Read Local

How lucky we are as book lovers to live in a county with so many published authors! The books run the gamut of genres from Debbie Hotel Angeline : a novel in 36 voicesMacomber’s Cedar Cove romance series set in a fictional Port Orchard to Gregg Olsen’s true crime books like Starvation Heights, which chronicles the horrific events that occurred at the Olalla, Washington sanatorium at the turn of the 20th century—and everything in between. Romance, literary fiction, children’s and young adult books, true crime, women’s fiction, cookbooks—it’s all here. Visit the library, either in person or download an eBook, and take some time to discover this wealth of local talent.

Explore some local authors:

Where Did My Tax Dollars Go?

With April 15th just barely in the rear view mirror, you’ve probably dedicated quite a bit of time, money, or both to filing your taxes. Now you may be wondering – what exactly did your money pay for?

You can find out easily, and in a surprising amount of detail, by checking your Federal Taxpayer Receipt. You can plug in exact numbers from your return or use a general estimate based on income and family size to see how your taxes support not only Social Security and Medicare, but a variety of priorities like national defense, healthcare, education, environmental protection, and more. For example, here’s the scenario for a married family with one child making $50,000 per year:

What about your Washington State taxes? We haven’t found a handy little calculator for that yet, but you can read a plain-English description of how much the state collected and spent this year in A Citizen’s Guide to the Washington State Budget: 2013.

And of course, if you’re thinking about cutting your tax liability for next year, the Kitsap Regional Library Foundation always welcomes your tax-deductible donations.

Poems in Your Pocket

April is the month to celebrate all things verse! Whether you prefer to read, listen, or watch there’s a free app that will allow you to get your poetry fix at the tap of a finger.

horseThe Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, designed a fun app for Apple and Android that turns your device into a mobile poetry library. Install the app to your phone or tablet and you’re off! Not sure what you want to read? Just give your device a shake (or tap ‘Spin’) and you’ll be presented with a unique mix of titles to choose from.  Find a poem you want to share, or keep to read later?  The app facilitates sharing through Twitter, Facebook and email; you can save your favorites in the aptly named ‘Favorites’ file.

poetry appThe Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation describes its Poetry App as “Great poetry read aloud by great actors.”  The poems are accompanied by both video and audio narrations, can be downloaded for offline enjoyment, and can be shared through Twitter, Facebook and email. Keep your eyes open as you explore the app; apparently there is hidden content throughout, including interviews with Josephine Hart and Jeremy Irons.  Available for both Apple and Android devices.

I saved my favorite for last.

The Sonnet ProjectThe Sonnet Project, as described by its website, is a completely crazy idea: 154 sonnets, 154 NYC locations, 154 actors, 154 films. Dreamed up by Ross Williams from NY Shakespeare Exchange, it began as a project to introduce new audiences to the bard in this year of his 450th birthday (April 23rd). After a successful Kickstarter campaign the journey began, and what a journey it became!

The project’s app gives you access to a new sonnet film every 2-3 days, and while they won’t be finished with all 154 by April 23rd, and I’m fine with that. Each sonnet they’ve completed is a work of art in and of itself; a short independent film that is much more than an actor reciting a sonnet.  Definitely worth a look!

With these apps on your mobile device, you’ll never be bored while waiting in line.  Happy National Poetry Month!

Adventure Travel

If you are like me, you probably enjoy reading about other people’s travels into wild, remote or forbidding territory. Sometimes these are stories of historic travels from the past but there are also plenty of adventures awaiting fearless and intrepid wanderers in today’s world. All it takes is a desire to explore the unknown or to venture into uncertain conditions.

savage_harvest_jacketThe first book that takes you into a still remote though present-day culture is titled Savage Harvest by Carl Hoffman. If you were around in the 1960’s you probably remember the disappearance of Nelson Rockefeller’s young son Michael. Michael was on a trip to New Guinea recording and purchasing “primitive art” for the Rockefeller collection in New York City. He was last seen swimming to shore after his small boat was swamped. Hoffman investigates the possibility that Michael was one of the last victims of the local tradition of tribal headhunting for revenge. In this book, Hoffman provides insight into local traditions and the real meaning behind some of the art collected for presentation in Western museums. Out of context, the art can be appreciated for design and craftsmanship but it behooves us to understand the deeper significance of the work. Harvest

astoria_jacketAnd here’s a thrilling adventure tale that explores the earliest attempt to establish an American settlement in our great Northwest: Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire by Peter Stark. Just a few years after Lewis and Clark’s expedition to the West, Astor and Jefferson tried to establish a colony that would allow the United States to become a Pacific trading power. Astor provided the money and the goal was to capitalize on the furs that could be purchased from trappers and sold to the global trade. One part of the expedition traveled by land and the other by sea around Cape Horn. They faced incredible hardships and starvation and the colony at Astoria was short-lived but the idea of a continental America stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific was firmly planted.

