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 »

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Sno-Isle Staff Favorites of 2017

by Kimberly P.

Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot. . .

As the year winds down, it’s the customary time of “year-end” lists. Best movies of 2017, Best Books of 2017, Best Dressed of 2017. . . If you can think it, there’s probably a year-end list for it.

At Sno-Isle, we’ve put together a list of our own. An annual collection of staff favorites that we’ve loved throughout the year. As you can imagine, with such a diverse group of people, we read, watch, or listen to any and everything. Still, there were some favorites that were the most popular in their respective categories.

. . . and Auld Lang Syne!*

 

Representing the Favorite Movie category, DC triumphed over Marvel as Wonder Woman, a film exploring the superhero’s World War I origins, took home the Sno-Isle trophy for most popular movie. We couldn’t get enough of superheros as Logan, a dark, near future X-Men movie, came in second.

 

 

 

 

 

For our Favorite Audiobook category, it was a close one. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, a retelling of classic Norse stories and read by the author, turned out to be the auditory book of choice for several staff members. It also shares the spotlight with Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham.

 

 

When it comes to Favorite Music, it was difficult to determine a clear winner. Staff liked what they liked, and with very little overlap–though we couldn’t seem to get enough movie soundtracks & musicals. That said, of the albums mentioned, Run the Jewels 3 by Run the Jewels cropped up again and again. Who knew socially conscious hip hop would find a home among library staff? Following in a close second is jazz album Robot by Caravan Palace.

 

 

Like our music category, it was almost as difficult to determine a winner for Favorite Children title. Staff’s taste run wide and deep. Nevertheless, out of the sea of children’s literature, there was only one title that surfaced more often than any other: The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. It seems we have an avid interest in World War II children’s historical fiction, especially when told through the perspective of a disable child longing to escape her life of abuse and neglect.

 

 

For Favorite Teen, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was a clear winner. Its clear-eyed examination of injustice touched the minds and hearts of several staff members. For others, what influenced them more was their sense of smell. Particularly, The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock, which shares the second place spotlight with Dragonwatch by Brandon Mull.

 

 

We read a ton this year! (Did you expect anything different?) It seems for our Favorite Adult Fiction many staff wet their voracious appetites with Beartown by Fredrik Backman, a story of secrets, hockey, and how the actions of a few can destroy or make a rural town; we washed it down with Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.

 

 

 

In the Favorite Nonfiction category, it seems a local author captured the hearts of many a Sno-Isle staffer. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie wins the vote for most popular. We’re suckers for complex (and sometimes contentious!) maternal relationships. Rounding out the category are Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and Coach Wooden & Me by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar which tie for second.

 

 

What’s your favorite book for 2017? Have you discovered an as-yet-unread title you’re eager to sink your teeth into?

 

*= For those who, like me, had no idea what “auld lang syne” means–it roughly translates to “for the sake of old times”.

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So Long! Farewell!

by Liz K.

Welcome to my last blog post as a member of the Readers’ Services Team! Blog writing, book list making, and reading challenge planning…My three-year term has flown by! Busy and fun, with a dash of occasional stress, I am really going to miss being part of this group. So now what? What am I going to do with all my free time and free brain power? Petition an extension of my term? Nope! Read…The answer is read. Starting today, I am going to read without abandon again. Read without taking notes or worrying that my choices are getting stale! Read without worrying that the cover art is going to get me in trouble! It is going to be glorious.

Some highlights from my list:

A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

My bestie lives across the country. Exactly 1,595.4 miles away according to Google Maps. We recently decided we should try reading the same book and then video messaging about it. Not a book group mind you, distance and time zones make set meetings hard after all. We’ve dubbed it “synchronized reading” instead. This is our first pick for our foray into SR. Not a new book, but a new author to me. I read Along the Infinite Sea over the summer and loved it! Connected, but not truly a prequel, I am hoping this title pulls us in the same way. 
 
 
Set against the backdrop of World War I, Deputy Constance Kopp takes on the socioeconomic and legal struggles of women in 1916 . I mean, she’s already taken on members of the Black Hand society and help catch an escaped prisoner so why not?! Based on the real life of the nation’s first female Deputy Sheriff, Stewart’s first two books were a perfect mix of historical fiction and mystery. If this one is anything like those two, I will not be disappointed. Sound like your cup of tea, too? I would highly recommend checking this series out!

