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.

A Long Way Gone (bk rvw)

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

This memoir by Ishmael Beah is heartbreaking but inspiring at the same time. Beah gives an extremely honest account of his experiences as a child soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone.

BeahLongWayGone was 12 years old when the civil war broke out. He and his friends left their home village in January 1993 to compete in a friends talent competition in a neighboring town. That day in January was the last time Beah saw his family.

Very quickly, the story turns to one of survival. Beah and his friends move from town to town and do everything they can to avoid being caught by the rebels. They steal food from unsuspecting villagers as they pass through or find fruit in forest.  The boys start traveling at night instead of during the day so there is less of a chance they’ll be seen.

Eventually, their luck runs out and the boys are caught by the Sierra Leone government army. At the age of 13, Beah is turned into a child soldier and begins fighting for the government against the rebels. He quickly became addicted to drugs and killing people was a daily activity.

After a few years of fighting, Beah was rescued from the army by UNICEF. They brought him to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, where he began the long process of rehabilitation.

Beah’s story will make you thankful for all that you have in your life. It will make you sad for all of the innocent children affected by war. But most importantly, it will give you hope.

Ishmael Beah’s memoir is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library.

Review written by Amanda B.

National Reading Month

March is National Reading Month and we’ve been asking our students, faculty and staff what they are reading for pleasure. The response has been amazing and we’d like to thank everyone who has shared what they are reading with us. keep-calm-and-read-more-books-11

So if you are looking for a great book to read, check out the list below. All of the books on the list have been read and recommended by VC and UHV faculty, staff & students.

  • A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
  • Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Prey by Michael Crichton
  • The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
  • Divergent (series) by Veronica Roth
  • The Double Helix:  A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James Watson
  • A Painted House by John Grisham
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition and Other Confusions of our Time by Michael Shermer
  • The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
  • Apocalypse Cow by Michael Logan
  • A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story by John Berendt

City of Bones (bk rvw)

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

I am always looking for a new series of books to read.  I used to be a true bookworm-anything and everything.  Because I don’t have nearly the time to read I cityofbonesdid when I was younger it takes a lot for a book to catch and hold my attention.  If I find that if a book is not doing that I have no problem putting it down and going to something else.

I was recently in checking out titles in the Leisure Reading section of the library when I happened to see the title City of Bones: Book One of The Mortal Instruments.  I had heard a little about it but the cover looked interesting so I decided to pull the book and read the inside covers and first page or so.  I was immediately yanked into a turbulent world of “mundies,” mundane or normal people and “Shadowhunters”, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons.

In order to protect the mundies the Shadowhunters and demons are able to glamorize the reality of the world so that the mundanes see only what they expect to see.  They can change the appearance of buildings, vehicles and themselves.

The story centers around sixteen-year old Clary Fray who has lived until now in a world that she perceives as normal who suddenly finds herself seeing people others don’t see.  With this new “sight” come many dangers, adventures and the growing knowledge that her mother has kept many secrets throughout Clary’s whole life.

This book is the first in a series of four that can be found in the Leisure Reading area of the VC/UHV Library.

Review written by Lou Ellen C.

The Fault in our Stars (bk rvw)

John Green’s The Fault in our Stars is about Hazel, a 16 year old girl, struggling to not be defined by her cancer. When she is diagnosed with clinical depression, her parents and doctor send her to a support group for teenagers with cancer. Fault in our Stars--CoverReluctantly, Hazel attends, although she would prefer staying at home and reading her favorite novel, “An Imperial Affliction.” To her surprise, she meets Augustus Waters, who is not only interested in her, but is also good looking! (It’s a novel for teenagers.)

Augustus Waters, cancer survivor, rattles her world and makes her consider and question things in ways that perhaps she would have never done before. He is an unconventional kid who keeps a cigarette in his mouth, although he never lights them. He says, “It’s a metaphor, see: you put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.” This type of metaphorical thinking is a running theme throughout the book, for both Hazel and Augustus, as they use it to answer questions about how they feel about each other, whether their lives have meaning, and how they will be remembered when they die. This book demonstrates how a teenager with cancer gets through everyday life. It is about love and friendship, and keeping a sense of humor in spite of cancer.

Even though it sounds trite, this is truly one of those books where I can say, “I laughed, I cried, it was so good.”

This book is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library and is found in Leisure Reading on the 1st floor.

Review written by Allyson H.

