Beyond Bestsellers

by Michelle C.

Beyond Bestsellers is a new community reading challenge at Sno-Isle Libraries! Have you read every Dean Koontz or Danielle Steel? Are you looking for something new to read that you don’t have to wait in line for? We invite you to read along with us for the next five months as we discover new books, take a walk outside our comfort zone, and share each other’s favorite under-the-radar books. Starting July 1, on the first of each month we will explore a different theme, post reading suggestions on the blog, and encourage you to share your favorite titles. On the fifteenth of each month we will post again, following up with readers and sharing more information about what makes each theme unique. The themes for Beyond Bestsellers are:

July: Mysteries

Aug.: True Stories

Sept.: Westerns

Oct.: Horror

Nov.: Graphic Novels

Continue reading »

Tagged | 27 Comments

Microhistories: Sating Our Curiosity One Book at a Time

by Jocelyn R.

Sometimes kids go through a phase where “why” is their favorite question. But kids aren’t the only ones who like to ask that question. Some of us adults also seek knowledge about the world by asking why, and wondering how things came to be the way they are. Luckily for us, others also wonder about the world and write books to help us sate our curiosity. These books are known as microhistories. According to the dictionary, a microhistory is a study or account of the history of a very specific subject.

Want to learn more about how sugar became such a popular spice? Check out Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos. Is science your jam? You might enjoy learning more of the stories behind the periodic table’s creation in The Disappearing Spoon, And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World From the Periodic Table of Elements. Perhaps you’ve wondered when Pyrex was invented or why someone thought to create the Slinky. In that case, you would want to take a look at Andy Warner’s graphic novel, Brief Histories of Everyday Objects or Really Useful: The Origins of Everyday Things by Joel Levy.

If you are looking for some interesting microhistories, take a look at this list or read on for a few of my favorites.

Poop Happened! A History of the World From the Bottom Up – Sarah Albee
The most successful civilizations were the ones who realized that everyone poops and they’d better figure out how to get rid of it! From the very first flushing toilet (invented way earlier than you would think) to the efficient Roman aqueducts (possibly inspired by the goddess of sewers!) to castles in the Middle Ages whose moats used more than just water to repel enemies, “Poop Happened!” traces human civilization through this revolting yet fascinating theme.

Face Paint: The Story of Makeup – Lisa Eldridge
Make-up, as we know it, has only been commercially available in the last 100 years, but applying decoration to the face and body may be one of the oldest global social practices. Lisa Eldridge, one of the world’s foremost make-up artists–with a very large and loyal public following of her own–has written the first real history of the subject. “Face Paint” explores the reasons behind make-up’s use, the actual materials employed and manufactured through the ages, the icons that people emulate and how they achieved their effects, the impact on women’s lives and the present and future of make-up from high profile practitioners and artists to cosmetic breakthroughs. Along with the glamorous trappings, this is also about women’s history and the ways in which we can understand their story through the prism of make-up.

The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History – Katherine Ashenburg
The question of cleanliness is one every age and culture has answered with confidence. What could be more routine than taking up soap and water and washing yourself? And yet cleanliness, or the lack of it, is intimately connected to ideas as large as spirituality and sexuality, and historical events that include plagues, the Civil War, and the discovery of germs. For the first-century Roman, being clean meant a two-hour soak in baths of various temperatures, scraping the body with a miniature rake, and a final application of oil. For the aristocratic Frenchman in the seventeenth century, it meant changing your shirt once a day and perhaps going so far as to dip your hands in some water. Katherine Ashenburg takes on this fascinating topic in her charming tour of attitudes to hygiene through time.

Tagged , | Leave a comment

Beyond Bestsellers: Sinister Speculations of Science Fiction

by Emily Z.

