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Community Art Contest: Call for Artists

Attention Jackson County artists of all ages!

Jackson District Library is holding a community art contest during the week of September 12 – 17.


The theme is Pages to Projects: Art Inspired by Books. Paint a picture, make a sculpture, take a photo, craft a quilt, and more. Be inspired by the written word.


Art piece must be no larger than 16” X 24”. The library reserves the right to disqualify art pieces that are hateful or defamatory to individuals or groups.


Art pieces will be housed in downtown Jackson businesses and organizations. The community will be invited to vote for their favorite piece. The top three winners will be announced on Saturday, September 17.


Register your spot with the Reference Department at the Carnegie Library (517) 788-4087.


Deadline: Art piece must be delivered by Friday, September 9, 5 p.m.


The community art project is part of Jackson District Library’s celebration of Outside the Lines. Visit JDL’s event calendar for other Outside the Lines events and programs.


Tessa Talks About Dissonance | new novel by JSO Composer-in-Residence Jonathan Bruce Brown

Amazing! It is truly hard to believe Dissonance is Bruce Brown’s first book. There would be little for an editor to do with this work, since it already has great plotting, atmosphere, and dialogue, and few weak areas. By the end of this suspenseful adventure, the main characters are vivid and as real as any neighbor.


Both Wil Walker, the composer who claims to being framed in the murder, and Peter Jones, the detective who wants to believe Wil despite all the evidence, are finely drawn and sympathetic individuals. This mystery is neither gritty nor cozy: it is just right. And halfway through I commented that I had no idea who the killer was—a sure sign of a great mystery!

Rich with music and creativity, the book reflects the author’s own musical life. The descriptions of the symphony members’ lives give authenticity and originality to the book’s bones. The scenes are saturated with glowing images and rhythmic impressions, and the gorgeous Lake Michigan scenery doesn’t take a back seat to anything. It is as much a character in the book as any of the humans. If you love our state’s green places, this book won’t disappoint.

Overall I am delighted give this gripping debut a well-earned four stars. It built in intensity throughout and had me rushing to the final breath-taking chapters. I hope he’ll write more! Encore! Bravo! ~ Tessa 4 out of 5 stars


Tessa Recommends Tana French’s book: The Secret Place

In her fifth book, The Secret Place, in what is now dubbed The Dublin Murder Squad (DMS) series, Tana French brings familiar characters into a new Dublin setting: an expensive girls’ boarding school. This exceptional atmospheric suspense begins when a familiar figure visits Detective Stephen Moran at work. Holly Mackey has come bearing a card with a photo and caption. The caption says, “I know who killed him.” The photo is of young Chris Harper, murdered the previous year on the grounds of Holly’s school.


Unfortunately, this case isn’t actually one of Moran’s. Currently assigned to Cold Cases, Stephen desperately wants onto the Murder Squad. Card in hand, Stephen visits the newest Murder Squad detective, Antoinette Conway. She allows him to come along to the school and investigate this new development. In a non-stop tense ordeal, they interview the students again, while flashbacks tell the story from the girls’ point of view, gradually approaching the night of the murder.

Two groups of girls quickly become the focus—Holly and her friends and a clique that hates them. As we sit in on the interviews and experience the flashbacks, we become immersed in the life of these eight teenagers—its drama, cruelty, risk-taking, and experimentation. In a fascinating step into magical realism, French describes Holly and her friends discovering secret powers and the whole school seeing the boy’s ghost. Many aspects of the girls’ lives are left open to speculation, so I wonder if we will see more of them in the future, as we often do with French’s DMS characters. Five out five stars for this fifth book! French hasn’t written a dud yet. (Her next one, The Trespasser, comes out in August!) Highly recommended. ~ Tessa June 2016 5 out of 5 stars


Tessa’s Recommendation: A Light-Hearted SciFi Adventure Trilogy: Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

EarthGirlDon’t expect too much from this trilogy by English author Janet Edwards, and you’ll love it. Earth Girl is written with young adults in mind, it isn’t terribly complicated, but the world-building works for me. There were no glaring errors or inconsistencies, which is always nice. And Edwards’ characters were pretty great. The basic story is built around Jarra, a reject of society because she is Handicapped. Orphaned, Earth-bound, and brought up in care because of her physical inability to step through a portal to another planet, Jarra has never had a family and never been off Earth. She has resented her status all her life, even attempted to portal anyway and almost died, and worked hard to show that she isn’t an Ape, as the Handicapped are often called. Many otherworlders actually believe the Apes are throwbacks–smelly, ugly, and stupid. They aren’t aware that the Handicapped don’t even have the right to vote on how things are run on Earth.

