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Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’


Book Madness Update: And then there were four

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 30th, 2015

It wasn’t easy, but you managed to whittle 64 titles down to four in ICPL’s Book Madness.BookMadness

In the teens and adults bracket, How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal was the winning title in our Humor Me category, while Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale won the Books That Blow Your Mind category. Local author Sarah Prineas was voted the winner of the Iowa Writers category and The Lord of the Rings was named the best Big Book Worth the Effort.

In the children’s bracket, Percy Jackson edged out The Pigeon to win the Beloved Character category, while Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White won the Books That Got You Hooked on Reading category. Elephant and Piggie were named the Best Series and Bill Thomson’s Chalk took the Wordless Picture Book category.

How will these books fare against each other? Your votes decide!

Voting for the Finals begins now and continues until 6 p.m. Saturday. Be sure to stop by the Library this week to vote for the books you want to see go head-to-head. We will update the bracket Sunday morning.

We are open from noon to 5 p.m. on Easter Sunday.

If you can’t make it to the Library before Saturday, you can vote on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @ICPL using the #ICPLBookMadness hashtag! We’ll accept social media votes until 6 p.m. Saturday.

You can find the list of all books in this year’s Book Madness literary competition here. We also have extra brackets at the Children’s Desk, Help Desk and Info Desk if you’d like to pick one up as a reading list.

BOOK MADNESS 2015: TEENS & ADULTS FINAL FOUR

How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal vs. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien vs. The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas

BOOK MADNESS 2015: CHILDREN’S FINAL FOUR

Percy Jackson vs. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

Elephant and Piggie vs. Chalk by Bill Thomson

Book Madness Update: We have our Elite Eight!

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 28th, 2015

BookMadness

The votes are in! Below are the titles and beloved book characters that are our 2015 Book Madness Elite Eight!

Be sure to visit the Library this weekend to vote for your favorite book(s) to advance to the Final Four! We’ll update the brackets on Monday!

If you can’t make it to the Library this weekend, you can vote on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @ICPL using the #ICPLBookMadness hashtag! We’ll accept social media votes until 8:30 a.m. Monday.

And if anyone knows how to choose between Island of the Blue Dolphins and Charlotte’s Web in the Books That Got You Hooked on Reading category, please let us know. It’s too hard!

You can find the list of all books in this year’s Book Madness literary competition here. We also have extra brackets at the Children’s Desk, Help Desk and Info Desk if you’d like to pick one up as a reading list.

Book Madness 2015: Adults and Teens

HUMOR ME

  • How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by The Oatmeal
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey

BOOKS THAT BLOW YOUR MIND

  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

BIG BOOKS WORTH THE EFFORT

  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

IOWA WRITERS

  • Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
  • The Magic Thief series by Sarah Prineas

Book Madness 2015: Children’s

BELOVED CHARACTERS

  • Percy Jackson
  • The Pigeon

BOOKS THAT GOT YOU HOOKED ON READING

  • Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
  • Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

BEST SERIES

  • Little House on the Prairie
  • Elephant and Piggie

WORDLESS PICTURE BOOKS

  • Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
  • Chalk by Bill Thomson

A different look at love

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 26th, 2015

Do you ever go through reading slumps during which nothing grabs your attention? You pick up a book, read a few chapters, decide it’s not for you, and move on to the next.

I’d been battling that for almost two months when I decided enough was enough. Rather than check out another book I likely wouldn’t finish, I went to the book store and purchased a book. It sounds odd that a Library employee would do that, but I figured I had a greater chance of finishing the book if I was financially committed to it.something different

Because I am doing the Pop Sugar 2015 Reading Challenge with my book group, I purchased Sandy Hall’s A Little Something Different to satisfy the read a book because of its cover requirement.

I’m glad I did because this book, like its cover, is adorable.

