Tag Archives: Jerry Bilek

Featured books at Monkey See Monkey Read bookstore: Memoir of the Sunday Brunch; A Christmas Home

Memoir of the Sunday Brunch

“There’s much to relate in this worthwhile read, from funny family and workplace tales to thoughtful musings on faith, Pandl_Sunday_Brunchmortality, and loyalty.” –Publishers Weekly

“Pandl’s Restaurant in Milwaukee is a Midwest tradition: What makes Julia Pandl’s memoir shine is not only its charm and humor but also its insider’s look at how high standards and love equals extraordinary food. In Memoir of the Sunday Brunch, she cooks up a delicious story that deserves a wide audience.” —Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

For Julia Pandl, the rite of passage into young-adulthood included mandatory service at her family’s restaurant, where she watched as her father—who was also the chef—ruled with the strictness of a drill sergeant.

At age twelve, Julie was initiated into the rite of the Sunday brunch, a weekly madhouse at her father’s Milwaukee restaurant, where she and her eight older siblings did service in a situation of controlled chaos, learning the ropes of the family business and, more important, learning life lessons that would shape them for all the years to come. In her wry memoir, she looks back on those formative years, a time not just of growing up but, ultimately, of becoming a source of strength and support as the world her father knew began to change into a tougher, less welcoming place.

Julia-Pandl-150x226Part coming-of-age story à la The Tender Bar, part window into the mysteries of the restaurant business à la Kitchen Confidential, Julie Pandl provides tender wisdom about the bonds between fathers and daughters and about the simple pleasures that lie in the daily ritual of breaking bread.

Julia Pandl was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she still lives and works. Memoir of the Sunday Brunch is her first book. When she is not writing and otherwise working, she moonlights as a stand-up comic.

A Christmas Home

The touching sequel to the beloved novel A Dog Named Christmas.

On Sunday, November 29, 2009, more than 12.5 million families fell in love with the television adaptation of the novel A Dog Named Christmas. Within forty-eight hours after the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie aired, the initial run of twenty thousand DVDs sold out. Two years later, when Christmas with Tucker, the prequel to the McCray family stories, was released, it was described by Dean Koontz as ”a perfect Christmas read,” by A. J. Jacobs as ”lovely and poignant,” and by Publishers Weekly as ”cute, hopeful, and heartwarming.” Now, the much-anticipated third installment, A Christmas Home, will prove to be yet another holiday classic.

Watching their children move out and live independently is a difficult task for many parents — but for George and Mary Ann McCray, it’s nearly impossible. Even though Todd, their disabled son, is in his twenties, George and Mary Ann fear that he cannot thrive without their support and supervision. But Todd is determined to be his own person — and he has a dog named Christmas and an entire community ready to help him find his way.

Gregory Kincaid lives on a farm in eastern Kansas with his wife, two cats, and two dogs, including Rudy, adopted from a local shelter. When not writing, he is a practicing lawyer and pet-adoption advocate.

The books are available at Monkey See Monkey Read in downtown Northfield.

What do you think is the greatest pop song of all time? My vote: ‘Hallelujah’

The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah" by Alan LightJerry Bilek, Monkey See Monkey Read bookstoreRolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time

A week or so ago while doing the dishes and listening to an NPR podcast on my smartphone (see, I’m hip), I heard this Weekend Edition music interview, Dozens Of Covers Later, ‘Hallelujah’ Endures about Leonard Cohen’s song, Hallelujah. The book that prompted the piece is out this week: The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah” by Alan Light.

In 1994, a cover by the late Jeff Buckley helped save “Hallelujah” from musical obscurity. Buckley’s version turned one man’s lament into another artist’s ode to love. Light says the ambiguity of the song’s lyrics makes it easy for musicians to make the tune their own. “There are lyrics that are talking about sex. There are these allusions to stories from the Bible; the King David story and the Samson story,” he says. “There’s lots and lots of layers.”

After hearing that I thought, Hmmm, that actually could be at the top of my list of the greatest pop songs of all time. (Jerry Bilek at Monkey See, Monkey Read has the book in stock at his store in downtown Northfield.)

I also just learned about List.ly so I thought I’d give it a test run here on LoGro.  I’ve put five of my all-time favorite songs on the list (in no particular order) to get things started.

