Category: Fiction

Book list: Movies that Made Me Want to Read the Book

By , April 9, 2014

Usually it works the other way around, but here are some films that left me thinking, “man, I bet the book was good.” Maybe only a librarian would ever think that.


Ryan Gosling in that satin scorpion jacket is the sexiest thing I’ve seen since… well, maybe it is the sexiest thing I have ever seen. Tension sears between golden boy (Gosling) and pretty girl’s husband (Oscar Isaac), between frenemy mob boss 1 (Albert Brooks) and frenemy mob boss 2 (Ron Perlman), and between golden boy and the born to lose mechanic (Bryan Cranston) that gets him gummed up with frenemy mob bosses to begin with. Christina Hendricks is in it too. That’s cast magic and pretty much the film’s appeal. High-on-sincerity-low-on-realism sultry silent type takes on mob for sake of pretty girl is territory we have all explored before. Nicolas Winding Refn’s style is all about absence and what’s left unsaid. It’s kind of like Hal Hartley (remember him?) directed a crime movie. What gets abstracted into silence on screen is more often than not potent interiority on the page – the kind of stuff that won’t translate without resorting to regrettable voice over. I desperately want to get inside James Sallis’ novel. There is always the possibility that Sallis’ prose are as stripped and spare as the script and the film is a worthy adaptation. I still want to read the book. Every time golden boy doesn’t say anything I’ll get to imagine Ryan Gosling standing there in that jacket.

The Paperboy

It would be hard to get more sexual but less sexy than Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy. With big hair, a bigger libido, and a fetish for prison inmates, her character Charlotte seems transplanted from a John Waters movie. Kudos to Kidman for not shying away from extreme roles in recent years; e.g., Rabbit Hole, Stoker. Though Charlotte is a car crash that is hard to ignore, I’m more fascinated by Ward (Matthew McConaughey) the “paperboy” in question. He’s a big city newspaper writer who comes back to his small town to break the story of a lifetime. In tow is his “associate” Yardley (David Oyelowo). Their relationship has sinister undertones. This backstory feels de-emphasized in favor of Charlotte’s Jerry Springer antics. Maybe their story is fleshed out more in Pete Dexter’s novel? I hope so. From a producer’s point of view I can see how Kidman going bimbo cougar is money in the bank but perhaps they should have heeded the words of Morrissey, “stop me, stop me, stop me, if you think you’ve heard this one before.” Oh yeah, what happens? All these people have weird Southern Gothic obsessions and everything blows up in their faces. I bet the book is great.

The Fellowship of the Ring

Just kidding. I read this a hundred times before I reluctantly saw the movie. Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy transcended everyone’s expectations but if for some unknowable, inexcusable reason you have not read J.R.R. Tolkien’s world changing fantasy classic you’ll get to experience the devilish wonderment that is meeting Tom Bombadil for the first time. Take a beloved character and cut them from the movie! Go Hollywood! Besides, this excellent book will take the bad Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey taste out of your mouth.

Have you ever watched a movie that made you want to read the book it was based on?


Book review: Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People

By , March 27, 2014

Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People

By the National Portrait Gallery


You know that excited feeling you get when you unexpectedly come across a really cool book? That is exactly how I felt when I discovered Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People a tiny book filled with amazing portraits and short stories.

The National Portrait Gallery in London recently had an exhibit called Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People. Once part of the museum’s main collection, these 16th century paintings were thought to be portraits of royalty and nobility but were later disproved. The true identity of the people in the portraits remains a mystery.

This book was created in conjunction with the exhibit. Eight well known authors: John Banville, Tracy Chevalier, Julian Fellowes, Alexander McCall Smith, Terry Pratchett, Sarah Singleton, Joanna Trollope and Minette Walters were each assigned an “unknown portrait” and asked to write a story inspired by it.

My favorite story, False Mary by Alexander McCall Smith was inspired by a portrait of a young woman who looked like Queen Mary, Queen of Scots. Tracy Chevalier’s portrait of a flushed cheek young man inspired her to write Rosy, the story of a young man who mourns the loss of his lover as he is forced to marry another. While Sarah Singleton’s painting of a studious looking gentleman inspired her story of unrequited love The Life of Edmund Audley.

On the National Portrait Gallery’s website you can even listen to highlights from the book being read on the Imagined Lives Podcast.


Beautiful paintings and talented writers, an unbeatable combination.








