Blogs

Kwame Mbalia on His New Anthology, BLACK BOY JOY

If you know Kwame Mbalia’s bestselling Tristan Strong series, you know the author as a gifted storyteller who weaves heart, humor, and wonder into his work. So it’s no surprise that you’ll find all of those elements at play in the new anthology he edited, Black Boy Joy. The collection is a vibrant celebration of Black boyhood featuring stories from seventeen acclaimed Black male and non-binary authors (including one from Kwame himself). Simply put, the book is stunning—it’s a marvelous testament to family, friends, and much-deserved joy, and it absolutely deserves pride of place on a bookshelf near you. 

Read our Q&A with Kwame below, then get ready for our virtual August 4 event to celebrate the book’s publication. Kwame will appear in conversation with his collaborators Jerry Craft, DaVaun Sanders, Varian Johnson, and Julian Winters—we can’t wait!

Love At First Sight: The Making of Jasmine Guillory’s Swoonworthy Book Covers

It’s okay to admit it: Everyone judges books by their covers. Why else would they have such fabulous designs? We’re as partial to a striking jacket as the next person, and we always look forward to seeing the covers for upcoming releases by our favorite authors. Jasmine Guillory is one such author, and her effervescent rom-coms are always perfectly paired with beautiful, tone-setting illustrated covers.

To celebrate the release of her sixth novel, While We Were Dating, we spoke with Jasmine, plus Berkley Books Vice President, Editorial Director Cindy Hwang, Senior Marketing Manager Fareeda Bullert, and Art Director Rita Frangie about the process of cover creation. Read our conversation below, then make plans to visit us this week for your copy of While We Were Dating. It’s warm, witty, and full of thoughtful social commentary—in other words, it’s everything you’d expect from a Jasmine Guillory book.

Book Bites: Shelf Care

Summer reading is in full swing, and we have great new releases rolling onto our shelves every week to prove it. This week, we’re focusing mostly on novels, from cutting literary fiction to an effervescent new rom-com from the one and only Jasmine Guillory. (But for good measure, we’ve thrown in a great new series that straddles the line between early reading and middle grade, too.) So clear off some space on your bookshelf or nightstand and get ready to read—there are a few books below you won’t want to miss!

Book Bites: Novel Ideas

It’s summer in Houston, and the days are long, hot, and humid. In other words, conditions are perfect for diving into a good book. Luckily, we have just what you need in order to practice a little shelf care. Here, dig into staff reviews of six new novels we think you’ll love. If you’re feeling factual, we’ve thrown in a nonfiction title, too—inspired by a classic novel written by the author’s father. Read on!

June is Audiobook Month! Staff Favorites from Libro.fm

Did you know that June is audiobook month? How about that audiobook purchases can support local, independent bookstores like yours truly? That’s right—our audiobook partner, Libro.fm, partners with and supports over 500 independent bookstores around the country. Which means that you can enjoy à la carte listening or a monthly audiobook subscription all while supporting your community and keeping more of your money in the local economy—instead of funding a certain someone’s self-indulgent ten-minute trip to not-quite-space.

If you think all of this sounds like cause for celebration, well, you’re not wrong. So we’ve created a list of staff recommendations featuring great recently-released audiobooks to help kickstart your summer of listening. Enjoy!

Book Bites: Perfect Summer Reads

We’re getting to that time of year when we pretty much want to do one thing: Settle in with a nice pile of books, directly underneath the strongest A/C vent we can find. (Maybe with an occasional trip to the poolside thrown in for variety’s sake.) Happily, there have been some great June releases hitting our shelves that will make building the perfect stack a breeze. Settle in for our latest recommendations, from middle grade to YA rom-com to summery novels to nonfiction. We’ve even thrown in a cookbook, in case you get peckish. Read on!

Books to Celebrate Grads & Dads

June is a month of celebrations, friends, and we’re here to remind you that books make the best gifts. So we’ve compiled a list of recommendations to help you celebrate the grad or dad in your life. Whether you’re seeking inspiration, words of wisdom, or just a bunch of cute animals to lift the spirits, you’ll find it in our grad section below. Scroll a little further, and you’ll come across a collection of dad-tested, dad-approved titles in fiction and non. Did we mention that we gift wrap? Oh, the places you’ll go… now that you have your gift-giving sorted out.

 

Book Bites: To the Nines

It was another rainy summer week in Houston, so if you’re anything like us, you’ve been mowing through your TBR list like nobody’s business. Lucky for you, we’re here with a fresh batch of recommendations to spruce up your shelves. This week, we have nine new titles for your consideration, from YA historical fiction to breezy beach reads to a book of essays about Juneteenth. So take a peek at our reviews below and clear some space on your nightstand—we think you’re going to find something you’ll love.

Book Bites: Fizzy Summer Reads

Summer reading is back, friends, which means that our shelves are spilling over with bright new literary confections. This week, we want to share a stop-in-your-tracks-gorgeous picture book that will inspire profound conversations. From there, you can take a refreshing dip into some middle grade magic or explore the buzzy new YA novel that’s part The Princess Diaries, part Crazy Rich Asians. We also have three breezy reads for adults, plus a wildly entertaining Texas-based family novel that takes its cues from Greek mythology. And finally, a dishy Hollywood memoir with surprising emotional resonance. Shake off your beach towel and stop in for a stack—we’d love to see you.

Shawn Harris on Nature, Illustration, and HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A FLOWER

Here at Blue Willow, we’ve been big fans of illustrator Shawn Harris since his beautiful first book, Her Right Foot. Shawn’s debut as both author and illustrator, Have You Ever Seen a Flower?, is out on May 4, and we can’t wait to share it with all of our wonderful educators, parents, and young readers. Cathy calls it "an ode to the human connection to nature, not to be missed."

We had a chance to ask Shawn a few questions about the new book, his distinctive style, and what’s coming next. Check out our exclusive Q&A below, then order your copy of Have You Ever Seen a Flower? from the bottom of the page. If you order before May 4, you'll also receive a signed bookplate, an art print, and a branded seed packet while supplies last!

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