Now Arriving from: Japan

Hello Challenge Readers!

How was your reading this month? Did you find a great book (or movie) set in Japan that you really enjoyed? It’s such an interesting culture set against a beautiful and dramatic landscape that the possibilities for good reading are boundless.

I read The Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton which I blogged about earlier. I highly recommend this book – it’s not only a great story, it has a lot of information about the Japanese culture, much of which is unfamiliar to those of us raised in a Western European tradition.

I also watched the movie version of Memoirs of a Geisha. I loved the book (written by Arthur Golden) but had never seen the movie. I never expect a movie to be as good as the book (and they almost never are), but I had high hopes for it to be visually stunning (as I had imagined when I read the book) I was pretty disappointed – the movie concentrated on the personal interactions (which were petty and brutal) and very little on the history and background of the geisha which was a vital (and fascinating) part of the book. If you hadn’t read the book, there were large parts of the movie that you would have no idea what was going on, or why. Also, it wasn’t as beautiful as I think it could have been – the kimonos, the tea houses, the gardens – all of those were barely touched on. In addition, many of the scenes were filmed in the dark and/or rain making it very difficult to follow the action. And the ending was changed. So. Read the book (which is excellent) and skip the movie (in my opinion!)

Now it’s your turn – tell us what you read this month! Everyone loves a good recommendation!

Keeping Track

Hey Everyone!

Question for you: Do you keep a record of the books you read? If yes, how do you keep track – in a journal or notebook? In a spreadsheet or google doc? Or do you use an online service such as goodreads or LibraryThing? Or do you just live on the edge and hope you’ll remember?

When I was little I would keep track of titles on paper (and, of course, with reading logs from my local public library’s summer reading program), and I have taken a stab at keeping track every once in awhile since then, but mostly I’m pretty bad at doing this consistently. And, quite frankly, most of the lists I did keep were just that – lists, with no hint of what the book was about or if I liked it or not. Boy, I wish I had a list of everything I’ve read though – it’d be fun to see how my tastes changed and remember old favorites.

One way to keep track of your reading is with goodreads a free, online service. With goodreads you can list books that you’ve read or are in the midst of reading or would like to read someday. You can also see what your friends are reading and get recommendations based on titles you’ve read and liked. There’s a rating system and room to write your own review. One of the great things about it is that it isn’t just a list of titles, there is also a summary of what the book is about (as well as a picture of the book cover!) right at your fingertips, ready to jog your memory. There’s even a goodreads app for your phone so your list is always handy and easy to update.

If you’re already using goodreads, or if you join, be sure to request the Davenport Public Library as a friend (we’ll friend you right back!) AND – special bonus – our Online Reading Challenge now has a book club listing on goodreads! Join the “Read the World 2017” book group and you can list the books that you’ve read each month for the challenge, see what others are reading and talk about what you liked (or didn’t like!) in the forums. Hope to see you there!

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis alternates between the present day New York City and 1952 via the lives of the women who live at the Barbizon Hotel. In 1952 it was known as the Barbizon Hotel for Women, catering to young, single women who aspired to be secretaries or models. Darby comes from Ohio to enroll in the Katharine Gibbs College, which taught young ladies business skills and etiquette. Very soon, she becomes friends with Esme, a maid, singer and aspiring actress. When Esme encourages Darby to perform with her at a jazz club downtown, Darby’s world view changes radically; she discovers passion – creatively and romantically. These chapters are tinged with nostalgia and a sense of impending tragedy. Davis does a marvelous job of immersing the reader in a very different era, with different assumptions for women – and she does it with a subtle, realistic way.

The chapters set in contemporary New York feature Rose, a journalist for an online magazine, and a current condo dweller at the Barbizon. As her own life falls apart, she becomes fascinated by the earlier inhabitants – some of which still live at the Barbizon (in rent-controlled apartments).  Rose wants to tell the forgotten story of these women, but needs the hook of a fatal accident more than 50 years ago, to get the interest of her editor.  She doesn’t want to exploit Darby, who just wants to be left alone,  but, in the end, that is what she does.

Rose herself undergoes a transformation – from a woman who had a successful career, and a rising politician for a boyfriend to someone who is in the process of losing her job, her home and her father. Ultimately, she comes through it all a wiser and more independent person.

New Magazines!

New magazines are coming soon to DPL!

Get your FREE copy of BookPage at any of our locations. BookPage is a monthly magazine with reviews, author interviews, book club picks, audio reviews, and the “Hold List” – the editors pick the best books, old and new. Even the ads are helpful in getting the jump on upcoming books.

