Beyond Bestsellers: Golden Age Mysteries

by Jennifer K.

Come Back to the Golden Age

My father is a book collector. He used to take me to used book stores, where we would hunt the stacks for first editions of Golden Age detective stories.

Mysteries of the Golden Age (the 1920s through the 1940s, with a few outliers before and after) vary widely in quality and setting, but they exhibit some common characteristics: the murder takes place in an isolated setting, limiting the number of suspects; the detective is preternaturally brilliant; the clues mislead. Crime in a Golden Age mystery tends to be staged like a play or a puzzle, designed to pique the reader rather than to portray how actual crime happens. You could criticize them for being mannerly and artificial.

To me, Golden Age detective stories are superb comfort reads, and not just because they recall afternoons of discussing books with my dad. They present a fundamentally just world, in which mysteries will always be solved. Murderers, however fiendishly clever, will always get caught. Anarchy is unloosed upon the world, but in the end, the wobbling sphere is set back upon its axis, the center holds, and peace and order are affirmed.

Agatha Christie is the undisputed sovereign of the Golden Age. She perfected the rules and conventions of her genre, and then she demonstrated her mastery by breaking them. If for some reason you haven’t read Christie, you can dip in to her catalog anywhere: all of her 66 mysteries are good and most are brilliant. My favorites include A Murder Is Announced, And Then There Were None, The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side, and the fiendish The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

Dorothy L. Sayers is, in my opinion, not only the greatest Golden Age mystery writer, but the greatest mystery writer of all time, ever, period. Her detective, an effete blond nobleman named Lord Peter Wimsey, solves crime while indulging in Wodehousian banter with his valet, Bunter. I love Murder Must Advertise, in which Lord Peter goes undercover to solve a murder in a London ad agency. Or, if you’re feeling romantic, read the sequence of books, starting with Strong Poison, which chronicle Peter’s rocky relationship with Harriet Vane. But really, you just ought to read them all.

John Dickson Carr is my father’s favorite Golden Age mystery writer, the one we stalked through dusty used book store shelves. Carr was the master of the locked-room mystery, in which the murder seems to be impossible: the crime took place in a room, locked on the inside. You won’t guess how the murderer got in. Unfortunately, Carr is largely forgotten today, but you can find two of his puzzling short stories (one written under his pseudonym, Carter Dickson) in The Black Lizard Big Book of Locked-Room Mysteries.

Other authors of the Golden Age include Rex Stout, G.K. Chesterton, Margery Allingham, Josephine Tey, Ngaio Marsh, and Georges Simenon. Enjoy them all, and tell us about your favorites in the comments!

view the whole list

Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Comic Artists and Authors that Hit the Big Time

by Kaley

​Finding zines and webcomics from little known makers is a past time of mine. It’s probably my favorite part of exploring Comic Cons. It’s inspiring to watch a creator start as an unknown artist posting their doodles on tumblr or Instagram rise to a published author. So here is a post celebrating those artists who stuck it out when it felt like nothing was working.


Panel from “How to Tell if Your Cat is Trying to Kill You” by The Oatmeal

It’s hard to start a post like this without mentioning local favorite, Matt Inman, creator of The Oatmeal. Inman started his website back in 2009 and researches topics he’s interested in. He has created comics ranging over a wide variety of topics from wondering if your cat trying to kill you to why he runs. His work is hilarious and relatable, securing him in a perennially popular spot within internet culture.

The JoChristine, then and now!y of Tech is a webcomic that started in 2000 and is still updated each Monday, Wedsnesday and Friday. It focuses on technology-oriented topics, particularly people’s obsession with Apple products. During their nearly 17 year tenure, they publish a best of compilation which you can request here.




Noelle Stevenson​ is one of my favorite author/artist combos out there right now. She’s known for her hipster Lord of the Rings comics, Broship of the Rings. In 2012 she started posting her webcomic, Nimona, and signed a book deal shortly after that. She’s since gone on to write and illustrate another series, Lumberjanes, and other works for Marvel and DC.



From “Broship of the Rings” by Noelle Stevenson.


If you are looking for some beautiful cerebral art and storytelling, look no further than Emma Ríos​. Hailing from Spain, she gained notoriety in the United States for Hexed. Before that, she mainly self-published her zines and books. Her art in the Pretty Deadly series is some of the most beautiful work I have ever seen. I’m currently working my way through I.D., a dystopic tale in which three people hope the answer to their problems is a body transplant.

