Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’


New Urban Fantasy on OverDrive/Libby

by Melody Dworak on February 26th, 2018
New Urban Fantasy on OverDrive/Libby Cover Image

Those of us who use Libby regularly may have noticed that there have been some new fantasy books on the “just added” list. I’m happy to spread the news that our fiction buyer has gotten us several Helen Harper books. Helen Harper is an independent author from the UK who writes excellent series books in the urban fantasy genre. I first learned of her through the podcast Smart Podcast Trashy Books, which is hosted by a popular blog that reviews romance books.

Keeping with urban fantasy tradition, Harper’s books have strong female protagonists, as well as more alpha males than you can shake a stick at. I have yet to read her Blood Destiny series but I have made it through the 3 audiobooks for the Lazy Girl’s Guide to Magic series. I will warn you that she likes bad jokes and puns, and for me that makes the series more lighthearted and fun. Read the rest of this entry »

Mock Newbery Nominee: The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

by Morgan Reeves on January 24th, 2018
Mock Newbery Nominee: The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla Cover Image

Welcome to the penultimate Mock Newbery summary and review! Today we’ll consider The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla. This story is all about understanding life and what it means to be a family. Will this heartfelt and humorous story connect with you?

Read the rest of this entry »

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2017: Best of the Best

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 31st, 2017

It’s here: the Iowa City Public Library’s Top Picks for 2017!

Staff members nominated nearly 100 books released in 2017 as their favorite reads of the year. Those that made this list were nominated by more than one person, which truly makes them the Best of the Best.

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
  • The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
  • Golden Hill by Francis Spufford (published in Britain in 2016; released in the U.S. in May of 2017)
  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
  • La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey
  • Here We Are: Notes For Living On Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
  • Full of Fall by April Pulley Sayre
  • Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
  • Glass Houses by Louise Penny
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
  • What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton
  • Hunger by Roxane Gay
  • Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches by John Hodgman
  • Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein
  • Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
  • My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, Volume 1 by Emil Ferris
  • Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Our Best Book Overall for 2017 is The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas.

This debut novel was nominated by more staff members than any other book this year, which makes sense given all the other Best of 2017 lists it has appeared on this month. If you haven’t read it, be sire to check out a copy before the movie is released!

[LOVE] Biographical Fiction

by Kara Logsden on December 24th, 2017
[LOVE] Biographical Fiction Cover Image

I enjoy reading Historical Fiction and recently have come to appreciate the sub-genre “Biographical Fiction.”

According to Wikipedia, “Biographical fiction is a type of historical fiction that takes a historical individual and recreates elements of his or her life, while telling a fictional narrative, usually in the genres of film or the novel. The relationship between the biographical and the fictional may vary within different pieces of biographical fiction. It frequently includes selective information and self-censoring of the past. The characters are often real people or based on real people, but the need for “truthful” representation is less strict than in biography.”

I can’t think of a better way to spend a cold winter night than curled up with a good book that will sweep me away to another place and time. Biographical Fiction keeps my mind engaged and I often research facts and details of the person’s life while reading. More than once, learning about someone’s life has sent me on a trip to view their art or learn more about their life. Below is a list of some of my favorite Biographical Fiction novels. All are highly recommended.

Author/Title Description
Benjamin, Melanie

 Swans of Fifth Avenue

Melanie Benjamin’s novel features the relationship between Truman Capote and Babe Mortimer Paley with the backdrop of many upper class members of New York City society in the 1960’s. Reading the book made me want to read Breakfast at Tiffany’s!
Benjamin, Melanie

 The Aviator’s Wife

A memorable book about the life of Charles Lindbergh and his family told through the eyes of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the first woman to earn a first-class guider pilot license. She was also a writer and poet, best known for her novel, Gift from the Sea.
Boyle, T.C.

