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The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

by on March 5th, 2015
The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson Cover Image

This book, published in 2011, is the first in a young adult fantasy trilogy. This first book follows chosen one Elisa, a sixteen year old princess, on a journey that takes her far from home and safety. Elisa is an unusual chosen one – she isn’t athletic or adored, and she is deeply unsure of her destiny. But like a good hero story, her journey teaches her about what kind of person she is capable of being. For the first time in awhile, I careened through the first book in less than a week. I’ve now begun The Crown of Embers, the second book in the trilogy.

What I liked about The Girl of Fire and Thorns is that, though it is beautifully written, the story is harsh and at times brutal. This is fantasy, but without false gilding. The characters are real and complex, the food sounds delicious, and the political intrigues are wrought just enough to give context. But Elisa makes hard choices and she makes sacrifices. Being the chosen one is a hard job; so is being a princess. But as Elisa manages to scrape by or outright succeed with each new challenge, I’ve grown to like her, and to root for her, which is one of the best things a YA novel can spark in a reader.

I got interested in Rae Carson after first hearing about her new book, Walk on Earth a Stranger. This new book is about a girl living during the gold rush in the United States who finds herself a target because of a special magical ability. Walk on Earth a Stranger doesn’t come out until September 2015, and at this rate I’ll be done with Carson’s first trilogy long before then. But Rae Carson is a YA writer whose work I will watch for from now on.

Iowa House and Senate Bill Tracking

by on March 5th, 2015

billThere have been some big issues discussed recently by the Iowa House and Senate including when schools must start or the recent gas tax increase.  The Iowa Legislature page is a great tool to help follow a bill’s progress.  If you know the bill’s number, such as HF13 for the school start date bill, just enter it into the “Bills Quick Search” on the right side.  You’ll be shown the bill in its entirety.  You can click on “Current Bill History” on the left, and it will tell you when the bill was introduced or if it has passed.  There’s also a link on the left to track versions of the bill.

It’s very possible that you won’t know the bill’s number.  If that’s the case, you can use the “Bill Keyword Quick Search.”  I did a search for “school” and HF13 was the sixth result.  But searching that way can be frustrating.  To take the guess work out of it, consider searching the Des Moines Register (you’ll have to scroll down a bit to get to DMR).  They do excellent statehouse reporting and often mention the bill number in their articles.

Want to contact your state representative or senator about a bill?  We have a handy page with that information right here.

Accio J.K. Rowling: Video Volunteers Needed

by on March 5th, 2015
Accio J.K. Rowling: Video Volunteers Needed Cover Image

Do you love the magic and mystery of Harry Potter? Did you find something to think about in The Casual Vacancy? Have you found a new detective sleuth along with in Cormoran Strike? Would you like to help bring J.K. Rowling in Iowa City next year? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, stop by the library’s letter writing display this Thursday, the 5th, between 11:30am and 1pm or next Monday, the 9th, between 11am and 12:30pm to tell her about it.  We will be videotaping the thoughts of library patrons and staff in order to put together a video letter asking Ms. Rowling to visit Iowa City next year. Please come by and share your thoughts and enthusiasm!

Bonus: If all the excitement has piqued your interest in Rowling, why not learn more about you favorite author from one of our biographies about her life. Our newest title for children is Who is J. K. Rowling? by Pam Pollack and Meg Belviso.

On the Wing by David Elliott

by on March 3rd, 2015
On the Wing by David Elliott Cover Image

In the past I’ve enjoyed David Elliott’s books of short poems for young children (On the Farm, In the Wild, and In the Sea) illustrated by Holly Meade.  In his newest book, On the Wing, his poems are illustrated by first-time picture book artist, Becca Stadtlander.  Here, the 16 poems included are all about different kinds of birds such as the bald eagle, the hummingbird, the Caribbean flamingo, the Australian pelican, and the great horned owl.  In free verse the avian-inspired poems are short and sweet and meant to be read aloud.  Take the concise poem entitled, “The Puffin.” “The puffin/is unique–especially/it’s beak.”  Or how about “The Macaw” verse: “The Macaw/Who spilled the paint?”  I can just hear kids laughing at that one when they see the colorful gouache illustration of this particular bird.  All of the pictures are a double-spread design and the print is large for young readers to read on their own. The artwork for the cardinal poem and the Japanese cranes poem are particularly lovely.  Introducing preschoolers and primary grade children to brief poems helps them with language development and sparks their imagination. Books like On the Wing make a perfect introduction to poetry beyond nursery rhymes.  Check out all of David Elliott’s neat picture books of verse and have fun sharing them with little ones.  You can find this book on the New Book shelves in the Children’s Room of the Iowa City Public Library.

Iowa City Public Library’s March Teen Events Announced

by on March 3rd, 2015

A video game tournament, Doctor Who Day and Minecraft are just a few of the activities the Iowa City Public Library has planned for its teen patrons in March.