Your task, fellow Northfield citizens and music fans, is to:

  1. Add your all-time favorite song to the list if it’s not listed. (One source to use if you’re having trouble remembering your fave: the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time)
  2. Vote songs up or down
  3. Comment on the songs and on the comments of others. You can comment within the List.ly listing on each song or you can comment via the usual WordPress comment box attached to this blog post
  4. Share the list on your social networks
  5. Embed the list on your Northfield area blog or website (List.ly syncs all the activity)

To participate in using the List.ly features, you’ll need to login with your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+ account.

I may adjust the List.ly settings on the fly occasionally as I learn about how it works.

[listly id=”2bm” theme=”light” layout=”full” numbered=”yes” image=”yes” items=”all”]

A thank you from Monkey See Monkey Read bookstore

Small Business Saturday was a huge success at The Monkey this year. We saw more foot traffic and had a significant increase in sales. For that, I thank all of you who made it a big day for us. What are we doing to celebrate? We’ve ordered more inventory, lots of it.

Be Local Buy Local

We’re doing everything we can to make Monkey See, Monkey Read a better bookstore. Small Business Saturday was amazing. A great kick-off to the holiday shopping season. But it’s just one day. A business needs year-round support to succeed. We’ve had a great year so far and look forward to a busy December. I’m grateful that our little bookstore continues to thrive in a challenging economy. We owe our success to our many customers. Thank you.

This commercial says it better than I can.


20 Books 20% off at Monkey See Monkey Read bookstore

We picked 20 of the coolest books in the store and will be discounting them 20% November 23 through the end of the year. The list has a little bit of everything. Four fiction, six non-fiction, five picture books, and five young adult novels. Here they are:


1. Visiting Tom: A Man, a Highway, and the Road to Roughneck Grace by Mike Perry

2. Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King

3. Mighty Fitz: the Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Michael Schumacher

4. One for the Books by Joe Queenan

5. Dancers Among Us: A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday by Jordan Matter

6. Minnesota  Book of Skills: Your Guide to Smoking Whitefish, Sauna Etiquette, Tick Extraction, and More by Chris Niskanen

7. Illuminations: a Novel of Hildegard Von Bingen by Mary Sharratt

8.  Poe’s Lighthouse edited by Christopher Conlon

9. The Fall of Alice K. by Jim Heynen

10. Dear Life by Alice Munro

11. Frozen by Mary Casanova

12. Keeping Safe the Stars by Sheila O’Connor

13. Obsidian Blade by Pete Hautman

14. Son by Lois Lowry

15. Fourmile by Watt Key

16. Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

17. Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

18. Children of the Northlights by Ingri & Edgar Parin D’aulaire

19. Boot and Shoe by Maria Frazee

20. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: the Great Pancake Adventure by Matthew Luckhurst

The books are available at Monkey See Monkey Read in downtown Northfield.

Featured books at Monkey See Monkey Read bookstore: Henry You’re Hungry Again; Visiting the Visitors

Henry You’re Hungry Again

Fans of Henry You’re Late Again will love Mary Bleckwehl’s latest book. Henry You’re Hungry Again is another wonderful story with great illustrations by Brian Barber.

Do you get crazy hungry like Henry? And what do YOU eat when you get really hungry? Healthy stuff like nuts? Or the best vegetable in the world–BROCCOLI? Not Henry! He prefers candy and fries, thank you! And a lot of it.

And what’s wrong with that? Nothing, if you don’t mind feeling shaky in gym class and having your teeth rot out. But what if your family and your teachers get the same idea to be sweet-aholics? Will everyone tumble into a junk food pit and never return? Or will someone come to the rescue?

Food is important, laughter is too! Get your dose today with HENRY! you’re hungry AGAIN?

Visiting the Visitors

Packy Mader will sign copies of his books during Winter Walk Thursday, December 6, 2012.

Some of the most wondrous gifts cost nothing. This is a story of such gifts.

On a silent and magical Christmas Eve night, three children and their grandparents bear gifts down the starlit path to a stable. They take this peaceful, wintry journey to thank the visitors of centuries ago for their historic and holy visit. The children deliver simple gifts and sincere gratitude to the visitors in tribute for that long-ago night honoring a newborn babe.

Illustrator Andrew Holmquist’s striking combination of glowing yellow interior scenes and deep blue exterior scenes captures the iconic images in a perfect light. The characters in the stable fill the page with such presence and quiet majesty that readers might catch themselves holding a breath.

Author Patrick “Packy” Mader continues his theme of heartwarming intergenerational stories from rural traditions with Visiting the Visitors, which joins a small stable of books celebrating growth of self and relationships: Opa & Oma Together, Oma Finds a Miracle, and Big Brother Has Wheels.

