mlkdayThe Davenport Public Library will be closed on Monday January 18 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr Day. All of our buildings will reopen on Tuesday January 19 at their regular scheduled time – Main and Eastern Ave at 9:00am and Fairmount at noon.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday!

indestructibleNow that winter seems to have finally arrived, the Iowa gardener is forced indoors. How does the avid gardener get their quota of poking around in the dirt and watching green things grow? Houseplants of course! It may not be quite the same as a perennial border or a vegetable patch of edibles, but houseplants can get you through the darkest months and have their own charms and rewards any time of the year.

The Indestructible Houseplant by Tovah Martin will set you on the path to a lifelong happy obsession with indoor plants. Martin lists dozens of tough, easy-to-grow houseplants by family, giving lots of tips and growing advice and pointers to the best varieties. Each plant family has a simple-to-consult growing basics charts, but the real value of this book is Martin’s charming, fun-to-read detailed descriptions. The acknowledged current leader in houseplant cultivation, Martin is not afraid to admit to failures or less-than-spectacular results (although I doubt those happen to her very often!)

The photographs in the book are spectacular and prove that “indestructible” is not synonymous with plain or boring. Most of the plants are grown strictly for their foliage (often very colorful foliage such as with the bromliads and begonias) but there are several flowering varieties – geraniums, kalanchoes, African violets – as well. Most of the plants are easy to find (check the local nurseries – we have several excellent ones in the area and winter is when they have the best variety of houseplants); some are common outdoor container plants (such as geraniums and ferns) that enjoy a summer vacation outdoors, decorating your porch in the summer and your living room in the winter (I’ve done this with geraniums and begonias for several years – it’s a great way to keep your favorites and also save a few dollars in the spring)

Martin finishes the book with good, practical advice on how to care for and display your houseplants. I love the variety of containers she uses – colanders, trays, cast off metal dishes, unique and beautiful pots – all of which enhance but do not overwhelm the plants. She even discusses how she trained her cat Einstein to stay away from plants (he shows up in several of the photos). This book is the best combination of eye-candy, inspiration and practical advice. Highly recommended!

 

happynewyearThe Davenport Public Library will be closed on December 31 and January 1 in observance of the New Years holiday. All three locations will re-open on Saturday January 2nd, from 9:00am to 5:30pm.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday!

More favorite books of 2015!

small nightingaleAnn has two favorites that she read this year. “I loved Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale which is set in small boys in the boatFrance during World War II, following the two very different paths that two sisters take. One joins the Resistance while the other stays in the countryside at the family home. Both face unimaginable danger, great risk and terrible sacrifice. My other favorite was The Boys in the Boat, a non-fiction account of the 1936 US rowing team that went to the Olympics. Against almost impossible odds, a group of hard-scrabble individuals come together as a team, beating every obstacle and hardship in their path. Both books offer unique viewpoints, both are nearly impossible to put down and both stay with you long after you’ve finish reading.”

 

Here’s Stephanie’s favorite:

small cinderOne of my favorite books this year was Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This is the first book in her Lunar Chronicles series. I loved this book because it was a mix of fairy tales and dystopian fiction, two genres that are sure to capture and hold my interest. This first book tells the story of Cinder, a cyborg, who also is a gifted mechanic. Because she is a cyborg, she is treated as a second-hand citizen. Her stepmother hates her and blames her for her stepsister’s illness. Cinder meets Prince Kai very early in the book and we quickly see that in order for him to avoid war with the Lunars, he may have to marry the evil Queen Levana. This book has everything in it that I wanted and expected: fabulous world building like you find in dystopian fiction and really thorough character development that actually gives her stepsisters and stepmother full personalities and doesn’t just leave them as hateful people. I also thoroughly enjoyed the fact that Cinder wasn’t the typical heroine! She was a mechanic and knew how to fix things, no matter what was wrong. Such a breath of fresh air when it comes to young adult fiction.

 

There you have it, some of best loved books of 2015 from our bloggers. What about you – what was your favorite book that you read in 2015? And what do you plan to read in 2016?

More favorites from our Blogging Librarians!

