Monday, September 1, 2014

September Magazines of the Month: Wired and Yoga Journal

The start of the school year is a perfect opportunity to explore new things, whether learning the wonders of multiplication or researching the history of scientific investigation. Carnegie-Stout Public Library is, of course, a great starting point for learning something new. Our September Magazines of the Month display the breadth of our collection, with something to appeal to every interest!

Yoga Journal began publication in 1975, and today has expanded beyond the pages of a magazine to DVDs, books, and conferences across the country. Despite their long history, they devote space each month to provide information to people new to the world of yoga, making this a great resource for beginners and experts alike. You can check out a print copy, download an issue from our Zinio downloadable magazine collection, or check out their website to learn more: www.yogajournal.com

Wired magazine is a published by Condé Nast, and focuses on technology and its effects on the world. Offering insight and coverage of the cutting edge, Wired has something for readers interested in culture, economics, science, and more (the term "crowdsourcing" originated in a Wired article). Check out a copy from the library, or check out their website to learn more: www.wired.com

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

If You Liked Rocket Raccoon, Try Airplane Monkey!

Sarah and I were both huge fans of Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice (you can read Sarah’s review here). We’ve spent the last several months watching the literary awards roll in for Leckie’s singular and inventive story of a former spaceship out for revenge. When the British Science Fiction Association announced the choice for Best Novel of 2013, Ancillary Justice had tied with Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L. Powell, a book whose synopsis made “former spaceship out for revenge” sound positively pedestrian. From the back cover:


In 1944, as waves of German ninjas parachute into Kent, Britain’s best hopes for victory lie with a Spitfire pilot codenamed ‘Ack-Ack Macaque.’ The trouble is, Ack-Ack Macaque is a cynical, one-eyed, cigar-chomping monkey, and he’s starting to doubt everything, including his own existence.


To be honest, that’s the sort of pitch that usually elicits a chuckle but then disappoints me. With so many self-consciously far-fetched ideas in play, it’s no mean feat to keep a book from spinning wildly out of control. But if the British Science Fiction Association said Powell’s Nazi-fighting monkey pilot book was actually one of the two best sci-fi novels of the year, then I’d give him the benefit of the doubt.


Once I got into the book, things became even more complicated with the addition of a modern day plot built around alternate history, domineering corporations, transhumanists, and nuclear zeppelins. With all these elements crammed together, I’d have been impressed if Powell simply pulled off a crash he could walk away from. Instead, he soared effortlessly. The characters are fun and believable. The plot is engrossing and cohesive (though really hard to convey to a third party -- just ask my wife). There were moments where it's exactly as silly as a warrior monkey book should be alongside moments of genuine suspense and emotional weight.


My title for this review suggests Ack-Ack Macaque as a good follow-up for Guardians of the Galaxy. Despite the shared theme of cybernetically-enhanced mammals with big guns and aircraft, I don’t know that I’d say one is a good match to the other. Ack-Ack Macaque is fairly dark and spends a lot of time considering questions of humanity in a world of cybernetic implants. Guardians of the Galaxy certainly has some heart and sci-fi chops, but keeps things loose and funny. All that said, both works share an important feature of successful high concept media: despite the superficial absurdity of their premise, they play things straight. They don’t wink to the reader or viewer, trying to make sure we know that they know that a talking monkey is silly. Nor do they veer toward grim and gritty excess in order to grind out any trace of silliness. To some degree, both works succeed because their creators believe they can -- no extra support or justification required.

If, after Ack Ack Macaque, you’ve still not had your fill of uplifted animals, try one of these:
  • Hive Monkey by Gareth Powell -- The sequel to Ack-Ack Macaque. I haven’t read it yet, but it seems an obvious place to turn.
  • We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly -- If you want to read a thrilling and gory action comic that will have you weeping bitterly at the end, I’ve got the book for you!
  • Duncan the Wonder Dog by Adam Hines -- For those who like their talking animal comics with a more philosophical bent.
  • Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIHM by Robert C. O’Brien -- A classic and personal favorite, this children’s novel is quieter and lighter on the sci-fi, but no less engrossing.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Staff Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty



The only reason why I did not read Big Little Lies in one day is because I had to leave for work. Otherwise, I would have finished this 400 page plus book in a single sitting, minus the few times I had to leave the couch for food.