 

Seventeen and pregnant, Sadie Blue is trapped in a horrific marriage to a moonshiner husband in 1970s Appalachia. With reviews calling it “tender but powerful,” I am hoping this makes a suitable fictional companion to my favorite non-fiction title of the year, Hillbilly Elegy, by J.D. Vance.

 

You can check out my full 2018 reading list here. Well…not quite the full list. Those with questionable covers have been omitted. Obviously.
Happy reading!

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Keeping Score

by Brian H.

San Francisco Symphony and MTT

The inner orchestra nerd is coming out in me for this BiblioFiles post. I have a favorite American symphony orchestra that I want share with you, The San Francisco Symphony. This orchestra is currently led by a favorite conductor of mine too, Michael Tilson Thomas (aka MTT). So as they say two birds with one blog post…I mean stone. The orchestra has been in existence for over 100 years, celebrating their centennial year in 2011. MTT is only the second American born conductor to lead this orchestra. He started his tenure with the group in 1985.

 

A hallmark of MTT’s tenure with the San Francisco Symphony is the work they have done to help audiences young and old learn about orchestra music, composers and performers. This work culminates in these educational DVDs, Keeping Score, available through hoopla. All you need is your library card to view. (Otherwise only available for rent from Spotify, YouTube, Amazon or iTunes.)

Here are three trailers to pique your interest.

 

 

 

Sno-Isle Libraries music services hoopla and Freegal offer a good deal of music by this amazing orchestra. I created this list of all the San Francisco recordings which includes CDs from the catalog too.

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Beyond Bestsellers: Graphic Novel Lists

By Kaley C

​As our month of celebrating and exploring graphic novels comes to an end, I thought we could take a peek at some of the lists people have made. Just in case you’d like to squeeze in a few more as our break in December begins. Even though we won’t be highlighting another genre or format this upcoming month, we would all love to see lists you might come up with if you would like to catch up with any of the months you may have missed. Particularly since the holiday season is approaching, lists would make fantastic suggestions for gifts! Not to mention we are officially entering the hibernation season where it’s the perfect temperature to stay inside and curl up with a new book.

I haven’t read a lot of mangas like Kim has, so I was so happy to see a list made by smozog000’s favorite mangas.

While ​therhiannamater showed us some popular works by Warren Ellis:

Warren Ellis is a powerful force in modern comics. His ability to create unique perspectives on beloved characters as well as entirely new series. Here’s a few of his most resonating works.

I’ve read a few of the graphic novels off of mercurious007’s list, but I was excited to see more suggestions than the few I had on my romance and relationships list. Plus it reminded me to snag Kate Leth’s Spell on Wheels!

Graphic novels starring LGBT characters are at libraries near you! These characters fight crime, solve mysteries, fall in love, embark on awesome adventures, develop strong friendships, and more! This is just a taste of what you can find in the Sno-Isle Libraries’ catalog. If your library doesn’t have the books you crave, ask them to purchase a copy or borrow (aka Interlibrary Loan​) one from another library system for you.

Edutcher has a pretty solid start to a few fantasy graphic novels you can place a hold on today:

Lesser known graphic novels with elements of magic, mad science, or a world that is not our own.

Reading graphic novels was something that just two years ago I wouldn’t have thought was for me. I sincerely hope I’ve been able to share a new title with you that you might’ve enjoyed, whether this format is new to you or an old favorite. Your lists have given me new suggestions to read and I am really enjoying them! Thanks, everyone, and see you for our next round in January!

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Beyond Bestsellers: Graphic Novels and the Value of Visuals

by Emily Z.

I will happily read all manner of graphic novels, from memoirs to tales of the fantastic, as long as I also like the illustrations. When a book is full of pictures, the pictures matter. If the images weren’t important to the graphic novel format, graphic novels could just be regular books—really short, perplexing books with text composed exclusively of dialogue.

In truth, I have some fairly profane opinions about a few exceedingly famous, beloved graphic novel series (that shall not be outed here) simply because the illustrations are not my style or are painfully dated. I don’t dislike all classic comic art of course, just almost everything created in the late 1980s. Rob Liefeld also has some explaining to do. Your experience may vary, so I’m including a mix of styles here. Graphic novels can be classically breathtaking or boldly stylized, after all. Every one of these titles is beautiful, just not in the same way.

