Summer Reading

You’re busy. Reward yourself by taking time each day to open a book and explore the world through reading.

  • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki80ba698508f76288e82c306520908022
  • The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
  • Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (audiobook)
  • A Fighting Chance by Elizabeth Warren
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • I am Malala: The Girl who Stood up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban (print and audiobook)
  • Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
  • The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 by Rick Atkinson
  • The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
  • Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin
  • Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin16158542
  • And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini (print and audiobook)
  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel Brown
  • The Art Of Fielding by Chad Harbach
  • The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
  • Duty: Memoirs of a Sectary at War by Robert Gates (audiobook)

Travel Guides

Are you planning a vacation for this summer to a foreign country? Do you want to travel overseas? If you do, the VC/UHV Library has Lonely Planet travel guides available for checkout. Unfortunately, we could not purchase a guide for every destination, but we do have guides available for the popular ones. We have travel guides available for the following countries/regions:

  • Africa9781741798449_p0_v1_s260x420
  • Australia
  • Caribbean Islands
  • China
  • France
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • Hawaii
  • India
  • Japan
  • Spain
  • Turkey

The travel guides are found in our Leisure Reading area on the 1st floor. If you are a VC or UHV student, faculty or staff, we can request additional travel guides through InterLibrary Loan. Otherwise, you can check with your local public library.

Looking for Alaska (bk rvw)


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indexLooking for Alaska is a YA book by John Green, the author of The Fault in Our Stars and is also the winner of the Michael Prinze Award for Young Adult literature. I’m really glad Mr. Green got such great recognition for The Fault in Our Stars, but he deserved it just as much for this book. It’s just as good as his later work. Looking for Alaska reminded me of Perks of Being a Wallflower, one of my all time favorite reads. The novel covers a one year period of boarding school for Miles (Pudge) and the friends he makes there, including Alaska. Alaska reminds me of Sam in Perks and Miles has aspects of Charlie. It’s not the same story at all, just the same reminiscence of teenage years, good friends and growing up.

I’m very glad to have discovered John Green’s works last year and plan on reading them all! I hope you will too. The library has The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska and we will surely be ordering his others!

D-Day Books

“June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end on June 6, the Allies gained a foot- in Normandy. The D-Day cost was high -more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded — but more than 100,000 Soldiers began the march across Europe to defeat Hitler.”

To learn more about D-Day, check out these resources at the VC/UHV Library:

  • The guns at last light : the war in Western Europe, 1944-1945 by Rick Atkinson
  • Eisenhower : in war and peace by Jean Edward Smith
  • Dropzone Normandy : the story of the American and British airborne assault on D Day 1944 by Sir Napier Crookenden
  • America’s greatest victories (DVD)
  • Double cross : the true story of the D-day spies by Ben Macintyre
  • D-day : the Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor
  • The Bedford boys : one American town’s ultimate D-Day sacrifice by Alex Kershaw (Ebook) [Off-campus access: UHV & VC students/faculty/staff]
  • Clash of arms : how the allies won in Normandy by Russell Hart
  • Currahee! : a Screaming Eagle at Normandy by Donald R. Burgett
  • Beyond the beachhead : the 29th Infantry Division in Normandy by Joseph Balkoski (Ebook) [Off-campus access: UHV & VC students/faculty/staff]
  • D-Day, June 6, 1944 : the climactic battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose
  • Night drop; the American airborne invasion of Normandy by S. L. A. Marshall
  • D-day : the total story (Online Video) [Off-campus access: UHV & VC students, faculty, staff]
  • Cross-channel attack by Gordon A. Harrison
  • The Comanche code talkers of World War II by William C. Meadows

You can also learn more about D-Day from the following websites:

The Goldfinch (bk rvw)

I read. A lot. But almost never do I feel a need to share my opinion with anyone else. Reading is such a subjective thing; we all enjoy different genres and expect something different from a book. But every so often, I read something so wonderful I want to share it with everyone! This is the way I feel about the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch.

