Blue Willow Content Team's blog

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.

Did You Hear Our Big Event News?

I'm writing this today while I look out my hotel window at the Mississippi River. I'm in Memphis attending a book conference. Last night, I had the opportunity to visit the Civil Rights Museum on the grounds of the Lorraine Hotel. It was a profoundly moving experience. As I reflect on it, it saddens me to think that while we have progressed, we still have a long way to go in so many ways for so many people. If you ever visit Memphis, please promise you will stop there.

The bookshop remains busy while I am gone, with the staff preparing for an exciting slate of upcoming events. By now you may have seen that we have announced an event with Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Mr. Díaz has a gorgeous new picture book, Islandborn, coming out in March. We are so very excited.

Book Bites: Death, Dystopia, Old Hollywood, and Grandma's Purse

Well, Houston, we had another turn of bizarre weather this week. With the ice keeping many of us home, it was a cozy time to fall into books — and we’ve got the reviews to prove it.

Nothing’s better than really good fiction, and this week, we’ve got a great list of novels to recommend. From a fulfilling tale that follows four siblings who know the dates upon which they’ll die (The Immortalists) to a fictionalization of the friendship between old Hollywood star Mary Pickford and renowned female screenwriter Frances Marion (The Girls in the Picture), each pick promises unique delights. 

Meet Jasmine Guillory, Author of the Year's Most Charming Debut

Jasmine Guillory by Andrea Scher

It's tough to escape stereotypes. You get handed a romance novel, and you probably expect steamy scenes with a lot of tartan torn to shreds. At the very least, you think you can count on a pirate or two, or the hero getting called a "rake." That was before Jasmine Guillory, a Stanford-Law-grad-romance-novelist who's responsible for The Wedding Date, one of the most highly-anticipated books of the year. 

Obert Skye on Making Normal Funny

There's always a little magic in books by Obert Skye. Whether he's revealing the mysteries of the world of Foo or introducing us to another marvelous mashup in his hilarious Creature in a Closet series, we can count on Skye to reveal the power of imagination.

Skye's latest middle grade book, Geeked Out, starts a new post-apocalyptic spoof series that touches on tough topics like bullying while maintaining Skye's trademark cheek and humor. The book's out February 6, and Mr. Skye himself will visit the store on Saturday, February 10 to celebrate its release. Go ahead and pre-order your copy now—then read our Q&A with the author below!

Welcome, 2018: Notes from Valerie's Messy Desk

Welcome, 2018! Last year was quite a year for all of us, wasn't it? We hosted wonderful events, from Kwame Alexander to Ree Drummond. We had to close during the worst of Harvey. People from all over rallied behind us and helped donate books to shelters and schools. The Astros won the World Series! (But don't ask me how many times I've had to watch the replay of Game 7.) Our holiday season went so fast that we hardly had time to breathe.

Book Bites: We Love the Truly Devious Woman in the Window

Welcome to our first round-up of staff reviews in 2018! The holidays are always a great time to get some cozy reading in, and we certainly did. The new year has a lot of wonderful titles in store for you, and we’re very excited for the upcoming author events and reading festivals.

Come meet author Matt de la Peña and illustrator Loren Long of Love at the Bookworm Festival on February 3rd. Love is one of the most stunning picture books we’ve ever come across, and we know it’s going to have a special place in your home. Also on the docket: The intrepid Maureen Johnson will be at TeenBookCon on March 24th — check out her latest, Truly Devious, an awesome mystery that we couldn’t put down. Of course, there’s more magic below. Happy reading!

The Best Books of 2017

We read a lot. A lot, a lot. Ever seen our back room? The ceiling is probably propped up by all the ARCs. And we read as many of them as we can.

This year was a strong one for new books, and it was difficult to choose just a few titles to include in our “Best Books of 2017” list. But choose we did, and amazing they are. Just consider this your holiday shopping guide—we promise you won’t be disappointed.

Holiday Favorites and a Taste of Texas: Notes from Valerie's Messy Desk

Have you figured out the bolthole entrance off of Memorial into our shopping center? Hopefully the construction will move along and get our other entrances back open soon. But if you do work your way to us, we have so many books, games, and puzzles to delight you that it will be worth it!

We reviewed some of our favorite holiday books on the blog this week. Some are new and some are old standards. And if we get more snow (what was that all about?), you can snuggle in with a cup of hot chocolate and read away.

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