America’s Bitter Pill (bk rvw)

I am, as you will come to know, a huge fan of audio books.  I just got through listening to America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System by Steven Brill.

AmericasBitterPillI am very interested in healthcare in the United States, as we fall way short in in the world in terms of several measures of health. I read an article by this guy in Time Magazine last year that scared the bejeezus out of me, so when I heard there was a book out by him, I immediately got it to listen to.

It is a treatise on the development of the Affordable Care Act, and the book title is a completely apt description of its contents. I could never have read this book in print, and had to stop listening several times because it was so frustrating, but I did listen all the way through. It is a highly imperfect act, and does not address the underlying issues in our healthcare system. But it does point out how imperfect our political system is. He offers some ways the act could be improved. I wish all of us ordinary folks would read or listen to it; maybe we could make a difference if we took action.

Please let me know if you are, too, and what you’d like to hear. If you have any audiobooks you’d like to see the VC/UHV Library purchase, please send us an email.

We have the book on order, so if you’d like to read it – check back soon or let us know and we’ll put your name on the wait list.

Review written by Jennifer F.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour BKST (bk rv)

Named best book of the year by NPR, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore follows the adventures of Clay Jannon. Clay suddenly finds himself out of a job and hoping to land on his feet in the streets of San Francisco. He is a talented web designing enthusiast, 811wT2-uD8Lbut after becoming a casualty of the Great Recession, he ends up being offered a job in a 24-hour bookstore run by the eccentric Mr. Penumbra.

Soon, Clay realizes there is much more to this bookstore than meets the eye as he encounters a rather odd cast of characters and begins to let his curiosity get the best of him. As his obsession with the bookstore grows, Clay finds the trail of clues becoming stranger and stranger as he and his friends pool their individual talents to unravel a centuries-old mystery. With excellent plot twists, quick-witted humor and a bit of technological nerdiness, Robin Sloan crafts together a wonderful tale meshing the modern and old-world.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys humorous mystery and adventure. The book reads very well and has a very good flow to its plot. Plus, the characters are highly believable and relatable. Excellent read all around.

This book 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 Greg G.

The Postmortal (bk rvw)

What if you could simply stop aging? This question is at the heart of the novel The Postmortal by Drew Magary. The story is told through a series of electronic diary entries written by John Farrell, a lawyer from New York City.

postmortalThe diary entries of Farrell begin soon after the cure for aging has been discovered. This discovery – known as The Cure – takes humanity on a first, and intensive, step toward immortality. People who have The Cure will no longer die of old age. They can still die from cancer or die because they were hit by a bus; but suddenly, people could live for 100, 200, 300, or more years.

Living forever sounds great, right? On the surface, the idea of getting The Cure might seem like a fabulous idea; however, Farrell and other characters must address tough questions and choices that people never had to consider prior to The Cure. Would you continue to work if retirement was no longer an option? Would you get married? Would you get bored of life if you did the same thing over and over for 100+ years?

The Postmortal, Magary addresses the issue of what life would be like if you could stop aging. He ties in political, economic, environmental, and social issues. There is no “sugar coating” in this book about what like could be like with a cure for aging.

I recommend The Postmortal to anyone interested in pre- or post-apocalyptic fiction. The Postmortal is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library. You’ll find the book on the 1st Floor in our Leisure Reading section.

Review by Amanda B.

The Walking Dead (bk rvw)

“The Walking Dead” – volumes 17-22 – with some spoilers

Rick and the gang are back in true form in volumes 17-22 of “The Walking Dead” by Robert Kirkman. They’re living at Alexandria near Vol17covthe Hilltop (where we last saw them) and the Kingdom just trying to survive. They’re fighting zombies and scrounging for sustenance when they are attacked by the nefarious Nevan.

Nevan is angry with Rick and the rest of the local settlements for refusing to give him half of everything they have in exchange for… well, nothing. He decides to teach Rick’s group a lesson, and bashes in the brains of one of our favorite characters!

This sets off a series of events that will lead our heroes in to all-out war with a psychopath. The zombies are not the only threat now, and no one is safe… and creepy Carl makes a weird friendship with nutty Nevan.

I really enjoyed 17-21, but 22 is what really caught my attention.

I always enjoy the issues with a “calm before the storm” setting. The war is over, walls are built to keep out the zombies, gardens are planted, transportation routes are being cleared of roamers, and the group is even planning a fair for the surrounding settlements.

A scout comes back from outside the safety the walls, he’s lost is scouting partner and is in bad shape having been attacked by a herd of zombies, zombies which he claims can now talk. A small group is sent out to recovery the scout’s lost partner when they too are attacked by herd of what appears to be zombies that whisper… Have the undead learned to talk? Or is something more twisted afoot? You’ll have to read to find out, but you won’t be disappointed!

“The Walking Dead” is available as a graphic novel at the VC/UHV Library. You’ll find them in our Leisure Reading section.

Review written by Rebecca Holm

Life After Death (bk rvw)

Life After Death by Damien Echols is a book about stereotypes and survival.

echolsMost people know Echols’ name because of the attention surrounding his imprisonment and release. Echols, along with two other young men (Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin), were convicted of killing three boys in West Memphis, Arkansas in 1993.