Do you have favorite zines and webcomics you follow? Post ’em in the comments so I can add to my never-ending to-be-read list!

Tagged | 3 Comments

Kiss or Kill: Enemies-to-Lovers Romances

by Jocelyn (SnoIsleLib_JocelynR)

Last month we took at a look at second-chance romances. This month, let’s talk about another popular romance trope, enemies-to-lovers. In these novels, the two mains begin the story as enemies but eventually realize that they love each other.

Why are they enemies? Let me count the ways…perhaps they are business rivals, part of a family feud, or diametrically opposed characters like a cop versus a criminal. Maybe the two characters simply rub each other the wrong way, have made (often incorrect) assumptions about each other, or were given misinformation about the other person. It could even be that he or she’s committed dastardly deeds against you (or your family) in the past. However the enmity began, as the couple begin spending more time together they work through their issues and find themselves falling in love.

The classic enemies-to-lovers tale is, of course, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. But if you’re looking for more recently written enemies-to-lovers stories, here are a few titles to get you started…

Something About You – Julie James
This steamy contemporary romance forces FBI Agent Jack Pallas to protect the woman who almost ruined his career. James’ most recent novel, The Thing About Love, is also an enemies-to-lovers tale.

Demon Angel – Meljean Brook
In a world where Guardians and demons battle for human souls, demon Lilith and Guardian Hugh are enemies who happen to be attracted to each other. With over 800 years of tension and teasing between the two, what will finally happen when they succumb to their desires? This first novel in the Guardian paranormal romance series features excellent world-building as well.

Lord of Scoundrels – Loretta Chase
In this regency historical romance, bluestocking Jessica and debauched lord Sebastian do not approve of each other but end up married when they are found in a compromising situation. Readers who enjoy characters who break some of the normal romance novel stereotypes should enjoy this one!

So many romances use this trope that I couldn’t list them all. Do you have a favorite enemies-to-lovers story?

Tagged | 5 Comments

Through Space and Time

by Marina

It’s about time . . . travel.

I’m a sucker for books (and movies) with time travel or parallel world elements. In my somewhat limited reading of the genre, I have determined that they fall into two categories. The not-quite-so-detailed fantasy or down-to-the-smallest-detail science fiction. I lean more towards the fantasy ones. The lengthy, scientific explanation doesn’t really interest me. I’m happy to assume that it’s a thing and get on with the heart of the story.

A few months ago I re-watched Frequency (the movie, not the television show) and it prompted me to think about theme-related books I’ve read. These stories usually bring an immediate change in the action. Which, in a world of instant gratification, is right up my alley. The audience (and the main character) sees the changes wrought by going back and forth in time. Or living parallel lives simultaneously. Like in Frequency when the dad, Frank, gets the fingerprints of the serial murder suspect and John, 30 years in the future, is able to retrieve the object instantaneously.

Here a few of my favorite series about time travel and parallel lives.

The Hourglass series by Myra McEntire is about more than time travel. Each book in the series features a different main character and their special paranormal “affliction.” The first book–Hourglass, and the one that hooked me for the series almost immediately, is about Emerson Cole. She had it rough–her parents died on a family ski vacation, she had a mental breakdown and was committed to an institution and, oh yeah, she sees dead people. But, at first, she doesn’t know they’re dead people. It isn’t until her older brother steps in and finds help from Michael Weaver, who is part of a secret organization known as Hourglass (similar to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters), does Emerson start to become comfortable with her abilities.

Kasie West focuses on divergent (different from Tris and Four) Addison Coleman and living her parallel lives in the Pivot Point duology. Divergents, and other paranormal folk, live in the Compound world. Away from the world of normal people so they can use their gifts. When her parents divorce she is given the option to live with either of them–her mother staying in the Compound, her father leaving it to live life as a normal person. Addie uses her gift to perform a Search to decide what direction to take. Similar to books with multiple character points of view, Addie’s parallel lives alternate by chapter.

Tamara Ireland Stone’s Time Between Us duology is about sixteen-year-old Anna Greene and seventeen-year-old Bennett Cooper. But they are separated by seventeen years and thousands of miles. They never should have met let alone fallen in love. But Bennett travels from 2012 to 1995 in search of something he lost. While waiting for that missing item to show up he attends Anna’s school. They inevitably meet. Bennett tries to prevent their relationship. He saves her life. He takes a chance and tells Anna the entire truth so she can decide for herself. And then takes her on adventures like she has been dreaming about for years. However, their time together can be nothing more than temporary considering they are from different times. Or can it?

