Welcome to 2017!

Hello Readers and welcome to the New Year! The library is Closed today, but the Info Cafe blog is here with a little refresh for the new year. We’re also looking forward to some new features for 2017 including:

  • More in-depth stories and reviews from our bloggers. We’re going to talk more about what we love to read about and share that with you. In addition, we’ll talk about topics such publishing trends, how to use to technology to benefit your reading choices, some photo essays and maybe one or two book related crafts!
  • Soon (within the next few days) you’ll be able to sign up for our Newsletter! About once a month we’ll send a few highlights from the blog, updates on the Online Reading Challenge and any bookish news we think you might enjoy (such as forthcoming books). The first newsletter will arrive in early February – watch the blog for an announcement when sign-ups open.
  • The Online Reading Challenge is back for 2017 and launches tomorrow (January 3rd). This year we’re going global, “visiting” different countries and cities around the world through the magic of books. Click on the “DPL Online Reading Challenge – 2017”  above for more information and a complete list of locations.

2017 already looks pretty promising, doesn’t it? Join us again tomorrow when we begin our Reading Challenge for the year!

P.S. Ever have trouble finding the blog? Try bookmarking it in your favorites or adding it to your favorite RSS reader!

Online Reading Challenge – Year End Wrap-Up

Hello Fellow Readers!

We’ve come to the end of another year and the end of the 2016 Online Reading Challenge. I hope you tried something new and found and enjoyed books you might not have otherwise. The main goal of our Reading Challenge is to have fun while expanding our horizons.

Did you read any Holiday themed books this month? I have to confess, I didn’t succeed this month. I tried a couple of titles, but found them dreadful (nothing really wrong with them, just not my cup of tea) and, with all of the other activities going on in December, I didn’t have a lot of time for leisurely reading (I did manage to read – and loved – A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman which I blogged about earlier this month, so it wasn’t a complete wash) Some months are like that though and now that the holidays are (nearly) over, I’m looking forward to lots more reading time.

Speaking of more time to read, have you seen the news about the 2017 Reading Challenge? We’re going to travel the world, reading about a different location each month. This time I encourage you to read any genre you’d like including non-fiction, and to watch movies or listen to music. It’s a chance to not only find great new authors and titles, but an opportunity to get a taste of a different culture. Bookmarks listing the lineup for the year will be available at each Davenport Library location beginning January 3rd and I’ll have updates on the blog each month with suggestions and ideas. Also beginning in January you’ll have a chance to sign up for a great new feature, the Info Cafe newsletter! Every few weeks we’ll send out a short newsletter that will highlight some of the most interesting recent blog posts and keep you updated on the Reading Challenge. Watch for more information next week!

Happy New Year from the bloggers at the Info Cafe! May your 2017 be filled with lots of great reading!

 

Favorite Books of 2016, Part 3

OK folks, here’s the last installment of our bloggers favorite reads in 2016.

As mentioned earlier, Stephanie cheated and sent me a list of nine favorite titles. I picked two that looked especially interesting. The first is Love Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey. Stephanie says “This young adult book takes place in the 19th century, but what appealed to me was that the main character, Juliana Telford, is not your typical “bow to the men and let them control my life” type of person. She is determined to get her scientific research published and if that meant she has to suffer through the London season, she’ll suck it up, but not form any attachments. Enter in Spencer Northam, a spy for the War Office and a gentleman who stumbles into Juliana’s company. He is more worried about his first mission than he is about meeting ladies to find a wife. This book cracked me up and had me wondering how Juliana and Spencer’s relationship with each other and their surrounding family and friends would really turn out.” 

Stephanie’s second choice is The Worrier’s Guide to Life by Gemma Correll which she blogged about earlier this year. Stephanie found that this book really hit home with her and did it with a lot of humor. “I am a perpetual worrier. If there’s a thing happening around me, I’m worrying about it. Gemma Correll’s graphic novel gave me advice and information (most-to-all of it ridiculous and frustrating, but incredibly funny) on how to deal with the many situations that leave me up all night worrying. Check this out to laugh your way through any horrifying situation.” Both titles sound intriguing, don’t they?

Finally, my 2016 pick is News of the World by Paulette Jiles which I blogged about last month. A compelling story line, dramatic landscape and vivid characters made this a story that is hard to forget. I loved Captain Kidd, his hard won wisdom, his unwavering belief in sticking to his principals and his compassion. I also loved the emphasis on education and knowledge. The books is based on real people and I found this slice of relatively unknown Western history fascinating.

