Blue Willow Content Team's blog

Tweens Read Author Rajani LaRocca on MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM and What's Next

If you know us well, you know that we have some particular favorite things: Baked goods. Shakespeare. And books, obviously. Kids' books bear mentioning, in particular—we've devoted half our store to children's titles, and host three festivals for young readers each year. Imagine our delight, then, when we first caught wind of Rajani Larocca's debut middle grade novel, Midsummer's Mayhem. It's a kids' book that combines elements of Shakespeare with competitive baking, and it's as funny, sweet, and imagninative as anything you've read lately. You needn't just take our word for it—since it debuted earlier this year, it's picked up accolades along the way... a starred review here, a Kids' Indie Next List selection there, and glowing blurbs from some of your very favorite authors.

We're so excited that Rajani will be joining us on October 19 as part of our annual Tweens Read festival for middle grade readers. You'll have a chance to meet her in person and get your book signed then. But October still feels like it's a long ways off. So for now, we've got the next best thing—an exclusive Q&A with the author. Read on!

Book Bites: Title Wave

Fresh books here, get your frrrrresh books! Fall publishing season is in full swing, friends, and the new releases are coming in fast and thick. We’ve been on a nonstop reading binge at the shop just to keep up with it all. And while we trust that you’ve already come in for your copy of The Testaments, there are plenty of other titles deserving of your attention. New Eoin Colfer, Jacqueline Woodson, and Attica Locke? Yeah, you’ve got another trip to the bookstore in your future. Below we highlight eight of our favorites—from a sweet, welcoming picture book all the way up to historical fiction and a book by a mortician. What’s catching your eye? 

Jennifer Mathieu on Bad Girls, the MOXIE Movie, and THE LIARS OF MARIPOSA ISLAND

The Liars of Mariposa Island Jennifer MathieuAre you excited about the new book from Jennifer Mathieu? Of course you are! Let's review the facts: Jennifer Mathieu is a Houston treasure; her last book, Moxie, probably blew your mind two years ago; and, oh yeah, now it's being turned into a Netflix movie... directed by Amy Poehler! Her new novel, The Liars of Mariposa Island, is a powerful, emotional tale—told in three distinct voices—that layers important themes like family, identity, love, and trauma. It's a gripping story, masterfully told, and we can't wait to put it in your hands when it comes out on September 17th.

Pre-order your copy of Liars from us, and email your proof of purchase to liarsofmariposa@gmail.com—you'll get a signed, personalized first edition of the book, plus a bookmark, a postcard, some stickers, and more from Jennifer herself. And don't forget to attend the book's launch party, right here in the bookshop on Saturday, September 21. In the meantime, check out our exclusive Q&A with the author.

Jon Scieszka and Steven Weinberg on Art, Science, and ASTRONUTS

If you've known us for a while, you probably know that we can't get enough of Jon Scieszka. From The Stinky Cheese Man to the Time Warp Trio to Frank Einstein and beyond, each and every one of his books have made us cackle with laughter and love our jobs. It's no wonder, then, that we're beyond excited for his new series with illustrator Steven Weinberg, AstroNuts. Book one is full of signature Scieszka humor and absorbing illustrations, and it brings science—including climate change—to life in an accessible, entertaining way. It's going to be a hit, friends.

To make things even more exciting, we've partnered with the book's publisher, Chronicle Books, to offer an exclusive perk—pre-order your copy of AstroNuts Mission One: The Plant Planet on our website before the book is released on September 10, and we'll send you a first edition signed by both Jon and Steven. And don't miss Jon and Steven at this year's Tweens Read festival on October 19! Until then, check out our Q&A with the creators.

Book Bites: Fall Publishing Season!

Fall publishing season is here, y’all! It’s one of our very favorite times—even if it means that we stayed late last Saturday night unpacking box upon box of new releases. All the publishers are pushing out their biggest, best books of the year—and they’re sending all sorts of exciting authors on tour. Check out the list below for some fantastic all-ages recommendations, then mosey on over to our events calendar and make plans to come see us sometime soon. No offense to late December, but it’s the most wonderful time of the year for a reader—here’s to picturebooks, page-turners, and everything in between!

Book Bites: Three Fresh Favorites, Four You May Have Missed

Gather around, friends! It’s time for us to gush about books again. Seriously, y’all—books are the greatest, and this week we have one of our classic something-for-everyone lists for you to check out. Read on to meet three fresh favorites… and four fantastic titles you may have overlooked earlier this year. We’ve got everything from middle grade novels to a cookbook included within. So, to borrow a phrase… dig in!

Beat the Heat Recap: The Best New Books According to Liz and Brian

We're still basking in the bookish afterglow of our third annual Beat the Heat event last month. Liz Sullivan and Brian Contine, our publishing reps from Random House and Penguin, respectively, stopped by to share a few of their favorite recent and upcoming releases, give away more swag than a minor league baseball team, and generally heckle one another over whose books are best. Here's the thing, though: They're all good. Looking for big names? How do Colson Whitehead, Jojo Moyes, Jacqueline Woodson, Elizabeth Gilbert, and Margaret Atwood strike you? If you fancy a debut, try the great new novels by Roselle Lim, Linda Holmes, Claire Lombardo, or Kiley Reid. Or, take a break from fiction altogether and dive into Furious HoursLife Undercover, or Running With Sherman. The point is, we all had an excellent time talking about some of the very best books of the year, and anyone looking for a GPS for their book club could do a lot worse than the 16 great choices collected here.

Book Bites: Dog Days

It’s that particular time in a Houston summer when we start to sometimes wish that we could be somewhere (pretty much anywhere) else. You know what we mean—the temperature is climbing towards 100, you can cut through the humid air with a knife, and all of a sudden the skies will open up when you’re trying to load the groceries into your car. Of course, we wouldn’t trade being here for anywhere else. So when we find ourselves momentarily wanting to escape, we know just where to turn: The bookshelf. This roundup of recent favorites is heavy on novels, though we’ve saved some room for kids and nonfiction, too. If you don’t see something that appeals, don’t fret—we’re just a phone call away, and could talk about great books all day. (Literally. We do that sometimes.)

Katherine Center on Craft, Character, and THINGS YOU SAVE IN A FIRE

If you've been around the shop lately, you know we're buzzing over the new book from Katherine Center, Things You Save in a Fire. Friends, it is so enjoyable. You'll be falling for the protagonist, Cassie Hanwell, before you know it—she's the protagonist your TBR pile needs. Like any Katherine Center book, this lovely story is packed full of humor and heart, and we think it will have a place of honor on your shelves for a long time. In fact, we're so excited that we're offering a special pre-order promotion: If you pre-order Things You Save in a Fire from us, we'll reserve a signed, personalized first edition—along with some fun swag, designed and hand-painted by the author.

Check out our exclusive Q&A with Katherine, then head on over to our dedicated pre-order page to get your copy. And circle August 13 on your calendar! That's when we're hosting Katherine, along with Kristan Higgins, right here in the shop. It's going to be a night to remember. Read on! 

Book Bites: One of These Things is Not Like the Others

So is it just us, or has the fiction hitting our shelves over the last few weeks been particularly great? You probably think we say that about all the books, but we swear—this has been quite the summer for novels. And the best part is that it’s happening across every genre. We’ve got literary books full of hard truths and big ideas. We’ve got family sagas. We’ve got fizzy fun. In fact, we were all set to go with an all-novel theme this week to show off some of our new favorites. But then Valerie read a piece of non-fiction so good that it just had to be included. So instead, our theme is this: Good books. Which, when you think about it, is basically our theme every week. Read on!

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