by Kara Logsden on May 9th, 2015
Lisa Lutz’s new novel is different from her previous novels, and yet the same. Lutz is known for her quirky characters, fast moving pace, and unanticipated plot twists. The difference with this novel is the characters – the characters are more developed and real. Half way through the book I realized I cared about the characters and their story.
How to Start a Fire is about three college friends and the paths their lives take. The story develops by revealing events between 1993 and 2014. Reading the book is like river rafting. Sometimes there are rapids and the rafter has to pay attention while other times the river meanders and the rafter can relax and enjoy the scenery. Ultimately the book is about friendship, loyalty, choices, forgiveness, accountability and expectations about life.
I thoroughly enjoyed the new Lisa Lutz novel and think it will be a popular summer title.
by Anne Mangano on May 7th, 2015
Erik Larson knows how to tell a story. In The Devil in the White City, he masterfully intertwines the story of the 1893 World’s Fair with that of H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who thrived in the growing city of Chicago. In the Garden of Beasts follows the diplomatically unexperienced William Dodd, a professor assigned to the post of American Ambassador to Germany as the National Socialist Party rose to power. Larson’s latest book, Dead Wake: the last crossing of the Lusitania is another fascinating story told well.
There are many ways to tell this one. There’s the conspiracy angle. Did Britain let the Lusitania come along a German submarine because it believed this type of sinking would push the United States to enter World War I? There’s the negligence angle. Did Captain Turner ignore crucial information about active submarines off the Irish coast and not respond appropriately to the threat? Larson’s angle is that this story is about people. He makes individuals’ experience come alive on the page, whether it is the Lusitania’s passengers, U-20’s Captain Schweiger, or President Wilson in his courtship with Edith Bolling Galt. All of these stories are expertly woven to create a compelling and tense narrative that was hard to put down but just as hard to read. The Lusitania’s sinking was a terrible event. It sank it eighteen minutes. Almost two thousand people perished. As I began to know more and more about these individuals, the weight of their fate became heavier and heavier.
Today is the 100th anniversary of the Lusitania’s sinking.
by Brian Visser on May 5th, 2015
The first season of the Daredevil TV show was released on Netflix last month. For the uninitiated, Daredevil is a street-level superhero who was blinded as a boy when a radioactive isotope was splashed in his eyes. His other senses were super-heightened and gave him a sort of radar sense. Comics, everybody! He became a lawyer (after he grew up, not some Doogie Howser nonsense), and also became a ninja. Yeah. He wears all red, but is basically Marvel’s Batman.
I inhaled the first season and was soon forcing it on others with a zeal. But it was over for me, and I had a Daredevil shaped hole in my heart. That hole was filled with comics. Brian Michael Bendis had a 55 issue, Eisner Award-winning run on Daredevil in the 2000s, and it has been collected into three Ultimate Collection volumes. Volume 1 is an excellent place to start if you’re looking for more about the Man Without Fear.
“Wake Up” is the first story in the volume, and it’s surprisingly low key. Matt Murdoch or Daredevil are not in it much. Instead the focus is on Ben Urich, the journalist who is heavily featured in the show. He’s investigating a young boy who’s catatonic after his father, a low-level Daredevil villain named Leap Frog, goes missing. Urich is sure that Daredevil has something to do with the boy’s current state and seeks him out. David Mack provides beautiful painted art for the story.
“Underboss” and “Out” make up the rest of this volume. “Underboss” has a new player in town trying to take out the Kingpin. “Out” deals with the fallout of that story, and the fact that the FBI learns that Matt Murdoch is Daredevil. The writing in all of these stories is top notch, and it’s complimented nicely by the fantastic noir influenced artwork of Alex Maleev. Seriously, the art is great. Check this out:
I highly recommend Daredevil by Brian Michael Bendis Ultimate Collection Volume 1 and the rest of the volumes to anyone who is suffering from a Daredevil hangover.
by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on May 5th, 2015
Were you among the hundreds of people to converge downtown Saturday morning for the first Downtown Iowa City Farmers Market of the season? I lost track of the number of people I said hello to, including the Library’s AV Specialist who attended the market with her four-week-old daughter, as I browsed the stalls with a smile on my face.