So there you have it – some really excellent books, verified by our own in-house experts! What about you? What book did you read this year that stood above the rest? Please share in the comments – everyone loves a good book recommendation!

Favorite Books of 2016, Part 2

Here are more favorite books from our bloggers!

Brenda’s favorite has a great title: The Joy of Leaving your Sh*t All Over the Place: the Art of Being Messy by Jennifer McCartney. Brenda comments: I found this a hilarious answer to Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy. I almost breathed a sigh of relief to know that there are others out there who fail at de-cluttering and still manage to do all right at this thing called life.”

Lynn has chosen the fiction book We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. Lynn explains “Rosemary tells the story of how she was raised to consider a chimpanzee her sister till there were both 5 years old and how it affected herself and her brother for the rest of their lives. The book is dense with insights into animal and human behavior and the protocols of scientific studies. Fowler causes you to feel such empathy for Fern, the sister who was a chimpanzee, that you’ll never look at non-human primates the same way again.”

There’s one more best books installment, heading your way tomorrow!

Favorite Books of 2016, Part 1

Hello! It’s the end of the year and you know what that means – lots and lots of “best of” lists. you won’t be surprised to hear that here at the library we’re especially interested in the books and that we have a lot of passionate readers on staff with a wide range of interests. Here are the favorite books of 2016 for some of our blogging librarians – you’re sure to discover something new and intriguing!

Valerie cheated a bit and gave me two titles (that’s ok, Stephanie gave me nine titles!) but I admit it’s hard to choose just one. Valerie’s first choice is Sea Level Rise in Florida: Science, Impacts and Options by Albert Hine. Valerie comments: “This title is full of scientific information presented in easy to understand text. It is chock-a-clock full of maps, charts and diagrams that help you understand the rise and fall of ocean levels over the millennia, as well as in the shorter term.”

Her second choice also non-fiction, Atlas Obscura: an Explorer’s guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer. “The world is full of interesting places. This work strives to tell you about approximately 700 of them, some man-made, some natural wonders. Organized by regions of the world, summary maps pinpoint the location of these curiositieis. Hundreds of photographs help you imagine many of the locales.”

Our next blogging librarian, Bill, nominates NFL Confidential by Johnny Anonymous which he also blogged about earlier this year. “Johnny Anonymous’ unvarnished perspective of what goes on from week to week was pretty refreshing.”

Tune in tomorrow for more of our favorites in 2016!

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Volume 1: The Coulson Protocols

If you have watched any of the Avengers movies(or any recent superhero movie), then you’re probably familiar with S.H.I.E.L.D, aka  Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Volume 1: The Coulson Protocols, Agent Coulson leads Melinda May, Agents Fitz and Simmons, Mockingbird, Quake, and Deathlok, as they battle someone in an Iron Man suit(who is not Iron Man!), multiple people who want to take over the world, and, of course, the evil Hydra organization. Coulson’s old love interest, Lola – not to be confused with his car who just happens to have the same name, has come to the team’s attention after her name is found to be affiliated with the tech that the person in the Iron Man suit blew up the Pentagon to steal. As a result, Coulson goes to meet her to find out what she knows. It turns out that Lola manipulated their previous relationship in order to steal precious superhero information from Coulson. She’s a psychic and can read his mind!

Coulson, being the giant superhero geek that he is, created scenarios in his head about how to take down any of the Avengers and also any of the other superheroes/agents that he knows. Lola then read his mind and stole that information. Those scenarios are now called the Coulson Protocols and fake Iron Man stole them from the Pentagon. That information is now up for auction to the highest bidder and the team must do everything and anything in their power to get that highly sensitive intel back. They battle a massive Iron Man army, throw down with some Hydra bad guys, rub shoulders with Spider-Man, Captain America, Wolverine, and Tony Stark, and find themselves in a massive standoff with the New Avengers, all while trying to find the Coulson Protocols. Allegiances are tested and backstories are revealed as Coulson and his team work to save the world from a possible leak of this sensitive information.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Volume 1: The Coulson Protocols does a fairly good job introducing readers to who the agents are and how S.H.I.E.L.D. works. (I didn’t come into this graphic novel as a complete newbie, having watched the first season of the S.H.I.E.L.D. tv show many, many months ago, BUT I remember almost none of it, so don’t be afraid of reading this if you’re totally unfamiliar with any of the characters. You’ll be just fine.). Guggenheim also adds the characters’ names next to each throughout most of the comic, so you won’t have to flip back to the beginning to remember who’s who (That’s fantastic, btw, and way more graphic novel writers should take note). I thoroughly enjoyed this new graphic novel and can’t wait for the next volume to be released. In the mean time, I’ll have to settle for watching the two seasons of Marvel’s Agents of Shield that the library owns. Read this comic/watch the shows and let me know what you think!


