Friday, June 29, 2018

Lake Forest Book Store

Bookstore: Lake Forest Book Store

Location: Lake Forest, Illinois

Why I Love Them: Back when I was writing about Myopic Bookstore I mentioned that I was profiling them, but with reservations. Stores always deserve a few chances to get things right, I mean think about how many times you send a book back to Amazon to get a copy in perfect condition? Or is that just me? The same rules have to be applied to brick and mortar stores. And in fairness to Lake Forest Book Store my issues with them probably have more to do with their overhead and staffing. Now this store is in the transitional category, almost moving on from bookstores I've been to to bookstores I've only ever dealt with online. I have actually never been to Lake Forest Book Store's brick and mortar location, but I have had PLENTY of contact with them over the years, because they are the bookstore that provides all the books at signings within the Illinois library system. So all those times I've ventured across the Wisconsin state line to the flatland to see Lauren Willig, sometimes with other authors, sometimes solo, I've bought my wares from the table set up and manned by Lake Forest Book Store. Nothing will ever beat the display when I went to a joint event with Lauren and Tasha Alexander, there were so many copies of their books the tables groaned. But at a recent event in 2016, Love Across Ages and Cultures which you had to register for so they had a head count, I had issues, in that they had no backlog of the author's work, even though I reached out to them in advance! In fact they were snippy and told me I was in the wrong when I confronted them at the event. So here's hoping they mended their ways? If not... there are plenty of other stores to support.   

Best Buy: My best buy was back in 2008 and was the first time I went to one of the events put on by the Illinois library system. Cozy Librarians, which is a now defunct website to the best of my knowledge, had brought together a plethora of amazing authors for a panel. I of course went for Lauren Willig, but because of this event Julie Hyzy became one of my mom's favorite authors. It was in the middle of one of my worst ever semesters at school and of course that meant that everything was conspiring against me, even my computer died! So funds were short but I knew the golden rule for book signings, you go, you buy a book. No. Matter. What. It doesn't even have to be the author you're going to see, but it does help. So I picked up a paperback copy of Lauren Willig's The Deception of the Emerald Ring, which I had in hardcover already, but I knew the rules. Ironically I would later make a point of having all Lauren's books in paperback and hardcover, for first editions versus ease of reading, but at the time I was just discovering her as a writer and this rule wasn't in effect. The event was wonderful and fun, all the authors doing a little intro about themselves but then having a wonderful back and forth discussion about murder mysteries. It basically made me want to just go home and read for days and days, which I didn't have the luxury of doing. But the signing line was really my jam. I finally got to talk to Lauren in person, versus just talking online, and I think my friend Huyen said it best, "Lauren feels like the kind of person we'd be friends with." I couldn't have agreed more.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Unabridged Bookstore

Bookstore: Unabridged Bookstore

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Why I Love Them: Now the story of Unabridged in Chicago is going to be a little back to front, in that I went to one of their offsite events three years prior to making it to their brick and mortar. By back to front I mean that I'm going to talk about the store first and the event second. It was a freakishly cold April day, snow virtually blinded us all the way to Chicago with unseasonal whiteout conditions. After seeing the musical, Matilda, it seemed only right to go to a bookstore as Matilda herself would have done. So we headed up to Unabridged in Boystown and eventually secured parking. The store is about three rooms jammed with books. But it's the special touches, the subsections you wouldn't expect that make Unabridged a wonderful bookstore. The first place to hit is their discount section in the back left of the store, which amazed me the first time I saw it, full of so many books I wanted I didn't know which ones to buy, and yes, I was TRYING to be frugal. I did pretty good grabbing only three books from this section, two of which were ones I'd been eyeing for a few years. Yet this section, despite how epic it is, wasn't what made me love this store. What made me forever want to visit Unabridged whenever I'm in Chicago is that they had a jaw-dropping section of just New York Review Books Classics, which print so much British and Mitford goodness that I squealed with joy. And then I found their section of special edition Penguin books and it looked like my friends might not be able to get me out of there to go eat dinner. Specialty sections are easily the quickest way to my heart! As for the wall of black penguin classics, I might have developed the vapors. 

