Recommendations and Reviews

Highlights of what we've been reading and loving.

Book Bites: Reads For Your Isolation Rotation

We’ve been keeping busy here at the shop, but not in the way we’re used to. Our happy place, usually bustling with life and laughter, has turned eerily silent. Instead, we’re processing web orders, answering phones, and arranging books, puzzles, and games for curbside pickup. You’ve been so generous with your support, and we’ll never forget the gratitude we’ve felt over the last few weeks. We’ll get through this together, and we’re so looking forward to seeing you all on the other side. Until then, books are some of the best company we can keep. While away some time, escape to another world, or try on a different life for a few hours—books are essential, and we’ve got recommendations for readers of all ages. Stay well, friends, and read on.

Book Bites: Stocking Up

Friends, we’ve been so moved by your support over the last week. Our online orders have spiked, the phone’s been ringing off the hook, and so many of you have stopped by to browse or to take advantage of our curbside delivery program. Small businesses across the country are facing closure and uncertainty. We feel immeasurably lucky to belong to such a kind, generous, compassionate community. 

One thing's for sure: We’re going to need a lot of reading material to get through the next few weeks! To that end, here’s an all-ages roundup of some of our favorite new and recent releases. Our inventory is changing rapidly—if we don’t have one of these titles on our shelves by the time you’re ready to buy, we’d be happy to order it in for you or recommend something similar. In the meantime, we’re wishing you all good health and happy reading.

Book Bites: Middle Grade Madness

March madness is here at Blue Willow! Not the one you’re thinking of, though—we’re talking about the explosion of exciting new books that are hitting our shelves. This week, we’re feeling especially giddy about our middle grade shelves, where we have four fantastic recommendations for you to check out. If that’s not quite your lane, fret not! We’re based in Houston, after all—if there’s one thing we have lots of, it’s lanes. So merge on over to a must-read YA collaboration between Jason Reynolds and Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. Or, speed through a few terrific novels. There’s a great rom-com follow-up that we know you’ll love, and a powerful WWII-era book from Jennifer Rosner. To cap it all off, Alice just loved the new book by the legendary Louise Erdrich. Get comfy, folks—there’s some serious reading to be done.

Book Bites: Alice-Approved

Spring is right around the corner, our events calendar is cookin’, and waves of great new books are hitting our shelves every week. Today, we’ve prepared a seven-course literary feast. First up is a wonderful new picture book that’s full of empowering themes. After that, we move on to a heartwarming middle grade novel by one of our favorite authors. Our dear globe-trotting Alice, whom we miss very much, weighs in from her Vietnam vacation with a whopping four novel recommendations. No matter what you like to read, one of them is sure to catch your eye. Finally, we close things out with a new cookbook devoted to one of our favorite family-and-friends traditions: Sunday dinner. So dig in!

Book Bites: Perfectly Perfect Picks

Friends, it’s time to clear some space on your bookshelves. This week, we’ve got a Book Bites classic on our hands—seven great new titles, covering all ages, each one of them beloved by at least one (and usually more!) members of our staff. In the mood for a pitch-perfect picture book? We can show you two. Catch a case of middle grade mania? The wonderful Sara Pennypacker has written just the book for you. Do you stan YA? We’ve got a fabulous Houston-set YA love story that we've been excited about for ten months. And if none of that suits your mood, how about a trio of new novels that mark that start of breezy spring reading season? Whatever you choose, you won’t be disappointed. Read on!

Book Bites: Bookworm Beckons!

In just a couple of weeks, we’re taking our show on the road and heading to Jersey Village High School for our annual Bookworm Festival for emerging readers. It’s been so rewarding to watch the festival grow over the years—and equally rewarding to immerse ourselves in the always-delightful world of the picture book. This week, we’re featuring a pair of efforts by Bookworm authors in our list of recent favorites. Check the full author lineup on the festival website to see who else will be in attendance, then come join us on February 1! It’s going to be a wonderful morning.

Of course, we’ve been reading plenty of other books, too—including something new by one of our favorite YA authors and a powerful novel. So whether you’re here for picture books, novels, or something in between, read on!

Book Bites: A New Year of Reading

As the holiday season comes to a close and our events calendar starts to fill back up, we’re delighted to welcome you to another year full of books, author signings, and conversation among friends. There’s nothing quite like turning the page on a new year of reading—you know that you’re bound to find a few titles that will rank among your forever-favorites, but you have no idea what they’ll be. That’s where we come in. Below, you’ll find some of our stand-out favorites from the first month of 2020—from tender picture books to wonderful new novels, with a real show-stopper of a memoir thrown in for good measure. Read on!

Book Bites: Teen Choice

YA lit is where it’s happening, friends. Have you noticed? Here at the shop, we pride ourselves on our teen section, and on bringing some of the best YA writers in the game to our annual TeenBookCon festival each spring. Of course, we couldn’t do any of it without a community of thoughtful, engaged young readers. We’re so grateful to everyone who has joined our Teen and Young Adult Reviewer Program, where we collect reviews from readers ages thirteen to twenty-four to help us understand which books y’all are excited to read, and which authors we should bring to town. Today, we’re featuring a selection of those reviews, in our first-ever “teen choice” reviews roundup! Read on.

(Pssst. Want in on the reviewing action? Participating in our teen reviewer program is easy. All you have to do is submit reviews of books you love through this form. At the end of every month, we'll draw the name of a random reviewer to win a $20 store gift card. Older than 24? Well, you don’t qualify for this program, but we’d still love to hear from you—stop by and chat books with us!)

The Best Books of 2019

2019 was a great one for new books. (Yes, we say that every year. So what? It's always true.) From fantastic debuts to satisfying series-cappers, there were hundreds upon hundreds of great books for any kind of reader. Here, we've chosen thirty of our absolute favorites from the year. 

Feel free to browse through all thirty titles, from breezy picture books all the way through to a 944-page history of our great state. Alternatively, use the links below to jump straight to the section of your choice. Be sure to read the author Q&As, where applicable—it's such a treat to hear more from the people who create such splendid stories. Finally, we'd love for you to come and visit us in the shop sometime soon—we’re here to help you shop for the holidays, and we're eager to talk about each of the books on our list.

Happy reading, friends.

Book Bites: Sisters, Planets, Stepkids, Book Clubs, Ghosts

Howdy, friends! November is in the air, the holidays are around the corner, and we’re putting a bow on another year of fantastic reading with our final roundup of great new releases for the year. Stay tuned in two weeks for our mega-post featuring our very favorite books of 2019. After that, we’ll have a fun roundup of “teen choice” reviews from our teen and young adult reviewer program. And just like that, it’ll be 2020! You still have time to squeeze a few more great books into your TBR stack before the calendar flips, though, right? Of course you do. Read on!

Pages