A Little Something Different is the story of how two college students, Lea and Gabe, fall in love — only they don’t tell the story. Instead, everyone around them tells it, from Lea’s roommate and Gabe’s older brother, to their creative writing instructor and the cynical Starbucks barista. Even a campus squirrel has insights to offer. He may not be able to communicate with Lea and Gabe, but he loves that they share their food with him.

This is not a deep read. This book probably won’t change your life, though it might inspire you to give a squirrel a piece of your bagel. It will, however, make you smile. I finished it in two days and it was exactly what I needed to get over my reading slump.

Oh, and the author is a librarian in New Jersey. How can I not love that?

 

100 Foot Journey

by Kara Logsden on February 5th, 2015
100 Foot Journey Cover Image

I love books made into movies. I like to compare the two, think about which one I like better (it’s usually the book), and talk to others about what they think.

The 100 Foot Journey (Book and Movie) is a coming of age story of Hassan, a young aspiring chef from Mumbai with a loving family who has experienced great tragedy, and Madame Mallory, a Michelin-starred French chef who experiences a spiritual awakening after involvement with one of the tragedies experienced by Hassan and his family.

I didn’t discover the book, published in 2010, until I read a review for the 2014 movie. I was intrigued so I asked the Library to purchase the book on disc. I LOVED it – listening felt like a vicarious trip to Mumbai, England and the French countryside. There was strong character development, a strong sense of place, and a compelling story with memorable characters. After listening, I wanted more from the author Richard Morais.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to watch the movie with my family and everyone enjoyed it. The movie was produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey for DreamWorks Pictures. Just like the book, there were memorable characters and a strong sense of place. Helen Mirren was a perfect Madame Mallory and I especially liked Om Puri as the PaPa.

Knowing I’d read the book, my family was curious if I liked the book or the movie better. In this case, and just like To Kill A Mockingbird, I liked both. I enjoyed each in different ways, and would definitely enjoy reading the book or seeing the movie again.

If you watch the movie or read the book, I’d like to hear what you think. Enjoy!

Inspector Ian Rutledge–The Prequel

by Heidi Lauritzen on January 30th, 2015
Inspector Ian Rutledge–The Prequel Cover Image

I long have been a fan of author Charles Todd’s mystery series featuring the character Ian Rutledge.  A Fine Summer’s Day is the just-published, perfectly-presented prequel to the sixteen novels in the series.  It is a satisfying detective story in its own right, but what’s best is learning some of the back stories of the series’ characters.

If you are already a fan too, I think you will thoroughly enjoy this installment.  It takes place just as England is mobilizing to enter World War I.  Rutledge is a detective at Scotland Yard and is courting Jean, the young woman who we know will break their engagement upon Rutledge’s return from the war.  Many other familiar characters whom we have come to know are introduced here as well.

Why do I like the series so much?  Ian Rutledge is an honorable and intelligent man who is haunted by the horror of the war.  How he solves mysteries while trying to regain some emotional stability in his life are complimentary and compelling themes.  His Scotland Yard assignments take him all around England–and sometimes to Scotland–and the places and historical settings come to life.

When I recommend the series to readers, I always suggest that they read them in order.  While there is enough background information repeated in each novel to make them understandable if you don’t read them in order, the character development does flow from book to book and you see the natural progression of the characters’ lives.  Now I will suggest that readers begin with this book.

A couple more notes about the series’ characters:  you don’t get much here about Hamish MacLeod–which makes sense because he becomes part of Ian Rutledge’s life only when Rutledge enters the war.  And there’s a tantalizing reference to Simon Brandon, a name you will recognize if you read the Bess Crawford mysteries, by the same author.  I wonder if we can look forward to a merging of their stories sometime soon?

 

Novelist Kent Haruf Dies at 71

by Maeve Clark on December 2nd, 2014

harufOne of my favorite novelists, Kent Haruf, died on Sunday at the age of 71. I first discovered Haruf’s lyrical writing when his wonderful 1999 work Plainsong was under consideration as the inaugural All Iowa Reads selection n 2003, Peace Like a River by Leif Enger, another excellent work, was selected as the first book for All Iowa Reads and with it setting in rural Minnesota it trumped Haruf’s Colorado high plains locale.  Plainsong was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1999.

