Great Low-Budget Sci-Fi Films

by Craig B.

Not too long ago, I read an article that highlighted eight great low-budget sci-fi films. What caught my attention was a factoid attached to each movie pointing out how many times the highlighted film could have been made if it had been blessed with Avatar’s $425 million budget. I was especially struck by the disparity between Primer and Avatar. Primer, arguably my favorite movie of 2004, could have been made 60,710 times if it had been graced with the same cash it took to create James Cameron’s CGI extravaganza.

Now, I’m not trying to insinuate that James Cameron is a hack. I happen to like his movies quite a lot. But I am saying that Primer, with a bottom line cheaper than my car, managed to deliver the goods. That blows me away. If I was an economist, and consequently filled with self-loathing, I might try to calculate how much money and time I’ve wasted NOT making my own low-budget masterpiece. Or, I could buy another pizza and keep playing Red Dead Redemption. Choices, choices.

Anyway, here are some of my favorite “popularly priced” sci-fi flicks. A few worthy titles didn’t make the cut, not through oversight, but because I’ve already covered them in other lists I’ve made in the past. As for the slight similarities between my choices and the ones in the article, what can I say? Mickey Ralph has great taste.

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To Infinity and Beyond: Female Astronauts

By Julie T.

As the United States celebrates the 50th anniversary of the    Apollo 11 moon landing, ask yourself what first comes to mind when you think of the NASA space program (aside from the “Eagle” touching down in the Sea of Tranquility). “The sky’s the limit”, an expression invoked to convey limitless possibilities, did not carry over into outer space for decades, when it came to female scientists and celestial explorers. During the early years of the American Space program, a group of women labeled the Mercury 13 were barred from becoming astronauts based on their gender. In March 2019, an all-female spacewalk was grounded due to lack of available spacesuit sizes. Over sixty years after NASA was established, we remain in the era of “Firsts” where women are concerned. Aside from Sally Ride, few comprehensive biographies about female astronauts written for adult audiences have been published. Many existing accounts are written for children or teens. Definitive biographies for male astronauts, geared towards adult readers, abound. Continue reading »

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Shark Week 2k19

By Kaley

It’s upon us once more! Sunday, July 28th marks the beginning of Shark Week. It feels like we’ve been in shark-mode for some time now, as baby shark loops in our brains and the image of Katy Perry’s left shark dances on in our hearts. Was anyone else out there a shark kid, too? I vividly remember bringing home a book about shark attacks after a Scholastic Book Fair, much to my mom’s dismay. I no longer have cable, so luckily for me I can explore shark related content `till my brain can’t take it anymore through the library.

Image result for jaws sinkingIf you are in the same boat as me, hopefully not this one to our left, I’ve got a list for you. Continue reading »

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I Like Weird Books and I Cannot Lie

by Melleny T.

I can’t say that I’m a fan of needlessly long books, but I do gravitate toward the weird ones. By weird, I mean the books that stretch the common definitions of novel, plot, and even character, and showcase the author’s creativity and meticulous attention to detail.

If a book has a gimmick, I’ll probably read it. Sometimes I fall instantly in love, sometimes, it takes me a while to warm up, and yes, sometimes I just can’t stand it. But that doesn’t stop me from trying.

If you’re a fan of experimental formats, unreliable narrators, interconnected storylines, inventive language, non-linear narratives, twists that make you need to re-read the entire book, and plot elements that make you a bit concerned about the mental health of the author, you’re in luck!

While you can find weird books for any age group, I have found the teen collection to house a higher than average supply of weird. I’ve gathered nine of my favorites here. I can’t guarantee you’ll fall instantly in love with these books, but I’m pretty sure you’ll admit that they’re out of the ordinary.

What particular brand of weird do you enjoy? What are some unusual books that you’ve read and enjoyed? Share your comments below.

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Summer Jams

by Lois H.

Much like the festive months of winter, the summer season has its own genre of music. Summer jams are often less lyrically specific than holiday tunes. They usually connote the feeling of summer through composition and melody. And while we all seem to share a collective cultural understanding of holiday music, summer music is heavily associated with personal experience.

I could write you paragraphs about what I think the composition of a true summer jam should resemble. Appropriate topics and vocals and instrumentation. Though there is a science and an art to music, so much of it comes right back to feeling. That one song you heard on the radio all summer long after graduating from high school. The album that drifted through your home on warm summer evenings with all the windows open and curtains gently flying in the breeze. The musical you listened to on cassette tape every day of summer break.

