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May – August Summer Reading Guide

2016MayAugTease

The Jackson District Library’s 2016 Summer Reading Program is headed your way, filled with programs, parties and special events. It all begins with the Summer Reading Kickoff on Saturday, June 11 from 10:30 am to 2 pm at the Carnegie Library. Start with a family walk around downtown Jackson and then enjoy the music of Gemini. There will be games and activities, a live DJ, a police car and fire truck, ending with a magic show by Ronald McDonald. Sign-up for our free summer reading program and receive a free book and prizes for reading through July 31.

We’ll have special events at all of our branches this summer, including magician Jason Abbott, Colors the Clown and her animal magic show, Sports Stacking, the Science of Sports, Tim Salisbury’s variety show, and the Wild World Zoo. There will be programs just for little ones including Parachute Play and Music and Movement. Teen programs will include a Teen Mystery to solve, STEM programming and our 4th annual LEGO contest. Adult programs include a naturalist led tour at the Dahlem Nature Center, and Zumba and Pound Fitness classes led by the Jackson YMCA at the Carnegie Library. Join us at Carnegie for free lunch for kids under 18 every weekday June 20 – August 12 at noon and stay for digital stories.

Wrap up the Summer by choosing a side at our “STAR WARS vs STAR TREK…YOU DECIDE” event on Friday, August 19. Take part in a mission at “A StarShip Experience” put on by the Lansing MakerSpace, enjoy our outside laser light show finale, and be sure to come in costume for our costume contest.

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Tessa’s Regency Romance Recommendation: Frederica by Georgette Heyer

Known as the creator of the historical romance and the Regency (England) Romance in particular, Georgette Heyer was a prolific writer her entire life, having 48 titles in print at the time of her death. Years ago, I wrote a review of one of her mysteries, Envious Casca. Now I want to you to try her Regency gem Frederica. It is a perfect delight. Be prepared for some vocabulary and phrase challenges, since Heyer uses authentic language. Some of them are evident from context, others, well, you just have to Google them. Or skip them.

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Heyer’s heroines are lively, irrepressible, and intelligent. In Frederica we find all those qualities, plus she has a noble lack of self-interest. She considers herself, at 24, past marriageable age and on the shelf. The whole purpose in Frederica’s moving her small, orphaned family to London is to give her lovely little sister her London season. To that goal, Frederica will attempt anything and approach any contact, no matter how distant, for help. She must bring her two half-grown brothers along to town, since she has rented out their home. And, of course, the big mangy dog. Enter hilarity and escapades with the scamps, and cutting quips to make you gasp from her distant connection, the Marquis, of course.

This book is such a treat, with lots of humor and lighthearted teasing. The unpleasant and grasping get what they deserve; the poor get rich—most everyone is pleased at the end of the book. It would make a wonderful movie! ~ Tessa April 2016 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Tessa’s New Book Review: City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett misses the high mark

In 2014 Robert Jackson Bennett published City of Stairs, an amazingly drawn and vivid world build with a story that was equal parts fantasy, mystery, espionage and character studies. The plotting was well-paced and intriguing, with multiple storylines that are clearly defined while still unfinished at the end of the first book. city-stairsAfter finishing City of Stairs, I knew I would want to follow the great characters in the next entry, City of Blades.

Unfortunately, Bennett’s second book almost goes out of its way to earn the term sophomoric. While entertaining, the book is predictable, the characters somewhat stiff, and the plot so much less than amazing. I enjoyed the main character, General Turyin Mulaghesh, yet I felt her role was more narrator than actual participant in the events. The book lacked the mesmerizing quality of the first, partly because we already know what to expect of the continent and its dead deities.city-blades

Also, I missed the first book’s main character, Shara Thivani, and was saddened by the few glimpses of her we were given. For her to survive the huge difficulties in the first book just to be found weary, harried, and cornered as she is in this one was a severe disappointment. I can only hang on to small threads of interest, believing that Bennett will bring her back in the third book, as canny and fortuitously prescient as ever.

Finally, and this is a warning to the sensitive, I rate this one as extremely violent. The violence is intensely graphic, as well, and several times there were anachronistic fighting methods and means. The author uses some of these to make very pointed analogs to recent Middle Eastern involvements by the US. They caught me by surprise and ruined the reading for a while. I had to get my head around these, fume about it for a while, then get back to the book. Not that I disagreed with him, not sure about that, just that they were so blatant in the middle of a good story. Quite jarring.

