Jessica Jones: Alias (bk rvw)

Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. I (issues #1-9) is a noir style graphic novel focused on Jessica Jones, a retired super hero. Sure she still has her super powers, but running around in a costume 515+A0ri85L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_saving the world wasn’t her cup of tea. Laying low from public life, she earns her living running the Alias detective agency.

Being a P.I. isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Jealous spouses want their partners followed, and when they find out the truth they blame Jessica. She’s only doing her job, right?

One day she finds herself with a new kind of case, one which might threaten her life.

I really connected with the anti-heroine in this novel. Sure she has some paltry super powers, but she’s not rich, she’s got flaws, she’s lonely, and there is something dark she’s hiding from.

Through it all, under her gruff exterior, Jessica just wants to help people. I can’t wait to see where the rest of the series takes her.

If you need a break from your studies, but can’t commit to a full length novel, the graphic novel form is great alternative. Jessica Jones: Alias is available for checkout in our Graphic Novel collection.

Review written by Rebecca H.

Earth Day

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

The 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, environmental protection, and the earth, check out these items available at the VC/UHV Library.

  • Beyond Earth Day: Fulfilling the Promise by Gaylord Nelson
  • Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet by Bill McKibben
  • Six Degrees Could Change the World [DVD]
  • What We Think About When We Try Not to Think About Global Warming: Toward a New Psychology of Climate Action by Per Espen Stoknes
  • The New Village Green: Living Light, Living Local, Living Large
  • The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet by Robert Hazen
  • Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming by Bjorn Lomborg
  • An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It by Albert Gore [audiobook]
  • Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast by David Archer
  • The Atlas of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges and Opportunities to Make a Difference edited by Jennifer Molnar and Jonathan M. Hoekstra
  • Life [DVD]
  • Conserving Words: How American Nature Writers Shaped the Environmental Movement by Daniel Philippon
  • The White Planet: The Evolution and Future of our Frozen World by Jean Jouzel
  • Big History and the Future of Humanity by Fred Spier

International Women’s Day


March 8 is International Women’s Day. It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This day also calls attention to gender quality that still needs to happen. 

In honor of International Women’s Day, check out these books at the VC/UHV Library written by or about awesome women in history.

  • The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis
  • The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kierman
  • My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
  • Wednesdays in Mississippi: Proper Ladies Working for Radical Change, Freedom Summer 1964 by Debbie Z. Harwell
  • Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou
  • Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life by Roxana Robinson
  • Women’s Suffrage by Jeff Hill
  • The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
  • Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol by Nell Irvin Painter
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony: Correspondence, Writings, Speeches by Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • Double Victory: How African American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II by Cheryl Mullenbach
  • Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie
  • Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Y. Davis
  • Women and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965 edited by Davis W. Houck and David E. Dixon
  • Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
  • Joan of Arc: A Military Leader by Kelly DeVries
  • The works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson by Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott 
  • Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species are Being Rescued from the Brink by Jane Goodall
  • Curie by Sarah Dry
  • Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family by Condoleezza Rice

This is a small selection of books the VC/UHV Library owns to celebrate the lives of women. To find more, you can go to our homepage and click on the Search Library Catalog tab.

Recommended Holiday Reading

If you are like us, then you’ll have some spare time coming up because ofReadingFireplace the holidays. Yes, it is important to spend time with family and friends – it’s one of the things that makes this time of the year extra special. But you can also use this time to curl up with a good book. In fact, we highly recommended it. Here are some great books to read over the next few weeks.

  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Armada by Ernest Cline
  • Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman [print and audiobook]
  • The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler
  • The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell [print and audiobook]
  • Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers by Nick Offerman
  • Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee [print and audiobook]
  • The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born by Peter David and Stephen King [graphic novel]
  • Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders
  • The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson
  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison


The Sculptor (bk rvw)

In Scott McCloud’s graphic novel The Sculptor, tortured artist David Smith struggles to find both appreciation for his sculptures, and the skill 610yfF-huNL._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_to bring his more grand ideas to life.

When the penniless sculptor finally hits rock bottom, he’s visited by the Grim Reaper himself and they strike a morbid deal. The Grim Reaper will bestow upon David a supernatural ability to sculpt his art into any form he can imagine but in return, his lifespan is shortened to 200 days.

David accepts without hesitation and struggles against time to immortalize himself and his art in this tale of tragedy, romance, and redemption.

The artwork is drawn with impressive detail and the dull colorization seems emphasize the hopelessness the protagonist often feels. I’d recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys superhero comics but is looking to expand their horizons into more complex themes.

The Sculptor is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library. You’ll find it on the 1st Floor in our Graphic Novel collection.

Review written by Grant S.

Prague Winter (bk rvw)

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 by  Madeleine Albright

Prague Winter by Madeleine Albright is one of the best books IPragueWinter‘ve read in a very long time. And I’m not just saying that because I think she is one of the most fascinating women in history. It really is worth reading.

Prague Winter is more than a memoir, it’s a mix of the author’s personal remembrance of growing up in World War II, the story of her extended family, and a history of Czechoslovakia. Albright does a wonderful job of tying all three stories together.

