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Author Archive for Kara Logsden



Books I Want to Read Again

by Kara Logsden on October 24th, 2014

This week I had an opportunity to work with two patrons who needed recommendations for great books on disc for a long car 2014 10 road tripride.  One person is facing 14 hours in the car each way.  The other patron decided to ask a Librarian after depending on the New York Times bestseller list last year and not getting the book he was expecting (funny story … he pulled over, called his wife and said, “Have you heard about a book … 50 Shades of Something?).  When in doubt, it’s always good to ask Library staff for recommendations.

Below are a list of some of my favorites that I’d love to read again.  Some are new and some are older.  Many I have have listened to while others (A Paris Apartment) were so good I wasn’t patient enough to listen to them so I either downloaded the eBook or checked out the print book.  You can’t go wrong with any of these titles.

Happy reading and listening!

Blum, Jenna

 

Those Who Save Us

What would you do to survive during a war? What if what you did elicits a legacy of shame?   Jenna Blum explores these themes through the stories of Anna Schlemmer, a German woman who survived WWII in Germany and her daughter, who is now a professor of German history in the United States. The story is a mother/daughter drama about love, passion, survival, and choices.

 

 

Bodensteiner, Carol

 

Go Away Home & Growing Up Country

Carol Bodensteiner is an Iowa author from Des Moines. Her first book (Growing Up Country) is a memoir of growing up on an Iowa dairy farm. From milking cows to giving a 4-H presentation, it captures rural farm life from a bygone era. It is also a wonderful book for our Iowa City Hospice reading partnership where volunteers present programs planned to help residents of care centers focus on memories. Go Away Home is Historical Fiction and also has a rural setting and captures the hopes and dreams in a coming-of-age story about a young woman from Iowa.

 

 

Dallas, Sandra

 

Prayers for Sale & The Bride’s House

Sandra Dallas is a versatile author. Although all her books can be characterized as Historical Fiction, they are all different. Stories include Pioneer life in Colorado (Diary of Mattie Spenser), Gilded Age life in Denver (Fallen Women), and the lives of Mormons starting out in Iowa City and traveling to Salt Lake City (True Sisters). All books are recommended but Prayers for Sale, set in the mountains near Breckenridge, CO and The Bride’s House, set in Georgetown, CO, are my favorites.

 

 

Doerr, Anthony

 

All the Light We Cannot See

Set in World War II, it is the story of Marie-Laure, a young French girl who lost her eyesight when she was six and must escape from Paris with her father during WWII. It is also the story of Werner, a young German boy who has a special talent for building and fixing radios. As the war rages, Marie-Laure and Werner cross paths. Doerr received a National Book Award nomination for this book.

 

 

Gable, Michelle

 

A Paris Apartment

The stories of two women in Paris. One is a modern-day Sotheby’s furniture specialist (April Vogt) and the other is renowned courtesan during the Belle Époque period in Paris just before World War I (Marthe de Florian). April is summoned to Paris and jumps at a chance to escape her crumbling life in the United States. In Paris she discovers an apartment that has been shuttered for more than 70 years and full of priceless furniture and paintings collected by Marthe but abandoned by her family.

 

 

Glass, Julia

 

Three Junes & And the Dark, Secret Night

All of Julia Glass’ books are recommended but these two are my favorite. I first read Three Junes while I was in Positano, Italy looking out over the Mediterranean. I was swept away by the compelling story, lyrical writing, and strong characters. I was happily surprised when her newest book was a sequel to the story that started in Three Junes. Julia Glass’ novels feature strong characters and compelling plots that make the reader want more books from this author!

 

 

Hillenbrand, Laura

 

Unbroken

The true story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini.   He enlisted in the US Army Air Forces in 1941. When the plane he was assigned to crashes into the South Pacific, Louis survives the crash and 47 days at sea in a plastic life raft. He was captured by the Japanese and sent to a labor camp. I refer to this books as the, “I will never complain about anything ever again book.” An older title but highly recommended.

 

 

Horan, Nancy

 

Loving Frank & Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Readers fell in love with Horan’s Loving Frank, a fictionalized story that captures the life of Frank Lloyd Wright and his second wife. Under the Wide and Starry Sky is the fictionalized story of Robert Lewis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. The story takes readers around the globe and, like Loving Frank, centers on the love story between the main characters.

