Tour d’Amsterdam, part 2

In my previous blog entry, Tour de Amsterdam, I mentioned rules learned the hard way while riding a bike in downtown Amsterdam. Recall that biking is a mode of transportation and not the competitive leisure sport as viewed by most Seattlites. The topography of Amsterdam is wonderfully flat!

Riding for hours is possible with perhaps the only side-effect of returning to your hotel a bit sore in the saddle. So don’t shy away from renting a bike because you don’t have the outfit, helmet or shoes; it’s a common sight to see business men dressed in suits chatting on their cell phones and farmers in overalls wearing clogs on the bike paths. Also, don’t worry about getting lost; along with designated bike paths signs (fietspaden), there are arrow street signs directing you to areas within the city and back to Central Station. Just remember the canals run around the city in a horseshoe pattern.

Now, my favorite bike ride starting from Central Station, the focal point of the city located on the Continue reading “Tour d’Amsterdam, part 2”

Reality with a twist

Back in May, Shelf Talk presented readers with a series of lists I wrote featuring authors who focus their work on vampire fiction. The goal of these lists was to provide readers with new opportunities to delve into the world of vampires and hopefully get a few suggestions for ourselves (and we did, so thanks!).

It turns out that there are a lot of readers out there who like the idea of magic stories, but are maybe not so thrilled at the thought of blood sucking fiends (what’s wrong with you people?). A little research reveals an abundance of awesome fiction written by authors who feel the same anti-vampire way. Below you’ll find a few lists of authors and titles that are full of the supernatural … and very light on vampires.

Reality with a twist: It’s the everyday, but with power!
Ill Wind by Rachel Caine
Dead to Me by Anton Strout
Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy

Creepy Creatures: Not vampires, but pretty much every other supernatural critter you could imagine.
Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear
A Kiss Before the Apocalypse by Thomas E. Sniegoski
Agents of Light and Darkness by Simon R Green

Paranormal: For those who like their fiction magic-lite.
Better Read Than Dead: A Psychic Eye Mystery by Victoria Laurie
Sense of Evil by Kay Hooper
Remains of the Dead: A Ghost Dusters Mystery by Wendy Roberts

As always, we’d love to hear your suggestions!

Summer Reads: Southwest, Northgate and Northeast readers offer suggestions

Book recommendations are rolling in from all over Seattle as part of the Library’s Adult Summer Reading Program.

Readers at the Southwest Branch recommend:

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris
I did not want to put this book down. It was so hard to stop reading it and get on with a real life. Previous Sedaris books made me smile or chuckle, but this one made me breathless with laughter on nearly every page. He’s really hit his stride now! Loved it!

Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
An exciting epic story as artfully fold as his Cold Mountain. With only 2 books published, Frazier is high on my list of writers highly skilled in picking his characters and giving them a compelling tale to tell.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
Blue Van Meer is talented and smart, but when her beloved teacher dies she has to solve the mystery even if it incriminates her family.

The Grand Sophy by Georgett Heyer
Imagine a character even more involved in others lives than Jane Austen’s Emma and you have Sophy. She Continue reading “Summer Reads: Southwest, Northgate and Northeast readers offer suggestions”

You Must Learn: A Hip-Hop Education with Black Star

Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star

Among hip-hop fans, the group Black Star is known for its lyrical muscle and strong literary-bent. Members Mos Def and Talib Kweli pack their tightly crafted rhymes with intelligence and wit that seems lacking in much of contemporary hip-hop. Their 1998 album, Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star  was a welcome return to the days when the quality of a rapper’s rhymes was more important than what car he drove or how diamond-encrusted his knuckles were. Mos Def and Talib Kweli were among a small cadre of artists that ushered in a new era of underground hip-hop that strove to be meaningful, empowering, and intelligent and are filled with references to historical events, works of literature, Jazz musicians, and other artist.

The group’s name is a reference to the shipping line created by Marcus Garvey, the early 20th century African-American orator, journalist, entrepreneur, and leader of the “Back to Africa” movement. With intelligent Continue reading “You Must Learn: A Hip-Hop Education with Black Star”

Seafair means Pirates

Ahoy mates! Shiver me timbers and all that pirate talk.  It’s Seafair in Seattle and for many folks that means the Pirates are in town.  With their booming cannon and boisterous pranks the Seafair Pirates give the kids of Seattle a delicious shiver and scary dreams.  Watching the Pirates kidnap shrieking kids and drag their swords along the sidewalk sending up showers of sparks reminds us of our favorite pirate stories.  Stories where the dangers or debauched pirates are safely between the covers of a book or on the silver screen.

If you would rather read about the Seafair Pirates than encounter them in the wild, we’ve got  books, magazine, a cookbook and sheet music!

Pirate Kings: an oral history of the Seafair Pirates, a magazine devoted to the Seafair Pirates and their history
Seafair: fifty years of memories, by Seafair Inc.
At the Seafair : Seattle’s Seafair, words and music by Dick Dennison
Seafair cook book, by St. Andrew’s-by-the-Lake Episcopal Church, Seattle

If you prefer your pirates farther from home – safely anchored in history, perhaps you’d like these books.

The complete Terry and the Pirates, by Milton Caniff.  The classic pirate comic reissued in 3 comprehensive volumes.  Take a trip back to your childhood and Sundays spent reading the newspaper on Continue reading “Seafair means Pirates”