And, finally, Jessica Brody not only includes time travel in her Unremembered trilogy but there’s also genetic engineering and a futuristic dystopian-like world. Seraphina, a violet-eyed beauty, wakes up without any memories in a hospital following a rescue from a plane crash. Sera struggles to regain her memories. While living in a temporary foster home Sera meets a boy (it’s always a boy, isn’t it?) that arrives with some answers. Which only leads to more questions.

view the whole list

Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Beyond Bestsellers: Historical Mysteries

by Michelle C.

If you are just joining us, we are participating in a new reading challenge called Beyond Bestsellers. Each month we will read a different theme and discuss what we liked and what we didn’t like about that theme. We will also be offering reading suggestions from library staff and customers for each theme. You can participate by 1. signing up, 2. creating lists in the new catalog with suggested titles, and 3. engaging in a community discussion about books by commenting on the blog. Please remember to title the list “Beyond Bestsellers: <subtitle>.” For example, my list below is titled Beyond Bestsellers: The Dastardly Past. That way we know who is participating and can easily find each other’s lists.

The theme for July is mysteries and today I will be delving deeper and looking into historical mysteries. Historical mysteries have been around for a relatively short period of time. They were popularized in the late 1970s by Peter Lovesey, Elizabeth Peters, Ellis Peters, and Anne Perry. Many of the historical mysteries written during that time took place during the Victorian Era (a time made famous for crime by Jack the Ripper). Now there are historical mysteries that go back to the 15th century B.C.E. Although detectives have not always existed, everyday people interested in solving a crime is a theme that goes through mystery novels.

What makes a mystery historical? The Crime Writer’s Association Historical Dagger Award, a British historical mystery award, says that the book must take place at least 35 years prior to the current date. Which would make it sometime prior to 1982! The Bruce Alexander Memorial Historical Mystery Award from Left Coast Crime in Portland, Oregon says that the events must take place prior to 1960. I think by the time 2060 comes around, they might need to re-evaluate that date. Either way, I think most of the fun in reading a historical mystery is discovering a time period and way of life that you are unfamiliar with.

Check out my list of historical mysteries, Beyond Bestsellers: The Dastardly Past, and create some of your own. Remember to check back with us on July 31 when I will showcase some of the lists created by participants!

What are some of your favorite historical mysteries? Do you have a favorite time period or character?


Tagged , | 5 Comments

25 Best Films of the 21st Century

by Grant & Michelle C.

The New York Times recently released their best 25 films of the 21st Century list.  Their top critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott collaborated and came up with a consensus list. If you ever notice the taglines of who writes these Bibliofiles posts, you will realize that your two film bloggers could never come to a consensus best of list. So instead we present a top 12 for each … with one consensus pick, and lots of snarky talk.

Grant’s List:  In no particular order, because I just can’t.

The Royal Tenenbaums

Grant’s comments: There is a warmth in this film that transcends the at times dark subject matter. Gene Hackman is at his best in the role of Tenenbaum family patriarch, which reminds me how sad it is that he is retired. Also, the soundtrack like for most of Wes Anderson’s films is amazing.

Michelle’s comments: Darn, I loved this movie too. No snark from me.



City of God

Grant’s comments: Violent, kinetic, stunning. Despite the unpleasant subject matter a beautiful film.


Michelle’s comments: You lost me at “unpleasant subject matter.” No thanks; sounds horrible.


Lost in Translation

Grant’s comments: Captures the strange feeling of isolation that can occur when you travel abroad, and how you can connect with strangers.


Michelle’s comments: Ugh, another older man/beautiful younger woman scenario. And Bill Murray is the worst.


Beasts of the Southern Wild

Grant’s comments: Watching this is almost like reliving a weird dream you had.  Beautifully shot and unlike almost anything else in American cinema.


Michelle’s comments: This is on my list of movies to watch. Look at that cover–so beautiful. But for some reason, I just can’t work up the energy to watch it.



Grant’s comments: I could watch the first 20 minutes of this film on loop endlessly. Picking only one Pixar film was nearly impossible, but this is my choice.


