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Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’


The Goblin’s Puzzle by Andrew S. Chilton

by Morgan Reeves on February 29th, 2016
The Goblin’s Puzzle by Andrew S. Chilton Cover Image

Diversity in middle grade fantasy is hard to come by, particularly high fantasy featuring dragons, goblins, princesses, and kings. The Goblin’s Puzzle by Andrew S. Chilton provides all of these, as well as a good dose of humor and plenty of logic puzzles.

A dark-skinned slave boy with no name finds himself suddenly free, and for the first time in his life able to choose how to live his life. His choice to free a similarly enslaved goblin may provide him with more adventure than he bargained for, as goblins are notoriously tricky creatures. When the goblin tells him that it was not the boy’s fate to be a slave, he sets off to find his true destiny. With the goblin in tow, he learns many things along they way, including how to catch bats with a sling.

At the same time, a dragon has kidnapped Plain Alice, a case of mistaken identity, as he meant to capture Princess Alice. As the dragon goes off to rectify his mistake, Plain Alice begins doing what she does best, thinking. The soon-to-be-captured Princess Alice is at the center of a royal mess, as her father is trying to make her his heir to skip over the obviously evil Duke Geoffrey. To pay for the costly process, Princess Alice is to be married to a suitably wealthy person, to be decided upon by everyone but Princess Alice. All of these plans go literally out the window when Princess Alice is captured by the dragon. If ever there was a need for a nameless hero in search of his destiny, it is here in the Kingdom of West Stanhope.

The boy volunteers to rescue both Alices, though finds he needs their help just as often as they need his. The multiple threads of the story are finally and carefully woven together in a rooftop duel, a royal declaration, and one last trick from the goblin. In another rarity in recent middle grade fantasy, the story ends without a cliff-hanger to lead us to a sequel. Final word: A fantastic, thought-provoking, stand-alone fantasy adventure.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

by Kara Logsden on February 11th, 2016
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout Cover Image

I love books that stick with me. I like to ruminate over words, ponder what the author was saying, and think about themes and how the book fits into my bigger world. My Name is Lucy Barton is one of these books. And just like Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, My Name is Lucy Barton is a book to be savored.

Lucy Barton was raised in poverty in Amgash, Illinois. She escapes this poverty by working hard, ignoring ridicule, becoming a writer, and creating an adult life in Manhattan. Unfortunately Lucy cannot escape her past and the the loneliness and insecurities that follow her.

The book is also about family ties and love – wanting love and giving love – and coming to terms with one’s expectations for love vs. the reality of love. The story meanders like a stream, and Strout gives important details quietly, like a whisper in the reader’s ear. As I read I pondered each whisper, and silently hoped for happiness and love for Lucy as she faced her life’s journey.

 

Join the (Book) Club

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on February 4th, 2016
Join the (Book) Club Cover Image

One of my favorite books is Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons by Lorna Landvik. I picked it up because the title made me laugh, but the story of five women who come together for three decades of book club meetings (and everything in between) is why it’s high on my recommendation list.

I love books about book clubs. In a way, they are two books in one. First there’s the story, then there’s reading about the books the characters read. More often than not, those titles end up on my future reading list.

I’ll admit, sometimes writing down the title and author is as close as I’ll ever get to reading the book, but there have been times I’ve seen it through. For instance, I read Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster after the characters in Heather Vogel Fredrickson’s Mother-Daughter Book Club series read it in Dear Pen Pal.

Luckily, I spent a semester studying Jane Austen in college, so when The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler was published, I didn’t have to worry about falling down the rabbit hole of new book titles.

Like actors who aren’t doctors in real life but play one on TV, I do not belong to a book club; I only readbook-club-kit about them. However, if starting a book club is something that interests you, ICPL has you covered. Our Book Club Kits contain 10 copies of books and discussion questions, all packaged in one canvas bag. Located on the first floor near the Help Desk, each kit can be checked out for six weeks.

Video Staff Picks: Doggies!

by Bond Drager on December 29th, 2015

We hope you enjoy this video of a few staff with their favorite furry friends, plus books.

