Happy Women’s History Month and National Reading Month!

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, Readers! As a female bookstore owner, March is especially important to me and my staff and we can’t wait to share our excitement with you!

While we obviously always encourage reading, in March I’m excited to emphasize LOCAL female authors! Every week this month, I will be highlighting a book by a woman who has a connection to the area so that we can all celebrate the amazing contributions to literature by local female writers.

At Blue House Books, we see women dominating a lot of our popular categories, in particular novel retellings. These are books that are based on an original text but either offer a new point of view or put a different spin on the tale. We see this happen a lot with mythology, fairy tales, and classics. Some current popular titles include Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec, which both tell the stories of side characters in popular mythology, giving them their own stories and thus changing our perception of the stories. In The Witch’s Heart, we follow Angrboda, a witch in Norse mythology who is burned for refusing to tell Odin his future. She hides in seclusion under a different name, but is eventually discovered by Loki, whom she marries and has three children with, a goddess of death, a giant wolf, and a giant snake. Previously, Angorboda was only ever mentioned in passing, but in this retelling of a Norse myth, she becomes the start of the end of the old world. We read this book for our book club during Women’s History Month last year and I absolutely loved it! 

While mythology retellings are probably the most popular at Blue House Books, fairy tale and classic retellings are also quite popular, as they ignite a sense of nostalgia but also offer a new story to enjoy. We carry a few titles from the Remixed Classics series, which keeps the historical setting of the original stories, but puts a spin on the characters: the Great Gatsby retelling has two male main characters, and the Little Women story focuses on a Black family. 

In Julia, author Sandra Newman offers a different perspective on George Orwell’s 1984. In this imaginative, feminist, and brilliantly relevant-to-today retelling we get the point of view of Winston Smith’s lover, Julia. Our customers are really loving this title! I have heard folks say it is the perfect commentary on current social issues while still also reminding readers of their love and respect for the original novel.

A common trend in these retellings is to focus on female characters that have been previously underrepresented in the original stories. Women have often been made to be the side character in a man’s story, and I’m so thrilled to be part of the generation that is finally giving women the spotlight we deserve in important pieces of literature. I hope you’ll pop into Blue House Books soon to get more recommendations of fantastic novel retellings!

And now for our book recommendation for the week, focusing on a local female author! I of course had to start with our hometown favorite, Greta Kelly, who lives right here in Kenosha! I’m currently reading her newest fantasy novel The Queen of Days, filled with heists and hijinks, and overall just a ton of fun! The Queen of Days follows The Talion, a group of thieves who hire our title character, The Queen of Days, to help them on their latest job that will give them the payout of a lifetime! But what they think will be a simple enough heist quickly turns into a battle against a God. As we follow this family of thieves as they take on far more than they bargained for, we learn about their deep connections and traumatic past, and the importance of found family. This book has the perfect amount of action, magic, and witty dialogue! I truly appreciate that our main character Bal is fully aware how crazy he is for thinking he can take on a formidable creature with magic, but the love for his family drives him to try for the impossible. 

Pair this book by a local female author with a coffee from a Kenosha woman-owned business! When I told Jenny from East View Coffee Co. about The Queen of Days, she was immediately excited to recommend the Vanilla Fig Coffee Soda to pair with this magical adventure. This delightful coffee drink tastes like ice cream in a cup with a splash of orange! The carbonation gives it that sparkle of magic, and it’s filled with surprises as you consume every layer, just like the book!

If you’re looking for a fun and entertaining read, grab a SIGNED copy of The Queen of Days from Blue House Books, then hop over to East View Coffee Co. just a couple blocks away to grab the Vanilla Fig Coffee Soda!

I’m almost done with this thrill ride, so if you catch me reading the last few pages at work, do me a favor and don’t tell the boss!