What’s it about? It’s about a boy. It’s about making a family. Life. Death. Art. Our place in history. Loving completely and losing. It’s sad, it’s compelling, it’s hopeful. I didn’t even read the blurb before I started the book, which is rare for me. I bought the book for the library because it was a Pulitzer, not because I had any interest in reading it, but every single review I skimmed was so positive.I’m not going to do a plot summary or mention anything that happens. Come at it with an open mind and see what you think it’s about.

As for the writing, I’m going to compare Donna Tartt with people like Margaret Atwood. Everyone once in a great while, I’ll read a book that seems almost to be written in another language because what the author can do with English takes it to another realm altogether, makes it really, really beautiful in itself. Margaret Atwood, Louise Penny, Richard Russo are  a few of my favorites. It’s just simply they make you taste the words, no matter what the subject matter. Donna Tartt does that in The Goldfinch. 

And don’t be overwhelmed by the size of the book! When I was about 500 pages in, I started putting it down, not because I wasn’t riveted by it, but because I wanted it to last even longer.index

One Crazy Summer (bk rvw)

One Crazy Summer

By Rita Williams-Garcia

Three sisters, ranging in age from eleven down to seven, fly from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with their mother (who abandoned them seven yOneCrazySummerears ago) during the summer of 1968.  Cecile has no TV, very little furniture OR motherly feelings, and refuses to let any of her daughters in the kitchen—she sends them down the block to buy Chinese take-out and they picnic on the living room floor.  She sends them out of the house every day—usually to a summer camp sponsored by the Black Panthers.  Delphine is the oldest and has been looking after her younger sisters for her entire life.  Delphine has everyone on a schedule:  “Only when I sat in the tub did I wish my Timex wasn’t so reliable or the ticking so steady.  Oh, how I wished the minute hand would slow down and give me time for a nice, long soak.  Wish all I wanted, I couldn’t leave Vonetta and Fern alone……Three extra minutes in the tub and I’d be sorry.  I stuck to the schedule”    [p 50].

They eat Chinese take-out until Delphine goes grocery shopping at Safeway and cooks food (she knows her grandmother at home expects her to take GOOD care of her little sisters)—Cecile allows her into the kitchen as long as she is quiet and doesn’t mess with Cecile’s project.

This is historical fiction for upper elementary through middle school, though I thoroughly enjoyed this look back at a turbulent time, seen through the eyes of Delphine.

One Crazy Summer is the Winner of the 2011 Coretta Scott King Author Book Award and a 2011 Newbery Honor Book. One Crazy Summer is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library. You’ll find it in our Juvenile Collection on the 3rd Floor.

Review written by Clyde Ruth B.

Earth Day Books

Today – April 22 – is Earth Day. Each year, Earth Day marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

earthday_logoThe idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.

Earth Day is a reminder for us to think about efficiency and renewable energy and to focus on solving the climate crisis.

To learn more about Earth Day and environmental protection, check out these items available at the VC/UHV Library.

  • Beyond Earth Day: Fulfilling the Promise by Gaylord Nelson
  • Earth, the Sequel: The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming by Fred Krup
  • Best Green Careers: Explore Opportunities in this Rapid Growing Field
  • Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben
  • Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How it Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman [Audiobook]
  • True Green @ Work: 100 Ways You Can Make the Environment Your Business by Kim McKay
  • Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast by David Archer
  • The Atlas of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges and Opportunities to Make a Difference
  • Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run: A Call to Save the Earth by Davis Ross Brower
  • On Thin Ice: The Changing World of the Polar Bear by Richard Ellis
  • The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning by James Lovelock
  • Sustainability: Building Eco-Friendly Communities by Anne E. Maczulak [Electronic Book]
  • Urban Wind Energy by Sinisa Stankovic

Inferno (bk rvw)

Inferno by Dan Brown is the fourth book in the Robert Langdon series. I wasn’t in love with the book (mostly because of the ending), but I didn’t hate it either. However, if you are a fan of Dan Brown, this book is worth a read.

robert-langdon-thriller-title-imageThe book begins with Robert Langdon waking up in a hospital with a head wound and no memory of the last few days. Langdon quickly realizes he is in Florence, Italy but the last thing he remembers is walking on the Harvard campus. Not long after Langdon wakes up, an assassin come after him in the hospital and he escapes with the help of Sienna Brooks – one of the doctors tending to him.

