Category Archives: Entertainment

The travels of a GVSU professor highlighted in upcoming exhibit at university’s art gallery

Common Balance, Still Life Paintings by Mike McDonnell

“Afghanistan to Morocco: Journeys of Jim and Virginia Goode”
Exhibition Dates: August 25–October 27
Exhibition Reception: September 18, from 5-7 p.m.
Art Gallery, Performing Arts Center, Allendale Campus


Jim Goode, professor of history at Grand Valley State University, and his wife, Virginia, have explored 11 countries throughout the Middle East for business and pleasure over the past 50 years. They have also taken great satisfaction in introducing more than 100 Grand Valley students, faculty, staff members and friends to the people, cultures and landscapes of this area of the world. Along their adventures the duo has collected a wide variety of ceramics, rugs, textiles and other everyday objects — most representing simple instruments of daily life in these regions of the world. During the art exhibition, “Afghanistan to Morocco: Journeys of Jim and Virginia Goode,” many of these acquired items will be on display for the first time in Grand Valley’s Art Gallery.


“The exhibition displays some very simple, but important objects that allow insight into the daily lives of ordinary people in the Middle East region,” Jim Goode said. “We all share certain common practices, such as the need to prepare food and drink, entertaining family and friends and worshiping. This exhibit emphasizes such commonalities; we are more alike than we are different, regardless of our cultural backgrounds.”


Goode began teaching for Grand Valley’s History Department in 1986, and said students have been at the center oftheir involvement in the Middle East. He helped establish the university’s Middle East Studies program and has facilitated student involvement in the Model Arab League since 1988. Jim has additionally led study abroad programs to Egypt and Turkey over the past 17 years. He will retire from Grand Valley in December; Virginia retired as office coordinator of Grand Valley’s Chemistry Department in 2006.





For more information about Grand Valley State University art exhibits, call (616) 331-2563 or visit


“Mathias J. Alten: An Evolving Legacy”
Exhibition dates: ongoing
George and Barbara Gordon Gallery
DeVos Center, Building E, Room 103 and 202, Pew Grand Rapids Campus
Gordon Gallery hours: Friday and Saturday, 1-5 p.m.; closed on holiday weekends


The German-born American artist, Mathias Joseph Alten (1871-1938) is often referred to as the dean of Michigan painters. Working in a traditional representational style, Alten incorporated the aesthetics and techniques of the Impressionist Movement in paintings infused with light and punctuated with deft brushwork. Based in Grand Rapids, Alten created more than 3,800 works of art over a more than 40-year career, including landscapes, seascapes, portraits and florals. Grand Valley State University holds the largest public collection of Alten’s work in the world.


“Common Balance: Still Life Paintings by Mike McDonnell”
Exhibition dates: Thru Sept. 22
Blue Wall Gallery, DeVos Center, Building B, Pew Grand Rapids Campus


In the early 1980s, Michigan-based artist Mike McDonnell became enamored with still life arrangements of common household objects. He began by drawing each object individually, then patiently applied multiple glazes of watercolor paint to achieve rich color and the illusion of realism. This exhibit features a selection of McDonnell’s work from 1982-2009 that spotlights his desire to idealize common objects in balanced and unique groupings.


“Roger That! The Life of Astronaut Roger B. Chaffee”
Exhibition Dates: Thru Oct. 27
Kirkhof Center Gallery, Allendale Campus


Roger Bruce Chaffee was chosen to be one of America’s first Apollo astronauts as part of NASA’s program to send a man to the surface of the moon and back to earth. Tragically, the 31-year-old Grand Rapids native died, along with his two fellow crew members, when a fire broke out inside of their spacecraft during a routine test on January 27, 1967. The photo exhibition, “Roger That! The Life of Astronaut Roger B. Chaffee,” marks the 50th anniversary of that tragedy and seeks to educate the public on his life and achievements.


“Humanitarian Work in Havana: The Story of First-Hand Aid”
Exhibition dates: Thru Sept. 22
Red Wall Gallery, Lake Ontario Hall, Allendale Campus


In June 2012, Gordon Alderink, associate professor of physical therapy, and Charlie Pryor, ’12, traveled to Havana, Cuba, with First-Hand Aid (FHA). FHA is a humanitarian organization based in Grand Rapids that sends representatives to Cuba to provide food, medicine and financial support to people in need. Alderink and Pryor learned of FHA during a previous trip in 2012 to Havana with the organization and the Grand Valley State University men’s baseball team. However, during the initial trip, Alderink and Pryor were unable to join in the work of FHA. So, they decided that they had to go back on their own. This exhibit shares the FHA experience and informs visitors about the Cuban national health system, its strengths and weaknesses and FHA’s story.

On the shelf: ‘The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted…’ by Elizabeth Berg

By Laura Nawrot, Grand Rapids Public Library

As far as I’m concerned, you can’t go wrong with Elizabeth Berg. Her latest release is a collection of short stories that celebrates women and moments in their lives. Most of these moments start with a spark of discontent and blossom into something wonderful.

As a lifetime member of Weight Watchers (currently over my goal weight) the title story celebrated food and health and what we go through to maintain ourselves in order to live longer in a manner that I related to. Berg successfully takes the everyday events of our lives and somehow makes them more. Each character in this collection becomes you, someone you know, or someone you’d like to know. For new readers and regular fans, this book won’t disappoint.


On the shelf: ‘The Secret Between Us’ by Barbara Delinsky

By Laura Nawrot, GRPL-Main

Secrets. We all have them. Do we share them? Should we keep them? It was this concept that I found so I intriguing in Barbara Delinsky’s latest book, The Secret Between Us.

Deborah, a recently divorced family physician in a small New England town, and her daughter, Grace, are the principle characters in this deception. The story opens with a car accident during a torrential downpour on an unlit street, and spirals from there. Deborah went out in the rain to pick up Grace from a friend’s house and allowed Grace to drive home with her learner’s permit. The two are arguing when suddenly there is a flash of movement, a hideous thump, and events unravel from there.

While I could totally relate to the maternal instinct to protect your child at all costs, I don’t think this story could have worked without its setting. Everybody in a small town knows, or knows of, everyone else, which is what makes the keeping of secrets so tenuous. They all know each other’s business and each character naturally has something to hide. I found parts of the story to be somewhat contrived, but I was still interested enough to finish the book.

If you’re looking for an opportunity to sort through some small town family dynamics, this is the book for you.

On the shelf: ‘The Devil in the White City’ by Erik Larson

By Kristen Krueger-Corrado, GRPL-Main

When I started to read The Devil in the White City, I was surprised to discover that it was a nonfiction book. Larson skillfully alternates between two stories about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair: the story of the men who built the Fair, and the story of the serial killer who used the Fair to lure young women to their death.

I have always been fascinated with the Chicago World’s Fair, however I found the chapters on its creation to drag a little, and I often found myself skimming them so that I could get back to the fast-paced chapters about H.H. Holmes, the charming serial killer and his evil doings. I understand that the author was using the juxtaposition of the light and dark sides of Fair to create tension, but I found the dark side of the story more compelling.

The Devil in the White City is a fascinating read for history buffs and true crime fans alike. The book brings to life turn-of-the-century Chicago, the growth of a nation, and a frightening tour inside the mind of a killer.