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2015: Fiction

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 23rd, 2015
ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2015: Fiction Cover Image

Once again, ICPL staff have combed through their 2015 reading logs to select the books they especially loved for our end-of-the-year Staff Top Picks lists.

The nominations were divided into eight categories: fiction; young adult; children’s; mystery; science fiction/fantasy; biography/memoir; nonfiction; and graphic novels. The only rule was that the book had to be released in 2015; books released in hardback in 2014 and paperback in 2015 were disqualified. Any book that was nominated by more than one staff member made our 2015 Best of the Best list.

We’ll share our 2015 Best of the Best titles on the last day of the year. Until then, here are the Library’s picks for top fiction books for 2015. Keep checking back to see what made the cut in our other categories.

ICPL’s BEST FICTION BOOKS OF 2015fiction

  • Finders Keepers by Stephen King
  • Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
  • A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
  • The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
  • Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
  • Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
  • The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
  • The Whites by Harry Brandt
  • Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig
  • Descent by Tim Johnston
  • Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
  • Get in Trouble: Stories by Kelly Link
  • All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews*

* This title had a limited release in 2014. It wasn’t available at the Library until 2015, which is why it’s included on our list.

What was your favorite fiction read of 2015? Did it make our list?

 

Inspiration for your fiction

by Melody Dworak on November 17th, 2015
Inspiration for your fiction Cover Image

NaNoWriMo is more than halfway over. Looking for inspiration to get you past writer’s block? Consider consulting dictionaries and encyclopedias on specific subjects.

Last week, someone stumbled upon our encyclopedias on the short Reference shelves on the second floor. He wondered if we had anything like that for sci fi/fantasy mythology. He was curious as to where storytellers got their information about the strengths and weaknesses of monsters.

Lucky for him, he was talking with someone who’s been reading a ton of fantasy fiction this year. I have read the accounts of countless vampires, ghosts, werewolves, fae, demons, witches, trolls, shape-shifters—you name it!

I got him the book How to Kill a Vampire as a place to start. As we were talking about what his goals were for finding books like this, it struck me that he had a great idea: use these kinds of books to inspire and research your fiction writing.  Read the rest of this entry »

What it’s like to read Janet Evanovich for the first time

by Melody Dworak on October 30th, 2015
What it’s like to read Janet Evanovich for the first time Cover Image

Okay, I’m using the term “read” here liberally as I’m really listening to her audiobooks. But the sentiment is the same: after a long aversion to mainstream romance and mystery, what do Janet Evanovich’s stories have for me?

Caving in to one of OverDrive’s auto-generated recommendation that I should try out Wicked Business, I listened to a sample of the book and discovered a familiar voice. Lorelei King, talented performer of my beloved Mercy Thompson series, reads Evanovich’s Wicked books too. I have really enjoyed King’s tender interpretation of the Mercy Thompson books–she has whisked me up in wistfulness before–so I was tickled to find that her voice narrates more stories in our collection. (You never think to search by reader, do you?)  Read the rest of this entry »

Haunting Tales

by Mimi Blankenship Coupland on October 29th, 2015

Nowadays, it seems like horror equals gratuitous gore, especially in movies.  These stories, to me, are the ones that are truly horrible.  They strike to the primal core and are remembered decades after reading.

Cask cover.phpLet’s start with my favorite from the master of macabre, Edgar Allan Poe:  The Cask of Amontillado (1846).  It’s a short story of revenge mixed with wine – one that rarely ends well.  It’s told from the viewpoint of the “villain” who is specific with many details except for a definitive reason for his grievance.  The ending is not nice but what really gives me the chills are the false displays of friendship.

Beach cover.phpI first read on On the Beach (1957) by Nevil Shute when I was a teenager.  It was still the Cold War and as a fan of Tom Clancy, I thought “Aha!  Here’s what happens if Jack Ryan does not save the day.”  After World War III, the radioactive fallout has not yet reached Australia but it’s on the way.  The survivors know they only have months to live and act accordingly.  I highly recommend this book as own it and have read it multiple times since then.

