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Dad and Daughter Make A Book: Joy Interviews Caldecott Winner Matthew Cordell

One of the picture books I’ve been eagerly anticipating is finally here: Caldecott’s Medal winner (WOLF IN THE SNOW) Matthew Cordell’s KING ALICE, about a little girl and her family stuck indoors on a snowy day. When Alice’s dad suggests she create her own book to combat snow day boredom, all sorts of imaginative shenanigans ensue!

So imagine my delight when I was able to interview Matthew Cordell about his books, his family, winning the Caldecott and more! Here’s what Matthew had to say:

King Alice Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250047496
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Feiwel & Friends - September 25th, 2018

Joy Interviews Rachel Toalson, Author of THE COLORS OF THE RAIN

It’s my great pleasure today to get to chat with debut author Rachel Toalson, one of our wonderful Texas authors of books for young adults. She’ll be in store on Sunday, 9/23, discussing and signing her novel THE COLORS OF RAIN, which is set here in Houston, in the tumultuous 1970s.

Mapping Home: Fatimah Asghar's IF THEY COME FOR US

Poet Fatimah Asghar has written a substantial amount of striking and intimate work in her debut collection If They Come for Us. In this collection, Asghar digs into themes of national and personal identity, chronicling her development as a young immigrant into her teens and young adulthood in America. She relates a dissonance in her identity, the struggle to “Map Home” as she balances her people's history with her developing identity in America.

If They Come for Us: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525509783
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - August 7th, 2018

What Makes Brazos Bestsellers So Special

As you might know, we keep a running updated list of bestselling books each week. A lot of bookstores and organizations do this –– obviously there's a New York Times bestseller list, Publishers Weekly's list, and way, way more. But if you check out our bestselling books, often there's something very special to each title. Below, check out a few of this week's bestsellers and why we're so proud to share them.

Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316518963
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hachette Books - July 24th, 2018

Ibtihaj was the first Muslim-American woman to medal at the Olympic games, and has been named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People. If that alone isn't enough to thrill you, think about this: on the heels of starting her own clothing line, organization, AND inspiring the first hijabi Barbie (modeled after her likeness), Ibtihaj came to Brazos for a packed event, sharing both this title and the Young Readers version (also on our bestsellers list). Plus, she's on the SABER fencing squad. Now, that should thrill you.

Bluebird, Bluebird Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316363273
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mulholland Books - August 28th, 2018

Don’t know about Attica Locke? You should. She's the award-winning author of Pleasantville, Black Water Rising, and The Cutting Season, along with being a writer and producer for the show Empire. We've hosted her multiple times for her releases, at Brazos and in other locations (including our local library). Though Attica lives in LA now, she’s a Houston native, and we adore her smart, Houston area-based mystery fiction.

In Another Time Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062459916
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperTeen - August 28th, 2018

Caroline Leech is another locally-based author on our bestseller list, and we couldn’t be more proud! Though she’s a beloved Houston writer now, Caroline Leech grew up in Scotland, which informs the setting of her gorgeous, romantic historical fiction. We recently interviewed her about In Another Time, which is her second book. Check it out here.

After the Winter Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566895255
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - September 4th, 2018

We are thrilled to have Guadalupe Nettel’s After the Winter on our bestseller list for multiple reasons.

1. Most generally: we prize indie presses at Brazos (as you may know, based on our obsessive posts and recommendations). These presses do huge work representing independent thought and intellect, and as an indie bookstore, we share values with many of these fabulous folks. Coffee House Press is high on that list.

2. Our staff members are all big fans of Guadalupe Nettel’s work, from her short story collection, Natural Histories, to her last novel, The Body Where I Was Born

3. We interviewed her a few years ago, but now we’re actually bringing her to Houston! She will be at Brazos Bookstore later this month in conversation with Rodrigo Hasbun (author of The Affections). Check out the event page here, preorder a book to get personalized, and geek out with us on September 18!