Now ready for college, Earth Girl begins with Jarra’s plan to pretend she is from another planet, join an advanced off world class studying at an archeological dig, and prove to everyone that they can’t even tell she isn’t one of them. She does such a good job, that she gains lots of responsibility on the dig, and makes some great friends. She even falls in love with one of them. (Who’s surprised?) But will they still be her friends when they find out the truth?

Along the way, we learn some great future world slang, get oriented to the way future college works, and begin to figure out which planet everyone is from and what that means. There are some typical college shenanigans, and we discover that Jarra’s professor is a fine human being. Others in the class, not so much. We’d be nardle to expect everything to be blizz, wouldn’t we? No romantic triangles, but lots of adventures from across the galaxies that Jarra and friends solve. Of course. ~ Tessa June 2016 4 out of 5 stars


Tessa’s Nonfiction Recommendation: Pandemic by Sonia Shah

Even after reading lots of books on infectious disease, I’m still always interested in a new one. Shah’s newest book, Pandemic, covers new developments and old patterns clearly and factually—and it is, at times, ominous and chilling. The current status of contagions and public health which Shah exposes is riveting, with fascinating details and previously unknown conclusions (to me, at least).

Shah loops the book’s history with the current day by tracing cholera’s two-hundred-year global attack from the Sunderbans, Bay of Bengal, in 1817 to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. She traces the history of Manhattan from Native American fishing grounds to cholera-breeding slums to the creation of the Manhattan Water Company, which become today’s JP Morgan Chase & Co. Her own family’s battle with the nearly indestructible MRSA infection becomes another datum in the appalling recital, revealing more unsettling contemporary difficulties, mostly due to how little we know about this awful condition.


The third chapter, Filth, is full of fantastic fecal facts. For instance, snuff was not always a tobacco product. Many in the 1700’s used powdered fecal matter in their noses, called poudrette. Martin Luther, in the 1500’s, took a spoonful of his own feces daily, for his health. (Before you get too critical, remember that some among us today think eating our baby’s placenta is healthy. And leeches are making their way back into medical practice, too, I hear.)

The chapter Crowds makes the case that the world has changed radically in the manner livestock are handled, contributing hugely to the current problems of contagion genes reasorting themselves into new mutated forms that can infect more species, more efficiently, more often. I was convinced.

Corruption examines the political influences and ramifications of disease outbreaks throughout history, and it is the most alarming factor of all. The current state of the UN’s World Health Organization as laid out here explains a lot about recent poor handling of outbreaks.

“Between 1980 and 2000, the number of deaths pathogens caused in the US alone rose nearly 60 percent…Excluding HIV, …by 22 percent.” I’m still reading this excellent book, but I strongly recommend that every single adult, all citizens, read the chapter on corruption. Our survival as a country, and as a species, may well depend on important changes in the handling of global disease. ~ Tessa May 2016 4 out of 5 stars


The Young Poets Award Ceremony

The Young Poets Contest was open to all students in grades Kindergarten through 12 and all home-schooled students in Jackson County.
A panel of poetry judges reviewed all the entries submitted. The top poets in each grade level read their poems at the Young Poets Awards program held in April.


Tessa’s Book Recommendation: How to Be a Perfect Stranger: the essential religious etiquette handbook


Now in its 6th edition, How to be a perfect stranger is a unique and essential resource for the cross-cultural guest. Voted Best Reference of the Year, I highly recommend checking out this book as needed. Anyone who is invited to a wedding or other service of a religion other than their own will be completely assured of their dress and behavior after consulting this terrific introductory resource.

Each chapter answers the questions in the essential checklist: How should I be dressed? What will happen during the service? What will happen after the service? Should I bring a gift? Will I be expected to participate in any way? In addition, there is a very brief history with a few main beliefs, a short description of a basic service, a section on holy days and festivals, then a section covering life events including marriages and funerals and specifying when and what gifts are appropriate. A final section on home events is included, although it doesn’t apply in many instances. Certain sections vary in length due to the intricacy of a service or rite.

Many different Christian groups are covered in the book, including African-American Methodist, Roman Catholic, Mormon, Seventh-Day Adventist, Baptist, Pentecostal, and more than a dozen others. In addition, other religions included are Native American, Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Islam, Jehovah Witnesses, Judaism, Sikh, and Unitarian Universalist. One humorous note–every group was asked if people could or would contribute, and almost all said that, while not necessary, a contribution of $1-$10 was appropriate. The Baha’i, Christian Science, Islam, and Native American groups were among the exceptions–Baha’i do not permit non-Baha’i to contribute. The others don’t take up contributions.

Two great features of the book are the contact information for a main organization and several resources to which one can go for more information. In addition, useful vocabulary and phrases are given along with descriptions of appropriate greetings in different circumstances.

5 out of 5 stars


May – August Summer Reading Guide


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.


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.


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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