The Round House (bk rvw)

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

I would recommend The Round House by Louise Erdrich to anyone. It is a story of survival, love, resentment, duty, and sympathy.13602426

The Round House is a fantastic novel that opens in the spring on a North Dakota reservation. You quickly learn a woman, Geraldine Coutts, has been attacked and raped but she is unable to provide any details causing the police investigation to go cold.

In the aftermath of the rape, Geraldine sinks into a deep depression. At times she refuses to leave her room or talk to anyone, even her husband Antone or their son Joe. The once tight-knit family begins to fall apart as Geraldine seeks comfort in her solitude, Antone (a tribal judge) looks for justice through the legal system, and Joe is forced to grow up quickly.

As the days pass by, Joe becomes frustrated by the investigation into his mother’s rape and decides to take matters into his own hands. Joe enlists his friends Cappy, Zack, and Angus to help him find answers. Their hunt for justice leads them all over the reservation and with the help of a few others, the boys attempt to solve the case.

The Round House is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library. It is in our Leisure Reading collection on the 1st Floor.

Review written by Amanda B.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

51Kz4zmXqbL._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_One of my goals this year is to get my apartment organized, so when “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo passed across my desk at work, I had to read it (especially since she claims that once you tidy, you’ll never have too again).

Kondo is supposedly a guru on getting rid of clutter, having developed the KonMari Method, a category-by-category system to get rid of your junk. You go through your things following the order of clothes, books, paper, komono (miscellaneous), and photos. You gather, say, all of your clothes in one room, pick up each item and ask yourself if it inspires joy. If the item doesn’t give you a thrill, you toss it.

Simple enough! I can do that.

However, at times Kondo starts to get a bit hippie-dippie. She assigns feelings to items (spare change is sad when we just leave it laying around the house), and suggests that we should thank them for helping us (i.e. “Thank you sweater for keeping me warm today”).

Also, she doesn’t promise it, but Kondo does mention that lots of her clients have lost weight or found a new job after following her tidying procedure. Imagine me rolling my eyes here.

It’s an easy read, and I definitely got some good tips… I don’t think I’ll start talking to all my appliances though.

You’ll find The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing in our Leisure Reading section on the 1st Floor of the Library.

Review written by Rebecca H.

Alex (bk rvw)

Alex by Pierre Lemaitre

Alex is a page-turning crime thriller is the first book of a trilogy written by French author Lemaitre.Alex

The story takes place in France and focuses on the story of Alex, a woman suddenly kidnapped late at night from a deserted Paris street. She is taken to an abandoned warehouse and suspended from the ceiling in a cage. Alex’s kidnapper doesn’t say anything except that he wants to watch her die.

Shortly after Alex’s kidnapping, French police are on the scene led by Police Commandant Camille Verhoeven. Commandant Verhoeven and his team must race against the clock to find Alex. As the investigation moves along, the police learn more about Alex and discover she is no ordinary victim.

If you enjoy crime thrillers, you should read this book. The twists and turns keep coming until the very end.

Alex is available for check out at the VC/UHV Library. You’ll find it in our Leisure Reading area on the 1st Floor.

Review written by Amanda B.

Hitler’s Furies (bk rvw)

Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower provides an interesting new way to look at German women who lived during the time of Hitler. In 17612712her book, Lower scrutinizes the German women who were born in the wake of World War I and grew up under the Nazi regime.

In Hitler’s Furies, Lower examines young German women who grew up with the rise of Nazism. She describes how these young women were full of nationalistic pride and wanted to do their part to support the Reich.

So, with German pride, a desire for adventure, romance and a steady paycheck, many young German women moved East into Nazi-occupied territory like Poland, Ukraine and Belarus. Once there, many committed violent acts.