Life After Death, however, focuses on more than the trial and Echols time on death row. In the book, Echols describes his upbringing and how stereotypes led to his wrongful imprisonment. He tells how growing up as “white trash” (yes, that is how Echols often describes himself in the book) and his love of dark clothes and heavy metal music led him spending 18 years on death row.

The book does not detail much of Echols’ trial. Most of the narrative is about Echols’ childhood, and his life on death row. The author does give the reader a glimpse into his life since his release, but that story is not over.

Damien Echols has a fascinating story and anyone interested in social justice should read Life After Death. The first-hand account of the injustices suffered by one man will make you think about how your actions impact others.

Life After Death is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library. You’ll find it in our Leisure Reading section.

Review written by Amanda B.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Int_HMD_dayThe UN General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day, we remember the victims of the Nazi era and work prevent future genocides.

To learn more about International Holocaust Remembrance Day, click on these websites:

You can also check out the following books at the VC/UHV Library (select list):

  • Hiding in Plain Sight: Eluding the Nazis in Occupied France by Sarah Lew Miller
  • Flight from the Reich: Refugee Jews, 1933-1946 by Deborah Dwork
  • After Daybreak: The Liberation of Bergen-Belsen, 1945 by William Hitchcock
  • The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister by Nona Bannister
  • Night by Elie Wiesel
  • The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 by Saul Freilander
  • The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million by Daniel Adam Mendelsohn
  • People in Auschwitz by Hermann Langbein

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

On Monday, January 19, 2015, we will celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. President Reagan signed a bill establishing the 3rd Monday of every January as the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday on November 3, 1983. We celebrate this dr-martin-luther-king-1day to recognize Dr. King’s numerous contributions to the United States and humankind.

To learn more about Dr. King and his legacy, you can check out these books and DVDs at the VC/UHV Library:

  • “In an inescapable network of mutuality” : Martin Luther King, Jr. and the globalization of an ethical ideal edited by Lewis V. Baldwin and Paul R. Dekar
  • King : go beyond the dream to discover the man [DVD]
  • Behind the dream : the making of the speech that transformed a nation by Clarence B. Jones
  • 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]
  • From civil rights to human rights : Martin Luther King, Jr., and the struggle for economic justice by Thomas F. Jackson
  • Ring out freedom! : the voice of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the making of the civil rights movement by Fredrik Sunnemark
  • Martin Luther King : “I have a dream.” [DVD]
  • King : the photobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Charles Richard Johnson
  • The preacher King : Martin Luther King, Jr. and the word that moved America by Richard Lischer

Want to know more? Check out these websites:

Saving Fitness (bk rvw)

Saving Fitness: a Guide to your Money and your Financial Future

As we enter 2015, many of us have made New Year’s resolutions like losing weight, travelling more, or managing stress. According to the U.S. government, among the top SavingFitnessCoverresolutions made each year are saving money and managing debt. “Saving Fitness: a Guide to your Money and your Financial Future”, published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA), could help you achieve your financial goals for 2015.

“Savings Fitness” emphasizes goal setting, and puts retirement at the top of the list. It doesn’t matter if retirement is a long way off or just around the corner, this document helps you assess what is your fitness dream, tests your financial fitness, teaches you about avoiding financial setbacks and boosting your performance.

I especially like that there are worksheets that help you define your long-term and short-term goals, as well as checklists to keep you on track and organized.

I know I’ll be referring to this document quite frequently, but you don’t have to wait until I return it to get all helpful tips and advice. This is part of the VC/UHV Library’s large collection of electronic documents, and is available online for free.

Review by Rebecca H.

Winter Break Reading

recommended-reading-headerIt is no secret, most people who work in a library love to read. Since we have a few weeks off from school, the VC/UHV Library team would like to recommend some AWESOME books for you to read during the winter break.

  • And the Mountain Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
  • Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou
  • March by John Lewis
  • The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde
  • Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie
  • Maddaddam Trilogy: Oryx & Crake; The Year of the Flood; and Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood
  • Skipping Christmas by John Grisham [audiobook]
  • Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden
  • Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  • Down the Long Hills by Louis L’Amour
  • The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone [print and audiobook]
  • A Book of Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens
  • Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Naruto. Vol. 1. The tests of the Ninja by Masashi Kishimoto
  • Hercule Poirot’s Christmas: A Holiday Mystery by  Agatha Christie
  • Benediction by Kent Haruf

The Princess Bride (bk rvw)

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

I must admit my astonishment last week when a friend admitted that not only had he not read The Princess Bride, but had not even seen the movie! He defended himselpbridef by saying that the movie was a “chick flick”. Not.

Give yourself a reality break this holiday, read the book and watch the movie. The book is an eccentric, satirical, swashbuckling fairy tale with the voice of the author interjecting his opinions about how the narrative is progressing. The movie has been elevated to cult status with its own website (even though it was in the late 1980’s). It is also probably one of the most quoted films ever. Inconceivable, you say? Read and watch – you won’t be disappointed.

William Goldman, who wrote both the book and the screenplay, won Academy Awards for best screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men. He also won a Hugo Award for the screenplay of The Princess Bride.

The library owns both the movie and the book.

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