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Did you have a super special Valentine’s Day?

by Mary Estle-Smith on February 16th, 2017

If you did, congratulations!!  Now you may be interested in some of the great books we have  to assist you through the exciting but stressful process of planning your wedding.   There are titles to help you with every kind of event from the lavish extravaganza to an intimate and/or budget friendly gathering.

home jacket blogHere  are just a few samples of the many books available to guide you through everything. Lots of information on Dresses and cake,  music and vows,  and even to who  should sit next to whom.

You can also visit this site for venues, and other services available both locally and in the surrounding  area.

 

New Children’s Nonfiction Books to Celebrate Black History Month

by Mari Redington on February 10th, 2017

bhmFebruary has been a busy month for the Children’s Room. Well, it’s pretty much always a busy time for us, but with Valentine’s Day, the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten anniversary, and the One Book, Two Book festival coming up, we wanted to be sure to offer some great programs and resources for children to learn about black history in our country. For upcoming programs for kids and adults, see our Black History Month series in the calendar. And be sure to check our Black History Month book display and the Behind the Beat: African American Music display by the African American Museum of Iowa, both located in the Children’s Room. Here are some of my favorite newer nonfiction books I’ve been reading this month to learn more.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Couple Next Door

by Heidi Kuchta on February 9th, 2017

If you are feeling a bit blah these February days, why not pick up a thriller? The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena was just what I needed to get me out of a winter reading rut. The book introduces us to young professionals Anne and Marco, who arcouple-next-doore struggling to adjust to life as new parents. Marco convinces Anne to step out for a dinner party at the couple’s house next door. Begrudgingly, Anne agrees, and goes to the party with her baby monitor and hopes of turning in early. Later that evening when they go home, their baby girl Cora has been kidnapped. From there, events move quickly, unfurling a spiral of secrets. This fast-paced tale is part mystery, part psychological thriller. It is a quick read which you will likely find difficult to put down!

Brooklyn Then and Now

by Elyse Miller on February 9th, 2017

This morning IPR began a “one-day” fundraiser at 6:00 am. One of the musical segues was “How Deep is Your Love,” by the Bee Gees. Corny, and not altogether appropriate for the circumstance, I thought. We are “living in a world of rules breaking us down,” but public radio fundraising is not that world.

And, I could not get the song out of my head. Dylan, my two-year old silver standard poodle, pricked up his ears as I sang out loud, a capella. Not pretty. Not sure he liked it. And I started thinking about the movie from which the song emanated, “Saturday Night Fever.” I came to work, went to the movie area on the 1st floor, retrieved, and checked out ICPL’s copy of the 30th Anniversary Special Collector’s Edition. I plan to immerse myself in the song and eliminate its worminess. At least that is my hope.

I asked a number of staffers if they had seen SNF, and, being alot younger than I, to a person all had not seen the movie. And I was a bit disheartened. I was asked if it was about dancing. And it is about dancing. And it is John Travolta’s breakout role. But it is also, and more importantly, about socio-economics, and finding a way out of the neighborhood, in any way you can. In this case, the neighborhood is Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. In the 70’s. When it was not hipsterish to live there. When it was a place one yearned to leave by whatever means possible. Paint store clerk loser by day, dance floor king at night.

Times have changed. Now Brooklyn (okay, I was born there) represents the arts, and craftiness, and cooldom. But I like to think the spirit of Tony Manero lives on, despite Brooklyn’s renaissance and emergence as the hippest place to be (okay I was born there).

So I’m gonna go home, put on the 30th anniversary edition, remember where I came from, and how it used to be, and dance my a off.

 

 

So Big by Edna Ferber

by Anne Mangano on February 8th, 2017
So Big by Edna Ferber Cover Image

Selina Peake doesn’t have a lot of options when her father, a professional gambler, is killed by a stray bullet in a Chicago gambling parlor. This being the turn-of-the-century, Selina, armed only with an education and enough money for two dresses (one in burgundy cashmere), decides to become a school teacher and takes a position in the Dutch farming community of High Prairie just outside of the city. Let’s Read the rest of this entry »

No-Cry Sleep Training for Noobs

by Melody Dworak on February 2nd, 2017
Budeme všichni spát by Czech artist Barbora Bálková, via WikiMedia

Budeme všichni spát by Czech artist Barbora Bálková, via WikiMedia

A week ago, I begged experienced mom and fellow Info Desk staffer, Jen, for help finding books on sleep-training for new parents like me who don’t know what they’re doing.

“I can’t do Cry It Out!” I cried. We got a Dewey number for me to check the shelf, and she promised to get back to me with a couple titles that would be right up my alley as a tears-adverse bedtime executive. Read the rest of this entry »

The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton

by Kara Logsden on January 30th, 2017
The Race for Paris by Meg Waite Clayton Cover Image

Wednesday Sisters author, Meg Waite Clayton’s, newest novel, The Race for Paris, captures the fictionalized story of two women who served as journalists during World War II. Clayton layers the story between the brutality of war, determination of the women, and the personal toll a war takes on the human spirit. Her research about women journalists in WWII brings their spirit to life and tells a lesser-known story about WWII heroes.