On the shelf: ‘Sensible Shoes…’ by Sharon Garlough Brown

By Karen Thoms, Main Library


Can a novel deliver entertainment and promise spiritual enlightenment? It can when served up by West Michigan pastor and spiritual director Sharon Garlough Brown. Packed inside her engaging story, Sensible Shoes, is a small non-fiction work on incorporating ancient spiritual disciplines into life. This 2013 Midwest Publishing Awards Show Honorable Mention book chronicles the friendship between four women who meet at a spiritual disciplines class, a class none of them initially wanted to attend.

The back cover of the book describes the women this way:

  • Hannah, a pastor who doesn’t realize how exhausted she is
  • Meg, a widow and recent empty-nester who is haunted by her past
  • Mara, a woman who has bounced from relationship to relationship and who is trying to navigate a difficult marriage
  • Charissa, a hard-working graduate student who wants to get things right

The book is structured around the development of the friendships, how the women are responding to the Saturday morning lessons given over three months, and what the practice of each discipline is dredging up from their pasts. Key to the development of the story and spiritual growth of the women is the seminar leader, Katherine Rhodes, and Charissa’s professor, Dr. Nathan Allen. The reader is set up to understand the conflict in the story by Brown’s effective use of short flashbacks.

Most chapters begin with the handout the women received at the start of a session, followed by the leader walking the women through the new discipline. Brown makes smooth transitions from the seminar to the lives of each woman, which she separates within the chapters. The story flows just like a typical novel.

Do not be deceived. Even if you skip reading the handout page or the explanation of the discipline you will not be able to escape the spirituality because the women share it with you, with either the personal reflection going on in their heads or in dialogue with each other.

At times, the dialogue itself will make the reader feel as if they are sitting with their own spiritual director. Take these examples:

“He (professor) placed his elbows on his desk, still clasping his hands together. ‘Your desire for control is keeping you from entrusting yourself to Christ, Charissa. And your desire for perfection is preventing you from receiving grace. You’re stumbling over the cross by trying to be good, by trying so hard to be perfect.’”

In the session on praying with imagination, the leader, Katherine refers back to the story of Bartimaeus asking for sight: “That’s a courageous thing to ask for, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s easier to remain in our darkness and blindness. But Bartimaeus wants to see.”

In the session about establishing a rule of life, Katherine gives an analogy: “Rules of life are like trellises … helping branches grow in the right direction and providing support and structure.”

Other practices Brown successfully weaves into her story include: Walking a Labyrinth as a Journey of Prayer, Lectio Divina, Praying the Examen, Wilderness Prayer, and Self-Examination and Confession.

Although I believe this book will find only a small audience in readers from West Michigan, readers of Christian fiction, and readers of Christian spiritual growth books, my hope is that others will pick up this gem and be as pleasantly surprised as I was.


On the shelf: ‘Nothing to Envy’ by Barbara Demick

By Jen Andrews, Grand Rapids Public Library-Main 

Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years — a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population. Taking us into a landscape most of us have never before seen, Barbara Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today — an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, in which radio and television dials are welded to the one government station, and where displays of affection are punished; a police state where informants are rewarded and where an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life.

Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors. Through meticulous and sensitive reporting, we see her six subjects — average North Korean citizens — fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we experience the moments when they realize that their government has betrayed them.

This is an outstanding work of narrative nonfiction that offers a never-before-seen view of a country and society largely unknown to the rest of the world. With remarkable detail and through a deeply personal look at the lives of six defectors from the repressive totalitarian regime of the Republic of North Korea, Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime in the world today.

The reader will find it heartbreaking, pitiful and with every page turn wish it not true.


GVSU hosts two popular carillon programs, the Beckering and the Cook

Cook Carillon Bells by Bernadine Carey-Tucker

Some of the finest carillonneurs from around the world will fill the air with music on the campuses of Grand Valley State University during the annual International Carillon Concert Series. The 23rd annual Cook Carillon International Concert Series will take place on Sundays at 8 p.m. on the Allendale Campus through August 20. The 17th annual Beckering Family Carillon International Concert Series brings five concerts to the Lacks International Plaza located at the DeVos Center on Grand Valley’s Pew Grand Rapids Campus. These concerts will take place on Wednesdays at noon. For more information, contact Grand Valley’s Music and Dance Department at (616) 331-3484.


Beckering Carillon – Pew Grand Rapids Campus

August 2 – Julianne Vanden Wyngaard, GVSU university carilloneur


Cook Carillon – Allendale Campus

August 6 – Sue Bergren, Naperville, Illinois

August 13 – Ray McLellan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

August 20 – Julianne Vanden Wyngaard

On the shelf: ‘Making Room’ by Christine Pohl

By Karen Thoms, Grand Rapids Public Library-West Side Branch

The word ‘hospitality’ brings to mind dinners or parties with friends and family. Almost always being hospitable includes food and drink shared with people you know. If this description of hospitality resonates, you may find Christine Pohl’s discussion of the evolution of hospitality in Making Room an interesting read.

Weaving together Biblical texts and ancient philosophical writings, Pohl discusses the roots of hospitality. Initially people, especially members of the church, were hospitable to strangers in need. Gradually, the magnitude of these genuine needs caused people to think in new ways about meeting those needs. Hotels, hospitals and even our current mental health care system sprung up. As these agencies, businesses and non-profits became part of the social landscape, fewer individuals stepped up to aid the poor and outcasts of society.

Today professionals attend to those who need lodging and healing, making face-to-face encounters with people in need more difficult and less frequent. Pohl argues that the long-term effects of professionalizing hospitality contributes to those helped being disconnected from the community and feeling invisible. Her honest assessment includes how to engage with the disenfranchised instead of sending them to professionals or, if need be, to stand with them as they seek professional help.

Throughout this excellent work, which comes with a companion study guide, Pohl will guide you from abstract commitments of loving your neighbor to concrete expressions of hospitality to the marginalized. Read as a history you will be enlightened, read as a commentary on society and the church you will be challenged to think differently about what true hospitality is and provoked to actions that contribute toward community healing.


On the shelf: ‘Packing for Mars’ by Mary Roach

By Mary Knudstrup, Grand Rapids Public Library, Main

Packing for your summer vacation? Be sure to take along Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars. Not exactly a travel guide, but an informative and often hilarious look at the arduous task of getting a human into space. This is not book about rocket thrusters and gaining orbit, but a look at the more intimate aspects of space travel that confound NASA scientists.

While reviewing the history of the space race, Roach unabashedly investigates some of science’s most delicate engineering challenges. Among her topics are digestion, and egestion in a zero-gravity environment and the problems that result from “two men, two weeks, no bathing, same underwear.” She revels about the joys of weightlessness; “(it’s) like heroin, or how I imagine heroin must be. You try it once, and when it’s over, all you can think about is how much you want to do it again.”

Her writing is smart, sassy and well-researched, loaded with footnotes that stand out as quirky entertaining side-bars to the main text; for example, did you know that guinea pigs and rabbits are the only mammals thought to be immune to motion sickness? Dogs, on the other hand, come by the old adage “sick as a dog” quite honestly. She also delves into the problem of taking a corned beef sandwich on a space mission and the contribution of cadavers to the space program.

While never losing sight of the heroic feats that astronauts perform, Roach probes fearlessly into the “ick factor” of living in space and in the end gives the reader an even deeper appreciation for what astronauts endure in terms discomfort and lack of privacy. Whether you are scientifically inclined or not, Packing for Mars will take you to places you’ve never been before.