Michelle’s comments: It shocks me, SHOCKS ME, that Grant would pick a romance for his Pixar choice. This movie is awesome and makes you realize that talking is overrated.


Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Grant’s comments: Ricky might be the best character in any film this century, he is so great. A film that knows saccharine isn’t heart. One of two movies on my list shot in New Zealand!

Michelle’s comments: I might give it a try (just to see what Grant considers heart).





Grant’s comments: Like panther cologne, 60% of the time this movie is hilarious all of the time.


Michelle’s comments: Everyone I know thinks this movie is hilarious. I don’t. Not my type of humor and it would never make my top 25 list.


No Country for Old Men

Grant’s comments: The sense of foreboding is almost too much to take. Everyone in the cast is perfect in their role. Amazingly this isn’t even close to the darkest of Cormac McCarthy’s novels.

Michelle’s comments: I met Cormac McCarthy once in real life when we were on the same ferry. He was solitary, drank scotch in the morning, and wrote in the margins of the book he was reading. He was Ernest Hemingway cool. But his books are depressing so I can only read about one a decade. I can’t imagine how depressing this movie must be.


Sing Street

Grant’s comments: The music is fantastic, the kids are amazing, and the story is delightful. This musical was much better than La La Land last year.  Conor’s chameleon-like ability to move from musical style to musical style (and hair style) is wonderful.

Michelle’s comments: I don’t like movies about bands. Or the eighties (I had to live through that time already). Add in a tale of first love and you’ve lost me. But I also agree that La La Land was not my favorite.



Grant’s comments: So dark and calculated. David Fincher at his apex. If you are into true crime this movie is a must. Robert Downey Jr. in perhaps his best role ever, much better than Iron Man.

Michelle’s comments: I love true crime, but did not like this movie. The satisfaction in true crime is in finding the killer and solving the case. Spoiler: They don’t.



Ex Machina

Grant’s comments: This movie is unnerving, and at times frightening, without resorting to cheap horror thrills. The film basically has only four “people” in it. Great Sci-Fi exploration of Artificial Intelligence.

Michelle’s comments: I would probably watch this. But why do robots always have to be beautiful women? If you don’t want humans to fall in love with robots, stop making them so pretty! Check here to see if robots will take over your job in the future.


The Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Ring

Grant’s comments: Such a challenging adaptation of a work, Peter Jackson did the impossible with this film, and really all three.  The Hobbit on the other hand … yikes. Let’s just focus on the good.

Michelle’s comments: I can’t fault Grant’s choice here. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is EPIC.



Michelle List:

Slumdog Millionaire

Michelle’s comments: I hate movies that are depressing and hopeless. Slumdog Millionaire is the opposite. It realistically shows what it is like to grow up in the slums of India, while adding a dimension of fairytale with the overlay of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” This movie just makes me happy.

Grant’s comments: I like Danny Boyle, so while this isn’t my favorite of his work (too uplifting) I won’t condemn it.


 Wonder Woman

Michelle’s comments: Grant said I couldn’t add Wonder Woman to my list. I told him that Wonder Woman would appreciate the lack of irony in me ignoring him and adding this movie despite what he said. This movie made me cry. Believe the hype. You will feel empowered and ready to take on the world.

Grant’s comments: Hey! I said you couldn’t add it because at the time it wasn’t in the catalog. I haven’t seen it because I have a child at home that forbids me going to the theater, but it has to be better than the rest of the DCU drivel.



The Dark Knight

Michelle’s comments: Sigh. Heath Ledger. This movie was dark, violent, and emotionally intense. It showed how great acting and a new vision could revitalize an overdone series.

Grant’s comments: This movie is pretty great, although the ending … blah.





Michelle’s comments: I wasn’t all that interested in seeing this movie, until I did. Now it is on my top 12 list. Don’t expect an action-packed science fiction movie. This movie is slower and it has more heart.

Grant’s comments: No snark here. This was one of my favorite movies of the year.



Silver Linings Playbook

Michelle’s comments: Time for a comedy. Comedies never appear on best movie lists, which is a shame. What I love about this movie is that it combines real-life problems with quirky characters and hilarious situations. Plus dancing.

Grant’s comments: Comedies do appear on best movies lists (see above).



Kill Bill

Michelle’s comments: Most of Quentin Tarantino’s films star men. Imagine my surprise when Kill Bill came out in theaters and had not one, but multiple strong female leads. Add in some cool anime scenes, stylized fights, a great soundtrack and you have a movie on my top 12 list.

