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Recommended by the Librarians

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They called us Enemy by George Takei
Technical Services Librarian, Mandi Rink

George Takei is known by multiple generations, as the guy from Star Trek, the ‘oh, my guy’, the meme guy, the advocate for LGBT rights, and most recently graphic novelist.  He has a strong social media following where he remains a prevalent voice in today’s heated political climate.  George Takei spent four formidable years imprisoned in the Japanese American internment camps. He has written about his time in these camps before in his autobiography. George wanted to educate the younger generation, who are found unknowledgeable about this piece of American history. To achieve this George created a graphic novel with Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott and Harmony Becker. 
“They called us Enemy” is the first graphic novel I have read. I found it hard at times to read because the (beautiful) graphics were distracting at first. About fifteen pages in, I found my flow and it was a lot easier to appreciate the way the drawings added to Takei’s graphic memoir. I did not learn about the Japanese American internment camps when I was in high school or even college level American History. I learned about the internment camps through self-education in adulthood. I can understand why Takei felt he needed to target the younger generation so history never repeats itself. Takei writes in a way to make the reader understand that he did not realize how damaging the camps were to him until he reached an age where he gained maturity and realized the imprisonment was wrong. The novel wasn’t heavy at all times. I did laugh in the two hour span in took me to read because George writes this through the innocent eyes of a child. Overall, it was very informative, easy read. This graphic novel would complement any teacher’s arsenal or anyone with a thirst for history.


 

Recursion by Blake Crouch
Library Clerk, Sonya Trager


Genre: Sci-fi Thriller
Synopsis: The novel follows Barry Sutton, NYC cop, investigating FMS (False Memory Syndrome) which fills those afflicted with memories of a life they never lived. Alongside his story is that of Helena Smith, neuroscientist, as she works to understand memory in an effort to build a device to preserve it. Barry soon finds the truth about FMS while Helena discovers that good intentions do not always have good results. The two work together in an effort to defeat the dangerous effects of FMS and the circumstances that cause the disease.
My Impression: Oh, Mr. Crouch, how I love thee.  Is it socially acceptable to hug a book? Here I thought that my mind could only handle so much after the mind-blowing experience of reading Dark Matter, only to find he has done it again with Recursion. I apologize for the vague review, but I would hate to ruin all the twists and turns in the stories journey. Crouch tells his tale in present tense. This may cause frustration for some readers; however, I suggest hanging on and continuing as the ride is worth it. As in his other novels, Crouch gives the reader just enough about the characters and plot in the beginning then continues to tease the reader along the way. I found myself enveloped in the book from the get-go. The story is fast-paced and filled with all those twists and turns that make you think, especially about memory and reality. I am sure that science experts will find the story a bit out there and certainly scientifically unsound, but for this average Jane, the book got me thinking. Several times, I went back in the book to reread sections in response to a personal “Aha!” moment. I would highly suggest this book for anyone who likes an exciting fast-paced read as well as all those lovers of thrillers.


 

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey
Technical Services Librarian, Mandi Rink

Ivy Gamble is a private investigator with a small drinking issue. She is not magic or special, like her estranged sister, Tabitha, a magical theory professor. Ivy is happy with her life, until she is called to investigate a suspected murder at the private high school for mages, Osthorne academy. Ivy starts to question her choice of lifestyle, morals and the way she has seen herself for years.
My favorite part of this book was how real the main character, Ivy, felt. The sore spots of Ivy’s personality were not glossed over and the character development did not happen too fast. I started this book in hopes that it would feel a little bit like going back to Hogwarts. It did not. In fact, the students in this book chastise Rowling’s books for being ‘unrealistic’. It does not seem that magic is a giant secret in this world. Magic is just not something everyone believes even when he or she are told about it. I feel like Sarah Gailey wrote a fantastic fantasy novel for adults. I will say I did not enjoy the ending too much and wish Sarah would not have left us with so much to wonder about. There is enough mystery in this novel for those who do not normally read fantasy novels to enjoy, enough family drama for a daytime soap, and enough fantasy to leave anyone with an imagination to wonder. Five Stars!

 

For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
Library Clerk, Sonya Trager

Genre: Christian Inspirational, Non-fiction

Synopsis: The book is a collection of essays by Jen Hatmaker. She covers many subjects including faith, family and her every day observances.

My Impression: A couple years ago, I read another book by Hatmaker called Of Mess & Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life. I instantly fell in love with Hatmaker’s personal style of writing, her humor, and her take on the world around her. For the Love follows along the same lines with a slightly heavier focus on faith. She discusses parenting, marriage, her faith, and her desire for all women to feel loved and a part of a larger sisterhood. I found myself reading passages aloud to my husband as well as nodding my head at several points in total agreement with her take on the world. She even includes a couple family favorite recipes and, thanks to her online followers, a few “thank you notes” much like the style of those featured on the Tonight Show with Jimmie Fallon. This was an easy read, which empowered, inspired, and filled me with a sense of contentment.