My breakfast on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Yum!
It’s farmers market season once more.
Growing up in on the other side of the state (shout out to anyone from Webster County!), I had no experience with farmers markets until I moved to Iowa City in mid-1990s. My college roommates and I would visit the market after classes every Wednesday, during which each one of us would purchase something to contribute to our weekly roommate dinner. This is how I learned to cook using ingredients that weren’t prepackaged.
The Library wants to help you make your farmers market experience even better, which is why we created recipe cards promoting two things: ICPL’s cooking resources and the Digital History Project.
Did you know the number of cookbooks in our collection numbers somewhere in the thousands? With that many choices — not to mention our collection of food-related magazines and children’s cookbooks — you are bound to find a recipe to help you utilize the foods you purchase at the farmers market.
For those of you who love local history, we have access to some treasured family recipes thanks to the Digital History Project. Take time to explore what’s available and look through your own collection of photos. You may have something to add!
You can find the recipe cards on the Iowa City Farmers Market table. In addition, Library staff will be blogging about their farmers market experiences all summer long. Feel free to share your stories with us!
We’ll see you at the market!
by Todd Brown on April 30th, 2015
Have you ever watched a video on Youtube, which then led you to another and another. Then you realize you have fallen down the rabbit hole. I sometimes do that with books. I will be reading a book which references a person, a subject or another book. So I will run out to the stacks to see what we have on that. This leads to having multiple partially read books, which I may or may not ever finish.
It started when I saw this author on one of the morning talk shows and ads for it kept popping up on websites. He suffered from PTSD, drug abuse and a lot of bad choices, leading to an on-air panic attack during a live news broadcast. The book is about his search for a way get his head on straight. Along the way he meets people like Eckhart Tolle, Depak Chopra, and Ted Haggart.
Full Catastrophe living
This is one of the authors and books mentioned in the previous title. Kabat-Zinn started the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, to help people dealing physical and mental traumas. I made it about half way through this book before…
The Obstacle is the way
While reading, online either about Kabat-Zinn or meditation in general, I found this title on the Tim Ferris book club list. It is a collection of stories about a lot of successful historical figures and they would turn losses into wins. It leans heavily on the stoic philosophy of Seneca and Marcus Aruelius. I actually didn’t read this, I listened to it in the car. I feel like I miss things because I am not entirely focused on listening while I am driving.
Meditations and The stoic philosophy of Seneca
The previous book had a lot of quotes from these two men so I thought I would checkout more of what they actually said. Sadly, I am not sure if I opened either of these books. Maybe some day.
A guide to the good life
Since I wasn’t going to read the previous two I thought I would at least try to find something else which would summarize their works. The cover looks sort of depressing but it really isn’t. It starts with a brief history of Stoicism, followed by general psychological techniques such as negative visualization and meditation. It also gives advice on specific problems like handling anger, dealing with insults, and death.
The Nerdist way
Reading through all of the above books I saw a lot of things which I thought would be helpful for teens, I have two of them. But I knew mine would not have any interest in investing the time in those books. I stumbled across this one which seemed like it might be a little more appealing to them. I don’t know if I would put them in the nerdist category, but they are both gamers so I thought that aspect might draw them in. Plus the Body section has illustrations of a bear with a headband doing exercises! It is divided into three sections Mind, Body and Time. I made it through most of the Mind section before I passed the book on to my son. He seemed interested in at least looking at it.
by Mimi Blankenship Coupland on April 28th, 2015
What if Colors were nouns instead of adjectives? These three trilogies explore the wondrous possibilities. In the first two listed below, colors are used as rankings in a social hierarchy. The last one has colors manifest as weather events affecting moods.