Grant’s comments: Are we only talking Volume 1? Or does Volume 2 makes the list?  Also Jackie Brown is about Jackie Brown




Michelle’s comments: Amelie would make my top twenty-five movies EVER list. I love its sweetness; but it’s not cloying. It respects the small moments and acts that make each person an individual. It seems to say that if we could all be a little braver and kinder, this world would be a much more welcoming place.

Grant’s comments: Saccharin sweet



Hotel Rwanda

Michelle’s comments: On the other end of the spectrum is Hotel Rwanda. A movie that makes you realize we as humans will look for any difference, no matter how small, to create conflict and hate. This movie is chilling in that regard. But Hotel Rwanda focuses on the good as well. The people who are willing to do everything they can to help others. Extremely moving.

Grant’s comments: Don Cheadle rules.



Pan’s Labyrinth

Michelle’s comments: Visually stunning. Violent and disturbing. Pan’s Labyrinth is a parable. A mixture of fantasy and reality told through the eyes of a little girl. It’s one of those movies that you could watch a thousand times and notice something different each time.

Grant’s comments: I think this is another movie I own, but haven’t seen!




Michelle’s comments: I love coming-of-age books and movies. Juno is one of the best. Full of small truths and witty dialogue, there are so many scenes in Juno that will have you spellbound. Hilarious and full of heart.

Grant’s comments: Is this movie a sequel to Arrested Development?



The Host

Michelle’s comments: This is not Stephenie Meyer’s The Host. This is a Korean horror movie. Horror movies, like comedies, never make best movie lists. But The Host is different; it’s part comedy, part horror, part action. What I love most about this movie is how it portrays a family’s relationship, nit-picky and antagonistic until one of the members is in danger and everyone pulls together.

Grant’s comments: I stopped reading at Stephenie Meyer.




Michelle’s comments: A grouchy, old man and a manic, chubby kid–not your typical heroes, which is one of the things I like best about this movie. Plus Carl and Ellie’s love story during the first twenty minutes of the movie will leave you in tears and expand your heart ten-fold.

Grant’s comments: Funny story, my Mom saw this movie with a child she was watching, he was really excited for the “adventure”. After the first 15 minutes of the film he turned to my Mom with tears streaming down his face and asked “When does the adventure start!”  Great movie though.



 Consensus Pick!

Spirited Away

Michelle’s comments: I basically love everything that Studio Ghibli creates.  They do a great job with world-building, character development, and the animation is breathtaking.

Grant’s comments: I love this movie so much. Everything about it is perfect. Miyazaki is the best.




What are some of your favorite movies of the century?




Tagged | 12 Comments

Merciless Magic: Dark Fantasy Fiction

by Emily Z.

I appreciate it when fantasy novels embrace the idea that magic is not inherently friendly. Consider the titular Ring from The Fellowship of the Ring books; no matter how pure and noble the ring’s bearer was, over time it was going to bend them to its will and leave them a damaged husk. This goes for magical lands too. Give me Return to Oz over The Wizard of Oz any day.

Admittedly yes, part of me is still waiting for my Hogwarts letter and all that it entails, but the rest of me feels magic ought not to be so whimsical. If magic is truly this primal, physics-defying force, shouldn’t using it (or even getting close to it) come with more of a price? Shouldn’t it involve more than careful hand-gestures and Latin patois? That’s where I’d like to go today, worlds in which the otherworldly consumes, corrupts, and still leaves you yearning for it.

Whether you’re in the mood for modern magicians, Victorian warlocks, world-hopping wizards, deranged demi-gods, or just muggles who aspire to greater things, this list has a little bit of each. I’m only highlighting a few of the titles today to give you an impression of different kinds of “dark” magic, but check the gallery below for more titles.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Nancy doesn’t fit into our world anymore. She is but one of many young people who discovered a portal to an incredible fantasy land, came of age there, and suddenly found themselves back “home” again. Like everyone else ditched by Narnia/Wonderland/Pepperland/Candyland/Oz she’s been trundled off by baffled parents to an unusual boarding school designed for such magical rejects. The school might actually be a place of healing if someone weren’t murdering and mutilating the students one by one…as soon as Nancy arrives.