Music Laser light Shows take over Chaffee Planetarium at the Grand Rapids Public Museum


The Grand Rapids Public Museum (GRPM) announced that a special week of Laser Light Shows will take place this summer at the Chaffee Planetarium. For one week only, visitors to the Chaffee Planetarium can recline, relax, and rock out to dazzling laser light performances set to popular and classic music. From Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin to nineties hits and today’s hottest pop, get ready for a timeless journey of light and sound.


Laser Light Shows have something for every music lover, including: Laser Beatles, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Laser Vinyl (the best of classic rock), Laser Zeppelin, Laserpolis (pop, rock, alternative and oldies), Laser Country, Electro Pop (today’s hottest hits), Lase Rock (classic rock), Laser Tribute (great artists whose music has inspired many), Electrolase (electronic dance music), and Metallica.


Laser Light Shows will take place starting Monday, July 24 and continue through Sunday, July 30. Shows begin at 3 or 4 p.m. each day, and continue with the last show at 9 p.m. Tickets to shows are $4 with Museum general admission, and $5 for planetarium-only tickets. Members receive free admission to planetarium shows. For a full schedule and to purchase tickets in advance, please visit


The Chaffee Planetariums special week of Laser Light Shows will return in September during ArtPrize. Save the dates for Sept. 25 through Oct. 1 for another round of dazzling lights and tantalizing tunes.

On the shelf: ‘No Time to Lose…’ by Peter Piot

By Grand Rapids Public Library

Men are passionate about many things, and Piot’s memoir, No Time to Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses is by turns, chilling and fascinating, as he reveals how a boy growing up in a small Belgium town, went on to pursue a consuming desire to help eradicate major infectious diseases, especially in Africa. People who are aware at a young age, of their calling — of some great work they must achieve, have always intrigued me. How do they know? Where does such an unselfish desire and drive come from?

As a child, Peter would pass by the tiny museum dedicated to a local man who had been a missionary to the lepers in Hawaii. He was incensed by society’s cruelty to people with a disease that brought such condemnation and isolation, and determined that he too, would serve those in great need.

Fresh out of medical school, in 1976 he was employed at a Belgium laboratory when a blood sample, thought to be a variety of yellow fever, came in. Routine tests were done on what Dr. Piot would later have the honor of helping to put a name to: Ebola. The most lethal and feared of all the hemorrhagic viruses to come out of Africa, with a 50-90 percent death rate.

After Ebola came another mysterious epidemic, slower to kill, but quicker to spread; and he realized how wrong his old professors had been, thinking that we had conquered the microbes. Piot would eventually go on to head up UNAIDS for fifteen years.

The author has a great storytelling voice — down home, funny, compassionate, engaging. He’s like a witty professor combined with a pirate with Bill Clinton, as he talks about working with political leaders and prostitutes, scary plane flights, irascible bosses, turf wars at the U.N. and more. A wonderful read.


On the shelf: ‘Deadline: [A Virgil Flowers Novel]’ by John Sandford

By Lisa Boss, Grand Rapids Public Library, Main

D. Wayne Sharf slid across Winky Butterfield’s pasture like a greased weasel headed for a chicken house.” Criminal stealth and practice have readied D. Wayne with a center cut pork chop as part of his kit, and soon he is on the run with his victims. A hail of bullets from their frantic owner suggests to D. Wayne that there has to be a better way to make a living, but — what? “There was stealing dogs, cooking meth, and stripping copper wire and pipes out of unoccupied summer cabins. That was about it in D. Wayne’s world.”

Thus begins the newest Virgil Flowers thriller, and no sooner had I brought it home, than my husband nabbed it. Putting aside his historical studies, he decided he needed a break with some less taxing reading. Soon he was chortling away, as detective Flowers steps in to help a close friend find some missing dogs. All this is on the QT, since Flowers can’t tell his boss he’s working a dog-napping case. But soon after the BCA agent arrives, the quiet southern Minnesota town of Trippton is struck by a murder. And then another murder—

Flowers is soon on the trail of a very, very, bad school board, meth makers, killers, and worst of all, cold-hearted dog-nappers. If you are already a Sandford fan, you’ve already read this book (pre-ordered possibly!), but if you haven’t tried him yet, he writes a meanly humorous thriller. This one is just a little lighter than usual, but it was just as much fun.



Michigan native Erin McCahan presents young adult novel ‘The Lake Effect’

Grand Haven native Erin McCahan presents her critically acclaimed young adult novel ‘The Lake Effect’ Tuesday, July 18 at 7 p.m. at Schuler Books & Music, 2660 28th St. SW.


A funny, bracing, poignant young adult romance and coming-of-age for fans of Huntley Fitzpatrick, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and The Beginning of Everything.


When eighteen-year-old Briggs Henry decides to work for an eighty-four-year-old widow at her house on Lake Michigan the summer before college, he assumes he’ll take her to doctor appointments and help her with house work. Wrong. Briggs tries to leave behind his family and school troubles for a relaxing summer on the lake and instead encounters an eccentric elderly woman, tight-knit locals, and an enigmatic girl all of which gives a new meaning to “lake effect.”


McCahan grew up on the beaches of Grand Haven and Macatawa. Now a resident of landlocked New Albany, Ohio, she and her husband return every summer to North Beach in South Have, not he shores of Lake Michigan.


For more about the book reading and discussion, visit

Take a Chance on the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops

In 1815, Napoleon met his Waterloo with a spectacular defeat that ended his reign as Emperor of France. In 1974, four Swedish singers met their “Waterloo” with spectacular success, winning the Eurovision Song Contest, launching a career in music that would inspire a Broadway musical, a major Hollywood movie, and sell millions of records.


The Grand Rapids Symphony’s D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops remembers The Music of ABBA to open the 23rd annual summer of musical fun at Cannonsburg Ski Area.


Arrival from Sweden joins the Grand Rapids Pops with songs such as “Mama Mia,” “Dancing Queen,” “Gimme Gimme,” “Take a Chance On Me,” and many more to open the season at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, July 13-14, at Cannonsburg ski area, 6800 Cannonsburg Rd NE. Principal Pops Conductor Bob Bernhardt will be on the podium for both concerts underwritten by Kennari Consulting, Price Heneveld LLP and TerryTown RV as Benefactor Sponsors.


Season tickets offering substantial discounts as well as single tickets for all concerts in the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops are on sale. Call the Grand Rapids Symphony at (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 during business hours or (616) 885-1241 evenings or go online to


ABBA, named after the first names members of the group, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, was the first non- English speaking musical group to achieve major success across the English-speaking world from New Zealand to the United Kingdom and from South Africa to the United States.


From 1972 to 1982, ABBA sold over 500 million records, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time. After 10 years of international success, the band dissolved. Except for a TV appearance in 1986, the four musicians did not appear together publicly again until they were reunited at the Swedish premiere of the movie Mamma Mia! starring Meryl Streep, in July 2008.


Arrival from Sweden, the most popular ABBA tribute group, has toured more than 48 nations and appeared with dozens of symphony orchestras since 1995.


Over the past 10 years in the United States, ARRIVAL has sold out eight shows in the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre in Denver, an arena where other world-famous artists including Elvis Presley, the Beatles, U2, and many more have appeared. Arrival last was in Grand Rapids in February 2012 at the Van Singel Fine Arts Center.


