Odd Child Out: An Interview with Gilly Macmillan

As one of our Mysteries Book a Month 2018 selections, Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan transports readers to Bristol, England, where a prank gone wrong leaves one boy in the hospital and his best friend—a Somali refugee in a British community already simmering with tension—in the hot seat. As the suspenseful novel unfolds, both boys’ families are forced to take a hard look at long-suppressed secrets…and face hard truths. This week in the Bluestocking Salon, Gilly Macmillan took a break from her busy writing schedule to chat with us about narrative voice, the importance of fiction in placing readers in the minds of others, and being a visual writer. Continue reading

One Shadow on the Wall: An Interview with Leah Henderson

 

Bas Bleu’s July Book a Month 2018 selections transport readers around the world, including to Africa in our Young Readers pick, One Shadow on the Wall by Leah Henderson. Set in modern-day Senegal, the novel follows a young boy named Mor as he struggles to support himself and his two sisters after the death of their parents, endeavoring to honor his promise to his father to keep their little family together. With an endearing protagonist and a touch of magical realism, One Shadow on the Wall is a heartfelt story about perseverance, loyalty, and family. This week in the Bluestocking Salon, we’re chatting with author Leah Henderson about her literary inspiration, her globetrotting adventures, and the children’s books that influenced her. Continue reading

Artist Profile: Merrie Buchsbaum

Books are our first love at Bas Bleu, but our longtime readers know we have a soft spot for unique gift items as well. When our buyers spied Merrie Buchsbaum’s handmade Garden Pens—pretty writing instruments made from real flowers—at a trade show last winter, we knew we’d found something special. Roses, hydrangeas, and lavender are blooming now in our summer gardens, but these beautiful pens will keep their beauty year round. Today in the Bluestocking Salon, we’re chatting with artist Merrie Buchsbaum about creating these cool pens and how she earned her hard-won reputation as “the flower lady.” Continue reading

Design for Dying: An Interview with Renee Patrick

Film and fashion fans know Edith Head as the Academy Award-winning costume designer who dressed Grace Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Hedy Lamarr, and other silver-screen starlets. In Bas Bleu’s June Book a Month 2018 selection, Design for Dying, Edith is still an up-and-comer at Paramount Pictures when she meets Lillian Frost, the narrator of this “effervescent whodunit.” Together, the two women join forces to solve a murder in 1930s Hollywood, in a historical mystery penned by the husband-and-wife team of Rosemarie and Vince Keenan under the pseudonym Renee Patrick. This week in the Bluestocking Salon, we’re chatting with Rosemarie and Vince (referred to collectively as Renee) about the allure of Hollywood, the importance of Edith and Lillian’s friendship, and how they stay married while writing a novel together. Continue reading

BookExpo 2018: A Convention of Readers

Ever since Bas Bleu mailed our first catalog in 1994, readers have asked: “How do you find these wonderful books?” The truth is our editors are always on the lookout for books we think you’d like, perusing magazine and newspaper book reviews, exploring recommendations from friends and customers, browsing local libraries and used bookstores, even skimming authors’ and book lovers’ blogs, Facebook posts, and Twitter threads. One essential resource for us is the publishing industry itself, staffed by passionate bibliophiles who spend their days creating and promoting books. We’re in contact with our publisher sales reps throughout the year, but every spring we get the chance to meet in person at BookExpo. 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

<img src="patriotic frankie.jpg" alt="piebald dachshund wearing patriotic collar">

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