Ice Cold Summer

by Lisa C.

“I have never tasted ice cream. Diana tried to explain what it was like, but I guess ice cream is one of those things that are beyond imagination.”

Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

The sun is shining (sometimes), the temperature is rising (sometimes), and that can only mean that summer has somewhat arrived in the Pacific Northwest! I don’t need a change of season though to give me an excuse to enjoy a myriad of frozen delights. I am lucky enough to live near multiple delicious ice cream shops that are open for business all year long. In my family, a trip to the ice cream shop is a quintessential summer activity though. Even so, I recently discovered that asking spirited children to don masks and not touch anything while they waited for their cones to also be a stressful summer activity.  The solution? Make ice cream at home! It’s a tasty and fun family activity and you don’t have to worry about the kids taking off their masks to lick the display case!

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Beyond Bestsellers: Toni Morrison

by Lois H. (they/them or she/her)

“What I’m interested in is writing without the gaze, without the white gaze. … In so many earlier books by African-American writers, particularly the men, I felt that they were not writing to me. But what interested me was the African-American experience throughout whichever time I spoke of. It was always about African-American culture and people — good, bad, indifferent, whatever — but that was, for me, the universe.”

Toni Morrison (From Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s profile of Morrison in The New York Times Magazine)

This month we’re celebrating the legacy of award-winning novelist Toni Morrison.

I first encountered Morrison’s writing as a wide-eyed freshman in college. To fulfill a history credit requirement, I signed up for a course on a subject I knew nothing about: the Jazz Age. Throughout the quarter, we studied historical documents, listened to music, and read Jazz, Morrison’s sixth novel.

Although I considered myself an avid reader, I had never read anything like Jazz. Morrison’s writing style is intricate. You get the sense that every word was carefully selected and set in its place. Jazz, in particular, echoes the music it shares a name with both in craft and tone.

Her stories dissect issues of race, class, and gender with non-linear plot-lines, unreliable narrators, and flawed, complex characters. Continue reading »

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Fantastic Heists

By Kristi S. 

It all started with Mistborn: The Final Empire, recommended to me by a coworker (thank you, Grant). I was pulled in by page one and my love for the fantasy heist genre was born. There’s nothing like the thrill of following characters as they pull off a major theft, but it becomes even more exciting when there is an element of magic involved.

If you are a fan of the fantasy genre or love a good heist story, try one of these titles which meld the two into one enjoyable narrative. Continue reading »

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Feline Be Mine!

By Julie T.

June is Adopt-a-Cat Month! I am an unabashed, lifelong cat lover. The longest period I lived without feline companionship was during college. By senior year I was done waiting, so I went to a Seattle animal shelter and co-adopted Mickey and Minnie with a friend. It was love at first sight. I hope that wherever you are and whatever your circumstances, you and your loved ones are doing well. For me, animals are a big part of my overall well-being.

 

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Black Lives Matter

by Craig B.

Black Lives Matter is an organization that was founded in 2013 after George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator in Sanford, Florida, was acquitted for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, a Black teenager who was walking through his neighborhood. Since that time, Black Lives Matter has been one of the most active and vocal supporters for racial equality. Their hope is “to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities. The impetus for that commitment was, and still is, the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state.”

In light of the recent death of George Floyd, who was killed while in police custody, and the subsequent worldwide protests that have resulted from it, many community leaders and institutions have stepped up to raise awareness of the systemic bias committed against citizens by the very institutions created to protect them. Following is a list of documentaries I have recently watched on the topic. They can all be viewed on Kanopy or Hoopla for free using your Sno-Isle library card.

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Fantastic Fictional Fathers

by Melleny T.

Atticus Finch

As Father’s Day approaches, I would like to honor all the great dads out there by sharing some of my favorite fictional fathers (and father figures). Now, these dads aren’t perfect (because who is, and how boring would that be?), but they do their best to help their kids grow and thrive in difficult times. They understand their children and make the necessary difficult decisions and personal sacrifices out of love for them.

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Author Spotlight: Tony Horwitz

By Alyssa S.

Although restrictions are slowly lifting, life isn’t exactly back to normal in the age of COVID-19, so how about some fun and educational armchair travel with one of my favorite nonfiction writers, Tony Horwitz? When the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, embedded journalist, war correspondent, and historian died suddenly a year ago at age 60, I was as shocked as I was by Anthony Bourdain’s passing. He was agelessly youthful and his writing projected such vigor. He was the anti-Bill Bryson in some ways, and I love Bryson. Bryson is terrified of large spiders and other creepies; Horwitz would probably eat them on a dare.

My husband grew up in Australia as one of only three people of color at his school, so we feel a kinship and affection for the continent that’s tempered by its dark side. My introduction to Horwitz was 1987’s One For the Road, his account of hitchhiking around Australia in a big loop that deliberately left out most prominent tourist destinations. Instead of the Sydney Opera House, wine country, and the Gold Coast, we get a long, grubby look at “the Back of Bourke”, the true Outback beyond the coastal cities and inland farmlands. At the time of the book’s writing, some Outback residents measured distances by how many beers you could drink in the car on the way, and twisted and desiccated abandoned vehicles hours from any semblance of services testify to how sensible that is. This book is an absolute blast, but we learn a lot about the legacy of racism and colonialism in Australia along the wild ride.

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Celebrating Pride 2020

by Lois H. (they/them or she/her)

Every year in June, we commemorate the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots with a month-long celebration called Pride. The Stonewall Riots were demonstrations protesting police brutality against the LGBTQ+ community. While often thought of as the start of the LGBTQ+ rights movement, the Stonewall Riots were one significant moment in a revolution that had already started. A revolution that continues today.

More importantly, the LGBTQ+ rights movement would not have succeeded without the leadership of LGBTQ+ individuals of color.

This Pride Month, I want to amplify the voices of Black individuals. Thank you to Ibram X. Kendi and Ericka Hart for your work and many of these book recommendations. Continue reading »

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Cold Comfort

by Marie B.

Many a reader turns to uplifting literature in difficult times.  While I certainly enjoy reading life-affirming tales of second chances, overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and happily-ever-afters, my true comfort zone in reading material is decidedly bleaker. In fact, nothing makes me feel cozier than hunkering down with a mystery or thriller.  You too?  I have a couple of suggestions for you. Continue reading »

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Author Spotlight: Barbara Hambly

By Jennifer K.

Do you like mysteries? Historical fiction? Epic fantasy? Horror? Wait, do you like Star Wars? How about vampires?

Well, let me introduce you to Barbara Hambly, one of my all-time favorite authors, who writes all of those kinds of books – and does it damn well.

I discovered Hambly when I was a teenager and I think I’ve read almost everything she’s ever written (although she is so prolific that some may have slipped through my fingers). I love her tight plots, her deep worldbuilding, her ability to surprise me with twists and turns, and her thought-provoking and three-dimensional characters.Here are a few of my favorites:
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