Highlights Hello is a new magazine for babies! Rounded corners, and washable, tear-resistant pages make this ideal for our youngest patrons.  It will be available at Main, Fairmount and Eastern branches.

J-14 is the “#1 Teen Celeb” magazine. For pre-teen and teenagers and available at Main, Fairmount and Eastern.

Magnolia Journal is Chip and Joanna Gaines new lifestyle magazine. Get insider info about the Gaines’s and their HGTV show.   It is currently at the Main Library and is coming soon to Fairmount and Eastern.

Other new magazines include: Iowa Sportsman, Bottom Line Personal and In Touch at the Main Library. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Kiplinger’s Retirement Report, Bottom Line Personal at the Eastern Branch, and Elle, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Bottom Line Personal and Kiplinger’s Retirement Report at Fairmount.

Book Craft – Folded Note Book

Hello Fellow Crafters!

Today we’re going to make our own book! Awesome-sauce! Now, don’t get too excited – it’s not the kind of book you’d submit to the Library of Congress or assign an ISBN number to but it is super-practical, super-easy and super-fun! (OK, enough with the super and the exclamation points.!)

Have you ever seen an interesting title at the bookstore, or heard an author interviewed on NPR or gotten a recommendation from a friend and think “I’ll remember that” but when you need the information, it’s long gone or completely muddled? (Or is that just me?!) The Folded Note Book can help you with that! It’s a nice trim size that will easily slip into your purse or pocket. You can use it to make quick notes or reminders on-the-go. Shelley from Customer Service pointed out that it would make a great bookmark, handy if you want to note down a great quote from the book you’re reading or list the author’s next book.

They’re also great for adapting to whatever you’d like – make it into a tiny art journal or doodle sketchbook, write inspiring quotes and positive reminders, or, you know, your grocery list! It’s up to you. Here are a couple of examples.

The Folded Note Book is very simple to make and requires very few materials – you probably have everything you need at your desk. You’ll need some paper (duh). I’m using 8 1/2 x 11 in these examples, but you can experiment with different sizes. Plain old photocopy paper works just fine, but again, you can experiment with different types of paper depending on what you have on hand and what you want to do with the note book. Make sure the paper isn’t too heavy or stiff – you need something that will fold crisply without tearing or breaking.

(NOTE: A bouquet of daffodils sitting nearby is not required, but aren’t they pretty? Daffodils make everything better – it’s one of my Life Mantras!)

You’ll also need a pair of scissors. A bone folder is super handy, but completely optional. That’s it! That’s all you need! If you want to decorate the note book you can go crazy – stickers, markers, colored pencils, washi tape – but that’s entirely up to you.

Step One: With one of the long sides of the paper closest to you, fold the paper in half horizontal. If you have a bone folder, use it to create a crisp, even fold otherwise use the side of your thumb.

Step Two: Without unfolding your paper, now fold it in half vertically from right to left.

Step Three: Repeat Step Two.

You now have a piece of paper folded to the final size of the Note Book.

Step Four: Unfold the paper and observe the folds. You’ll have eight “sections” created by the fold lines. At this point I like to refold the fold lines in the opposite direction so that they will fold easily in either way during a later step, but this is optional.

Step Five: Fold the paper in half along the short center fold. You will have four “sections” on either side of the fold (ok, I guess that is obvious!) Take your scissors that have been waiting patiently and make one CUT in the center of the paper (follow the fold line) from the fold across ONE section. Try to be as neat and accurate as possible.

Step Six: Open up your now cut paper. The cut should be right smack dab in the middle of the paper along the long fold.

Step Seven: Here’s the “tricky” part. Pick up each side of the paper on the short ends and PINCH it together (this is why I like to refold every fold – it helps with this part) while folding the paper in half lengthwise. As you gently push the two ends together, an alarming hole should appear. Continue to push the ends toward each other and the folds should collapse together (sometimes the folds need a little encouragement)

Step Eight: Almost done! Wrap the outer sections around the two inner sections and voila! you have a little Note Book! Yay you!

There are lots of variations of the folded Note Book and how to create it. Our Note Books has eight pages (counting front and back) but I’ve seen where people cut the folds attaching the pages so that they have 16 pages (don’t cut the spine though!) And Christie from Customer Service pointed out that it can be folded as an accordion book (we’re going to do a “real” accordion book in Book Crafts later in the year), no cutting required. Experiment! Try different papers and styles. They take less than 5 minutes to make – a fun and relaxing way to push your creativity.

