Category Archives: Nature

Singing the Land: A Rural Chronology by Chila Woychik

Reviewed by Teri Takle

Many people write about the events in their daily life and the thoughts that make it memorable. Daily record keeping is unnecessary, but every few days is needed to view what we have enjoyed in our little snippets in the back of our minds.

Depending upon where you live, life is different. If you live in a large city, it is busy, crowded, noisy, and many residents thrive upon that lifestyle.

For some of us, we live in Iowa, one of those fly-over states. We thrive in the quiet life of the country, or a small town, or even a large city.

For the author, Chila Woychik, she adores her life on her farm with her husband in the beauty and joy of nature in Iowa.

January 21

“First snows, like first loves, leave one panting for breath.”

January 31

“Iowa is nothing in winter, but endless roads slick with lonesome.”

How can these two entries be written just ten days apart? The answer is Iowa. The first draws the reader inside the beauty, silence, and complete awe of the first snow. The second reflects the days of hard work, shoveling, and the constant slipping and falling on the ice.

Another author, Stephanie E. Dickinson, is also an Iowa native. In her foreword to Chila Woychik’s chronology, she reveals her love of the people and the way of life in Iowa. She also beautifully reflects about her childhood memories in Iowa.

Hidden Sea by Miles Arceneaux

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Hidden SeaProffering a literate jolt to the senses, miles Arceneaux’s Hidden Sea gives readers food for thought with its rich and captivating narrative of human trafficking in the Gulf of Mexico. Albeit this is a work of fiction, the story is based on the reality of sea-faring enslavement, which occurs within the South Sea of China. Readers will find this entertaining story stocked with a bevy of colorful characters artfully immersed in a briny mix of adventure, humor, political corruption and pirates, set in the Gulf of Mexico. Written by a trio of well-honed authors, known as Miles Arceneaux, writing as one voice, this makes the fifth addition in their series of Gulf Coast thrillers.

Hazardous Homecoming (Love Inspired Suspense\Wings of Danger) by Dana Mentink

Hazardous Homecoming

Reviewed by Jane Squires

A story you won’t be able to put down. Many twists and turns that keep one guessing and at the end you’ll be surprised to learn the truth.

A little girl abducted in the woods 20 years before, a locket found in an eagles nest reopens the case, and more.

A cold case means danger for Ruby and Cooper. Both of their brothers have been suspects before and again.

The Return of Iowa’s Bald Eagles by Ty Smedes – Author and Photographer

The Return of Iowa's Bald WaglesReviewed by Teri Davis

What is the first thing that you think of when you hear the words “bald eagle”? Do you think of its majesty, power, or grace? Do you think of the creature as a predator? Do you feel grateful that Ben Franklin did not win with his suggestion of a turkey instead of the bald eagle?

How do you capture these creatures return? If you’re Ty Smedes, it is magnificently.

The Return of Iowa’s Bald Eagles is about these creatures who have been missing from our state of Iowa and much of the rest of this country for so long. First their population decreased due to hunting and then to the usage of DDT, from the years of 1905 to 1977, not one bald eagle nested in the entire state of Iowa. Since they are now settling and making their homes in our state again, we need to know who they are and how we need to be good neighbors to keep their population growing.

By combining truly outstanding photography with informative and well-researched text makes this book perfect for everyone. The combining of factual information about their locations, growth from infancy to adulthood, as well as their hunting abilities, is superbly documented.

The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America By Donald and Lillian Stokes

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Donald and Lillian StokesThe authors, well known among the birding community, are back with another “must have” book. The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America is one of the best reference guides to come along in years. The Stokes have taken the best features of all of the guides available and incorporated them into this new volume. Everything about this book is user friendly. The birds are grouped in the standard groups found in most books, but the groupings are broken down into smaller sets to help readers narrow the field a bit while searching for “their” bird. The Table of Contents is color coded and the bottoms of the corresponding pages are colored as well. For example, if a reader thinks the bird darting about the field is some sort of swallow, then by looking at the Table of Contents he would find that Larks, Martins and Swallows are found starting on page 509 which is color coded in violet. This makes it easy to get to the correct pages before the bird is gone! However, if the birder is fairly sure the bird is a swallow, there is a quick index on the front flap for easy referencing. A quick glance there and the reader would find that swallows are found on pages 513-520.

On each page there are multiple color photographs of the same bird in different seasons, maturity levels or in motion giving birders a better chance of identifying their mystery bird. In fact, there are 3,400 photographs showing birds from several different angles. Below the photographs are the standard bird facts-habitat, song, body shape and flight patterns. Unlike some guides that have the range maps in the back, this volume has a small range map on the same page with the bird listing as well as a list of subspecies and hybrids that have developed. But, let’s get back to our mystery bird. After reading the helpful identification tips for swallows at the beginning of this section, the reader might well glance over a few pages before finding on page 519, that the bird is a Barn Swallow, but a juvenile, explaining why the back lacks the iridescent bluish black of the adult and why the tail is not as obviously forked as one would expect from a swallow.

But what if the mystery bird is one that you never manage to see but only hear each evening? Besides the factual information and beautiful photographs in the book, the Stokes have included a CD in the back with 600 bird sounds from 150 different common birds. There is an index listing the birds heard on the disc by track and the page number where the bird is featured in the book. For people who want even more information, the CD also includes a downloadable booklet.