Book review: Five Flavors of Dumb

By , March 25, 2014

Five Flavors of Dumb
By Antony John

I used to work in the music industry. It’s a pretty tough business, and I must admit that I was not enough of a balla or shot calla to really hustle up fame and fortune. Silly me – I thought it was all about great music (feel free to insert appropriate scoffing in the comments).

But that was what I liked most about this book. Our main gal Piper, band manager extraordinaire, was able to push her band, Dumb, through the glass ceiling of dreaming about music to actually having a shot at something beyond bar gigs and college tours. This feat was even more impressive because Piper is moderately to severely deaf. She simply had the gift to seek out opportunities and then make them  happen. Sometimes with disastrous results, yes – but hey, in the music business no press is bad press, right? (example: Miley Cyrus).

I also think the author did a great job of building authentic and relatable characters. I wanted to be friends with the members of Dumb. Except maybe Josh, but every band needs some kind of ego maniac at some point in their careers. In addition, I must mention that it was fun to read a book written by someone in ma-ma-ma-my generation for the next generation (this is a young adult book after all). Oasis who? Nirvana what?

My delusions aside, the music industry is at its best when great music coincides with a strong vehicle for promotion – think Hendrix or Clapton. And it’s up to the pink-haired Pipers of the world to make sure this great music gets heard.

Happy reading…or listening to Wonderwall…or whatever…

:) Amanda

Book Review: Half Brother

By , March 19, 2014

If you know a teen or young adult reader who might feel left out of the literary side of the Nashville READS, I suggest a book called Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel.  Not only is this an excellent and heartfelt work of young adult fiction, but it involves a family that is, shall we say, VERY SIMILAR to the one found in Beside Ourselves.  While the READS book begins in the middle (as the author herself puts it), Half Brother sheds further light on the beginning of this rare, non-traditional family structure from the child’s point of view.

We all know how hard it can be for an only child to accept new changes—be it a new school, a new house, a new language, or a new sibling—and this book covers all of that, plus more!  But what if that new sibling were a….Oh, just read the book and find out already, both the Nashville READS book and my pick, Half Brother!

The idea of Nashville READS is to get all of Nashville on the same page by reading the same book, and talking about the same characters, issues, and themes. While we acknowledge that this year’s book (We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler) was written with adults in mind, that is no reason to leave the young set out of the conversation. Check out the events, many of which are great for kids of all ages.

Book review: Something Real

By , March 18, 2014

Something Real by Heather Demetrios

Something Real 
by Heather Demetrios

Baker’s Dozen is a reality show featuring a married couple and their their thirteen children. Only the oldest child, Bonnie Baker, is their biological child; her birth was seen by millions of television watchers. Bonnie has two siblings, born of surrogate mothers, Benton and Lexie, who are also seventeen. The rest of the kids were adopted from different parts of the world or through foster care. The show flourished for thirteen seasons. But when Dad Baker is caught with another woman, and thirteen year-old Bonny attempts suicide, it seems the drama is too real even for reality TV.

Four years have passed, and seventeen year-old Bonny Baker now calls herself Chloe. None of her friends know that she is Bonny of Baker’s Dozen fame. Chloe and her brother Bennie are ready to finish high school and begin lives that have no connection to their reality show past. But Mom Baker has a different idea: Baker’s Dozen: Fresh Batch.  A new stepfather replaces the cheating Dad, and Chloe will be forced to reveal her identity as the suicidal Bonny.

This is fiction. And for the most part, television viewers understand that so-called reality shows are staged or semi-scripted to incite drama. “Drama” translates into moments of conflict or humiliation for the show’s subjects. This is one thing for adults who have signed up for reality show fame or infamy, but what about for their children?

In 2011, Russell Armstrong, married to Taylor of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, committed suicide. Their daughter Kennedy was five. According to her mother, Kennedy was told that her father got sick and died. Subsequently, Taylor reveals that Russell was abusive. The later episodes of the show depict Taylor with a serious drinking problem.

After reading Something Real, one can only imagine how a seventeen year-old Kennedy will feel about the albatross of RHBHs. 

In the book, Chloe/Bonny’s mother is “forced” by the show’s producer to push her daughter to blow up on camera. Eventually, Chloe realizes that demonstrations of her angry behavior, paired with her earlier suicide attempt, are deliberately part of the producer’s strategy to portray a crazy Bonny. How Chloe and her brother Benny, who is gay, confound the producer’s manipulations comprise the book’s finale. If it seems too pat, consider the hope it offers to any teen with a legacy of reality show deception.