This is Packy’s best work yet. Andrew Holmquist’s stunning illustrations compliment this beautiful story.

The books are available at Monkey See Monkey Read in downtown Northfield.

Featured books at Monkey See Monkey Read bookstore: The Lighthouse Road; I Will Not Leave You Comfortless

The Lighthouse Road

“To be submerged in the frothing, watery world of Peter Geye’s The Lighthouse Road is to be baptized anew in the promise of American letters. I defy you to bear witness to the tormented tenderness of Odd Eide, to suffer and love and row beside him in his skiff, without throwing down your nets.

Here is an epic that spans more than generations. Here is an epic that spans the topography between hell-dark bear dens and moonlit lake water. Here is a novel that charts the whole of the human heart.” —Bruce Machart, author of The Wake of Forgiveness

Against the wilds of sea and wood, Thea Edie, a young immigrant, settles into life outside Duluth in the 1890s, still shocked to learn that her resident family has fallen apart and that she is adrift; in the early 1900s, her orphan son, now grown, falls in love with the one woman he shouldn’t and uses his best skills to build them their own small ark to escape. But their pasts travel with them, threatening to capsize even their fragile hope.

In his triumphant return, Peter Geye crafts another deeply moving tale of a family defined in part by the rough landscape in which they live, and in part by the rough edges of their own breaking hearts.

Peter Geye received his BA from The University of Minnesota, his MFA from the University of New Orleans, and his PhD from Western Michigan University, where he was editor of Third Coast. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and continues to live there with his wife and three children. He is the author of the award winning novel, Safe from the Sea.

I Will Not Leave You Comfortless

“Jeremy Jackson’s swirling memoir is built upon layers of well-chosen detail—it remembers theweather, the geography, the history of plowed earth, the coal-smoke taste of coffee, and the aching love between the lines of handwritten letters.

The result is like peering through a new lens at a familiar hillside, or walking through the pastures of your childhood and discovering they were bigger, not smaller, than you recall—now that is the mark of a generous writer.”—Leif Enger, author of Peace Like a River and So Brave, Young, and Handsome

With storytelling informed by a profound sense of place and an emotional memory startlingly vivid, Jackson stands poised to join the ranks of renowned memoirists the likes of Tobias Wolff. Readers young and old will be transported and transformed by his unforgettable coming-of-age tale.

I Will Not Leave You Comfortless is the intimate memoir of a young boy coming to consciousness in small-town Missouri. The year 1984 brings ten-year-old Jeremy first loves, first losses, and a break from the innocence of boyhood that will never be fully repaired. In that pivotal year, he loses his grandmother and his sister leaves for college, life-altering events by which he is forever shaken.

Narrated from several points of view that give the reader a rich and wide vision of the family, Jackson’s ten-year-old voice is the pivot around which the story turns. In many ways, Jackson’s style is a hybrid of the novel and the personal narrative.

Jeremy Jackson is the author of two novels, Life at These Speeds and In Summer. A graduate of Vassar College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he lives in Iowa City. Jackson is also the author of young adult novels under the name Alex Bradley, and cookbooks, includingThe Cornbread Book, which was nominated for a James Beard Award. He has written about food for the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Post.

The books are available at Monkey See Monkey Read in downtown Northfield.

Anne Sabo book reading Oct. 11 – After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters

Please visit Monkey See Monkey Read for an evening with Anne G. Sabo, a former St. Olaf college professor turned author and mama- & sex blogger on Thursday October 11th at 7:30 PM for a reading and discussion of After Pornified: How Women Are Transforming Pornography & Why It Really Matters, a book about how women have seized the means of representation to create a positive counterweight to pornified media and porn as it’s been known.

Though her book will no doubt appeal to women who already show an interest in porn, After Pornified is primarily addressed to all the women who are skeptical to porn as she was, and who value asserting ownership of their bodies and sexuality against the media’s discriminating sexualization of women.

With more young people exposed to porn, Sabo’s book is also aimed at them; to empower young people to read porn critically and to see that there is a positive alternative.

This event is free and open to the public.

Featured books at Monkey See Monkey Read bookstore: An Echo through the Snow; Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures; Silhouette of a Sparrow

An Echo through the Snow

“Destined to become a classic” –Susan Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of One Good Dog

An inspiring story of how a single act of kindness can transform your life.

Rosalie MacKenzie is headed nowhere until she sees Smokey, a Siberian husky suffering from neglect. Rosalie finds the courage to rescue the dog, and—united by the bond of love that forms between them—they save each other.