In 2009, Jasper Fforde stepped away from his Thursday Next series to write Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron. Eddie Russet is a lowly Red who can only see color in that spectrum, reminiscent of the Kim Anderson photographs so popular a while back. On the other end of the spectrum are the Purples, a royal color that surely means they are “destined to lead”.
I thought this book was outstanding as it was the first one I’d read to treat the rainbow in such a fashion. Every year I’ve anxiously awaited a sequel and, according to Goodreads, the next book in the Shades of Grey trilogy [AKA the Chromatacia novels] will be published next year.
- Shades of Grey (2009)
- Painting by Numbers (expected publication 2016)
- Gordini Protocols (2017)
The Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown also uses colors to define a person’s place in the universe, primarily through occupations. It follows Darrow, a Red miner on Mars, who discovers that he and others are being suppressed. Upon his “transmutation” into Gold, he realizes it is even more brutal at the top.
- Red Rising (2014)
- Golden Son (2015)
- Morning Star (05 January 2016)
The Colours of Madeleine trilogy by Jaclyn Moriarty treats colors a little differently. In these refreshing books, colors are whimsical but still have a material effect. The plot bounces back and forth between two separate realities: Elliott Baranski in Bonfire, the Farms, the Kingdom of Cello and Madeleine Tully in Cambridge, England, the World.
- A Corner of White (2013)
- The Cracks in the Kingdom (2014)
- Unknown as not yet listed on either Goodreads or her website
I invite you to enter these fantastic worlds where color means much more than just what shirt you wear. In them, you can imagine what color you’d like to be and discover which one you really are.
by Casey Maynard on April 27th, 2015
Since I was small I have loved fairytales. It began with the original Grimm’s tales my mother read. I remember the illustrations more clearly than anything: the image of Rapunzel’s prince stumbling and blinded after being thrown from the tower is one I can conjure readily. Since that time, I have read as many fairytales and retellings as I could get my hands on. It is only as an adult that I recognize the why of this love for, even obsession with fairytales that began as a child. These traditional stories encompass something innately human that has the capacity to be retold in multifarious ways, thus remaining fresh, somehow unencumbered by its own redundancy.
Recently this passion for all things fabled has led me to the work of Emily Carroll. With many of her graphic short stories debuting online, it was not until July of last year that Carroll’s first book came into print. Through the Woods is a collection of five short stories all of which find their center in the forest. Definitely not your childhood bedtime stories, each is reminiscent of the archetype while simultaneously obliterating the gap between traditional fairytale and horror.
Where Grimm’s fairy tales hinted at the horror that awaited villains–red-hot iron shoes come to mind–Carroll’s tales thrust the reader into truly terrifying confrontations with evil. Evil that not only surrounds each of us but has the capacity to be found within us as well. It is in this way that Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods, leaves the reader unsettled, searching for a happy ending when we know that the journey will begin all over again tomorrow.
Accompanied by beautiful full color illustrations that bleed into text, Carroll’s graphic novel debut is stunning. She leaves the reader the space to interpret what is left in the darkness of each page, unsaid and just out of reach.
For more of her stories and for a sneak peek of Through the Woods be sure to check out “His Face All Red” and the rest of her website,
Emily Carroll’s Website
by Melody Dworak on April 27th, 2015
tl;dr If you’ve never tried out our digital magazines, sign up at Zinio Magazine Collection web page and download the Zinio for Libraries app for Android and Apple!
The Long Version
In the fall of 2012, the Iowa City Public Library began offering digital magazines through a service called Zinio. Two and a half years later, we have grown to offering more than 150 digital magazine titles. We also now offer a more streamlined experience for signing up as a new user.
The Zinio for Libraries app is a new app that allows you to fill out one simple form after clicking “Create New Account” on our Zinio Magazine Collection web page. Once you fill out this form, you are ready to start browsing and reading on your computer.
