Fall Fiction Drop

by Kelly

Fall is officially here, which means now is the perfect time to grab a great book to read while you are waiting for your kids while they are at practice, download a title to accompany you on your daily commute, or have one at home to retreat to at the end of the day. Not sure what to read? Why not celebrate the season and grab a title with fall in the title, here are a few to get you started.

The Fall by Guillermo Del Tore and Chuck Hogan. Fans of The Strain, an original series on FX, will want to pick up this horror thrill ride dubbed on its cover as “Bram Stoker meets Stephen King meets Michael Crichton.” A Vampire tale for the modern-day masses, this story is gripping and terrifying. But, you might want to pick up The Strain to go along with this one, as this is number two in a trilogy.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. Sticking with trilogies, this epic novel is the first in “The Century Trilogy,” a sweeping series set around five intertwined families of complex characters spanning several decades and living through stories of social and political nature as we have not heard them before. Follett is the master of creating captivating and engrossing characters, writing them into moments in history that make us feel as though we are living it ourselves.

The Upside of Falling Down by Rebekah Crane. This plot-driven character novel follows the story of Clementine, the lone survivor of a plane crash who awakes in a foreign country with complete amnesia. Assuming a new identity and hiding out as she tries to recover the memories of her life, Clementine discovers there is an upside to the life she once knew that has since fallen apart.

The Upside of Falling by Alex Light. This 2020 Wattpad publication is a first-time novel from the author who began writing on online communities. Along the lines of one of my favorite 80’s movies Can’t Buy Me Love, this book follows the pattern of two people pretending to be a fake relationship for the sake of saving their own pride, but when sparks begin to fly, is it real or just make-believe?


Falling In by Frances O’Roark Dowell. An enchanting story that takes the main character into an alternate universe is an imaginative and humorous adventure written especially for the dreamers of the world. Quirky and likeable, this middle grade story would be particularly good for classrooms or discussion groups.

Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall by Anne Sibley O’Brien. Fall is a season for change, and this book combines beautiful fall-colored illustrations with a rhyming look at the changing season that will appeal to ages 3-5 and their caregivers. A magic-filled look at what happens when fall begins to set in.

Retro Reads

by Kelly

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the books that I read during my teenage years that influenced me in a big way. During this age, my reading territory was expanding to cover new genres. I was branching out from my beloved Trixie Belden mysteries into new worlds of mind-bending science fiction, dystopian terror, magical fantasy lands, and heart-pounding thrillers, genres that are still in my go-to arsenal of reading choices.

Want to see the books that influenced me? Let’s take a trip back in time…

Outside by Andre Norton. First, and favorite on my list of retro reads, this YA book was published in 1976 and read by about ten years later. This book was unlike anything I had previously read, and was my first dip into Science Fiction. Set within a dome (move over, Stephen King) a society of children, the only survivors of an ecological disaster fight for survival under the dome and seek answers to the questions of what happened to the old world before them. Here’s the scoop. I read this. I loved it. I got rid of it and then searched for it for 30 years but could not remember the title. Thanks to a helpful coworker and the power of google, I am the proud owner of this book, once again. My life feels complete.

Z for Zachariah by Robert C. O’Brien. This YA book was originally published in 1974, the year I was born, but I didn’t get around to reading it until I was in sixth or seventh grade. Definitely after I read Outside, because in the years since, I have a tendency to combine the two books in my mind. This book was my first dive into dystopian fiction, and I remember feeling weird, thrilled, and terrified when reading it. Set after a post-disaster world, the main character thinks she is the only survivor left on earth, until a mysterious man shows up on her farm. A thrilling, scary, fascinating tale of survival. A great starter book into the world of dystopia.

Castle Roogna by Piers Anthony. I read this one in 1990 and gave a book report on it to my tenth grade English class. This particular title is book number three in a series of a million (actually only 35 or so), and it was my FAVORITE. The Xanth Series from where this book belongs, was my first foray into the world of magic and fantasy and I was smitten. In this story, the main characters use special magic to walk on the clouds, they invent a handshake language to communicate while imprisoned, and they team up with other odd magical beings to overthrow the bad guy. It’s described on Amazon as “a mind trip that is full of idioms wrapped in puns, which are enveloped in irony.” Definitely awesome.

Where Are the Children by Mary Higgins Clark. I vividly recall reading this book in the summer of 1991 in one fell swoop that kept me up half the night. My mom had likely picked this gem up from a garage sale and I was emerging into the world of adult reading, so I read it. Thrilling, Intense. Memorable. It is only now as I write this review that I learned that the events of this novel are based on a real-life crime that took place ten years prior, and it was the novel that launched the author’s career. Very cool.

