FRIENDLY READS

The human experience of friendship is universal. While the nature of those friendships can change over the course of a lifetime, most people of all cultures and all ages have experienced at least one friendship during their life. Friendships in our early years are typically based on play and companionship. But, when we mature into adults, friendships tend to become more intimate as we share our struggles and successes in a trusting relationship.

There are certainly many benefits of having a friend. The risks or cost of not having a friend (or having difficulties with friendships) are also universal to all cultures. And, there are different kinds of friendship, including: same gender friendships, opposite or mixed gender friendships, group friendships, and friendships that lead to romance, among many. Check out some of these books where the story focuses on a particular friendship. See how the friendships influence the plot and how the events affect those friendships. During the month of February, look for the “Friendly Reads” book displays at Fairmount and Main for a wide selection. Below are a few titles to get you started. (Descriptions below from the publisher)

Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie

“Zahra and Maryam have been best friends since childhood in Karachi, even though—or maybe because—they are unlike in nearly every way. Yet they never speak of the differences in their backgrounds or their values, not even after the fateful night when a moment of adolescent impulse upends their plans for the future.  Three decades later, Zahra and Maryam have grown into powerful women who have each cut a distinctive path through London. But when two troubling figures from their past resurface, they must finally confront their bedrock differences—and find out whether their friendship can survive. Thought-provoking, compassionate, and full of unexpected turns, Best of Friends offers a riveting take on an age-old question: Does principle or loyalty make for the better friend?”

 

You Can’t Stay Here Forever by Katherine Lin

“Just days after her young, handsome husband dies in a car accident, Ellie Huang discovers that he had a mistress—one of her own colleagues at a prestigious San Francisco law firm. Acting on impulse—or is it grief? rage? Probably all three—Ellie cashes in Ian’s life insurance policy for an extended stay at the luxurious Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Antibes, France. Accompanying her is her free-spirited best friend, Mable Chou. Ellie hopes that the five-star resort on the French Riviera, with its stunning clientele and floral-scented cocktails, will be a heady escape from the real world. And at first it is. She and Mable meet an intriguing couple, Fauna and Robbie, and as their poolside chats roll into wine-soaked dinners, the four become increasingly intimate. But the sunlit getaway soon turns into a reckoning for Ellie, as long-simmering tensions and uncomfortable truths swirl to the surface. Taking the reader from San Francisco to the gilded luxury of the south of France, You Can’t Stay Here Forever is a sharply funny and exciting debut that explores the slippery nature of marriage, the push and pull between friends, and the interplay of race and privilege, seen through the eyes of a young Asian American woman.”

 

The Caretaker by Ron Rash

“It’s 1951 in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Blackburn Gant, his life irrevocably altered by a childhood case of polio, seems condemned to spend his life among the dead as the sole caretaker of a hilltop cemetery. It suits his withdrawn personality, and the inexplicable occurrences that happen from time to time rattle him less than interaction with the living. But when his best and only friend, the kind but impulsive Jacob Hampton, is conscripted to serve overseas, Blackburn is charged with caring for Jacob’s wife, Naomi, as well.  Sixteen-year-old Naomi Clarke is an outcast in Blowing Rock, an outsider, poor and uneducated, who works as a seasonal maid in the town’s most elegant hotel. When Naomi eloped with Jacob a few months after her arrival, the marriage scandalized the community, most of all his wealthy parents who disinherited him. Shunned by the townsfolk for their differences and equally fearful that Jacob may never come home, Blackburn and Naomi grow closer and closer until a shattering development derails numerous lives. A tender examination of male friendship and rivalry as well as a riveting, page-turning novel of familial devotion, The Caretaker brilliantly depicts the human capacity for delusion and destruction all too often justified as acts of love.”

 

DISCOVER A NEW HOBBY!

January is National Hobby Month.
Let us help you discover something new!

Every year National Hobby Month is celebrated during the month of January. Participating is a great alternative to making a New Year’s Resolution (and failing to keep it). Instead, join enthusiasts around the country by trying out a new hobby or diving back into one you haven’t enjoyed in a while. Since hobbies are not something that we are required to master and our paycheck doesn’t depend on it, we can pursue our hobbies for the pure joy they bring.

The great thing about having a hobby is that it can take your mind off the pressure of work or other daily stresses. Finding a good hobby and giving yourself time to take part in it on a daily or weekly basis is sure to make you happier, and even healthier!  It can boost our self-esteem and help us grow creatively, physically, or intellectually. And, it often helps us foster a connection with others. Research indicates that being active with a hobby can lead to better health, more sleep, lower stress, improved social network and work performance, and a greater life satisfaction, in general.

You might spend some time planning and thinking about new hobbies or interests you’d like to pursue throughout the year. It will be well worth your time. Below are a few new books on activities that could make a great hobby. During the month of January, check out the Hobbies book displays at the Eastern and Fairmount branches to find some ideas to get you started.

