Jan's Column 2021
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April 22, 2021 - Crane Count
This past weekend, I participated in something that took a year off during the pandemic lock down. I took part in the Annual Midwest (Sandhill) Crane Count. Last year the crane count was called off -- though I could never understand why because it is an activity that can be done alone and takes place outside. Regardless of the reasons for last year's cancellation, I went out and did my own crane count in 2020. This year I did my "official" crane count. There really is nothing quite like being up and out by 5 o'clock in the morning and listening and watching the world come alive. Cranes tend to hang out in marshy areas so not only was there patchy frost on the grass, but there was mist rising of ponds and hovering over ditches and fields. The robins and the red-winged blackbirds compete to be the first birds singing as the eastern sky changes from deep blue to a pale blue that's almost white then lemon and peach until the red tones take over and orange smears the horizon. As light comes the bigger birds start in and geese and ducks join in and finally the cranes start yodeling. It is truly magical and available to all who care to venture out before dawn and sit quietly and wait. I heard many cranes and saw six. There were turkeys, a pair of eagles, ducks, geese, a lone deer, pheasants, killdeer, mourning doves, and the list goes on and on. If you can't get out into nature, you can study up on it by using some of the field guides available at the library. Below are some of the new books which recently arrived. Enjoy! and keep an eye out for sandhill cranes!
Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s Girl Stunt Reporters by Kim Todd. The award-winning author of Tinkering with Eden presents a vivid social history of the Gilded Age that examines the stories of women journalists who went undercover to champion women's rights and expose corruption and abuse in America.
Second Chance: A Marine, His Dog, and Finding Redemption by Craig Grossi. The author of Craig and Fred describes how his devoted canine companion and he visited Maine State Prison to work beside inmates who serve purposeful time in prison by training service dogs for disabled veterans.
I Am a Girl from Africa by Elizabeth Nyamayaro. The award-winning humanitarian and former United Nations Senior Advisor on Gender Equality describes how an aid volunteer saved her life and inspired her work as an advocate for positive change in communities throughout the world.
On the House: A Washington Memoir by John Boehner. The former Speaker of the House shares candid tales from Washington, D.C.'s halls of power, offering insight into America's Republican Party and the leadership successes and failures of Presidents from the past half century.
Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Keefe. The award-winning author of Say Nothing presents a narrative account of how a prominent wealthy family sponsored the creation and marketing of one of the most commonly prescribed and addictive painkillers of the opioid crisis.
Beyond: The Astonishing Story of the First Human Being to Leave Our Planet and Journey into Space by Stephen Walker. A 60th-anniversary tribute to Russia's history-making first space mission documents the story of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the program's repurposing of a nuclear ballistic missile and the Cold War challenges that shrouded the mission in secrecy.
Eternal by Lisa Scottoline. An aspiring writer, an athlete from a professional cyclist family and a mathematics prodigy find their bond tested by a love triangle and the spread of anti-Semitism and fascism in 1937 Italy. By the Edgar Award-winning author of Someone Knows.
The Red Book, No. 2 (Black Book) by James Patterson with David Ellis. Launching an investigation of his own when his instincts tell him that more is behind a political shooting on Chicago's west side, SOS Detective Billy Harney uncovers a spate of murders connected to his troubled past.
The Helm of Midnight, No. 1 (Five Penalties) by Marina Lostetter. When a death mask imbued with the spirit of a historical serial killer is brazenly stolen by thieves, an outbreak of terrifying murders reveals the mind of a calculating perpetrator who is searching for answers.
Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi. Honeymooning aboard a historic former tea-smuggling train, newlyweds Otto and Xavier enjoy the locomotive's fantastical accommodations before encountering a secretive fellow passenger, who imparts a surprising message. By the award-winning author of Gingerbread.
The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin. Three strangers navigating grief and devastating setbacks cross paths in a rural Oregon town, where they find unexpected friendship, healing and new chances on local honeybee farm. A first novel by the author of "How to Be a Sister”.
The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas. A woman who never wanted to be a mother reconnects with her estranged husband in the wake of unexpected news and is challenged to reevaluate herself in an unanticipated role. A first adult novel by the author of Consent.
The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen. Inheriting her beloved great-aunt's sketchbook, a recently divorced woman uncovers mysteries about her great-aunt's star-crossed romance with a nobleman in World War II Venice. By the award-winning author of In Farleigh Field.
The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin. Taking a job in a London bookshop just as the Blitz begins, Grace finds comfort in the power of words, storytelling and community as the bookshop becomes one of the only remaining properties to survive the bombings.