Summer jams are uniquely personal. Although many of mine stem from my childhood, I also find that I accumulate more songs every summer. Here are a few of my top picks for summertime listening:

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Trust Me

by Marie B.

Here I am, reading my book, totally immersed, when WHAMMO, I discover something so shocking that it makes me question everything that has come before.  Welcome to the Unreliable Narrator plot device.

You might think that classifying a book as having an unreliable narrator is enough to spoil the story.  Through hard work and diligent research, I’ve discovered that’s not necessarily so.  After all, there are many reasons a narrator might be “unreliable.”  Such as… Continue reading »

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A Few Hidden Gems: Pacific Northwest Fiction

By Jennifer K.

The Pacific Northwest is home to many brilliant and bestselling authors: Macomber, Alexie, Hannah, Le Guin, Stephenson … If you’re interested in the regional literary scene, you probably already know all about those.

I’d like to introduce you to a few Pacific Northwest reads you might not have heard of.

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Surround Sound U.S. History Lessons

by Marina M.

Image by ErikaWittlieb from Pixabay

I may have just missed the opportunity to highlight some special titles for National Audiobook Month in June. Never fear, I’m just going to take that missed opportunity and turn it into a July two-fer.

As I’m sure you all know, we will celebrate our country’s independence in a few days (*cue fireworks and please stay safe and legal). The history nerd in me has discovered a treasure trove of wide-ranging U.S. history books to enjoy. From political to natural to scientific, many aspects of our nation’s history have played out through the speakers of my car.

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Beyond Bestsellers: The Handmaid’s Tale

by Jackie P.

The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale, even before the award-winning streaming adaptation, has been having a moment 30+ years after its initial publication. It’s long been considered a modern classic, and with shifting politics and reproductive rights dominating political headlines, modern readers are revisiting it or discovering it anew. We’ve definitely seen increased demand here at Sno-Isle Libraries, which tracks with print and digital publishing.

The Testaments

In September, Atwood will be publishing a sequel, called The Testaments, set 15 years after the end of the first book. This is such a big deal that over 1,000 theaters across the world will be live-streaming “an evening with the Canadian novelist, poet, literary critic and inventor.”


If you’ve been one of the many readers of this book, you might be wondering what’s Beyond The Handmaid’s Tale – what should you read next, while you wait for The Testaments? We have some suggestions:

Women Talking - Toews, MiriamWomen Talking by Miriam Toews

Based on horrific true abuses in an isolated Mennonite community, this philosophical book gives voice to women who have very little power and even less education. Focusing on a group of women discussing their next steps, this challenging and unforgettable novel explores female relationships, faith, duty, autonomy, and hope with compelling nuance. For July, it’s available without a holds queue for all Sno-Isle cardholders.


The Bees The Bees by Laline Paull

At first look, a book narrated by a worker bee dreaming of being a queen bee might not immediately seem related, but it challenges authority, established power structures, and the drive for procreation. It doesn’t take long to forget that the buzzing metropolis is, in fact, a beehive.


Girls Burn BrighterGirls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

If you’re looking for a brutal but compelling and ultimately empowering depiction of friendship proving the strength to overcome even the most hopeless situations, this story of two girls from a small Indian village will keep you reading with emotional urgency.


For more, see our If You Like… The Handmaid’s Tale lists in the catalog and Overdrive.

We also have great digital audiobooks that tie into various shared themes. Try Brave New World, 1984, Animal Farm, and First They Killed My Father.

The Handmaid's Tale

What are your suggestions for The Handmaid’s Tale next reads? Share in the comments or make your own list!

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Beyond Bestsellers: Bye, Bye Biographies!

by Lois H.

It’s the end of the month already and it’s time for us to say goodbye to biographies and memoirs. This doesn’t mean that you have to say goodbye, of course, but we’ll be moving on to something a little different.

Starting in July, Beyond Bestsellers is going to start focusing less on genres and more on bestselling authors and titles. We know that sometimes you need a recommended read while you wait in line for the newest James Patterson. In this new and improved format, you can expect to see read-a-likes for bestselling authors like Nora Roberts and Neil Gaiman to suggestions based on hot titles like The Handmaid’s Tale or The Goldfinch.

However, if you’re like me, you’re never ready to say goodbye to biographies and memoirs! For more titles, you can always browse our blog posts or search the catalog using the subject headings “Biography” or “Autobiography.”  Don’t have time to read an entire book? If you ever need some biographical information, be sure to check out Biography in Context for your research needs. It’s the perfect database for school projects or fact-checking your friends.

And be sure to check out some of these biographical lists from Beyond Bestsellers’ past and present.

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