After Robert and Sienna leave the hospital, the adventure begins. Robert finds a small cylinder that was sewn into his jacket and Robert and Sienna quickly learn there are many people who want it, and are willing to kill to get it. Robert and Sienna run for their lives all over Florence. There are many twists and turns in the plot, so you’ll have to read the book if you want to know more.

The story of Robert and Sienna’s adventure is closely tied to the poem Divine Comedy by Dante. Inferno is the fist part of the poem that tells the allegory of Dante’s journey through Hell. Like Brown’s other books, Inferno is filled with cultural references – European cities, art, and architecture.

Inferno is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library. You can find it in the Leisure Reading area on the 1st floor.

Review written by Amanda B.

Divergent Series (bk rvw)

The Divergent series

In Divergent, by Veronica Roth, Beatrice “Tris” Prior is growing up in a post-apocalyptic Chicago where her world is divided up into factions, Abnegation are selfless, Amity are good-natured, Candor are honest, Erudite are always seeking knowledge, and the Dauntless are brave. Each faction serves a purpose in society, which essentially keeps the peace but each group tends to butt heads with each other.

Tris and her brother have grown up in Abnegation, where they are taught to be selfless and serve others. Tris has always struggled with her identity, she feels guilty for selfish urges evere6d71434558c16c27b6e1f00575b490cy teen has.

At the age of 16, the youth of the city have to decide where they belong in society, and on Choosing Day they are injected with a serum which puts them through a simulation. This forces them to make a series of decisions that will indicate where they best fit in society, but it is still up to the individual to decide where they will go. However, Tris’ test suggests she belongs in three factions (Abnegation, Dauntless and Erudite) making her divergent. Her test administer tells Tris that Divergent is dangerous and she should protect her identity at all costs.

Tris chooses Dauntless (her brother picks Eurdite). She is quickly doing daredevil stunts, jumping on and off moving trains, climbing defunct Ferris wheels, and jumping off buildings using zip-lines. She likes that it makes her feel strong when she’s always felt small and insignificant.

Tris continues to question her choice and where she belongs in society, and ultimately is tested when the tensions between factions turn in to war.

I enjoyed reading Tris’ struggle with her identity, but felt kind of robbed that the mystery revolved around being “Divergent” was never as big as I wanted it to be. I thought the general plot was engaging, and while there is a brewing romance between Tris and her Dauntless trainer (Four), I felt like they mopey-dopey love Twilight-like angst took a back burner which I prefer.

A slight pet-peeve I had was characters tend to pop in and out, and you can’t remember who they were because they don’t really do anything significant. This becomes a bigger issue as the series progresses.

When I picked up Insurgent, I was hoping we’d delve more into what it meant to be “Divergent” and that would be some sort of big reveal in the end. I was sorely disappointed.

The story picks up where the last left off. War has broken out in the city, and Tris and a few of her friends have managed to escape the violence to the farms of the Amity (imagine a sort of hippy commune where everyone dresses in red and yellow,  farms all day, plays music and is generally happy). The Erudite aggressors in the city are looking for Tris and her group, and the Amity don’t want to have anything to do with war. Well, Tris isn’t too happy where she is anyway, learning part of the reason everyone is so happy is because the bread they eat is doped with a “peace serum”.