April 15 2021 - Jonquils, Hyacinths, and Tulips
There is nothing like a long stretch of cloudy days and rain to green up the world. The grass suddenly needs mowing. The trees have gone from hardly-budded-out-at-all to lacy fingers stretching towards the sky looking for sun. Jonquils, hyacinths, and tulips and other bulbed plants have sprung from the earth with flowers full-blown. Ornamental crab trees, dogwoods, and magnolias are covered with flowers. Other trees, with less obvious flowers such as your oak, maple, elm, and birch trees (to name just a few) are merrily throwing pollen into the air. Suddenly the law is filled with robins. Grackles, red-winged black birds, and crows are calling raucously at all hours of the day and into the night. Geese have their first crop of goslings paddling behind them in ponds. April showers have brought not May flowers, but April flowers as this fecund season takes root. It is the perfect season to get out and visit the library on foot or on bicycle or using whatever form of transport you choose. Books from the publishers' spring lists are arriving daily. Items that have been in storage since the height of the pandemic -- such as Busy Bags, Bags of Books, and Backpacks are finding their way back to their accustomed racks. Make the library your destination as you step out into spring in Wisconsin. Below are some of the new titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!
Comeback Season: My Unlikely Story of Friendship with the Greatest Living Negro League Baseball Players by Cam Perron. An award-winning sports writer describes his teenage correspondences with several surviving former Negro League players, sharing remarkable career stories about how their days on the field were impacted by racism, the KKK and major league color barriers
Empire of Ants: The Hidden World and Extraordinary Lives of Earth’s Tiniest Conquerors by Susanne Foitzik and Olaf Fritsche. Drawing on the expertise of a leading researcher, an introduction to the world of ants explores its remarkable international varieties as well as the species' surprisingly human-like behaviors and civilizations
Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting by Lisa Genova. The Harvard-trained neuroscientist and best-selling author of Still Alice presents an exploration of the intricacies of human memory that distinguishes between normal and concerning memory loss while explaining the profound roles of sleep, stress and other contributing influences.
Broken (in the Best Possible Way) by Jenny Lawson. The award-winning humorist and author of Let's Pretend This Never Happened shares candid reflections on such topics as her experimental treatment for depression, her escape from three bears and her business ideas for Shark Tank.
Hype: How Scammers, Grifters, and Con Artists Are Taking Over the Internet—and Why We’re Following by Gabrielle Bluestone. The former “Vice” journalist and Emmy-nominated producer of the Netflix documentary, “Fyre”, presents a revelatory examination of the con-artists, grifters and scammers of the digital age that outlines recommendations for protecting today's consumers
Justice, Justice, Thou Shalt Pursue: A Life’s Work Fighting for a More Perfect Union by Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Amanda Tyler. Traces the long history of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s work for gender equality and a “more perfect Union".
The Path to Sunshine Cove by RaeAnne Thayne. The daughter of parents who died under traumatizing circumstances reevaluates her life on the road when she unexpectedly falls in love and reconnects with her sister, whose marriage has crumbled in the wake of a devastating diagnosis.
Danger in Numbers by Heather Graham. Investigating a ritualistic murder in a small north Florida community, an agent from the State police reluctantly partners with an FBI cult specialist to uncover dark local secrets and the violent activities of a doomsday prep group.
Double Jeopardy, No. 57 (Stone Barrington) by Stuart Wood. Stone Barrington launches an investigation in coastal Maine, where he confronts high-connected and well-funded family enemies hiding in plain sight among the region's stately houses and private clubs. By the Edgar Award-winning author of Chiefs.
The Palm Beach Murders by James Patterson. Three stories from the world's best-selling author include the tale of a pair of divorcees who begin a strangely intense game of make-believe and a popular advertising exec who notices the people around him are being murdered
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton. Accepting a contract from a fledgling record company, a talented music artist in early 1970s New York endures racist responses to her activism, before a reunion interview decades later reveals explosive secrets.
Too Good to Be True by Carola Lovering. Accepting the proposal of an older, sophisticated man after a whirlwind courtship, a woman struggling with severe OCD throws herself into wedding plans before discovering her fiancé's secret past and deceptive agenda.
What Comes After by Joanne Tompkins. The grieving single parents of two recently deceased teenage boys forge an unexpected bond over the appearance of a mysterious pregnant girl who offers insight into the tragedy.