Here’s an example of a Tiny Art Journal (I use the term “art” lightly here!) that I made out of the kraft paper Note Book. It’s basically me cutting and pasting various bits of pretty paper and then doodling, but it’s tons of fun and very low pressure – so what if not every spread is a masterpiece? The idea is to make something and these little Note Books are the perfect (and safe) place for your crafting.

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BONUS! If you’d like a Note Book illustrated with green stripes like the one shown in the first picture, we’ve got a free download for you! Just click below and print it off. It’s sized to regular letter-sized paper so you don’t need to make any special adjustments. When you fold it, be sure to lay the printed side FACE DOWN with the “Notes” section closest to you.

Click HERE for the illustrated version of the Folded Note Book.

We would love to see what you come up with the Folded Note Book! Snap picture and post it to our Instagram account @davpublib with the hashtag #davenportlibrarybookcrafts. Enjoy!

The Dressmaker

The Dressmaker, starring Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth, tells the story of Tilly Dunnage, played by Kate Winslet. This movie is based on the novel of the same name by Rosalie Ham. Tilly is an accomplished dressmaker who spent years traveling the world learning her trade. She has returned to her small Australian hometown in 1950s Australia. Tilly escaped from this town when she was young after being accused of murdering a young boy. She has returned to learn the truth.

Upon arriving back in town, Tilly finds her eccentric mother, played by Judy Davis, living in squalor. She begins taking care of her and scheming to get revenge on those who accused her of murder. Tilly’s way of dressing shocks the town. She begins to offer her dressmaking services to women in town, seemingly as a kindness, but really as a way of revenge. She begins working with the local sergeant, a man who has secrets of his own. Tilly also falls for a local farmer, Teddy, a man who lives next door to her mother and whose family has been stopping in to care for her mother while she’s been gone.

This small backwoods Australian town is rife with secrets and scandals, more than just Tilly’s exile for the supposed murder of her young classmate. More and more of these secrets are exposed as Tilly works her magic on the local women. This movie shows that nothing is what it seems and that everyone has secrets. Tilly struggles to find out the truth, remember her past, and clear her name. I really enjoyed this movie because Tilly clearly knows how to get revenge on people. While she may appear strong, she also has a lot going on under the surface.

Turncoat by Ryan Sullivan

Turncoat is not your traditional superhero graphic novel. Duke is a superhero assassin. He’s the world’s worst superhero assassin, a fact that is lost on him because on every contract he is sent out on, those superheroes end up dead. He’s never the one that kills them though. His partner ends up doing the killing and Duke gets the credit. (And his partner usually ends up dead as well).

The company that Duke works with keeps pairing him up with weird loser partners and also only gives his contracts to kill D-list superheroes. Who wants to be known as the assassin who killed Bug-Boy or Freedom-Fighter?! Certainly not Duke! He just wants to kill a big name superhero, somebody from the Liberty Brigade. Duke is also battling against his ex-wife, Sharon. This battle isn’t a domestic one; Sharon is also a rival assassin who just happens to be way better at killing than Duke. She keeps stealing his contracts and his money! This bothers Duke. He just can’t win.

When a contract comes through to kill the entire Liberty Brigade, Duke first thinks it’s a mistake, but then realizes that this is the best thing that could have happened to him! He will finally have the opportunity to kill the big heroes, but also to beat his ex-wife at something. Killing the members of the Liberty Brigade will also give him the motivation and the prestige to move on from his ex-wife. Chaos ensues as Duke goes after the Liberty Brigade and realizes that there are other major players behind the scenes pulling the strings. This anti-hero graphic novel was a fantastic palette cleanser from all of the traditional Marvel and DC comic books I had been reading.

Floret Flower’s Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein

Happy first day of Spring! This is, by far, my favorite time of year, when the earth wakes up from it’s winter slumber and all things are new and possible. And best of all, flowers are blooming in the garden again.

There is always a surge of new gardening books published in late winter and early spring – you will find many of them on the new book shelves at the library. Gardening books tend to fall into one of two categories – practical or beautiful. Now, there’s nothing wrong with beautiful – you can find a lot of inspiration and ideas from those gorgeous pictures and who doesn’t like whiling away a winter afternoon dreaming of colorful gardens? And there’s nothing wrong with practical – these are the books that get you through the growing season. (My favorite is Barbara Damrosch’s The Garden Primer) But the fact is, there’s not always a lot of overlap. Happily, this year there’s a gardening book that is both practical and beautiful – Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein.