What book has had the most impact on you? Let us know in the comments.

Summer Scares

by Kelly

Summer is officially upon us. The nights may be getting shorter, but there is still plenty of darkness to explore, even in broad daylight, when you dive into the pages of a spine-tingling tale found in these newly added horror titles to the library’s adult fiction collection.

Goblin by Josh Malerman. Fans of Malerman’s BirdBox will uncover six times the scares in this collection of interconnected stories set in the town of Goblin, Michigan. Ferndale, Michigan resident and MSU alum Malerman opens the door to this creepy fictional town and the residents who inhabit it, telling six individual tales with a common tie.

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon. This haunted house story set in the woods of Vermont features a married couple set off to build their dream home on what find out is cursed land. Supernatural and strange event unfold as they put their house together and uncover the local legends surrounding those who haunt it.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones. This disturbing novel of psychological horror unveils revenge and sorrow that haunts the lives of four Blackfeet Indian men, and their families, years after a shared event. Suspenseful, and at times graphic and gory, this novel is hard to forget.

The Ruins by Scott Smith. This survivor horror novel set on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula begs the question for the reader, how would you act and react if faced with a hopeless situation that you were lured into by a bizarre creeping horror. Add this one to your must-read list and then watch the movie.

Near The Bone by Christina Henry. Atop an isolated mountaintop an abused wife faces danger inside and outside her abode. When a group of hunters come looking for a legendary being, they discover more than the one monster they were looking for. Fast-paced, and thrilling, this horror novel serves up a dose of dread.

Get your summer scare started. Each of these titles offer up their own unique take on the horror genre, sure to send a chill down your spine and make you sleep with one eye open. Pick up a copy today or check our eResource apps for digital versions of these and other great horror titles.

A Whale of a Tale

by Kelly

Summer reading, happened so fast. Summer reading, had me a blast. Fans of the musical Grease know that summertime can be one of the best and magical time of one’s life. But how does that apply to summer reading?

For the parents, it’s a free and fun way to keep their young ones, tweens, and teens occupied and educated during the months-long recess from school. For the librarians, it’s a great way to promote reading, literacy, and books, the foundation on which libraries operate. And, for the kids, it’s a surefire way to snag some awesome library loot, making it a win, win, win for everyone involved.

Simply stated, Summer Reading challenge is a nation-wide program offered by libraries during the weeks of summer. Each year, there is a collaborative theme that participating libraries set their own rules and guidelines around.

This year’s theme is Tails & Tales, an imaginative way to highlight books and stories that have a tailed animal, creature, or being as the central character or theme. Though, you are welcome to read any story that you choose.

ANBL’S summer reading requirements for participation and completion vary by age group, Pre-K, Youth, Teen, and Adult, and details can be found when you sign up on the Beanstack app or webpage. Beanstack tracks your progress and is the ONLY place you can enter into the prize drawings.

Here are some things you should know for Summer Reading 2021:

  • ALL AGES can participate- Birth-100
  • All tracking is done through the Beanstack app-NO PAPER
  • You receive virtual tickets in the app that you enter for prize drawings
  • You can read any books you wish (library or at-home books) and may come to the library to browse
  • Our Youth Librarian Team have put together VIRTUAL events that can be viewed on Facebook or our YouTube Channel with take and make fun to go
  • The Summer Reading Challenge begins June 7 and ends July 31

Entering your reading, participating in virtual activities, and writing reviews on the Beanstack app all have the possibility to earn you tickets toward prize drawings. Staff is on-hand during all open library hours to assist you and answer questions.

We hope that the summer of 2021 is one that you will enjoy and remember. Pre-registration is open now. Find the Beanstack app on your phone or device or visit https://alvahnbeldinglibrary.beanstack.com/ to pre-register today.

Let’s Hear It for the Moms

by Kelly

Mother’s Day comes around annually as a day to celebrate the mothers in our lives, or earn a well-deserved ‘day of you’, if you are a mother yourself. While you spend your day getting the rest and relaxation you undoubtedly need, grab your favorite book or one of these titles about some hard-working, relatable, beloved, and underestimated fictional moms.