Ocean Prey, No. 31 (Prey) by John Sandford. Picking up a stalled FBI case involving three murdered Coast Guardsmen, Lucas Davenport teams up with detective Virgil Flowers to investigate the suspicious activities of a sophisticated boat and mysterious diver. By the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the Prey series
April 8, 2021 - National Library Week
National Library Week started on Easter Sunday this year. April 4th was also National School Librarians Day. Tuesday of National Library Week is reserved to honor library workers with their special day. Wednesday is reserved to honor bookmobiles. The rest of the week days are not designated for any particular group or aspect of libraries. Personally, I believe library patrons deserve their own day. of celebration during National Library Week. Without the you, our loyal, library patrons, there would be no reason for libraries of any ilk to exist. So come in on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday of this 2021 National Library Week and celebrate yourself!
Spring has certainly arrived in our area. There are flocks of robins just bob,bob, bobbin' along on lawns everywhere. Songbirds are singing to their sweeties and starting to set up housekeeping. Tis the season. Love is in the air. Not only do we have song birds a singing, we have motorcycles a revving and convertibles -- what would be the verb for driving around with the top down on a car? It couldn't possibly be "converting", could it? And while it is true that many Wisconsinites start wearing shorts when the daytime highs get into the mid 30s, this past week has brought flocks of short-clad natives out into the world. With all these signs of spring, can the arrival of spring book titles be far behind? Absolutely not. Below you will find some of the titles which recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!
Eleanor in the Village: Eleanor Roosevelt’s Search for Freedom and Identity in New York’s Greenwich Village by Jan Russell. The best-selling author of The Train to Crystal City documents the lesser-known story of Eleanor Roosevelt's abrupt relocation to 1920 Greenwich Village, discussing the former First Lady's motivations and how the region shaped her progressive political views.
North by Shakespeare: A Rogue Scholar’s Quest for the Truth Behind the Bard’s Work by Michael Blanding. The true story of a self-taught Shakespeare sleuth’s quest to prove his eye-opening theory about the source of the world’s most famous plays, taking readers inside the vibrant era of Elizabethan England as well as the contemporary scene of Shakespeare scholars and obsessives.
The Loneliest Polar Bear: A True Story of Survival and Peril on the Edge of a Warming World by Kale Williams. An Oregonian science and environmental reporter shares the heartbreaking but hopeful story of abandoned polar bear cub, Nora, discussing the efforts of dedicated zookeepers, veterinarians and conservationists who are working to rescue the species from extinction.
No Pain, No Gaines: The Good Stuff Don’t Come Easy by Chip Gaines. The star of HGTV's Fixer Upper shares anecdotal insights into the value of a strong network, explaining how a team of family members, friends and neighbors can become an essential component of personal success.
Your Time to Thrive: End Burnout, Increase Well-Being, and Unlock Your Full Potential with the New Science of Microsteps by Marina Khidekel. The experts from Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global offer science-based advice for how to establish small, healthy habits for sleep, nutrition and other self-care practices to counter burnout, reduce stress and unlock personal potential
Half Life by Jillian Cantor. A reimagining of the life of Marie Curie is told through two parallel timelines, including one that reflects her real-world achievements and another that explores how the world might be different had she made other choices.
Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia. The daughter of a Cuban immigrant battles addiction and the fallout of her decision to take in the child of an ICE detainee, while her mother wrestles with displacement trauma and complicated family ties. A first novel.
Red Island House by Andrea Lee. The National Book Award-nominated author of Lost Hearts in Italy presents a tale of love and identity that follows two decades in a marriage between an African-American professor and her wealthy Italian husband in tropical Madagascar.
Mrs. Wiggins by Mary Monroe. A tale set in the world of the award-winning Mama Ruby series follows the experiences of a woman from an at-risk family who marries a preacher to establish a safer life before discovering her husband's desperate secret.
Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly. Union nurse Georgeanna Woolsey, an ancestor of Caroline Ferriday, travels with her sister to Gettysburg, where they cross paths with a slave-turned-army conscript and her cruel plantation mistress. By the best-selling author of Lilac Girls.
Till Death, No. 3 (Have Brides Will Travel) by William and J.A. Johnstone. A latest entry in the series that includes The Shotgun Wedding continues the misadventures of drifters-turned-lawmen Bo Creel and Scratch Morton as they attempt to safely deliver a new group of mail-order brides to New Mexico territory.
The Consequences of Fear, No. 16 (Maisie Dobbs) by Jacqueline Winspear. Entreated by a witness nobody believes to investigate a murder, Maisie Dobbs uncovers a conspiracy with devastating implications for Britain's war effort during the Nazi occupation of Europe. By the award-winning author of The American Agent.