I happen to think science fiction (and his close friend, speculative fiction) is the future of horror. No, not exclusively and certainly not just recently, but increasingly. Science fiction is about uncomfortable questions. What if the robots we create become so sophisticated they overthrow us? What if virtual reality becomes so commonplace that we abandon our bodies? What if we never leave Earth, as a species, but manage to survive until the heat-death of the Sun? What would we even look like so far in the future?

Such science fiction is not always clearly labeled as horror, but part of this is because horror is such a personal, subjective genre. For me, it’s simply a bonus when I find out my science fiction has some teeth. And the harder (i.e. more realistic) the science part of the fiction is, the greater the odds its speculative premise may one day become reality. Hardly a comforting thought. Once upon a time, sophisticated robotic automatons were a distant dream, yet before we’d mastered the microchip, humans were dreaming that those hypothetical creations would turn on us. The robots of our present reality resemble the robots of our fiction more and more each day, performing surgery and preparing for combat. Science fiction and science fact are overlapping. It’s more than just robots, too. The smart watches we willingly buy are reminiscent of the myriad monitoring devices explored in numerous books. The voice-controlled speakers being rolled out now? They might remind a few of us of Hal from 2001: a Space Odyssey. Even though science fiction is best known for offering us the alien and inhuman, it proves all the more unsettling when it’s theories are at least a little familiar.

Before I start sounding too paranoid, I’ll summarize. We need to keep the blood in our blood-baths and the breath in our re-animated corpses fresh, right? Well, the (currently) theoretical dimensional gateways, aliens, sentient robots, and super plagues science fiction offers give us access to vast, galaxy-spanning tracts of land on which to cultivate some of our oldest fears.

Wool by Hugh Howey

A thrilling, finely-woven tale about a seemingly textbook post-apocalyptic society. Wool unravels with a twist, though: humanity actually had a plan in place for the apocalypse, they followed it, and they survived quite handily. Now what is left of the human race lives in one tall/deep self-contained, hermetically sealed structure known as a “silo”. It protects them from the poisonous miasma contaminating the entire outside world. Really though, they’re fine. They’ve found a way to grow food, manufacture or repair other supplies, generate power, etc. They have a simple government with rigid, but straightforward rules. The right to reproduce is controlled by a randomized lottery, so the size of their little flock is kept stable. Yet, out of the blue one day, someone demands to be let outside. The shear audacity of this suicidal request raises some alarms, but the request is granted for the greater good.  The damage is done though and this close-knit community cannot ever truly be the same. Why did that person want to walk into a fog of death? Did they know something?

Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

The less you know about this book going in, the more surprises there are for you to enjoy. Of course, this is complicated by the fact that there is now a film adaptation available in the US. I will confirm that it’s a zombie survival story, but there’s more to it. Yes, there’s still action, violence, and some hauntingly gory scenes, but there are also ethical quandaries, strong female characters, and sparkly shoes.

The Warren by Brian Evenson

In an incredibly far-flung future, X exists alone. X is not supposed to be alone, but X’s progenitors ran out of material and couldn’t make a partner for X before they themselves passed away. In the creaky, decrepit cocoon of a warren-like bunker, X spends a lot of time watching corrupted instructional video files from untold generations ago. The videos explain everything X needs to know (especially about not going above ground) except for what X, perhaps the last person alive, is supposed to do about being the last person alive. Of course, X is not truly the last. Someone else is there, scurrying around the nest of tunnels with X. They’re not like X at all. Do you think they can be friends?

John Dies at the End by David Wong

You might not consider this book science fiction at first or even much later, but I would. It is at least 40% science fiction, 30% horror, 10% supernatural, and 20% (admittedly adolescent) humor. It all starts with Soy Sauce, the nickname given to a pitch-black party drug so powerful it can let you see the future, the distant past, the history of a single grain of rice, or maybe even levitate. It’s a fantastic high, right up until the point where you explode messily. Fans of the Sauce don’t always explode, though. Sometimes they’re totally fine or even chosen to have their consciousness elevated by the insane, foul-mouthed deity Korrok. Our anti-heroes, the mostly lovable slackers John & David, are not so chosen. Instead, they find themselves dragged inescapably into a trans-dimensional drug ring and some amateur monster-hunting. Somehow they’re supposed to save the world from an obscene eldritch horror even though they can barely keep their jobs at the video rental place.