All in all, a pretty good read, but very disappointing in light of the first, masterpiece that it was. If he follows the usual arc, the next one will be better albeit still not equal to the first. But I’ll be waiting for it. Recommended, but with several reservations. ~ Tessa March 2016 3.5 out of 5 stars

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Tessa Recommends Entertaining Biography–Born Round: the secret history of a full-time eater by Frank Bruni

Unlikely as it seems, a food memoir by a gay man is one of my favorite reads recently. I picked it up towards fulfilling a reading challenge list, and I immediately found Born Round engaging, funny, refreshing, and fascinating. Frank Bruni was born to an Italian environment that encouraged family, food, and festive times. Frank took to that enthusiastically, and his mother noticed pretty early that little Frank loved his food. His appetite launched the odyssey of a man not much younger than myself who endured years of secret trauma obsessing over his weight.

The Brunis were very competitive, and that helped Frank throughout his life. From high school swimming champion to Outward Bound to a Morehead Scholarship at UNC Chapel Hill and beyond, Frank worked hard. Unfortunately, he did that in private, too, using Metamucil, speed and purging to keep the weight off.

His will and drive take him beyond his weight, however, from the Detroit Free Press, to the NYT reporter assigned to the Bush presidential campaign, to Rome as bureau chief, and finally back to NYC as the New York Times’ restaurant critic. The disguises and efforts needed to outwit the restaurateurs are hilarious and amazing. Who knew?

Don’t read this expecting outrageous behavior or graphic scenes (except for the food)—Bruni has dignity, discretion, and is most kind. He is proud to treat wait staff well in a restaurant; he does the same to friends and partners throughout this biography.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t funny or captivating! Fun ranges from descriptions of one roommate who yells out the apartment window for his cat and kills the aquarium crayfish for murdering the fish, to Bruni and his sister harassing their mom with fictional book titles such as “My Mother and Other Christian Martyrs.” But most of all, this is a book about food and Bruni’s obsessions with it. Most people will find much to enjoy here.

Frank Bruni takes you on adventures into his Italian upbringing, across the globe, and into the streets with this embodiment of what it means to be a journalist and a food critic. Highly recommended. ~Tessa 4 stars out of 5 February 2016

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March/April 2016 Newsletter

March is a great time to grab your favorite book and dive right into reading! We make it easy for you too! Not only is March a great month to get back into reading, it is also a great time to seek out fun events to enjoy with family or friends! Each JDL branch has planned activities for all ages using a popular book theme – Easter Bunny’s Assistant, Boy + Bot, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, and A Dog Wearing Shoes, just to name a few!

 

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Fantasy

New fantasy novels mirror old: like an old mirror with the paint backing chipping off

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Sigh.

 

Queen of the Tearling, Blood Song, The Goblin Emperor, Traitor Baru Cormorant, The Red Queen…are all kind of the same. Substitute a young boy given to a brutal school; for a goblin, abused from childhood and suddenly thrust into the role of emperor; for a new queen, young and bereaved, but with amazing powers; for a savant lesbian imperial accountant ripped from her family; for…some other young adult embroiled in an alien world of political intrigue, conspiracy, and rebellion.

These are all well-written: some better, some worse. But I really couldn’t find much to choose between them. I wanted to, but they are mostly echoes of each other and of masters who have gone before. Ursula Le Guin’s Hainish series, Cherryh’s Foreigner series, Dune, Brandon Sanderson, and others have done all these things before, and, usually, with more imagination, better writing and exquisite creations.

Of the five new ones mentioned above, I think that Traitor Baru Cormorant and Blood Song are the best. The others weren’t too far behind. For most originality, I would have to go with Blood Song or possibly The Goblin Emperor.

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The Goblin Emperor really failed, however, to make the most of its uniqueness. Here’s hoping Addison’s next book will discover the rich potential of her emperor. Traitor Baru Cormorant shocked me, but I think I must not have been paying attention—any reader ofDune should be well prepared for this book’s ending, if they don’t give up out of boredom during the battles. I know, it’s hard to believe, but the battles became quite tedious. Fantasy and science fiction is supposed to be edgy and original, not emulative and old hat. New worlds, not old tropes. Give Blood Song by Anthony Ryan and Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson a try, but the rest are simply optional. ~Tessa Various ratings March 2016

Director-Tackett

Meet Your New Library Director!