Named for ABBA’s fourth studio album, “Arrival,” as well as ABBA’s No. 1 best-selling album in Europe and Australia, Arrival from Sweden is the only tribute group given a previously unreleased ABBA song, “Just A Notion,” composed by Ulvaeus and Andersson. Arrival also has permission from ABBA’s original designer to wear exact copies of ABBA’s original stage costumes.


ARRIVAL from Sweden not only resembles ABBA in appearance, the group truly embodies the sound and personality of the Swedish pop band, making audiences feel as though ABBA itself is on stage. In fact fans often say, “It was like a real ABBA concert!”

Good tunes, great food at ‘Music at the Market’, July 19

By Downtown Market GR

Stop by during Music at the Market to enjoy a little after-hours live music!

What’s better than good tunes, great food, and delicious drinks? Aperitivo, Love’s Ice Cream, Rocket Pies, Slows Bar-B-Q, and Social Kitchen & Bar are open late!

On July 19 from 7-9 pm, enjoy live strolling music while soaking in the sun on Downtown Market’s patios.


On tap: July is beer month, Bell’s new coffee stout

July is Michigan Craft Beer Month.

By Montae Harris


As beer continues to remain popular in Western Michigan and across the state, the Michigan Brewers Guild has labeled July as Michigan Craft Beer Month with the celebration of the Guild’s 20th anniversary.


Michigan Brewers Guild was created in 1997, hosting its first festival in July 1998. This year, produced by its members Breweries, the Guild will again be hosting four festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan Craft Beer. The festivals attract more than 3,500 people each year, according to supplied material.


The first event, the Michigan Summer Beer Festival will take place July 21-22 at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti’s Historic Depot Town. Other upcoming festivals include: Saturday, Sept. 9, UP Beer Festival, in Marquette; and Friday and Saturday, Oct. 27-28, Detroit Fall Beer Festival, at Eastern Market in Detroit.


With the number of breweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks 6th in the nation — with claims of being The Great Beer State.


For ticket and more information visit .


Bell’s announces coffee milk stout offering


Comstock’s Bell’s Brewery recently announced its new addition to its beer offerings, set to be released this fall as part of its specialty lineup.


Arabicadabra, a coffee milk stout with ABV of 5.5 percent, made to debut on draught in 12-ounce bottles, packaged in six packs, this upcoming October, according to Bell’s.


“This year, we are changing things up a bit,” said Laura Bell, CEO of Bell’s. “Arabicadabra is a different take on a coffee stout and very similar to a local favorite that was released at our pub and at some events. It’s time to share it with an even larger audience.”


The beer was inspired by Milchkaffe, another Bell’s specialty beer, which debuted 2015, with the mix of milk stout.


For more information on this upcoming beverage visit bellsbeer.Com .


On the shelf: ‘Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love’ by Larry Levin

By Lisa Boss, Grand Rapids Public Library, Main

How did an upper middle-class family who went to the vet to euthanize their beloved elderly cat, end up taking home one of the newer “super-pit” breeds cropping up? Well- you’ll have to read the book to find out, and it makes for a fairly unusual tale, as Eli (Oogy) returns from an almost Biblical destruction to prove that ultimately “living well is the best revenge”.

Caution: dog lovers will not be able to resist this dog or this book.


Meijer Gardens concerts: Great names in July but summer is waning

Elvis Costello & the Imposters will be one of a dynamite run of four great shows in five days, July 16-20. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


July is the peak of summer and often the high-point of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park summer concert series — and there are three takeaways from those facts: a ton of top-notch talent is coming to town; they are mostly sold out but available for a price; and you better make some party plans before fall rolls in.


There will be 10 shows in 19 days this month starting with Sheryl Crow on Wednesday, July 12, and ending with Lifehouse and Switchfoot on Monday, July 31. In between is dynamite run of four great shows in five days, July 16-20 — Huey Lewis & the News, Elvis Costello & the Imposters, Barenaked Ladies, and Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers with the Wood Brothers.


The Shins (a great alt-pop project of James Mercer) may well be the show of the season. (Supplied)

All four shows are sold out, as are all but one of the July shows, including the highly anticipated July 27 visit by The Shins (a great alt-pop project of James Mercer) — at least it is my most anticipated show. But still not sold out, so at regular Meijer Gardens price, is what should be a great show of relatively new-to-the-scene talents of Andrew Bird with Esperanza Spaulding on July 24.


And, of course, Lyle Lovett will be in town. (Supplied)

And speaking of not being sold out … of the remaining 11 shows in August, seven of them still have tickets available, including Lyle Lovett’s annual visit, Garrison Keillor’s latest Prairie Home tour, the Punch Brothers, Tegan and Sara, John Butler Trio, and the improv/jam-band sounds of moe. with Railroad Earth.


Don’t know much about Railroad Earth but like a lot what mandolin/bouzouki player John Skehan said, in supplied material, about the band’s live performances.


“Our M.O. has always been that we can improvise all day long, but we only do it in service to the song,” Skehan said. “There are a lot of songs that, when we play them live, we adhere to the arrangement from the record. And other songs, in the nature and the spirit of the song, everyone knows we can kind of take flight on them.”


After a busy July and August, the Meijer Gardens Summer Concert season will come to an end on Sept. 1 with the season-closing concert by English reggae and pop band UB40 — also not sold out.


Also this month, Meijer Gardens’ amphitheater will host its Tuesday Evening Concert Series, with general admission to the Gardens getting people in for  some great local and regional musical acts. The diverse two-month program features live bands with music ranging from jazz to indie rock to folk, all starting at 7 p.m. Two of the more interesting musical explorations will be the mid August visits of Kalamazoo’s Michigander on Aug. 8 and Slim Gypsy Baggage on Aug. 15.


For complete information on the concert series tickets and admission prices, visit .


On the shelf: ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ by Rebecca Skloot

By Marie Mulder, Grand Rapids Public Library-Main

In 1951, a poor, 31-year-old mother of five died of cervical cancer. Without her family’s knowledge, her cervical cells were harvested and used to create the first viable cell line, known to scientists and doctors as ‘HeLa’. Her cells are used all over the world and have aided doctors in many of the greatest medical discoveries of our century.

While her cells have had great success, Henrietta Lack’s family have never been compensated or recognized for their great gift to the medical community. Rebecca Skloot and Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah, search for the truth and for Henrietta’s story, a remarkable narrative of faith, hope, science, ethics and journalism.


String Quartet blends classical and contemporary at the SCA

Well-Strung, a New York based string quartet with a twist, will perform at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts on July 14 at 8 p.m. The group is renowned for its fusion of classical music and modern contemporary hits. Tickets are on sale now for $35 in advance or $38 day of the performance. Visit or call 269-857-2399 to purchase.


The music of Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Adele, and Lady Gaga​ normally finds its home on the radio dial. But four young men from New York have given it a different home: on the strings of their violins, viola and cello.


The Huffington Post described the group as, “A genius mash-up of boyband and classical string quartet.”


Well-Strung is comprised of Edmund Bagnell (first violin), Christopher Marchant (second violin), Trevor Wadleigh (viola), and cellist Daniel Shevlin. Saugatuck isn’t new to Shevlin, as he is a Mason Street Warehouse alumni, who performed in the musical “Alter Boys”.