Keep in mind, this book started out in life as a long series of online installments, so the story arch is non-traditional. Sometimes the tone is irreverent, other times deeply melancholy or violent or absurd. For all its eccentricities, this book and the rest of the series (third volume is out now), are a trip.


Don’t forget to check out the rest of the books especially Annihilation. The film is coming out in February of 2018 (unless it’s delayed again) and you’ll want to be ready!



Tagged , | 4 Comments

Once upon a Crime: Stella Cameron

by Lindsey A.

We have one more author visiting for Oak Harbor Library‘s Once upon a Crime series! This series features local authors of mystery, thriller, and suspense novels. Previous authors interviewed include Marty Wingate, Robert Dugoni, and Kevin O’Brien. This week we feature an interview with author Stella Cameron. On Oct. 31, Stella will visit the Oak Harbor Library to talk about her books and the craft of writing mysteries.

Stella Cameron is a New York Times Bestselling Author with an English background. In addition to her ongoing Alex Duggins Mystery series, she has written many other books. Cameron received the Pacific Northwest Achievement Award “for distinguished professional achievement and for enhancing the stature of the Northwest Literary community.” She is a Washington resident, sharing her home with her husband and their pets.

Stella was kind enough to share a conversation with Sno-Isle Libraries staff member and mystery enthusiast, Marie B.

Interview with Stella Cameron

Marie: Have you ever based characters on people you know?

Stella: Not completely, and if I had I doubt if I’d tell you! Bits and pieces of people I’ve met, known, noticed or found interesting for any reason probably come into my characters but not deliberately. I shall stick to that statement.

Marie: What (or who) inspires you when creating characters who kill?

Stella: What a very difficult question—but a good one. It is said that given enough provocation, anyone could kill. Who am I to suggest this isn’t true? But I don’t write about those who destroy life to protect the innocent or helpless. How far must we look to encounter true evil? Not far. I know my villains are motivated by human weaknesses. Hate, greed, jealousy, fear, and yes, twisted love. I put killing to protect another, or oneself in a different category.

Marie: You started your writing career with steamy romances. What made you decide to write mysteries?

Stella: Every story I’ve written has incorporated a puzzle to be solved, an antagonistic element to overcome. Writing pure mystery was an inevitable progression in my writing career and I’m very grateful to have taken each step along the way.

Marie: What made you choose the Cotswolds as the setting for your mysteries?

Stella: The Cotswold Hills are a treasure trove of mysterious villages with cottage windows that cry out for me to tell stories about the folks who live in them. History doesn’t have to be searched out, it’s stamped on the faces of churches, shops, pubs, tithe barns, markets still held where they have been for hundreds of years, cobbled alleys and streets, and even in the cadence of the people’s voices. This is a place rich with atmosphere, and it’s a haven for someone like me who sits quietly, observes and spins tales. I think the Cotswolds chose me to tell the stories.

Marie: What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book?

Stella: Some mysteries should remain private! That or a personal mystery would make a very boring story . . .

Marie: What do you enjoy most about interacting with fans?

Stella: Readers are drawn to other readers and I’m an inveterate reader. The enthusiasm I encounter when talking to people kind enough to come and tell me I’ve entertained them is a joy.

Marie: What is the worst job you ever had?

Stella: Keeping the books for a building company. Yuck.

Marie: What do you do when you’re not writing?

Stella: Read. Watch drama. Plot, plot, plot. Walk, preferably with my dog (which means I carry her most of the way). And my husband and family are the center of my life.

Marie: What was the last amazingly good book you read?