For other recent tales of travel and adventure, click here:

Reading & Writing: reimagined for a mobile world

In 1841, readers were reported to have stormed the New York docks to ask travelers from England whether Little Nell in “The Old Curiosity Shop” was dead. Today, following your favorite characters is as easy as looking at your smart phone.

imagesWattpad is a free storytelling app that will deliver installments of new fiction to your device just moments after it’s written.  But it’s more than just a novel delivery method; Wattpad facilitates social interaction with other readers by making it possible to post comments about what you’re reading.

And it’s popular! According to the New York Times, Wattpad has two million writers producing 100,000 pieces of material a day for 20 million readers.

This is not only a new twist on serialized fiction, it is reading reimagined for a digital world.  Give it a try! Wattpad is available in your web browser, or on the Wattpad app for your phone or tablet.

Deadly Mudslide: Kitsap Cares

We love our beautiful and amazing Northwest, and when it turns deadly, it makes neighbors of us all, ready to lend a helping hand. With the recent tragic mudslide in our region at Oso in Snohomish County, we care, we want to help, and we want to keep up to date on the latest developments, hoping and praying for the best, and for community healing.

For updates and conversations, beyond traditional news coverage:

Social media related to the mudslide:
• #530slide on Twitter
• Snohomish County on Twitter and Facebook
• Red Cross Snohomish County on Twitter
• Governor’s Office on Twitter
• Photos of mudslide by the Governor’s Office

If you would like to make a monetary donation to help the Snohomish County Red Cross:

  • Visit the American Red Cross website here
  • Call 1-800-redcross (direct your donation to ‘Snohomish County’)
  • Mail your check to: Red Cross Snohomish County, 2530 Lombard Avenue, Everett, WA 98021

NOTE: At this time, the Snohomish Country Red Cross simply doesn’t have the capacity to handle donated goods, like clothing, or furniture.

Other ways to give:
Salvation Army personnel are on the ground providing meals and water to first responders and will help with future restoration efforts. Donate  to the Salvation Army on their website here or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY or sending a check marked “disaster relief” to The Salvation Army, Northwest Divisional Headquarters, 111 Queen Anne Avenue N #300, Seattle, WA, 98109.

The United Way of Snohomish County began its Disaster Recovery Fund for Mudslide Relief with $25,000 from its endowment and a $50,000 gift from JPMorgan Chase. Donate here.

The Washington State Combined Fund Drive, which normally collects charitable donations from state employees, is now accepting public donations to help those affected by the mudslide. Donations to the fund will benefit the American Red Cross, the Snohomish County Volunteer Search and Rescue Unit, the WSDOT Memorial Foundation and The Soup Ladies, a group that’s been providing food to those searching for survivors. Donate here.

Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington has started a disaster relief fund and describes in this way: “All monies raised will go directly to those in our community affected by this event. We will be coordinating with recognized community organizations in the Oso/Darrington area to pinpoint what their specific needs are, and distribute funds through those organizations.” Donate here.

The Coastal Community Bank is accepting donations for slide victims at all branches (Darrington, Camano Island, Everett, Monroe, Stanwood, Sultan, Silver Lake, Smokey Point, Snohomish and Whidbey Island) and there are some wonderful community events and fundraisers being organized with area businesses. A list of benefit events is here.

Dear Snohomish County: your Kitsap neighbors care!

New Biographies to Savor

Biographies and memoirs are a favorite reader’s choice because they offer a glimpse into someone else’s world—whether this person is an historical figure or a contemporary. Readers can learn from others’ experiences how to endure hardships and overcome adversity. Biographies can be inspirational but they can also be downright fun.

A case in point is last Fall’s hit Still Foolin’ ‘Em by Billy Crystal which manages to be both funny and touching. This season’s memoir which will satisfy readers who love humor with their story is Little Failure
by novelist Gary Shteyngart. Shteyngart immigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was seven years old. From a background of Jewish persecution in Stalinist Russia to being labeled the “red nerd” at school in America, it is easy to imagine how difficult this guy’s adolescence was. The book is certain to be both hilarious and moving.

Robert Gates, the former Secretary of Defense, has been on the recent best seller lists with his memoir titled Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War. He is widely respected for his honesty and years of experience in many different government positions. This book sheds light on the presidency, Congress, the Pentagon and the military. There are several other new books of interest to those who care about the military. Defiant: The POWs Who Endured Vietnam’s Most Infamous Prison by Alvin Townley focuses on eleven men who developed an underground resistance in prison and the terrible suffering they endured as a result. Kayla Williams wrote her first book Love My Rifle More Than You based on her Iraq War experience. Now she is back with a new book—Plenty of Time When We Get Home– detailing the return to civilian life by herself and her fellow veteran husband while both are still experiencing psychological and physical wounds from their service. If you want to learn about the problems current military members are facing, this book will be informative and inspiring.

Click here for a list of recent biographies:


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