This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
LYNN NEARY, HOST:
And I'm Lynn Neary.
The Republican candidates gather for yet another debate tonight. This one is in Sioux City, Iowa. It's the last debate before the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd. And it comes as Mitt Romney and other candidates try to stop the surge of Newt Gingrich. Romney and his allies have been launching a furious assault on the former House speaker.
They're just everywhere. That's how a wildlife manager describes the mass casualties of Eared Grebes that crash landed in southern Utah on Monday night. Some 1,500 grebes died, another 3,000 have been rescued. The small water birds were migrating and apparently mistook a Walmart parking lot, highways and football fields covered with snow for bodies of water.
Best-selling author Janet Evanovich has a lot to laugh about: She's sold more than 75 million novels.
Her latest, Explosive Eighteen, is the 18th in a series of crime novels featuring Jersey girl Stephanie Plum, a bounty hunter with big hair and an even bigger personality. She works for her bail bondsman cousin, has a couple of love interests and many laughs along the way.
Evanovich started out as a romance writer. She tells NPR's Lynn Neary that it was a pretty simple existence.
But then she introduced the world to Stephanie Plum.
2011 was a good year to be a reader of science fiction and fantasy, although lately every year has been a good year: Not only are the books getting more popular — thank you, Game of Thrones — they're getting more interesting, evolving and morphing in weird, fascinating ways.
They're also interbreeding with other genres to produce wild new hybrid forms, like historical science fiction romances and hard-boiled fantasy detective novels. They're commenting on current events and swapping DNA with literary novels.
A tiny percentage of very wealthy Americans funded a relatively large chunk of the 2010 congressional midterm races, continuing a trend that has been growing for two decades, according to a new analysis of political contributions.
The Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for transparency in politics and government, found that fewer than 27,000 individuals (out of a population of 307 million) each gave at least $10,000 to federal political campaigns in 2010.