The Jackson District Library is pleased to announce that Sara Tackett has been appointed as the new director of the library.

The Board of Trustees offered the position to Tackett on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016 after a two-stage interview process and she was among three candidates considered for the role.

After working for eight years for the Hunterdon County Library in Flemington, New Jersey as a Children’s Librarian, Tackett came to the Jackson District Library in 1998, first as the Coordinator of Youth Programs. She later became the Public Services Administrator and has been acting as interim director after Ishwar Laxminarayan left in January.

“As director I am looking forward to continuing to support the community of Jackson by working to provide a world class library service to all of our residents,” Tackett said.

The JDL Board of Trustees is excited to begin working with our new director and to assist her in implementing her vision of the system moving forward. — board president Darrell Durham.

During her time in Jackson she has helped plan the expansion of the Meijer Branch, developed a library at the Jackson County Youth Center and seen the youth outreach services expand. Tackett has also led Jackson Storyfest for 8 years and serves on the boards of the Community Action Agency and Jackson Great Start. She also is a member of Jackson Business and Professional Women.

Tackett has a Masters of Library Service from Rutgers University in New Jersey and a Bachelors of Anthropology from Indiana University. Tackett and her husband Mike’s family include daughters, Jessica, Betsy, Caroline and Dorothy, son-in-law Lance, a Corgi named Jersey and a black cat named Moonshine.

For questions or more information, please contact the director’s office at 517-788-4099 ext. 1308.

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Questions About the Presidential Candidates?

The current presidential campaign has me somewhat on edge, because it is still not down to two candidates. That’s the longest I can remember the nominations remaining undecided, ever—and I am an old termagant. Suddenly all the primaries are getting attention, not just Iowa and New Hampshire. Even Michigan will have a role in the decision this year. The Michigan primary is coming up on March 8th. If you are still uncertain how you will vote in Michigan’s primary, the library has books on each of the main candidates.

Never Enough: Donald Trump and the pursuit of success by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael D’Antonio is an authorized biography of the Wharton School graduate. D’Antonio was given generous access to Trump himself and all his adult children, along with many other people close to Trump. The New York Times called the book a “straightforward, evenhanded but nonetheless damning account.” Thoroughly researched and reporting from his Queens’ childhood on, D’Antonio shows where The Donald comes from, what he was, what he is, and how he got here. trump-dantonio

ClintonMost people are already familiar with the former First Lady and Secretary of State, but for anyone who isn’t or who still has questions, check out the newest book, Hard Choices, by herself, Hillary Clinton.

Vermont senator and independent Bernie Sanders, now running for president as a democrat, has a long career as a populist. 35 years of distinguished public service give the author of The Essential Bernie Sanders and his vision for America, Jonathan Tasini, a lot of data to work with. However, Library Journal calls it “essentially an extended political pamphlet.” Still, if you want to know his platform or stance on particular issues, here is a great source.Sanders-Tasini

cruzFinally, a political newcomer and one of the more controversial candidates is portrayed in his autobiography: A Time for Truth: reigniting the promise of America by Ted Cruz. Cruz has only run in one election, coming to the Senate from the Texas’ Solicitor General office. Houston native Cruz is of Cuban descent, attended Princeton and Harvard Universities, and clerked for then Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Professor Alan Dershowitz has said that Cruz, in law school, was “off-the-charts brilliant.”

The Jackson District Library has many other books, in many formats, on current candidates and political issues. Let us be your go-to source for current events! ~ Tessa February 2016

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Black History Month

African American History Month

An annual celebration, this month acknowledges the achievements and history of African Americans in our country. Carter Godwin Woodson, often cited as the father of black history, established the Negro History Week in 1926. The month of February was selected to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederic Douglass. In the 1960’s it evolved into Black History Month on numerous college campuses and was officially recognized by President Gerald Ford in 1976 to coincide with the American Bicentennial. Discover some great titles that reflect on the African American experience with these selections.

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How social are we?

Do you follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Did you know we have a Pinterest AND YouTube page? Social media means connecting with you, our patrons, and we want to make sure we’re doing it right! And to do that, we need your opinions! Please take a few minutes to fill out this survey on our social media presence and give us suggestions on what you would like to see from us in the future!