Blue Willow Content Team's blog

Book Bites: Fresh Fiction Featured

It's been a wonderful summer for the novel. From quiet family dramas to sweeping literary epics, from chilling mysteries to breezy summer loves, we've barely been able to keep up with the glut of great reads sailing through the shop. This week, we're shining a light on a particularly wonderful batch of books. The Incendiaries, R.O. Kwon's debut tale of finding (and losing) love and faith won the approval of booksellers across the country—it's the number one pick on the August Indie Next List. Or settle in with a good mystery: We've got a modern choice in Ghosted by Rosie Walsh, or an old-school, hardboiled throwback to Philip Marlowe by the incredible Lawrence Osborne. Want to meet some well-drawn characters? Ingrid Rojas Contreras and Louis de Bernières will pull you into the lives of their cast and tug on your heartstrings in the best of ways. Follow the heavier stuff up with the delightfully frothy The Shortest Way Home, and you'll move through the day with a smile on your face. Dig in, friends.

Beat the Heat: Book Recommendations From Our Publisher Reps

Back by popular demand... last night was our second annual "Beat the Heat" event with Liz and Brian, our publisher reps from Random House and Penguin (and two of our favorite people in the universe). Thank you to everyone who absolutely packed the bookstore and listened in as Liz and Brian shared some of their favorite new and upcoming reads. We think we have a tradition on our hands!

Liz and Brian shared twenty wonderful books last night—ten that you can find on our shelves now, and ten you'll have to wait for. We've compiled the master list here, in order of release date. If you're in charge of choosing the next read for your book club, all we can say is this: Good luck.

Cover Reveal: THE HOME BUILDERS by Varsha Bajaj

Houston author and dear friend of the shop Varsha Bajaj is on some kind of roll. When she's not in the news for scoring an exciting #ownvoices publishing deal with Nancy Paulsen, she's penning delightful middle grade novels. And when she's not doing that, she's creating incredible picture books. Her next release in that last category is called The Home Builders, and it's hitting shelves on February 12. It's a beautiful story with beautiful illustrations, and we can't wait to help Varsha launch the book here at the shop in February. We're delighted to reveal illustrator Simona Mulazzani's gorgeous cover below. Bask in its loveliness for a minute or two, then keep scrolling to read our Q+A with Varsha. Then, pre-order your copy at the bottom of the page. Trust us on this one: It'll hold a special place on your shelf for a long time.

Support Local, Win Audiobooks for a Year

You know we're partial to a good, old-fashioned physical books around here. But stories can take all sorts of forms, and (much as we'd like) we don't always have time to sit and read the day away.

That's where audiobooks come in. If you didn't know, we're all pretty big fans. Most of the staff listens to audiobooks on constant rotation—during our morning walks, through drives across town, on long afternoons spent in the garden, and any other time we can think of. So we were understandably pretty excited when we heard that our friends at Libro.fm were giving away free audiobooks for a year.

Book Bites: Princess, Rhino, Family, Cake

Okay guys, breaking news: Books are the best. These seven books, to get a little more specific, are among the best new releases to grace our shelves this summer. Whatever your mood—dark and twisty, lighthearted, inspirational, or strange—we've got just the thing for you to take home. Gorgeous illustrations your jam? Hello, here's the new Dan Santat. A quiet, inisghtful character study that spans a lifetime of hopes and heartaches? Anne Tyler's latest stands among her very best. Something to listen to while you tackle that morning jog? You simply must get to know Melissa Radke (psst! She's visiting us on Monday). Tuck in, friends. It's summertime, and the reading is wonderful.

Book Bites: Fairies, Brontës, and Bearskins—Oh, My!

We know it's still summer, but if our pile of recently-read books is anything to go by, we're already thinking about back-to-school. A pair of recent picture books tackle that topic with humor and charm, while a new YA thriller takes the creepy boarding school premise to chilling heights. School stories aren't your speed? Try some books about family—both the kind that you want to welcome into your arms, like the Indian immigrants of A Place for Us, and the kind that you would give anything to escape, like the reality-TV-star zealots of The Book of Essie. Or, escape to the Appalachians with Rice Moore in the dazzling new thriller Bearskin—just what is he running from, anyway? If you're in the mood for something light and sweet, indulge in the latest literary mish-mash from YA authors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. The point is: Read. Read! Whatever your mood, we'll help you find something you'll like.

Books to Celebrate Independence

As an independent bookshop, we are always excited to celebrate independence. This July 4th, we celebrate our nation's independence. I think it's a good time to reflect on what it means to be a good citizen of our country. It is also a good time to share stories of people who have worked hard for our country with our children.

20 Titles to Celebrate 20 Years of Harry Potter

Twenty years ago this September, readers across the country felt the roar of a flying motorcycle, heard the soft cries of a mysterious child, and glimpsed a haughty tabby cat in the company of a strange old man in a robe. If you're anything like us, Harry Potter awakened an appetite you didn't even know you had—one for sprawling tales of magic and adventure and the kind of intricate, imaginative "worldbuilding" that's been imitated many times but very rarely equalled. 

Scholastic is celebrating Harry's anniversary with a gorgeous new set of paperbacks designed by the inimitable Brian Selznick (available for purchase at your favorite West Houston bookstore, FYI). We're getting in on the action this Saturday at 3p.m., with a special anniversary party complete with trivia, costumes, and fun prizes. But perhaps the best way to celebrate Harry Potter is to recreate that special kind of magic you felt when you first read the books. And for that, you need books.

Book Bites: From Loony to Literary

A bookstore, we think, shares a lot of DNA with a candy store. Hear us out: Our shelves are filled with brightly-colored diversions and temptations—some classic, some exciting and new, capable of satisfying any craving. Consider our latest staff favorites, which run from madcap picture books to teen fantasy to a psychological thrill ride to a new literary masterpiece (seriously). They’re all prettily packaged and perfect for summer afternoons or book club discussions. Only one question remains: What’s your flavor?

Book Bites: Summer Reading, Ho!

Summer is here, which means that some of the most entertaining books of the year are hitting our shelves in waves. Looking for laughs? Pick up The Kiss Quotient or the new David Sedaris and head to the beach. Later, use a chilling new mystery from the likes of Julia Heaberlin or Anthony Horowitz to help cool down. And make room for Lauren Weisberger, whose new book checks in on Emily from The Devil Wears Prada, along with a stunning, literary YA novel from Tiffany D. Jackson that any teen or grown-up should read.

Long story short: Grab any (or all) of the books on this list, then find yourself a favorite spot. Plan to stay there awhile—you won’t want to get up until you’ve turned the last page.

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