Rachel nominated two books as her favorites for 2015.

tamingHer first choice is The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory.  “This novel is based on the life of Catherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of King Henry VIII of England.  I never really thought about how brave Catherine Parr was to be the sixth wife of a tyrant.  Literally unable to refuse his proposal, she had to live out the remainder of his life walking on egg shells making sure she did nothing to provoke his anger.  She had constant reminders of what happened to his previous wives when they disobeyed him.  Even so, Catherine Parr managed to reunite Henry with his daughters Mary and Elizabeth and son Edward and to influence the religion of the King of England.​”

 

 

 

dogs giftRachel’s second choice is a non-fiction book,  A Dog’s Gift: The Inspirational Story of Veterans and Children Healed by Man’s Best Friend by Bob Drury.  “This book is about a father and daughter team that operate the group Paws4People.  This organization raises and trains puppies to be helper dogs for military veterans and children with disabilities. The dogs are trained in prisons by inmates which helps the inmates gain job skills.  One thing from this book that stuck with me is that the dogs choose their people; the dogs are not assigned to anyone by the organization.  This books is a great example of how an organization can help and touch so many people’s lives.​”

 

It’s the end of the year and that means taking a look back at some of our favorite books. Here are some favorites from our blogging librarians.

Allison nominated a series of Marvel titles as her favorites:

hawkeye“This year, I have really enjoyed the Marvel NOW!/All-New Marvel NOW!/Avengers NOW! relaunch that started in 2012, and sadly ended this year with the launch of Secret Wars. My favorite titles from the run are “Black Widow” by Edmonson and Noto, “Deadpool” by Posehn and Duggan, “Ms. Marvel” by Wilson and Alphona, “Thor” by Aaron and Dauterman and my very favorite, “Hawkeye” by Matt Fraction and David Aja. All feature witty, crackling dialog, plots explore each character while never slowing the action down, and fantastic art (especially “Black Widow”). You certainly don’t have to be a comic book nerd to enjoy these titles!”

 

 

Lynn’s favorite book would make a great summer read or anytime read!

august“Enchanted August by Brenda Bowen was my favorite book this year. It will always bring back memories of how I read it on the back deck on sunny afternoons this last summer. Views of Iowa’s muddy creeks may not be as sought after as those  of the Atlantic, but the two converged when I read this book. It’s about three women  whose lives and relationships came together in a guest house on an island off the coast of Massachussetts. It’s fun to read this before or after viewing Enchanted April.

happy holidaysThe Davenport Public Library will be closed on December 24 and 25 in observation of the Christmas holiday. All three buildings will re-open on Saturday December 26, from 9:00am to 5:30pm.

Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday!

boys in the boatIt’s hard to imagine now, in the relative comfort of our modern age, the devastation and poverty brought about by the Great Depression. The combination of a crashing economy and violent weather destroyed lives and businesses. People lost their livelihoods, their homes, their families – it was not unusual for parents to abandon or leave one or more children to other family members or orphanages. To live through this time would inevitably shape and influence a person for the rest of their lives. The Boys in the Boat brings this era and the people who lived it vividly to life.

The Boys in the Boat focuses primarily on Joe Rantz, one of the boys who will become part of the team that goes to the Olympics. Dirt poor, abandoned by his family when he was a teen, he was representative of the make-up of this group of rowers. Scrapping for everything they had, they were unafraid of hard work and impossible challenges. Being part of the rowing team allowed Joe to attend the University of Washington but it also gave him a family – teammates, coaches, supporters – of like-minded, honest people and it opened up the world to him.

The rowing team comes together and coalesces over the four years leading up to the Olympics. They raise the previously dismissed Washington rowing team to a contender, beating their rivals at the University of California Berkeley and then the East Coast giants of the Ivy League to earn the right to represent the United States at the Olympics. Most of these boys had never been out of the state of Washington – some not outside of Seattle – before they began going to rowing competitions with the team and now they were headed to Europe. It was almost unimaginable.

When I read this book I was surprised by how much of a page turner it was – I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. The gritty details of living through the Great Depression made the story come alive and the story of the Berlin Olympics – so carefully planned (and rigged) by Hitler and the Nazis was eyeopening, an early warning sign (if it hadn’t been carefully hidden by the Nazis) of the horror to come.

Filled with amazing stories both humorous and heartbreaking, peopled with vivid, unforgettable characters and set against the backdrop of great historical events all seen through the lens of the sublimely beautiful sport of rowing, The Boys in the Boat is a must read. Highly recommended.

 

thanksgiving wreathThe Davenport Public Library will be closed on Thursday and Friday, November 26 and 27 in observance of Thanksgiving. All of our locations will reopen on Saturday November 28 their regular business hours, 9am to 5:30pm.

Have a safe and happy holiday!

FlagThe Davenport Library will be closed on Wednesday November 11 in observance of Veteran’s Day. All of our locations will reopen on Thursday November 12 their regular business hours: Main and Eastern, 9am to 5:30pm and Fairmount noon to 8pm.

Have a safe and happy holiday!