Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’


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.

Cleaning Out the TBR Pile

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on May 16th, 2017

I used to carry a notebook in my purse in which I’d jot down the names of the books I want to read someday. Happiness was drawing a line through one of the titles after I finished a book. That feeling of accomplishment is addictive.Book Diary Notes Leave Write Down Notebook

Unfortunately, the list got out of control, so I started a new notebook. While transferring the titles from the old to the new, I realized some were duplicates. Then there were books I thought sounded interesting a decade ago that didn’t anymore. My system wasn’t foolproof. It was one thing to write down the title of a book, but how many did I actually read?

(Not that many.)

I joined Goodreads a couple of years ago, but rarely used the “Want to Read” function. I already had an out of control TBR (To Be Read) pile. Why would I add to it? It turns out, that little button is a lifesaver for anyone who’s as obsessed with lists and order as I am. I transferred all the books listed in my notebook to the “Want to Read” shelf on my Goodreads account. It’s an insane number, but I no longer worry about duplicate titles. Also, when I’m browsing the Library’s shelves without a specific title in mind, the app reminds me of all my TBR  books.

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Michelle Hoover’s Bottomland is the 2017 All Iowa Reads selection

by Beth Fisher on April 6th, 2017
Michelle Hoover’s <em>Bottomland</em> is the 2017 All Iowa Reads selection Cover Image

There’s no short way to describe Bottomland – there are just too many sides to this story. Based on the life of the author’s grandmother, this fictionalized story begins in Iowa in the years after World War I. It is a story of rural farm life in the 1900’s, an immigrants story, a story about racism, a story about a WWI soldier who comes home with invisible yet life-changing wounds, and the story of a daughter who becomes the caretaker of her father and siblings. At its heart Bottomland is a family saga you won’t want to stop reading.

Rural life was not easy at the turn of the last century, especially for German immigrants like the Hess family. Julius and Margrit Hess were raising their six American-born children on a small farm in Iowa. As anti-German sentiment grew in the years before WWI, suspicions grew and neighbors began turning on neighbors. Margrit’s unexpected death, a brutal farm accident and WWI effect them all. But the Hess family stayed close, still living together on the 140 acre farm their parents staked on arriving in America. Until the night the two youngest daughters, 14  and 16 years old, vanish in the middle of the night without a trace.  Did they run away?  Were they abducted?  You’ll have to read it to find out.

The story is told through the voices of 5 main characters, but in a very nonlinear way that requires careful reading – or for me re-reading, as each of the narrators have their own view of the events as they occur, and may or may not actually be reliable.

A June 10th discussion of Bottomland will be part of the 2017 Adult Summer Reading program.  The discussion will be led by Glenn Ehrstine, UI Associate Professor of German and International Studies. Susan Craig, ICPL Director and member of the All Iowa Reads book selection committee, will give us a glimpse of how the All Iowa Reads books are selected each year.

For more information on All Iowa Reads go to the Iowa Center For The Book website.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout

by Kara Logsden on April 4th, 2017
Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout Cover Image

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Strout’s newest book is a heartwarming story of family, redemption and love. Strout’s writing is known to be complex-she takes a simple story and weaves in layers of emotion, reconciliation, self-discovery and human interaction. I first fell in love with Strout’s writing with her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Olive Kitteridge. Anything is Possible is a continuation of Strout writing at her best and features a return of the beloved character, Lucy Barton from Strout’s 2016 book, My Name is Lucy Barton.

I was fortunate and scored an advance reader copy of this book. Anything is Possible will be released April 25th. The Library has copies on order in many formats. If you are an Elizabeth Strout fan, you won’t want to miss this wonderful new story.

Spotlight on Short Stories

by Heidi Kuchta on March 23rd, 2017

civilwarlandI love short stories! They’re a fun way to try out a writer’s work without a 300 page commitment. If you don’t like one of the stories, you can pick another at random or put the whole collection aside.

2017 has been a great year for new short story collections, but my all time favorite is from twenty years ago, Civilwarland in Bad Decline by George Saunders. “Set in a dystopian near-future…these stories constitute a searching and bitterly humorous commentary on the current state of the American Dream (Goodreads).” Upon re-reading, this book is still very relevant and very funny. Civilwarland, the brilliant setting for one of the stories, is a Civil War reenactment theme park staffed by hilarious and doleful characters. A side note: check out Saunder’s first novel that just came out, Lincoln in the Bardo (2017).

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This Won’t End Well: Tragic Middle-Grade Reads

by Anne Wilmoth on March 17th, 2017

If, like me, you don’t mind wallowing in despair, as long as a good story has led you there, try one of these new works of juvenile literature.  Eye-opening and morally challenging for middle-grade readers, and equally moving for adults, these two novels and one biography will be read through tears.

Thumbnail   The Dog, Ray by Linda Coggin

Dog books are notoriously sad, and this one is no exception.  However, instead of doggie death coming at the end of the story, in this book tragedy occurs right at the beginning – 12-year-old girl Daisy is killed in a car crash, and her soul returns to Earth in the body of a dog.  A mistake has been made, though, that allows her to recall her previous life as a girl while living her new life as a dog.  Daisy’s one goal is to find her former home and return to living with her parents, but as their dog.

This intriguing concept plays out in a story that is heartbreaking but also sweet and humorous at times.  Daisy finds that “the responsibilities of a dog are enormous” and though her life may be heading in a completely new direction she can’t control, there is meaning and love and hope in store for her.

 

Thumbnail   The Plot to Kill Hitler: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Spy, Unlikely Hero by Patricia A. McCormick

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German minister who conspired with others to assassinate Hitler at the height of the Holocaust.  Long a crusader for social justice, Bonhoeffer was one of the earliest critics of the Nazi regime.  At first, he sought the support of other church leaders in condemning Nazism – few did.  Later, Bonhoeffer graduated to espionage, traveling widely outside Germany to share news of the horrors being leveled against Jews – almost no one believed him.  Finally, Bonhoeffer determined that he had no choice but to take part in a daring scheme to end Hitler’s life.

This juvenile biography raises fascinating moral and ethical questions; through reading, we are privy to Bonhoeffer’s decision to turn to violence, despite his religious convictions and commitment to pacifism and nonviolent social change.  Bonhoeffer’s courage and willingness to stand alone is breathtaking; readers will relish this page-turning volume that exposes little-known history.

 

Thumbnail   The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz

To escape gang violence in their small Guatemalan village, 12-year-old Jaime and his cousin Angela embark on a risky journey north, through Mexico and across the border to Texas and safety.  The drug-trafficking gang that controls their town has killed their cousin and promises they’ll be next; their impoverished family, terrified, scrapes together the money needed to finance their escape.  Along the way, Jaime and Angela are locked in a sweltering boxcar for days, dodge murderous gangs as well as the police, endure hunger, and put their lives in the hands of strangers.

This morally complex book is an important read at a moment when immigration is a hot topic around the world. As USA Today reported, in the first 11 months of the 2016 fiscal year, 54,052 unaccompanied minors made the trek from Central America into the United States.  Based on true events, this novel is the tense, heartfelt story of two of these children, for whom an incredibly dangerous journey is their only hope for the future.