New Year's Resolutions: Making & Keeping Them!

It’s time to say goodbye to 2013 and hello to 2014. As part of a fresh start many of us will make New Year's resolutions. Sadly, few will actually stick to them. One of the biggest set ups for failure is creating resolutions that are not reasonably attainable or lack a solid game plan. In the book Changeology : 5 Steps to Realizing your Goals and Resolutions, author John Norcross reveals a 90 day plan with 5 simple steps: Psych (get ready), Prep (prepare before leaping), Perspire (take action), Persevere (manage slips), and Persist (maintain change). Backed by self-assessments, a free interactive website for customizing plans, and cases featuring the most popular goals, this is the ultimate tool for realizing any New Year’s resolution—and sticking to it.
Author John C. Norcross, PhD, ABPP, is an internationally recognized expert on behavior change. He is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Scranton, Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical College, and a board-certified clinical psychologist in part-time practice.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #443

The Hive*, debut of British Gill Hornby (sister to Nick and wife to Robert Harris) is inspired by Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes, a nonfiction book that Tina Fey used as the basis for her hit movie Mean Girls.

It is a new school year at the privileged St. Ambrose Church Primary School where (Queen) Bea Stuart reigns over the school-mom clique as Rachel Mason looks on from afar. Her former best friend and confidante, Rachel has been relegated to the hinterland when her husband dumps her.

"... (A) delectable comedy of manners about mothers who congregate during drop-off and pickup, hold fundraisers," over the course of a year at St. Ambrose as they navigate a new headmaster, financial disasters, power shifts, and personal drama.

"Alternately touching and satirical but consistently entertaining. "

"(A)n enjoyably acerbic social commentary on mean girls of all ages, lightened by touches of hen lit."

A worthy addition to the pantheon of Mean Girls in Literature, and Rachel's outsider plight will remind readers of the heroine in Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette.

* = starred review

Magic Mushroom House

Mushroom HouseMushroom HouseThe tot table at the Downtown Library feeds into the fairy frenzy when the Magic Cabin's Mushroom House, gnomes and winged creatures come out to play. Any fairy hunters looking for the famous door will want to stop and enjoy the cozy forest scene. Make sure to take a peek at our fairytale collection and a fairy book or two while you are here. Remember that Sunday in A2 is magic fairy dust day when parking everywhere is free!

An Award Winner For Teens - Tragedy, Humor, and Hope

I checked out a copy of The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen when I heard it had won the 2013 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award as well as the Michigan Library Association's 2013 "Thumbs Up" Award. As the jacket states, "Thirteen-year-old Henry's happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father's hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry's family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past. When Henry's therapist suggests he keep a journal, at first he is resistant. But soon he confides in it at all hours of the day and night."

Inspired by a line in Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed, and based around bullying and school violence, this was not as gloomy as I expected it to be. The author, Susan Nielsen, creates a unique, fresh perspective on a topic that is all too common in the news. The story is told from Henry's point of view through journal entries, and his narrative voice has all of the sweet, awkward, goofiness of a 13 year old boy. Although the subject matter is an unthinkable tragedy, the book is written with healthy layers of humor and joy mixed in. I read the whole thing in one sitting, and the characters are lingering with me days later. This young adult novel is worth reading, no matter what your age.

Over and Under the Snow

Over and Under the Snow is a cozy picture book written by Kate Messner and beautifully illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. The book is the story of a day on a snowy cross-country ski trek in the woods where a father and child encounter many animals along their tree-lined journey. They find animals that live in “the secret kingdom,” which is “a network of small open spaces and tunnels between the snowpack and the ground.” Red foxes live over, while red squirrels live under. It’s a thoughtful story with beautiful and simple illustrations of the snow and animals on a wintry day. Perfect for sharing while sipping hot cocoa and looking out the window.

Janet Dailey, romance novelist, has died

Janet Dailey, credited with revolutionizing formulaic romance novels in the late 1970s, died December 15th.

While traveling around the country with her husband in the 1970s, Ms. Dailey entertained herself reading the typical romance novel of the time -- European settings, submissive women, tame physicality. Determined to meet a challenge from her husband to do something about it, she published her first romance in 1974 that had caught the attention of Harlequin. In Ms. Dailey's world of love, the protagonists were American working women with a healthy libido. While many of her more than 100 novels were set out West, she did pen a 50-book series that covered each of the 50 states, a feat that earned her a nomination in the Guinness Book of World Records. Enemy in Camp, 1988, was her Michigan entry. It is now out of print.