Do you play Minecraft? All teenage Minecraft fans are invited to the Library’s Minecraft Meetup at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 5, and Thursday, March 19, in the Computer Lab on the Library’s second floor.

CoderDojo Iowa City, the ICPL Coding Club, meets from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays in the Computer Lab. CoderDojo is an international movement to teach and inspire kids in the vocation of computer programming. The Library’s program is run by volunteers who take on the task of mentoring attendees. To track progress, virtual badges and belts are awarded for proficiency in a number of computer related topics. Anyone in grades 5 through 12 is welcome to attend and earn belts. We request that parents attend along with their child for their first dojo. Drop-ins are welcome.

Are you prepared to bring your game face? We’re throwing down NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Ultimate Ninja STORM Revolution during our Spring Break Teen Video Game Tournament. Join us from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday, March 18, in the Koza Family Teen Center.

Calling all Doctor Who fans! Come geek out about The Doctor and his companions as we watch episodes of the show while creating Doctor Who-inspired crafts and other activities. Whovians will gather from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, March 20, in the Koza Family Teen Center.

TAG, the Library’s Teen Activity Group, is looking for new members. TAG members help plan teen programs and give teenage students a voice in the Library. Members also eat a lot of snacks. Anyone wanting to make a difference in the Library, and earn volunteer hours at the same time, should give TAG a try. The March TAG meeting will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 21, in the Koza Family Teen Center.

All teen events are open to students in grades 7through 12 except CoderDojo Iowa City, which is open to students in grades 5 through 12.

For more information about any of these programs, contact the Library at (319) 356-5200.

Library T-shirts for sale

by on March 3rd, 2015

Show your Library spirit by purchasing an Iowa City Public Library T-shirt!T-shirt photo

The black-and-gold shirt design is similar to what Library employees wore in the 2014 University of Iowa Homecoming parade.

T-shirts may be purchased at the 1st floor Help Desk during regular Library hours. Each shirt costs $16 and are available in sizes small through extra large.

All proceeds benefit the Library.


Remote Book Returns @ Your Library

by on March 3rd, 2015

Can’t make it Downtown to return your Library materials? Never fear – remote book returns are here!2015 03 Book Return

Many community members utilize the Library’s two remote book returns – our recent quarterly count of materials returned shows 14% of all items returned to the Library February 23rd through March 1st came through the remote book returns. This compares to 15.6% in our count last fall.

The Library maintains two remote book returns in Iowa City – one on the east side at the First Avenue HyVee Pharmacy Drive-through and one on the west side at the Mormon Trek University of Iowa Community Credit Union Drive-through (far right lane).  These book returns are in addition to the outside book return located along Linn Street near the staff entrance to the Library.

Items returned at the remote book returns must be in the box by 1:00 PM each day or the item is considered returned the next day. Book returns are emptied 365 days a year and items picked up on holidays are checked in the next day the Library is open. Some materials, such as audiovisual equipment and oversize items that do not fit into the book returns, must be returned to the Help Desk during regular Library hours.

If you have questions about returning Library materials, please give us a call or stop by the Help Desk on the Library’s first floor.

It’s time to embrace the (Book) Madness!

by on March 2nd, 2015


Grab your brackets and a pencil (or pen, if you’re feeling lucky) — it’s Book Madness at ICPL!

Visit our display on the Library’s first floor to check out what titles will face off in a literary competitions. Beginning March 17, you can vote for your favorite title in our Book Madness brackets – there’s one for children’s books, and another for teens and adults. To start, we have 64 titles in four categories. Submit a vote for your favorite(s) – if you want to vote for just one book, you can, or you can choose 16 titles to move forward in the first two rounds; it’s up to you! – and watch as the titles progress.

Here are the dates to remember:

  • First and Second Rounds: March 17-22
  • Sweet 16: March 26 and 27
  • Elite 8: March 28 and 39
  • Final 4: April 4
  • Championship Game: April 6

(Given the large number of books, all votes must be made at the display in the Library. Once we reach Elite Eight status, we will allow for voting on our Facebook page.)

New this year: Printed brackets will be available from March 2 to March 16. Fill one out and return it to the basketball hoop by the Book Madness display by March 16 to be eligible for a new copy of the winning Book Madness title. Brackets must have the final winning title to be eligible. A new book in each bracket will be awarded.

Last year’s winning titles — Harry Potter in the Children’s bracket, To Kill a Mockingbird in the Teens and Adult bracket — will not compete in this year’s contest.

Here’s a list of this year’s books. What title do you think will win it all?