Recalling her own memories, Albright talks about living in Prague and Belgrade before World War II because of her father’s diplomatic role in the Czechoslovakia government. She also discusses the time her family spent in England during WWII.

The story of Albright’s extended family is a tragic one. It was during Albright’s time as Secretary of State that she learned of her Jewish heritage (an event detailed in Albright’s book Madam Secretary) and that many of her family members died in the Holocaust. Prague Winter details the research Albright did on her family to learn about their movement during WWII. She tells how many of them ended up at Terezín (more commonly known as the Theresienstadt concentration camp), describes life at the camp, and explains how their life ended at the hands of the Nazis.

Woven throughout Albright’s personal and family history is the history of Czechoslovakia. The author adds the history of the country to put the personal stories in the social and political context of the time. Together, the three narratives give an in-depth look into the lives of the Czechoslovakian people during a precarious time in history.

Prague Winter is available for checkout in print and audiobook at the VC/UHV Library.

Review written by Amanda B.

Very Good Lives (bk rvw)

One of the perks of my job is that I get to see books before they go on the shelves. So when I saw a book pass through by the Harry Potter series creator, J. K. Rowling, I had to snatch it up.

Very Good Lives by J.K. RowlingI honestly didn’t even pay attention to the title or description of Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination until I cracked the book open at home one night. What I found was a commencement address delivered to the Harvard Class of 2008. I don’t remember the speech delivered at my high school or college graduations, but I found her speech very poignant and the points that she made have stuck with me over the past couple of weeks.

Like the fairies in Sleeping Beauty she wishes three things for the Class of 2008: failure, imagination, and good friendships.

Failure you say?

Rowling wrote that if she hadn’t found herself at rock bottom, she might not have realized that she could survive and thrive. She might never have reached her full potential: she’s written what could arguably called one of the best children’s series of all time, she’s richer than the Queen of England, and she is incredibly humble.


Rowling said it gives you the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes without having to have lived through their experiences. She worked in the African research department at Amnesty International where she heard all sorts of horror stories about torture, executions, kidnappings and rape.

“The power of human empathy leading to collective action saves lives,” she wrote.

“Unlike any other creature on this planet, human beings can learn and understand without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places,” she continued, saying how deeply the experience affected her and influenced her work on the Potter series.

However, some people refuse to exercise their imagination, preferring to remain comfortably ignorant.

“Without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it through our own apathy.”


Her last wish to those students about to step forth into the “real world” is lasting friendships; people who will be with you in good times and bad.

After having read this short work, I admire Rowling more. Her perseverance, her humbleness, her kindness, and her imagination are all qualities that I strive to possess. And my friends? And my friendships, I can assure you that all my lasting relationships have met these criteria.

I highly recommend this quick read. I know that this is a book that I will pick up again whenever I am feeling low or need some inspiration.

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library. You’ll find it in our Leisure Reading section on the 1st Floor.

Review written by Rebecca H.

Devil in the Grove (bk rvw)

Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King

Devil in the Grove is a fantastic, yet sad, story about Thurgood M13425592arshall’s defense of four young black men (known as the Groveland Boys) who were falsely accused of raping a white woman in Lake County, Florida in 1949.

The book details life in Florida during the 1940s when the citrus industry was booming and white men were making large profits by paying African-American laborers low wages. White supremacists groups also took the law into their own hands, and Jim Crow laws were enforced.

King describes the night of the alleged rape, the accusation, and the county sheriff’s determination to make a quick arrest. The author also tells of how the Ku Klux Klan began burning the homes of black families in the area and led a mob to the jail where the Groveland Boys were being held.

Devil in the Grove explains the chain of events that led Thurgood Marshall to lead a team from the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund to defend the Groveland Boys. The book reveals Marshall’s defense strategy and his reasons for taking on the case. It also illustrates the enormous challenges faced by an African-American lawyer in the Jim Crow era and enumerates the racial injustice of the time.

This is a captivating story and I would recommend it to anyone interested in civil rights. Devil in the Grove was the winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. The book is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library.

Review written by Amanda B.

VRHC: Back to School…

Say “Cheese!” at the Victoria Regional History Center’s new display, “Back to School From Years Past.”  View school photos from Victoria, Lavaca, and Goliad counties takenBackToSchool between 1920 and 1930.  See photos of student lunches outside, and notice the hand water pumps, horses, and bare feet.

Learn answers:  How much were textbooks in 1928?  What does a blueprint for a one room schoolhouse look like?  Who made the honor roll at Cottage Normal School in 1898?

Make a connection with Victoria’s past at the Victoria Regional History Center, located on the 2nd floor of the VC/UHV Library.

Movies Based on Books

There are a lot movies coming out this fall and winter- and many of them are based on books. So if you are looking for something to read, here are some suggestions of great reads that you’ll see in theaters in the upcoming months.

  • The Devil in the White City by Eric Larson (audiobook)
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  • Looking For Alaska by John Greenbooks-vs-movies
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • The Lost City of Z by David Grann
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (audiobook)
  • Inferno by Dan Brown
  • Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
  • In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Left For Dead by Beck Weathers
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman

All of these titles are available in print or audiobook at the VC/UHV Library.