Best Buy: Though my best buy was my first brush with them resulting in me meeting Neil Gaiman. In 2013 Neil was embarking on his last signing tour promoting The Ocean at the End of the Lane. One of his stops was the Music Box Theatre which was hosting a reading and signing put on by Unabridged and about a mile and a half away from their brick and mortar. Seeing as it was 100 degrees outside we weren't in any mood to walk that distance twice therefore it would be three years later and the polar opposite in weather when I would finally walk through their door! But back to the day at hand. I have talked before about everything coming together to make a perfect day... well this wasn't perfect, it was too hot, the wait was very long, but there were moments that were perfect, and the whole day was memorable, especially the coconut sorbet I had after the event. But the highlight was sitting in the second row of a cold theatre and listing to Neil Gaiman speak. While The Ocean at the End of the Lane will never be my favorite of Neil's books, it will always take me back to sitting there and listening to him read. I can never thank Unabridged enough for getting a chance to not only meet Neil but to tell him how I found him as an author and how reading Neverwhere, after a gruelling several month ordeal reading East Asian Literature to finish my Bachelor's degree, made me actually like reading again. I didn't actually tell him all that, what I told him was that it was the first time ever my cat sat on my lap while I read an entire book. This was something Spot NEVER did. He didn't like me having my attention divided. So here's to stories about cats and Neil. If you really want to read about this day in more detail I wrote about it previously during my Gaiman Gala.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Tuesday Tomorrow

Thomasina: The Cat Who Thought She Was a God by Paul Gallico
Published by: NYR Children's Collection
Publication Date: June 26th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 352 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"By the author of the classic The Snow Goose, a heartbreaking story about a young girl and her most unusual cat, who has magical powers that save her owner's life.

"I was aware, from the very beginning, that I was a most unusual cat..." Thomasina is the beloved pet cat of 7-year-old Mary Ruadh, whose strict father is the town's vet. When Thomasina falls ill, her father sees no other option but to put the cat down. Heartbroken by his cruelty, Mary stops speaking to her father and falls dangerously ill herself. Meanwhile, Thomasina is rescued by Lori, a young woman who lives alone in an isolated glen and is rumoured to be a witch with healing powers. While Lori helps Thomasina recover from her ordeal, Mary's health continues to deteriorate and it is only when Thomasina makes her miraculous return, on a dark and stormy night, and is reunited with her owner that Mary is pulled from the brink of death."

Thought!?! That cat KNEW IT!

Buried in Books by Kate Carlisle
Published by: Berkley
Publication Date: June 26th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 288 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the latest in this New York Times bestselling series, matrimony and murder collide as San Francisco book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright walks down the aisle...

Brooklyn has it all covered. She’s triple-checked her wedding to-do list, and everything is on track for the upcoming ceremony with the love of her life, security expert Derek Stone.

Not everyone has been as lucky in love as Brooklyn. Her old college roommates Heather and Sara lost touch twelve years ago when Sara stole Heather’s boyfriend. Brooklyn was caught in the middle and hasn’t seen her former besties since their falling-out. When they both show up at her surprise bridal shower, Brooklyn is sure drama will ensue. But she’s touched when the women seem willing to sort out their differences and gift her rare copies of The Three Musketeers and The Red Fairy Book.

Brooklyn’s prewedding calm is shattered when one of her formerly feuding friends is found murdered and Brooklyn determines that one of the rare books is a forgery. She can’t help but wonder if the victim played a part in this fraud, or if she was targeted because she discovered the scam. With a killer and con artist on the loose, Brooklyn and Derek—with the unsolicited help of their meddling mothers—must catch the culprit before their big day turns into a big mess."

Books and San Francisco means I am SOLD!

Murder at the Mansion by Shelia Connolly
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: June 26th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 336 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The first in a brand-new series from New York Times bestselling author Sheila Connolly!

Katherine Hamilton’s goal in high school was to escape from her dead-end hometown of Asheford, Maryland. Fifteen years later she’s got a degree in hospitality management and a great job at a high-end boutique hotel in Baltimore. Until, that is, the hotel is acquired by a chain, and she’s laid off. When Kate’s high school best friend calls with a mysterious invitation to come talk with the town leaders of Asheford, she agrees to make the trip, curious about where this new opportunity might lead.

Once Kate arrives, the town council members reveal that their town is on the verge of going bankrupt, and they’ve decided that Kate’s skills and knowledge make her the perfect person to cure all their ills. The town has used its last available funds to buy the huge Victorian mansion just outside of town, hoping to use it to attract some of the tourists who travel to visit the nearby Civil War battle sites. Kate has less-than-fond memories of the mansion, for personal reasons, but to make matters worse, the only person who has presented a possible alternate plan is Cordelia Walker―Kate’s high school nemesis.