Check out the television show, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (season 1 and season 2), to learn more about the characters and see more Agent Coulson. Click on the pictures below to

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Ove, to put it kindly, is a curmudgeon. All of his neighbors are ninnies and no one knows how to do things properly. He has had a long-running feud with his former best friend and next-door neighbor Rune over a disagreement (fight) that ended with Ove being forced to step down (coup d’etat) as chairman of the Residents Association. He follows a rigid routine through his day, inspecting the neighborhood for trash, bicycles parked illegally and rule-breakers, all the while muttering about the people who drive BMWs (instead of Saabs) and nobody knowing how to bleed a radiator anymore.

That routine is severely disrupted when new neighbors move in and back their trailer into his mailbox (honestly, doesn’t anyone know how to back a trailer properly?). Ove has important business planned for that day, but now he must show the new neighbor (Lanky One) and his wife (Pregnant One) the correct way to do things and his plans are ruined. Every day he attempts to finish his plan, but time and again something comes up and interrupts him, mostly because of other people’s incompetence. No one seems to know how to repair a bicycle, or open a stuck window, or how to drive a stick shift car (Ove despairs for the future of mankind) His new neighbors persist in being his friends and, although he does all in his curmudgeon-y power to discourage them, he attracts a circle of friends and loyal supporters. And a scruffy street cat.

At first I didn’t like Ove. At all. But as the story unfolds and we learn more about Ove and his life it is easier to empathize with him. Life has sent Ove some tough blows and gradually it becomes evident that his grumpiness protects a kind and caring person. Also, most of Ove’s rants are quite funny (Ove wonders why a tattooed man let someone “doodle on him”) and his opinions are often spot-on. He may occasionally use politically incorrect terms (to everyone’s consternation) but he is fair to all and will fight any injustice against you, large or small.

A Man Called Ove is a charming, funny (more than one person asked me what I was reading because I couldn’t help laughing out loud), heartfelt book about looking past the surface and giving people a chance. Highly recommended.

 

In the Unlikely Event

In The Unlikely Event is by the author, Judy Blume. Yes, that Judy Blume that wrote, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Freckle Juice.  But this time, Blume wrote a book that is for adults.

The year is 1952 and the place is Elizabeth, New Jersey. The reader is introduced to several members of the community throughout the book. Sometimes, it could be hard for me to remember which character was which; I would have to read a couple of paragraphs to remember. From what I have read in online book reviews, I am not the only person that has had this difficulty. There were times while I was reading the book that I wished that Blume had not included so many different characters. However, by the end of the book, the character’s stories did come together and it did make sense. Still, I wish she would have cut out a few of them.

Nevertheless, I do not want to deter you from reading this book! It is a wonderful story otherwise I would not write about it. Our main character is fifteen year-old Miri. She lives with her single mother, Rusty. They live in house that has been split into two apartments. Miri’s grandmother, Irene lives on the first floor while Rusty and Miri live on the second floor. Miri also has an Uncle Henry that acts like a father toward her. Miri does not know who her father is and when she asks her family about it, they will not tell her anything and she has given up on learning anything about him. Miri’s closest friend is Natalie and she spends a lot of time at Natalie’s house so we get to know that family quite well. Miri also has a boyfriend, Mason. There are quite a few other characters that all make sense when you read the novel. Judy Blume did a wonderful job with intertwining the characters so that they all have a connection with someone that can be connected back to Miri.

The story is based off real life events. Judy Blume lived in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the 1950s. During that time, there were three plane crashes in Elizabeth. The first plane crash was December 16, 1951. The second crash was January 22, 1952 and the third crash was February 11, 1952. Blume has done an excellent job recreating the scene. Residents are on edge. Children are frightened, teenagers are coming up with conspiracy theories as to what is going on. People are anxious. Elizabeth is being called, “plane crash city”. Residents have died or been injured in the crash. Natalie’s father, a dentist, has had to identify bodies with their dental records. A girl that Miri used to babysit died when the second plane crashed in the neighborhood and their building caught on fire. Her sister was severely burned. Miri’s boyfriend helped rescue people from the third plane crash. Other characters volunteered with the Red Cross. The residents of Elizabeth want Newark airport to be shut down. And it is temporarily and reopens in November, 1952. After that, flight patterns were rerouted so that they did not fly over Elizabeth.