Ticker: The Quest to Create an Artificial Heart Cover Image
ISBN: 9780804138000
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown - August 7th, 2018

While you may think of Houston merely as the city with the best bookstore in the world (har har), it’s home to so many integral industries and barrier-breaking individuals. Mimi Swartz, one of the editors at Texas Monthly, does a wonderful job of encapsulating the research process that went into creating the first artificial heart. This book is dazzling, featuring an array of characters (many of whom walk among us). Be still our hearts.

Ülrika's Favorite Back-to-School Gifts

Swing by Brazos Bookstore to find all the items listed in this video! 

Vengeance and Vulnerability: Joy Interviews Author Courtney Summers

I have been a fan of Courtney Summers’ work for awhile now. She is a fearless, hard-hitting YA writer, not afraid of putting on the page the issues that teenage girls face: sexual violence and poverty being just two. Her newest YA novel, Sadie, is simply brilliant -- the story of a girl seeking revenge for the brutal murder of her younger sister alternating with the transcript of a podcast about that same girl’s POV.

Sadie Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250105714
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wednesday Books - September 4th, 2018

Texas, Sexy Grocery Stores, and Making a Home: Alexis Interviews Luisa Muradyan, author of AMERICAN RADIANCE

I first heard Luisa Muradyan read her poetry on a cold and rainy night in the fall of 2016. It was a Glass Mountain event, one of the first readings I ever attended, so I didn’t even really know what was going on in the writing community yet, but I heard her read and thought she was simply amazing.

American Radiance (Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781496207753
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Nebraska Press - September 1st, 2018

Mark Reviews Bernardo Esquinca’s THE OWLS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM

Although he’s had more than seven books (novels and story collections) published in Spanish, THE OWLS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM is Bernardo Esquinca’s first collection in English. In a gorgeous bilingual edition, these stories introduce the English language reader to the strange, eerie world of Esquinca.

Broadening our Horizons in Kid Lit

One of the things I love best about my colleagues here at Brazos is that every day, we challenge each other to broaden our reading. Whether it’s Sara encouraging us to read Women in Translation or Mark getting excited about Latin American novels in translation or Keaton putting strange and wonderful literary gems in our hands or dozens of other moments, we collectively explore the world through the books we discover--and are able to pass on to our customers.

Dreamers Cover Image
ISBN: 9780823440559
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Neal Porter Books - September 4th, 2018

We will have this in both English and Spanish. The English version is effortlessly bilingual, and the illustrations are breathtaking. I’ve been a fan of Yuyi Morales since I heard her speak at the national SCBWI conference in LA, and I’ve made it a point to stock her book since I came to Brazos. Her picture book Horrendous Hermanitos, a bilingual wrestling adventure, is a store favorite. Dreamers is inspired by Yuyi’s own immigration story, and obviously it couldn’t be a more timely tale.

A Winter's Promise: Book One of the Mirror Visitor Quartet Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609454838
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Europa Editions - September 25th, 2018

We are so thrilled that this YA fantasy gem from a French author is now available in an impeccable translation. A girl named Ophelia who can read the past of objects. Who can travel through mirrors. And who gets promised off in marriage, sent far away to ‘a cold icy ark known as the Pole’ and realizes she is part of a political game that could affect everything she knows and loves. Winter’s Promise is being compared to American YA titles as Margaret Rogers’ An Enchantment of Ravens; Melissa Albert’s The Hazelwood; V.S. Schwab’s Shades of Magic, and our very popular summer reading title, Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone –– both in its fantasy content as well as the gorgeous scope of the store.

A note from Laura: This is Europa’s first foray into Young Adult novels and I couldn’t be more excited! You may know Europa Editions for their beloved adult titles such as Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series or Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog. A Winter's Promise is the first book in the world-wide best selling Mirror Visitor Quartet. A lush, romantic tale about family, duty, and discovering your independence, this book is going to be a crowd pleaser! 

August Is Women In Translation Month: A Book List

Welcome to August –– or as it's designated in my bullet journal, #WITMonth! Women In Translation Month is a relatively new term, started in 2014 by translator Meytal Radzinski to share the fairly dismal statistics around the percentage of female-authored books translated into English (read a great interview with her here).