 

If you are interested in picking up a new hobby this year and are not sure what to try, perhaps these questions will help. Think about the answers and allow them to guide your choices. You can have different needs at different times and there’s no such thing as the perfect hobby – so try to be open to new experiences.

  • How do you want the activity to make you feel?
    Mentally engaged? Distracted? Relaxed? Socially connected?
  • What did you like doing as a kid?
    Think about what you wanted to be when you grew up? The answer could point you toward a hobby you could pursue as an adult. Or, revisit activities you loved when you were young. Childhood interests can easily evolve into an adult hobby.
  • What do you hope to get out of a hobby?
    Social Connections? Solitary time to clear your head? Learn a new skill or challenge yourself?
  • What is your life missing?
    Creativity? Physical activity? Do you need to be more social?
  • What is your availability?
    How much time do you have available and when would it be most relaxing to do the activity? Can you do it in your spare time? What window of time would feel like a relief from your current schedule rather than a stressful obligation?
  • Are there any obstacles?
    Identify supplies you need or any other arrangements you might need to make, such as travel or childcare. Try to anticipate anything that might get in the way of your first venture into this new hobby to avoid getting distracted or putting it off. Remove as many obstacles as you can.

One online list of hobbies I found was broken down into just 4 categories: Physical, Cerebral, Creative, and Community-Oriented. Other lists have many more categories. Keep in mind that hobbies can appear in more than one category. Have fun discovering a new hobby!  And, if we don’t have a book or other resource on your new hobby, please tell us!

 

Begin to code : building apps and games in the cloud by Rob Miles

Beginner’s guide to glass painting : 16 amazing projects for picture frames, dishware, mirrors, and more! by Nilima Mistry

A beginner’s guide to quilting : a complete step-by-step course by Michael Caputo

Canning full circle : from garden to jar to table by Diane Deveraux

Code to joy : why everyone should learn a little programming by Michael L. Littman

The container victory garden : a beginner’s guide to growing your own groceries by Maggie Stuckey

Easy crochet for beginners : learn to crochet with 35 simple projects by Nicki Trench

Jewelry making for beginners : step-by-step, simple instructions for beautiful results by Tammy Powley

The Joy of playing with your dog: games, tricks, and socialization for puppies & dogs by Monks of New Skete (COR) / Marc Goldberg

Knotting natural bags & belts : 18 beautiful, easy-to-make macrame projects by Stacy Summer Malimban

Madame Fromage’s adventures in cheese : how to explore it, pair it, and love it, from the creamiest bries to the funkiest blues by Tenaya Darlington

Seed to table : a seasonal guide to organically growing, cooking, and preserving food at home by Luay Ghafari

Start here : instructions for becoming a better cook by Sohla El-Waylly

 

TRAVEL BACK IN TIME… WITH A GOOD BOOK!

Time travel tales have been captivating readers for generations. Ever since the first publishing of the classic H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, in 1895, the genre has gained in popularity. Wells’ book has since been made into two feature films of the same name, as well as two television versions and many comic book adaptations. More recent time travel themed novels have also been widely enjoyed. Diana Gabaldon’s book Outlander, first published in 1991, has now become an entire series of books as well as a TV series (2014) that has sparked a super fandom following. The more recent Time Traveler’s Wife (2003), by Audrey Niffenegger, was made into a movie in 2009 and a TV series in 2022. While these latter two focus on romance, as many time travel themes do, there are a variety of storylines – including mysteries and thrillers – to interest most any reader, provided you allow yourself to suspend reality and accept the time-bending premise. During the month of December, both the Fairmount and Eastern branch libraries will feature book displays with an assortment of time travel themed titles for you to consider for your next read. I’d like to share two with you here: Myriad by Joshua David Bellin and The Night Shift by Natalka Burian.

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Joshua David Bellin has published numerous science fiction and adventure novels. His latest is Myriad, a science-fiction thriller set in his native Pittsburgh in the year 2037. The main character, Miriam Randle, works for a private law enforcement firm, whose employees utilize short-term time travel to go back in time to prevent crimes from happening. While competent in her work at the firm, her personal life is haunted by the decades-old unsolved murder of her twin brother by a school shooter. When a routine assignment goes awry ending in tragedy because of her, Miriam finds herself involved in a conspiracy. She escapes to the past to investigate her own firm, and the people she works for, in order to uncover the truth before it’s too late. But, her brother’s murderer isn’t the only thing in Miriam’s past that she would prefer to forget. There are so many twists and turns in this book that you never know quite where it is going. With perfectly flawed characters in a very realistic world, this novel is compelling and you won’t want to stop reading until you find out what happens to Miriam.