See why the New York Times says Well-Strung is, “A talented quartet of men who sing and play instruments … brilliantly fusing pop and classical music from Madonna to Beethoven.”


Well-Strung is sponsored by Hilliard Lyons of Holland, CKC Architect/Charles Carlson, Scott Habermehl, Renee Zita, Larry Gammons & Carl Jennings.

Enjoy these FREE events in July 2017!

By Brittany Schlacter, The Rapid


We’ve entered one of Michigan’s most magical seasons. Michigan summers are the perfect time for exploration, new activities and, most importantly, fun! Fortunately for Grand Rapidians and those living in surrounding transit-friendly suburbs, there are a number of outdoor events to ensure you’re able to embrace the sunshine and warmth promised in July. The best part is that all of these events are free to the public.


Whether it’s watching your favorite local band or musician in the park, catching a movie or exploring your local farmer’s market, there are so many reasons to hop on board the bus and let us do the driving to these fun summer events. If you’re looking for the best deal and aren’t a frequent Rapid rider, purchase a 10-Ride Card to use for riding to these events.


The Mainstays play July 13

Enjoy Concerts in Kentwood
On July 13, and 27, ride Routes 2 and 44 to Kentwood City Hall for live music from 7 – 8:30 p.m for the Kentwood City Summer Entertainment Series. The Mainstays will play on the 13th; Look Out Lincoln will be on the 20th; and The Tomas Esparza Blues Band plays on the 27th. This event also features food trucks and more! Grab your blanket or a chair for some Thursday evening fun.


Route 2, 44


Get fit

Every Monday through Thursday, you can find a variety of fitness classes taking place throughout downtown Grand Rapids thanks to the Stay Fit Downtown Class Series. This 9-week program is a joint effort through Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and the City of Grand Rapids Parks & Recreation Department. Free, no-registration classes include Zumba, ballroom dancing, kickboxing and more. Classes take place at Rosa Parks Circle, the Blue Bridge and the JW Marriott Lobby.


Routes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6+


Listen to Music in Walker

The Standale Summer Concert Series takes place July 13 with Strumble Head and July 27 with Brena Band at Walker Community Park. Music starts playing at 6:30 p.m. and the fun lasts until 8:30 p.m. Ride Routes 12 and 50 to get there, pack a picnic and enjoy a beautiful evening with local tunes!


Route 12, 50


Explore the Market with your Kids
Grab your children and get on board the Silver Line or Routes 1 and 2 to head to the Downtown Market for free fun for kids every week in July. You can expect crafts, educational activities and more! Each week, Kids at the Market has a new theme that your children will love. While you’re there, grab lunch or a snack and do a bit of shopping.


Routes 1, 2, SL


Experience Hands-On Learning at the Museum

Grand Rapids Public Museum is opening their doors for a day of free admission on July 16 from 12–5 pm. Explore all three floors of exhibits and dive into hands-on fun for the whole family. Make a day out of it by riding Routes 7 and 9 and enjoying lunch or dinner at a downtown Grand Rapids eatery.


Routes 1, 2, SL


Groove to Jazz in the Park

Every Monday, ride Routes 7 and 9 to Ah-Nab-Awen Park to enjoy an evening of jazz presented by the West Michigan Jazz Society. Some of this month’s upcoming acts include Metro Jazz Voices, Kevin Jones Band and The Lakeshore Big Band.


Routes 7, 9


Fulton Street Farmers Market

Stock up at Local Farmers Market

How close is your nearest farmers market? There are so many that are transit-friendly throughout Grand Rapids, Grandville, Wyoming and Kentwood! Grab your reusable shopping bags, hop on board the bus and ride to your favorite farmers market to enjoy local produce and goods. You can even ride Route 14 straight to the Fulton Street Farmers Market every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday!


Route 14



Ride The Rapid to ‘Movies in the Park’ this summer!

At Ah-Nab-Awen Park (photo by Steven Depolo)

By Brittany Schlacter, The Rapid


Ride The Rapid Routes 7 and 9 to enjoy an evening in Ah-Nab-Awen Park with movies, games, music, food and so much more!


Movies in the Park is back and better than ever before. If you haven’t been to this bi-weekly summer event at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in downtown Grand Rapids before, make sure to get one of the movie dates on your calendar. It’s the perfect chance to enjoy a budget-friendly evening with your friends or family in one of Grand Rapids’ beautiful riverfront parks. Along with the movies, attendees also have access to games, food trucks, a live DJ and much more before and in between movies.


This year, attendees can watch their favorite movies on a new LED screen. This means that you can now catch a double feature with the first film starting at 7 pm and an additional feature at 9:30 p.m.


Upcoming movies:

July 7

  • –    7 p.m. – Mrs. Doubtfire (PG-13)
  • –    9:30 p.m. – Forrest Gump (PG-13)

July 21

  • –    7 p.m. – The Book of Life (PG)
  • –    9:30 p.m. -Jaws (PG)

August 4

  • –    7 p.m. – Selena (PG)
  • –    9:30 p.m. – The Bodyguard (R)

August 18

  • –    Remember the Titans (PG)
  • –    Pitch Perfect (PG-13)

Some tips for making the most out of this event include getting there early so you can get a great spot, and ride The Rapid or your bike to save money and time with parking. Costumes are encouraged for children and adults. For those 21+, bring your own alcoholic beverages and photo ID so you can enjoy them during the event.


On the shelf: ‘The Accidental Billionaires’ by Ben Mezrich

By Marie Mulder, Grand Rapids Public Library-Main

The Accidental Billionaires is the riveting tale of the creation of the international social network Facebook which has deeply changed the way many of us communicate and relate to each other.

The story is fraught with competition for college women, money, fame, recognition and power. Since the story is mainly told through the eyes of Mark Zuckerberg’s friend Eduardo, we often get the sense that we’re not getting both sides of the story. Did Mark really come up with the idea for Facebook, or did he steal it from his fellow Harvard students? Did he rip off his best friend and business partner?

The Accidental Billionaires is fast-paced, exciting, and hard to put down. Read the book, watch the movie based on the book, The Social Network and see if you can figure out the real story of Facebook.

On the shelf: ‘The Last American Man’ by Elizabeth Gilbert

By Melissa Fox, Grand Rapids Public Library-Main 

For those who have dreamed of true adventure, of exploring and of attempting perilous journeys and of living as a pioneer, The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert is a book you will not want to miss. Comparable to admired adventure books such as Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and Wild by Cheryl Strayed, The Last American Man follows the life of Eustace Conway, who at the age of seventeen left his family’s home to live in a teepee in the woods and wear skins from animals he trapped. He hiked the Appalachian Trail and set the world record for crossing the United States on horseback. Conway eventually purchased land in North Carolina and started the Turtle Island Preserve, which he built with his own two hands in the traditional way, and where he continues to hold camps and classes in survival and living off the land.

The Last American Man takes readers on Conway’s lifelong adventure in pursuit of his ultimate goal — to convince Americans to give up their materialistic lifestyles and return with him back to nature. Because Elizabeth Gilbert does an excellent job of writing his story, The Last American Man was a finalist for the National Book Award, and because Eustace Conway is a compelling character, it’s easy get lost in the adventure and feel oneself called toward the woods, to living a simpler life.


