Blue Willow Content Team's blog

New March Events and the Perfect Spring Break Reads

Our March is following the old adage—in like a lion and out like a lamb. (Not that our upcoming April visit with Junot Díaz qualifies as going out like a lamb.) But the rest of our month will be so full of author visits and school events that we'll scarcely be able to catch a breath until April is here! We may need to start doing yoga poses and breathing exercises at our weekly staff meeting. 

Abdi Nazemian's YA Debut Needs to Top Your TBR

Have you read The Authentics, the debut YA novel from Abdi Nazemian? Stick it on your to-be-read list if it's not already there. It's a deeply resonant story about love, self-discovery, and famiy—both the one that we're given and the one that we choose. Its protagonist, Daria Esfandyar, is a proud Iranian-American teenager with a fresh voice, and she'll stick with you long after the book is over. We gobbled this book up when it came out last summer, and we're eagerly awaiting Nazemian's next.

As a matter of fact, we plan on asking him what he's been working on when he visits us for TeenBookCon on March 24—along with 25 more of the best teen and YA authors out there. (You're coming, right?) We caught up with Abdi for a short Q&A before the festival—read it below.

Book Bites: Hello Auntie Poldi, Wild Boggart!

There's no place as magical as a bookshelf—just think of the wonders they can hold! To read is to visit a thousand wonderful worlds. Here are nine of our recent favorites, from picture books to high literary fiction to a breezy madcap mystery bursting with charm. We can't wait to share these new and recent releases—read on!

Stephanie Garber on Walking the Line Between Real and Imaginary

Ever since Stephanie Garber's Caraval came out at the start of last year, we've been eager to hear more from this exciting voice in young adult fantasy. Caraval is an immersive and sweeping novel that's perfect for members of the Night Circus crowd or those who always wanted to attend Beauxbatons. The sequel, Legendary, lives up to its name. It picks up where the first book left off, upping the stakes along the way—but you'll have to wait until the end of May to read it.

In the meantime, we're very excited to welcome Stephanie to this year's TeenBookCon on March 24, where she'll be joined by 25 more of the best authors of teen and young adult fiction. Read our Q&A with Stephanie below.

It's Going to be a Seuss-tastic Spring

Have we seen the last of the cold weather? Greg seems to think so, as he went to buy his tomato plants today. He is busy cleaning out the garden beds and doing spring things. We were able to sit on the front porch and read this weekend.

At the shop, we've been busy restocking our gift shelves after the holiday season. New journals, pens, and note cards are waiting here for you. And Julia has picked out fun new jigsaw puzzles for your family's spring break at the beach (or in the mountains!).

Book Bites: Memorable Memoirs and Fantastic Fiction

Memoirs your thing? Have we got the book for you. Books, even. A wave of fascinating life stories have hit our shelves in recent weeks; click the button below to get the scoop on three of our favorites. Of course, that’s not all we’ve been reading. Cathy and Jennifer can always be counted on to help find the perfect book for readers of any age. Valerie just finished a great mystery. And Barb absolutely loved the latest novel from Kristin Hannah — it’s every bit as good as The Nightingale.

Oh, and have you heard about Teen Book Con? The annual festival for young adult readers returns for its ninth year on March 24, and the 2018 lineup is one of the best yet. Get in the mood by checking out one of our favorite teen releases from last year, and stay tuned for more Teen Book Con reviews in the coming weeks.

Another Exciting Event Announcement, Plus Valentine's Gifts!

Often we think of January and February as being a slow time at the shop. A time to relax, think of new projects, and talk about what we are reading. This year, it's been full steam ahead for events and projects with no break in sight! And we love it. Our Bookworm Festival on Saturday was so wonderful. Over 500 kids, parents, and teachers were entertained by seven wonderful authors and one standout musician. Everyone had a chance to meet some book stars!

Book Bites: These Books Have Our Heart

Love comes in all sorts of flavors. To you, love might mean sharing a hilarious new picture book about the power of friendship. Or it could mean curling up with a clever romance novel — check out two of Cathy's new favorites below. Perhaps you like your love a little more poignant. Gorgeous novels from Tayari Jones and Stefan Merrill Block have you covered there. If it's the love of a family you're after, Bryan Mealer's new memoir is the book for you. Whatever your flavor, our picks will help whet your appetite before Valentine's Day — read on.

Bryan Mealer on Oil Booms and Family Ties (and Family Curses)

It's hardly a secret that there's something special about Texas — our great state has long attracted the dreamers, the strong-willed, and the independent. The Mealer family, for example. In 1892, John Lewis Mealer moved his family of seven children from the hills of Georgia to the high desert of west Texas. In so doing, he set off a rollercoaster of happiness and sorrow that would shape his family's fortunes for years to come. Bestselling author Bryan Mealer, John Lewis' great-grandson, has charted that journey across four generations in a riveting new family memoir The Kings of Big Spring: God, Oil, and One Family's Search for the American Dream. The book comes highly recommended by our own Valerie Koehler (and by bestselling authors like Bryan Burrough, who describes it as "a Texas version of Hillbilly Elegy"). We think it's going to be a 20th-century classic.

Bryan Mealer is joining us in the store for a discussion and signing on Tuesday, February 13.

Stefan Merrill Block on 'Oliver Loving,' Tragedy, and Coming Home

Stefan Merrill Block, photo by Beowulf SheehanOliver Loving, the new novel from Texas-born author Stefan Merrill Block, follows the aftermath of a school shooting in a small West Texas town. It's a book that will break your heart in a thousand small ways—it's one of our favorites of the winter, as well as one of the most timely. For Block, who grew up in Plano during the heroin epidemic of the 1990s, it is also a deeply personal examination of the lingering effects that tragedy can cast over a community. Rather than focus on the immediate reaction—the flurry of news coverage, the investigations, the politics—Oliver Loving spools out over the long (and often unbearable) aftermath of unspeakable sadness. Through it all, Block deftly mixes love, family, humor, and grief to create a book that is at once tragic and hopeful—and altogether mesmerizing. 

We were thrilled to catch up with Mr. Block before his event with us on February 1 for an insightful Q&A. (We also encourage you to read his engrossing interviews in both Texas Monthly and the LA Times after you're through with ours.) Get used to hearing about this book—it's a perfect selection for any book club.

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