We’re not simply here for the looks of these books, either. Each volume also has a remarkable tale to tell. There’s a little historical fiction, some whimsical fantasy, and a fair bit of drama. Quite a few of the graphic novel titles I happen to consider gorgeous are also ones I’ve already talked about but of course, there’s always more to see. Hopefully you’ll find something to suit both your visual and narrative tastes.

As always, if you have a book that you think is the full package—beauty and brains—let me know in the comments.

House of Women by Sophie Goldstein

In bold and uncluttered black and white drawings, Goldstein recounts a familiar-feeling legend of well-intentioned missionaries tasked with civilizing a new world. In this case, the world is an alien planet and the missionaries are a handful of modest, dedicated nuns who want to teach the children they find literacy, chastity, and handicrafts. Most of this world’s natural elements—wood, water, grasses, and rocks—resemble swirling woodcuts and when paired with the habit-like costumes of the missionaries, this futuristic story becomes tinged with a curiously old-fashioned feeling. Regardless of the spaceships and aliens, this is an old tale–one of drama, men and women, monsters, lust, jealousy, and poisonous secrets.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

The Arrival is a story that needs no words. In fact, its wordless-ness is in an important component of the story. This is the tale of a refugee struggling to make his way in an outlandish new country and like him, we must infer what is happening without the aid of a common tongue. The world Tan has created for our hero appears to be an old one, already crammed with generations of curious people, buildings, symbols, art, and impossible creatures. There hardly seems to be room for new people, but our protagonist eventually finds that there is a place for him and that he too can add to the richness of this place.

You can take a look at some interior images at Shaun’s website.

The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects by Mike Mignola

Mike Mignola’s distinctive drawings are perpetually swathed in shadows and often resemble something carved from stone. Mignola’s usual fare trends toward dark topics (Hell, Hellboy, murders, murderous supernatural creatures, etc) and are often festooned with skulls, but the world of Screw-On Head is an opportunity to see more of his lighter side. Though still spooky, these short vignettes range from charmingly absurd to utterly goofy.

Tokyo Ghost vol 1

Tokyo Ghost by Rick Remender [art by Sean Murphy]

In Tokyo Ghost, everything you’re currently worried about happening to our society has happened. Rampant pollution, crime, a total collapse of morals and culture—all of it. Almost every human, at least in the West, is fully addicted to increasingly powerful and sophisticated technology. This graft-able, injectable tech is designed to make the violent stronger and the miserable distracted. What kind of person can survive in a world like this? You might think it’s bounty-hunter Led Dent, the hulking figure on the cover of this book. Instead, it is Dent’s loyal lover, Debbie, who is the hero we need. She’s no angel, but she’s going to get herself and her man Dent out of the nightmare that is LA if it’s the last thing they do.

A note on Sean Murphy:

Murphy’s line work is spectacular and his compositions consistently dynamic. There’s no situation he cannot render clearly and beautifully. I’m only highlighting one of the many books he’s worked on today, but please check out his other projects.

Take a gander at these other beauties too:

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Wonderful Dogs in Romance Novels

by Jocelyn R.

Dogs, lovable pets often named a person’s best friend, are wonderful characters who wiggle their way into our hearts. Just like their human counterparts, dogs have unique personalities and foibles that shine off the page. And since I absolutely adore dogs, it’s always a pleasure to read the heartwarming antics of these characters. Do you want to read some romance novels with lovable dogs? Read on…

Always on My Mind – Jill Shalvis
Great Dane Kevin is a bit wild and definitely lacks manners. The big goofball will eat anything, which leads to disastrous farts and other issues. Kevin may not be the star of this novel, but his page time will make you laugh.

Troublemaker – Linda Howard
Meet Tricks. A canine diva who has almost as much page time as the romantic suspense plot. She’s mischievous, stubborn, smart, holds grudges, and is definitely the troublemaker referenced in the title.

Run to Ground – Katie Ruggle
K-9 cop Viggy is sad, and a bit depressed, still trying to recover from the loss of his partner. But spending time with town newcomers, Jules and her family, is starting to perk him up, much to his new partner’s dismay.

The Search – Nora Roberts
While Fiona has three awesome search and rescue dogs of her own, it’s puppy Jaws who steals the show. How can you resist a puppy who eats the passenger seat headrest?

A Time for Home – Alexis Morgan
In this trilogy, Mooch offers comfort and unconditional love to three soldiers returning home from Afghanistan. His humorous antics and care help them with the transition from military to civilian life.

