Book Buzz Episode 41 – Nature Obscura & Miracle Creek

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Air date: March 17, 2024 

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Nature Obscura

Miracle Creek

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Hi, this is Jessica Russell. I’m the assistant director of collection services at Sno-Isle Libraries. And welcome to Book Buzz. 

Today's two reading recommendations are from the very different genres of urban ecology and legal fiction.  

First, we’re going to hear from programming service coordinator Anne. In keeping with themes related to the Sno-Isle Reads Together community reading program, she’ll share a book on noticing nature. Take it away, Anne. 


Thank you, Jessica. Nature Obscura: A City’s Hidden Natural Worldby Kelly Brenner is a great book for anyone who wants to learn about the wild world outside their front door. You’ll be ready to grab your jacket and head outside after reading just a few pages! 

With wonder and a sense of humor, Brenner examines the rich, natural urban landscape to reveal surprising creatures and their intricate microhabitats. In her hometown of Seattle, she explores the shores, wetlands, forests, and neighborhood parks to expose strange, often overlooked organisms – tardigrades, hummingbirds, spiders, dragonflies, slime molds, sword ferns, muskrats, and more. “Nature Obscura” may inspire you to follow a fly, spy on a murder of crows, or squeeze moss to find a water bear. Nature exists in our cities, if only we look. 

Brenner includes a chapter on how to become an urban naturalist, with tips on where to look and how to observe ethically. She also shares an extensive list of books and resources for your own path of discovery. 

I loved reading about the myriad of flora and fauna we share our habitat with – moths, snails, lichen, and even spiders! “Nature Obscura” is a very readable mix of science, history, and Brenner’s personal observations. After reading this book I have a deep appreciation for nature and a desire to slow down and watch everything going on around me here in the Pacific Northwest.  


Thanks, Anne! This is a great reminder to appreciate our surroundings, no matter where we are.  

Next, let’s hear from Jennifer, librarian at the Mill Creek Library, for a story of small-town secrets. Go ahead, Jennifer. 


Thanks, Jessica. “Miracle Creek” by Angie Kim is a riveting mystery and courtroom drama. It follows the trial of a woman accused of murdering her eight-year-old son. The boy, Henry, died while undergoing a controversial and unproven treatment for autism.  

One by one, witnesses come to the stand to tell what they remember about the events that led to Henry's death. At first it seems like a slam-dunk case, but as the stories of the witnesses slowly begin to come together into a coherent narrative, their secrets, lies, agendas and betrayals are revealed. Everyone in this town seems to have something to hide, and this trial is going to blow those secrets wide open. 

As well as being a mystery novel, “Miracle Creek” is an unsentimental meditation on the joys, responsibilities, and exhausting trials of motherhood. The book's most important characters are mothers. They are loving, compassionate, jealous, tired, mean, angry, self-righteous, guilty - sometimes all at once. Angie Kim's gift as an author is to complicate what could be a very one-sided picture. She doesn't condemn bad moms and praise good ones; she shows how they're all struggling. 

“Miracle Creek” is a taut, dark, thought-provoking drama that I couldn't put down. 


Thanks, Jennifer! Whether you’re a mother or not, this book will get you thinking about parenthood.   

Our recommendations this week are: “Nature Obscura: A City’s Hidden Natural World” by Kelly Brenner and “Miracle Creek” by Angie Kim.  

Join us next time, when we’ll explore more great reading recommendations — interesting books you can find at your favorite local bookstore or at your local library.   

Until then, I’m Jessica Russell from Sno-Isle Libraries.  

Thanks for joining us for Book Buzz on KSER. 

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