Haruf was able to capture small town and rural life in his books.  His latest, Benediction, was published in 2013, and with Eventide completes the trilogy set in Holt, a fictional town on the high plains of Colorado.  If you haven’t read his novels and enjoy a strong sense of place, you will not be disappointed.

Morning Edition aired a tribute to Kent Haruf today. It included clips from an interview with Diane Rehm where he talked about moving to Iowa City in the winter of 1971 with hopes that he would be admitted into the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in the fall.  He received an MFA from the workshop in 1973.

And for those of you who have read and enjoyed his writing, Kent Haruf’s final novel, Our Souls At Night, is in the editing phase and is currently scheduled for a 2015 release.

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy

by Morgan Reeves on November 29th, 2014
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy Cover Image

Two dads, four boys, one dog, one cat, and one invisible cheetah. The Family Fletcher is preparing for a new school year, the first school year where all four of the very different boys will be in school. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy follows this unique, and at the same time totally normal, family throughout the year as they deal with their individual problems. Twelve year-old Sam is a soccer player, a cool kid looked up to as the example for his younger brothers. Can he transfer his talent for storytelling into a part in the school play, and more importantly still be cool? 10 year-old Jax thinks Sam is the coolest, and wants to be accepted as part of the same crowd, now that he’s in the same school building. But with a changing friendship and a school project hanging over his head, Jax might end up more behind than ever.  Eli, also 10 (but a couple of months younger), is starting a new, expensive, academically minded school, trading familiar faces for scholarly challenges. When his new school turns out to be less amazing than he had hoped, he struggles with the his ability to admit he made a mistake. Six year-old Froggie (not Jeremiah) is excited to start kindergarten with Flare, his invisible cheetah. His biggest problems are asking for kittens, turtles and convincing his family that his new friend Ladybug is real girl.

Even with all of their individual issues to work through, the whole family comes together for the biggest Halloween party ever, camping trips, and convincing their grumpy neighbor Mr. Nelson that they mean no harm. With loving support from both Papa and Dad (who have some misadventures of their own), the Fletchers work together to overcome all obstacles that come their way. This is a fun romp that just happens to have a diverse family at the heart of it.

Vacationers by Emma Straub

by Kara Logsden on November 21st, 2014
Vacationers by Emma Straub Cover Image

Straub’s Vacationers is a vicarious trip out of the cold Iowa winter. Frannie and Jim decide to vacation in Majorca, Spain with their grown-up children and Frannie’s best friend, Charles, and his husband. For each character Majorca represents a turning point of either falling back into the ruts of life or moving forward and finding new potential.

Emma Straub’s writing is clean and crisp. The books is funny, warm and realistic. Straub creates characters who are real and struggle with insecurities and secrets while ultimately triumphing over what life throws at them. I listened to the book and Kristen Sieh’s narration is perfect.

As I look out my window I see it is snowing again. If you need a vicarious escape to Spain check out Emma Straub’s Vacationers.

Mister Max by Cynthia Voigt

by Morgan Reeves on October 30th, 2014
Mister Max by Cynthia Voigt Cover Image

Not since first picking up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone have I read a book that started off full of so much life and mystery. But this is just how Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt begins. As dramatic as any play, the scene is set when a letter arrives inviting Max Starling’s actor parents to visit the Maharajah of Kashmir. His parents say Max will be coming too, but when the steamship leaves, Max is left behind. Determined to be independent until his parents return, he decides to find a job. But jobs for twelve year old boys don’t pay very well, so Max uses his experience of growing up in the theater to disguise himself and act older. To his surprise, he discovers he has a talent for solving problems for other people. He is not quite a detective and not quite a life coach, but something in between, a Solutioneer, as he calls himself. Cases start rolling in, a lost dog, a lost Baron, even a lost spoon, Max finds the solution to them all. This wonderful beginning of a trilogy weaves tricky problems and spirited characters into the the overarching story of what has happened to his parents.  A story that leaves readers both satisfied with Max’s solutions and eager to find out more about Mister Max, Solutioneer.