Even with the terror of the planes falling from the sky, this book was fun to read. Blume is able to paint a vivid picture and I felt transported back to the 1950s. There are moments, such as when Miri gets an “Elizabeth Taylor haircut” that are sweet and reminded me of being fifteen years old. Or when Miri and Mason are dancing for the first time in Natalie’s basement. Or the conversations that Miri has with her girlfriends. The characters in the book continue to live their lives, even though they do not know if and when a plane will crash again. Blume has an amazing ability to create characters that are so relatable; you feel that her characters are your friends and family.

The book is named In the Unlikely Event after the instructional speech that flight attendants give before a plane takes off. “In the unlikely event of a plane crash…”  You can find it in print, large print and audiobook

 

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley deals with tragedy and its aftermath. On a warm, foggy summer night, eleven people board a private jet heading from Martha’s Vineyard to New York. Sixteen minutes later, the plane plunges into the ocean, breaking apart. Two people survive: Scott Burroughs, a down-on-his-luck painter who was invited to fly by the wife of a wealthy media mogul, and a four-year-old boy J.J., the media mogul’s son. Scott swims in freezing cold water to save himself and the boy, his only thoughts on their survival.

Scott is hailed as a hero, but mysteries surround his background and news stations can’t find much information about him. The bodies of the other people on the flight are still missing as news reporters struggle to get the real story and government and investigative officials work to recover the plane’s wreckage. Family, media, money, and conspiracy drama galore rampage through this book, leaving readers on the edge of their seats wondering what really happened and wondering what people’s real motives are.

This book alternates between the present and past, highlighting each person who was on the plane, from the security detail to the pilots, the flight attendant, the media mogul, his wife, and young daughter, as well as a money launderer and his wife. As each character’s introduction and background story are revealed, a web of intrigue, lies, deception, and mystery comes to light. A conspiracy seems to unravel, only fueled by the 24-hour news cycle and the way the media has sensationalized this catastrophe. Everyone is drawing their own false conclusions with what really happened on the plane remaining a mystery as the book goes on.

I listened to this book through OverDrive and greatly enjoyed it. I stayed up way past my bedtime and woke up very early on the weekend to finish it, which is something I only ever do if a book has really captured my interest. The narrator had me hooked by adding in voice inflections and nuances that brought eash character to life. Add in a captivating story and a mystery I didn’t figure out until the very end and I was fully drawn into the world Hawley created from the very beginning.


This book is also available in the following formats:

Online Reading Challenge Mid-Month Check

How is your Holiday reading going this month? Have you found time amid the hustle and bustle to enjoy a good book? Admittedly, it can be pretty hard in December, but remember, many of the best Holiday stories are quick, light reads, or children’s books with beautiful illustrations. And they almost always help get you in the holiday spirit!

Need some suggestions? Here are some new books that have just arrived in the past couple of weeks.

The Angel of Forest Hill by Cindy Woodsmall (NEW Romance) An Amish romance set in West Virginia, Rose comes to help Joel Dienner and his family after the death of the Joel’s wife and the mother of his three children. How Rose and Joel navigate a new relationship forged by need and come to love each other, against the backdrop of a snowy Christmas makes for a charming and gentel read.

A Shoe Addict’s Christmas by Beth Harbison (NEW Fiction) Accidentally locked into the department store she works at after it closes on Christmas Eve, Noelle is visited by a woman who claims to be her guardian angel. It’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” only with shoes and shopping!

The Mistletoe Murder by P.D. James (NEW Mystery) Here are four of P.D. James’ best short stories, originally commissioned to run in newspapers or magazines during the holidays. Just like her books, these stories are cunning and full of sly humor and two of them feature her most famous detective Adam Dalgliesh. A must read for any mystery fan.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt (NEW Mystery) When a simple dispute with a neighbor turns into a murder investigation, defense lawyer Andy Carpenter suddenly has his hands full and may be facing a dangerous killer. Puppies and Christmas and murder! What more could you want? (Well, not the murder part, please!)

Keep reading (it might be the only thing keeping me sane some days!) and Happy Holiday!