On the shelf: ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ by Joe Hill

By Amy Cochran, Grand Rapids Main Library

It’s been a long time since I was genuinely spooked by a ghost story, but only a few chapters into Heart-Shaped Box, I actually had to set the book down and take a short break. Hill’s first novel is a doozy, a ghostly revenge story that is highly effective in the chills and thrills department, with a bit of gore and some flawed but sympathetic characters thrown in.

It’s been years since two of Jude Coyne’s band mates died and he retired from a highly successful career as a death-metal singer and role model to Goths everywhere (think Alice Cooper and biting the heads off rats). Now he lives with his two devoted dogs, personal assistant, and an ever-changing procession of much younger female companions that he flippantly refers to by the state they are from.

Jude’s a collector of the macabre, and he is bored enough that he jumps at the chance to buy a supposedly haunted suit off an Internet auction. When the suit arrives in a heart-shaped box, he figures he’s been conned and doesn’t think any more about it until strange things start happening in the house. Current girlfriend Georgia (her real name is Marybeth) finds the suit on the bed next to her, smelling of decay, and Jude begins to catch glimpses of an old man with a swinging silver razor and a mysterious purpose.

I won’t give away any more of the plot, since half the fun comes in the discovery of how Jude’s past has literally come back to haunt him. Forced to confront his childhood, 54-year-old Jude finally starts to grow up, and his relationship with his girlfriend undergoes a just touching enough turn as a result of their ordeal. Jude’s dogs stay loyal to the very end (Warning to sensitive pet-lovers: keep away if you can’t take bad things happening to animals).

Hill is the son of Stephen King, a fact he kept hidden until just before the book was released, and he has inherited King’s gift for tweaking traditional horror elements into a narrative that is impossible to put down. This book is an excellent non-stop thriller that makes the traditional ghost story scary again.


On the shelf: ‘Died in the Wool’ by Rett MacPherson

By Laura Nawrot, Grand Rapids Main Library

The latest in a sequence of mysteries involving Torie O’Shea, Died in the Wool was the first of Rett MacPherson’s novels for me, but it certainly won’t be the last. I just happened to pick up MacPherson’s 2007 release, but now plan to start reading about Torie from the beginning of the series. I enjoy following a familiar figure through several books, like Janet Evanovich’s character, Stephanie Plum, and I think it won’t take long for Torie to become another one of my favorites. I found MacPherson to use humor in her story in much the same way that Evanovich does, but Died in the Wool lacked the slightly steamy scenes found in Janet’s stories about Stephanie Plum’s life.

Torie (short for Victory) O’Shea is a genealogist and president of the New Kassel, Missouri historical society and the main character in a series of short mysteries featuring a genealogical twist. She is a happily married, 40ish mother who also seems to have her hand in just about everything possible in her small town.

This story begins with an unusual introduction of characters in strong disagreement over the production of the town’s first annual rose show. Torie plunges through a tangle of interwoven events that are set in motion with the planning of the show: solve a mystery surrounding a ‘haunted’ house, investigate the apparent suicides of a prominent local family in the 1920s, and discover that all is not what is appears to be simply because of her interest in quilting.

Sound confusing? Not really. MacPherson does a good job of keeping the pace quick and the details from becoming overpowering. Though it all, she brings the reader into the world of discovering how the past reaches into the present by sharing secrets of successful genealogical researching. Died in the Wool is a very quick read at less than 300 pages, but with several more books featuring Torie O’Shea, it’s sure not to disappoint.


On the shelf — ‘Thin Ice: Coming of Age in Grand Rapids’

By M. Christine Byron, Grand Rapids Main Library and Thomas R. Dilley

This wonderful anthology brings together twenty-eight reflections on coming of age in Grand Rapids. These personal histories of young people who were seldom “seen or heard” document the social history of Grand Rapids from a fresh perspective. The earliest pieces date back to the 1830s and 1850s and the most recent describe coming of age in the 1960s through the 1980s. Half of the narratives in this volume are culled from existing books, journals and magazines; the other half are new pieces specifically written for this collection.

Gordon Olson, City Historian Emeritus, has gathered accounts of young people from historical sources. Reinder Van Til, an editor for William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, collected writings of living authors. As Van Til says in the preface, this volume represents “not only sharp personal writing by some of the best writers that Grand Rapids has produced but also a kind of impressionistic historical portrait of a community during a century and a half of its own coming of age.”

Albert Baxter and Charles Belknap write of past times when Grand Rapids could hardly be called even a one-horse town. Essays by Arnold Gringrich, Gerald and Betty Ford, John Hockenberry and Paul Schrader recount formative years and experienced here before they each would leave their hometown to make their ways in the world. Roger Wilkins, Levi Rickert, Al Green and Bich Minh Nguyen share their experiences growing up in a white community, and the racial inequities that are an indelible part of their memories. Edward Gillis and Max Apple write fondly of the strong ties to their ethnic communities. Poignant and memorable essays by Hank Meijer, Tom Rademacher and Kaye Longberg recall teenage years in the 1960s and 1970s, before the weight of adulthood had settled upon them.

Thin Ice: Coming of Age in Grand Rapids speaks to the remarkable diversity of experience that has made the city what it is today. This collection of voices gives each of us the opportunity to pause, look back and reflect on each of our personal histories.



Take 2: Tastes & music at West Michigan breweries, wineries

Beer tasting and live music go together quite well in the summer at local and West Michigan breweries and wineries.

By K.D. Norris


If summer in West Michigan means anything, it is day-trips on sunny days to taste some brews (or other beverage of choice) and listen to some music. And local breweries and wineries are among the best places to do so.


Following is the latest of an ever-changing list of some summer offerings, in kind-of near-to-far listing:


Sparta has two concerts planned for their Concerts in Rogers Park series, scheduled for Wednesday June 21 and June 28 — and, just in case you did not know, Sparta’s Cellar Brewing Company this year moved downtown and expanded, and it has nights of music as well. For more information visit


The Downtown Market in Grand Rapids will host its Music at the Market series with music planned Thursday, June 22, July 19, and Aug. 16. from 7-9 p.m. — not only will there be food selections galore but remember that Aperitivo has great Michigan (and elsewhere) wines. For more information visit


The Arcadia Brewing Company’s Riversedge Summer Music Festival Series in Kalamazoo, will host festivals on Saturday, June 24, as well as on July 22, Aug. 12, and Sept. 16. Tickets are $10 per event or $30 for all four. Children and young adults (under 20) are free to attend. For more information visit


Bell’s Brewery’s Beer Garden music also started in June and will continue into September. Bells garden in downtown Kalamazoo will host music acts including Billy Strings, Drive-by-Truckers, Raekwon (Wu-Tang Clan), The Verve Pipe, and The New Pornographers. For more information visit


Virtue Cider in Fennville is hosting live music throughout the summer. With their new lawn seating and new outdoor stage, the venue has a full season of entertainment planned — and great cider. For more information visit


Round Barn Winery in Baroda has outdoor music all summer long, including Barodeo on July 15-16 and Makers Market on July 29-30. Each event features music acts from across the state, wine and food. For more information visit


And, late in the summer, will be maybe the “Mother of All” brew and music events in West Michigan, the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Fest, featuring a variety of breweries, cideries, meaderies, and wineries on Aug.11-12. For more information visit


On the shelf: ‘The History of Michigan Law’

By Marcie Beck, Grand Rapids Main Library

Don’t judge this book by its cover! It might be cliché, but in this case, fitting. The outward appearance of The History of Michigan Law belies the interesting content inside. Editors Finkelman and Hershock have organized a series of essays by twelve different authors surveying Michigan’s rich legal past. Readers can pick and choose a topic of particular interest or read chronologically from ‘Michigan’s Territorial Heritage’, to ‘The Struggle Against Sex Discrimination in the 1970s’.