Soon Rosalie and Smokey are immersed in the world of competitive dogsled racing. Days are filled with training runs, the stark beauty of rural Wisconsin, and the whoosh of runners on snow. Rosalie discovers that behind the modern sport lies a tragic history: the heartbreaking story of the Chukchi people of Siberia. When Stalin’s Red Army displaced the Chukchi in 1929, many were killed and others lost their homes and their beloved Guardians—the huskies that were the soul and livelihood of their people.

Alternating between past and present, telling of a struggling Chukchi family and a young woman discovering herself, An Echo Through the Snow takes readers on a gripping, profound, and uplifting dogsled ride to the Iditarod and beyond, on a journey of survival and healing.

Andrea Thalasinos, Ph.D., is a professor of sociology at Madison College. Her respect for huskies grew while she was running her own sled team of six dogs. She helped found a dog rescue group in the upper Midwest for displaced northern breeds. Andrea lives and writes in Madison, Wisconsin. An Echo Through the Snow is her first novel.

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures

The enchanting story of a Midwestern girl who escapes a family tragedy and is remade as a movie star during Hollywood’s golden age.

“Emma Straub’s beautifully observed first novel explores the fraught trajectory of what has become a staple of the American dream:  the hunger for stardom and fame.  Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures affords an intimate, epic view of how that dream ricochets through one American life.” –Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad

“Emma Straub is a magician, full of  brilliance and surprise.” –Lorrie Moore, bestselling author of A Gate at the Stairs

In 1920, Elsa Emerson, the youngest and blondest of three sisters, is born in idyllic Door County, Wisconsin. Her family owns the Cherry County Playhouse, and more than anything, Elsa relishes appearing onstage, where she soaks up the approval of her father and the embrace of the audience. But when tragedy strikes her family, her acting becomes more than a child’s game of pretend.

While still in her teens, Elsa marries and flees to Los Angeles. There she is discovered by Irving Green, one of the most powerful executives in Hollywood, who refashions her as a serious, exotic brunette and renames her Laura Lamont. Irving becomes Laura’s great love; she becomes an Academy Award­-winning actress—and a genuine movie star. Laura experiences all the glamour and extravagance of the heady pinnacle of stardom in the studio-system era, but ultimately her story is a timeless one of a woman trying to balance career, family, and personal happiness, all while remaining true to herself.

Ambitious and richly imagined, Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures is as intimate—and as bigger-than-life—as the great films of the golden age of Hollywood. Written with warmth and verve, it confirms Emma Straub’s reputation as one of the most exciting new talents in fiction.

Emma Straub is from New York City. Her fiction and nonfiction have been published byTin House, The Paris Review Daily, Slate, and Cousin Corinne’s Reminder. She is a staff writer for Rookie. Emma lives with her husband in Brooklyn, where she also works as a bookseller.

Silhouette of a Sparrow

“Tight and purposeful…a positive breath of fresh air.” —Kirkus Reviews

A first novel for young adults that wonderfully evokes the historical period of the 1920’s, a love of birding, and a girl’s coming-of-age and sexual awareness.

In the summer of 1926, sixteen-year-old Garnet Richardson is sent to a lake resort to escape the polio epidemic in the city. She dreams of indulging her passion for ornithology and visiting the famous new amusement park—a summer of fun before she returns for her final year of high school, after which she’s expected to marry a nice boy and settle into middle-class homemaking. But in the country, Garnet finds herself under the supervision of equally oppressive guardians—her father’s wealthy cousin and the matron’s stuck-up daughter. Only a liberating job in a hat shop, an intense, secret relationship with a daring and beautiful flapper, and a deep faith in her own fierce heart can save her from the suffocating boredom of traditional femininity.

Silhouette of a Sparrow is a coming-of-age story about a search for wildness in a confining time, and a simultaneous quest for security in an era full of unrest. It is the tale of a young woman’s discovery of the science of risk and the art of rebellion, and of course, the power of unexpected love.

Molly Beth Griffin is the recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Grant, a graduate of Hamline University’s MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and a writing teacher at the Loft Literary Center in the Twin Cities. Her first picture book, Loon Baby, came out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2011.

All books are available at Monkey See Monkey Read in downtown Northfield.

Featured books at Monkey See Monkey Read bookstore: The Fall of Alice K.; Trickster’s Point; Off the Grid

The Fall of Alice K.

