Library Catalog Ask a Librarian Book a Meeting Room
Catalog Your Account Menu



Maeve Binchy: Maeve’s Times

by Heidi Lauritzen on March 10th, 2015
Maeve Binchy:  Maeve’s Times Cover Image

Maeve Binchy, beloved Irish novelist who died in 2012, got her writing start as a reporter and columnist for The Irish Times.  Maeve’s Times:  In Her Own Words is a selection of her columns and stories that appeared in The Irish Times over five decades.  These brief essays are as heartwarming and funny as her novels, but also contain serious commentary about the world around her.  She reminds me of the American political writer Molly Ivins (who also died too young).

Binchy served as the “Women’s Editor” at The Irish Times in Dublin from 1968-1973; she was then transferred to London where she worked as a reporter and columnist.  She resigned her staff position in the 1980′s but continued as a regular contributor to the newspaper.

Her reprinted columns are divided into groups by decade, and chart many societal changes you will recognize from the sixties to 2011.  She observed and recorded everyday life, from conversations at the bus stop and in the neighborhood to giving the commoner take on national politics and the royal family.  She was self-deprecating about her appearance and social skills, which just makes her easier to relate to and trust.  And as is the case in her novels, the relationships among people are her best subject.

If you have enjoyed Maeve Binchy’s novels, I predict you will like this book too.  But if her fiction was not quite your cup of tea, I encourage you to give her nonfiction writing a try.   It is informative, observant and often funny–and always enjoyable.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

by Ella Von Holtum 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.

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

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 2nd, 2015

BookMadness

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 this literary competition. 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 32 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 Adults bracket — will not compete in this year’s contest.

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

2015 BOOK MADNESS – CHILDREN’S

BELOVED CHARACTERS

  • 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

BOOKS THAT GOT YOU HOOKED ON READING

  • 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

BEST SERIES

  • 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

WORDLESS PICTURE BOOKS

  • 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

2015 BOOK MADNESS – TEENS AND ADULTS

HUMOR ME

  • 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

BOOKS THAT BLOW YOUR MIND

  • 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

BIG BOOKS WORTH THE EFFORT

  • 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

IOWA WRITERS

  • 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

Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty

by Katherine Habley on February 27th, 2015
Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty Cover Image

I love hats!  I started wearing hats in my 20′s when I was in college.  I’m not talking about knitted wool hats, I’m talking fancy straw and felt hats that I would wear to complete my outfit.  I still wear hats and am almost ashamed to admit that I have nearly 200 hats that are in boxes carefully organized and labeled so I can find just the one I want to wear to church on Sunday mornings.  I love wearing hats to tea parties and I always take a couple of packable hats when I travel to give me flexibility to dress up an outfit.

As a children’s librarian, one of the best things about my job is doing storytimes for preschoolers, whether in the library or at one of our 40+ day cares and preschools we visit regularly.  I always have a theme and hats has been a favorite storytime subject; kids love the hats I bring for show and tell.

A fairly new picture book that I was happy to discover is right up my alley.  Happy Birthday Madam Chapeau by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts is one that I can’t wait to read aloud to 3-6 year-olds.  The rhyming text tells of a milliner who makes all kinds of fabulous hats but is lonely.  Once a year she dresses up and puts on a special hat and treats herself to dinner at the finest Parisian restaurant to celebrate her birthday.  This year, as she’s walking to town to dine, a crow steals her birthday bonnet!  Many onlookers offer her their hat to wear but she declines each one until a little girl offers Madame Chapeau a hat she has knitted.  The illustrations are quite humorous and extend the text very nicely; David Roberts was a former milliner before illustrating children’s books and his knowledge of one-of-a-kind designer hats is evident.  There is plenty for children to discover in the pictures that celebrate the joy of ribbons, baubles, bows, and veils.  Have fun sharing this one!

 

Trapped

by Melody Dworak on February 26th, 2015
Trapped Cover Image

Here are four new memoirs that will make the able-bodied glad we’re only trapped by crappy winter weather.

Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius

A bizarre illness rendered Martin Pistorius immobile and incommunicado for 12 years. His family was told the teenager was going to die, but he survived in a vegetative state with no way to communicate. His family didn’t know he was cognizant for more than a decade. How do you cope when you are trapped inside your body? What do you do when the staff at the care center leave Barney reruns on for hours? This memoir shares his intense story. eBook available on OverdriveRead the rest of this entry »

Serendipity in the Stacks

by Kara Logsden on February 23rd, 2015

Recently we had a great conversation at the Help Desk about good movies. A patron read my blog post about the 100 Foot Journey and suggested The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I love when I get suggestions from people I’m helping – it’s a bit of serendipity in my day. There have also been many conversations leading up to the Oscars, and it’s fun to hear what others think about different movies.

One of the more interesting conversations last week was about The Grand Budapest Hotel and the facial hair of the actors. Stories from National Public Radio and Esquire Magazine piqued our interest and had me guessing which mustaches were real and which were not. According to NPR:

“They’re made of real human hair, which you buy in all different textures and colors,” says Hannon. “There’s usually five minimum colors in each mustache.”

The hairs are sewn individually into tiny holes — less than a half-millimeter in diameter — of what Hannon calls “the finest silk lace you can find. … So you can imagine the time that goes into the perfection of each.”

My holds for The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel came in before the weekend, so we had a great movie fest Friday and Saturday with a hotel theme. Although both movies were very good, they were very different. While I enjoyed the precision and scenery in The Grand Budapest Hotel, I especially enjoyed the heartwarming story and characters in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Another bit of serendipity today … when writing this post I learned the there’s a sequel to look forward to – The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opens in theatres on March 6th.

Give us a call or stop by if you need help finding a good movie or want to place a hold on the Oscar nominees or winners. You may discover your own serendipity in the stacks :)

Outline by Rachel Cusk

by Anne Mangano on February 19th, 2015
Outline by Rachel Cusk Cover Image

Rachel Cusks’ most recent work, Outline, follows an English author’s time in Athens teaching a creative writing class. The novel is broken up into ten chapters, each centering on a different conversation the main character has with her friends, her students, and the people she meets during her time there. The main character herself is somewhat anonymous to the reader, rarely discusses herself directly, but things about herself and her life are revealed in these exchanges. You don’t get the normal narration of what the character thinks and feels except in relation to who she meets. You get an “outline.”

If you like deep character studies and self-reflective narration, or even a complicated and evolving plot, then this isn’t your book. This is very much not your book. However, I found Outline palette-cleansing. The conversations are thoughtful and well-conceived and there are some interesting stories related to our narrator that will keep you on your toes. In one chapter, her writing class goes around the room and tells a story that involves an animal and one such story is riveting (I’m not going into detail here because it was one of the most surprising and heartbreaking segments of the book).

If you are looking for a quick, yet literary and provocative read, then I recommend you check out Outline.

Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod

by Kara Logsden on February 18th, 2015
Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod Cover Image

I dream of Paris. I’ve only traveled to Southern France, so my ongoing travel to Paris is vicarious through books. Author Janice MacLeod also dreamed of Paris and made her dream a reality through planning, checklists, and determination.

Janice MacLeod was “living the dream” working as a copywriter in Southern California. Unfortunately her life was more of a nightmare as she faced 12-hour work days, burnout and exhaustion. One day she doodled on a notepad, “How much money does it take to quit your job?”

Soon she was writing lists and making plans in her journal. Her first step was to save $100 per day, her estimated cost for what an escape to Paris would cost. To meet this goal she changed social plans (instead of dinner, let’s go on a hike and have a picnic), weeded her wardrobe (goal: all clothes fit in one suitcase) and downsized everything that tied her to California.

Soon the journey to transform her life became an adventure as she sets out for Paris. Along the way, and through continued journaling, she created a new life through words, art and friends … oh and a cute Polish dude she met while sitting in a cafe writing.