Stella: Glass Houses by Louise Penny. But give me another hour and I’ll keep listing stories that captured me and still run out of time.

Marie: Which authors do you enjoy most and what do you like about their books?

Stella: Their number is just too huge to note.  Without exception, I want a book to move me, excite me, perhaps frighten me, shock and surprise me, make me look forward to picking it up again, and keep me reading long past the time when I should sleep—almost past the time when it falls to the floor and I wake up with a start.

Marie: What is your favorite thing about being an author?

Stella: The extraordinary privilege of spending so much of my life telling stories for people who want to read them!

Marie: What was your favorite book as a child, and why?

Stella: Treasure Island. What an adventure. The first time I encountered the story was as a class book and waiting to read each next segment was painful!


Below is a list of Stella’s books in our collection and the titles mentioned in the interview.

Meet Stella at the Oak Harbor Library on Oct. 10 at 2:00 p.m. Books from The Book Rack in Oak Harbor will be available for purchase.


Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Beyond Bestsellers: Horror, Part Two

by Kimberly P. 

Welcome back, my creatures of the night. It’s mid-October and only sixteen days separate us from Halloween. How goes your Beyond Bestsellers: Horror reading challenge? Did you discover a book that wiggled beneath your skin?

Spooky Fact: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, was one of ALA’s most challenged books during the 1990s so when its 30th anniversary came out, a very toned down version of the book was released.

My fascination with the darker half of life started at a young age. In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz was one of the earliest books I remember reading, followed closely by (the original) Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark also by Alvin Schwartz. Stephen Gammell’s illustrations gave me many a nightmare (and deepened my love for the series of books)!

Inevitably, I devoured all things Goosebumps and Fear Street until those stories ceased being frightening.

In my tween arrogance, I assumed I had reached the end of the line. All things horror ended with R.L. Stine, so my attention turned towards dark fantasy.

It was only until much later that I realized the error of my ways, and that the horror genre was so much more diverse than anything my wildest nightmares could conjure.

And I have your fantastic lists to prove it!:

Mercurious007 ushers us into a dimly lit room, has us joins hands, and demonstrates that séances aren’t for the for the faint of heart . . .

. . . While therhiannamater unspools horror into its
visceral, visual components . . .

. . . And lindseyanderson encourages us all to give tiny humans the side eye by providing irrevocable proof that children are never to be trusted!

(Special shout out to Lindsey for vindicating my distrust of children.)

Keep those lists coming, my fiendish friends! It’s not too late, and if you need a refresher on how to craft a terrifying list of your own, follow these instructions.

Still “haunting” for a horror title?



Take our frightful quiz to discover your next favorite, or read any of our four simultaneous access OverDrive titles.


“We live in a box of space and time. Movies are Windows in its walls.”–Roger Ebert

For film buffs, here are the famous horror quotes found throughout the quiz. Can you name that movie? I’ll share the answers on Halloween.

“I want to play a game.”
“When there’s no room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth.”
“What an excellent day for an exorcism.”
“We all go a little mad sometimes.”
“It’s not the house that’s haunted. . . it’s your son.”
“Listen to them. Creatures of the night! What music they make.”
“You play a good game, boy. . . but the game is finished. Now you die.”
“Whatever you do. . . don’t fall asleep.”
“A census taker once tried to test me; I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
“We have such sights to show you.”
“Death has come to your little town, Sheriff.”
“They’re here.”
“It’s Alive! It’s alive!”
“Come and play with us, Danny. Forever. . . and ever. . . and ever.”
“Be afraid. . . Be very afraid.”
“You know that part in scary movies where somebody does something really stupid and everyone hates them for it? This is it.”
“When the music stops, you’ll see him in the mirror standing behind you.”
“Hi, I’m Chucky! Wanna play?”
“One thing about living in Santa Clara I could never stomach, all the damn vampires.”
“I see dead people.”
“I’m your number one fan.”

See you on October 31–I hope you’ve already picked your costumes . . .