This book that is based upon three women is so fast-paced that it doesn't seem like it should be that long. These women have such diverse backgrounds and are facing different struggles among their families, and when you go back and forth between characters, it feels like you are standing right there with them. The problems faced in the story may seem very familiar to all of us: a spouse that travels for work or may work long hours, a single parent trying to balance work and family, finding friends to be there for you for the day-to-day events. Plus, all of these women have children starting Kindergarten! That’s a major change for everyone.

Another issue that comes up among all of the characters is the topic of bullying. Yes, these children are only five years old, but it does happen and it causes major problems between the adults. Also, don’t forget about the murder that happened at the school fundraiser - that’s another issue all on its own. This is a book that will make you laugh, and also make you cry with characters that you love and hate, but you want the best for everyone involved.

This is the second book by Liane Moriarty that I've read. I’m highly anticipating reading The Husband’s Secret, but if you are looking for one now, pick up What Alice Forgot at the Checkout Desk. It’s the current read for library’s book club and they will be meeting on September 9th. Perhaps you are unsure about the book club, but all of her books have those great Australian words that you can’t help but read out loud to yourself. At least my dogs liked hearing them.

~Andrea, Circulation

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Mini Staff Review: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples


I'm honestly a little surprised that we haven't already reviewed the Saga series on the library's blog before because it is a bit of a staff favorite. Written by Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man & Runaways), and gorgeously illustrated by Fiona Staples, Saga is an endlessly creative science fiction romp. And yes, the covers seen here are Staples' work (I'm always annoyed when the art inside a comic is nothing like the art I loved on the cover). A witty space opera with a fascinating cast of characters that stands up well to rereads, a plus when one considers the wait between new issues. The central characters are Alana and Marko, soldiers from opposite sides of a galaxy spanning war who fall in love and have a daughter, which makes their family a target of just about everyone. Readers bothered by violence, nudity, and other adult content should steer clear, but everyone else is in a smart and entertaining treat.

~Sarah, Adult Services

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mini Staff Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

When a patron made a point of telling me how much she'd loved reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin this summer, I knew I had to check it out. I'd read several positive reviews saying that this was a perfect book for book lovers, which always makes me cautious. There's nothing less fun than being the one person to not like the book everyone else loves, but I'm happy to say Zevin's writing is witty and charming, and the characters are engaging. Of course, I'm a sucker for short stories, and the book is organized around a love of short stories. Add in a character with a love of nail polish, and I was hooked. Hopefully, it's not too much of a spoiler to warn that you might need some Kleenex by the end of the book.

As I was reading I was reminded of the literary romances in Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. If you haven't picked up either of these books yet, I highly recommend them as well!

~Sarah, Adult Services

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Little Free Libraries in Dubuque Map


Full-screen map

The Dubuque Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the AmeriCorps VISTA program recently set up Little Free Libraries at five of Dubuque's six fire stations. These join several other Little Free Libraries which already exist throughout Dubuque.

Carnegie-Stout Public Library supports these initiatives and will furnish books to the Little Free Libraries at the fire stations if inventory runs low.

What are Little Free Libraries?

From the City of Dubuque: "A Little Free Library, in its most basic form, is a small box that houses free books for anyone to take and exchange at any time. Returns and/or exchanges are not mandatory, but encouraged. Dubuque’s Little Free Libraries are open to everyone regardless of income level, age, or residence. Non-residents are welcome to participate." For more information, see Little Free Library, Ltd.

For additions or corrections to this map, please leave comments below.