 

 

McLain, Paula

 

The Paris Wife

The fictional story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. After a whirlwind courtship the couple marries and moves to Paris so Ernest can pursue his writing career. The Hemingways are drawn into Parisian life and meet many other writers and artists. There is a constant friction, though, between Ernest the writer and Ernest the husband.

 

 

Orringer, Julie

 

The Invisible Bridge

Sometimes books come along and leave a lasting impression, forcing the reader to ruminate about events and characters long after the book is done. This is one of those books. Andras and Tibor Levy are Jewish brothers who grew up in a small village in Hungary. It is the 1930′s and both aspire to do great things. The book focuses on Andras, his adventures and studies in Paris, and the relationship he establishes with the mysterious Klara Morgenstern, a Hungarian ballet instructor.

 

 

Rosnay, Tatiana de

 

Sarah’s Key & The House I Loved

Tatiana de Rosnay’s writing features solid characters, a strong sense of place, and a time of significant historical events.   Sarah’s Key is unforgettable and haunting. It begins with the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup of Jews in German-occupied Paris in 1942 and contrasts that story with a modern-day American journalist living in Paris. The House I Loved is a fictionalized story of Rose Bazelet and her opposition to the destruction of her family home during Haussman’s renovation of Paris, 1853-1870. Haussman’s radical plan was criticized for the large-scale destruction it caused; however, in recent times he has been credited with establishing Paris as a modern city.

 

 

Rutherfurd, Edward

 

Paris

Rutherfurd presents a multigenerational story that moves between time, character, and story. With Paris as the background, this approach brings characters to life, presents an understanding of historical events, and makes this reader really want to visit Paris and explore the geographical areas of the story.   I also want to read Rutherfurd’s other stories including London and New York.

 

 

See, Lisa

 

Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy & China Dolls

Lisa See’s books are full of details, family, love and complications. The characters are well developed, there’s a strong sense of place, and the reader cares about the characters and their journey. Shanghai Girls, and its sequel, Dreams of Joy, take readers on a journey from China to California and back again. China Dolls focuses on the 1930’s and 1940’s Chop-Suey Circuit in the entertainment world and focuses on three girls from diverse backgrounds who form a strong bond.

 

 

Vreeland, Susan

 

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Because of this book, I went to New York City to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other places to see Tiffany Glass.   Fictionalized story of Clara Driscoll who worked with Louis Comfort Tiffany at his New York studio and possibly the person who conceived the idea for the iconic Tiffany stained glass lamps. Set with the turn-of-the-century New York City backdrop with issues such as the rise of labor unions, women in the workplace, and advances in technology.

 

 

Zevin, Gabrielle

 

Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

A.J. Fikry owns a book store and he loves books. He’s not just any bookseller, though. He is picky, contrite, a wee bit arrogant, and has poor customer service skills. Despite these faults, he has a passion for books and a capacity to love. When his life takes turns he never imagined, and A.J. Fikry finds himself in the depths of despair, his redemption is his capacity to love. And love is what makes this book so wonderful. A love for people, community, literature, and most of all, a love of family.

 

 

It’s the weekend!

by Kara Logsden on October 17th, 2014

2014 10 17 read all dayIt’s the weekend and I’m reading two great books … and I can’t wait to get back to them.  I know there are soccer games, football games, house chores, and other activities, but I really would prefer to just read all weekend.  Who wants to join me?

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable is based on true events and tells the story of two women in Paris.  One is a modern-day Sotheby’s furniture specialist (April Vogt) and the other is renowned courtesan during the Belle Époque period in Paris just before World War I (Marthe de Florian).  April is summoned to Paris and jumps at a chance to escape her crumbling life in the United States.  In Paris she discovers an apartment that has been shuttered for more than 70 years and full of priceless furniture and paintings collected by Marthe but abandoned by her family.  April also meets a solicitor who agrees to share Marthe’s journals.  Through these journals, April learns about the woman behind the collections.

I’m also reading Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.  This historical fiction novel is set in occupied France during World War II and is the story of Marie-Laure, a young French girl who lost her eyesight when she was six and lives with her father who is a locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris.  It is also the story of Werner, a young German boy who has a special talent for building and fixing radios.  As the war rages, Marie-Laure and Werner cross paths.  Doerr recently received a National Book Award nomination for this book.  The writing is lyrical and foreboding and I can’t wait to start reading again.

