Blogs

The Best Books of 2017

We read a lot. A lot, a lot. Ever seen our back room? The ceiling is probably propped up by all the ARCs. And we read as many of them as we can.

This year was a strong one for new books, and it was difficult to choose just a few titles to include in our “Best Books of 2017” list. But choose we did, and amazing they are. Just consider this your holiday shopping guide—we promise you won’t be disappointed.

Holiday Favorites and a Taste of Texas: Notes from Valerie's Messy Desk

Have you figured out the bolthole entrance off of Memorial into our shopping center? Hopefully the construction will move along and get our other entrances back open soon. But if you do work your way to us, we have so many books, games, and puzzles to delight you that it will be worth it!

We reviewed some of our favorite holiday books on the blog this week. Some are new and some are old standards. And if we get more snow (what was that all about?), you can snuggle in with a cup of hot chocolate and read away.

Book Bites: Blue Willow Holiday Favorites

You know, it really doesn’t get much better than the holidays. The comforting food, the warm drinks, the sight of hundreds of twinkling lights turning your neighborhood into a wonderland. And then there are the moments with family and friends that make the bittersweet nostalgia of another passing year… perfect.

Of course, sharing our favorite holiday books with our families underpins many of our most cherished memories. As Christmas and Hanukkah jingle ever nearer, we want to share those seasonal favorites with you, too—from beautifully-illustrated children’s books to puzzles that encourage family time, from enchanting imaginings of traditional tales to the caustic holiday humor of David Sedaris—these books are our memories, and we hope a few of them come to hold a special place in your heart, too.

Author Visits and Pop-Up Shops: Notes from Valerie's Messy Desk

I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was as special as mine was. We gathered, we ate, some played wiffle ball. Greg and I are still washing dishes and putting away the silver. And I read. Hopefully you did, too. 

We have a busy week ahead of us. After the joy of Indies First Saturday (thank you for stopping in and celebrating with us), we are charging into the holiday season. We welcome our good friend Jessica Brody this week. Read her Q&A on our blog to prepare for the visit. And we are trying a new venture—a pop-up shop at the Theta Design Weekend. Our Theta friends have reinvented their much respected Antiques Show into a new weekend of shopping. Join us at the GRB as we show you the newest and best design books.

Book Bites: Odd Children and Magic Misfits Rarely Stand Still

The holidays. It’s difficult to argue that a season with so many records dedicated to lauding it as the most wonderful time of year is not, in fact, wonderful. And while those aforementioned musical odes vary in enjoyability, gifting books (and let’s just say it—receiving them) is always a hit.

Today, as we share a selection of recently-released favorites, we’re thankful for the authors, publishers, and readers out there who make the book world such a special place to be—especially around the holidays. Without further ado, let’s gobble up some reviews.

The Many Surprises of Greg Pizzoli

How can you not love Greg Pizzoli? The prolific author/illustrator is responsible for a handful of our favorite picture books from recent years, including Templeton Gets His WishThe Watermelon Seed, and The Quest for Z. On top of that, he's an all-around sweetheart who knows how to put on an excellent school visit. Our kind of guy, in other words.

Greg's joining us here in Houston for a couple of school visits this month, and we're working hard to book an in-store appearance sometime next year. In the meantime, tide yourself over by reading his insightful Q&A below. We asked about what he has on the horizon, all those little goodies hidden in his books, what it was like to illustrate a manuscript by Margaret Wise Brown, and more. 

Jessica Brody Can't Sit Still

If we could describe Jessica Brody in one word, it would be “WOW!” Why? For starters, this powerhouse of an author released 3 books this year, has another 3 slated for 2018, plus a new sci-fi series due in early 2019. She was also one of 25 authors featured at this year’s Tweens Read Festival here in Houston, and has attended another handful of festivals to boot. In her own words, she “can’t sit still,” and it shows.

True to form, she responded within approximately 30 minutes with awesome answers when we reached out to her with questions earlier this month. Want to know what she’s reading? Why she loves writing multiple genres? How she produced those killer book trailers? Make like Jessica, and read on!

We're Planning Something Special for Indies First Saturday: Notes from Valerie's Messy Desk

It's a long letter this time. This morning was the first time back in the gym for me after I fractured my foot in May. I think I will be feeling the pain in the morning! But it's not like I haven’t lifted pounds and pounds of books recently—we've hosted several authors recently who like heavy books with lots of pictures. (Did you get a chance to meet Ree Drummond? She was wonderful.)

We had a delightful evening with the Bush sisters last week. They were funny, warm, and the crowd loved them. I've been asked to tell you about the books and authors that they mentioned. Barbara is a huge fan of Junot Díaz, especially his short story collection. Jenna is friends with as well as a fan of Emma Straub. She loved Modern Lovers and The Vacationers. And she has been reading and rereading Splat The Cat to those two adorable daughters.

Book Bites: Mr. Adams, Mrs. Osmond, Ms. Poole, and Their Shadows

The days are getting shorter and the nights are cool and clear. It's the perfect time of year to grab a good book and spend some quality armchair time before the holiday madness sets in. This week, we have something to suit every taste.

We were delighted to see Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis in the store this month—their latest collaboration, The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid, is a wonderful story for smart young readers. On the adult side of things, Andy Weir is back with his follow-up to his 2011 smash hit The MartianIt's called Artemis, and it's brimming with more of the science, heart, and humor that made you fall in love with his first book. If space isn't your bag, check out Mrs. Osmond by John Banville. It's a clever continuation of Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady, and it earned the prestigious Alice Seal of Approval. We've got plenty more to pique your fancy, too—we suggest reading 'em all.

From the Blue Willow Test Kitchen: BREAD IS GOLD Is Gold

Everyone is buzzing about Bread Is Gold, the new cookbook by Massimo Bottura from Phaidon Press, and that includes the Blue Willow staff. We love the whole package. From the unique Tyvek cover to the beautiful colors of the photographs, it deserves a place on your shelves. 

The best part is the story of how the book came to be. When super-chef Massimo Bottura (of three-Michelin-star restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy) was asked to be a part of the Milan Food Expo in 2015, he decided to embark on an ambitious plan...

Pages