Paris Letters was a fun book to read … determination and serendipity along with some great letters.

Thinking Ahead to Summertime

by Ella Von Holtum on February 7th, 2015

Days like this, when the sun is out, the snow is melting, and people are out walking with no coats on, make me wish summer was a little nearer. Sure, it may be February. And maybe the temperature’s going to drop again next week, but for one sunny Saturday we can pretend, right?

We have some great titles in the Young Adult collection that can keep you in that summer frame of mind.  When it gets cold again, this is what I recommend!

white bicycle

The White Bicycle by Beverly Brenna: “Taylor Jane Simon, an eighteen-year-old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome, travels to France, as she struggles to become independent of her controlling mother and meets a new mentor.”

vast

The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd: “The summer after graduating from an Iowa high school, eighteen-year-old Dade Hamilton watches his parents’ marriage disintegrate, ends his long-term, secret relationship, comes out of the closet, and savors first love.”

swimSwim the Fly by Don Calame: “Fifteen-year-old Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Coop and Sean, always set themselves a summertime goal. This year’s? To see a real-live naked girl for the first time–quite a challenge, given that none of the guys has thenerve to even ask a girl out on a date. But catching a girl in the buff starts to look easy compared to Matt’s other summertime aspiration: to swim the 100-yard butterfly (the hardest stroke known to God or man) as a way to impress Kelly West, the sizzling new star of the swim team”

thatsummer

That Summer by Sarah Dessen: “During the summer of her divorced father’s remarriage and her sister’s wedding, fifteen-year-old Haven comes into her own by letting go of the myths of the past.”

boyfriend

The Boyfriend League by Rachel Hawthorne: “Being a tomboy did not prepare Dani for romance. But new boyfriend potential opens up when her and her best friend’s families host a summer league of baseball players.”

alltheright

All the Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers: “The summer after his absentee father is killed in a random shooting, Paul volunteers at a Harlem soup kitchen where he listens to lessons about “the social contract” from an elderly African American man, and mentors a seventeen-year-old unwed mother who wants to make it to college on a basketball scholarship.”

 

empress

Empress of the World by Sarah Ryan: “While attending a summer institute, fifteen-year-old Nic meets another girl named Battle, falls in love with her, and finds the relationship to be difficult and confusing.”

 

All of these books are available upstairs at ICPL, in the Young Adult collection. If you find yourself dreaming of warmer days, come check one out!

 

Watch My Baby Grow

by Anne Mangano on February 6th, 2015
Watch My Baby Grow Cover Image

There are many books on infant development that contain pages and pages of text. Authors use word after word after word after word to explain the science behind this and the philosophy behind that. These books are great. They are fascinating and I want to read them someday. But if you are a new parent, your attention span is limited. You are tired, overscheduled (or unscheduled), and if you have extra time, it’s probably not devoted to reading anything extensive. However, there is a natural curiosity to know what is happening and what is coming up next. It is an exciting time of rapid development with changes occurring weekly. That is why I really like DK’s Watch My Baby Grow. This book provides week by week (for the first month) and month by month information on developmental milestones during the first year. But, like any DK book, it also has a lot of visuals, charts, and photographs. It provides a perfect mix for a tired, but curious mind.

The book follows the growth of one baby, Melisa, through her first year. The editors took a picture of Melisa at regular intervals to depict her development. The photographs are beautiful and well-laid out with Melisa in a white infant bodysuit amongst a white background. For scale, a white rabbit stuffed toy was placed next to her for each shot. The photographers had specific photos they wanted to capture in their depiction of infant development. Not all of them worked and there are little blurbs about what they wanted to photograph and why they were babyunable to do so. You will also find dedicated sections on newborn life, the development of the senses, physical and intellectual growth, communication, and personality.

Watch My Baby Grow is a fun and rewarding book. If you want to dive deeper, there are many great infant development books in our parenting section.




login