Tagged , | 2 Comments

Narrator Spotlight: Full Cast Family

by Marina M.

It’s a well-known fact that the members of the Readers’ Services Team are pro-audiobook. Therefore, we have a lot of opinions on the narration of those audiobooks. And it’s usually just one narrator, right? How about listening to an audiobook with the feeling of being at the theater? I’m talking about books narrated by the Full Cast Family.

It takes a village . . . or something like that.

The first multi-narrator audiobook I ever listened to was Graceling by Kristin Cashore. In the Seven Kingdoms there are people that have a Grace. They have special powers. Some of those powers are inconsequential. Some, like those of Katsa’s, can be deadly. Katsa’s uncle, King Randa of the Middluns, forces her to use her grace for his benefit. Using her strong core of courage and the friendship of her cousin, Katsa tries to be better than what her Grace makes her. During one of her missions, she encounters a person who is willing to support her, fight alongside her, and share secret truths with her–Prince Po of Leinid. Brought to life by the fantastic narration of the Full Cast Family, the listener experiences the individuality of Katsa, Po, and the rest of the characters from the Seven Kingdoms.

I was entranced by the theatricality of it all. I went back to my notes from the first time I listened to it–in 2009–and I am literally gushing about the experience as well as announcing my intent to listen to all Full Cast audio that is available. Founded by author Bruce Coville, the production company started out small and released a limited number of titles each year. Hence, frustration ensued and I’ve only listened to a small handful since then.

Have you listened to any Full Cast Audio performances? What did you think? How about any other multiple narrator books? Share in the comments below.

View the whole list

Tagged , , | 6 Comments

‘Cause these are thrillers!

By Kaley C.

I’ve always had trouble with thrillers, a genre marked by feelings of suspense, surprise, excitement, anticipation, and anxiety. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to piece the plots together well before it’s over. This makes me a joy​ to watch movies with.

Meddling KidsSince it ’tis the season to consume creepy stuff, I’ve started to incorporate paranormal elements to the thriller I read. Are the characters possessed? Are they hunting the possessed? Perhaps a family secret prevents a ghost from resting peacefully? What kind of creature is that kindly small town baker? I have no idea! It’s so fun to read something that is typically fast paced and full of imaginative creatures, people, and plots. It’s an excellent way to prevent me from relentlessly solving any mystery or problem in a plot.

Meddling Kids Jinkies! This book centers around the reunion of a few meddling kids that may have put the wrong man in jail after investigating a mystery in the 70s.


The Seeker Aine Cahill has been studying Thoreau from a personal angle. Her dissertation relies on the possibility that he may not have spent his time at Walden’s Pond alone. Moving to a cottage to be closer to the pond might push her research closer to solving this mystery and bringing her academic success she craves, but the appearance of a ghost only she can see is deeply disturbing.

The boy who Drew Monsters​ Left traumatized after nearly drowning, ten year old Jack is reclusive and obsessed with drawing. His parents notice the subject matter isn’t normal, but it’s his friend Nick who begins to piece it together.


I have a few more for you, and remember that they can satisfy your horror read for Beyond Bestsellers!

Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Once upon a Crime: Kevin O’Brien

by Lindsey A.

Today we offer you an interview with crime writer Kevin O’Brien for the Once upon a Crime author series! This series at the Oak Harbor Library features four local authors of mystery, thriller, and suspense novels. On select Tuesdays in October, a different author will visit the library to talk about their books and the craft of writing mysteries. Kevin O’Brien will be at the library on Oct. 24.

Kevin’s thrillers have landed him on The New York Times Best Sellers list and his work has been compared to that of Alfred Hitchcock. His thrillers are fast-paced, suspenseful, and compelling to read. His first thriller, The Next to Die was published in 2001. Kevin’s latest thriller, Hide Your Fear is set on Whidbey Island. Kevin is a proud board member of the Seattle 7 Writers.