Hitler’s Furies is all about how ordinary German women – nurses, secretaries, schoolteachers, wives of SS officers – committed and participated in the genocide of Jews. Some women, like the nurses, participated in the “Euthanasia Program” and killed countless innocent victims. Other women, like the secretaries, schoolteachers and wives of SS officers went out to the killing fields (sites of mass graves) or participated in the liquidation of the Jewish ghettos.

Lower’s book presents evidence to show German women in the East were not innocent victims of Nazism, but were willing participants in the violence and genocide against the Jews. I can honestly say that I will not look at Holocaust or its perpetrators in the same way again.

Hiler’s Furies is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library. You’ll find it in our Main Collection on the 3rd Floor.

Review written by Amanda B.

March: Book One (bk rvw)

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell is a fantastic graphic novel about the start of the civil rights movement. The images of the graphic novel are black and white, which I think, makes the story more powerful. March-Book-One-cover-hi-res

Rooted in John Lewis’ personal experiences and involvement in the civil rights movement, March: Book One begins with Lewis’ life in rural Alabama. The authors explain how Lewis’ upbringing led him to a life-changing meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

March: Book One also recounts the birth of the Nashville Student Movement along with their training for passive resistance and non-violent action as tools for desegregation. The graphic novel shows the struggle to desegregate the lunch counters in Nashville through sit-ins.

I highly recommend this book to anyone – youth or adult – interested in learning more about the civil rights movement. March: Book One is short (just over 100 pages) so you can read it in one sitting. Plus, the illustrations are amazing and add a lot to the story.

March: Book One 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 Amanda B.

Suggested Summer Reading

Finals are over and the weather is heating up. That can only means it’s time to hit the Summer-Readingbeach…with a good book, of course!

I think it’s not secret the employees at the VC/UHV Library enjoy reading in their spare time. So, we are recommending some of our favorite books to you for some awesome summer reading.

  • Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  • Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  • Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  • Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower
  • Saga, volumes 1, 2 and 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
  • The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
  • A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  • We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
  • The Walking Dead, compendiums 1 and 2 by Robert Kirkman
  • The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How it Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World by Steven Johnson
  • The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
  • Attack on Titan, volumes 1 – 4 by Hajime Isayama
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
  • The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom by Marcus Rediker
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • The Zodiac Legacy series by Stan Lee
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
  • The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless

The Ghost Map (bk rvw)

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson

The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson was more interesting than I ghostmapcovercould have imagined. Honestly, I picked up the book because it had “London” in the title and since London is one of my favorite cities – I figured I’d read about its history. The Ghost Map is non-fiction, but it reads like a narrative fiction book.

Johnson explores the story behind a deadly cholera outbreak in London during the summer of 1854 in the Broad Street neighborhood. The author explores how the cholera outbreak started and how the citizens of the neighborhood & greater London reacted.

The Ghost Map chronicles follows the steps of two men in the Broad Street neighborhood – Dr. John Snow and clergyman Henry Whitehead. Both men worked in the area hit hardest by the cholera outbreak to figure out how the disease was spreading and were instrumental in stopping the 1854 outbreak.  Johnson also details how the work of Snow and Whitehead helped the leaders of London understand the importance of creating a sewer system that doesn’t cross human waste with drinking water.

Mixed in with the narrative of the outbreak, Johnson provides information on cholera, including details about the bacteria (Vibrio cholerae) that someone with no medical background (e.g. – me) can understand.

The Ghost Map is a truly fascinating book. I learned more about cholera, modern sewer systems, and tracking disease outbreaks than I thought I would. I will definitely be recommending this book to library patrons.

Review written by Amanda B.

The Wild Truth (bk rvw)

The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless

If you read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, you definitely need to read The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless. The Wild Truth will answer a lot of questions raised by 9780062325143Krakauer’s book. And well, if you haven’t read either of these books, you really need to do so.

Carine is the younger sister of Chris McCandless, whose story was made famous in the book (and movie) Into the Wild.

The book Into the Wild chronicles Chris’ life after college when he gave away all of his possessions, donated his money to charity, and headed west. Eventually, Chris moved to Alaska and his life came to a tragic end.