Looking for even more romance novels with wonderful dogs? Check out more works by Nora Roberts (i.e. Bert from The Witness and Moe from Key of Light) and Jill Shalvis (i.e. Cooper from Lost and Found Sisters, Thor from Sweet Little Lies).

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Genre Movie Challenge

By Grant P. & Michelle C.

Your faithful film bloggers here at Sno-Isle don’t always agree on what makes a good movie. Sno-Isle collects 15(!) different film genres and Michelle and I have decided to select a film to suggest in each genre and … we are going to watch 3 films from our opposition’s list, and blog about that experience in coming weeks. Onwards to the list.  Both of us are not looking forward to this “challenge.”

Action

 

Anime

Comedy

Drama

Educational

Family

Fantasy

Foreign

 

Horror

Musical

Mystery

Science Fiction

Suspense

 

Television

War

Western

 

 

Can you tell which list was Grant’s and which list was Michelle’s (hint: Michelle’s list has all the watchable movies)? What do you think of our choices? Any movies that we should have listed?

Make sure you check back with us in a couple weeks to see our reaction to watching each other’s picks!

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Beyond Bestsellers: Getting Past the First Volume

By Kaley C

​My appreciation of graphic novels is well documented. Graphic novels can be one full arc complete with character history, world-building, and plot design. In addition to having fully developed plots and characters, they are often broken down into volumes. I’m always on the hunt for a solid series to start reading. It’s rare, but every so often I’ll find one that I might not feel the need to continue (sorry Black Science fans, one volume was all I needed) while other have me checking various sites for publication dates. These are just a few of my current favorite series I’ve enjoyed getting past the first volume.

I’m not in the business of giving away major plot points, but this is your official warning to proceed with caution if you haven’t read the first volumes!

Iinvisible republic 2

Invisible Republic 2 is driven by the characters and world building more than its predecessor. There’s still action, but here we get a better background story of the players which will give you more of a concrete understanding of the politics involved. This Hugo Award nominee is worth your time. You continue flashing between the story’s present and past while questioning who to trust.

 

Paper girls

Papergirls 2 this time-travel science fiction seems to only get more intense as we learn more about the characters pasts and futures and what the heck is going on in Cleveland. It picks up after Erin, Mac, and Tiffany travel unexpectedly from 1988 to 2016 and meet a 41-year-old Erin while still on the run from creatures and people they don’t understand.

 


Jon and Suzie move past the honeymoon phase of their relationship
With my next series it’s important to remember that not everyone will enjoy the same sense of humor as the creators. Sex Criminals Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop gives us a deeper understanding of Jon and Suzie’s relationship after the end of their honeymoon phase as we watch Jon struggle with managing mental illness. Volume two will leave you on a heck of a cliffhanger, so here’s the link for the third so you can go ahead and place a hold right now. This series continues to make you laugh while being educational. The fourth volume was published recently and I’d definitely suggest it as well.

 Image result for wayward vol 2

Wayward Vol 2: Ties That Bind introduces us to a new girl named Ohara Emi that, like with the teens in the first volume, thought she was normal until new powers began to emerge. Rori and Shirai have been missing and presumed dead since the last huge battle, and now they’re being hunted by the Yokai, Japanese creatures and spirits that wish to hoard power they’ve built over the centuries.

Tread gently with my next suggestion because No Mercy Volume Two is so intense! The first volume shows Princeton-bound teens fighting for survival after an accident in Central America. The following installment shows that surviving the first night is only the beginning of their problems. Many have split off into their own terrifying story-lines as we learn more about their past. I am both scared and excited to read volume three!

I’ve got more here, but I’m really curious if you have any series you can’t put down either! Please let me know in the comments if there’s additional series that I need to be reading.

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Beyond Bestsellers: Manga & Manhwa

by Kimberly P. 

In honor of Beyond Bestsellers: Graphic Novels, I’ve been devouring my favorite form of graphic novels–manga and manhwa!

Manga and manhwa are comics created in Japan and South Korea (respectively) and have a distinct style. Black and white illustrations fill their pages. They reflect every genre from romance to speculative fiction to gritty detective stories.

My first manga love was Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi. I was (actually, let’s be honest, I still am) a huge Sailor Moon fan. The artwork, storyline, and characters nabbed me and as a child I wished I could be a superhero and protect the solar system with my friends.

