May 25, 2017
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Debut novel depicts lavish feasts of ancient Rome


“Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome” (Touchstone), by Crystal King

If true gastronomy resides at the intersection of food, art and culture, then Crystal King’s debut novel can only be described as a gastronomical delight.

Like much of the best in historical fiction, “Feast of Sorrow: A Novel of Ancient Rome” features a protagonist plucked from relative obscurity. In this case, it’s a wealthy first-century Roman gourmand named Apicius, who, in his time, was best-known for his lavish feasts and, in present day, remains credited as inspiring the world’s oldest surviving cookbook. And there is Thrasius, who is a slave.

Nothing like a book to make bedtime better


Here are some great reads to share with your little one right before going to bed:

* “It Is Not Time for Sleeping (A Bedtime Story)” by Lisa Graff and illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Library Comic Con to host special guest Claudia Gray


Kenosha Public Library welcomes New York Times best-selling author Claudia Gray as part of a spectacular all-ages Comic Con event on May 6.

Gray is the critically acclaimed author of two “Star Wars” original novels which are both considered canon (more on that later). The 2015 release “Lost Stars” occurs before, concurrently to and after the original “Star Wars” trilogy, while the 2016 story “Bloodline” is set about six years prior to “Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens.”

With SHARE, your library card takes you farther


Like me, you are probably enjoying the benefits of our Kenosha Public Library catalog. Since we have become a part of the SHARE catalog, we have the resources of all of the libraries in the group. You may have noticed the names on the left side of the catalog. I have, and I have been curious about them.

Recently I packed up my Kenosha Public Library card and a book bag and took a Sunday drive out to Rochester Public Library. They have Sunday afternoon hours Oct. 1 through April 30. Rochester is a mostly residential village in Racine County. The library is just off of the main street in a red brick building.

Feeling stressed? Books at the library can help


With all that life throws our way each day, it can be hard to slow down and relax. Even when we try to relax, we’re still often left worrying about the demands in our everyday lives. Learning to make time for relaxation is necessary for our health and well-being, and with April being Stress Awareness Month, now is the perfect time to unwind with a few great books from your Kenosha Public Library.

* “The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down” by Haemin Sunim, a Zen monk and former college professor, is a guide that helps you be more mindful when dealing with life’s challenges. In this book, you will find eight chapters that cover the different aspects of our lives we often struggle with: rest, mindfulness, passion, relationships, love, life, the future and spirituality. Each chapter begins with a short essay relating to the subject of the chapter, followed by short messages offering advice and guidance, another short essay, and then short meditation prompts. Throughout this book you will also find soothing, colorful illustrations created by Youngcheol Lee to go along with each chapter. Sunim’s book will leave you feeling better able to handle stressful situations in your life.

Picture book on Basquiat wins Caldecott


The 2017 winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children was “Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.” Written and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, this book is Javaka’s tribute to Basquiat’s artwork.

As a young man Javaka connected to Basquiat’s art. His life story inspired him to share Basquiat’s creative and complicated life. At the age of 7, Basquiat was badly injured when hit by a car, and his mother suffered from mental illness. Despite all his struggles, and death at the age of 28, his bold and expressive artwork about black culture, social issues and life in New York City eventually brought him great success in the art world.

Celebrate the Irish this St. Patrick’s Day


Each March we take up the pleasures of the Emerald Isle as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the cultural celebration of all things Irish. Ireland has much to offer the world and you can find some of it at your Kenosha Public Library.

Born in Dublin, Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wilde was a keen observer of society. This informed all of his writing, particularly his plays. “An Ideal Husband” and “The Importance of Being Earnest” are two of his finest comedic social satires.

Picture books can help children learn to handle difficult situations


I love finding children’s picture books that can help a child in need learn what to do in certain situations that life throws at us. Today, I am sharing with you some newer picture books that include helping a child dealing with the death of a loved one, getting a first pair of glasses, what to do in a fire and how to look for the positive in things that happen everyday.

* “Something Very Sad Happened: A Toddler’s Guide To Understanding Death” by Dr. Bonnie Zucker

Books for children celebrate all that winter has to offer


“Wonderful Winter and All Kinds of Winter Facts and Fun,” by Bruce Goldstone is a nonfiction picture book about the most wonderful season of all. With simple explanations, this book provides fascinating facts about winter, like how animals survive in the cold, why some trees lose their leaves and others remain green all winter and just how amazing snowflakes and snow are. In addition to fun facts, there are craft projects about winter and snow. This is a visually appealing book that explores all the things the season of winter brings.

Author April Pulley Sayre is an award-winning children’s book author of more than 55 natural history books for children and adults. Her new book, “Best in Snow,” describes the beauty of winter using very few words and stunning photography. With close ups of nature and wildlife, this nonfiction picture book illustrates what happens when snow falls and the science behind it. Additional information regarding snow is provided at the end of the book along with other titles about snow she recommends for further reading.

Endangered snow leopards make for interesting reads, beautiful pictures


High in the rugged Central Asian mountains, a big cat watches from a ledge. About 30 feet below a bharal or blue sheep scrapes moss from the surface of rocks. Silently the big cat waits for the bharal to come closer. The big cat’s natural camouflage and quick movements keep the watchful bharal from sighting it. At just the right moment the big cat pounces. It drags its larger prey further up the mountain and buries it in the snow for a meal that will last for several days.