“If only there were more unruly girls like Alice K., unwilling to submit to dogma or tradition — the world would be a better place.”
— Julia Scheeres, the New York Times bestselling author of Jesus Land

A first novel from a beloved regional author in which an Iowa farm family and its Dutch Calvinist inhabitants struggle with and are redeemed by land, love, and their faith in one another.

Seventeen-year-old Alice Marie Krayenbraak is beautiful, witty, a star student, and a gifted athlete. On the surface, she has it all. But in Alice’s hometown of Dutch Center, Iowa, nothing is as it seems. Behind the façade of order and tidiness, the family farm is failing. Alice’s mother is behaving strangely amid apocalyptic fears of Y2K. And her parents have announced their plans to send her special-needs sister Aldah away. On top of it all, the uniformly Dutch Calvinist town has been rattled by an influx of foreign farm workers.

It’s the fall of senior year, and Alice now finds herself at odds with both family and cultural norms when she befriends and soon falls in love with Nickson Vang, the son of Hmong immigrants. Caught in a period of personal and community transformation, Alice and Nickson must navigate their way through vastly different traditions while fighting to create new ones of their own. Funny and provocative, amusing and unsettling, The Fall of Alice K. marks a watershed moment in the publishing career of author, Jim Heynen.

Jim Heynen is perhaps best known for his collections of short prose featuring young farm boys: The One-Room Schoolhouse, The Boys’ House, and Fishing for Chickens. His poetry includes The Man Who Kept Cigars in His Hat and, most recently, Standing Naked. Heynen lives in Saint Paul, MN.

Trickster’s Point

“A plot a cunningly treacherous as Trickster’s Point itself, Krueger’s latest mystery has that elegiac tone that’s perfectly suied to O’Connor’s character and to the harsh landscape where he lives and works.”–Booklist

The latest book in the Cork O’Connor mystery series, which finds the private detective caught in the crosshairs of a political assassin.

Private detective Cork O’Connor finds himself sitting in the shadow of a towering monolith known as Trickster’s Point, deep in the Minnesota wilderness.  With him is the first Native American elected governor of Minnesota, Jubal Little, who is slowly dying with an arrow through his heart.  Although the men have been bow-hunting, a long-standing tradition among these two friends, this is no hunting accident, and what only Cork knows is that the dying man was quite capable of murder himself.

Coincidentally, the arrow turns out to be one of Cork’s and he becomes the primary suspect in the murder.  Of course Cork understands his been set up and, over the course of the novel, works to clear his name and track the real killer.  As a result, he recalls his long, complex relationship with the neighborhood kid who became a populist politician.

Full of nail-biting suspense, Trickster’s Point offers a further look into Cork’s past, as well as an exploration of the motives, both good and ill, that lead men and women into the difficult, sometimes deadly, political arena.

William Kent Krueger is the award-winning author of ten previous Cork O’Connor novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Vermilion Drift and Northwest Angle. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his family.

Off the Grid

“In the fifth Monkeewrench novel, the mother-daughter team of P.J. and Traci Lambrecht really hits its stride: achilling premise; a supremely appealing cast of evolving characters; and dialogue that is brisk, witty, and authentic. Humor and humanity mix in this top-notch mystery, the best in the series.”
Booklist (Starred) on Shoot to Thrill

On a sailboat ten miles off the Florida coast, Grace MacBride, partner in Monkeewrench Software, thwarts an assassination attempt on retired FBI agent John Smith. A few hours later, in Minneapolis, a fifteen-year-old girl is discovered in a vacant lot, her throat slashed. Later that day, two young men are found in their home a few blocks away, killed execution-style. The next morning, the dead bodies of three more men turn up, savagely murdered in the same neighborhood.

As Minneapolis homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth struggle to link the three crimes, they learn that there have been similar murders in other cities around the United States. Piece by piece, evidence accumulates, pointing to a suspect that shocks them to the core, uncovering a motive that puts the entire Midwest on high alert and Monkeewrench in the direct line of fire. Before it’s all over, Grace and her partners, Annie, Roadrunner, and Harley Davidson, find themselves in the middle of a shocking collision of violence on a remote northern Minnesota reservation, fighting for their lives.

PJ Tracy is the pseudonym of mother-daughter writing duo P.J. and Traci Lambrecht, winners of the Anthony, Barry, Gumshoe, and Minnesota Book Awards. Their novels, MONKEEWRENCH, LIVE BAIT, DEAD RUN, SNOW BLIND, and SHOOT TO THRILL are national and international bestsellers.

All books are available at Monkey See Monkey Read in downtown Northfield.