Kelly Strom: Chick lit is good for the soul

Last week, I was fortunate enough to go away for spring break. In between theme parks, nature preserves, swimming in the pool and shopping, I was able to squeeze in a little reading.

The following novels are pure guilty pleasures. They're light (for the most part), feature engaging characters and follow entertaining, if somewhat predictable story lines. Perfect for a little time away.

Ask 'Mimi,' April 3, 2016

Did you know Stephen West is coming to C-U?

C-U haiku, April 3, 2016


Rough tongue of new grass

Pants for spring to come, to stay

Crocus — sweet candy

— Will Reger, Champaign

Area update: 'State not paying' forces dental practice's closure

CHAMPAIGN — Champaign Dental Care, a dental practice that heavily relied on Illinois to pay its bills, has closed.

"Due to the state not paying, we have not been able to keep our doors open," said Erica Chancellor, a business assistant at the practice at 2102 N. Market St.

Library events, March 27-April 3, 2016

Selected events at local libraries:

Champaign Public Library

Main library, 200 W. Green St.

Douglass Branch, 504 E. Grove St.

Don Follis: Easter tells us that all people are deeply loved

As I reflected on the events of Holy Week, the gravity of the events that lead to Good Friday and the crucifixion of Jesus was heightened as I read a new book by Dr. Ruth A. Tucker — "Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife — My Story of Finding Hope after Domestic Abuse" (Zondervan, 2016).

Joel Shoemaker: Short mystery from Critchley is big on content

WARNING: "Memory Theatre" by Simon Critchley was entirely too smart for me. In fact, my initial reaction (my review on Goodreads) was simply five stars and "I have no idea what I just read. But I think I liked it?" That doesn't mean I don't want to take the time to recommend it to you.

Indeed, this book is profoundly intriguing. Also, it's only 100 pages or so.

Alice B. McGinty: Kick off spring with a nature series

Could it be that spring is here? There are sprouts poking out of the ground, trying to decide whether it's safe to come out. Birds and insects are showing up. The world outside is beckoning.

This week celebrates the beginning of spring by highlighting the newest in a beautiful series of nonfiction books about nature by an award-winning author and illustrator duo.

Ted Kooser: An American Life in Poetry, March 27, 2016

By Ted Kooser/U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-06

When I was a boy, because of the song, I thought there really was an Easter parade, but the Easters came and went without one. But here's a glimpse of just a little piece of a parade by Kim Dower, who lives in Los Angeles. Her forthcoming book is "Last Train to the Missing Planet," Red Hen Press, 2016.

Ruth Siburt: Story centers around canine connections

The brown eyes and toothy grin of the cover photograph on "Boy's Best Friend" by Kate Banks and Rupert Sheldrake made me pick up the 2015 novel for middle grades.