 

 

 

Abandon by Blake Crouch
Library Clerk, Sonya Trager


Genre: Thriller

Synopsis: On Christmas day in 1893 the residents of the town of Abandon disappeared. Every resident, from adult to child, disappeared with all of their belongings left behind leaving the town almost frozen in time. In 2009, two guides, a history professor, a journalist, psychic and paranormal photographer make a trip to the town on rumors of hauntings. The group soon discovers that the sins of the past weigh heavily on the future. Jumping back and forth between the history of Abandon and the present group, the author leads the reader on a twisting and turning historic adventure.

My Impressions: This is my second review of a Blake Crouch book. Earlier I reviewed “Dark Matter”. Check it out! I mean, literally, we have it here at the library. One of the librarians will hook you up. It is mind blowing!

On to “Abandon”, another thriller by Crouch. I really enjoyed this book. The writing is strong and keeps the reader engaged from the very beginning. Generally, I struggle with books that jump between time lines, but I had no difficulty following this story. The transitions were smooth and they kept me entertained, even if I did feel eager to read on in the other timeline. While the synopsis hints at this being a ghost story, I assure you that while it has elements and suggestions of the paranormal the story, over all, is a pure thriller. Without giving too much away, I will mention that all sorts of haunting exist, not all of them are of the ghostly kind.


 

The Ash Family by Molly Dektar
Technical Services Librarian, Mandi Rink

“Thrilling and profound, The Ash Family explores what we will sacrifice in the search for happiness, and the beautiful and grotesque power of the human spirit as it seeks its ultimate place of belonging.” - Goodreads

The Ash Family is the debut novel from Molly Dektar. Dektar’s writing is beautifully poetic. It is not very often these days you can read a book and appreciate the writing as well as the story. Dektar writes of a young woman, Berie, who is in search of a simple life. While on her trek to college, Berie meets a curious man with promises of the life she would like to live. Berie soon meets The Ash Family, a small community living off grid in the mountains of North Carolina. The family respect their leader, Dice, and follow various rules. Being a member of the Ash Family, you must also follow the rules that are undeclared and often hard to navigate. Berie, who is later renamed Harmony, tries her hardest to fit into this family and begins to form ties of her own. Harmony is finally finding her place in “the real world” and soon after starts to notice things are not as they seem with the Ash Family…

The Ash Family is a wonderful debut novel. At times it was hard for me to understand what decade Harmony and the main ensemble were living in and I feel this was on purpose. While other reviews mention hating how indecisive Harmony is it is important to remember, she is in a cult and is undoubtedly being brainwashed from the start. Bay, the elusive man who led Harmony to the ‘family’, is clearly an abusive man. Harmony does not have a lot of life experience and the members of the ‘family’ use this to their advantage. While I did enjoy this book, I felt there could have been more background on the cult and the members. There was a lot to wonder about after finishing this novel. I would recommend this novel not because it is absolutely riveting and addicting but because the writing is wonderful and it will make you think.
 

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips
Library Clerk, Sonya Trager

 


Genre: Thriller

Synopsis: The zoo is nearly empty and getting ready to close as Joan and her son, Lincoln, play in the dinosaur pit. Their perfect play day turns to terror as they make their way to the exit. Shots ring out through the park and Joan soon discovers the gravity of the situation. She and her son must run and survive if they will make it out alive.

My Impressions: I really enjoyed this intense nail biter of a book. From the beginning, I felt an attachment to Joan as a mother. I felt her frustration, anger and most of all fear all of which she felt for the situation, herself and her son. The novel reads very much like an action flick. The author introduces the reader to the main characters in the beginning and then offers up a disastrous situation. The author then takes the reader on an action-filled ride for survival. I found myself eagerly turning each page to find out what would happen next. I am a fast reader, but the energy with which I devoured this book surprised me. I read the entire novel in three hours! I just could not stop until I finished this book.

 

After by Anna Todd
Technical Services Librarian, Mandi Rink


Tessa is a cliché nice, innocent woman attending her first year of college when she runs into British bad boy, Hardin Scott. Hardin is more than a bad boy, he is cruel to Tessa. One day Tessa is beautiful to Hardin and the next day he ignores her and belittles her. Tessa cannot understand why she has such an attraction to him, especially when she has a perfect boyfriend waiting back home for her. During this push and pulling match, Tessa must admit to herself, she is falling desperately in love with Hardin. Does Hardin feel the same?