“Minority Report meets The Fugitive in this breakneck thriller that kept me guessing—and madly flipping pages—until the bitter end. The devious plot zips nimbly through wormhole after wormhole, but Bellin shines brightest in his nuanced exploration of the light and dark in all of us. Myriad is an antihero for the ages.” – Kat Ross, author of the Gaslamp Gothic Victorian Paranormal Mystery series

“Exciting and thought-provoking, Myriad posits a truly original twist on time-travel. Joshua Bellin’s first adult novel hits all the right notes from its conflicted main character trying to undo a tragic, life-changing past event to multiple twists, turns, and surprises the reader won’t see coming.” – Larry Ivkovich, author of The Sixth Precept and Magus Star Rising

“Joshua David Bellin is a master craftsman. In Myriad, he’s reached an all-time high for plot twists that rock your understanding of what has come before… and after. Enjoy the fast-paced action that will leave you dazzled.” – Diane Turnshek, Carnegie Mellon University astronomer and science fiction author

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In Natalka Burian’s book Night Shift, there are secret passageways all over New York City that allow you to go through space and time to emerge in one of the other locations. These are well-hidden shortcuts. They might be found at the back door of a shop, bar or restaurant, or theater. Nobody knows how they originated and there are rules you must follow. You can only go one direction through them and you can only travel the passageways at night.

The story follows Jean, who is introduced to the passageways by her work friend, Iggy. She decides to use them to shorten her work commute between her night shift bartending and her day shift at an upscale bakery. She notices that the shortcut has side effects that make her more talkative and more open to discussing her past. She starts recalling memories that she’s worked hard to forget. When Iggy, goes missing, Jean believes it’s related to the secret passageways. Jean starts searching for answers and finds more and more connections between these shortcuts and herself. Will she ever find out what happened to Iggy? What do the passageways have to do with her? With her past? What about her future?

“The Night Shift is an engrossing and vibrant novel, and I loved watching my fair city shine in these pages. This is a great book for readers who love New York City after dark, and who see mysterious possibilities around every corner.” — Emma Straub, New York Times Bestselling Author of All Adults Here

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MUSIC AND MUSICIANS

If you enjoy listening to music, singing it, or creating it, October is your month!  International or Universal Music Day is celebrated on October 1. If that’s not enough to dig out your collection of musical favorites, the entire month of October is dedicated to the celebration of Country Music as a beloved genre. There’s even “Hug a Drummer Day” celebrated on October 10th, which the percussionist in your life might appreciate. Music is one of the most universal ways to express ideas and emotions, making it an integral part of every culture around the world. It is a shared, common language that has the power to bring people together.

As you find ways to celebrate music this month, you may be interested in some of these “musical” books, including books about music genres, the music industry, musicians, and songwriting. The best music books can give you a new insight, inspire new conversations, and hopefully encourage you to give another listen. Music has evolved over the course of history into many different forms. Some of the most listened to genres of today, such as Rock, Country, and Classical, can be further divided into sub-genres such as country-pop, alternative rock, etc. A variety of music genres are included in the music book displays that are up this month at the Fairmount and Eastern branches. Here are a few to get you started:

In The Number Ones: Twenty Chart-Topping Hits That Reveal the History of Pop Music, the author, Tom Breihan, looks at twenty of Billboard Hot 100s number one songs and uncovers their historical context demonstrating how they played a pivotal role in changing pop music. Breihan includes some of the greatest pop artists of all time.  But, just as important, he also includes some musicians who never hit the number one spot, but who are now legendary because of their whole body of work. Some reviewers have suggested to read this book while listening to the selected songs in order to achieve a more immersive experience. Pop culture and music lovers will appreciate this book, especially if they have watched the Billboard Hot 100 or have read the author’s Stereogum column called, what else? “The Number Ones”.

Declassified: a low-key guide to the high-strung world of classical music is authored by Arianna Warsaw-Fan Rauch, a Juilliard grad and world-class violinist and veteran of symphony halls and international concert tours. In the book, she expresses her lifelong love-hate relationship with classical music and musicians. There is such variety in the “classical music” genre, that spans centuries of composers, that she argues you can find enough diversity to encompass the gamut of emotions. The author covers the 7 main compositional periods, offering a breakdown of the instruments and their “personalities”.  She invites her reader on a backstage tour of the industry to see what it is like to be a professional musician at conservatory auditions, competitions, and during grueling practice routines, ultimately making the case that classical music matters.

As a long-time writer in the country music industry – especially versed on the careers of women – Marissa R. Moss demonstrates her insider knowledge of the music scene in Nashville with her book, Her Country: How the Women of Country Music Became the Success They Were Never Supposed to Be. She writes about some of the most celebrated female artists, but brings into sharpest focus the three main subjects of her book, Kacey Musgraves, Maren Morris, and Mickey Guyton. These women are heroines in their own right and have carved out their own paths to success despite the huge obstacles of a “good ‘ol boy” mentality, sexism, and even racism in the country music industry. This book isn’t just for Country music fans, but also for those interested in seeing women singers, songwriters, producers, and executives, succeed in an industry where much is stacked against them.

