Did You Like Overlord?

By Jennifer K.

Overlord was a 2018 World War II movie in which good guys parachute into occupied France, where they fight Nazis and also zombies. That’s right: there are good guys, Nazis, zombies, and zombie Nazis. There’s also a beautiful French Resistance fighter, several vials of glowing liquid, and a zombie-making Nazi scientist who wears those sinister little round glasses. I saw it in the theater, and I can promise you, this is not your father’s World War II movie. This is a World War II movie that uses an AC/DC song in the trailer.

Needless to say, it was awesome.

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Under the Sea

by Marina M.

I don’t like to date myself but, in this case, it’s necessary. I was in 8th grade and taking an oceanography class when The Little Mermaid came out. That was almost thirty years ago. The combination of those two events led me to a life-long interest of marine life and marine biology. Obviously, I didn’t pursue it as a career but I still seek out books and documentaries that highlight what lies beneath.

First We Set the Mood

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If You Liked The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight) Trilogy

by Denise D.

So, did you recently finish The Winter of the Witch and thus the entire Winternight Trilogy? Or are you still in the hold line? Are you looking for another historical fantasy featuring a strong, somewhat rebellious, young woman with otherworldly abilities who won’t settle for the oppression of magic? All set in a beautifully detailed world that is flavored by myths, fairy tales and cultures from around the globe? If so, then this list just might contain your next read.

Or are you intrigued by the Russian setting in the early days of tsarism? How about historical novels inspired by real women in the opulent inner circle of the last Romanovs?  When Grigori Rasputin held sway over the royal family and the nation brimmed with revolution?

Two Montenegrin princesses who marry into unwelcoming Russian nobility inspire The Witches of St. Petersburg. Ostracized from the aristocracy because of their backwoods upbringing and magic practices, the two sisters befriend the melancholic new tsarina and introduce her to Rasputin.

For a perspective pairing, check out The Romanov Empress, told from the view of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, the former tsarina and mother of Tsar Nicholas. As the mother-in-law, her take on Tsarina Alexandra and Rasputin is not so favorable. I could imagine lots of book club discussion fodder for readers of both tales.

Are you a Winternight Trilogy fan? What reads do you suggest for fellow fans?

 

 

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Get Ready for a Bookish Brawl!

by Marie B

It’s almost time for Prose Bowl 2019, the contest where readers from Sno-Isle Libraries choose their favorite book from the past year.

The contest begins on March 1, when we’ll provide contest details and the first opportunity to vote right here on the BiblioFiles blog.  Each week you’ll have a chance to vote on the titles that have advanced to the next rounds, until the winning title is announced on March 29.

While you’re waiting for the moment you can cast your first vote of the contest, we thought you might enjoy a preview of the 60 contenders.  Check ’em out!  Pssst:  there’s no such thing as too many books.

Click on Prose Bowl 2019 below to view the list all at once.

Prose Bowl 2019

Which book are you rooting for?

Tell us in the comments, below.

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Your Heroes Might Be Villains

By Isaac H.

Have you ever watched or re-watched a movie and thought to yourself “I see why the hero(es) needed to win, but was the villain(s) sort of right”? Alternatively, have you ever noticed that the goals of the hero could be seen as questionable or even villainous?  I’ve had these epiphanies after watching dozens of movies, some of which I consider classics and have loved since childhood.

Now there is a need for a few obvious disclaimers here. This is not the case with most movies. If you find yourself automatically identifying with the antagonist in most films, well, that could be something else. Almost certainly nothing good. Likewise, I’m not the first to posit these questions. There are countless pop culture blogs and newsfeeds that review movies under the merciless magnifying glass of the contrarian perspective.  I just want to highlight a few that have always irked me, even if I love the movie and cheer for the heroes every time.

Now, with that said I would like to offer a few examples of movies where either the hero’s motivation can objectively be seen as villainous, or the villain’s motivations can be seen as at least rational from a reasonable subjective position.

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Beyond Bestsellers: Up Lit for Book Clubs!

By Kristi S.

We are halfway through our February Beyond Bestsellers month. Where has your reading taken you? I hope you’ve already taken our quiz and found some titles you connected with.

People are always searching the library for uplifting books, and it seems that book clubs are especially looking for the lighter side of literature. Often, book club picks are dramatic and deeply emotional, which makes for great discussion! But, once your book club has read all the novels of WWII, orphans, and abuse, you might be looking for something a little lighter. We have book kits to cover it all. Continue reading »

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Happiness Not Guaranteed: Love in Lit

by Lisa C.