Back to the city the gang goes pursued by the Erudite. Tris seeks shelter with the factionless. The factionless are a homeless conglomeration of people rejected from or kicked out of other factions for various reasons. While all the factions in the city have been minding their own business, the factionless have become organized. Their leader is Four’s (Tris’ boyfriend) supposedly dead mom, Evelyn, who wants to eliminate the faction system in the city.

The story of the rag tag group attacking the Erudite headquarters to establish “peace” is convoluted by Tris and Four’s melodramatic romance, which is complicated by Four’s issues with his parents (His father, an Abnegation leader, is a violent man, and his adulterous mother, is caught up in taking revenge on her ex).

I felt like the series took a turn for the worse, I’d really hoped that Roth would, like Suzanne Collins in The Hunger Games, leave the romance as a side and not follow Stephanie Meyer’s angsty Twilight formula.

I pressed on with Allegiant, because I hoped Roth could turn the teen drama around. What should someone expect from a writer that wrote the story while she was still in college? Probably not the maturity a teen in the post-apocalypse needs.

In this novel, Roth decides to leave off with Tris being the sole narrator, and so we get the perspective of Four every other chapter. I found this confusing, since Roth doesn’t change her style of narration nor the way Tris and Four react to everything (which is melodramatic at best).

The story finds the gang once again fleeing the city. The Erudite leaders have been overthrown, and power crazy Evelyn is struggling to stamp out any signs of the factions that once ruled. Tris is a prisoner for her crime of broadcasting a message that the city, that it was a social experiment. Once the “peaceful” city produced a significant amount of divergent, those folks were to go out in to the wider world and spread the secret to peace.

However, her gang breaks her out and half of them set out to find out what the wide world needs. Meanwhile, the other half of the gang will stay in the city under the name “Allegiant” and fight the tyranny of Evelyn’s factionless.

What Tris discovers is that the city is a genetic experiment. She meets a group of people living at the Bureau of Genetic Welfare (aka Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport) led by David. He tells her war had raged for years, and the government decided to eliminate a gene that caused people to be violent. However, once removed, the genetically modified were just as violent as the genetically pure. So a purity war was fought against the “genetically damaged”. The genetically pure decided to put some of the “damaged” folks into a city where they would live peacefully and could heal (being Divergent means your genes have healed). Once they were healed, they could rejoin the rest of society.

Now that things are so violent in city, David plans on dosing the whole city with memory serum to reset the experiment. Tris and the gang don’t want their friends and family back home to forget them, nor do they want the fighting to continue. The only way to stop all the fighting might mean the end of Tris.

Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant are available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library. You’ll find all three books in our Leisure Reading area on the 1st floor.

Review written by Rebecca H.

Apocalypse Cow (bk rvw)

In Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan, British scientists have the harebrained idea that they will develop a bioweapon that they will use to infect the livestock of enemy countri12925656es. What they didn’t expect was the virus to run amok in the U.K. turning cows, cats, rats, and pretty much every animal into virus sneezing, sexually aggressive, bloodthirsty zombies.

When Leslie, a bungling reporter is asked to pick up phone messages for her arch rival while he’s off on assignment, she gets the break of a lifetime. She sets out to write the story of a lifetime by proving that the strange outbreak of infected cows is not the work of terrorist cells, but the country’s own government.

She teams up with slaughterhouse worker Terry, the lone survivor of the initial outbreak, and Geldof, the nerdy teenage son of a vegan hippie couple, who dreams of eating a nice juicy steak. With data that could help to create a cure, the three work to escape a now quarantined Britain.

Standing in the way are the bloodthirsty animals, an insane security guard set on destroying the evidence, and the army, who are ready to kill anyone who even looks like the might be sick just in case humans can become infected.

This hilarious adventure is hard to put down. Even if you don’t like the zombie theme, you’ll enjoy the oddball cast of characters as they struggle, with family, bullies, crushes, and themselves. This laugh out loud comedy is a can’t miss.

Apocalypse Cow is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library. You’ll find it in our Leisure Reading area on the 1st floor.

Review written by Rebecca H.


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