http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1389591922l/17471117.jpgMister Max: The Book of Secrets is the recently released second title in the trilogy, which follows Max on his most important case yet. The problems are bigger and more complex, but Max is sure he can handle them. Fires have been springing up in small businesses, but no one will talk to the police, and with a visit from the Royal family approaching, the Mayor is desperate stop the fires without a fuss. Enter Mister Max and his ability to get people talking without knowing who they are really talking to. But with the appearance of an old schoolmate, for the first time he must deal with the possibility of being recognized, which could ruin Max’s independent lifestyle. Help is provided in the form of his librarian Grammie; his tutor Ari; and the sometimes irritating, very talkative Pia, who insists she is his assistant. All the while Max continues to receive troubling hints on the whereabouts of his parents. A great follow-up to the first, this story manages to leave some solutions open-ended while setting up the last book and what readers will hope to be Max’s reunion with his parents.

Top 10 reads from the 2014 Adult Summer Reading Program

by Beth Fisher on August 14th, 2014
Top 10 reads from the 2014 Adult Summer Reading Program Cover Image

You told us what you read this summer and we kept track.  Click on the cover or title to place one of these on hold.

The most read book this summer, by both teens and adults is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.    The story is narrated by a sixteen-year-old named Hazel Grace Lancaster, who has accepted her diagnosis of stage IV thyroid cancer.  She is forced by her parents to attend a support group, where she meets and falls in love with the seventeen-year-old Augustus Waters, an ex-basketball player and amputee.  Their relationship forces her to rexamine her perspective on love, loss and life.

 

DivergentDivergent, by Veronica Roth is the first book in a dystopian trilogy of the same name.  It follows Beatrice “Tris” Prior as she explores her identity within a society that defines its citizens by their affiliation with one of five predetermined factions.  Her chose will shock everyone.

 

 

little wolvesLittle Wolves, by Thomas Maltman is the All Iowa Reads 2014 title.    Set on the Minnesota prairie in the late 1980s during a drought season that’s pushing family farms to the brink, Little Wolves features the intertwining stories of a father searching for answers after his son commits a heinous murder, and a pastor’s wife who has returned to the town for mysterious reasons of her own.

 

 

goldfinch Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.   Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

 

gonegirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  When a beautiful woman goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary, her diary reveals hidden turmoil in her marriage and a mysterious illness; while her husband, desperate to clear himself of suspicion, realizes that something more disturbing than murder may have occurred.

 

 

insurgentInsurgent by by Vernoica Roth.   Book two in the Divergent trilogy finds Tris Prior’s initiation day shattered by Erudite simulation attacks that end the lives of several loved ones and launch a bitter war, compelling Tris to embrace her Divergent nature and make painful sacrifices.

 

 

oceanendoflaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman  A modern fantasy about fear, love, magic, and sacrifice in the story of a family at the mercy of dark forces, whose only defense is the three women who live on a farm at the end of the lane. When otherworldly beings are set loose on the world, threatening the life of a little boy, the extraordinary Hempstock women summon all of their courage and cleverness to keep him alive, but soon discover that his survival comes with a high–and deadly–price.

 

silkwormThe Silkworm by  Robert Galbraith (the pseudonym for J.K. Rowling) is the second in the series of crime novels starring private investigator Cormoran Strike. When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. As Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives–meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.  When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before.

 

allegiantAllegiant by Veronica Roth. The conclusion to the Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world and the consequences of a fateful decision.

 

 

 

top secret 21Top Secret 21 by Janet Evanvich.  The 21st Stephanie Plum novel finds Stephanie looking for Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti who’s on the lamb, and leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. And unfortunately for Stephanie, Randy Briggs may be the clue. To top things off, Ranger has become the target of an assassination plot.  Death threats, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day’s work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur’s new bucket list.




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