Book Reviews from Deena

Check out these book reviews from Deena, a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team. Let us know if you would like any titles added to your book list or head over to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) to download the titles now.  Need more information about BARD?  See our BARD Page.

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts (DB94079)
The story flips back and forth from the making of the movie of The Wizard of Oz in 1939, to the love story of L. Frank Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz and Maud Gage.  Maud, a long time widow in 1939, goes to the studio to see that the movie being filmed stays true to the story written by her husband.  Frank Baum was a man before his time, always imagining what the future would hold. He enthralled children with his stories of fantasy. Frank and Maude were deeply in love, but struggled financially until Frank wrote his first book of nonsense poetry. He later found greater success with the book The Wizard of Oz. This book was well researched and although fiction, much of the story is based on fact. Recommended for those who grew up seeing the movie The Wizard of Oz on television once a year.
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Mistaken Identity by Don and Susie Van Ryn and Newell, Colleen and Whitney Cerak (DB66537)
In 2006, in Indiana a Taylor University van carrying five students and one staff member was hit by a semi that crossed the median and struck the van.  The lone survivor was a female student, Laura Van Ryn. Laura was taken to a hospital with a broken collar bone, elbow and leg and severe head trauma. The Van Ryn family rushed to the hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana and the family stood by Laura, while she endured physical therapy as well as, speech therapy.  Her sister, Lisa learned how to perform simple procedures to make Laura more comfortable. Laura at first, was in a coma and as the weeks past she became more aware and talkative. Five weeks after the accident the physical therapist asked Laura to write her name. She wrote Whitney.  The nurses assured the Van Ryn’s that the head trauma can cause the brain to misfire.  The next day as Lisa was wheeling Laura down the hall she asked Laura her name and she said Whitney.  She then asked for her last name and who her parents were. Lisa was convinced that for the last five weeks they had been loving, praying for mistakenly been identified as Laura Van Ryn. The Van Ryns were devastated and the Cereks were questioning how this happened as they drove to the hospital. Whitney was glad to see her family. The Van Ryns and the Cereks formed an unbreakable bond in caring for Whitney and both knowing what it was like to lose a child.
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A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (DB84392)
Ove is a curmudgeon.  He keeps to himself and does not involve himself with anyone.  Having been let go at a job he held for many years, he feels useless.  His wife has died and he just wants to be with her.  He visits her grave frequently. He decides to end his life, but every time he tries to commit suicide he is interrupted by neighbors wanting to borrow tools or needing rides.  Ove eventually becomes involved with his neighbors and is teaching one neighbor to drive. A group of neighbors bans together to prevent one neighbor from being sent to a nursing home.  This book is written with humor and compassion.  It can be enjoyed by all ages.
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Latest D-List: Is the Book Better Than the Movie?

We are announcing our latest D-List (Digital List Including Special Titles)!

Is the movie better than the book or is the book better than the movie?  You be the judge with books from our newest D-List.  This list is comprised of books that have been made into movies over the years.  Call the library to request this most recent D-List and we will send you special cartridges filled with books that have been made into good and some not so good movies.

Call (515-281-1323) or email (library@blind.state.ia.us) the library today to request the newest D-List and we will send you special cartridges with those books included.

Past D-Lists are also still available to receive on cartridge.  Just let us know which ones you would like.

  • The Great American Reads – features 100 books from the Great American Read list featured on PBS.
  • VOICE (Voices of Iowa Connecting Everyone) – features the library’s volunteer narrators and the books they have recorded for our collection.
  • Bookmark Series – if you are a fan of Hallmark movies this list is for you.
  • Staff Picks – comprised of 60 books, all filled with our staffs’ all-time favorite books.
  • Plants in Name Only – is a list includes books with a kind of plant or flower in the title.

Book Reviews from Deena

Check out these book reviews from Deena, a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team. Let us know if you would like any titles added to your book list or head over to BARD to download the titles now.

Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
Violet and Daisy are twins and both have psychic abilities. In their teen years, they are not well accepted by their peers. They rely on each other for companionship, but when they go off to college Daisy reinvents herself and becomes Kate and Violet drops out of school. Violet counts on her psychic skills to make a living and Kate marries and has a family. Violet floats through life and Kate feels the need to take care of her. Violet predicts an earthquake for the St. Louis area and is suddenly thrust into the lime light. Kate’s husband, Jeremy is attending a conference on the date of the predicted earthquake. Kate begs him to stay home. While Jeremy is gone Kate does something to jeopardize her marriage. This book is about relationships with parents, siblings, spouses and children. DB77180
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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
I wanted to read this because, I thought mistakenly, like the author, that soon after the sinking of the Lusitania that the United States entered World War I. My grandfather served in World War I and I was interested in the events that would have happened before my grandparents married. Several things in this book made me angry. Winston Churchill perpetuating the myth that the U-boat fired two torpedoes. The fact that Room 40 knew where that U-boat was every day, days before the sinking of the Lusitania, and yet they provided no security. The blaming of the Captain of the Lusitania for its sinking was ludicrous. Following some of the passengers and learning what happened to them was interesting. If you enjoy history, particularly maritime history, you will enjoy this book. DB80936
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A Mothers Reckoning by Sue Klebold
This book is the raw, emotional journey of Sue Klebold. She took this journey after her son, Dylan along with Eric Harris shot and killed a teacher and 12 students and injuring 20 more at Columbine High School. Sue felt like a failure as a mother and searched her memory to find signs of what Dylan had done. Her family was ostracized for many years after the tragedy. In the end, she was so consumed by trying to understand what went wrong that she and her husband, who just wanted to move on with life, divorced. She finally concluded that Dylan had mental health issues and this was an easy way to die or commit suicide. A thought provoking book. Whether you agree with Sue’s conclusions or not this was painful to all who were touched by it. DB83764
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The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff
The story takes place during World War II. Noa was cast out by her family when she became pregnant at a young age. Her baby was adopted. As she makes her way through the countryside she rescues a baby from a train car bound for a concentration camp. She raises the boy as her own. She joins a circus touring Europe and becomes an aerialist. The ringmaster is a kind man hiding several Jewish people in his employ. The circus in Germany at the time, was the only entertainment that kept the people’s mind off the despair of war. This is an interesting tale with a twist at the end. DB89826
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Three Bookish Wishes

What if you could rub a lamp and a Book Genie appeared offering you three wishes….three bookish wishes?  Wishes that had to deal with books and reading.  Maybe you want to meet a certain author?  Wish that your favorite author would write a sequel to your favorite book?  See a character come to life?  Have the time to read all the books you want?

Here are three bookish wishes from Deena, Patron Services Librarian:

1.    Nancy Drew Mystery Stories were one of my favorite genres in my youth.  My favorite story was The Ghost of Blackwood Hall by Carolyn Keene (DB94369).  I wish I could be Nancy’s friend and help solve a mystery.

2.    I loved the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder as a girl.  I would like to spend a few days with the Ingalls family to learn more about life on the prairie.

3.    I would like to spend one day at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, as portrayed in the book The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson (DB55748).  I would like to the see “new inventions” and see how it compares to the Iowa State Fair. Let’s hope that I don’t run into the serial killer!

What would you wish for if the Book Genie visited you?

Book Reviews from Deena

Check out these book reviews from Deena, a member of the Library’s Patron Service Team.  Let us know if you would like any titles added to your book list or head over to BARD to download the titles now.

Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth
Lorraine Kindred has lost her husband of many years.  The book switches back and forth from present day to the 1940’s when Lorraine met her husband as a young girl. The iconic Surf Ballroom figures into the story where Lorraine attended many dances. Lorraine’s son-in-law is very intrigued with the history of the Surf Ballroom.  He has done some research and found that the original Surf Ballroom was destroyed by fire in 1947.  It was later rebuilt. Knowing that Lorraine had attended dances about that time, he asks her about the fire.  Lorraine remains evasive. This is great love story with an Iowa setting and a little bit of mystery.  DBC15165

The Day Donny Herbert Woke Up by Rich Blake
This is the true story of Donny Herbert, a Buffalo, New York fire fighter who was injured on the job and went into a coma in December 1995. He woke up from his coma in April 2005 and talked to his family for 16 hours straight.  Was it the family’s faith in God, the doctor’s drug cocktail or Donny’s own determination to come back to his family or a combination of those things? Soon afterwards, Donny slipped back into his comatose state and died in February 2006 of pneumonia.  A wonderful story of a miracle, faith, and courage.  DB64976

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Tisha by Robert Specht
Based on the true story of Anne Hobbs who traveled to Alaska in 1927, on horseback to become a teacher in the small town of Chicken, Alaska.  Anne faces harsh weather and has some harrowing experiences as she finds love in this in this isolated wilderness.  She takes in two children when their mother dies of tuberculosis.  The boy calls her “Tisha” instead of teacher. She and her husband, Fred, adopt the two children along with several others. This is one of 100 Favorite Novels Recommended by Librarians.  DB41798

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The All-American Murder: The Rise and Fall of Aaron Hernandez, the superstar whose Life Ended of Murderer’s Row by James Patterson
Aaron Hernandez was an extremely talented young man drafted by the New England Patriots.  He was a rising star on the team. On June 18, 2013, for unknown reasons he killed his friend, Odin Lloyd who was the boyfriend of his fiancée’s sister.  All evidence pointed to Hernandez and he was convicted and sentenced to death row.  While on trial for Lloyd’s murder he was charged with shooting two men in their car.  Almost two years to the day of Odin Lloyd’s murder, Hernandez hung himself in his prison cell.  Recommended for football fans and readers of true crime.  DB90220

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Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance
J.D. Vance grew up in a poverty-stricken area in Ohio. His mother was a drug user and abusive. When things got too bad at home he would go to his grandparent’s house.  Despite his situation, J.D. grew up and joined the Marines and eventually graduated from Yale Law School. This is a touching memoir of overcoming the odds and becoming an inspiration to others.  DB85796
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