Popular Wisconsin author Jane Hamilton has written another book--The Excellent Lombards--a humorous story about family relations and growing up and featuring an endearing main character and a bittersweet ending. Set in the 1990s, main character Mary Frances Lombard (also known as Frankie or Francie) lives with her parents Jim and Nellie and her brother William in southeastern Wisconsin on their farmland.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is a charming debut novel by a Swedish author. Ove is a grumpy man with fixed routines and standards who has been forced into early retirement. He loves his wife and his Saab but is difficult and bitter with everyone else. Yet beneath his crusty exterior is a tender heart. The first thing that brought tears to my eyes when I read this book was that (spoiler) Ove’s beloved wife Sonja is dead.
The first line of this debut novel, Contrary Motion by Andy Mozina, sets the tone for the story: “I’m a Midwesterner, born and raised in Milwaukee, where they manufacture beer and the heavy machinery you should not operate while drinking it.” Main character Matt Grzbc (pronounced Ger-bik) is a harpist barely getting by living in Chicago. He is divorced from Milena but isn’t really over her even though he has a new girlfriend, Cynthia.
Some of the greatest examples of American literature are the writings of Mark Twain. Drawing from his books, speeches, letters, interviews, and various other sources, author Mark Dawidziak has compiled thought provoking examples of Twain's trademark wit and wisdom in his new book (with the extremely long title) Mark Twain's Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health and Happiness.
Homer Hickam, the author of Rocket Boys which was made into the movie October Sky, tells the story of his parents’ early marriage with humorous and fanciful embellishments in the novel Carrying Albert Home. Albert is an alligator. Hickam’s mother Elsie visited her uncle in Florida after graduating from high school, and she met Buddy Ebsen (who later became a famous actor) when his family had a dance studio in Orlando.
No one knew comedienne Joan Rivers better than her daughter Melissa. In her book, The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation, Melissa Rivers shares stories and life lessons from her life shared with her mother and father, Edgar Alfred Rosenberg. Most people either loved or hated Joan, and, if you thought she said some outrageous things to her audiences as a comedian, you won't believe what she said and did in private. Not a fan? You may change your mind about her as the book reveals a completely other side to this comedic icon.
Bestseller Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal is a good novel for foodies and for people who are familiar with the Twin Cities. If you like food—church basement suppers, high-end locally sourced gourmet ingredients, or county fair bake-off bars—this is a tasty treat. If you are familiar with the Twin Cities you will enjoy references to St. Paul’s Farmer’s Market, First Avenue, Loring Park, and Seward Co-op.
Last Bus to Wisdom is a charming, funny, heartwarming, and autobiographical novel set mainly in Montana and briefly in Manitowoc. Donal is an eleven-year-old orphan living in Montana with his grandmother who is a cook on the Double W ranch. In the summer of 1951, his grandmother needs surgery, and Donal is sent on the Greyhound Bus (which he calls the dog bus) to Manitowoc to stay with his Great Aunt Kate and Great Uncle Herman.
Have you ever dreamed of becoming a famous author, or maybe even written a few things of your own that was not quite bestseller material? Don't be discouraged. Writing takes work and we all have to start somewhere. Journalist and Editor Julia Scott put together a book appropriately titled Drivel in which dozens of respected, professional writers share the worst thing they have ever written. If you think your favorite author simply woke up one day and wrote a bestseller, think again.