Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter is a mind-bending, suspenseful novel that technically falls under the sci-fi umbrella but will be approachable to all readers who enjoy fast-paced, action-packed thrillers. Jason Dessen has, like most people, often wondered about the paths not taken, but he’s mostly content with his life as a husband, father and physics professor. When he’s suddenly kidnapped, he’s confronted with a life—and a world—where every move he makes has unimaginable consequences. Crouch’s novel is plenty entertaining, but readers will be even more struck by the questions he raises. Would you make the same choices even when given the chance to live out another version of your life? To what lengths would you go to get your “real” life back? And, at the end of the day, what sacrifices are you willing to make for what matters most? Find Dark Matter at Excelsior Bay Books. —Raela Schoenherr
Raela Schoenherr is an editor at a Minnesota publishing company. She loves to talk books and writing on Twitter at
I’ve chosen a terrific vodka for our April feature. Aviv vodka is produced and bottled in Israel, and it’s the smoothest vodka I’ve ever tasted. This isn’t your average grain-distilled spirit, which is the most common type of vodka distilling. Aviv is made from seven ingredients: wheat, barley, olives, figs, dates, grapes and pomegranates. To make this vodka—perfect for a martini—the fruit and grains are distilled three times each, combined for a final distillation, and filtered six times for a smooth and tasty finish.
The word “aviv” means “spring” in Hebrew—so kick off spring with this great spirit. —Kevin Castellano
Kevin Castellano is the general manager of Wayzata Wine and Spirits and a lake-area wine and liquor expert.
Awaken, My Love!
Donald Glover is the do-it-all brains behind Childish Gambino, whose first break came in 2006 when he was hired as a writer for the hit TV series 30 Rock. Awaken, My Love! is Glover’s third studio record under the Childish Gambino moniker. The album is an ambitious attempt to replicate the funk movement of the 1970s. Opening track “Me and Your Mama” is a six-minute odyssey filled with synthesizers, fuzzed-out guitar and backup singers all vying for space. “Have Some Love” accurately recalls a Sly Stone sound, while “Boogieman” feels like a long-lost Parliament cut. At times Glover relies a bit too heavily on the common themes from the Funkadelic era, but Awaken is no doubt a fun recollection of the era. The album is available online and at local book and music stores. —Sean Schultz
Sean Schultz is a lifelong musician who enjoys consuming popular culture. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two dogs.