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Jan Johnston

book reviewer

Recent Stories

Check It Out: Shedding light on ideas to aid women's tranquility

By Jan Johnston May 17, 2015 6 a.m.

A place to get away that doesn't require a hotel reservation, a passport, not even travel plans? Paradise might be located across an ocean blue, but sometimes, paradise is just a few feet away, tucked into a corner of your backyard, looking very much like a shed. How is this possible, you ask? Well, if you haven't yet experienced a state of euphoric relaxation whenever you step into your shed, paradise obviously isn't there; but there might be a way to fix that.

Check It Out: Reflect on Mother's Day via moms from movies

By Jan Johnston May 10, 2015 6 a.m.

Happy Mother's Day to all who have raised, taken care of or nurtured others. You deserve a hearty round of applause ... not just today, but every day!

Check it Out: There's still much to learn about Titanic

By Jan Johnston May 3, 2015 6 a.m.

When choosing books for this column, I have several paths to follow.

Check It Out: A 'reboot manual' for the planet

By Jan Johnston April 19, 2015 6 a.m.

Normally I don't care to think about things like the end of the world. There's enough to worry about in life: Where did I file that important tax document? Why am I getting so many age spots? Who invented the chia pet, and why? According to everything on television, zombies will either be our demise, or our next stage of evolution, or de-evolution — we won't be extinct, just unattractively "undead" — so my plan is to enjoy being alive, until I'm not.

Check It Out: 'Bearded Irises' a herald of spring

By Jan Johnston April 12, 2015 6 a.m.

For me, irises represent two things: the arrival of spring and happy childhood memories.

Check It Out: Felines and females are the cat's meow

By Jan Johnston April 5, 2015 6 a.m.

Please forgive me, dear reader. It has been several months since I last selected a cat book for this column, and I know how extreme your cat fervor is. So, a pox upon me for neglecting the felines! But, wait. Did someone just roll his eyes, suppress a sigh, skip straight to the Sunday comics? Oh, right, not everyone is a cat person (although why this happens is a mystery to me). Still, chances are good that you know a cat person even if you aren't one, so consider clawing your way through this column. Your reward for making it to the end is the knowledge that when you inevitably find yourself paired up at a cocktail party with a super-charged fancier of felines, this book will be your secret weapon for charming the cat-hair-covered pants off your catty partner.

Check It Out: Make-a-Wish stories tug on heartstrings

By Jan Johnston March 29, 2015 6 a.m.

Can you believe that the month of March is almost history? Will it end with a roar or a quiet bleat? Whichever way the wind does or doesn't blow, I feel like I'm hanging on to the back end of a high-speed train as 2015 — the "new" year — charges to the finish line. For me, "March Madness" has nothing to do with basketball and everything to do with time. Whew!

Check It Out: Water conservation anything but dry topic

By Jan Johnston March 22, 2015 6 a.m.

Just about every day of the year has an event or holiday attached to it, and March 22 is no exception. Today is World Water Day, as declared by the United Nations General Assembly back in 1993. As you might surmise from its name, World Water Day was created to highlight issues and concerns surrounding the planet's freshwater resources.

Check It Out: Made fun, universe's origins make for good storytelling

By Jan Johnston March 15, 2015 6 a.m.

Once upon a time, I briefly considered studying astronomy. It was brief because the big math that I needed to know to become a sky-scientist clobbered my gray cells so hard that I was forced to wave the white flag at anything beyond basic arithmetic. It was not my destiny to join the ranks of astrophysicists, but I'm still curious about what's going on up there. I just need to approach cosmology in a different way. Because my brain is wired for words rather than numbers, I gravitate toward "nonfiction that reads like fiction" (a popular catchphrase among librarians and booksellers.) Keep those integers and complicated calculations away from me — just tell me a story. And that is exactly what this week's book does.

Check It Out: Get off beaten path into state's small towns

By Jan Johnston March 8, 2015 6 a.m.

This incredibly nonwinter-like weather we've been having for, oh, most of 2015 so far, makes me want to get outside and do some exploring. I'm not "born to be wild," but a bad case of spring fever urges me to head on down the highway, looking for adventure (here's hoping the band Steppenwolf won't mind me borrowing a few lyrics). If the open road is beckoning to you as well, consider checking out this week's book, "Turning Down the Sound."

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