Liv is an Associated Press photographer who is determined to be the first photo journalist in a liberated Paris. She joins forces with Jane, a reporter who is unsure about this challenge but reluctant to abandon her friend. Together they disobey orders, barter for gasoline and supplies, and stay on the outskirts of the press camps as they make their way across France.

I listened to this story and Jennifer Ikeda’s narration is excellent. I was sad when the novel came to an end. It’s always a pleasure to find a book with excellent storytelling, a compelling plot, and solid characters who the reader cares about.

Hurry up spring!

by Maeve Clark on January 25th, 2017

sunshineHave you missed the sun?  It’s out there, of course, though hiding behind the clouds that make our days seem so grey and dreary.  Is January the greyest month of the year or are we simply experiencing a run of gloomy skies?  It turns out that November or December are the least sunny months, with January and February giving the last two months of the year a run for their money. When trying to find easy to understand reports and statistics I stumbled across Brian B’s Climate Blog. Brian Brettschneider, an Anchorage-based environmental planner and climatoldrearinessogist, has analyzed a myriad of weather and climate statistics and created a Dreariness Index map.  He uses three variables to create the Dreariness Index – total annual precipitation, days per year with measurable precipitation and annual cloud coverage.  Iowa falls smack dab in the middle of the range, which if you are like me, knowing that we aren’t the dreariest location in the United States helps, at least a little.

If you would like to learn more about weather, the library has a good number of books on the subject, ranging from weather prediction to extreme weather to climate change.

Cooking with Cast-Iron

by Beth Fisher on January 11th, 2017
Cooking with Cast-Iron Cover Image

Cooking with cast-iron cookware is something you either love or you hate.  Those who love it make it look so easy – their pans are a lovely shiny black and nothing ever sticks or burns. Then there are people like me – who have tried over and over to cook with cast-iron with less-than stellar results.  I’m determined to learn how to use my cast-iron the right way, and a new book in  ICPL’s cookbook collection may be where I start.

People all around the world have been cooking on iron or cast-iron for centuries. What makes Charlotte Bruckman’s new Stir, Sizzle, Bake – Recipes for your cast-iron skillet so different is that she has included recipes from cultures all around the world. This isn’t your basic fried chicken and biscuits cookbook.

Stir, Sizzle, Bake is laid out with the easiest recipes at the beginning so that, if you choose to, you can work your way through the book learning as you go. It’s focused mainly on forms of baking, and is divide into four main sections: No-Bake Baking; On-The-Rise Baking; Make-The-Most-Of Baking; and Condiments.  The books biggest oddity (and the only thing I disliked about it) is that each section has its own table of contents for the 16 or so recipes in that section, rather than one normal table of contents at the front. However there is a complete index in the back.

Due to the international flavor of the book there are often one or more ingredients in each recipe that may be a stretch for a lot of people.  How many of us have masarepa (precooked corn flour especial for arepas), green pea flour, pumpkin seeds, nigella seeds, or duck fat on hand?  (or even know what nigella seeds are?)

If you’re like me, and you read cookbooks for fun, you’ll enjoy this book. Each recipes begins with a long paragraph or two about the recipe and either its history or why it was included in the book.  Recipes are never created out of thin air.  They are based on something – a recipe borrowed or stolen and then changed into something new. In Bruckman’s own words “What elevates each act of stealing to something noncriminal and original are the seemingly small but significant adjustments every person makes along they way.”

Most of these recipes are beyond the contents of my pantry, but I am going to try a few and see how they turn out.  Wish me luck.

Got to have Faith!

by Dennis Cooper on December 31st, 2016
Got to have Faith! Cover Image

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s about time that superheroes did too.  Plus-sized Faith Herbert is the title character of Faith: Hollywood and Vine.  She might just be the most relatable superhero ever.  Like many of her potential fans, she has a passion for popular culture.  She grew up reading about superheroes in comic books.  Now she has become one.  With the powers of flight and a “telekinetic field”, Faith patrols the skies of Los Angeles as Zephyr.  She has also created a new secret identity for herself as mild-mannered pop culture blogger, Summer Smith.  Can she navigate the complex and complicated world of super-heroics and alien invaders, while keeping her positive outlook and sense of wonder intact?  Spoiler alert: Yes, she can.  Written with humor, heart, and hope by rising star, Jody Houser, with stunning artwork by Francis Portela (and “fantasy” pages by Marguerite Sauvage), Faith is a different kind of superhero mostly because she is a kind superhero.  Kindness is an awesome super-power!




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