Tony Brown’s “coffee table” book, Elvis, Strait, to Jesus: An Iconic Producer’s Journey with Legends of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Country, and Gospel Music features exclusive photographs and stories about his more than 40-year career as one of Nashville’s leading producers and executives. The book is a photographic journey depicting how Brown rose to the top of the Nashville music industry to take his spot in country music history.  It illuminates his rise to fame and his industry relationships; from pianist for Elvis Presley to the president of MCA Records in Nashville and producing over 100 country songs that hit #1 on the charts. The book showcases people who have played an important role in Brown’s career. A few of the many music artists included in the book show the diversity of music genres he was instrumental in creating: Lionel Richie, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Joel, Joe Cocker, Jimmy Buffett, Barbra Streisand, George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Lyle Lovett, and many more. The book is touted as a special tribute that no fan of music or artistic photography should be without.

If you are interested in other musical genres, several other books of interest are: Dangerous Rhythms: Jazz and the Underworld; Hip-Hop (and other things): a collection of questions asked, answered, illustrated; Anatomy of a Song: the oral history of 45 iconic hits that changed rock, R & B, and pop; Shine Bright: a very personal history of black women in pop; and Folk Music: A Bob Dylan Biography in Seven Songs. These books and many others are on display during the month of October at both the Eastern and Fairmount branch libraries. You might also be interested in this DVD: Hip Hop the songs that shook America.

   

If these recommendations inspire you to explore the music, we have a large collection of music CD’s in many genres and also offer free digital music content with Freegal Music and QC Beats.

At the risk of sounding like a late night infomercial, I will further entice you to explore our collection with… “But, wait, there’s MORE!”  At all three branches, you can check out a Common Chord or Quad City Symphony Orchestra Community Experience Pass to receive FREE entry to local music events. We even have a Jensen turntable and portable cassette player/recorder that you can check out at the Main branch to listen to some of your old vinyl or cassette recordings.

 

Or, perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn to play an instrument. Checking out a ukulele at the Main branch is a great way to start.  Whether you read, listen, attend an event, or make your own music – be sure to include music in your life during the month of October – and every month!

New and Upcoming Romances

Looking for a new romance? Our romance selector, Michelle, has gathered up a list of new and upcoming romances for you to check out! All of these titles can be found at a Davenport Public Library location.

Rock Bottom by Fern Michaels

Rock Bottom is the 35th book in Fern Michael’s Sisterhood series and finds wrongs that need to be made right by the Sisterhood.  In this installment, friends Isabelle and Yoko join forces to take on a large scale café project that will be the anchor of a new and trendy development.  Isabelle turns to her college roommate, Zoe, who has years of construction experience.  Zoe can’t hide her concern over building materials and inferior construction techniques with a host of buildings which she has been the project lead. Zoe questions the building integrity and quickly learns that someone wants her to stop asking questions and leave the issue alone, so she turns to the Sisterhood for assistance.

Silver Lady by Mary Jo Putney 

Silver Lady kicks off a new series by Mary Jo Putney and takes the reader to the rugged coast of England and seamlessly intertwines romance with historical fiction. Bran Tremayne has been told stories as a child that he is of a noble lineage and leaves city life for the coast of Cornwall to find answers.  Alone in the countryside he meets Merryn, a woman who is suffering from amnesia and is in danger.  Bran knows he needs to protect her after he discovers her life is a risk from rival rogue groups.  Can their newfound love face the dangerous challenges to come?

Out of Nowhere by Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown does not disappoint with her latest standalone thriller, Out of Nowhere.  Two strangers, Elle and Calder, could not have come from opposite worlds.  After the unspeakable tragedy of an act of violence at a Texas county fair, their paths collide as they are putting the pieces of their lives back together.  After an initial attraction, the two face the difficult journey of dealing with the past and wondering if they have a future.  Their road to happiness becomes more complex as the suspect remains at large and could potentially threaten their happiness.

Santa and Company by Fern Michaels 

 Longtime friends plan a winter getaway with a destination of snow and a luxurious stay in a ski lodge in Santa and Company.  When one member of the group ventures out in the snow alone, a near disaster is averted when she is rescued by a stranger and sparks begin to fly.  Another member of the group also meets a stranger who may change her life.  On the cusp of the new year, the friends say goodbye to the hardships of the past and look forward to the future.

 

Darius by J. R. Ward 

J. R. Ward returns to the beginning of the saga in the latest Black Dagger Brotherhood book, Darius, which is a precursor to the popular and long running series.  Darius. the son of Marklon, avoids disaster after nearly hitting a woman after she runs into the road on a desolate stretch of highway.  Darius become disillusioned with the reign of the king and becomes consumed with the woman with whom he had a chance encounter and changes the course of his life.  When he reveals his true identity to her, his life takes a tragic turn with unforeseen consequences for the both of them.