Related Reading

Reality Boy by A. S. King

Reality Boy 
by A. S. King

An emotionally damaged seventeen-year-old boy in Pennsylvania, who was once an infamous reality television show star, meets a girl from another dysfunctional family, and she helps him out of his angry shell. (from publisher)


The Fame Game by Lauren Conrad

The Fame Game series
by Lauren Conrad

Reality star Madison Parker, determined to take her career to the next level, signs on for a new TV show called THE FAME GAME. But more drama happens behind the scenes than onscreen. (from publisher)



Exclusively Chloe by J. A. Lang

Exclusively Chloe 
by J. A. Yang

In the public eye since she was adopted as a baby from China by her Hollywood celebrity parents, sixteen-year-old Chloe-Grace, longing for a “normal” life,” undergoes a transformation with the help of her mother’s stylist and finds not only the life she wanted but an important key to her past. (from publisher)


If the Witness Lied by Caroline Cooney If the Witness Lied 
by Caroline B. Cooney

Torn apart by tragedies and the publicity they brought, siblings Smithy, Jack, and Madison, aged fourteen to sixteen, tap into their parent’s courage to pull together and protect their brother Tris, nearly three, from further media exploitation and a much more sinister threat. (from publisher)







– Diane




Book review: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

By , March 16, 2014

I only make one mistake where I mix up names. Can you find it? And actually I don’t know if Koko the gorilla will write you back. I guess I was inspired and thought it would be cool if she did.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Nashville READS events

Walden Two by B.F. Skinner

Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

Grizzly Man

Animal Minds by Donald Griffin

Death at SeaWorld: Shamu and the Dark Side of Killer Whales in Captivity by David Kirby

When the Killing’s Done by T.C. Boyle

If a Tree Falls

The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka

Koko: A Talking Gorilla

Nebula Awards

James Tiptree Jr. Award

James Tiptree Jr.

2nd Wednesday Book Club

music by Black Dice CD | Freegal | Hoopla | Free Music Archive


Book review: Divided We Fall

By , March 4, 2014

Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy

Divided We Fall 
by Trent Reedy

In the near future, the United States is fracturing as the division between right- and left-wing politics escalates out of control. President Rodriguez and Congress have passed a law requiring all U.S. citizens to replace their Social Security cards with digital ID cards, which they claim will curb illegal immigration and streamline government services. Opponents say the cards are a way for government to easily collect personal information and conduct surveillance. Things are really heating up in Boise, Idaho, where Governor Montaine vehemently refuses to implement the new law.

At seventeen, Danny Wright has a plan for his future. Like his dad, who was killed in Afghanistan, he wants to serve his country. As Danny reflects, “I loved my home and I loved America, and I was willing to fight and defend them, to defend freedom and protect the people I loved.” So he joins the Idaho National Guard, planning to save a little money, get some vocational training, and return to his hometown, Freedom Lake, where he and his girl, JoBell, can settle down.

NSA protest; image from Huffington PostEverything changes when Danny gets a call to report for Guard duty. The troops are sent to Boise to help quell a large demonstration outside the Capital. Danny is appalled that they are there, armed with weapons and releasing tear gas on civilians. Then a rock hits Danny’s gas mask, nicking his gun hard enough that it fires. More shots ring out. When it is over, twelve people are dead.

Although the book focuses on Danny and his friends, Reedy also includes a cacophony of opinions via web comments, news reportage, wild speculation, and political rants.  Through this stream of outside information, readers see how easily the media frames events for their own purposes. Danny is vilified as a murderer by some, and praised as a hero by others. For his own part, Danny is shocked and saddened by his accidental involvement in the gravest crisis our country has faced since the Civil War.

One of the most dynamic elements of this book is its examination of the Constitution. Most teen readers will have studied the Constitution at some point in their education. but it becomes a lot more potent when citizens debate its interpretation. Readers are challenged to really examine Article Six, Clause Two, which reads:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

This is known as the Supremacy Clause, as it states that federal law is supreme over state law. If, using the incidents of this book as an example, the Idaho state assembly votes to nullify the government ID cards, they may be in violation of the Constitution. Supporters of Idaho’s action may use another part of the Constitution, the Tenth Amendment, to argue that the federal government never had the authority to pass the law in the first place. The Tenth Amendment reads:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Where is the issue of ID cards addressed in the Constitution? What if other states agree with Idaho and nullify the law in their states? How will the federal government act? Most importantly for Danny, who will he be fighting – the United States government or the Idaho state government? Readers will find themselves sorting out the arguments and formulating opinions of their own.