For those who are new to Zinio, you can download the Zinio for Libraries app for Apple and Android devices. This new app has fewer distractions than the previous app we were required to use. The Zinio for Libraries app will open straightaway to the magazines you have checked out. It will not show you any content that you have to buy in order to read.
New users, please note: When you go to download the app, be sure to choose the Zinio for Libraries app with the white background and dark colored Z. If you see the regular Zinio app with the dark square and Zinio name in white, that is the app that has all that extra commercial content. Your login information will *not* work on the commercial app.
Already Use Zinio? Read the rest of this entry »
by Todd Brown on April 24th, 2015
At least I haven’t read them in the way that most people read books. I mostly read nonfiction, usually how to do or make something instead of just facts. I rarely read books cover to cover. I skim them and find the parts that either have the information I am looking for or a part that grabs my attention. That makes writing about books a little more difficult for me. While searching through my Reading History to find something to write about I noticed a few recurring themes.
I have always been fascinated by patterns. One small thing repeated over and over can create something big and beautiful. This has been a repeating pattern in my reading history. I would check them out, head to the craft store for supplies and see what I could make. Below are a few of many I have checked out and have not read.
The complete book of decorative knots
My parents were a little confused when I asked for a book about Turk’s head knots for Christmas a few years ago. But it came with a little, adjustable tool and hundreds of knot patterns to make. The Library doesn’t own that book, but we do have several about knots. The complete book of decorative knots is one I have checked out several times. It is well illustrated and covers Turk’s heads as well as globe knots, mats and a variety of other knots which look pretty cool when done.
Chain maille jewelry workshop
For a little while I was slightly obsessed with chain mail, as well as Viking knitting. The Library has several books which cover the basics of making chain mail. I think all of them have projects that they work through step by step. Most also have gallery sections to show what various artists have created with chain mail to help you find some inspiration.
I liked this so much that I bought my own copy. This involves a LOT of paper folding to make grids and then making patterns by folding the grid in different ways. These look great and if you put a light behind it you get a totally different pattern. Twofer! I adapted one of these patterns to make a lamp shade for a lamp I built.
Unit polyhedron origami
This is another one that I bought. Also another one that I used for two lamp shades. Basically this is folding a piece of paper into a interlocking shape and then doing that over and over until you have enough of these shapes to assemble them into a variety of larger geometric shapes.
Arm and finger knitting
Before the Library owned this book I made a great infinity scarf for my significant other. I was kind of excited to find out we had purchased this book. Personally I didn’t care much for most of the projects in it but it does still show how to arm knit in general. Once you know that you can go out and find or make your own patterns to knit.
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by Melody Dworak on April 22nd, 2015
Last month I wrote about my efforts to cook in big batches to make weeknight dinner decisions easier. Turns out, you can make breakfast for a week, too. This is not what I had set out to do when I picked up the Biscoff cookie and spread Cookbook, but it was a delightful fringe benefit.
What is Biscoff spread, you ask? In short: creamed cookies. The spread is as decadent as it sounds. In normal cookies, you have regular things like *air* taking up space, wasting precious room where sugar and fat could go. Biscoff spread wastes not a molecule, packing in sweetness at a 90 calories per tablespoon. Some people know the cookies as the ones they give out on airline flights. For me, the red, white, and tan jar of creamed goodness stared at me from the gifty section at the Bread Garden, and I had to try it.
The Biscoff Cookie and Spread Cookbook includes photos of desserts that look mouthwatering. You can see a few recipes on the Biscoff website, but these photos are nowhere near as scrumptious looking as the ones in the book.
Biscoff coffee cake
The recipe I baked was the Biscoff coffee cake. The crumble topping itself contains two sticks of butter and lots of sugar. The cake part under the crumble held enough moisture that it did feel like it melted in my mouth.
I’m looking forward to future Biscoff baking Sundays!