Kevin was kind enough to share a conversation with Sno-Isle Libraries staff member and mystery enthusiast, Marie B.

Interview with Kevin O’Brien

Marie: What (or who) inspires you when creating characters who kill?

Kevin: Usually a plot idea hits me first. Then I create the antagonist, who is making all these bad things happen in my story. I give the villain a personality and a back-story to explain why he or she is doing these horrible things.  In my latest thriller, Hide Your Fear, my editor and I came up with this idea about a family who has just moved into a house on Whidbey Island – only to realize it comes with a scary history and a stalker.  So – I had to give this stalker a reason for tormenting and sometimes even killing the people who have moved into that house. My neighbor is a psychiatrist, and whenever I’m creating a new book, I always take him out to dinner so I can pick his brain for the psychological motives behind my killer’s actions. If my neighbor ever moves away, I’ll have to start writing romance novels or something.

Marie: Have you ever based characters on people you know?

Kevin: All the time. I just pray they don’t catch on. A friend gave me a T-shirt that says: CAREFUL, YOU MIGHT END UP IN MY NEXT NOVEL. It’s so true.

Marie: You’re a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock.  How has his work influenced your writing?

Kevin: Hitchcock was all about suspense. There are shocking – and sometimes gory – moments in his movies, but it’s mostly about the suspense. I try to keep that in mind when I’m writing. I try to let the reader know what’s going to happen – while my hero or heroine is clueless. I think of Tippi Hedren sitting on that bench, smoking a cigarette, while the birds mass on the jungle gym behind her. That’s suspense, building up the tension and danger – and sometimes the obstacles. If you want a perfect example of building suspense, check out the scene near the end of North by Northwest, when Cary Grant is sneaking around the house near Mount Rushmore, trying to get in there to save Eva Marie Saint. He’s hanging on a ledge outside James Mason’s window, listing to how Mason and Martin Landau are going to kill Eva Marie. Cary tries throwing coins at her bedroom window to get her attention, but Eva Marie doesn’t hear them. Mason and Martin Landau hear the coins. Cary climbs up to her bedroom window – but she leaves the room just a moment before he gets there. From the second floor balcony, he writes a warning inside his monogrammed matchbook and tosses it to Eva Marie when she’s in the living room with her would-be assassins. The matchbook lands on the floor in front of her, but she totally misses it, and Landau picks it up. It’s one obstacle after another, and it’s deliciously suspenseful. I was supposed to keep my answers down to a few sentences here. You should have never asked me about Hitchcock!

Marie: Press & Guide said: “If Alfred Hitchcock were alive today and writing novels, his name would be Kevin O’Brien.” How does it feel to have your work compared to Hitchcock’s?

Kevin: I’m totally flattered. Don’t spread this around, but shortly after that review quote hit the internet, the reviewer got in touch with me, asking if I’d read his unpublished manuscript. So – I can’t help thinking he might have been buttering me up. Still, it’s flattering just the same!

Marie: What do you enjoy most about interacting with fans?

Kevin: For a writer, it’s like completing the process. You’re holed up alone in your writer’s lair – sort of like the Unabomber – for months writing a book, and then your work finally goes out there. The payoff is when people tell you how it touched them. I just got an email last week from an 88-year-old retired Air Force Lieutenant General, who told me that he cried at the end of my book, Only Son. Writers live for that stuff!

Marie: What do you do when you’re not writing?

Kevin: I love movies. So that’s my reward for whenever I’ve gotten a certain amount of pages written. I’m also on the board of Seattle 7 Writers, a non-profit collective of authors promoting literacy. We also provide free books to homeless shelters, halfway houses and other places in need of books. That keeps me very busy. We have about 80 Pacific Northwest authors – including Tom Robbins, Garth Stein, Maria Semple, Terry Brooks, Claire Dederer, Tim Egan, Jenny Shortridge, Erica Bauermeister, and many more. It’s a remarkable group!