But a few days later, while touring the mansion, Kate stumbles over a body―and it’s none other than Cordelia. Kate finds herself juggling the murder investigation and her growing fascination with the old house, which itself is full of long-hidden mysteries. Kate must clear her name and save her town―before she ends up in hot water."

Cozy, Gothic, summer read? Yes please!

The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan
Published by: Graydon House
Publication Date: June 26th, 2018
Format: Paperback, 384 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In the tradition of Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters, The Summer List is a tender yet tantalizing novel about two friends, the summer night they fell apart, and the scavenger hunt that reunites them decades later—until the clues expose a breathtaking secret that just might shatter them once and for all.

Laura and Casey were once inseparable: as they floated on their backs in the sunlit lake, as they dreamed about the future under starry skies, and as they teamed up for the wild scavenger hunts in their small California lakeside town. Until one summer night, when a shocking betrayal sent Laura running through the pines, down the dock, and into a new life, leaving Casey and a first love in her wake.

But the past is impossible to escape, and now, after seventeen years away, Laura is pulled home and into a reunion with Casey she can’t resist—one last scavenger hunt. With a twist: this time, the list of clues leads to the settings of their most cherished summer memories. From glistening Jade Cove to the vintage skating rink, each step they take becomes a bittersweet reminder of the friendship they once shared. But just as the game brings Laura and Casey back together, the clues unravel a stunning secret that threatens to tear them apart...

Mesmerizing and unforgettable, Amy Mason Doan’s The Summer List is about losing and recapturing the person who understands you best—and the unbreakable bonds of girlhood."

I was all in with the Judy Blume comparison. 

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication Date: June 26th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 464 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"Move over, Charlotte Brontë. The authors of the New York Times bestselling My Lady Jane are back with an irreverent spin on Jane Eyre—a tale of mischief, romance, and supernatural mayhem perfect for fans of The Princess Bride or A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.

You may think you know the story. Penniless orphan Jane Eyre begins a new life as a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she meets one dark, brooding Mr. Rochester—and, Reader, she marries him. Or does she?

Prepare for an adventure of Gothic proportions in this stand-alone follow-up to My Lady Jane, which was called “an utter delight” (ALA Booklist, starred review), and “an uproarious historical fantasy that’s not to be missed” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)."

Yes, I do read and severely judge ALL Jane Eyre wannabes! 

The Emerald Sea by Richelle Mead
Published by: Razorbill
Publication Date: June 26th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 496 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"The final installment in Richelle Mead's sweeping, enthralling Glittering Court series answers the trilogy's biggest question: what is the secret that drives Tamsin to win at all costs?

Tamsin Wright is unstoppable. She must become the Glittering Court's diamond: the girl with the highest test scores, the most glamorous wardrobe, and the greatest opportunities to match with an elite suitor in the New World. Training alongside other girls in the Glittering Court, Tamsin immerses herself completely in lessons about etiquette, history, and music--everything a high-society wife would need to know. Once she's married, she'll be able to afford a better life for her family, so the sacrifice is worth it if she can be the best.

When her friendship with Mira and Adelaide, her roommates at the Glittering Court, threatens her status as the top-ranked prospect, she does the only thing she knows will keep her on track: she cuts them out of her life. But when her voyage across the sea goes off course, Tamsin must use her unrelenting grit and determination to survive the harsh winter far north of her intended destination in hopes of making it back to the Glittering Court in time to secure a proposal--and a comfortable future for her family.

Experiencing new cultures and beliefs for the first time, Tamsin realizes that her careful studies haven't prepared her for everything, and with new alliances formed with roguish tradesman Jago Robinson and good-natured minister Gideon Stewart, Tamsin's heart begins to be pulled in different directions. But she can't let her brewing attraction get in the way of her ultimate goal: protecting the secret she holds closest to her heart, the one that would unravel everything she's worked for if it's uncovered."

Best word here? Final!

The Greatest Adventure by Bill Willingham
Published by: Dynamite Entertainment
Publication Date: June 26th, 2018
Format: Hardcover, 240 Pages
To Buy

The official patter:
"In ancient days, Jason gathered the greatest heroes of his age and set out on the ultimate sea voyage. Now, in Tarzan's era, Jason Gridley does the same. The greatest heroes of the Edgar Rice Burroughs universe come together as the crew of the good ship Venture, with none other than Tarzan as their captain. It's a race this time, against a battleship of dark hearted villains, and the fate of many worlds hangs in the balance."

I liked Fables, so I'm willing to give Willingham a shot with writing in someone else's universe. 

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:

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:

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.   

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