A gruesome mystery, vivid fantasy, and a lot of soul-searching make this novella feel full-sized. McGuire can deftly sketch out numerous lush fantasy landscapes as students are introduced, piquing curiosity without getting lost. She also skillfully involves the topics of abandonment, loss of identity, gender expression, and asexuality.

Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey 

Sadima’s people have outlawed magic, which was once not only real but commonplace. What no one yet knows is that Sadima herself has innate magical talent. Her gifts are eventually discovered by Somiss, a driven nobleman scholar seeking to resurrect magic and one day found a magical conservatory. Together, they plan to experiment and scour the land, gathering up and documenting the old rhymes, song, and sayings their mother’s mother’s once used daily.

In alternating chapters, Duey also lets us peek into the future and witness life at Sadima’s and Somiss’s school. Hogwarts it is not. Instead, we see a bleak monastery where the second-born sons of wealthy families go to be forgotten. The curriculum is cruel as well. The first lesson is how to conjure food. If students don’t catch on, they don’t eat.

How did this happen? When did Somiss’s and Sadima’s dreams go so wrong? Is this the same Kathleen Duey who wrote all those books about horses and unicorns?

Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher

In the brutal, gritty fantasy world Fletcher has built, madness and magic reign over all. Though there are few true deities left, thousands of mortals are now capable of bringing their desires or delusions to life, with virtually no restrictions. These Gefahrgeist [geh-fahr-gīst] can also amplify their power by feeding off the adoration (or fear) of those around them.

High Priest Konig is a Gefahrgeist whose greatest desire is to forge a new man-made god by carefully molding and controlling a gifted Gefahrgeist child. Unfortunately for Konig, his window of opportunity is narrowing. Not only is he running out of suitable candidates to train into a deity (they keep dying), flesh and blood doppelgangers of himself keep appearing, intent on killing and replacing him. Such is the price of having the belief of an entire city sustaining your madness-based super powers.

Only three people have any plans to stand in Konig’s way

  • Stehlen the hyper-violent pathological liar, kleptomaniac madwoman
  • Wichtig the sociopathic, egomaniacal, womanizing master swordsman
  • Bedeckt the dilapidated, hulking, axe-wielding barbarian

It’s safe to say they’re not your typical heroes. This trio plans to stop Konig by kidnapping his latest child-god-prodigy, but only long enough to ransom him back for cash.

If you enjoy this book, it too has a sequel , which even won a Stabby award from Reddit.

Tagged , | 7 Comments

Urban Fantasy Spotlight: Riley Jenson Guardian

by KP

Big City Life with a Side of the Supernatural.

Have you ever been curious about urban fantasy? Exactly what is it? In general, urban fantasy novels are set in contemporary times, and contain supernatural elements. One Friday out of each month, I’ll highlight an urban fantasy book for the interested.

Welcome to another edition of Urban Fantasy Spotlight! We’re abandoning Dublin, Ireland for Melbourne, Australia. While summer’s in full swing in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere and there’s nothing denizens of the dark like more than long, cold nights.

Full Moon Rising by Keri Arthur introduces Riley Jenson, operative for Melbourne’s Directorate of Other Races, an organization that protects humans from the supernatural.

Riley’s content to hide her powerful half-vampire half-werewolf heritage, but when her twin brother Rhoan disappears, all bets are off. She’ll have to forge alliances with all manner of supernatural creatures to find out who has taken her brother, and why.

The answers she finds threatens to expose them both, but there is something even worse lurking on the horizon. . .

Keri Arthur’s Riley Jenson Guardian series really cranks up the Melbourne heat. Smoldering characters, sinister underworlds, and a heart-racing plot full of twists, loops, and turns kept me hooked. From the very first chapter, Arthur has a way of gripping readers and refusing to let them go.

Talk about bringing the thunder from down under!

This series taunts the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance. If you enjoy supernatural suspense with bite, or maybe Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” spoke to you on a deep level, give a few sample chapters a shot.

Though I’d recommend listening to the audiobook sample, where you can enjoy the fantastic Australian accents of the voice actress.

As always, stay tuned for the next installment of U/F/S.

Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tips for Our New Catalog (Round Two)

by Brian H.


At its heart Sno-Isle Libraries is a community doorway to reading, resources, and lifelong learning, and a center for people, ideas, and culture. Our new library catalog makes moving through that community doorway easier than ever.

I shared about my favorite features in Sno-Isle Libraries’ catalog a few weeks ago (Comments, Lists and Videos). Here are even more features that allow library customers to connect with each other and create community.