It’s February, the time of year that brings up certain expectations around the idea of romantic love. Take this post for example. I knew it was due the week of the 14th and try as I might to redirect my thoughts, I got hung up on LOVE. So why not give in and let some stories sweep us off our feet before they inevitably break our hearts?

When I think about great love stories, I think about longing looks, initially denied attraction, unstoppable passion, mutual destruction, and doom. At the end of such epic agonies, I am left bereft and wondering, what did I just subject myself to and when can I do it again?  Does this sound like you, too? Then follow me for some vicarious pain.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Classics are a great place to start your tragic journey and who does untamed, destructive passion better than Cathy and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights? Are they star-crossed lovers dealt an unfair hand by fate, reprehensible people responsible for all their own miseries, or forces of nature unable to be contained by societal conventions?  Whatever your perspective, this is a dramatic tale of obsessive love and the destruction left in its wake. Side note: My adult self says Heathcliff is not a good choice for romantic hero, but my 13 year-old self rages at the betrayal.

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth features a less volatile, though still heart-rending, pairing. Lily Bart is a beautiful, society woman in New York at the turn of the twentieth century. Despite her background, she is accepted by the “right people” – old money. Her expensive tastes and desire to maintain her social standing make marriage an imperative.  She can’t quite get herself to the altar though. Enter Lawrence. Perfectly respectable, but the “right people”  he isn’t. It’s a classic love or money dilemma, complete with scandal, hypocrisy, double standards, and corruption.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

If your tastes in emotional turmoil are more modern, try An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. Roy and Celestial are a passionately happy couple when we meet them. However, their love is tested when Roy is arrested for a crime he did not commit. Can their marriage survive Roy’s 12 year prison sentence? A complex exploration of the personal consequences of racial injustice. This 2018 title has received many accolades and is included in The New York Times100 Notable Books of 2018.”

 

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

Sparks fly when Elio and David meet, but they both attempt to ignore their attraction.  As summer progresses, 17 year-old Elio’s infatuation for the older David intensifies and the two begin a feverish love affair. However, summers always come to an end… Set against the backdrop of the Italian Riviera, Call Me By Your Name poignantly captures the all-consuming longing and passion of first love and the enduring regret created by its loss.

Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

Now for something a little different. The Travelling Cat Chronicles is told from the perspective of a stray cat and it is actually a warmhearted, funny tale of the unconditional love between an animal and a human. What’s it doing on this list? Because it is sad, sort-of! You will experience joy and happiness, but you will know that sadness is lurking, hiding in future pages. A satisfyingly bittersweet story of love and loss and friendship.

 

Take a look at the full list for more gut-wrenching suggestions. Which doomed literary love affair do you think is the most tragical

Need a cure for all this heartache? Check out Happiness IS Guaranteed: Love in Lit Part 2

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The Thin Gray Line

by Craig B.

“Creation is messy. You want genius, you get madness; two sides of the same coin.” – Steve Jobs

“At the edge of madness you howl diamonds and pearls.” – Aberjhani

The Ninth Symphony. The Sistine Chapel. Classical Cynicism. The human mind is a marvelous thing. We’ve gone from stone tools to quantum mechanics in a surprisingly short time. We’ve stood on the shoulders of giants. But if I was to tell you that many of Beethoven’s contemporaries described him as psychotic and unapproachable, that Michelangelo was so compulsively focused that he rarely bathed or changed his clothes, or that Diogenes had a predilection for urinating on people he didn’t like…well, you might start questioning whether they were giants or just plain crazy.

The thin gray line between genius and insanity has always fascinated me. Why are so many brilliant people so messed up? Is insanity a muse? Do epiphanies require abnormal thinking? I’m not sure I know the answer to these questions. What I do know is that the following individuals offered us something great, often at the expense of their own well-being.

In the Realms of the Unreal

Henry Darger was reclusive. In fact, he was so reclusive, his landlords didn’t know about his 15,000 page manuscript until they were cleaning out his apartment after he died. Darger’s novel, titled “The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion” has never been published in its entirety, but the illustrations for his epic have traveled the world. I saw an exhibit at the Frye Museum in 2006 and I’ve never forgotten it. Darger’s eerie innocence, abnormal iconography, and unique color palette all combine to create an aesthetic that is nothing short of haunting.

Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Syd Barrett led an erratic life. Between drugs and schizophrenia, he had little choice. His transformation, both mentally and physically, was so radical that he wasn’t even recognized by his friends when he dropped in for a studio visit several years after being kicked out of the band. When Roger Waters finally realized who Barrett was, he wept; Waters was currently recording Shine on You Crazy Diamond, an homage to the man standing in front of him. Despite Barrett’s crippling infliction, he created some of the most original and memorable psychedelic music of the 60’s.

My Inventions and Other Writings

One of my favorite Nikola Tesla biographies is this colorful rant from The Oatmeal. However, The Oatmeal fails to mention that Tesla was obsessive compulsive, haunted by visions, and conducted experiments that occasionally bordered on life-threatening. Some of the stories are apocryphal; Tesla was also a compulsive spinner of yarns. Still, he paved the way for wireless communication, remote control technology, neon lighting, and all sorts of other really cool things.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Philip K. Dick was as disturbed and paranoid as his writing, especially later in life. He would receive messages from a pink beam of light that beamed into his forehead. He sometimes thought he was living two lives simultaneously. He accused numerous people of vast political conspiracies. But, without his illness, it’s hard to say whether he would have made so many philosophically unnerving stories.

The Complete Poems

William Blake spent the bulk of his life concocting poetry, dissertations, and illustrations centered on his own mythology and spiritual pantheon. In many respects, Blake isn’t too different than, say, Tolkien or Lovecraft, with the notable exception that neither Tolkien nor Lovecraft believed they were describing reality. Blake would also recount celestial visitations and describe lengthy conversations he’d had with dead people. However he received his motivation, Blake’s work resonates with a pomp and grandeur realized in few other artists.

I hope you enjoy these titles! Be sure to comment with any additional titles you discover so I can add them to my list.

 

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Come Fly with Me

By Julie T.

I’m a casual birder, taking enjoyment in Dark-eyed Juncos dancing along suburban sidewalks, skies filled with crows en route to Bothell, and squadrons of brown pelicans soaring over rocky ocean outcroppings. On a recent morning over coffee, my mother-in-law identified birds flitting about the blackberry brambles across the street from her house. From a pair of binoculars, I could see the wind ruffle their feathers as they searched for breakfast. While many enjoy birding as a hobby, there is much the casual observer can appreciate over the course of their day. It doesn’t matter if you’re urban, suburban, or rural, birds of various shapes and sizes touch base in your neighborhood.

One of my favorite memoirs explores loss, raptors, and T.H. White. Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk, teamed up with the BBC to produce a one hour special on her life in the years since she wrote about the loss of her father and training a goshawk named Mabel. The documentary delves into this new chapter in Macdonald’s life as she takes a new goshawk under her wing. She emerges much as a phoenix does from the ashes of grief to create a new life.

The Guide to Birding in North America

 

 

 

 

If you want to take your bird-watching to the next level, The Guide to Birding in North America, a twenty-four part DVD lesson led by instructor Jamie Currie. This course inspires a greater appreciation for and understanding of birds, in addition to making it an enjoyable pastime.

Flock to my film list, Come Fly with Me. It offers a range of DVDs that touch on bird behavior and our connections to our avian neighbors. This selection is just the tip of the iceberg, with many more fascinating titles available in our collection! Share your favorite titles, as well as your go-to bird-watching spots, in the comments.

 

 

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Beyond Bestsellers: Up Lit

By Kristi S.

February is here and it’s time for our new Beyond Bestsellers theme. If you need a reminder of what Beyond Bestsellers is all about, here’s a quick recap. For the month of February, we are going to be exploring Up Lit! Never heard of Up Lit? Neither had I until I started doing research for this month.

Up Lit, short for uplifting literature, is a relatively new name for the “feel-good” genre of reading that is making waves in the book world right now. Alongside hard-hitting literary fiction with decidedly upsetting themes, we are seeing a rise in novels of kindness and compassion on the bestseller lists. In today’s fast-paced world, riddled with political tension and bad news, it’s unsurprising that people are looking to slow down with inspirational stories of human connection. This month, we have no-wait eBook access to The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. This is a leisurely paced and charming novel about a woman tasked with returning a large collection of lost items to their owner. Ruth Hogan got a lot of buzz for this novel, and in this interview in the Guardian, she ruminates on the power of Up Lit, saying “…our real life is dark enough. I think people are returning to the idea of fiction as an escape. And usually if we want to escape from the real world, we want to escape to a better world.” I have to agree. I am constantly looking to escape through fiction, even if just for a few hours.

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