Blue Willow Content Team's blog

Book Bites: Fall Favorites

The evenings are a little cooler, the mornings a little crisper, and our shelves a little fuller with new books from favorite authors. Could it be the start of fall? A look at our events calendar certainly offers a clue—it’s stuffed to the brim with big names like Marie Lu, R.J. Palacio, Dhonielle Clayton, Amor Towles, Rick Riordan, Rick Bragg, Eoin Colfer… Okay, it’s official. 

This week, we have a variety of books from some of our most cherished, familiar favorites. Any week that brings us a new series from Alex London, picture books from Dan Santat and Carter Higgins, more Skunk and Badger, Wiley Cash, Ruths Ozeki and Hogan, Bernard Schlink… Let’s just say it’s a great time to come visit us. We’ll see you soon!

Alex London on World Building, Middle Grade, and BATTLE DRAGONS: CITY OF THIEVES


There’s a new middle grade fantasy series that should soar to the top of your TBR pile: Battle Dragons, by bestselling author and friend of the shop Alex London. As Cathy puts it, the series hits “the sweet spot for middle grade fantasy: It's set enough in the real world to allow new fantasy readers an easy entry to the genre and the incredible world building draws fantasy fans in immediately.” Plus, there’s thrilling adventure, plenty of humor, and, well lots of dragons!

Suffice it to say, we’re thrilled to be hosting Alex to celebrate the launch of book one, Battle Dragons: City of Thieves, on September 21. He’ll appear in conversation with Kwame Mbalia, and you won’t want to miss it. Until then, tide yourself over with our Q&A on the series below!

Book Bites: Starstruck

Wow, y’all. Fall publishing season is officially here, and boy has it ever started off with a bang. We’ve received box after box of exciting releases over the past two weeks, including new books by some of our very favorite authors. In the middle grade section, how about Nic Stone, Katherine Applegate, and Sara Pennypacker? For adult fiction, we’ve got Helen Hoang, Colm Toíbín, and Lisa Jewell. Throw in a great novel by writer and musician Josh Ritter, an adorable early reader book, and a poignant memoir of immigration, and it’s clear: A trip to the bookstore is in your future. We’ll see you soon!

Book Bites: End-of-Summer Favorites

Summer is winding down, school is back in session, and here at the shop we’re preparing for another busy fall publishing season. There are a lot of really exciting books coming our way in the next couple of months (Kate DiCamillo! Amor Towles! Jennifer Mathieu!), but we don’t want you to miss out on a few last summer releases that we think you’ll love. Here, we’ve collected our most recent favorites, ranging from a tender middle grade novel to the autobiography of a tennis legend. The ball’s in your court: Which books can we serve up for you this week?

Our Best (Back) To School Picks

There’s a fresh bag of apples in the fridge, a new backpack lies waiting in the closet, and the smell of freshly-sharpened pencils is in the air. How is it already back-to-school season again? Of course, for some of our younger readers, the whole affair isn’t quite so routine. We had them in mind when we created the list of books below—you’ll find books to assuage fears, soothe doubts, and maybe even get your kiddos excited about the start of a new school year. Read on!

Book Bites: Two by Two by Two by Two

Here’s our two cents’ worth: It’s time for you to get a new book. As a matter of fact, get two. We’ll make it easy for you—this week, we have two recommendations from Alice, two from Cathy, two from our Teen Advisory Board, and two from Valerie. Together, they span a wide range of ages and interests, running the gamut from a middle grade story collection to a gripping historical mystery. Read our list of recommendations below, or come by and see us sometime soon. Shall we say... two o’clock?

Book Bites: Cynthia Rylant, Helen Ellis, and More!

The summer heat is showing no signs of letting up. Fortunately, neither is the barrage of great new books coming into the shop each week. We suggest that you grab a stack and settle in for some air-conditioned (or poolside!) reading. Below, we have a list of recent recommendations for all ages—from a picture book biography of a Tejano icon to gentle middle grade, teen thrillers, literary fiction, and laugh-out-loud essays. Read on!

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!

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