Blue Willow Content Team's blog

Book Bites: We Miss You Already, Alice! Plus Faith, Baseball, and Soccer

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you probably know that we often try to find some kind of theme to frame our bi-weekly roundup of staff picks. Sometimes the books we feature are all written by women, for example. Sometimes the women are named Sarah. And so on. The theme for this week? How much we miss Alice. Our resident book orderer and literary tastemaker is off on another one of her globetrotting vacations, leaving our little shop a smidge short on its signature pizzazz. So of the seven titles featured below, four are recent favorites of the marvelous Ms. Meloy. (And don’t you worry—she brought a whole bookcase worth of e-books on her trip, so there will be plenty more Alice-approved picks coming your way after she returns.)

Biographer Susan Page on Barbara Bush, THE MATRIARCH

Journalist and biographer Susan Page has covered six different White House administrations and ten presidential elections through her work as the Washington Bureau chief of USA Today. She's uniquely positioned, then, to shed light on the lives and legacies of some of America's most interesting and important political figures. Her new book, The Matriarch, does just that—it's a compulsively readable look at a popular, poweful woman who holds a special place in the hearts of many Houstonians: Barbara Bush.

We can't wait to welcome Susan to the shop on April 8, when she'll sign copies of her book and visit one-on-one with readers and fans. Pre-order your copy of The Matriarch now, then check out our exclusive Q&A with the author. We touch on the former First Lady's childhood, her life in Texas, her penchant for a good murder mystery, and more.

TeenBookCon Author Matt Mendez on Representation, Hope, and BARELY MISSING EVERYTHING

Have you heard about the debut YA novel drawing comparisons to Jason Reynolds and Matt de la Peña? It's Barely Missing Everything by Matt Mendez, and it's a stunning portrayal of two Mexican-American families in El Paso, Texas. Using three distinctive narrators, Mendez tackles difficult themes of race and social justice with a sure hand and plenty of heart. It's one of our favorite books of the season, and a must-add for your TBR pile. 

We're thrilled to host Matt at the tenth annual TeenBookCon this weekend, where he'll be joined by 23 other fantastic YA authors. Join us on March 30 at Clear Springs High School—you'll be able to attend panels, connect with authors, get your book signed, and catch a great keynote from Angie Thomas and Laurie Halse Anderson. You can register now... but first, read Matt's exclusive Q&A. Trust us: It will only leave you more excited for the weekend.

TeenBookCon Author Justin A. Reynolds on Writing, Time Travel, and OPPOSITE OF ALWAYS

There's nothing in publishing quite as magical as a perfect debut novel. Not only does it make for great reading, but it so sublimely sets the stage for books to come. The latest debut to make our hearts flutter and our other books jealous? Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds, the time-travelling love story (written by a former NASA intern) that you didn't know you were waiting for. We'll be plain: This pitch-perfect, hilarious, heartfelt novel needs to be at the top of your TBR list. If that's not enough, take the recommendation of folks you already know and love—folks like Angie Thomas, Becky Albertalli, and our very own events coordinator, Cathy Berner. "It's funny and suspenseful—part Groundhog Day, part Love Story... a great story and a great new voice," says Cathy. And she would know—she chaired the nationwide Indies Introuduce committee that selected Opposite of Always as one of the top debut novels for young adults this spring. 

We can't wait for you to meet Justin at the tenth annual TeenBookCon on March 30—he'll be there alongside 23 other wonderful young adult authors and thousands of fans. Tempting though it sounds to time travel straight to the festival, that technology continues to elude us here at the shop. So instead, tide yourself over by checking out our exclusive Q&A with the author. Then take a minute to register for TeenBookCon so you can meet Justin, ask questions, and get your book signed. We'll see you then!

Book Bites: Women’s History Month and TeenBookCon, Too

Happy Women's History Month, friends! We're proud to be a woman-owned, women-run independent bookshop every day of the year, but this month is a special reminder to highlight the invaluable contributions of women. We're excited to highlight books by women authors below — including a sweet picture book, a wonderful piece of historical fiction, a fantastic debut novel, and a selection of books by authors who will be featured at this month's tenth annual TeenBookCon!

