Two years ago, the “Peace is Always Beautiful” Art Block debuted in the Bas Bleu catalog. We were charmed by the whimsical illustration, the thoughtful quotation, and the wonderfully bookish detail of a canvas backed with book pages. Our readers liked the art block as much as we did, and since then Bas Bleu has partnered with artist Michelle Ciarlo-Hayes on a half-dozen lovely little keepsakes (and an inspired collection of greeting cards set to debut in our Winter 2021 edition next month). Today in the Bluestocking Salon, Michelle took a break from her studio to talk to us about the pros and cons of working with salvaged materials, the shift in focus created by the pandemic, and how she first “met” Bas Bleu. Continue reading
We’ll hazard a guess that, at least once in your life, you’ve fantasized about packing up your life and moving to (what feels like) a different world—an idyllic small town, a bustling metropolis, a remote windswept isle… In J. F. Riordan’s sparkling North of the Tension line series, a writer does just that, moving from Chicago to a sparsely populated island in Door County, Wisconsin. Her ensuing small-town adventures are presented with enormous heart throughout this delightful series. Today in the Bluestocking Salon, Bas Bleu sat down (virtually, no masks required!) with novelist J. F. Riordan to learn more about why she chose Door County as her setting, how opera helped shape her novelist’s voice, and what effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on her writing. Continue reading
A House of Ghosts by W. C. Ryan debuted in Bas Bleu’s Spring Reading Collection: Mysteries, and we’d hoped to interview the novelist several months ago. But then the world went into lockdown, and A House of Ghosts was among the many novels flying off the shelves to entertain readers hunkered down at home. Thankfully, inventory has improved in recent weeks, and this spooky tale is back in stock! The historical mystery about a remote house party in World War I-era England, where secrets simmer and ghosts swarm, kept our reviewer up reading long past her bedtime. Recently (and without giving away any spoilers!), W. C. Ryan spoke to us from his home in England about the popularity of spiritualism during World War I, the authors and experiences that influence his work, and the romantic power of a pack of good books. Continue reading
Two months ago, the COVID-19 crisis arrived on our doorstep. (We much prefer to receive book deliveries, thank you very much!) It’s been a whirlwind experience for Bas Bleu’s staff, just as it has been for most Americans. We’ve received a lot of questions from customers over the last few weeks, asking how is Bas Bleu handling the COVID-19 crisis? We thought we’d answer a few of your most common questions here in the Bluestocking Salon.
Q: Is Bas Bleu still open?
A: Yes! We’re packing and shipping orders five days a week. Continue reading
It’s not unusual for Bas Bleu to receive multiple Reader Reviews or customer recommendations for a single title…but usually these roll in over the course of several years. Last fall, our editors noticed a decidedly steady influx of Reader Reviews for Kim Michele Richardson’s novel The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. One reader even sent us a copy of the book! We took a closer look and were immediately enchanted by the moving fictional tale of Cussy Mary Carter, a young woman born with unusual blue-tinted skin who defies poverty and prejudice to serve her community as a pack horse librarian in rural 1930s Kentucky. Recently, we had the opportunity to chat with the author about the incredible real-life people who inspired her characters, the importance of recognizing overlooked women in history, and the librarian who made a difference in her life. Continue reading
How often do you look to see who published the book you’re reading? If you answered “rarely, if ever,” you’re not alone. Few readers concern themselves with publisher IDs, more focused on the stories and the authors who write them. But book publishers are not all the same, not by a long shot. Bas Bleu works with hundreds of publishers—of all different sizes and both broad and narrow scope. One of our long-running partnerships is with Sourcebooks, which we’ve watched grow into the largest woman-owned publisher in North America. This week, Sourcebooks publisher and founder Dominique Raccah took a break from her busy schedule to talk to us about starting her own company, the importance of publishing women’s stories, and the timeless tales of Georgette Heyer. Continue reading
Dear Mrs. Bird, one of the twelve titles chosen by Bas Bleu’s editors for our Summer Reading Collection, initially was pre-selected for our upcoming Book a Month 2020 package. But we couldn’t wait that long to share this sparkling novel with you! Penned by debut novelist AJ Pearce, Dear Mrs. Bird follows Emmy Lake as she chases her dream of becoming a reporter…all the while trying to stay positive (and alive!) in London during the Blitz. This week, we’re chatting with Pearce about the impulse buy that inspired her novel, the crucial role of female friendships in women’s lives, and the importance of optimism even in the worst of times. Continue reading
A Bas Bleu Mysteries Book a Month 2019 pick, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle has the feel of a classic murder mystery, but with a unique twist: The protagonist, Aiden Bishop, is stuck in a time loop, where he inhabits the body of a different guest of an isolated country estate every day until he figures out who will murder/has murdered Evelyn Hardcastle. It’s an enthralling, poignant look at humanity wrapped up in an Agatha Christie-inspired whodunit. This week, we had the pleasure of (virtually) sitting down with the author, Stuart Turton, to chat about how his journalism career informed his fiction writing, the tricks he used to keep his complex plot in order, and how “killing your darlings” really can make a better book. Continue reading
Bas Bleu’s December 2018 Book a Month pick, Last Christmas in Paris, is a heartfelt read any month of the year. But with Christmas only days away, and the multi-year commemoration of the World War I centennial drawing to a close, this historical novel by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb is a timely choice for your end-of-year reading. This week in the Bluestocking Salon, we’re talking with the authors about the technicalities of co-writing a novel (while living in different countries!), the importance of addressing PTSD when discussing WWI, and the unique benefits of old-fashioned letter writing. Continue reading
Mystery and adventure blend with kid-friendly political suspense in The Great Hibernation by Tara Dairman, a Bas Bleu Young Readers Book A Month 2018 pick. This wonderful novel is set in St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord, a tiny coastal town with some bizarre traditions—like the eating of the sacred bear liver on every Founder’s Day, a practice that, due to a town ordinance, is mandatory for every citizen twelve and older. But when a mysterious slumber falls upon the town, it’s up to twelve-year-old Jean and the rest of St. Polonius-on-the-Fjord’s kids to keep the town running until they can solve the riddle of their parents’ slumber. In our exclusive interview with author Tara Dairman, she talks about why she chose to write for middle-grade readers, how traveling informs her writing, and how learning to cook from a book changed her life. Continue reading