The Ghost Illusion by Kat Martin

In her latest standalone thriller The Ghost Illusion, Kat Martin blends romance and the paranormal with the best of a psychological thriller.  Eve has inherited a large estate from her deceased uncle and she has been unnerved at the ghostly goings on at night.  In her desperation, she locates a group that may be able to help her get to the bottom of her possible haunting.  The head of the paranormal group, Ransom King, senses that Eve may be in danger and as their relationship deepens, he finds himself doing whatever it takes to protect her from unseen forces.

 

A Christmas to Remember by Beverly Jenkins 

Beverly Jenkins returns to her popular Blessings series with A Christmas to Remember, which is the 11th book in the series.  Bernadine Brown is ready to wed her fiancé Malachi July after many ups and downs in the town of Henry Adams, Kansas.  With family and friends arriving in town for the nuptials, drama ensues and many of the attendees are dealing with emotional decisions of their own.  When the whole group gets together to celebrate, it is assured that this holiday season is one that no one will forget!

 

Additional Romance titles to be released soon

Dark Memory by Christine Feehan

Christmas in Painted Pony Creek by Linda Lael Miller

Christmas at the Shelter Inn by RaeAnne Thayne

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Susan Wiggs

 

BRING NATURE IN

BRING NATURE IN

As fall approaches and cooler weather settles in, we find fewer opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Our routines shift toward indoor activities including the demands of school and work. In meeting these obligations, we naturally find ourselves less connected to nature. But, at this time of year, it is more important than ever to find ways to “bring nature in” so that we can continue to enjoy the beauty and benefits it brings to our lives.

Research shows that spending time in nature is a low-cost and highly effective way to improve various aspects of our psychological wellness. From increased happiness and a sense of well-being to decreased anxiety, stress, and depression, spending time in natural environments can have a huge impact on our lives.  In fact, by spending just 10 minutes in a natural setting, there is a significant and beneficial impact on mental health. It also gives us better focus and improved performance on our working memory, cognitive flexibility, and attention tasks. Because of these benefits, exposure to nature is a proven wellness therapy, called nature therapy or ecotherapy, and is based on the concept of using nature to help us heal, especially psychologically.  Several books on the topic are: The Well-Gardened Mind: the restorative power of nature, The Nature Fix: why nature makes us happier, healthier, and more creative, and The Nature of Nature: why we need the wild.

 

As September happens to be Self-Care Awareness Month, it is a great time to pause and make sure that your connection to nature remains solid, even when you can’t get outside. So, what do we do when, due to inclement weather, we can no longer be outside in our gardens, or on the hiking trails, or spending time at the lake? Consider bringing the outside in so as to continue to reap the healing powers of Mother Nature and gain a host of mental health benefits. When it’s not possible to get outside into nature we can carry out ecotherapy indoors in a number of easy ways. The books listed here, and that are on display this September at the Main and Eastern branch libraries, will give you lots of great ideas!

Plants

When winding down a backyard garden for the season, there are a few tasks you can do to bring nature in. Dig the herbs from your garden and plant them in pots to bring indoors for the winter including rosemary, parsley, chives, and thyme. You can take root cuttings from annuals, such as begonias, geraniums, and impatiens and plant them in a container and keep them in a sunny place indoors. And, begin moving houseplants inside. Plants not only remove toxins from the air, but research shows that people who spend time around plants have more concern, empathy, and compassion toward others as well as improved relationships. As September 17-23 is National indoor Plant Week, it’s the perfect time to introduce them into your home. There are some nearly indestructible varieties so don’t worry if you don’t have a green thumb. You can even opt for faux plants if you are worried about young children or pets. You won’t get the clean air effect, but you’ll still reap some benefit. Several books that can help you get started are Bring the Outside In: the essential guide to cacti, succulents, planters and terrariums, How to Make a Plant Love You: cultivate green space in your home and heart, The New Plant Parent: develop your green thumb and care for your house-plant family, How to Plant a Room and Grow a Happy Home.

 

Flower Arranging

If the maintenance of living plants is more than you desire, bring freshly cut flowers into your home or workspace as often as you can. It’s an easy alternative and you won’t feel bad when they wilt because they aren’t meant to last forever. To save on the cost, purchase discounted bunches and arrange them yourself. Here are some books to help you:  Seasonal Flower Arranging: fill your home with blooms, branches, and foraged materials all year round, and Flower Philosophy: seasonal projects to inspire and restore. You can even make paper blooms that bring bright color and cheer to your space. Take a look at these pretty makes: Bold and Beautiful Paper Flowers: more than 50 easy paper blooms and gorgeous arrangements you can make at home and Crepe Paper Flowers: making and arranging beautiful blooms. For more Nature DIY projects keep reading to the end of the post.