The snow leopard is a mighty hunter. Its shorter front legs and long powerful back legs allow it to leap more than six times its body length. Its lush thick tail acts as a rudder for accuracy when leaping as well as a scarf to keep its face warm when at rest. I found this information and so much more in “Snow Leopards” by Melissa Gish in the “Living Wild” series. This is a larger format book with great photographs throughout. It is full of facts about the snow leopard’s physical characteristics, behaviors and even how it has influenced the cultures of Asia. Included in this book is the Siberian folk tale about the origin of the snow leopard and the mystery of a buried ancient mummy.

Explore the mystery, comedy and wit of ‘The Thin Man’


“How they can expect a woman to still have any mystery left for a man — after living in a place like this for three days, I don’t know.” (Nora Charles packs her undergarments in a stateroom on a train).

“You don’t need mystery. You’ve got something better and more alluring,” her husband, Nick Charles tells her.

Need help sticking to those resolutions?


It’s that time of year when we’re all trying to stick with our New Year’s resolutions. Now that we’re heading into the third week of January, some of us may have already given up on our resolutions because we don’t know how to achieve our goals, while others might still be trying but need some guidance. If you’re like me, one of your New Year’s resolutions is to finally get your finances in order.

Figuring out the right approach when dealing with your finances can be difficult, especially with tax season upon us. If you feel overwhelmed with where to start, the Kenosha Public Library has many resources to help you with your finances, including a few books that will help simplify your financial troubles, so you can check one resolution off your to-do list.

‘Gunslinger’ offers solid bio of Favre


“Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre” by Jeff Pearlman; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (448 pages, $28)

It was the afternoon of Sept. 17, 1992, when the Pittsburgh Steelers — off to a 3-0 start that season — ran headfirst into history at Lambeau Field.

These authors make modern theories accessible


Black holes. Dark energy. String theory. Ever wonder what’s going on with modern physics? What the heck are these folks talking about?

Standing on the shoulders of such giants in the field as Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking are Lisa Randall and Brian Greene, who shed light on this otherwise obscure subject in an engaging style that is readily understandable to the interested layperson.

Putting our thoughts on paper


Despite the 21st century’s dependence upon electronic media to communicate and convey information, we must remember that the world’s first and still most important technology for the broad dissemination of knowledge is simply paper.

Material to write on, made from wood, grasses or fabric, has been an important part of civilization, from ancient China, Egypt and Greece to the invention in the 15th century of moveable type and the boom of cheap printing during the Industrial Revolution. We can page through the history of this vital commodity in two new books: “The Paper Trail” by Alexander Monro and Mark Kurlansky’s “Paper.”

Why do we love cats?


“The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World” by Abigail Tucker; Simon & Schuster (237 pages, $26)

I read much of Abigail Tucker’s “The Lion in the Living Room,” appropriately, with a cat on my lap. And though I sat quietly, she did not: sometimes perching on the arm of my chair, staring vaguely but fixedly into space while her tail blocked the pages; sometimes jumping out of my lap and noisily racing around the room for no apparent reason; sometimes launching into an impromptu round of claw-sharpening on the upholstery, despite having been told NO eleventy-billion times.

These books on tiny homes may make you want to sell your house


I hate cleaning my house, also sometimes I just feel overwhelmed by all my stuff. I think this is the contributing factor on how I recently got hooked on a couple of crazy concept TV shows about Americans who have decided to try extreme downsizing and move into “tiny” houses. “Tiny house” is a specific term for a dwelling less than 400 square feet and some tiny houses are built onto a trailer to provide maximum mobility and freedom.

* “Tiny House Living: Ideas for Building & Living Well in Less than 400 Square Feet” by Ryan Mitchell is perhaps the best selling book on the subject. This book is sure to inspire anyone considering the options of paring life down to the most important basics. The essence of this book is to live well with less. It’s a call that is ringing true with different types of people across the country. Young people, baby boomers, do-it-yourselfers and environmentalists have all taken to the idea of a simple, yet well-lived lifestyle. This book explores the reasons why people have chosen to go tiny: time, freedom, finances, environmental concerns, uniqueness. Pages of beautiful color photos are included along with tours of 11 unique tiny homes, plus worksheets and practical strategies to help you decide if living tiny could work for you.

Great fiction writers can sometimes make for great fiction


Avid readers can get as excited by the biography of their favorite writers as by their written works. A good work of fiction can also add insight and understanding to dry biographical information and make for an entertaining and informative read.

Paula McClain’s hugely popular “The Paris Wife,” based on the first of Ernest Hemingway’s four marriages, paved the way for several new imaginative books that put a new spin on a writer’s biography. Nancy Horan explores the personal life of Robert Louis Stevenson and his talented wife Fanny in “Under the Wide and Starry Sky.” Popular author Stewart O’Nan reveals the final days of F. Scott Fitzgerald in “West of Sunset” while Susan Scarf Merell puts an ominous spin on the life of novelist and short-story writer Shirley Jackson, in “Shirley.”

Picoult novel tackles thorny subject of race


“Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult; Ballantine (470 pages, $28.99)

Jodi Picoult is at it again. The author of 25 enormously popular novels, including “Leaving Time” and “My Sister’s Keeper,” is adept at taking on thorny issues — medical ethics, mass shootings, the death penalty — and recasting them on a relatable human scale. Her latest plunge into the current, “Small Great Things,” arrives at a pointed time when institutional racism — its violence and the entitlement it confers on some — is the subject of near daily commentary.

These books for children may help them cope in different situations


Life can be challenging at any age, even when you are a child. The following are some children’s books that might generate some discussion and help your child through situations that they might encounter in life.

* “Yard Sale” by Eve Bunting

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