Interestingly enough, I was more interested in the other sailor senshi (sailor scouts) than Usagi, the main character. I felt she was too whiny. My favorite senshi is Rei Hino, Sailor Mars. She’s a princess of Mars, has two companion birds Phobos and Deimos, controls fire and is a Shinto priestess-in-training. What’s not to love?

Some other favs in the milieu of Sailor Moon are Sakura Hime, Kiss of the Rose Princess, and Magic Knight Rayearth.

 

 

But sometimes, I just want to read something dark and haunting. For that, I turn to X/1999 by CLAMP. Taking place at the end of days (1999!), this manga of apocalyptic fiction bursts with gorgeous illustrations, mythology and gruesome violence. Kamui Shirou must choose a side–either the Dragons of Heaven, or the Dragons of Earth. Depending on his allegiance, the world will either be saved or condemned.

Along the same line of epic good versus evil battles that leave characters with a host of physical and mental scars, I also adore The Betrayal Knows My Name. The artwork is beyond beautiful, and I love the gender fluidity of the main character, Yuki.

And who wouldn’t want a beautiful demon as a personal bodyguard?

 

 

Speaking of demons and darker manga, I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Black Butler! I’m borderline obsessive about this series with its dark humor and occult themes.

Some other beloved titles (with varying degrees of humor, but all tinged with horror) are Vampire Knight, Black Bird, Trinity Blood, Uzumaki and Bizenghast.

 

 

 

 

 

When I want to layer on the drama, I turn to Goong by So Hee Park. It has all the trappings of my favorite Korean dramas: Betrayal, backstabbing, love triangles, arrogant-but-gorgeous boys, disapproving in-laws who plot your demise . . . I can’t get enough.

Goong explores highs and lows of an arranged marriage between a commoner and a crown prince in modern day South Korea. (Be forewarned: it’s seriously addictive, like a juicy soap opera).

Some of my other favorites in the genre of modern life include Say I Love You, My Love Story!!, Kare Kano, and Hot Gimmick  (WARNING: Hot Gimmick includes an emotionally abusive relationship).

 

 

For the high-action, adrenaline pumping, fight-scenes-that-last-for-volumes graphic novels, I can’t be without my all time favorite: Bleach by Tite Kubo. When he accidentally obtains the powers of a Soul Reaper (death god), Ichigo Kurosaki must protect humanity from evil spirits.

Aside from high octane fight sequences, I’ve grown attached to Bleach’s unique characters. Like Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, I find myself more obsessed with its supporting characters.

(My favorite is Byakuya Kukichi, captain of the Soul Reapers’ 6th Division.)

Titles similar to Bleach include Fairy Tail, Attack on Titan, Naruto, Dragonball Z, Rurouni Kenshin, and One Punch Man.

Do you have a favorite manga or manhwa? Let us know in the links. In the meantime, check out my list of manga and manhwa titles.

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An Evening with Jacquelyn Mitchard

by Jackie P.

It’s not too late to see bestselling author Jacquelyn MitchardBestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard this Saturday! Her book The Deep End of the Ocean was the inaugural selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club and was made into a major feature film. The editor of a realistic Young Adult imprint, Merit Press, Mitchard also is the author of seven novels for young adults. Her work has won the Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson awards, as well as the UK’s Walkabout Prize and was short-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize). She is a professor of creative writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts and former contributing editor for More magazine. Mitchard grew up in Chicago, and now lives on Cape Cod with her family.

Heavy hors d’ouvres and beverages will be served at the reception/presentation. There are no tickets for this event, but guests will be encouraged to make a generous donation to Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. Please RSVP by emailing or calling Jennifer O’Brien at 360-651-7074 or jobrien@sno-isle.org.

If you aren’t familiar with Mitchard, she’s best known for her family-centered fiction filled with tough issues, but which are ultimately uplifting. She’s praised for her believable characters and sensitive stories that have a core of honesty. Her prose is straightforward, but still evokes a strong sense of place alongside gripping emotional stories that sometimes accompany elements of suspense (NoveList). Fans of Jodi Picoult, Christina Schwarz, Anna Quindlen, Anita Shreve, and Chris Bohjalian will all find elements in Mitchard’s work to enjoy.

Selected bibliography:

        

We hope to see you there on Saturday!

An evening with Jacquelyn Mitchard
7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18
Mukilteo Library, 4675 Harbour Pointe Blvd.

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