Her career soared. Dailey love stories sold in the 100s of millions of copies; more than 20 of them made the New York Times Bestseller list.

Then in 1997, her reputation took a beating when Nora Roberts, another mega-successful romance writer, sued Ms. Dailey for plagiarism. Undeniable evidence was found in Dailey's novel, Notorious. among other titles. Citing family tragedies (two of her brothers died and her husband was diagnosed with cancer) and an undisclosed ailment, Dailey took a break to repair the damage after the case was settled out of court. Her publisher Harper Collins dropped Ms. Dailey. Once the dust settled, publishing house Kensington Publishing Corp. picked her up and she resumed writing once again.

Her last book, Merry Christmas, Cowboy (on order), came out in October and was #13 on the Publishers Weekly mass market bestseller list.

Ms. Dailey, who was 69, died of complications following heart surgery.

Discovery of a Short Story by Teenaged Zelda Fitzgerald

The New Yorker has just published a recently discovered story by Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fiztgerald, famed author of The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night and several other novels and short stories. Zelda wrote this story when she was just a teenager and was still known as Zelda Sayre. She would meet F. Scott soon after the publication of the story in her high school’s literary journal. The story, called The Iceberg, is a piece about the fictional Cornelia, who enrolls in a typing class and abruptly marries a man she meets at the business college where the course takes place.
The New Yorker writes that the Fitzgerald estate was surprised and pleased to discover the story, having had no idea that Zelda was interested in writing before meeting F. Scott. You can read The Iceberg in full here, and read more about its discovery as well as other book news on The Two-Way from NPR.

Visit The Downtown Stuff Shelf and Check Out Some Stuff!

Are you looking for things to do over the holiday break? Then why not pay a visit to the Downtown Library and check out our Stuff Shelf. The Stuff Shelf is where is keep our extensive and growing collection of tools, gadgets and other cool things.

If you're looking for sciency stuff then we've got telescopes and microscopes, more microscopes and lots of devices for measuring things like environmental quality and sound.

More interested in stuff you can use around the home (perhaps you are trapped there for the week), then we've got devices for measuring your energy use and testing your microwave and determining the best place to hang a painting.

If you know someone currently in their dinosaur-phase (for some of us this lasts a lifetime) we've got a series of dinosaur fossil kits so you can check out a T-rex tooth or a Triceratops horn or a Velociraptor skull.

If things are a little too quiet around the house then check out our collection of musical devices. We've got items great for beginners like Boomwhackers and Bliptronics and Pocket Pianos, as well as devices for more advanced users like Microbrutes and Volca Basses and Pocket Pianos again (which really are great for both beginners and experienced users alike).

Have fun and let us know how it goes.

Audiobook for Kids: Whispering to Witches

Whispering to Witches by Anna Dale is part fantasy, part mystery, and plenty of fun.

As the story begins, Joe is not happy about being sent to Canterbury to spend Christmas with his mother, but on the train ride there, something peculiar happens. Soon Joe finds himself teaming up with a young witch named Twiggy to investigate the mysterious incident, which seems to have something to do with a missing page from a famous magical book. Can they find the missing page before it falls into the wrong hands? And is there more to this mystery than meets the eye?

While I found this book has been frequently compared to the Harry Potter series – with its train rides, witches and magical candies – I actually found myself thinking of it more like a book by Diana Wynne Jones. Something about the voice and the tightly-plotted mystery, I suppose. Its narration, though, by John Curless did remind of Jim Dale's performance in the Harry Potter audiobooks. Fans of either who are looking for something to try this holiday season may wish to check it out.

Winter Solstice Crafts

December 21st is the shortest day of the year. The days will start lengthening after that.
How will you celebrate?
Come to the Malletts Creek Branch on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 11:00 a.m.
and make some decorations that will brighten up that gloomy day.
We'll be using paper to make snow covered evergreen trees, gingerbread people, and bright
red poinsettias.
This program is for preschool through fifth graders, but everyone is welcome.
All supplies will be provided.

For our materials on this first day of winter, click here.

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