  • Olivia
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Paddington Bear
  • Curious George
  • Pigeon
  • Clifford
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Geronimo Stilton
  • Percy Jackson
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Madeline
  • Nancy Drew
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Little Critter
  • Angelina Ballerina
  • Pete the Cat


  • A Bargain for Frances by Lillian and Russell Hoban
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
  • Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  • Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • The BFG by Roald Dahl
  • Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel


  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Bone
  • Amulet
  • Lunch Lady
  • The Kingdom of Wrenly
  • A to Z Mysteries
  • Magic Tree House
  • Elephant and Piggie
  • Junie B. Jones
  • Bink and Gollie
  • Ivy and Bean
  • Babymouse
  • Big Nate
  • American Girl
  • Rainbow Magic Fairies


  • Journey by Aaron Becker
  • The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
  • Good Dog, Carl By Alexandra Day
  • Hank Finds an Egg by Rebecca Dudley
  • Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
  • Wave; Shadowl Mirror by Suzy Lee
  • A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog by Mercer Mayer
  • The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett
  • Owly by Andy Runton
  • The Umbrella by Ingrid and Dieter Schubert
  • Korgi by Christian Slade
  • Chalk by Bill Thomson
  • Tuesday by David Wiesner
  • Zoom by Istvan Banyai
  • Fox’s Garden by Princesse Camcam
  • The Arrival by Shaun Tan



  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  • How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • Heartburn by Nora Ephron
  • Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
  • Yes Please! By Amy Poehler
  • I Drink for a Reason by David Cross
  • Not that kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
  • One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
  • Wake Up, Sir! By Jonathan Ames
  • Kill Your Friends by John Niven


  • The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  • Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence by Nick Bantock
  • Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keys
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • House Rules by Jodi Picoult


  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  • Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes
  • The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  • A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkein
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  • The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck


  • Leave Myself Behind by Bart Yates
  • Descent by Tim Johnston
  • Lila by Marilynne Robinson
  • Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis’
  • A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
  • The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas
  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
  • On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves
  • The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf
  • A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich
  • The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes
  • We Are Mesquakie, We Are One by Hadley Irwin
  • What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? By Peter Hedges
  • Making Piece: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Pie by Beth M. Howard
  • Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish

Inspiration at One Book Two Book

by on February 28th, 2015

I realized this morning that in just a week and a day Daylight Savings time will begin, and that means One Book Two Book is nearly here. There will be so many fun events next weekend, but I want to highlight two that look like a great way to kick off a creative spring fever.

Girls Rock! Iowa City is a fantastic organization focused on fostering creativity and self expression for girls through music. They are having a performance on Saturday, March 7th as part of the One Book Two Book festival. Come to the Main Ballroom of the Sheraton at 10:30 to hear original songs and get a listen of this awesome community organization! If you’re a teen who wants to get involved with Girls Rock!, this would be a perfect place to learn more.

At 10am in the Carver Room at the Sheraton, also on Saturday the 7th, a line-up of professional comics illustrators and writers will host Comic Book Confidential, a workshop for students in grades 5 and up. This is the perfect place to learn more about making comics, see how the pros do it, and try out some of your ideas. Drawing materials will be provided, but you have to register to attend, so get on that!

To learn more about everything going on at One Book Two Book, check out their main schedule here.

Overdrive Tips: Two Accounts

by on February 27th, 2015

In case you are new to our eBook and eAudio service called Overdrive, you may want to get help from us to get things set up for the first time.  One of the confusing aspects of setting it up is the fact that there are two accounts that you need to use.  One is your ICPL Account.  This account corresponds to your library card number and allows you to check out books from our eBook and eAudioBook collection in Overdrive.  The second account is an “Overdrive Account” and serves as a way for Overdrive to keep track of who has what items digitally checked out and when the loan period is over.  Previously patrons used an Adobe ID for this purpose.  Both still work but the Overdrive Account gives you extra features which I outline below.

It is often confusing for new users to understand the difference during the setup process.  The first time you set up the Overdrive Media Console (OMC) on a device, it prompts you to sign in or register.  This is the Overdrive Account and you can register by supplying an email address and picking a password.  (Note: you may also use your Facebook account instead of an email address).

Later in the process, after you have specified ICPL as your library, you will have to sign in again using your library card barcode number and password. In both cases, after you sign in the first time, it will typically remember your passwords for both accounts.

The Overdrive Account has some features that some of you may take advantage of.  If you have several devices that you use for eBooks or eAudioBook, the Overdrive account will sync your progress and bookmarks between your different devices.  For example, if you listen to the same eAudioBook at home on an iPad and also on your Android phone on the way to home from work, it will keep track of where you are on both devices.  However, please note that you do have to actually download the eAudioBook to both devices;  In other words, it doesn’t automatically push your checkouts to all your devices.

Another “gotcha” to watch out for:  If you have set one device up with an Adobe ID and another device with an Overdrive Account, things can get wonky.  You may not be able to download an eBook to both devices.  We recommend using your Overdrive Account with all devices set up with a library card.  As always, feel free to call the library for help with sorting out problems with Overdrive.  Or even better, bring your device(s) down to our Drop-In Tech Help.  Here are some links you may find helpful:

More about OverDrive Account

More info on “syncing” your devices

Managing your devices