Books, Beans & Brews: The Winter Institute Conference

Plus this week's featured books!

By Samantha JacquestKENOSHA.COM

Samantha Jacquest is the owner of Blue House Books, Kenosha's full-service independent bookstore in Downtown Kenosha. Sam loves sharing her love of books with the community and bringing in popular and local authors for events. When not at her shop, Sam enjoys traveling and spending time Downtown with her friends, family, and rescue dog Flash.

Hello from Cincinnati! As I write this I am attending breakfast at the American Bookseller Association’s Winter Institute conference in Cincinnati, Ohio! This is an annual gathering of independent booksellers, publishers big and small, authors, and other book industry professionals. This event is HUGE with hundreds of booksellers, and Casey and I are so excited to be here!

We are attending education sessions that will help us make Blue House Books even better, hearing from publishers about new books they’re excited about, meeting authors, and getting a TON of books! So far we have met Erik Larson, author of Devil in the White City, and Casey McQuiston, author of Red, White and Royal Blue, and tons more of new and veteran writers.

It’s because of the endless support from our customers and followers that we can afford to close the store for a few days and have this amazing experience. We will be back to normal hours starting on Thursday, February 15th ready to talk about all the exciting new things we have learned and the new books we’re most excited about! 

Be sure to check out all our fun pictures on our Facebook and Instagram!

Instead of providing a book review for this article, I’m going to talk about a few upcoming books Casey and I are most excited about! All the titles are linked to the Blue House Books website, and we would love to see your pre-orders rolling in! We also have this list of even more books that we’re excited about!

Romance author Ali Hazelwood’s latest STEAM-based love story is releasing in June. Not in Love follows Rue and Eli, competitors and now lovers involved in a secret affair with a firm deadline on their whirlwind passion, but the heart is risky business—one that plays for keeps.

Erik Larson is back with another narrative nonfiction title releasing in April! The Demon of Unrest brings to life the pivotal five months between the election of Abraham Lincoln and the start of the Civil War—a simmering crisis that finally tore a deeply divided nation in two. I was able to get a signed copy from Erik himself and I only fangirled a tad.

The Days I Loved You Most is the debut novel from Amy Neff, and I was warned to have the tissues ready! This literary love story focuses on a couple both at the beginning and the end of their romance decades later, and it asks the question: what if you could choose how your story ends? I had dinner with Amy and she is an absolute delight! The book releases in July and takes place in a vacation beach town so it’s the perfect summer read with substance!

Another new author friend is Chelsea Devantez, author of the upcoming memoir I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This (But I’m Going to Anyway). I’m not normally a big nonfiction reader but after meeting Chelsea this one is high on my list! It’s told in sections based on women who have had an influence on her life, including her mother, an ex-best friend, and celebrities and fictional characters. Chelsea overcame poverty and domestic violence to become an Emmy-nominated writer working for Jon Stewart and now with a major television network. She was absolutely hysterical and I’m so excited for that to come through on the page. 

And finally, I have to wrap up with a book from my former employer, the independent publishing company Agate Publishing. I worked for Agate after finishing my graduate degree and before I started Blue House Books, and after years I was finally able to reconnect with the publisher himself Doug Seibold, who started Agate in his basement and now gets to claim the discovery of authors such as Jesmyn Ward and Kiese Laymon! Their lead title this year is the newest novel from Leonard Pitts Jr., 54 Miles, a historical fiction novel about an inter-racial couple and their son who moves back to his family’s hometown in Alabama in the 1950’s to get involved in the Civil Rights Movement. He gets much more than he bargained for when family secrets are revealed and he learns the truth of why his family fled the South.

There are so many more books I wish I could tell you about, but I’m supposed to keep my column short (which I already failed at), so I guess you’ll just have to stop in the store to chat!