If you are looking for a good book this weekend, head to the Library.  And remember …. You can’t read all day if you don’t start in the morning!

 

Lost and Found

by Kara Logsden on October 6th, 2014

2014 10 lf resizedI often think someone could write a mystery book about a items left in the Library’s Lost and Found.  Maybe it could be an espionage story about a secret message on an item left at the Library or a heartwarming story about a child being reunited with a favorite stuffed animal.  Regardless, there are many interesting items in the Library’s Lost and Found that may be reclaimed at the Help Desk.

Staff at the Help Desk are the stewards of Lost and Found and can share many interesting stories about items left behind.  Today’s items feature one crutch, a cell phone, a wallet, miscellaneous IDs, a few umbrellas, some homework assignments, and a bag full of wet swimsuits and towels (must have been at the Rec Center pool before stopping at the Library).  A clue to that lost item:  “Anderson” is a monogrammed on the bag.

When we are able to identify the owner of an item (often through their Library Card account) we call or eMail to let the person know the item is at the Library.  Library Cards left at the Library are “stopped” and then mailed to the patron.  Stopped cards must be activated again via a call to the Library or visit to the Help Desk.

Unfortunately we can also tell stories about liquids oozing out of lunch boxes, mold growing in sippy cups, and other unsavory tales of woe.  Because of this, we have a new procedure to throw away anything that goes into the mouth (sippy cups, pacifiers), personal grooming items, and anything else that may illicit an “eeeewww” or strong gag reflex.

So you might ask, “What happens to all the unclaimed items?” Photo IDs and any items of value that have not been reclaimed after a period of time are sent to the Iowa City Police Department.  Clothing and other miscellaneous items are donated to Goodwill.  Papers are recycled and books are considered a donation to the Library.

If you are looking for a lost item that may have been left at the Library, please give us a call or stop by the Help Desk.  If you are curious about found items around the world, there are a number of webpages that catalog found items including Found magazine and foundinbooks.wordpress.com (I should pass along a general disclaimer to the content of these two webpages.  They are not related to the Library and not guaranteed for all audiences. They are amusing though … )

Why do Library Cards expire?

by Kara Logsden on October 3rd, 2014

The other day someone asked me what the oddest thing we found left in a book.  I couldn’t think of anything specific, but I do know we frequently have money, checks, photographs, and other items that are accidentally left in Library materials when they are returned.  When we find these items, we attempt to locate the owner.  Updated contact information helps us w2014 10 Library Cardith that.

According to the “Circulation and Library Card” policy, “Library cards expire regularly to confirm address and other contact information.”  We expire cards so that we may periodically check with patrons to assure we have updated information.  Many people are dropping their landlines so this gives us an opportunity to update to a new telephone number.  Also, if you’ve been in the area long, you might feel like half of the town moves on August 1 when leases typically expire.  Cards with apartment numbers expire annually in August so we can touch base with the patron and update an address when needed.

Beyond returning items left in books, we want to make sure Hold Notices are delivered (either via eMail, telephone notification, or U.S. Mail) or we can contact you if you accidentally forgot to return a disc or a puzzle piece that was part of a set.

We also often have keys turned into the Library that have a Library Card attached to the keychain.  Many patrons have breathed a huge sign of relief when the Library calls to tell them a good Samaritan returned their keys to the Library.

We also have contracts with vendors such as OverDrive (eBooks/eAudio) and Zinio (eMagazines) who stipulate we must limit access to people who live in our service area.  The Library’s service area is Iowa City, rural Johnson County, Hills, University Heights, and Lone Tree.  Basically this means that people who live in these areas directly support the Library through their property taxes (thank you!).  Keeping Library accounts updated assures we are meeting the contractual obligations with our vendors.

To help patrons understand why cards expire, we added information to the Library webpage.  If you are wondering what your account expiration date is, you may login to your account.  The date will be listed under your name in the upper left-hand corner.  You may also call us during regular Library hours at 319-356-5200.