Designing and Decorating

There are so many ways to bring nature in through home décor and just as many books on the topic. If you are looking to bring elements of nature into your home, then you may be interested to learn more about biophilic design. Biophilic design is about creating human connectivity to nature. Through interior design, you can bring the outside in by using natural elements. Choose paintings or photographs of landscapes or opt for botanical prints. Select furniture with beautiful wood grains, or paint with soothing colors found in nature, like greens and blues, that can reduce stress levels. Introduce natural materials or patterns, and definitely bring in a variety of plants as this is one of the easiest ways to create a biophilic décor. It is important to have abundant natural light in your home and workspace as well. If you need more of that – especially in the winter – there are gadgets to solve that problem like the Circadian Optics Light Therapy Lamp that you can check out from our TECHKNOW collection of things. Ask for Techknow #78 at the Customer Service desk at the Fairmount branch library.  Or, ask for TECHKNOW #63 at our Eastern branch library to check out the Circadian Optics Lumos Light Therapy Lamp. And, if you’d like to see if any of these ways to bring nature in is helping your well-being, you can ask Customer Service at the Eastern branch library for TECHKNOW #66  an Omron 10 series blood pressure monitor with Bluetooth. Use it to track if using nature as therapy is reducing your stress levels and having a positive effect on your blood pressure.  A few books that will show you how to bring nature into your décor are: Design By Nature: creating layered lived-in spaces inspired by the natural world, Nature Style: cultivating wellbeing at home with plants, and Wild Interiors: beautiful plants in beautiful spaces.

Sounds and Smells of Nature

Don’t underestimate the power of listening to a waterfall or the sound of raindrops on the surface of a lake or even chirping crickets. The result isn’t just enhanced relaxation and a sense of calm, but include attention restoration and better cognitive performance. You can also mimic the forest smells with diffusers and essential oils. Introduce water features like an aquarium or a fountain where the sound of water can create a healing atmosphere and bring in a sense of relaxation. Use soundscapes of a rain forest or the seaside or download apps of soothing nature sounds. Check out these cd’s to give it a try: The Healing Garden and Sounds of Rainstorms and Nature.

Arts and Crafts

There are many more ways than I’ve listed here to bring nature in to enhance your life. But, I will cover one more that can encompass a wide range of things and also fits into many of the categories above. That is arts & crafts. Making art or crafts inspired by natural environments or made from natural elements not only leads to an end result that you can display in your home, but can be a very therapeutic handicraft or hobby. Instead of buying art or décor items, consider making some. There are so many great books to get you started. You just might find that drawing, painting, crafting, and other creative methods add to your sense of well-being and contentedness all on their own. Try something new by registering for one of our Adult DIY programs to make a Twig Vase, or String Art shaped like a Pumpkin. Or, check out the ideas in these books: Nature Art Workshop: tips, techniques, and step-by-step projects for creating nature-inspired art, Plant Craft: 30 projects that add natural style to your home, DIY Succulents, Watercolor Botanicals: learn to paint your favorite plants and florals, Botanical Line Drawing: 200 step-by-step flowers, leaves, cacti, succulents, and other items found in nature, and The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling.

 

Killer Chardonnay – A Colorado Wine Mystery by Kate Lansing

Author Kate Lansing’s Killer Chardonnay is the first book in the Colorado Wine Mystery series, the start to a charming cozy mystery series that features amateur sleuth and new wine shop owner Parker Valentine.  It has been Parker’s dream to open her own wine shop one day and when her beloved aunt passes away and leaves Parker with a sizeable inheritance, it seems like the right time to chase her dream.  With opening night planned and all the local VIPs invited to attend, Parker is ready to launch Vino Valentine.  On opening night, Parker gets the surprise of her life when local celebrity and renowned food and wine critic Gaskel Brown takes a seat at the bar and orders a flight of Parker’s signature wines.  Parker knows Gaskel’s reviews can set the course for the success or failure of Vino Valentine based on his opinion.

Parker isn’t having much luck winning over Gaskel with her wine selection.   He doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself and she is convinced a bad review is just around the corner.  He focuses on one of the wines that she is the proudest of  – her signature chardonnay –  and by the look on his face he is less than impressed.  Abruptly, Gaskel gets up and beelines for the bathroom, and in her desperation, Parker “accidentally” sees the notebook of his initial thoughts.  She is taken aback when she learns his initial impression is not positive.  In a daze from reading his words, Parker realizes that Gaskel has not returned to finish his glass. She knocks on the door of the bathroom to check on him and when there is no answer, she discovers Gaskel dead in the bathroom of Vino Valentine.

Authorities are convinced that Gaskel has been poisoned and the poison was lurking in Parker’s chardonnay.  To complicate things, Parker admits that she snooped in his notebook and he was about to give her establishment a less than stellar review, which doesn’t endear her to the investigating officer.

Word spreads quickly that it was Parker’s wine that killed him and she is desperate to save her business and lift the blame from Vino Valentine.  She, along with her group of friends, take matters into their own hands and conduct their own amateur investigation.  Their investigation takes an even darker turn when another guest from the opening night festivities dies under mysterious circumstances.  In her investigation, Parker discovers that Gaskel’s writings have left many people destitute and broke after his scathing reviews caused their businesses to fail.  Could the culprit be a ruined business owner seeking revenge?  If so, how did the poison end up in Parker’s chardonnay?  Readers will be on the edge of their seats trying to get to the bottom of the case.

