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

Women in (Literary) History

Throughout time, women have overcome countless barriers to rise up and make their mark on humanity. March is Women’s History Month, and today is International Women’s Day, and Bas Bleu could think of no better way to celebrate than by recognizing ten of the myriad of women whose writings have impacted the world. Some names are probably familiar, while others may be new to you, but all of these women wrote works that influenced the course of history—literary or otherwise. Continue reading

February Book a Month: Lilac Girls Q&A with Martha Hall Kelly

lilac-girlsAs 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!)

More than seventy years have passed since World War II ended, yet stories of heroism and horror during that global conflict continue to emerge. Novelist Martha Hall Kelly tapped a real-life, little-known story of one American’s wartime efforts in order to write Lilac Girls, our “riveting, sometimes brutal” February 2017 Book a Month selection. The novel traces the experiences of three women—American socialite Caroline Ferriday, Polish teenager Kasia Kuzmerick, and concentration-camp doctor Herta Oberheuser—during and after the war. Recently the author took a break from her busy writing schedule to answer several (we had so many!) questions about this remarkable story. Continue reading

When Books Went to War: Q&A with Molly Guptill Manning

When Books Went to WarAs part of Bas Bleu’s 2016 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!)

Every day at Bas Bleu, we celebrate the extraordinary power of books to shape the lives of those who read them. So is it any wonder we fell in love the moment we read our May Book a Month selection, When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped Us Win World War II? It’s the fascinating true story of the influence of books on the U.S. armed forces during World War II, and includes an inspiring account of the lengths the American government, local libraries, and private citizens went to provide inspiration, entertainment, and solace to our fighting forces. This week in the Bluestocking Salon, author Molly Guptill Manning explains how she uncovered this heartwarming story, what it teaches us about war that history textbooks can’t, and the novels she fell in love with along the way. Continue reading

March 2015 Book a Month: Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy

Liar Temptress Soldier SpyAs part of Bas Bleu’s 2015 Book a Month program, each month we’re offering discussion questions, author interviews, or other bonus materials 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!)

William Faulkner once wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” In this month’s Book a Month selection—Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War—author Karen Abbott guides readers through a pivotal period of American history, chronicling the lives of four inimitable women whose extraordinary choices helped to shape our nation’s bloodiest conflict. This week, Karen stopped by Bas Bleu’s Bluestocking Salon to talk about her proclivity for writing about rule-breaking women, paying homage to “soldiers” who fought in the shadows, and even to offer us a few book suggestions. Continue reading

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