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In the Spotlight

Five Star Books for Fall

Autumn is almost an ethereal time of the year–there is magic in the air with the crisp scent of cold air returning and fireplaces being utilized; there is a specific kind of beauty in leaves changing color and pumpkins being present on every doorstep. With cultural traditions underway, what’s better than kicking off the change in seasons by reading a few good books? So, put on your favorite sweater, sip that pumpkin spice latte, and crack open one of these titles that will surely put you in the mood for more eerie or atmospheric reads. Read More..

Yep, That’s a Romance Novel: Three Recommendations for Not-Quite-Romance Readers

Romance is one of the most-maligned genres out there. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve gotten the “you like to read what?” response when I’ve mentioned my love of romance novels.

A few people have even followed it up with “But you were an English major!” — as though having a literature degree means I should sustain myself solely on a reading diet of dense, postmodern prose written by Serious Authors.   Read More..

Peculiar Reading

I first encountered Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children after I started working at Lawrence Public Library over three years ago.  While shelving, I would often see the creepy, antique cover leering out from the stacks, which continued to intrigue me for some time.

Eventually, I had to know what the book was about (since I am totally guilty of judging a book by its cover) and brought it home to read during a brisk autumn evening. From its opening pages, I knew that it was a match made in book heaven, and Miss Peregrine soon became one of my YA favorites. Read More..

There’s No Place Like Lawrence

Last weekend, my in-laws visited from Iowa. Don’t worry– this isn’t a horror story. Or a rant. I actually enjoy it when they’re in town, because I get to show them around Lawrence and brag about all the great locally-owned businesses and the neat events that happen in the community. It reminds me how much I love Lawrence and how glad I am to live here. Read More..

Dahl in All

You never know what thoughts will pop into your head when you wake up two hours before dawn, creep down to the darkest, quietest corner of the basement, and make a giant paper mache blueberry.  “Why the heck am I doing this?” is one recurring theme. Read More..

Black Writers Bring Baldwin Back to Life in The Fire This Time

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, edited by Jesmyn Ward (an author I raved about last year), is on the short list of my favorite books of 2016. A gorgeous collection of essays and poems on racial issues in America, it’s a book that punched me in the gut in the way that excellent writing tends to do. Describing her feelings on the book as a whole, Ward states:

“I believe there is power in words, power in asserting our existence, our experience, our lives, through words. That sharing our stories confirms our humanity. That it creates community, both within our own community and beyond it.”

Read More..

Discography Dilemmas

I never listened to Bob Dylan growing up. I blame it on my parents. It’s not like they banned him from the house. They just weren’t Dylan fans.

In those pre-Napster, pre- job days, it was either the radio or my parents’ music collection: Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits, Madonna’s Immaculate Collection, Supertramp’s Breakfast in America. There was plenty of the Monkees (my mom never grew out of her girlhood crush on Davy Jones), but not much of the Beatles, and Dylan just wasn’t on the radar. Read More..

All Things Possible and Nothing Safe in Cooper & Vanderbilt Family Memoir

An enjoyable aspect of reading memoirs is the potential life lessons that can be gleaned from another person’s example. There are times this knowledge doesn’t come directly from the author themselves, yet it can be found in the manner they lived their life. Also within memoirs, there exists the potential of surprise in learning new information about the author, the opportunity to hear their innermost thoughts, and, possibly, to connect with them on a universal level. Read More..

YA Backlist: Anything Could Happen by Will Walton

Yes, that catchy electropop hit by Ellie Goulding from 2012 is the inspiration and anthem for this young adult novel from 2015. Anything Could Happen is a light-hearted, pleasant read filled with optimism and a bit of cheese. Read More..

Acclaimed Artist & Author Shares a Serendipitous Love of Letters

I have a deep sense of pride for our community’s most creative citizens; savoring local artists’ and authors’ works is often more satisfying than fine dining. Lawrence-based artist and author Stephen T. Johnson’s work is among the finest. His children’s picture books are award-winning: A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet was named one of the Best Illustrated Books of the Year by the New York Times, and Alphabet City was the recipient of a Caldecott Honor, in addition to other accolades. Read More..