No Way Out by Fern Michaels. Struggling to remember the accident leading to her boyfriend's disappearance, a coma patient and video game developer starts over in rural Mississippi, before an inexplicable reunion threatens everything she has rebuilt. By the best-selling author of the Sisterhood series.
April 1, 2021 - April Fools' Day!
Happy April Fools' Day! Not only are we at the beginning of a new month and can finally say goodbye to a fickle and windy March, but we are only a few days away from the beginning of National Library Week. National Library Week seems to be a moveable feast. In 2018, it started on April 7th; in 2019 on April 8th; in 2020 on April 19th. This year it starts on April 4th which just happens to be Easter, another moveable feast. There are a number of celebratory events planned for the week. Please check our website and social media for details.
But lets, get back to April Fool's Day. Where did this custom of frivolity and pranking arise?
According to some historians it may date back to 1582 when France switched from the Julian calendar (the new years starts with the spring equinox around April 1st) to the Gregorian (the new years starts January 1st). Those who were slow to adopt the January 1st date became the butt of jokes and were called April fools and had pranks played upon them. According to other historians April Fools Day can be linked to the Roman festival of Hilaria which was celebrated at the end of March. Followers of the cult of Cybele dressed up in disguises and mocked their fellow citizens and magistrates. This was said to be inspired by the Egyptian legend of Isis, Osiris and Seth. These pranking practices spread through Britain in the 1700s and in Scotland a two day event which started off with the hunting of the "gowk" -- the word for a cuckoo (bird) or fool-- which sent folks off on fake errands. Day two -- Tailie Day== involved pinning fake tails on people (i.e. "kick me" signs). Harmless pranking is the name of the game with harmless being the most important word. And now that you know all about today, below you will find some of the new titles which recently arrived at the library. No fooling! Enjoy!
Elizabeth and Margaret: The Intimate World of the Windsor Sisters by Andrew Morton. This biography of Queen Elizabeth II and her sister Margaret examines their early idyllic youth as the closest of sisters as well as their often fraught relationship after their father’s death and Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne.
The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women’s Rights by Dorothy Wickenden. The best-selling author of Nothing Daunted chronicles the revolutionary activities of Harriet Tubman, Frances Seward and Martha Wright, discussing their vital role in the Underground Railroad, abolition and the early women's rights movement.
Everything Will Be Okay: Life Lessons for Young Women (from a Former Young Woman) by Dana Perino. The Fox News co-host and best-selling author of And the Good News Is… draws on her personal boundary-breaking experiences to counsel readers on how to find inspiration and motivation in today's world.
Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind by Judson Brewer. A step-by-step plan is clinically proven to break the cycle of worry and fear that drives anxiety and addictive habits.
Raft of Stars by Andrew Graff. Fleeing into the woods believing that they have accidentally murdered an abusive parent, two young boys, unaware that they have become the focus of a desperate search, navigate dangerous natural threats in their effort to survive.
The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray. A multi-generational saga based on true events is set in an extraordinary castle in the heart of France, where a schoolteacher, a socialite and a noblewoman question their roles and identities in the face of three major wars.
The Bounty, No. 7 (Fox and O’Hare) by Janet Evanovich. Straitlaced FBI agent Kate O'Hare and international con man Nick Fox reluctantly team up with the fathers who taught them everything they know to prevent a shadowy international organization from claiming a fortune in Nazi gold.
Not Dark Yet, No. 27 (Inspector Banks) by Peter Robinson. Investigating the murder of a property developer in Yorkshire, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks and his team begin scanning the victim's security tapes only to discover that a brutal second crime was also captured.
A Question Mark is Half a Heart by Sofia Lundberg. A successful Manhattan photographer is drawn back to her past as a poverty-stricken child in Paris whose daily realities were shaped by an abusive parent and a friend who still remembers her deepest secrets. A first novel
Gathering Dark by Candice Fox. Risking her freedom and custody of her son to help a former cellmate find her missing daughter, a once-respected surgeon requests the assistance of the detective who arrested her for murder a decade earlier.
The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Flynn. Receiving ominous threats during a 10-year college reunion, Ambrosia and her best friend discover that they are being targeted by an unknown adversary who would exact revenge for a dangerous secret from their past.
The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex. A debut non-pseudonymous novel of psychological suspense, based on true events, follows the experiences of three wives on a remote Cornish Coast tower when their lighthouse-keeper husbands go mysteriously missing
The Other Emily by Dean Koontz. Haunted by the unsolved disappearance of the love of this life a decade earlier, writer David Thorne visits her suspected killer in prison before meeting a woman who uncannily resembles the person he lost.