Divided We Fall is the first book in a trilogy.

-Diane Colson


Book review:The Light Between Oceans

By , February 27, 2014

The Light Between Oceans

By M. L. Stedman


Author, M. L. Stedman has written a captivating first novel that immediately draws the reader in and doesn’t let them go. The Light Between Oceans is the story of Tom, a man haunted by his service during WWI and his young wife Isabel.

Tom and Isabel were happy living at the remote lighthouse off the coast of eastern Australia. But as years passed and Isabel suffered from a series of miscarriages, her sadness turned into quiet desperation, as her thoughts became consumed with having a child of her own.

One evening, a boat washed up on shore with two people onboard, one passenger who had died, and the other…..a baby girl who had survived. Tom wanted to immediately report what had happened to the authorities but Isabel stopped him and convinced him to wait.

As the “new family” began to settle into their lives, Tom found himself racked with guilt, while Isabel was blissfully happy, until the outside world came to their island home and everything began to crumble.


Since its publication last year, The Light Between Oceans has become an international bestseller and is slated to be made into a film.








Comics review: Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire

By , February 20, 2014

With a little help, a nervous Jesse giggles through his first video book review. Here are the items he mentions:

Sweet Tooth 6: Wild Game by Jeff Lemire

The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Y: The Last Man, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn

Tales from the Farm (Essex County Trilogy, Volume 1) by Jeff Lemire

Ghost Stories (Essex County Trilogy, Volume 2) by Jeff Lemire

The Country Nurse (Essex County Trilogy, Volume 3) by Jeff Lemire

get the whole Essex County Trilogy as an ebook

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez

Give us feedback about our new catalog!

music by Black Dice CD | Freegal | Hoopla | Free Music Archive


Book review: The Impossible Knife of Memory

By , February 18, 2014

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Impossible Knife of Memory
by Laurie Halse Anderson

Hayley and her father have returned, not unchanged, to the home of Hayley’s childhood. Hayley is now a senior in high school, with a five year gap since her last days in a classroom. Those were five years spent on the road with her father, Andy, a decorated veteran struggling with PSTD. Her unorthodox background has ill prepared her for the academic and social challenges of a traditional high school, where she languidly wastes her potential. How can she focus on math when her entire family consists of an unpredictable, suicidal father?

The answer comes in the form of Finn, a charming super-nerd who matches Hayley’s snarky wit with easy-going amusement. He specializes in math jokes, e.g., “I’m not being obtuse…but you’re acute girl.” The plan is that Finn will give Hayley tutoring sessions in calculus if she writes an article for the largely ignored school paper. In fact, however, Finn becomes the rare person that Hayley learns to trust. It’s not a gentle romance, but it becomes increasingly honest and essential as the book progresses.

Central to the story is the effect of Andy’s PSTD on his relationships, and how that has damaged Hayley’s life. The reader is informed of Andy’s war experience in segments that are interspersed with Hayley’s first person narration. Hayley tries to understand, to help her father, but Andy is unreachable. Frustrated at the life she if forced to live, Hayley explodes, “You’re a mess, Daddy. No job. No friends. No life. Half the time you can’t even take the dog for a walk without freaking out.” Andy responds by grabbing her shirt, ready to punch Hayley in the face.

Although Hayley’s mother died when she was just a baby, there was another woman, Andy’s live-in girlfriend named Trish, who served as a surrogate mother to Hayley. As far as Hayley knows, Trish left them abruptly, leaving Hayley to fend for herself and care for her unstable

Laurie Halse Anderson

Laurie Halse Anderson

father. The truth is more complicated. But like many kids who end up as caretakers for incapacitated parents, Hayley is both fiercely protective and furious over her circumstances. When Trish returns to them, all of Hayley’s rage finds a target.

Anderson has tackled gritty subjects in earlier books, imbuing her narrators with a witty, honest voice that resonates with many teen readers. For example, her award-winning debut novel, Speakis about a fourteen year-old girl, Melinda, who is unable to tell anyone that she had been raped. Despite the gravity of the topic, Melinda relates her story with sassy humor: “Rachelle blows a candy cigarette smoke ring at my face. Blows me off. I have been dropped like a hot Pop Tart on a cold kitchen floor.”

Anderson is the 2009 recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award, given to an author and their body of work for “…for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature.”






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