  1. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. Every single mom (parent) can and will relate to Jess Thomas, the main character of this unlikely love story. Jess works, fights, and scraps her way through a multitude of challenges to get her children to where they need to be in their lives. The realistic way she struggles to make ends meet shows the raw, honest truth of life as a single parent. Love story aside, you will root for Jess and applaud her eternal optimism even as life throws her some grenades.
  2. Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple. I will admit, the first time I read this book, I didn’t appreciate the story. I found the title character Bernadette to be selfish as she abandoned her husband and daughter to partake on her own secret quest. But, looking more into the character of who Bernadette is as a woman and a human, I think sometimes we all need to go on a journey to find ourselves and the truth, and perhaps a little element of selfishness is what we mothers need after all.
  3. Room by Emma Donoghue. While this story contains a multitude of heavy topics that the reader has to navigate, it is a story of perseverance and a mother’s unshakable bond and love for her child.  
  4. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg. Ruth Jamison has had her share of tough times and failed relationships and becomes a beloved fixture at the Whistle Stop Café, where she is taking control of her life and raising her son, Buddy Jr. She is a hard-working and devoted mother who is as real and raw as they come.
  5. Stehpanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Grandmas are mothers plus one. And Stephanie Plum’s grandmother is a hoot! Whether she is pulling out her gun at inappropriate times while tagging along on investigations or trolling funeral homes as a social gathering, Grandma Mazur is great fun to read about. Who doesn’t love their grandmother!?

Enjoy and appreciate the mothers, step-moms, grandmothers, foster moms, adopted moms, and other mother figures in your real and fictional life. Checkout and download these titles and more from the library and related apps.

The Literacy Star

by Kelly

What’s not to love about Dolly? As a musician, Dolly Parton is the most honored female country singer-songwriter of all time, with 44 Top 10 country albums and 26 number one singles. Being a successful musician has brought the songstress years of success, but, music is not the only thing that Dolly Parton gives to the world.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a book gifting program started by the musician in 1995, mails high-quality books to children ages birth to five to anyone who registers, no matter their income. To date, Dolly’s Imagination Library has put over 150 million books into the hands of emerging readers.

Dolly’s Imagination Library was inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, prompting this country queen to create this legacy in his honor, striving to foster a love for reading in young ones around the world. You can visit the website imaginationlibrary.com to register your young reader online, or check with us (or your local library) for a mail-in form. According to the website, once you register your child, it may take six to nine weeks before the books arrive. Once your first order arrives, you will receive your books regularly each month.

The Ionia County Intermediate School District has been encouraging local families to participate in this free book-gifting program. For several years now, the Ionia County ISD sponsors an annual quilt show and sale to help support Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Ionia County. Last year alone, 2780 children from the county received free books.

The quilts sold are handcrafted by local artisans and based on a literary theme. This year, the theme Down on the Farm produced 51 quilts that are up for sale. The library has on display quilt number 49 (made by Laura Heffron) that can be previewed for those interested. With colorful barns and adorable barnyard animals, each quilt offers a unique perspective of the shared theme by the artists who designed them.

The quilt show and sale for 2021 will be held on Saturday, May 22 from 9 am to 1 pm at the Ionia County Intermediate School District building located at 2191 Harwood Road, Ionia. Quilts can be viewed online at www.ioniaisd.org and the proceeds from all sales are guaranteed to give the gift of reading.

New Growth

by Kelly

Gardening is for everyone. Even for those of us born without a green thumb. Last year, when Covid-19 shut the country down, the Alvah N. Belding Library seed library distributed seeds to hundreds of individuals. At that time, I decided to try my hand at gardening. Although I had very little knowledge of starting plants from seed, I decided that quarantine was the perfect time to try something new, so I gave it a go.

To my surprise, the seeds I planted soon began to sprout. I put them in a nice, sunny window, tended to their need for water, and watched them become little stalks of life. I chose to plant seeds for vegetable, fruit, herb, and flowers that I knew I would enjoy, which included tomatoes, watermelon, basil, and daisies.

Around Memorial Day weekend, it was time to get my small plants into a bigger growing space. Living in the city, and in a rental unit, I didn’t have access to dig into the ground, so I improvised with plastic totes and other plant pots to get the job done.

The flowers that I planted bloomed throughout the summer, the herbs I grew were cut for several summer night bbq’s, and the fruit and vegetables I planted gave me a couple of delicious meals. The satisfaction that I felt, knowing how I had started them from seed, was a great feeling.

The moral of the story is that if I can do it, anyone can. The Alvah N. Belding Library’s Seed Library is open for service. We offer FREE seeds for anyone with a valid library card to check out. NEW this year are seed kits, which offer 3-4 different types of seeds that, when harvested, can be combined to make a complete dish. The best time for starting seeds indoors in Michigan is late March to early April.

Give it a try! The seeds can be ordered online through this link to be picked up at the library. For more information about plants and gardening, check out the library catalog for a list of titles, or check out our Pinterest page for gardening book suggestions.

Acknowledging History

by Kelly

February is Black History Month. This observance originated with American historian Carter G. Woodson, who launched Negro History Week in February of 1926, and has been celebrated annually as a month-long tribute since 1976 when President Gerald Ford called upon the public to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout history.

