Joshilyn Jackon —The Almost Sisters
Author Joshilyn Jackson is well-established as an authentic voice in the popular realm of contemporary Southern fiction, and The Almost Sisters does not disappoint. The story organically weaves themes of small-town culture, parenting, race, family secrets, and, of course, sisterhood. In this first-person narrative, the heroine, Leia (named after the Star Wars character) is a comic book writer and artist who returns to her girlhood summer hometown in Alabama. Leia, with secrets of her own, is forced to confront past heartaches and long-held perceptions while also protecting her ailing grandmother from the fallout of more revelations than one small town might be able to hold. —Raela Schoenherr
Raela Schoenherr is an editor at a Minnesota publishing company. She loves to talk books and writing on Twitter at @raelaschoenherr.
I’ve chosen a beautiful full-bodied white wine for November. It’s suitable for the cooler weather and a perfect pairing for holiday dinners: Trimbach Gewürztraminer. The Trimbach family includes multiple generations, dating back to 1626. Located on the northeastern border of France, the Alsace region produces excellent Riesling, pinot blanc, and gewürztraminer wines. I highly recommend picking up a bottle of this gewürztraminer for Thanksgiving dinner; it’s fruity, spicy and highly aromatic. This grape is a perfect match for turkey, ham and sweet potatoes, all the way through to apple and pumpkin pie. This wine is unoaked and can age, since it has lots of acidity, but it’s also great right now. And after you’ve explored the gewürztraminer, try
the Riesling. $29.99. —Kevin Castellano
Kevin Castellano is the general manager of Wayzata Wine and Spirits and a lake-area wine and liquor expert.
The Monks — Hamburg Recordings 1967
If you’ve never heard of the Monks, you are not alone. The band released just one album and never toured America. The group of American GIs (including Minnesota native Gary Burger) stationed in Germany during the mid-1960s decided to form a band to pass the time. What started out as a cover group quickly grew into one of art rock’s pioneers. The Monks had an outspoken, derisive attitude towards the Vietnam War. Wanting to be the anti-Beatles, the group shaved their heads and dressed in robes like actual monks during their shows. These previously unreleased tracks, on The Monks—Hamburg Recordings 1967, were recently put out by Jack White’s Third Man Records label and are a great introduction to the Monks’ enigmatic garage sound. Opening track “I’m Watching You” provides both melody and dissonance, while “I Need U Shatzi” exhibits the Monks’ driving rhythm. For fans of the Stooges, Chuck Berry, or Can. —Sean Schultz
Sean Schultzis a lifelong musician who enjoys consuming popular culture. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, new baby and two dogs.