Outside In: An Interview with Jennifer Bradbury

Selected for Bas Bleu’s Young Adult Book a Month 2018 package, Outside In by Jennifer Bradbury tells the story of a boy named Ram, living on the streets of Chandigarh, India, and his discovery of a magnificent garden of sculptures—created in secret by a factory worker named Nek. Inspired by the true story of Nek Chand, one of India’s most beloved artists, this enchanting novel entwines Ram and Nek’s story with a retelling of the Ramayana—the epic tale of two brothers, Rama and Lakshmana, and the beautiful princess Sita. A heartwarming tale of trust, healing, and family, Outside In provides an intriguing glimpse into life in India. Today in the Bluestocking Salon, Jennifer Bradbury talks to us about her own experience in India, how her high-school students help her write, and her claim to fame as a Jeopardy! contestant. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: Making the Royal Wedding Mug

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that on May 19, Queen Elizabeth’s grandson Prince Harry will marry actress and humanitarian Meghan Markle. The wedding marks the first time in eighty years an American has married into the British royal family, a ceremony to be attended by 1,200 guests and likely watched by more than a billion people around the world. Because Bas Bleu is proudly American—but royally charmed—we decided to commemorate the occasion by offering the Royal Wedding Mug in our Spring 2018 edition. Customer response was immediate and enthusiastic, creating such a surprise bestseller among our Anglophile readers that we decided to take you behind the scenes of the oh-so-English method for making these wonderful royal souvenirs. Continue reading

Frankie: Ode to a Bas Bleu Dachshund

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You may have noticed a lot of books and products about pets in the pages of Bas Bleu. Not only do our editors love cats and dogs, but so many of our customers hold a special place in their hearts for furry friends. Today in the Bluestocking Salon, editor AG introduces readers to her beloved dachshund Frankie, Bas Bleu’s unofficial canine mascot (notice his striking “bleu” eyes) and the inspiration behind many of our dachshund-themed offerings. Continue reading

From the Bas Bleu Mailbag

April is National Letter Writing Month, and a wonderful reminder to us of the joys of writing and receiving “old-fashioned” snail mail. Last April, we wrote about the irreplaceable value of paper mail in a digital world and issued a letter-writing challenge to all of our readers. This year, we thought it would be fun to dig into the Bas Bleu mailbag and share with you some of the recent letters our editors have received. Because in the midst of writing catalog copy, sorting through piles of books, embarking upon reading marathons, and posting on Twitter, Facebook, and this blog, we still get excited when the mail carrier delivers a letter or card from one of our readers. (And it’s not every day someone uses the phrase “sultry feminine charm” to describe our catalog!)  Continue reading

The Last Castle: Q&A with Denise Kiernan

Biltmore Estate (by JcPollock)

If you’ve visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, and think you know everything there is to know about the magnificent house and those that built it…think again! Denise Kiernan’s The Last Castle, a Bas Bleu Book a Month 2018 selection, offers readers a deeper dive into the fascinating history of the the Vanderbilt family, the brilliant minds that conceived and created Biltmore, and the major events and figures in America’s past that shaped it. Recently, Denise took a break from her writing schedule to share her inspiration, the lessons she’s learned from her writing life, and Biltmore’s role in the preservation of America’s natural resources. Continue reading

Why Read Poetry?

If you, like Bas Bleu’s reviewers, were an English major in college, chances are good you owned at least one poetry anthology the size of a large brick. Some of us still have one, lugging it from dorm to apartment to house as time passed and our personal libraries grew. But how many of us crack it open on a regular basis, poring over the tissue-thin pages to soak up the words of William Shakespeare, Christina Rossetti, Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Rumi, Pablo Neruda, e. e. Cummings, Anne Sexton, and Audre Lorde? And how many of us count World Poetry Day among our favorite holidays? Continue reading

Celebrating Women’s History Month…with Books!

March is Women’s History Month, an occasion to celebrate the important—and too-often overlooked, ignored, or flat-out denied—contributions of the female half of the world’s population. To honor the spirit of our namesake bluestockings, those learned literary women of the eighteenth century, Bas Bleu has long championed books by and about extraordinary women. (If you don’t already know, Bas Bleu was founded by a woman, and our editorial and purchasing departments are staffed entirely by women.) You can find female-centric reads in the pages of our catalogs and on our website year-round, but today we’re highlighting ten titles we think are worth moving to the top of your TBR pile during Women’s History Month. Continue reading

The Books That Shape Us: Animalia

From time to time, Bas Bleu’s editors will share with you some of the books that have had a profound impact on our lives. They won’t necessarily be grand literary classics or hard-hitting political tomes. They will be books that have stayed with us over the years and shaped who we are. If you’d like to share a significant title from your own life, feel free to do so in the comments section below.

I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I first discovered Animalia by Graeme Base in our local library. The book was first published in 1986, so it’s quite possible I stumbled upon it fairly young. What I do remember is checking it out many times and spending hours upon hours engrossed in its oversized pages, often with my siblings or my mom, seeing all that we could discover in the bright, elaborate illustrations. Continue reading

The Last Place You Look: Q&A With Kristen Lepionka

Our February pick for our Mystery Book A Month 2018 is The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka. It’s a twisty mystery featuring Roxane Weary, a PI struggling with the death of her father, a cop killed in the line of duty. Determined to drown her sorrows in whiskey, Roxane begrudgingly takes a case for the sister of a man on death row, hoping to prove his innocence before he’s executed in a few weeks’ time. The investigation turns up more than Roxane bargained for, especially once she discovers a link to a cold case her father had worked on. This week, Kristen was kind enough to answer a few of Bas Bleu’s questions about her writing process, how much of herself she recognizes in the characters she creates, and even gives a demonstration of how to pick a lock! Continue reading