If you have ever dreamed of being a flower farmer, or if you’re passionate about growing your own flowers (that’s me!), or if you simply want to grow a few flowers for your kitchen table, this book is for you. Over 170 plants are included in this book, all of which are easy to grow, some of which you may not have considered for bouquets (like vines, branches, and grasses). There is well-written practical information for each plants as well as lovely photographs (I love the use of lighting and perspective in these photos). And there are instructions for creating beautiful bouquets, arranged by season so that you can use readily available flowers from your yard or the farmers market. Erin includes “minor” flowers that are easy to grow but that you’re unlikely to find at the florist (something that I’ve been an advocate of for years) such as grape hyacinth and nasturtiums. It doesn’t take a lot of land or expensive tools to add a lot of life and beauty to your corner of the world.

I’ve long been a fan of the floret website and blog – there is an incredible amount of helpful information on the site (and, much like the book, it’s overflowing with gorgeous photography). I also enjoy the behind-the-scenes views of the job of growing flowers for a living – romantic yes but mostly lots of hard work. Much like their book, it’s the perfect combination of beautiful and practical.

OK Spring – bring it! I can’t wait!



The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Looking for a new book in OverDrive, I offhandedly asked another librarian if she had heard of The Queen of the Tearling. She said she had heard of it, that it had won some awards or been on some lists and that it was supposed to be a good read. Taking that as a good enough endorsement for me to read it, I checked it out and started listening to it after work. Holy smokes! I LOVE THIS BOOK! It’s the first book in a series and I honestly can’t wait to read the rest of the books. I am hardly ever motivated enough to finish the next books in a series unless I am blown away by the first. Johansen blew my mind with the first book, so my hopes are up for the next two.

The Queen of the Tearling is a fantasy novel packed full of adventure, journeys, and self-discovery, while also telling the story of a young girl’s coming of age. Kelsea Raleigh Glynn is a young exiled princess, who, on her nineteenth birthday, is summoned back to the castle where she was born to take her rightful place on the throne. Her mother died when she was young, but before she died, she sent baby Kelsea into exile to be raised and hopefully kept out of harm’s way. Every Raleigh Queen is murdered by assassins and therefore her mother wanted to keep her safe. Rumors swirled around the young princess with some thinking her dead while others believed her to be alive and as frivolous and vain as her mother. Mysteries abound and young Kelsea must work tirelessly to secure the trust of her people.

Kelsea looks nothing like her mother and also acts nothing like her. She knows the throne is her rightful place, whether she wants it to be or not. Trained and schooled in exile, Kelsea was only privy to the information her two guardians would give her, leaving her with wide gaps in her knowledge of Tearling history and her own mother’s life. Once Kelsea finds her way to the castle and proves she is the rightful queen, her troubles begin. Her uncle has been acting as regent since her mother’s death. He wants the kingdom for himself, despite the fact that he is rather unpopular amongst both the commoners and the nobility. He has also made a rather complicated alliance with the sorcerous Red Queen in neighboring Mortmesne, something that doesn’t sit well with Kelsea and a wide variety of the Tearling people.

This apocalyptic universe has a lot going on. Kelsea, having grown up in isolation, finds herself smack dab in all the problems. She is identified as the true queen by the fact that she is marked and is wearing the Tearling sapphire around her neck, a necklace that she has been wearing since birth. The longer she wears this jewel, the more she realizes that it is more than just your traditional necklace. It has magical powers and Kelsea isn’t quite sure how it exactly works… In addition to being protected by her sapphire, Kelsea is accompanied by the Queen’s Guard, a group of knights who have sworn an oath to protect the queen. They are a dedicated selection of men who sometimes are the only thing standing between Kelsea and her enemies. This book is a treasure trove of fantasy, dark magic, journeys, adventure, and self-love. Kelsea loves books and learning, a fact that I related to well. This book was incredibly put together and kept my interest the whole time. This heroine is no damsel in distress. Kelsea may need help at times, but she will ask for it and will strive to make herself better. She may be idealistic, but given her age and sheltered life, that is to be expected. I’m hoping that the next books explain the backstory further, but other than that, The Queen of the Tearling  sets up an intriguing world that will hold your interest all the way through.

The Queen of the Tearling is also available in the following formats:

This book is the first in the trilogy. The second book is The Invasion of the Tearling and The Fate of the Tearling. (Stay tuned for reviews of those once I finish them!)


Library Closed for In-Service

The Davenport Public Library will be closed on Thursday, March 16th for In-Service. The library does this once a year in order to train staff on new technology and policies, all with the purpose of providing the best possible service for the community.

Remember, our website is open 24 hours a day with access to the library catalog, your account information and a wealth of online databases to help meet your immediate information questions.

All three of our locations will reopen on Friday March 17th with their regular business hours of 9:00am to 5:30pm.