Over the last few years the amount of cozy mysteries published has grown by leaps and bounds and there seems to be a theme or niche for nearly everyone, no matter your interest.  Killer Chardonnay stands out in a large field of new cozy mystery launches.  The characters are very engaging and the mystery will keep you guessing – especially how the poison got into the chardonnay.  Kate Lansing has four books (so far) in the Colorado Wine Mystery series with the most recent being published in the spring of 2023.

2. A Pairing To Die For

3. Mulled to Death

4. Til Death do Us Port

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ALL KINDS OF ADVENTURE!

When was the last time you went on an adventure? I don’t mean an extreme experience. Although, for those of you who enjoy the adrenaline rush of skydiving, that definitely qualifies! Adventures come in all shapes and sizes. Trying something new could lead to a new hobby, favorite activity, and new friends. For many of us, August marks the last chance to get away before the end of the rush of back to school and autumn routine set-in. And, as it happens, August is American Adventures Month. Whether you’re looking for excitement, a quiet day in nature, or learning something new, your adventure awaits…go for it!  Here are two books to get you started: The bucket list adventures : 1000 adventures big & small, and Lonely planet’s 1000 ultimate adventures.

 

We’d love to help you find your next adventure and some of our programs and events are a great way to start. If you are epicurious, try a new type of cuisine. The Quad Cities has a good diversity of restaurant fare to choose from. Or, register for one of Spice Up Your Life programs to learn how to cook with a spice you’ve never tried before. How about registering for our Beekeeping program to learn about apiculture from a local beekeeper or joining a group of history enthusiasts for a hop back in time by registering for the Q-C History Hop: Bix Beiderbecke Museum and Archive tour? Starting with a mini-adventure right in your hometown is a great way to begin. Check out 100 things to do in the Quad Cities before you die. Been there, done that you say?  Then take road trip!  Start with short trips around the state with 100 things to do in Iowa before you die.

 

Travel opens your perspective and expands your borders while also leading to a better appreciation for home. Spend quality time with friends or family while exploring new places. Check out a Garmin Nuvi 2595LMT GPS so you won’t get lost. Grab a Solar power bank 10000mAh battery pack or a IOGear Wireless 4-port USB sharing station so your smart phone battery stays charged allowing you to take amazing outdoor photos.  If your phone’s camera isn’t stellar, borrow a digital camera from the library: Canon PowerShot ELPH 340 HS digital camera or a GoPro Hero 7 Action Camera or GoPro Hero session with accessories for some live action. If you’ll need Wifi on your trip, don’t forget to reserve a Hotspot a few weeks in advance.

Perhaps you’ll celebrate Global Sleep Under the Stars night on August 8 by learning about the moon & stars and spending an evening stargazing. After all, August has the brightest moon of the year and the Perseid Meteor Showers peak during August (this year the 12th-13th). What a great time to get outside and enjoy viewing the night sky using one of the telescopes you can check out from the library. Just ask customer service at Eastern for TECHKNOW #75, a Celestron FirstScope telescope, or at Fairmount ask for TECHKNOW #81, a Gskyer telescope. Learn more about what you’ll see in the night sky with these books and magazines – more are on the Moon and Stars displays this month at the Fairmount and Eastern branches. Grab one and check-it out! The Beginner’s Guide to Stargazing, The stargazer’s handbook : the definitive field guide to the night sky, and The total skywatcher’s manual : 275+ skills and tricks for exploring stars, planets & beyond. While you’re waiting to catch a glimpse of a falling star, you can try out our Solomark night vision monocular for fun. Other gadgets to sample on your outdoor adventures are the Motorola MR350R two-way radio set or a pair of binoculars.

Dream big! Is there somewhere you’ve always wanted to go? Some sights you’d love to actually see with your own eyes? Beyond having an American adventure, think about traveling to other places around the world to experience unique cultures and amazing festivals, like the August Moon Festival in Greece. There you can see a bright, low-hanging moon over the Temple of Poseidon or the white marble of the Acropolis glowing in the brilliant moonlight. Both are sights to behold and certainly an adventure you won’t forget. Learn about a celebration somewhere in the world by reading one of these books and then go experience it! Check-out: The best place to be today : 365 things to do & the perfect day to do them, Lonely Planet’s where to go when : the ultimate trip planner for every month of the year, or Wanderlust : a traveler’s guide to the globe.

It doesn’t have to be a grand adventure of a lifetime… but it could be.  Just get out, enjoy the world, and celebrate!

New Cozy Mysteries for Spring!

Some of the best loved cozy mystery series continue every spring with the next book in the series to enjoy.  Below are some of the most popular cozy mystery titles to read over the next few months!  