In each essay, the author describes how the law in this area has developed over time. The dynamic nature of the law becomes clear as the authors discuss how the people of the state have shaped the law, carrying their traditions and values through changing economic and social circumstances.

In ‘Blood on the Tracks: Law, Railroad Accidents, the Economy and the Michigan Frontier’, Hershock reviews an important legal controversy of the 19th century: Who was responsible for keeping livestock off the railroad tracks? The new economy and its emerging technology were running headlong into traditional agricultural practices and the result was literally blood on the tracks. Hershock explains that developing stock laws, which required the fencing in of animals was an important step towards a modern economy.

In ‘The Promise of Equality and the Limits of the Law: From the Civil War to World War II’, Finkelman discusses some of the most significant legal developments of the 20th century. One of the functions of the law is to reflect the aspirations of a society, to hold up an ideal as a goal to be achieved. And yet it is important to remember that the law has limits.

Finkelman concludes, “Racism in Michigan could not be eradicated easily or immediately through legislation, prosecution or civil lawsuits. On the other hand, the persistent efforts of the Michigan legislature led to greater equality and greater opportunity for African Americans than they had in most other states.”

This important volume provides excellent background and worthwhile reading for both scholars and citizens as we face the legal challenges of the 21st century.


Review: Saints and soul singers at Meijer Garden

Paul Janeway, lead singer of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, put on a show at Meijer Gardens. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

By K.D. Norris


60-second Review 

St. Paul and the Broken Bones, with Durand Jones & the Indications opening, June 9, at Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids, Mi. 



Having only briefly touched on the music of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, via the song “Call Me” while cruising through my SiriusXM spectrum, I had little knowledge and less expectations when vocalist Paul Janeway and his band hit the stage.


What I got was a tight, often spectacular, set of modern soul — new soul? — during a 19-song, 1-hour and 45-minute set cut a little short, Janeway pointed out, by the Garden’s usual concert curfew.


The band may only have two albums to choose its set from, but the Broken Bones seemed like they had plenty of great songs to offer up: my favorites were “Waves” and “Sanctify”, both off their most recent release, Sea of Noise, while “Call Me” is from their 2014 release Half the City. But the attractiveness of songs such as “Is it Me?”, “Tears in the Diamond” and the encore-closing “Burning Rome” cannot be denied.


To be perfectly honest, however, it is Janeway that makes the Broken Bones unique and may make them a really big band. With all due respects to stellar guitarist Browan Lollar and keyboardist Al Gamble, and the rest of the high-energy band, the night was all about Janeway.


Paul Janeway, of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, waded into the audience at one point the show. (WKTV/K.D. Norris)

He pranced around the stage like the love-child of Elton John and Tina Turner. He dove in the audience with the longest mic cord I’ve ever seen — and nobody got strangled. With his deep south accent giving it color, his voice is as soft and soulful, or as rip-it-up soulful, as needed.


After the concert, I can’t wait to see what the band’s third album bring us.


The soulfulness of the night was set up perfectly with Durand Jones & the Indications’ 9-song set, with “Make a Change” being my favorite but maybe the best part of the set being watching Jones channelling James Brown.


May I have more, please? 


Short and sweet here: How did the band get their name?


In a 2014 interview with the University of North Carolina Charlotte News, Janeway was asked.


“The ‘St. Paul’ part is kind of a joke on me, I don’t drink or smoke,” he answered. “The ‘Broken Bones’ is a lyric from probably the first song me and Jess (Jess Phillips, bassist with the band) wrote. ‘…broken bones and pocket change is all she left me with.’ So all she left me with was no money and this band.”


Know nothing about the break-up he’s talking about, but she got the short end of that split.


On the shelf: ‘Words Fail Me’ by Patricia O’Connor

By Karen Thoms, Grand Rapids Public Library, Main 


I borrowed a library copy of Words Fail Me by Patricia T. O’Connor to fortify myself with the confidence I’ll need to write a book next year. I chose this book over others for its brief chapters, breezy, humorous style and perfect sprinkle of examples. Thirty chapters make for a perfect chapter a day reading plan, but I ran out of chapters in two weeks. Yes, a book on writing was that good!


The book is divided into three sections: ‘Pull Yourself Together’, ‘The Fundamental Things Apply’, and ‘Getting Better All the Time’. All three sections are necessary but can be read out of order.


I found ‘Pull Yourself Together’ the most inspiring because I was hoping to glean inspiration and courage to write again. Shortly into ‘The Fundamental Things Apply’ I knew I had to purchase the book because of the desire to highlight for future reference. I’m so glad I did because ‘Getting Better All the Time’ has great chapters on writer’s block and revisions. O’Connor’s pithy lines may give you just the push you need to begin or resume writing.


On having good organization:


“An idea in your head is merely an idle notion. But an idea written down, that’s the beginning of something … A writer with good material is one who never lets a useful nugget slip away … A tidbit doesn’t have to be earth-shaking to be worth saving. It only has to be useful.”


On having verbs that zing:


“So when you go shopping for a verb, don’t be cheap. Splurge.” Instead of saying,  “experience that magic,” say “bask in that magic”.


On improving writing:


“You can’t maintain a clear point of view without a consistent tone.” “When you write indirectly — with passive verbs, pompous words, or corkscrew sentences — you turn away from the reader.”


While reading this book I learned and was reminded of rules, tips and pitfalls; yet I was curious to know if seasoned writers would similarly profit. A search of Amazon reviews confirmed they did. So in concert with their recommendations, Words Fail Me will be my go-to book.



Undefinable territory: Electric Forest brings new music to ‘Her Forest’

Electric Forest’s Her Forest Project brings women’s music and women’s issues to its audience. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


The Electric Forest music festival, taking place in late June in nearby Rothbury, is known for its cutting-edge musical explorations and its social relevancy. The festival’s “Her Forest” program — a celebration of modern feminist moods and music — continues that tradition.


This year, the festival — set to run June 22-25 and, expanding this year to two weekends, June 29-July 2 —  will expand its Her Forest program with a curated new-music event.


“It’s inspiring to be expanding Electric Forest’s Her Forest program,” Electric Forest’s Alicia Karlin said in supplied material. “It allows us to host an even more diverse and unique lineup of performers at the festival. It’s important to us that Electric Forest continues to offer opportunities for new and distinct talent to share their art.”


Usually long sold-out this close to the festival, general admission tickets are still available for the new-this-year second weekend of the festival.


Performers for the debut of Her Forest curated music event, to be offered on the first week of the festival, were selected from “hundreds of fan submissions auditioning to be part of this unique celebration of women and all they offer to art,” according to supplied material


A scene from Her Forest, part of the Electric Forest music festival. (Supplied)

The winners, and set to perform, are solo DJ/ producer and violinist Alfiya Glow, Indian dance duo The Dance of Anarkali, the California-based duo Heartwurkz, female DJ M.O.B., dance and soundscape artist Frankie Taminal, and singer/piano/looping music player Melody Monroe.