Little Beast Cover Image
By Julie DeMers, Rhonda Mullins (Translator)
ISBN: 9781552453667
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coach House Books - April 24th, 2018

Little Beast is a singular, beautiful novella; its protagonist, a girl who is hidden away by her family. She knows she is different. Her parents argue about her monstrosity. When it seems the villagers have found her out, she escapes and makes her way into the forest. This book is a fairytale, but one turned on its head in order to question agency, groupthink, and forced normalcy of female bodies.

Pretty Things Cover Image
By Virginie Despentes, Emma Ramadan (Translator)
ISBN: 9781936932276
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Feminist Press - August 14th, 2018

I'm thrilled to see the English release of another Despentes book! Emma Ramadan has done so many amazing translations, and this one is no different. When one Paris twin, on the verge of musical stardom, commits suicide, the other must take her place in the world. Now alone, she takes on the role of a sexual icon, but all the while questioning what a woman is, and how she should act, to the public. Pretty Things is gritty and angry and all the things I wanted from an early-2000's feminist novel. 

Ms Ice Sandwich (Japanese Novellas #4) Cover Image
By Mieko Kawakami, Louise Heal Kawai (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781782273301
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pushkin Press - January 23rd, 2018

Sometimes novellas take the opportunity to grapple with huge cultural ideas, and sometimes they are just marvelous vignettes of one little life. This book is the latter. This little nugget concerns a boy's first love: the woman making sandwiches behind the counter at his local grocery store. It's funny, it's precious, and it's thoughtful. The Pushkin Japanese Novellas series can't seem to do wrong, so check out the rest of them, too. 

The Iliac Crest Cover Image
By Sarah Booker (Translator), Cristina Rivera Garza, Elena Poniatowska (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781558614352
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Feminist Press - October 10th, 2017

I hope you didn't miss Cristina Rivera Garza's 2017 visit to Brazos for THE ILIAC CREST's release! If you did, fear not –– this strange, dark tale is still on our shelves and continues to be a staff favorite. One stormy night, two strangers invade a man's home and harass him endlessly, claiming to know a secret –– that he isn't a man at all, but in fact, a woman. THE ILIAC CREST is timely and ferocious. Plus, Garza is a Houstonian! We host her again on October 1st for the release of her STUPENDOUS next book, THE TAIGA SYNDROME. Be there.

Poso Wells Cover Image
By Gabriela Aleman, Dick Cluster (Translator)
ISBN: 9780872867550
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: City Lights Books - July 15th, 2018

This book has had my heart for months. In a thrilling political noir, a corrupt group of politicians, led by a suave political candidate, suddenly go ablaze when the electricity shorts out. Meanwhile, the real social struggles of the area are able to come to light, thanks to a journalist and a dogged local woman: that women have been disappearing from the Poso Wells settlement without notice, and that the area's forest reserves are being plundered by a mysterious magnate. Alemán rounds up ecoterrorism, corruption, political action, journalism, and a hefty dose of humor in this slim book. POSO WELLS is NOT to be missed. 

There are a few more books I simply have to mention that haven't come out yet, but that are already on my list of top books for the year.

Keep an eye out for AFTER THE WINTER, a gorgeous novel by Guadalupe Nettel that seems to exceed every standard for fiction. We host Nettel September 18, so if you are in Houston, please mark your calendars!

THE NAKED WOMAN, by Armonia Somers, is coming out from Feminist Press in October. After being published in Ecuador in 1950, critics doubted the gender of its author due to the shocking content. It's a fabulist little fever dream, feminist, biblical, bodily and strange, and definitely worth a look.

THE LONESOME BODYBUILDER is a collection of short stories by Yukiko Motoya, and it's out in November. It already has fabulous reception with the likes of Kenzaburo Oe and Hiromi Kawakami, so, hello. This is a splendid book for fans of the playful, the fabulist, and the alien.

Last but not least, I am shrieking about the release of REVOLUTION SUNDAY, by  Cuban author Wendy Guerra. Her main character, Cloe, explores the ins and outs of poetry, surveillance, and private/public absurdities in 2000s Cuba. Plus, it's been translated by Achy Obejas, a marvelous author in her own right.