Princesses Behaving Badly

Princesses Behaving BadlyIn Bas Bleu’s Spring 2014 catalog, we debuted Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History—Without the Fairy-Tale Endings, an engaging collection of mini-biographies of some of history’s most intriguing royal women. This week we sat down with author Linda Rodriguez McRobbie to discuss the challenges of separating truth from fiction, America’s fascination with the British, and why being a princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Continue reading

January Book a Month: The Girls of Atomic City

GirlsofAtomicCityIn Bas Bleu’s Holiday 2013 catalog, we debuted our 2014 Book a Month series, an eclectic collection of twelve carefully selected titles for discerning readers. Each month here in the Bluestocking Salon, we’ll offer discussion questions about the featured work—for book clubs as well as thoughtful individuals. You may use the questions to reflect back on each book once you’ve finished it or to guide you as you read. Either way, we hope these features will enrich your reading experience. (We’ll do our best to avoid plot spoilers, but you should proceed with caution!)

Our January selection is The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan. Bas Bleu reviewer KG tells us why she devoured this fascinating book:

I grew up in east Tennessee, about a hundred miles south of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. My grandparents hailed from a tiny town just down the road from where the Clinton Engineer Works (CEW) was built. Yet for most of my life I’ve known little about the place other than that it played a crucial role in the development of the atomic bomb. Not only did Denise’s book provide a ‘local’ with an in-depth look into the history of the place, it gave me an inkling of what must have been a tremendous upheaval for my grandparents’ native community. Continue reading

“When in the course of human events…”

US_flag_13_stars_–_Betsy_RossIn 2012, Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed The Declaration of Independence debuted in the Bas Bleu catalog. Our readers loved it, and since then we’ve added Signing Their Rights Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed The United States Constitution and the trivia-packed Stuff Every American Should Know. All three books were penned by Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese, to whom we will be eternally grateful for reminding us just how much fun American history can be.

This week, in honor of Independence Day, Denise and Joe were kind enough to sit down with Bas Bleu’s editors and answer a few questions about the Founding Fathers, their legacy, and what contemporary politicians still have to learn from the men who created our great nation.  Continue reading

Ex Libris (Or: This Book is Mine, So Hands Off!)

Bookplate_of_Edgar_Rice_BurroughsLongtime Bas Bleu readers have noticed that our catalog offerings over the years occasionally include sets of bookplates and other book-personalizing items (see our From the Library of… Stamp). Decorative paper labels, also known as ex libris, are a stylish way to brand books from your personal library as your own, dramatically increasing the odds of having them returned to your shelves after being lent out to friends. Affixed inside the front cover, contemporary bookplates usually include a pre-printed image, perhaps the words “from the library of” or “ex libris,” and a blank space in which to write the owner’s name.

Recently, this all-star collection compiled by the list-makers over at Buzzfeed got us to thinking: where, exactly, did bookplates originate? We did a little digging, and here’s what we found: Continue reading