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Author Archive for Brian Visser



What teens read this summer

by Brian Visser on August 28th, 2014

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Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, is almost here, so I thought I would share what books teens read this summer.  For our Summer Reading Program, teens read five books in order to be entered into a prize drawing.  The most read book was, unsurprisingly, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  The book was already wildly popular, but the film adaptation starring Shailene Woodley, which came in June, put it over the top.  If you haven’t read it yet, we’ve finally made it through the massive hold list and there are copies on the shelf as I type this.  The second most read book was Divergent by Veronica Roth.  Divergent also had a recent film adaptation (now available on DVD), which also starred Shailene Woodley (busy girl).

The Hunger Games was the third most read book, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was still going strong in 4th.  I think a lot of teens (and adults) make a point of re-reading Harry Potter during the summer.  Other stand out titles were Insurgent by Veronica Roth, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare and Hollow City by Ransom Riggs.

What did you read this summer?

100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

by Brian Visser on August 11th, 2014
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith Cover Image

Finn Easton believes that he’s trapped in his father’s book.  That he’s not living his own life.  It all started when a dead horse, destined for a rendering plant, fell from a truck as it crossed a bridge.  The horse landed on young Finn and his mother, killing her and injuring him.  Years later, Finn suffers from epilepsy because of the accident.  Finn’s dad created a character in his popular book, The Lazarus Door, using Finn’s unique scar from the horse incident, his epilepsy and his heterochromatic eyes.  Now Finn just wants to figure out who he is.  Finn’s best friend, Cade, and his girlfriend, Julia, try to get him to see that he’s much more than the boy in the book.

I have a deep, abiding love of Smith’s writing.  Each novel is singular.  His teen characters are smart and real.  Their voices authentic.  Finn measures time in miles traveled by the Earth in orbit–20 miles a second–and muses about the universe as a knackery endlessly reusing atoms.  The publishing industry is looking for the next (or another) John Green.  Andrew Smith has been here all along, and, honestly, I like him more than Green.

Teen Lock-In Finale Party!

by Brian Visser on July 30th, 2014

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The end of the Summer Reading Program is near, and that means it’s almost time for our Teen Lock-In Finale Party!  This Friday, August 1st, from 8-10:30ish, you can hang out in the Teen Center with your friends while the Library is closed.  How cool is that?  We’re going to watch Divergent, eat pizza and play video games.  Ok, so it’s not an actual lock-in because we don’t spend the night.  But who wants to sleep on the floor?  Not me.  Let’s all go home to our beds.  Cool?  Cool.  Be in Meeting Room A by 8:30 to get locked-in.

July Teen Events

by Brian Visser on June 30th, 2014

TEEN SRP

 

Here are the upcoming July events for teens at the Iowa City Public Library!

Tuesday, July 1, 2 p.m. Teen Supernatural Party: Join us in the Teen Center to watch episodes of Supernatural. We’ll also have Supernatural themed crafts and activities! Teen Center
Tuesday, July 8, 2 p.m. Smartphone Projector: Make a cool projector for your smartphone. Teen Center
Thursday, July 10, 2 p.m. Candy Experiments: All candy. All science. All fun. Also, we’ll eat candy. Teen Center
Tuesday, July 15, 2 p.m. Video Game Tournament: Bring your game face, because we’re throwing down with Mario Kart 8. Teen Center
Thursday, July 17, 2 p.m. Movie Club–The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Get outta the heat, watch a movie and eat popcorn. Teen Center
Tuesday, July 22, 2 p.m. Anime & Manga Club: We’ll watch anime, talk about our favorite manga, draw and trade tips on cosplay. Teen Center
Wednesday, July 23, 2 p.m. Batmania: Batman Day: We’re having an all ages Batman Day celebration. The Dark Knight turns 75 this year, so join us to watch “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.” Afterwards, wow us with your knowledge of the Caped Crusader during our Batman Trivia Challenge. Meeting Room A
Thursday, July 24, 2 p.m. Minecraft Meetup: Do you play Minecraft and want to meet other Minecraft players? Then join us for our monthly Minecraft meetups! Computer Lab
Friday, July 25, 2 p.m. Teen Comic Book Club: Join us for our Teen Comic Book Club meeting! We’ll discuss Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Teen Center
Wednesday, July 30, 2 p.m. Tales of a Teenage Author: Chideraa Okeoma Talks Writing:  Chideraa B. Okeoma, a local teen author, will be in the Teen Center to discuss writing his recently released book “When Mystery Busters Came to Town.”

True Detective

by Brian Visser on June 28th, 2014
True Detective Cover Image

Anchored by terrific performances and beautifully shot, True Detective is so much more than your typical police procedural.  The story follows Louisiana State Police Detectives Rust Cohle and Martin Hart–played by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson– as they are asked to recollect a bizarre homicide that they solved in 1995.  As they get deeper into the questioning, it becomes obvious that the investigation wasn’t as open-and-shut as it appeared.

The show has a deliberate pace that may turn off some viewers, but stick with it!  Give it until the fourth episode which has a six-minute tracking shot that will blow your mind.  Personally, I was hooked right away by McConaughey’s perfectly delivered nihilistic musings.  There are very few television shows like this.  I cannot recommend it enough.