If your card is expiring soon, please give us a call or stop by the Library’s Help Desk.  Hopefully you’ll never leave something in a book or lose your keys, but you never know …

 

 

Why am I excited about the Iowa City Book Festival?

by Kara Logsden on September 25th, 2014
Why am I excited about the Iowa City Book Festival? Cover Image

Recently I was in a meeting and someone asked, “Who was the first author you heard speak in person?”  Suddenly I was swept back to my junior high years and listening to Madeleine L’Engle.  I know there were author readings before that (I grew up in Iowa City and we had the amazing experiences of authors visiting our schools) but it was my memory of listening to L’Engle speak that conjured such a strong memory for me.  Not only was L’Engle the author of my favorite books (A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet) but she was an amazing speaker.  I didn’t want the program to end, and really wished I could have found a rocking chair, curled my teenage body up in her lap, and had her read A Wrinkle in Time to me … cover to cover.

I’ve had strong reactions to listening to other authors read since then, but nothing as powerful for me as that experience.  I love listening to authors because I always learn something new.  A couple years ago, at the Iowa City Book Festival, I had the opportunity to ask Robert Goolrick why he chose a story theme for one of his characters in A Reliable Wife.  His explanation was logical but sparked a reaction for me because I didn’t agree with him.  At an outreach program for the Library, I saw a person with dementia brighten up and connect with author Carol Bodensteiner over a story from Bodensteiner’s childhood about ironing.  Who would have guessed a story about ironing would awaken such a strong response?

Each year the Iowa City Book Festival brings an amazing group of authors to town and we have the opportunity to listen to them speak … and it’s free.  I can’t guarantee the programs will be as transformational as my experience with Madeleine L’Engle, but you never know :)  The Festival is a couple weeks away so there’s plenty of time to read a book or two written by one of the authors who will be speaking.  Here’s the list to help you get started:   2014 FESTIVAL READING LIST.

 

Ride and Read at Your Library!

by Kara Logsden on September 16th, 2014

Did you know your Library Card is a ticket to ride an Iowa City Transit bus? The program is called “Ride and Read.”  Two times a week, patrons with a valid Iowa City Public Library card may present their card to the Help Desk, Children’s Desk or Reference Desk and get a FREE bus pass to ride an Iowa City Transit bus.  The bus pass is stamped with the current date, and must be used on that day.  The Ride and Read program is for people of all ages – the only requirement is a valid Library card.  This is another great reason to make sure you always have your Library Card handy.

And speaking of bus rides, we recently received information from Iowa City Transit staff about utilization of the Summer Library Bus program.  We think this program is awesome, and many others thought so too because 2,943 people hopped on the Summer Library Bus and caught a ride downtown this summer.  What’s even more awesome is that utilization of this program was spread throughout Iowa City – the busiest routes were Lakeside and Oakcrest.  There’s a chart below that shows how use was spread across the Transit routes..

For those who don’t know about the Summer Library Bus program, the Library provides free bus rides to children through 12th grade, and the adult caregivers who are with them, on any Iowa City Transit bus route, from the day after Iowa City Schools dismiss until the day before school start, on weekdays between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm.  Bus riders show their Iowa City Public Library card to the bus driver to gain free access to the bus.
Happy Reading and Happy Riding!
2013 Summer Library Bus

 

 

 

 

Bus Route # Rides
Lakeside 514
Oakcrest 426
Court Hill 350
Broadway 326
Westwinds 253
Rochester 213
Towncrest 206
N Dodge 106
Crosspark 84
Manville Hgts 79
Westside Hosp 77
Mall 74
Plaen View 72
Westport 67
Eastside Exp 58
Melrose Exp 33
7th Avenue 5
Total Rides 2,943

Connecting: Your Library Easier to Use

by Kara Logsden on September 3rd, 2014

Recently the Library Board voted to make changes to help make your Library easier to use. We also updated a couple procedures to respond to patrons requests.

Patrons may now place 10 (ten!) FREE holds.  Login to your account, call the Library or stop by – there are many ways to place holds.  We’ll even let you place holds on items that are on the shelf.  Periodically, throughout the day, staff pull items with holds that are on the shelf.  We just ask that you give us a little bit of time to do this work.  You’ll know when the hold is ready when we send you a notice.  Notices come by eMail, telephone or in the mail depending on your preference.

