out of my cocoon emerging as the a book worm I was destined to be and therefore I greeted this store's opening with outstretched arms waiting to be filled with all they had to offer. There were literally weeks of events leading up to the official opening and because my mother was a school librarian I was lucky enough to tag along with her before the store actually opened to the public. The size of the store was mind-boggling to me. I'd never been in a bookstore before with TWO levels. There was so much my mind couldn't take it all in, I didn't know where to even start. But over the years since then I have spent so many delightful hours in the company of friends in this store, both real and those found between the pages of a book. As for all the Harry Potter midnight releases? Cherished memories! I still have my original and battered Barnes and Noble membership from the very first month they started the program in 2001. While you might think that supporting a chain is not as noble as supporting an independent store, keep in mind, these stores are in just as much jeopardy and in my mind, there's plenty of book buying I need to do in my life so I'm happy to spread it around.  

Best Buy: And as for my best buy... now this is a VERY unique one. For as long as I can remember EVERYONE in my family has been a fan of Edward Gorey. Whether it was because of his intricately detailed sets from Mystery! to his darkly humorous books we have always loved his work. Even to the point that I was personally willing to wear white t-shirts because they had his work on it, and it takes a lot for a girl to be willing to wear white, let me tell you! When Barnes and Noble had their big opening they had some unique limited edition items for sale. While I was initially drawn to everything Michael Crichton, from hardcovers to a very fetching omnibus, my gaze finally landed on this rather large box that claimed to be Dracula: The Definitive Edition Signed by Edward Gorey. As it turns out Barnes and Noble had partnered with Gorey to take his designs from the 1977 stage adaptation of Dracula starring Frank Langella as the Count and made a very nice edition of the book. Though of these editions 750 were signed by Gorey. This was one of them! This was signed by EDWARD GOREY! Yes, at $100 it was rather pricey, but to me it was and is priceless. All I knew was that I would have something he had touched and that filled me with glee. I didn't notice until I got it home that the gorgeous black tray that could be tied shut with an equally black ribbon didn't include just the book. There was also a signed lithograph! Mina looking like she'd just stepped out of the opening credits of Mystery! One day I will have to get that lithograph framed, until then I will covet it with the tenacity of a dragon with her treasure.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Half Price Books East

Bookstore: Half Price Books East

Location: East Side of Madison, Wisconsin

Why I Love Them: The Half Price Books on the East side of Madison has an entirely different vibe from the West side location. Yes, it has the same brown shelving and the plethora of odd British editions that occasionally filter into these stores, but it has something that the West location doesn't have, proximity to Maple Bluff. If you're a local you are probably nodding your head sagely and realizing that I speak the truth, but if you aren't you're asking yourself what is Maple Bluff and why would that impact a bookstore? Maple Bluff is a tiny little village on the shores of Lake Mendota that is a suburb of Madison. But it is a tony suburb. All the houses on the lakefront are millions of dollars. It's where the Govenor's mansion is, where Chris Farley grew up, and the chichi country club is located. In other words, it's the place where when you're little your parents drive you around to show you the really big houses you will probably never set foot in. These houses are peopled with individuals who subscribe to Easton Press and The Folio Society, and then, when they don't need or want these beautiful editions, they sell them, to the nearest Half Price Books. Oh, the limited editions you can find there. The times I've drooled over books so special they are behind glass. In fact most books that would be behind glass at other stores are just out in the open here, because that's the inventory they stock. Writing this is making me realize I haven't been there since January and who knows what might have come in! In fact, I think I might go there today!

Best Buy: But there will always be one day I will forever hold in my memory as magical. A day on which I had thankfully just been paid because I literally spent my entire paycheck. I was on the east side with my friend Matt. We'd often hit the restaurants on that side of town for dinner because the franchises are different than on the west side due to interstate traffic. It was an unwritten rule that no matter where we ate we ALWAYS went to the bookstore afterward. A few years earlier The New York Public Library had issued these beautiful hardcover collector's editions that I coveted. I remember seeing them at Borders and being jealous when my friend Huyen bought their copy of Mansfield Park. Eventually I noticed that you didn't see them anywhere anymore and I worried that I had missed my chance. But that only meant my hunt moved onto used bookstores. I remember the thrill as I spotted Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre that evening after dinner. My eyes quickly scanned to the left and there was Mansfield Park! I couldn't believe my luck. But then my mind started reeling... if they had two might they have more? By this point I had memorized all the books in the set and I scrambled through the fiction section. They had Alcott, Cather, Chekhov, Conrad, Dickens, Dickinson, Drieser, Hardy, de Laclos, Lawrence, and Wharton! As I jumped from C to D to H, all within sight of each other my arms became more and more burdened. But it was a burden of joy. Matt came over and saw me and rolled his eyes. He knew me too well to try to interrupt such a book buying experience. The ONLY downside is that they didn't have Frankenstein... but I still look and one day I WILL find. 

Newer Posts Older Posts Home