Lottery cover.phpThe Lottery (1948) by Shirley Jackson takes place in the center of a tiny village.  It’s small enough that everyone knows each other’s name and most of their business as well, very much like where I grew up.  This short story develops quickly, interspersing character introduction with descriptions how the lottery works.  By the time the winner is revealed, it’s completely different from the idyllic beginning.

Algernon cover.phpI read Flowers for Algernon (1959) by Daniel Keyes once long ago and never again.  That’s not because the novel is awful (it’s brilliant!) – it’s because the story line is so plausible and that is terrifying.  It’s written in diary form by Charlie Gordon, a man with low IQ, as progress reports for Dr. Strauss.  The doctor performs an experimental operation on Charlie to increase his intelligence like Algernon, the lab mouse.  The changes are gradual, yet noticeable, and Charlie shares them all with the reader.

Game cover.phpLastly, you know that short story about that guy on an island that hunts other guys?  Most people say yes but can’t remember the title or author.  Thanks to the magic of the internet, I plugged the above phrase into a search engine and voila:  The Most Dangerous Game (1924) by Richard Connell.  That plot may not seem like much but consider that it was written almost 100 years ago and is still a popular basis for both books and movies.

Thanks for letting me share some scary stories with you.  Happy Halloween!

Hopping on the Express Shelf Express

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on October 6th, 2015

I am reading Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies. I’m enjoying it immensely, but unfortunately it’s due on Friday and I still have 200 pages to go.ExpressShelf-SocialMedia

Did I mention that there are 23 holds on the Library’s eight copies?

I may finish by Friday, but what if I don’t? Do I keep the book over the weekend and pay a late fine? Do I return it and hope I remember where I left off when my hold comes up and I check it out again? Do I break down and buy a copy of my own?

The correct answer is none of the above.

I found a copy on the Library’s Express Shelf. I returned my copy of the book and checked out the Express book. Now I have 14 days to finish my book, while freeing another copy for someone on the holds list. Everyone is happy.

Be sure to check our Express Shelves, located on the first floor for fiction, second floor for non-fiction. The book you’re waiting for might be there waiting for you!

Oh, and if you do check out an Express Shelf copy and know you’ll finish it in two weeks, go ahead and take your name off of the holds list for that title. You’ll make tons of strangers happy!

 

Reading another person’s letters …

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on October 1st, 2015

An upcoming episode of On Air: The ICPL podcast will feature a Favorite Book segment.

Not books.

Book.

It isn’t easy choosing a favorite book. I have tons of favorites from various stages in life, but there is one title that remains my hands-down favorite: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff.

84, Charing Cross Road details the 20-year friendship between Hanff, a writer living in New York City, and Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co., antiquarian booksellers in London. This lovely non-fiction book is an epistolary book, written entirely in the pair’s letters. (It was later turned into a stage play, TV play and a movie, starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins.)

I love epistolary novels – books written as a series of documents, such as letters and journal entries. There’s realness with this genre, even in fiction works. Reading something private instantly makes the reader part of the character’s personal life.

Some of my favorite epistolary titles include Stephen Chboksky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (bonus: it’s also a banned 0504_i-will-always-write-backbook; perfect for Banned Books Week reading); Attachments: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell; and Where Rainbows End (previously published as Rosie Dunne) by Cecelia Ahern. Now, I have a new title to add to the list: I Will Always Write Back by Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifirenka.

I Will Always Write Back is the true story of two lives changed by a letter. Caitlin wrote to Martin as part of an English assignment, choosing Zimbabwe because she liked the name of the country. Her letter arrived with nine others, at a poor school with 50 students. Martin was lucky enough to receive one because he was the top student.

Caitlin and Martin had very little in common, but somehow they struck up a friendship that transcended their differences, eventually changing both of their lives. I Will Always Write Back is a great story of generosity, inner strength, and friendship. I could not put it down, finishing it in one afternoon.

I Will Always Write Back is cataloged as for ages 12 and up, but I see it as one of those books everyone should read, no matter if you are 15 or 50. It will make you smile, make you cry, and make you better for having experienced how truly amazing people can be.




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