I started “After” by Anna Todd because I knew everyone would be asking my opinion on the book with the movie coming out soon. This book highlights how very little experience Tessa and Hardin have with relationships as new adults. I did not expect to like this book. I honestly felt a bit sheepish admitting that I did! I felt that way not because it is a romance novel for mature adults, I felt guilty admitting that I enjoyed it because it is a very problematic introduction to a series. As a culture, we tend to romanticize controlling and borderline abusive men. Hardin Scott is a very stereotypical bad boy in the sense that he is a young man who has many romantic connections, drinks, has an uncontrollable temper, troubled past, and does not seem to care about university but does exceptionally well. I am sure this is all sounding very familiar to you. There is a constant tension between Hardin Scott and Tessa Young. At the end of the book, you find out why Hardin was so controlling to Tessa. Honestly, though, finding out why he was controlling makes his behavior even worse.
Since the first book ends in such a cliffhanger, I had to continue to read the series. I was so invested in this damaged couple. There were times I screamed at Tessa to leave Hardin because of his abusive nature. The character development that happens in the third and fourth installments is absolutely this series’ redeeming quality. Women do not have a respsonsibility to fix damaged men and this series highlights that. Reading these books as a mature adult with the life experience to see this theme, and to know that Hardin’s, and sometimes Tessa’s, behavior is deplorable, is key to appreciating the emotional roller coaster Anna Todd takes you on. After finishing the last book in this series, I was able to express I enjoyed the story and no longer felt embarrassed for it. I recommend this book not as a learning tool for relationships but to highlight that there is always light at the end of a dark time.

Belmond's Book Club

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Graphic Novels

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“I like the stars. It’s the illusion of permanence, I think. I mean, they’re always flaring up and caving in and going out. But from here, I can pretend…I can pretend that things last. I can pretend that lives last longer than moments. Gods come, and gods go. Mortals flicker and flash and fade. Worlds don’t last; and stars and galaxies are transient, fleeting things that twinkle like fireflies and vanish into cold and dust. But I can pretend…”      – Neil Gaiman, The Sandman
 

The quote above is beautifully written. It can be found in Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman”, a graphic novel. In case you are not familiar with the term, Britannica defines graphic novel a type of text combining words and images. While graphic novels are set up in a similar fashion as a comic, they are not the same.
A graphic novel is longer and normally covers the entire storyline in one book. There are all types of genres to be found in the Graphic Novel format.
While fantasy and superhero graphic novels seem to be the most popular, you can also find non-fiction, realistic fiction, and mystery and horror genres.
The Belmond Public Library has recently been inspired by adult patrons to add more graphic novels for “grownups”.
An adult may be reluctant to pick up a graphic novel, mistakenly thinking they are just for children.
Graphic Novels are available with themes targeted at adults and young adults. These books offer all the same benefits that reading regular novels do.
The benefits being: mental stimulation, stress reduction, vocabulary expansion, and better writing skills.
Reading a graphic novel the first time can be somewhat difficult because they do not flow the same way traditional books do.
This is easy to overcome when the storyline and writing are eloquent.

If you are up for the challenge or in a reading slump, stop by the Belmond Public Library and pick from
our new and old graphicnovels in the adult fiction and non-fiction sections.

 

 

 

 

Belmond's Online Book Club

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Introducing Belmond Public Library's first Online Book Club! Registration is ongoing.

If you have any other questions please contact the Belmond Public Library at 641-444-4160.

Enhance your Reading Experience

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Seven Online Resources to Enhance your Reading Experience

Technical Services Librarian, Mandi Rink

 

I often find myself suggesting certain websites to patrons that I feel would really enhance their reading life. The World Wide Web offers endless options for websites that pertain to books but here are a few that I really find helpful in my bookish endeavors.

 

1. Whichbook.net
This website is perfect for the reader who knows what they like to read about, but are not quite sure where to start. The slider located on the left side of the homepage allows the user to choose what subject matter, mood, plot shape, type of main character and even what country the book is set in. A changing team of seventy has read the books included in these suggestions. People who care about books create the reviews that the user sees. If you are looking for books that not everyone has read, this website is for you.

2. Goodreads.com
Goodreads is a favorite of mine! I recommend it to everyone who likes to keep track of the books they have read or want to read. I love Goodreads mainly because you can read honest reviews from all over the world on mostly any book you can think of. Since Goodreads is not a retailer of books, you know the users are not being paid for their review. There are suggestions based on what you have read in the past. Goodreads has the option of following others so you know what everyone is reading.

3. Readprint.com
FREE EBOOKS! Need I say more? Well, just in case you are still reading and not rushing right over to this website I will continue with my description. Read Print mainly hosts classic books for a free download. This site would be great for students, teachers and lovers of classic literature.

4. Comicsalliance.com
This site is just for comic book lovers! Articles about new releases, TV recaps, and reviews. This website is fun for comic enthusiast.

5. Bookriot.com
Book Riot is a resource I use often to share fun bookish news with the masses. The blog style website offers new release information, podcasts and essays on reading life.

6. Coverspy.com
Cover spy is a Tumblr blog that highlights what New Yorkers are reading in public. This blog tells you what book is actually popular with the general public. 

7. Bookish.com
Bookish is a fantastic reader’s advisory site. The content collaborators include author interviews, essays, book club recommendations and reading challenges. Bookish’s about me section includes these words that I find to be true of the curators: “We believe in the power of reading, the importance of literacy, and the fact that books should be as inclusive and diverse as readers are.”

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