Curds of Prey  by Korina Moss

As the social wedding of the summer hears up, Cheesemonger Willa Bauer is busy preparing her famous cheese bar for the festivities at the request of the bride and groom.  All is well with the preparations until a member of the wedding party is found dead at the bridal shower and Willa is charged with finding a killer.  Curds of Prey is the third book in the Cheese Shop Mystery series.

 

Digging Up Daisy  by Sherry Lynn

Digging Up Daisy, the first book launching the Mainely Murder Mystery series, introduces us to Kinsley Clark, owner of the landscaping company SeaScapes.  Kinsley is thrust into a murder investigation after finding a mud-covered shoe while moonlighting at her aunt’s bed and breakfast.  Is this shoe linked to an infamous case from years ago that remains unsolved?  Kinsley delves into the cold case and finds herself in the thick of the investigation to find a killer.

 

Mother of the Bride Murder  by Leslie Meier 

Lucy Stone travels to France for her daughter’s nuptials and happens upon a killer in Mother of the Bride Murder, the 29th installment of this popular cozy mystery series.  While touring the French countryside, a body is pulled from the moat of a historic chateau.  Will the wedding go off as planned or will the body count continue to rise?  Lucy Stone is determined to find out and not let it ruin her daughter’s big day.

 

Death by Chocolate Marshmallow Pie  by Sarah Graves

Another chocolate shop is coming to town and is about to encroach on Ellie’s chocolate store the Chocolate Moose in Death by Chocolate Marshmallow Pie!  After the owner of Choco, the rival store, is found dead after a heated incident with Ellie.  All fingers point to Ellie as the possible culprit and she has to act fast to clear her name!  This is the sixth book in the Death by Chocolate mystery series.

 

Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust  by Mindy Quigley 

Set in a Wisconsin pizzeria, owner Delilah O’Leary has her sights set on winning the annual “Taste of Wisconsin” culinary contest with her crowd favorite pizza recipe in Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust, the second book in the Deep Dish Mystery series.  When another culinary contestant is poisoned, everyone in the contest is a suspect.  Will Delilah find the killer before they strike again?

 

Cinnamon Twisted  by Ginger Bolton 

A mundane afternoon at the Deputy Donut café turns upside down when café owner Emily Westhill takes on the nearly impossible task of trying to return an earring to a customer in Cinnamon Twisted.  She gets more than she bargained for when, after finally locating the customer, Emily finds her dead!  Things become even more complicated for her when a police officer finds the other earring with a note attached to Emily herself.  Time is of the essence as Emily works to find a connection between the victim, earring and the mysterious history of the building that houses the Deputy Donut cafe!  Fans will enjoy this seventh book in the Deputy Donut mystery series.

Death Comes to Marlow  by Robert Thorogood 

The very popular Marlow Murder Club series returns in the second book in the series!  The trio of amateur sleuths make their next appearance in Death Comes to Marlow.  Recovering from the holiday festivities, Judith is invited to a pre-wedding celebration at the home of her aristocratic neighbor.  Events then go south from a blissful festive occasion to tragedy after the groom is found dead in a locked room.  Is it an accident or murder?  The sleuthing trio will have to find out!

 

Hot Pot Murder by Jennifer J. Chow 

Hot Pot Murder, the second book in the LA Night Market mystery series, find cousins Yale and Celine Yee involved in another food stall escapade. After being invited to a gathering of local food vendors, one of the attendees doesn’t make it through the dinner and another vendor may be the culprit!  The cousins join forces to get to the bottom of the caper so the food market won’t close for good!

Davenport’s Favorite Book

The votes are in!

According to the PBS Great American Read, America’s all-time favorite novel is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee!  If you read my first blog post about the Great American Read, you know that To Kill a Mockingbird is also my personal favorite. I was thrilled when I learned the results in the Grand Finale episode. Host Meredith Vieira shared that it started out in the number one spot since the day voting began, and it never wavered.

You may now be wondering what is Davenport’s favorite book?  Ever since PBS kicked off the first episode of The Great American Read on May 22, 2018, we’ve had a display featuring these books at each of our three Davenport Public Libraries. We put out a ballot box, asking for your favorites. I also took votes in the form of responses to my blog posts about the Great American Read.  In all, 124 votes were submitted. The favorite book among Davenport Public Library users is (drumroll, please)…

Harry Potter! Earning just shy of 13% of all votes, the bestselling series by J.K. Rowling was the top pick of voters at Main, Eastern and on the blog. (Fairmount showed no clear favorite, but submitted 26 votes for 23 different books.) Second favorite overall was Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, with almost 9% of the votes. In third place was Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, with a solid 6% of votes. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen took fourth place with almost 5% of votes. We had a four-way tie for 5th place – Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte’s Web, Memoirs of a Geisha and To Kill a Mockingbird.

If you’re wondering about any titles from the Great American Read list that was not mentioned here, I have tagged to this blog each book title that received at least one vote from our wonderful Davenport Public Library patrons.

Thanks for voting and keep reading through the list!