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.

I think we can safely call this the Summer of the Superhero.

You can’t go anywhere without encountering blockbusters, books, graphic novels, and YouTube videos, dedicated to the adventures of the suped-up denizens of the DC and Marvel (and various Independent) Universes.

(especially at the Davenport Public Library—just saying)

But when everyone is fighting for truth, justice, and the way of whichever rebooted dimension they happen to currently inhabit, and everyone’s base superpower is to look fabulous in spandex, how can a single super stand out?

With the power of Pure Obnoxiousness, that’s how.

Marvel’s Deadpool (aka Wade Wilson, aka “The Merc with the Mouth”) isn’t your usual superhero.  And he definitely isn’t for the kiddies.

Deadpool Dead PresidentsOther superheroes have healing factors (Wolverine) and are known for their sarcasm (Spiderman and Hawkeye), still others are egotistical (Tony Stark), have mental health issues (Duh), or dubious reputations (Winter Soldier and the Black Widow), and whatever they say their motivations are, most of them are adrenaline junkies with easily ignored self-preservation instincts.

But only in Deadpool do all these traits combine to make a deadly, invulnerable, happy-go-lucky sociopath who could use a double dose of Ritalin every four hours.

DeadpoolHe’s often drawn as having multiple personality disorder (or being possessed, take your pick), surrounded by different narration boxes that argue with him or amongst themselves.  He’s also one of the few Marvel characters who knows that he’s a character, making him incredibly delusional by the standards of the other characters and impossibly self-aware by ours.  Or vice versa.

Deadpool himself is aware that he’s crazy by anyone’s standards—and he runs with it.  He takes on impossible tasks, talks directly to the reader (and the artists) whenever it’s inappropriate to do so, and takes full advantage of his cartoon status by acting like a happily-homicidal, R-rated version of a Roadrunner who read Wile E. Coyote’s playbook, stole his Acme catalogs, and hung out a shingle.

And his success rate is phenomenal, if you ignore the collateral damage.

Deadpool Draculas GaunletDuring the course of his Extremely Varied Career, he’s saved the world from alien invasions and  undead presidents, punk’d Dracula, kicked it with Hawkeye, and contributed interesting things (including an excellent post credit scene) to Wolverine’s origins.

This is a man who appeares to thoroughly enjoy his (wet)work.

Though that doesn’t mean he can’t get cranky about being an immortal pawn in someone else’s script, to the point of making the odd attempt to take down everyone in all the Marvel Universes . . . and beyond.

Deadpool has a lot to be cranky about—even the mildest of his many, many origin stories is a nightmare: a highly skilled (and highly irritating) mercenary soldier, Wade Wilson was diagnosed with fast-acting, lethal cancer. In exchange for a cure, he agreed to join the Weapon X program (the one that gave Wolverine his metal skeleton), which hoped to use him to create the perfect soldier. Unfortunately, the scientists at Weapon X miscalculated (or lied); their excruciating experiments did give him a healing factor that made him essentially unkillable . . . but it didn’t actually cure his cancer or reverse the horrific effects of the disease . . . or of the experiments.*

Essentially, his cells regenerate just quickly enough to keep the cancer and his battle damage from killing him—but what’s underneath Deadpool’s mask isn’t pretty.  And what’s between his ears, by most definitions, doesn’t have a firm grip on what’s left of its sanity.

Deadpool versus HawkeyeStill, Deadpool is loyal (at least to the highest bidder) willing to do almost any mission (for a price), and occasionally takes a shine to other heroes (especially Spidey, Cable, and Hawkeye) and “helps” them with their own missions in a way that really, really doesn’t . . . at least, at first.

He cares, sometimes, in his own way, and if his ideas of right and wrong are a little skewed, he deserves partial credit for trying. Maybe.  And it might, just might, be possible that the reason Deadpool is so completely, utterly annoying is that his invulnerability is only skin deep and he’s desperate to protest what’s left of the rest of him.

Most of the time, Deadpool wants to be The Hero—or The Anti-Hero of Awesome—of his own story, but his methods are madness.

Though even his worst enemies can’t deny that he makes it work for him.

And it really works for those of us who dare to try his kind of chaotic supercrazy.



*In another version, the Weapon X experiments worked as stipulated, and Wade Wilson was a covert superhero for a while, until he (mistakenly or deliberately) killed one of his team.  He was sent to The Hospice, a rehabilitation center for damaged mutants and supers, which was actually a secret playground for the sadistic Dr. Killebrew.   The doctor and his staff made bets—in a “deadpool”, get it?—on which of their patients would survive their terrible experiments.  As it happened, Wade Wilson held on long enough to kill his torturers and escape . . . thus “winning” the deadpool and earning a new name.  Isn’t that cheerful?

Favorite books read in 2013 by our Info Cafe bloggers continues.

small bonesRita is a big fan of audio books and choose one author as her favorite to listen to. “I have read and listened to Kathy Reich’s Temperence Brennan from the beginning, 15 titles and counting. It is a wonderful series about Temperence being a forensic anthropologist holding two positions, one in North Carolina and one in Quebec, Ontario. Her cases are based on real cases in Kathy Reich’s experience as a forensic anthropologist. Temeperence has adventures and misadventures most people wouldn’t live through. What I like best about her writing is that her writing has stayed the finest quality through all 15 books. Some series I read, you can tell when it has become a chore for the writer to continue the series. Her newest book, Bones of the Lost, continues with that quality”.

small hatBill’s favorite (and most read) title is the children’s classic The Hat by Jan Brett. With beautiful illustrations reminiscent of Nordic folk art, Brett weaves a fun and charming story about animals discovering warm winter headgear. This book is especially great when you do different voices for each animal, much to the delight of the littlest reader.