A reminder about privacy

The new catalog defaults to letting you share content that you create with other customers. You may choose to change your settings to private in your account settings.



5 Star Rating for this PBS Masterpiece Program

Probably the quickest way to get active in the community is to share your ratings on what you are reading, viewing and listening to.  An average rating for any item in the catalog is displayed in your search results. Click into the title’s catalog record to find the  option.  Add your rating, anywhere between 1/2 star to 5 stars. Benefit from other library customers’ ratings by searching for materials based on ratings. Find all PBS DVDs with a 4- 5 star rating.

Summaries and Quotes

“God is the color of water. Water doesn’t have a color.” ― James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother

Adding summaries and quotes take a bit more effort, but they add valuable content to the catalog and encourage community connections. Here’s an excellent summary of James McBride’s Color of Water by a King County Library customer (the new catalog connects us with libraries next door and around the world):

Subtitled – A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother, McBride takes us to the public housing projects of New York City where he and 11 brothers and sisters live. They are all black. James knows there is something different about his mother. When asked, she would declare – “I’m light-skinned,” and change the subject. As years went by, James learned about his mother, her Jewish background and the mysteries of her life that unfolded, bit by bit. In short, Ruth McBride eventually told him her story of being a rabbi’s daughter, born in Poland and raised in the South, who fled to Harlem, married a black man, founded a Baptist church, and put the twelve children through college. This book is also on the list of 75 best books in the last 75 years. An engrossing story and on the best-seller list back in the mid- to late-90s. It is truly a classic.



Recently added to my Completed Shelf

Add titles to your Shelves!

Ever forget a title you see and think “I should read that book, AFTER I finish the 15 books on the to read shelf at home”? Click the For Later Shelf button to add the title to your virtual to be read shelf.

I’m typically a one book at a time reader so my In Progress shelf usually has a single title that I’m actually reading at the moment. However, I’ll leave the title I’ve finished reading on my In Progress shelf until I’ve had a chance to rate and/or comment. Once I’ve added my rating or comment I’ll move the title to my Completed Shelf.




Following Other Library Readers, Viewers and Listeners

This title was on a list that I liked! The list was created by a user I follow. It’s now added to my For Later Shelf.

Find your next book to read, movie to watch or music to listen to by discovering it on a fellow reader’s Completed Shelf or list they’ve created. Expand your library world significantly by taking in the contributions others have made to the catalog. When you choose to follow people you will get notifications in your Newsfeed about their comments, ratings, lists, completed titles, etc. (essentially all the features I’ve highlighted in these two blog posts). When you see user created content that you like, click the like button  and give the person a virtual thumbs up/high five. Share lists and comments with others on your social media sites. 







Start expanding your library community today: add my profile, snoislelib_brianh, to your account. Share with others what you’ve discovered as you mine the depths of Sno-Isle Libraries, an amazing doorway to reading, resources, and lifelong learning, and a center for people, ideas, and culture.

See complete list of DVDs


A Pair of Prolific Pickers

by David

Previously I blogged about guitarist John Fahey, one of my all-time favorite acoustic players. Rounding out my list of acoustic masters we have Norman Blake and Tony Rice.

Norman Blake has had a stellar career, both as a studio musician (Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan) and on his own. He plays bluegrass/fiddle tunes/old-timey folk and his own original compositions, usually revolving around life in the South (songs about the Civil War, hard times, and the disappearance of the railroad). He plays mostly instrumentals, but he does sing occasionally, and I kindly suggest that his nasal, unvarnished voice is probably an acquired taste. Check out these clips of “Hand Me Down My Walking Cane” or “Church Street Blues“. Interested? Get “Whiskey Before Breakfast” from hoopla and begin exploring from there.

And my absolute favorite acoustic guitarist is Tony Rice. Tony is an amazingly fast picker, but he’s also clean and accurate, and he never lets his technique call attention to itself at the expense of the material. He’s played bluegrass, Gordon Lightfoot covers, and a style forged with David Grisman that he calls “spacegrass” that’s akin to Django Reinhart’s gypsy jazz. Give a listen to “My Favorite Things” or “Neon Tetra“, then check out “Backwaters” or “58957: The Bluegrass Guitar Collection” or my very favorite, “Devlin“, which is selections from the “Mar West” and “Still Inside” albums.


Tagged | 2 Comments