Redshirts (bk rvw)

Redshirts By John Scalzi

I heard about this book several years ago…bestseller, VERY funny, highly recommended.  I liked it, but didn’t think it was as funny as I’d heard—I only laughed out loud once!!—might have been my mood.redshirts

New comers to the Starship Intrepid don’t seem to last long (think “red uniforms on the Star Trek series).  It’s been this way for quite a while….then Dahl and his friends (all newly assigned to the Intrepid) notice….and begin to wonder WHY  there is a “Box” that gives “the answer”—but doesn’t conform to even sloppy scientific principles, the amazing recuperative powers of a Lieutenant who somehow always manages to survive an Away Mission—thanks to “the Box”, and other anomalies.

My favorite part-Dahl uses a kiosk to make a call: “The person on the other end of the line picked up, audio only.  “Whoever you are, you’re interrupting my morning jog,” she said.

Dahl grinned.  “Morning, Casey,” he said.  “How’s my favorite librarian?”

“Shit!  Andy!”  Casey said.  A second later the video feed kicked in and Casey Zane popped up, smiling, …”Where are you?”

“About 300 light-years away, and paying for every inch of it on this hyperwave, “ Dahl said.

“Got it,” Casey said.  “What do you need?”

“The Academy Archive would have blueprints of every ship in the fleet, right?” Dahl asked.

“Sure,” Casey said.  “All the ones that the Dub U wants to acknowledge exist, anyway.”

“Any chance they’d be altered or tampered with?”

“From the outside?  No,” Casey said.  “The archives don’t connect to outside computer systems, partly to avoid hacking.  All data has to go through a live librarian.  That’s job security for you.”

“I suppose it is,” Dahl said.  “Is there any chance I can get you to send me a copy of the Intrepid blueprints?” …

…”You’re actually on the Intrepid,” Casey said.  “You should be able to get the blueprints out of the ship’s database.”

“I can,” Dahl said.  “There have been some changes to a few systems on board and I think it’ll be useful to have the original blueprints for compare and contrast.”

And that is the start of making sense out of the situation…

Redshirts won the 2013 Hugo Award for Best Novel and is available for checkout in Leisure Reading at the VC/UHV Library.

Review written by Clyde Ruth B.

Olympic Games

Olympic-RingsThe Olympic Games take place every two years and is a special time for athletes and spectators. The Olympic Games brings people together from around the world to celebrate as nations compete in various competitions. If you are interested in learning more about the Olympic Games or some of the athletes that have completed in them, check out these books available at the VC/UHV Library.

  • Off Balance: A Memoir by Dominique Moceanu
  • The Culture and Sport of Skiing: From Antiquity to World War II by John Allen
  • Mega-events and Modernity: Olympics and Expos in the Growth of Global Culture [electronic book] by Maurice Roche
  • Going for Gold by Andrew Donkin
  • The Hockey Book
  • Striking Back: The 1972 Munich Olympic Massacre and Israel’s Deadly Response by Aaron Klein
  • The Olympic Games: Athens 1896 – Sydney 2000
  • Jesse Owens: An American Life by William Baker
  • The Olympic Marathon by David Martin
  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel Brown
  • The Story of the Olympic Games: 776 B.C. to 1976 by John Kieran
  • Cool Runnings and Beyond: The Story of the Jamaica Bobsleigh Team [electronic book] by Nelson Stokes
  • The Ancient Olympic Games by Judith Swaddling

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“January 20, 2014 will mark the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday. This milestone is a perfect opportunity for Americans to honor Dr. King’s legacy through service. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, strengthens communities, King_Jr_Martin_Luther_093.jpgbridges barriers, creates solutions to social problems, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community.” (http://mlkday.gov/about/serveonkingday.php

To learn more about Dr. King, check out these resources available at the VC/UHV Library.

  • Behind the dream : the making of the speech that transformed a nation by Clarence B. Jones
  • Martin Luther King : “I have a dream.” (DVD)
  • Ring out freedom! : the voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the making of the civil rights movement by Fredrik Sunnemark
  • The civil rights reader : American literature from Jim Crow to reconciliation
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., the essential box set : the landmark speeches and sermons of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Martin Luther King, Jr. (Audiobook on CD)
  • King : the photobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Charles Richard Johnson
  • From civil rights to human rights : Martin Luther King, Jr., and the struggle for economic justice by Thomas F. Jackson
  • King: go beyond the dream to discover the man (DVD)
  • Pillar of fire : America in the King years, 1963-65 by Taylor Branch
  • The preacher King : Martin Luther King, Jr. and the word that moved America by Richard Lischer
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