While Krakauer was writing Into the Wild, he spent time with Chris’ parents and Carine to try and understand why Chris did what he did. In an effort to protect family secrets, Carine didn’t allow Krakauer to publish the entire truth of Chris and Carine’s childhood – she only let him allude to it – and in doing so, many people misunderstood Chris’ motives for leaving his family.

In The Wild Truth, Carine tells the story about her childhood. She discusses the fact her mom became pregnant with Chris even though her father had another family. Carine talks about the physical and verbal abuse her mother, Chris and she lived with because of her father’s temper. She talks about her parents inability to accept blame for anything bad in life. And Carine admits why she didn’t want Krakauer to write about this in Into the Wild but why she finally saw a need for the truth to come out.

As Carine describes the childhood she and her brother shared, she talks about Chris’ personality and his desire for adventure. She relays her understanding of Chris’ motives to get rid of his possessions and move west without a plan.

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless are available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library.

Review written by Amanda B.

Those Who Save Us (bk rvw)

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

Those Who Save Us is a fantastic historical fiction book. The author, Jenna Blum does an incredible job of simultaneously telling the stories of two women: Anna, a woman who grew up in 51FN3VKM34LGermany during World War II and Trudy, Anna’s daughter and a professor of German history who begins investigating her past.

Anna grew up and lived in the Weimar, Germany during World War II. She is not proud of a lot of things she did to survive during the war and wants to keep the past in the past. After the war, Weimar and neighboring Buchenwald Concentration Camp (it was only 8 km from the city center) were liberated by American soldiers, one of which Anna married. She, along with her daughter, moved with him to his farmhouse in rural Minnesota.

Flash forward to the present day where Trudy is a grown woman and is a professor at a university in Minnesota. She agrees to work with a colleague and collect oral histories from German survivors of the war. As Trudy conducts the interviews, she becomes more and more curious about her mother’s past.Eventually Trudy’s work and Anna’s past collide.

Those Who Save Us is more than historical fiction. The book is about what one must sometimes do to survive and the lasting shame it can bring.

Agent Storm (bk rvw)

Agent Storm: My Life Inside Al Qaeda and the CIA by Morten Storm with Paul Cruickshank & Tim Lister

I first heard about Agent Storm from an online book review in the New York Times. Immediately, I knew I wanted to read this book – and I’m glad I did. Morten Storm 9780802123145provides amazing insight into working for Western intelligence agencies trying to track down Al Qaeda members.

Now, I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about Agent Storm’s story after I got my hands on the book. I didn’t understand why a secret agent would go public with his story and I was unsure about how truthful the information would be. This was a book, after all, written by a former spy. The co-authors Paul Cruickshank & Tim Lister detail the amount and types of material Storm had to corroborate his story in an author’s note at the beginning of the book. There are also photos of some of the corroborating material at the back of the book.

Agent Storm is the story about Morten Storm, a six-foot-one, red-headed man from Denmark who became radicalized soon after he converted to Islam. For 10 years, Storm befriended militant Islamists and became a trusted member within the inner circles of some radical clerics.

After Storm began to question is belief in Islam, the methods and targets of his militant friends and the last 10 years of his list, Morten Storm called the Danish Intelligence Service (PET) and asked for a meeting. Soon after, Storm was in contact with the British Intelligence Service (MI5 and MI6) and the United States Intelligence Service (CIA).

This book recounts the assignments Storm carried out for MI6 and the CIA. Storm describes how the agencies supplied him with laptops, cellphones, and other supplies rigged with tracking devices to pass on to militants. The also talk about Storm’s contributions that led to air strikes against “high value” Al Qaeda targets.

Agent Storm: My Life Inside Al Qaeda and the CIA is a captivating book. Not only does the book provide amazing insight into the life of one spy, but it will make you think about the methods intelligences agencies use to achieve their goals.

Agent Storm is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library.

Review written by Amanda B.