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

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

The Women in the Castle: Q&A with Jessica Shattuck

Our January selection for Bas Bleu’s Bluestocking Book a Month 2018 package isn’t for the faint of heart: Jessica Shattuck’s The Women in the Castle not only tackles the desperation of life in Europe immediately following World War II, it does so from the points of view of three non-Jewish German women. The titular characters are virtual strangers when they come together, linked only by a pre-war promise made by one of the women to their husbands, a vow to help the wives and children survive if the men were killed in an attempted coup. Recently, Jessica Shattuck took a break from her national book tour to answer our questions about the importance of studying “ordinary Germans,” building strong connections between disparate characters, and the role of WWII stories in 2018. (We’ve endeavored to avoid spoilers, but proceed with caution!) Continue reading

Marcel’s Letters: Q&A with Carolyn Porter

Carolyn Porter never set out to become a biographer…or a detective! A graphic designer for more than twenty years, she had long entertained the idea of designing her own font. But what she thought would be a small side gig blossomed into a fifteen-year labor of love—and the inspiration for one of our January Book a Month selections, Marcel’s Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man’s Fate—when she stumbled upon a collection of letters written by a Frenchman imprisoned in a German labor camp during World War II. The adventure that unfolded is by turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, resulting in what our reviewer hailed as a “one-of-a-kind memoir.” Today in the Bluestocking Salon, Carolyn chats with us about the emotional legacy of her transcontinental quest to learn Marcel’s story, what it takes to be a type designer, and the importance of handwritten letters in a digital age.  Continue reading

December Book a Month: A Man Called Ove

As part of Bas Bleu’s 2017 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions, author interviews, or other bonus material about our Bluestocking BAM selection to enrich your reading experience—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!)

We know December is a busy month for many, as preparations for and celebrations of the holiday season take a serious toll on your downtime. But we think you’ll appreciate the extra assignment that comes with our December Book a Month selection! After you’ve read Fredrik Backman’s novel A Man Called Ove, watch the Academy Award–nominated Swedish film of the same name. (Yes, it has subtitles, but they’re easy to get used to.) Then, take a look at editor KG’s reflections on the book versus the film. (WARNING: Spoilers ahead!) Continue reading

November Book a Month: The Golden Age

As part of Bas Bleu’s 2017 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions, author interviews, or other bonus material about our Bluestocking BAM selection to enrich your reading experience—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!)

Our November Book a Month selection, The Golden Age by Joan London (NOT Joan Lunden!), tackles a topic Americans don’t hear much about anymore: polio. Cheerful, right? Now, now, hear us out! Yes, The Golden Age revolves around Frank Gold, a young wartime refugee from Hungary who contracts polio in Australia. And, yes, the novel offers readers insight into the terrible infectious disease. But despite—or perhaps because of—his experiences in the war and in the hospital (which once was a pub), Frank is a passionate budding poet, and thus his story becomes an ode to beauty, love, family, life, death, and survival. Praised by our reviewer as “elegant and touching,” this quiet novel is a terrific choice for book clubs, promising rich discussions. Continue reading

Our 2018 Book a Month Packages Are Here!

Our Holiday 2017 catalog is arriving in mailboxes any minute now, and among the amazing gifts packed into its pages you’ll find our Book a Month packages for the coming year! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Bas Bleu’s Book a Month program, the premise is simple: Treat your favorite bibliophile (who may be you!) to an entire year’s worth of terrific books, shipped either all at once or on a monthly basis throughout 2018. Continue reading

October Book a Month: Whom the Gods Love

As part of Bas Bleu’2017 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions, author interviews, or other bonus material about our Bluestocking BAM selection to enrich your reading experience—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!)

Our October 2017 Book a Month selection, Whom the Gods Love by Kate Ross, stars Regency-era dandy Julian Kestrel as an amateur sleuth charged with investigating the murder of a handsome, charming, and successful “golden boy” of Victorian London’s social scene. As the Regency dandy is a familiar figure to fans of historical fiction, we thought you’d be interested in learning more about that fine fellow…and his surprising role in English society and politics. For help, we turned to our friends at Felony & Mayhem, publishers of “the best in intelligent mystery fiction.” Here’s what they had to say: Continue reading

September Book a Month: Clementine

As part of Bas Bleu’s 2017 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions, author interviews, or other bonus material about our Bluestocking BAM selection to enrich your reading experience—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!)

You may think you know everything worth knowing about Winston Churchill. But we suspect you don’t know just how responsible his wife, Clementine Churchill, was for his success—or how fascinating she was in her own right! Our September 2017 Book a Month selection, Clementine by Sonia Purnell, is an absorbing biography of the ambitious, opinionated, always stylish Mrs. Churchill, a clear-eyed portrait of a complex woman too long ignored by history.  Continue reading

August Book a Month: Our Souls at Night

As part of Bas Bleu’s 2017 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions, author interviews, or other bonus material about our Bluestocking BAM selection to enrich your reading experience—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!)

Aging is as inevitable as the turning of the seasons, and the potential loneliness that comes with it is a singular challenge. Our August 2017 Book a Month selection, Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, transcends the generational gap—though on the surface it’s a story about aging, all the characters, both young and old, struggle with friendship, love, trust, and second chances. Quietly compelling and brimming with joy and heartache, Our Souls at Night reminds us that, no matter our age, we long for deep relationships and real, lasting connection. Continue reading