Book Buzz Episode 56 – Silver Nitrate & Tom Lake

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Air date: June 30, 2024

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Silver Nitrate

Tom Lake

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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 a thriller set in Mexico and a romance told from a cherry orchard in Michigan.

First, we’re going to hear from Lois, librarian at the Snohomish Library, for a tale of a sinister curse. Over to you, Lois.


“Silver Nitrate” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia combines magic, mystery, and horror in an intricately plotted story about breaking curses and the power of film.

Set in 1993 in Mexico City, this story follows Montserrat, a talented sound editor, and her childhood friend, Tristán, a soap opera star. Both obsessed with horror films, Tristán arranges a meeting with his new neighbor, a cult director whose legendary career was destroyed by his last unfinished film. The film was written by a Nazi occultist and was an attempt to cast a good luck spell.

The director believes that this unfinished film is causing him bad luck and he convinces Montserrat and Tristán to help him finish by adding sound to the last scene. But after the sound is added, Montserrat and Tristán start to realize they’ve awoken something dangerous. They must work together to undo the spell or be killed by the supernatural forces and evil cultists bent on their destruction.

Author Moreno-Garcia tells a story that explores misogyny and racism through the lens of real film history and occultism. This suspenseful novel started as a slow burn for me but intensified over time. I particularly loved the well-rounded characters, including the relationship between the two main characters.

Creepy and compelling, “Silver Nitrate” is a unique thriller for film buffs and horror lovers alike.


Thanks, Lois! Try Moreno-Garcia's book “Mexican Gothic” for more fantastic, evocative horror — I couldn’t put it down.

Next, let’s hear about a poignant story of a lost love, from Kathy, librarian at the Snohomish Library. Take it away, Kathy.


What stories do we tell our children, and what do they remember of those stories? What are pivotal choices that we make in our lives, and what do we think of the paths not taken? How do we change as we age?

The book “Tom Lake” by Ann Patchett is an enjoyable, reflective meander through time and memory, as a farm wife, Lara, tells her three adult daughters the story of how years ago she dated Peter Duke just before he became a famous movie star. Meanwhile, they all work feverishly to harvest the cherries on their Michigan farm during the pandemic shutdown without their usual labor force.

Does Lara regret that she chose not to continue as an actress herself? Her story is a look at the fun of summer stock theater, the innocence of young love, but also at what we choose to tell when we tell our stories (especially to family) and reveals the barriers to how we can ever know our parents. Her daughters are horrified and fascinated in different degrees by the story of might-have-beens. What will their stories be? The intertwining of the present day with the past, with the slow reveal of unexpected surprises, is a delight.


Thanks, Kathy! Audiobook enthusiasts are in for a treat — the narrator for this book is Meryl Streep.

Our recommendations this week are: “Silver Nitrate” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and “Tom Lake” by Ann Patchett.

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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