Blue Willow Content Team's blog

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.

Book Bites: A Pleasant Ensemble of Ducks—At Last!

How is May already two-thirds gone? It's been a wonderful month for middle grade series. Last time, we told you about the first book in a new trilogy from Newbery-winner Katherine Applegate; this time, one beloved series comes to an end and another celebrates a re-birth with some snazzy new covers. Speaking of snazzy covers, have you visited the adult fiction section lately? Some of our favorite new releases are as striking for their jacket design as they are for their prose (which is to say: very). But enough chit-chat—bring on the recommendations!

Samuel Miller on A Lite Too Bright, Family Ties, and Writing While Rocking

Samuel Miller has talent. That much is apparent to anyone who knows his rock band, Paradise Fears, which was a fixture of the iTunes Alternative Charts after the release of the album Battle Scars. But Sam doesn't stop there. Nowadays, he's writing beautiful literary YA novels in addition to making music magic—and he's got his eyes on other art forms, too. We asked Sam about all of this when we caught up with him for a quick Q&A; check out his answers to our questions below. And don't forget to swing by the store on Sunday, June 3 at 2:00 pm. That's when we're hosting Samuel for music, conversation, and a signing. His debut, A Lite Too Bright, is going to be a notable book in the YA season—don't miss it.

Katherine Center on Humor, Houston, and How to Walk Away

Houston native Katherine Center has been a staff favorite since, oh, pretty much the first moment we met her. We've adored each of her novels. But her latest, How to Walk Away, might be her best yet. Plus, it's an official selection on the May Indie Next List. Pre-order the book through our website to receive a signed copy, plus some exclusive swag. Then, set aside some time on the evening of May 17. That's when Katherine's stopping by to celebrate the new release.

While you wait (thirteen days and counting, as of this publication!), check out our Q&A with the author.

Book Bites: Walking, Pitching, Scooping, Theorizing, Endling

Warm weather is here, and we’ve got summer on our minds. That means books about baseball, books about ice cream, and books about the great outdoors—both in our own world and in a sweeping new fantasy realm from the mind of Katherine Applegate. Plus, Valerie knows the perfect action-packed literary thriller to take to the beach. Remember, nothing blocks harmful UV rays like holding a book in front of your nose. Reading: It’s good for your health.

Now Batting for Team Edith: Denise Kiernan

You know us. We have a tendency to wax poetic about the power of a great novel, like Young Jane Young (watch for it in paperback!) or A Gentleman in Moscow (watch for it on your television!). But a good piece of nonfiction? Now that will really get us going. There's something extra magical about reading a propulsive tale full of complex characters and shocking plot developments—and knowing that all of it actually happened.

Author Denise Kiernan is a modern master of the nonfiction form—she's responsible for undisputed staff favorites like The Girls of Atomic City and The Last Castle. The latter of those two is celebrating its paperback release in May, and Denise herself is swinging by the shop on May 8 to share its story and sign copies. If you haven't read it already, do yourself a favor and snag a copy—you have just enough time to savor it before the event. If you have read it, well, we have a feeling we'll be seeing you there. In the meantime, tide yourself over by checking out our illuminating Q&A with Denise below.

Gail Honeyman on Eleanor Oliphant and What's Next

It's been well over a year since we first got hold of an ARC of Gail Honeman's debut novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. In the intervening months, the book flew from staff member to staff member, always accompanied by that most exciting of phrases: "You have to read this." It was a natural choice for our staff book club. And when it was published last May, we pressed it into as many hands as we could reach.

So it probably goes without saying that we're excited to welcome Gail to the shop on June 11. Seriously, friends, go ahead and circle your calendars now. We'll wait.

When you get back, check out these insightful questions and answers, courtesy of Pamela Dorman books. And if you haven't read it already, get ready to meet your new favorite novel.

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