March 25, 2021 - Spring Started
Spring started this past Saturday, March 20th, at 4:37 a.m. I believe only the robins and my cats were awake to greet it. Of course once the cats are up and greeting things – the dawn, each other, their empty food dishes, the early birds—I, unfortunately, am not far behind. Perhaps it because I do not watch network television anymore and get my information from newspaper and weather websites, but the arrival of spring this year seemed singularly unheralded. If a co-worker hadn’t mentioned it to me Saturday morning, I would have been completely oblivious to spring’s arrival. I guess it really does pay to go to the library where information is all around you! The birds have been singing about the arrival of spring. The mini flock of cardinals, house finches, sparrows, chickadees, and juncos that have been visiting my porch rail for seeds, have started to drift away. They are able to find food in the wild closer to potential nesting sites. A few long-time porch-perchers seem to be bringing girl friends “home” to enjoy the seed buffet. Spring is indeed in the air. Just like the swallows return to Capistrano every March 19th, and the vultures return to Hinckley, Ohio every March 15th, so the book publishers have begun pushing out their spring list of titles. Below you will find some of the new titles that recently arrived at the library. Enjoy!
Already Toast: Caregiving and Burnout in America by Kate Washington. Despite feeling profoundly alone while providing care to her sick husband, a writer discusses how she discovered she was one of millions of exhausted and stressed unpaid caregivers in America and argues that more should be done to support them.
Futureproof: 9 Rules for Humans in the Age of Automation by Kevin Roose. Technology columnist lays out a hopeful, pragmatic vision of how people can succeed in the machine age by making themselves irreplaceably human.
How Rights Went Wrong: Why Our Obsession With Rights is Tearing America Apart by Jamal Greene. An eminent constitutional scholar reveals how the explosion of rights is dividing America, and shows how we can build a better system of justice.
The Energy Paradox: What to Do When Your Get-Up-and-Go Has Got Up and Gone (Plant Paradox) by Steven Gundry. The best-selling author of The Longevity Paradox expands upon previous discussions about gut, microbiome and mitochondrial health, linking immune malfunctions to the physical and mental symptoms of fatigue while outlining recommendations for bolstering energy and brain stamina.
The Zoologist’s Guide to the Galaxy: What Animals on Earth Reveal About Aliens – and Ourselves by Arik Kershenbaum. Using universal laws that govern life on Earth, a noted Cambridge zoologist presents an engaging, scientifically sound exploration of what life may be like on other planets and in space, discussing such speculative topics as supersonic animals and alien emotions.
Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones. The award-winning podcaster, motivational speaker and author of the best-selling I'm Judging You shares whimsical, transformational advice based on her grandmother's techniques to counsel readers on how to overcome fear-related obstacles and pursue meaningful goals through disruptive choices.
The Affair by Danielle Steel. A fashion magazine executive navigates a scandal involving her son-in-law's affair with a Hollywood actress, while her daughters support each other through infidelity, commitment issues and personal secrets. By the best-selling author of Neighbors.
Everything After by Jill Santopolo. Helping troubled students navigate personal losses, a university psychologist is forced to reckon with her own painful past when a tragic event compels her to reevaluate her goals, passions and sense of identity.
Meant to Be by Jude Deveraux. The award-winning author of A Knight in Shining Armor presents a latest historical family saga chronicling the lives and loves of three generations of women in a small Kansas community.
2034: A Novel of the Next World War by Elliot Ackerman & James Stavridis. Two former military officers and award-winning authors present a near-future geopolitical thriller that depicts a naval clash between America and Asia in the South China Sea of 2034. Co-written by the National Book Award-nominated author of Waiting for Eden.
The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen. A sequel to the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sympathizer finds the unnamed "man of two minds" and his blood brother dealing drugs in 1980s Paris, where he navigates the worlds of privileged clients while trying to reconcile two politically polarized friends.
Dark Sky, No. 21 (Joe Pickett) by C. J. Box. Reluctantly accompanying a Silicon Valley tech baron on an elk hunting trip, Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett finds himself defending his high-profile charge from a vengeful sharpshooter. By the Edgar Award-winning author of Long Range.
Fast Ice, No. 16 (NUMA Files) by Clive Cussler & Graham Brown. Investigating the disappearance of a NUMA colleague on the icebergs of Antarctica, Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala are confronted by a radical environmentalist who would use a Nazi-era weapon to usher in a new Ice Age