Here at the library, we encourage our readers to learn more about the contributions African Americans have made in all areas of the United States’ growth, and to read books (historical and modern) written by African American authors.

Knowledge and understanding about African Americans and their experience can be found through these newly-released non-fiction titles: Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African Americans, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi, Time To Teach: A History of the Southern Civil Rights Movement by Julian Bond, and this young reader title, Timelines From Black History, Leaders, Legends, Legacies by DK and Marielle Harper.

African American author Ralph Ellison addresses many social and intellectual issues facing Black Americans in the early twentieth century in his 1952 novel Invisible Man, while Octavia Butler’s still widely-popular 1979 novel Kindred explores the themes of race, power, and gender, incorporating writing that is modeled on slave narratives.

Angie Thomas gives young adult to adult readers several must-read titles that explore powerful and hard-hitting messages aimed to give readers a better understanding of the very real issues that African Americans face in her books The Hate U Give, Concrete Rose, and On the Come Up. Tiffany D. Jackson tackles several tough topics with care and thoughtfulness in her novel Grown, while Justina Ireland creates an alternate-history explosion with her titles Dread Nation and Deathless Divide, taking readers to 1800s America.

Early readers can gain exposure to stories about the lives of African Americans through colorfully illustrated picture books like Jump at the Sun by Alicia D. Williams, Emmanuel’s Dream by Jason Reynolds, Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, and If a Bus Could Talk by Faith Ringgold, all inspiring true stories of real people based on real-life events.

All of these titles and more are available at the library or through our eReader apps and can be read this February, Black History Month, and all year round.

Love Yourshelf

by Kelly

As the isolation of quarantine continues into 2021, many of us find ourselves reaching inward for love, care, and inspiration. I personally find my virtual bookshelf filling up with titles that provide me with an extra boost of strength and motivation. With Valentine’s Day looming on the horizon, we generally think of love stories written about couples, but this Valentine’s Day, I’d like to provide you with a list of titles for the number one love in your life – yourself.

The phrase self-care gets thrown around a lot these days, but what does it mean? It likely has a different meaning for everyone, but you can get started by examining two key factors: GOALS and GRATITUDE. These suggested books offer insight, and can provide a burst of daily inspiration, direct your thoughts toward a new perspective, and help you open up and unlock your untapped potential.

Let’s talk about goals. The first suggested title is Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis. This book will offer advice to achieving your goals and overcoming self-doubt. Hollis is the author of the bestseller Girl, Wash Your Face, so read this one, too, while you are at it!

Next on the list is Stop Self-Sabotage by Dr. Judy Ho, PHD. This book will keep you goal-focused by encouraging willpower and motivation. 13 Things Mentally Strong Women Don’t Do by Amy Morin will help you channel your confidence and purpose, and The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks pushes us to see our own potential and to believe in it, in order to achieve our goals.

Gratitude incorporated into our daily routine can help bring peace to our busy and hectic lives. Wake Up Grateful by David Steindl-Rast and Gratitude Daily by Nataly Kogan will help us to experience more joy and less stress through gratitude. 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik inspires readers to a year-long challenge of practicing gratitude daily.  These books each offer lessons to help us incorporate positive daily habits into our routine.

There is no better time than now to put yourself at the top of your love list. These titles and more can be found on our library shelves or can be downloaded digitally through our eResource apps.

21 in 2021

by Kelly

Welcome to 2021. We want to help you have a new year as the same you, but better! What better way to improve yourself than to challenge your mind? And, boy! Do we have a challenge for you!

We invite you to join our newest reading challenge on the Beanstack app called “21 Classics in 2021”.  Yes, classics. Challenging, sure, but rewarding nonetheless.

The classics chosen for this challenge were selected to broaden your reading history, introduce you to alternative works from authors you already know, and to highlight many titles that were the pioneers of their genre, award recipients, and just overall excellent pieces of literature.

In order to complete this challenge, you must venture your way through ALL 21 titles on our list. If you’ve read one on the list already, read it again! OR, find a different format (Book on CD, DVD, Graphic Novel, etc) for an alternate, but equally awesome version of the story. We don’t mind.

21 classics in 12 months, equals about 2 books per month, so manage your time wisely. Are you up for the challenge? The titles for this challenge are as follows:

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, The Odyssey by Homer, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Robinson Crusoe by Robert Louis Stevenson, The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Trail by Franz Kafka, Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, and Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.

Find the challenge on our Beanstack tracker reading app, found through your app store. Register with your library card number and email to begin. We hope to see you there.