A quick glance at one of the performers:


Alfiya Glow was born in Sochi, Russia, according to her website, and began her violin studies at the age of five and, after just seven months, had her first performance as a solo violinist with the Sochi Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, Alfiya was accepted into Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in Philadelphia, and received a full scholarship. She has performed at Lincoln Center in New York City, the Walt Disney Concert Hall  in Los Angeles, and the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia, among others. Working in studio with artists such as R. Kelly, Lana Del Rey, and Boyz II Men, encouraged an already strong interest and passion for the musical genres of pop, hip-hop, and EDM, according to her website bio.


Also performing the inaugural Her Forest music event are Lynx & The Servants of Song and Monarch Rachel & Their Royal Court Drag Show.


“Like all of The Forest’s participation opportunities — we call them “Plug-In” programs — this collaboration invites the community to participate in shaping the EF experience,” Karlin said.


The Her Forest program includes a women’s group camp, artist panel, a meet-and-greet with Electric Forest Production Women. Her Forest Circles and Meet-ups also return this year.


The foundation of Electric Forest’s Her Forest initiative is, according to supplied material, based on three pillars: connection, inspiration and comfort.


“Our first goal was to start a dialogue … We knew the Forest Family could guide us in what this program should and could become,” Electric Forest’s Jeremy Stein said in supplied material.  “It’s been an amazing collaborative process, and it’s still very much alive and evolving.”


For more information and tickets visit .


Michigan author discusses her latest thriller at Schuler Books & Music

Michigan mystery author Karen Dionne will be visiting Schuler Books & Music Thursday, June 15 for a 7 p.m. presentation.


The Detroit-based author will be discussing her latest thriller “The Marsh King’s Daughter.” The story centers around Helena Pelletier, who seems to have the life she deserves. A loving husband, two beautiful daughters, a business that fills her days. Then she catches an emergency news announcement and realizes she was a fool to think she could ever leave her worst days behind her.


Helena has a secret: she is the product of an abduction. Her mother was kidnapped as a teenager by her father and kept in a remote cabin in the marshlands of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. No electricity, no heat, no running water, not a single human beyond the three of them. Helena, born two years after the abduction, loved her home in the nature – fishing, tracking, hunting. And despite her father’s odd temperament and sometimes brutal behavior, she loved him, too…until she learn precisely how savage a person he could be.


More than 20 years later, she has buried her past so soundly that even her husband doesn’t know the truth. But now her father has killed two guards, escaped from prison, and disappeared into the marshland he knows better than anyone else in the world. The police commence a manhunt, but Helena knows they don’t stand a chance. She knows that only one person has the skills to find the survivalist the world calls the Marsh King – because only one person has ever been trained by him: his daughter.


Karen Dionne

“Almost our entire staff has been wowed by the newest book by Michigan author Karen Dionne,” said Whitney Spotts, from Schuler Books and Music. The book has received praise from Lee Child and Karin Slaughter, and is a good selection for those who enjoyed “The Girl on the Train” and “The Widow.” “The Marsh King’s Daughter” has been called both a mesmerizing psychological suspense and a love letter to the Upper Peninsula, told through the story of a woman who must risk everything to hunt down the dangerous man who shaped her past and threatens to steal her future.


Dionne is the co-founder of the online writers community Backspace, the organizer of the Salt Cay Writers Retreat, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, where she served on the board of directors. She has been honored by the Michigan Humanities Council as a Humanities Scholar.


Schuler Books & Music is located at 2660 28th St. SE.

On the shelf: ‘Kushiel’s Dart’ by Jacqueline Carey

By Angela Black, GRPL Main

This fantastical tale set in the world of the D’Angelines, divine offspring of eight fallen angels, takes readers on an imaginative journey through Terre d’Ange, a French renaissance-like world. Lush with detail, from the mythology and angelic beings to the ruling monarchy and court intrigue and a deliciously evil “Machiavellian villainess” that would have made Henry the VIII blush.

Told in first person narrative through the eyes of Phedre no Delaunay, who, born into a poor family is sold by her parents as an indentured servant into the Court of the Night-Blooming Flowers. Marked from birth by a scarlet mote in her eye, she is considered an outcast and left to her own devices until a nobleman recognizes the true meaning of the rare mark and purchases her. The scarlet mote, named for its namesake Kushiel an angel of punishment, represents one who experiences pain and pleasure as one — a masochist.

The nobleman keeps his knowledge of Phedre’s ability a secret and devises a plan to use it to his advantage. He graces her with a lifestyle and education of privilege and trains her as a spy and courtesan. When she comes of age he offers her services as bait to the most powerful political figures so that she may find their secrets and report them to him. But the extortion game ends when Phedre uncovers a conspiracy so powerful she finds that it was best left hidden.

Though the backdrop is true to the fantasy genre, it’s the central character who makes this story unique. Ultimately it’s a coming-of-age, self-discovery, exile, and redemption story about a woman who lives life from the perspective of pain as pleasure: “When love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity on me.” Though some readers may be dismayed by
Phedre’s nature, her actions are not gratuitous sexual romps merely for shock value, as they are essential to the plot, add depth to her character and invoke an interesting perspective to the story. Each scene that expresses Phedre’s nature is tastefully written.

A talented writer, Jacqueline Carey succinctly packs this mystery adventure into just over 800 pages, and the results are clear. Its 2001 debut garnered several “best of” awards, including the Locus (Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers Award) for Best First Novel. Carey followed up with two companion books: Kushiel’s Chosen and Kushiel’s Avatar to complete a trilogy. All are still in print and have legions of fans.

Readers looking for a quality fantasy won’t be disappointed.

Saugatuck Center for the arts celebrates 15th anniversary at annual benefit

Jay Hull

Saugatuck Center for the Arts


The Saugatuck Center for the Arts’ annual summer Benefit returns Saturday, June 17, with an evening celebrating the organization’s 15th Anniversary. Tickets are $180/person and can be purchased by calling 269-857-2399.


Honorary co-chairs Sandra & Travis Randolph and Monty Collins & Jerry Dark welcome guests for an evening of drinks, dinner, auctions, and live entertainment — all in support of the SCA’s cost free programming for children and adults. SCA Executive Director  Kristin Armstrong said she expects 300 guests, and calls the event an “SCA family reunion with a great mix of old and new friends. We love celebrating in the SCA rain garden with dinner and drinks — then heading into the theater for entertainment”.


This year’s dinner – created by The Gilmore Collection – features “elevated street fare” channelling the street truck food we all love with tastes from Cuba, Polynesia, Korea, and Greece.


The silent auction features dining and tasting experiences from Coppercraft Distillery, Virtue Cider, The Southerner, Salt of the Earth and others, plus jewelry, original art, tickets for hot concerts, and more. The live auction includes an exclusive wine pairing dinner at Wyncroft Winery, “must have” original art from Chicago artist Rubén Aguirre, hot summer sailing and dining experiences, a luxe trip to Cancun and more. And, guests will also get a sneak peek at the first Mason Street Warehouse production, the Tony award winning musical  “Memphis: The Musical”.


The event takes place at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, 400 Culver Ave., Saugatuck. Space is limited; for more information or to buy tickets contact Kristin Armstrong at 269-857-2399 or visit