We’ve been busy, busy, busy preparing for TeenBookCon 2019, which will feature 24 of the best YA authors writing today. To say that we’re looking forward to it is just a tiny bit of an understatement — none other than Angie Thomas and Laurie Halse Anderson (!!!) are keynoting the festival — so we’re turning a chunk of this biweekly roundup over to them. Dig in and read on, friends.

Sabina Khan on TeenBookCon, Creativity, and RUKHSANA ALI

Have you heard about The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan? It's an urgent and powerful debut novel about the LGBTQIA+ community in contemporary Bengali culture that deftly balances heartache and hope. And its titular protagonist is bound to end up on your list of favorite YA characters. Don't just take our word for it, though—Rukhsana landed on the Spring 2019 Kids' Indie Next List, and has been featured on Hypable, Parade, and BookRiot. The book has even drawn praise from some of our other favorite authors, like Sandhya Menon, Samira Ahmed, and Sara Farizan.

We're so excited to welcome Sabina Khan to the tenth annual TeenBookCon on March 30, where she'll be joined by 23 other fantastic authors and thousands of fans from the greater Houston area. Check out our exclusive Q&A at the jump, then hurry up and register for TeenBookCon so you can meet Sabina, get your book signed, and spend a day surrounded by some of the coolest readers and authors around. What could be better than that?

Book Bites: Daisy, Nikki, Monkey, Cake

Here's one thing about working at a bookstore: You'll never see the top of your nightstand again. Between all of the recommendations and advance copies, each member of our staff has a "to be read" list that's dozens—hundreds?—of titles long, along with a hefty stack of books waiting to be picked up. We've been reading, reading, reading our way through our lists, and we have to say: It's been a great season for new releases. In the last few weeks, we've welcomed a pair of fantastic picture books, a delightful middle grade debut, some great novels for teens and adults, and (despite the chilly temperatures) the first wave of books that could make for fantastic summer reading. Heard the hype about Daisy Jones & The Six? It's real, friends. Clear some space on your shelves and give us a visit—we'll send you home happy.

Book Bytes: Audiobook Favorites from Libro.fm

Have you heard about our audiobook partner, Libro.fm? It's a wonderful platform, full of smart, opinionated recommendations from real booksellers (including some of yours truly)—which makes it much better than whatever some anonymous computer algorithm recommends, as far as we're concerned. How do they do it? By partnering with and supporting over 500 independent bookstores around the country. Setting up an account with Libro means supporting your local community. What's not to love?

They're also running a spectacular deal right now for new customers switching from the Amazon-owned Audible platform: Join Libro.fm, support your local bookstore by doing so, and get three audiobooks for the price of one. Jeffrey doesn't really need more money, does he?

Here are some of our very favorite audiobooks to get you started.

Christian Robinson on Art, Inspiration, and ANOTHER

Christian Robinson's distinctive illustrations are well-known to anyone who's been paying attention to picture books over the last several years. He's the artist behind best-selling favorites like Gaston and Antoinette by Kelly DiPucchio, and Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell, for which Robinson received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. The list goes on—Robinson has worked with Mac Barnett, Cynthia Rylant, and Renee Watson, and has twice teamed up with Matt de la Peña, including for Caldecott Honor Book and winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal Last Stop on Market Street.

Early next month, Robinson will publish his first book as an author-illustrator, Another. It's a beautiful, wordless adventure story, and we can't wait to get it into the hands of emerging readers. Even more exciting? We're hosting Robinson right here in the shop on the book's release day, March 5. Prepare for the event by reading our Q&A, then make plans to join us—we can't wait to see you there.

Book Bites: Bonanza!

Folks, it’s a bumper crop of great new books this week, starting with a beautiful picture book by an acclaimed Caldecott medalist. Five novels made the cut, including a twisty, turny tale that should have plenty of crossover appeal into the young adult market. From there it’s on to literary fiction, a period piece, a thriller, a family drama… suffice it to say that you’ll find something on this list that you can love. Finally, take a turn into nonfiction, where we have a pair of tremendous books whose titles sound synonymous—but whose subjects couldn’t be more different. What will it be, friends? Read on!

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