Overdue Fines changed too and we hope they are easier to understand.  All fines are 25 cents per overdue day with the following exceptions: Express DVDs, Games and Equipment are $1.00 per overdue day and Wii Game Consoles are $5.00 per overdue day.  Our goal is to make the collection as available to our community as possible.  We view fines as a motivation to return items on time so others can enjoy them.

Patrons may now receive one free replacement card per year.  We can also make a replacement card with the same number, so there’s no need to worry if you have your number memorized.  We need the original card in order to replace a card with the same number.  Also, it takes us a few minutes to make the card, so please plan for a little extra time if you are getting a card replaced with the same number.

Videogames may now be renewed 1 (one) time.  Patrons may still have a limit of 2 videogames checked out at a time, but they can be renewed once and the fine is now only 25 cents per overdue day.

We hope these changes will make it easier to use your Library and we hope to see you at the Library soon.

China Dolls by Lisa See

by Kara Logsden on August 20th, 2014
China Dolls by Lisa See Cover Image

Lisa See’s new novel, China Dolls, brings to life an element of the 1930′s and 1940′s entertainment world I was not aware of, the Chop-Suey Circuit.  Three unlikely Asian friends, Ruby, Helen & Grace, gravitate to the newly introduced Chinese revues in San Francisco for different reasons.  Although they are from diverse backgrounds, they form a strong bond and the book follows their lives through happiness and heartache.  Woven with a backdrop of the attack on Pearl Harbor, World War II and happier times in the 1940′s, the story brings alive not only the glitz and glamor of the stage, but the personal coming-of-age stories of three women whose lives are, for better or worse, intertwined.

Lisa See is a remarkable novelist and I thoroughly enjoyed her other books including Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy.  I listened to the book and Jodi Long’s narration is excellent. ~~Enjoy~~

And the Dark Sacred Night

by Kara Logsden on July 23rd, 2014
And the Dark Sacred Night Cover Image

Ten years ago I fell in love with Julia Glass’ writing. It was a rainy day and I was in Positano, Italy, looking out over the aquamarine Mediterranean and delighted to have survived a white-knuckle drive along the Amalfi Coast. I curled up with Three Junes, a book I’d been meaning to read for a long time, and fell in love with the writing. Most notably I was pulled into the stories, loved the characters, and grieved for the one of the main characters, Malachy Burns (who was dying of AIDS) and his beloved friend, Fenno McLeod (who lovingly cared for him). I look forward to each new Julia Glass book and enjoy her storytelling and how she weaves stories, characters, and places together.  It’s like canoeing down a meandering stream, encountering interesting people along the way, and enjoying the journey as much as the moment.

I was delighted when Malachy and Fenno popped up in Glass’ new book, And the Dark Sacred Night.  Once again readers are taken on a journey and details are not shared until Glass is ready to share them. The book begins with the main protagonist, Kit Noonan, and a view into his stalled life. Kit is an unemployed art professor who is struggling in his roles as husband, father, and (not by choice) person designated to manage his household. When it’s obvious he must be jarred from his rut, his wife’s wish for a separation serves as the catalyst to send him on a journey of personal discovery.  The journey begins in Vermont at the home of Kit’s Stepfather.  From there readers are propelled through time and memories in a story woven together in classic Julia Glass style. I was sad when the story ended, but enjoyed the journey and always appreciate a great story!

Top Secret 21

by Kara Logsden on July 21st, 2014
Top Secret 21 Cover Image

The newest installment of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, Top Secret 21, is out and it’s a page-turner.  While I thought the last couple Plum books were not up to Janet Evanovich standards, I though with this book she was back on target with quirky characters, humor, and more adventures for bounty-hunter, Stephanie Plum.  If you are looking for a quick summer chick-lit read, this is a great option.

If you haven’t read the Stephanie Plum series, we have many of the earlier books in multiple formats including regular print, large print, spoken word, eBook and eAudiobook.  The plot is easy to follow and it’s not necessary to start at the beginning.

If you are a Janet Evanovich fan and looking for similar authors, there are quite a few I would recommend including Lisa Lutz (Spellman Files), Mary Kay Andrews, and Diane Mott Davidson.  These authors have books that are fast paced, funny and perfect for summer reading.  If you need help finding a good book, Library staff are always happy to help.  Happy Summer Reading!




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