 The Women

Iowa Writer’s Workshop graduate T.C. Boyle writes an interesting story about architect Frank Lloyd Wright as told by a fictional narrator about the women Wright had relationships with during his lifetime. Boyle lives in the George C. Stewart house in Southern California, which was designed by Wright.
Davis, Fiona

 The Address

The Singer Sewing Machine company co-founder, Edward Clark, commissioned the building of The Dakota apartment building in 1880 as the first luxury apartment building and one of the first buildings on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The Dakota has been the home to many celebrities over the years, including John Lennon who was shot just outside in 1980. Davis’ story brings the building alive, hopping between fictional characters who live at The Dakota and their stories in the 1880’s and 1985.
Horan, Nancy

Loving Frank

Horan tells a compelling story about the lives of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney. I didn’t know a lot about Wright or Cheney before I read the book, and an unexpected plot change sent me to Google and a bit of quick research about the real lives of Wright and Cheney (yes … it’s true). Fascination with the story also sent me on a road trip to Oak Park, IL where I toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio.
Horan, Nancy

Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Be ready to be swept away through time and travel in this fictional account of the life of Scottish Lawyer Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife Fanny Van de grift Osbourne. Through travel in Scotland, France, New York, Australia & Samoa and reflection on passion and illness, the story unfolds to help the reader understand the man who created both A Child’s Garden of Verse and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
McLain, Paula

Circling the Sun

An unforgettable story that transports readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920’s and a story based on the real life of aviator Beryl Markham. Markham, abandoned by her mother when a child and by her father when she was a teenager, struggles to find her path. Circling the Sun not only captures what made Beryl Markham famous (horse training and being the first woman to successfully fly across the Atlantic from east to west) but also chronicles her free-spirited childhood, adolescent struggles, happiness, insecurities, and heartbreaks.
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. In Paris the couple is caught up in the fast paced social life and struggle with balance, identities, love and loyalty.
Moriarty, Laura

The Chaperone

Laura Moriarty’s newest novel is a hybrid story about the life of silent-film star Louise Brooks and fictionalized character Cora Carlisle. The story begins in 1922 when 36-year-old Cora Carlisle agrees to chaperone 15-year-old Louise Brooks for a summer in New York City dancing with the Denishawn School of Dance.  Readers learn Cora’s life, just like Louise Brooks’, is not what it appears and the story revolves around Cora’s path of self-discovery and quest for happiness.
Russell, Mary Doria

Dreamers of the Day

 

Midwesterner, schoolteacher, influenza epidemic survivor, and world traveler, Agnes Shanklin, witnesses the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference where world leaders, including Winston Churchill, T.E. Lawrence and Lady Gertrude Bell, make a plan to divide the Middle East into the countries of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.
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. This is the story of Clara Driscoll, who worked with Louis Comfort Tiffany at his New York studio and is 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.

ICPL Top Staff Picks for 2017: Fiction

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 23rd, 2017

The Iowa City Public Library is pleased to present our favorite reads of 2017.

Employees were asked to submit the titles they read and loved this year with all nominations divided into eight categories: fiction, young adult, children’s, mystery, science fiction/fantasy, autobiography/biography/memoir, non-fiction, and graphic novel. The only rule was that the book had to be released in 2017. Any book that was nominated by more than one staff member made our 2017 Best of the Best list.

We’ll share our Best of the Best list on the last day of 2017. Until then, here are the Library’s top fiction books for 2017. Keep checking back to see what made the cut in our other categories.

ICPL BEST FICTION BOOKS OF 2017

  • The Address by Fiona Davis
  • Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
  • Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf
  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson
  • The Good People by Hannah Kent
  • Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
  • Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  • Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley
  • The Breakdown by B.A. Paris
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
  • Lincoln at the Bardo by George Saunders
  • Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
  • The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck
  • The World to Come by Jim Shepard
  • Golden Hill by Francis Spufford (published in Britain in 2016; released in US in May of 2017)
  • Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout
  • Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson
  • Wait Till You See Me Dance by Deb Olin Unferth

What was your favorite fiction read of 2017?

Mock Newbery Nominee: See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

by Morgan Reeves on November 28th, 2017
Mock Newbery Nominee: See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng Cover Image

Welcome to the first installment of our Mock Newbery summaries and reviews. Will See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng earn your vote for our Mock Newbery Award? Read on to find out what makes this realistic and moving story special and let us know what you think.