Console Wars by Blake J. Harris

by Brian Visser on June 16th, 2014
Console Wars by Blake J. Harris Cover Image

Console Wars by Blake J. Harris is a narrative account of the rivalry between Sega and Nintendo, the two video game behemoths of the nineties.  The book mainly focuses on the meteoric rise of Sega and the man behind it: Tom Kalinske.  Tom became the CEO of Sega of America in the late eighties, and turned Sega and its 16-bit console the Genesis from underdogs to market leaders.  Console Wars details how he pulled this off.  The history of Nintendo is also delved into, but, for the most part, they’re portrayed as the enemy.  As someone who owned a Genesis, I was surprised and interested in the inner workings of the video game industry.  I highly recommend Console Wars to gamers and anyone who grew up during the nineties.

Old State of Iowa Transportation Maps

by Brian Visser on June 12th, 2014

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Last week, a patron asked if we had old Iowa road maps.  Specifically, one from 1957.  I wasn’t sure.  So, I did what I usually do, and did a quick search online.  Luckily, the State Library of Iowa has PDFs available online of  Iowa Transportation Maps going back to 1952.  I thought it was cool to go back and look at how much the roads have changed.  You can check them out here:  http://publications.iowa.gov/view/subjects/VJ.html

June Teen Events

by Brian Visser on June 5th, 2014

TEEN SRP

Here are the upcoming June events for teens at the Iowa City Public Library!

Tuesday, June 10 2 p.m.  Light Painting:  We’ll use flashlights and light-up toys to create beautiful light art with cameras and iPads.  Board Room

 

Thursday, June 12, 2 p.m.  Oculus Rift VR Demo:  The S.T.E.A.M Room Fab Lab is going to demo an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, and you can try it out too!  Teen Center

 

Tuesday, June 17, 2 p.m.  Steampunk Crafts:  Join Jei and make awesome steampunk inspired crafts.  Teen Center

 

Thursday, June 19, 2 p.m.  Movie Club–Hunger Games: Catching Fire:  Get outta the heat, watch a movie and eat popcorn.      Teen Center

 

Tuesday, June 24, 2 p.m.  Anime & Manga Club:  We’ll watch anime, talk about our favorite manga, draw and trade tips on cosplay.  Teen Center

 

Thursday, June 26, 2 p.m.  Minecraft Meetup:  Do you play Minecraft and want to meet other Minecraft players?  Then join us for our monthly Minecraft meetups!  Computer Lab

 

Friday, June 27, 2 p.m.  Teen Comic Book Club:  Join us for our first Teen Comic Book Club meeting! We’ll discuss Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon by Matt Fraction and David Aja.  Limited copies of the comic are available for check out from Reference Desk staff on 2nd floor at ICPL.  Teen Center

inFamous: Second Son

by Brian Visser on May 1st, 2014

secondsonps4jpg-88473fOne of the first things that you’re asked to do in inFamous: Second Son is hold the controller sideways, shake it and create street art on a billboard.  The speaker on the PS4 controller even produces the click-clack sound of a spray paint can.  Little details like this are found throughout inFamous: Second Son, a third-person, open world action game for the Playstation 4.

You play as Delsin Rowe, a likable jerk, who discovers that he is a “Conduit,” a superhuman capable of controlling certain elements and materials.  Delsin’s first power is over smoke, which might not sound cool, but imagine being able change into smoke, enter a vent and quickly travel to the top of a building.  Delsin is on a mission to take down Brooke Augustine, the director of the Department of Unified Protection (D.U.P).  The D.U.P. has taken over Seattle, and it’s up to you to systematically clear them out.  You do this by destroying their mobile control posts.  The combat is fun and fast-paced.  

As you progress through the story, you acquire new powers including neon and video.  Each power has its own feel and skill set.  Neon is all about precision, while video is brute force.  The separate powers have different styles of locomotion too.  With smoke you dash from place to place, neon is super speed and video is short distance teleportation.  Getting around is one of the best parts of the game.  inFamous: Second Son is all about empowering the player and choosing whether to be good or evil.  I chose to be good.  I wonder what you’ll choose?

 

 

 

V is for Villain by Peter Moore

by Brian Visser on April 16th, 2014
V is for Villain by Peter Moore Cover Image

Superheros and villains exist in Peter Moore’s “V is for Villain.”  Brad Baron comes from a family of superheroes, but he’s a bit of a disappointment because he’s only super-intelligent.  He’s jealous of his older brother, Blake, who has super-strength, speed and flight, and is a member of the Justice Force.  Brad attends the Academy, a school for super-powered students, but he’s soon transferred to the alternative program since he can’t keep up with his super-strong classmates.  There he finds a kindred spirit in Layla, who doesn’t think that heroes are that great either.  Soon, Brad, Layla and their friends decide that they should give villainy a try.

My favorite part of “V is for Villain” is Brad’s believable descent into becoming a “bad” guy.  He has good intentions at first, but he ends up doing questionable and downright evil things.  But, honestly, I thought most of his actions were justified responses to what had been done to him.  I also really enjoyed the teens exploring their powers.  Not to spoil it, but Brad does have another power, and the book really takes off when he masters it.  “V is for Villain” is a fast, fun read.  I recommend it to comic book readers who like Young Adult books.




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