Marie: What mystery in your own life could be the plot for a book?

Kevin: Well, I’m remotely connected to the most famous murder of the twentieth century, and it’s still shrouded in mystery. In October, 1963, my family moved into a house in Glencoe, Illinois.  We inherited the previous owner’s dining room set, living room sofa, and their dog. Then on Nov. 22, the police and FBI showed up at our door. They were looking for the previous owner: Milton Klein of Klein’s Sporting Goods. His store is where “A. Hidell” (Oswald) mail-order-purchased the rifle used to shoot President Kennedy. I remember Mr. Klein was a very nice guy, and I read much later that apparently, he felt horrible about his small role in the Kennedy assassination. He didn’t even tell his sons about it until around the time he died in 1997.

Marie: What was the last amazingly good book you read?

Kevin: This is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. It’s about a couple with six sons, the youngest of whom wants to be a girl. Laurie is a dear friend and one of the Seattle 7 Writers. It’s so fun to know the author of a book you love!

Marie: What was your favorite book as a child and why?

Kevin: “Morris is a Cowboy, a Policeman and a Baby Sitter” – story and pictures by B. Wiseman (An “I Can Read” Book from 1960). Morris was a moose, who got it in his head that he wanted to be a cop, a cowboy and a babysitter. He ended up doing all three things quite well. The message is pretty obvious. About five years ago, my sister found the old book in her basement and gave it to me. I was thrilled to get it back after all these years.

Marie: Which authors do you enjoy most, and what do you like about their books?

Kevin: Well, as you might guess, I’ll have to say my favorite authors are all Seattle 7 Writers. You can check out the listing of authors at their website.

Marie: What’s the worst job you ever had?

Kevin: For four summers through high school, I cleaned golf shoes and shined street shoes in the men’s locker room of a county club. During my college summers, I was a bus boy for a Washington, DC restaurant, and an office boy at a law firm. Then I was a railroad inspector for 17 years. I got my first two books written and published while I had that job. But my worst job was a four-month stint taking mail and phone orders for a department store in DC. This was after college and before my railroad job. My boss was this very stylish but nasty woman named Bunny, and she hated me. It was comforting to know that practically everyone else at the store loathed her. In my book, Only Son, I patterned a character after her – which takes us back to question number two!

Marie: What is your favorite thing about being an author?

Kevin: I’m paid to do what I like. I have my own hours, and I don’t have to leave home to go to work! I can’t imagine doing anything else. I’m very lucky.


Below is a list of Kevin’s books in our collection and the titles mentioned in the interview.

Meet Kevin O’Brien at the Oak Harbor Library on Oct. 24 at 2:00 p.m. Books from The Book Rack in Oak Harbor will be available for purchase.

Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Blade Runner Redux

by Grant P.

Blade Runner in all of it’s SEVEN! versions has been one of my favorite movies since it was released in 1982 (side note, I did not see it in 1982 as I was 3.) I also think I have only seen four of the versions. Anyways, the long anticipated/feared sequel was released this past weekend. I am a huge fan of director Denis Villeneuve’s films, and given many of Ridley Scott‘s recent movies, I think it is probably better in Villeneuve’s hands at this point. The sequel is set 30 years after the original film which means of course that the original was set in 2019. We have a ways to go if we are going to achieve Blade Runner levels of technology in the next 2 years.  Here are some things from Sno-Isle to get you excited for Blade Runner 2049.

Why not read the novel that the original film is based on. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. The novel differs from the film in many aspects, including whole plot lines not explored in the movie.

Sicario and Arrival, the two most recent films from director Denis Villeneueve. Both of these films give me hope for the possibility of the new Blade Runner film being great. While these two films are entirely different in content, one is a gritty crime drama, the other thoughtful science fiction, they are similar in that they don’t talk down to the audience and take time and care in telling a story.