There’s still more to come! Stop back on Monday for our final installment of 2013 favorites!

It’s that time again – the end-of-the-year recap time! Here at Info Cafe we’re going to take a look back at our favorite books of the past year. Not all of these books were published in 2013, but were read and enjoyed in 2013. Enjoy!

small eleanorLexie gets us started with a YA title that several of us liked, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. “This is a beautiful story of two misfit teens who against all odds find each other and find happiness. their friendship begins over a shared love of comic books and music, and over time is grows very naturally into first love. I’ve read a lot of YA love stories, and I can easily say that this is one of the most realistic I’ve read. It is genuine, moving, and very charming, and I would recommend it to just about anyone”.

small cuckoosAmber’s up next. “Although I may have felt slightly lonely in my praise of J.K. Rowling’s first post-Potter-publication, The Casual Vacancy (compare Maggie’s full review of ithere to my quick end-of-year review here), there is almost universal adoration for Rowling’s second offering, The Cuckoo’ Calling, about a rough detective named Cormoran Strike who tries to prove the suicide of a London It-Girl was really a premeditated murder (Once again, you can see Maggie’s full, eloquent review here). Ms Rowling released The Cuckoo’s Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, and much to her dismay (and my delight) it only took several months for her secret to leak into the press. I have long been a fan of mysteries, but usually of the cozier or historical sort, and I probably would have bypassed The Cuckoo’s Calling due to the gritty, contemporary setting and missed out on Rowling’s amazing storytelling and beautifully crafted characters. According to Robert Galbraith’s website, we can expect another Cormoran Strike mystery in 2014 – Hurrah”!

Check back tomorrow for more of our picks for 2013!


Here’s the last entry in our Best Books of 2011 from our blogging librarians.

Maggie says “My favorite of 2011 is Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood. It’s a dense, relatable, beautifully written book by my favorite author. It’s also the most moving book I read this year. P.S. very hard to pick just one….”

And here’s Ann’s choice. “2011 wasn’t a particularly “good” reading year for me; I read several entertaining books, but nothing that knocked my socks off. However, there was one book from this year that will always be a stand-out for me – Rick Steve’s Paris 2011. With the huge number of travel books available, Rick Steves is a great choice for the first-time traveler, showing you the basics yet encouraging you to get off the beaten tourist path. You can be sure that all of his recommendations have been personally vetted (and they have never steered me wrong) And yes, the trip was fantastic!”

Now it’s your turn – what was your favorite book that you read in 2011? Let us know in the comments!

Best wishes for a Happy New Year in 2012 – may it be overflowing with great books!

More best books from our Blogging Librarians! Michelle and Lexie kind of cheated since they each picked two titles; however, they’re both so good at picking books we don’t mind a bit.

Michelle starts with a mystery. “Louise Penny’s quirky, yet endearing characters make A Trick of the Light one of my favorite mysteries of the year. Penny’s clever writing style combined with her main character, the legendary Inspector Armand Gamache, make for a superb mystery book (and the latest release in the series)”. Read more in her blog post from earlier this year.

A fiction book is Michelle’s second pick. “Katie Lee’s debut work of fiction, Groundswell was a favorite beach read in 2011. Groundswell follows a main character who becomes caught up in the glitz and glamour of stardom only then to discover what is important in life after a traumatic event”. Michelle’s blog post about this book is here.

Lexie says go big or go home with George R. R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire. “An epic fantasy series set in a land where seasons can last for decades. The series is filled with political intrigue, plenty of shocking plot twists, romance, and engaging characters who don’t fit into a traditional mold of good or evil. This complex world that Martin created has become an absolute obsession for me; the fifth book was just released in July and I’m already eagerly anticipating the next installment”. Read more from Lexie about it in her earlier blog post.

Her second pick is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. “31-year-old “carer” Kathy looks back on her youth, which was spent in an isolated English boarding school with her two best friends and plenty of secrets. This book is haunting and incredibly thought-provoking. I couldn’t put it down once I started, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it once I finished”. Lexie blogged about it here.

It’s that time again – the end-of-the-year recap time! Here at Info Cafe we’re going to take a look back at our favorite books of the past year. Not all of these books were published in 2011, but were read and enjoyed in 2011. Thanks to our diverse group of bloggers, over the next few days you’re going to find a wide range of titles covering all kinds of interests. Enjoy!

Lynn’s favorite book was Following Polly. “It is rare to find a book that surprises you by breaking out of whatever preconceived ideas and expectations you had about what the book was going to be. I also love a book that makes you laugh out loud, or at least snicker a little. Often these are the same books that make you a little sad when you finish them because you’ve come to liek the characters in all their eccentricity and weirdness”. Lynn tells you more about the book in her blog post from earlier this year.

Amber’s vote goes to  Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell. “In Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell (creator of acclaimed comic strip Mutts), the reader is introduced to the amazing Jane Goodall as a little girl having adventures with her stuffed toy chimp named Jubilee. Together they begin to wonder about the natural world and explore it for answers – all lovingly captured through the simple, emotive art of McDonnell and actual images of Jane’s childhood drawings and ephemera. Me…Jane is easily my favorite picture book of the year, and, judging by how many people on my holiday gift list will be receiving a copy, it has swung up to be my favorite book of 2011 overall”.