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Stephen King books for young adults

by Melody Dworak on October 19th, 2017
Stephen King books for young adults Cover Image

Today I helped a family look for classic Stephen King books that tweens and teens might like. You wouldn’t expect a list like that to be very long, given that he’s a horror writer. Still, I found lots of books that young adults could pick up and read and still sleep at night (maybe).

The library has a book recommendation tool called NoveList. It’s one of our online resources that you can log into from home with a resident library card and password. NoveList has a genre called “Adult books for young adults,” which helps younger readers branch out from the Young Adult Fiction section and find good books on the first floor as well. Lo and behold, 27 of Stephen King’s books fit this criteria for NoveList.  Read the rest of this entry »

Have you heard …

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on August 30th, 2017

I don’t watch a lot of TV or go to a lot of movies, but celebrity gossip blogs are my guilty pleasure. I may not always known who the stars are being discussed in these blogs, but that doesn’t make them less enjoyable.little-known-facts

Christine Sneed’s Little Known Facts is like reading a particularly juicy tidbit on BlindGossip.

Little Known Facts is a fictional look at the celebrity lifestyle through Renn Ivins. He’s in his 50s, has two kids in their 20s and two ex-wives, but Hollywood still loves him. That’s great for his career, but what about his life? Or the lives of those close to him?

This book shows the ups and downs of fame through several characters, including his current (and way younger lover), his children, and a prop master. The behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood shines a light on celebrity life we often don’t see. I’m not saying being a rich movie star sounds terrible, but you really do give up a lot to have it all.

Little Known Facts was Christine Sneed’s debut novel. I was thrilled to learn she’s published more. Even better, they’re part of our fiction collection!

Upcoming B.Y.O.Book events

by Candice Smith on July 28th, 2017

37380B.Y.O.Book, the Library’s books-in-bars book club, has some new events coming up! Grab a book, then pull up a chair to discuss it with us, while enjoying some food and drink at a great, local restaurant. Find more information and register for events by clicking on the links below.

August 15, at The Mill, 6 p.m., we’ll talk about Carson McCullers’ The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter

September 19, at Basta Pizzeria Ristorante, 6 p.m., we’ll talk about Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend

October 24, at Share Wine Bistro & Small Plate Lounge, 6 p.m., we’ll talk about Jeff Speck’s Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time

A limited number of each title will be available at the Info Desk on the 2nd floor of the Iowa City Public Library for checkout; there are also copies in the Library’s print, audio, and digital collections. Please call the Info Desk at 356-5200 for more information, or email candice-smith@icpl.org

Debut fiction a slice of fun

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on July 13th, 2017

bakers-guideEvery other Thursday, I join two other Library staff members to refresh our first floor book displays. It’s a great chance to have fun with puns – you’ve seen our signs; we love ‘em! – and shine the spotlight on various items in our collection. It’s always a rush when a book (or movie or CD) you chose for the display is checked out by a patron.

Another thing I love about Refresh Thursdays is that it gives me a chance to peruse the Library’s collection and find something new for myself. Not that I need help filling out my TBR (To Be Read) pile. It’s not a pile. It’s a bookshelf. A real one at home (I used to buy books before I started working at ICPL) and a virtual one on my Goodreads account.

And yet I still browse.

One of the books I recently checked out after coming across it on the Library’s shelves is The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller. I love books about food, especially dessert, so when the blurb described the story of Olivia Rawlings, a Boston pastry chef who flees to Vermont after setting fire to more than her dessert at a work engagement. Olivia’s weekend away turns into more after she secures a new job as the baker at Sugar Maple Inn. But small towns have their secrets and Olivia learns she wasn’t hired just for her magic with sugar spice and everything nice.

This is the kind of story you expect to be cute and it is, but there’s so much more going on, too. It’s about second chances and family, food and small towns, commitment and fear, expectations and competitions. It was the perfect follow up after a couple of heavier reads that left me feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. It’s not fluffy, though. There’s layers to this book — but that’s a cake term and Olivia is all about pies.

Speaking of pies, you’re going to want one – or more – while reading this book. You might want to stock up just in case.