The soundtrack to Blade Runner by Vangelis is an iconic synthesizer score, which sets the mood perfectly for the film. Vangelis’ real name is Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, I can see why he goes by Vangelis.


Two films from Monty Python veteran Terry GilliamBrazil and 12 Monkeys remind me of Blade Runner, all three present a very non-idealized version of the future. There is a grimness to the futures presented in all three films. Additionally 12 Monkeys has the best Bruce Willis performance (aside from Die Hard.)

2001, A Space Odyssey the consensus greatest science fiction film of all time. Stanley Kubrick created such a believable and realistic version of space travel, that NASA had him fake the moon landing.


Children of Men A depressing look at the future, with an ultimately uplifting message of survival. Alfonso Cuaron’s masterpiece includes a long take that took 12 days to set up.

Dark City a combination of Noir and Science Fiction that also includes Kiefer Sutherland superb overacting.


Any other read-watch-listen alikes for Blade Runner?

Tagged | 1 Comment

Sure Sign of Fall? Listening to Nick Drake

by David M.

Autumns leaves and cooler temperatures arrive, I put away my dub albums for the year, and Nick Drake is on the playlist. During his short life (1948-1974), Nick never managed to connect with the listening public, and so he remained a cult figure — but his cult keeps growing as friends tell friends “You just HAVE to listen to this!” His music was used in a Volkswagen commercial, and eventually his songs made their way onto  movie soundtracks.

If you’ve never listened to Nick Drake, in this post I’ve linked to some of my favorites posted on YouTube. (Most of them are basically fades of album covers, but when you look like Nick — sensitive, brooding — it works perfectly.)

Five Leaves Left was Nick’s first album, and it remains my favorite. River Man, The Thoughts of Mary Jane and Saturday Sun are examples of essential Nick Drake, wistful and melancholy.

Nick’s second album, Bryter Layter was a bit of a surprise for me when I first heard it. It’s way more produced (brass section! background singers!!) so it took me a while to get used to it, but still there are some great songs on it, such as At the Chime of a City Clock, Hazey Jane I and my favorite Nick song, Northern Sky.

Despite the slick production, Nick still failed to connect with a wider audience, and the result was Nick’s final album, Pink Moon. It’s a stripped down album, just Nick’s voice and guitar, and one instance of delicate piano. No strings, no background singers, no percussion this time. It’s not an album I listen to often, and it still rankles me that the record company seemed to think so little of it, they got one of the song titles wrong! But From the Morning ends the album on a positive note (ironically, some of the lyrics were later chosen for Nick’s tombstone.)

There are a few more Nick Drake compilations, but they are mostly an odds and sods assortment of stray tracks. Give the three main albums a try on hoopla.

And here’s a bonus track (After Halloween) by Sandy Denny, a contemporary of Nick’s who also died much too soon. At least they both gave us a wonderful legacy of music.


Tagged | 4 Comments

LibraryReads List October 2017

by Lindsey A.

October – one of the best months ever – is upon us and with it comes all the cozy trappings of autumn. It’s one of my favorite times to read. I like to curl up on my love seat with a flannel blanket and a candle burning, and completely lose myself in a book (later this month it will be the new season of “Stranger Things”).

The October LibraryReads list arrived at the perfect time and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a great one! More than half of these books are on my to-read list, and I’ve already read Uncommon Type: Some Stories by everyone’s favorite actor and typewriter enthusiast, Tom Hanks (or should I say David Pumpkins?).

Seven Days of Us tops the October list. I didn’t know much about this book, but now that I hear it’s about a family quarantined together during the Christmas holidays? I’m fully on board! I also look forward to reading The Rules of Magic, Alice Hoffman’s prequel to her magical, memorable Practical Magic. From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by mortician Caitlin Doughty (she of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory fame) also sounds fascinating.

I think this is a rare case where I’d like to read all of the books on this LibraryReads list. How about you? Will any of these titles make it onto your reading list? Let us know!

Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments