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Start Your Summer Reading with One of These

Be an example to a child or teen by joining the Adult Summer Reading (SRP) program at Camp Verde Community Library and reading for pleasure. This year’s theme for adults is Escape the Ordinary, a sub-theme of the overall SRP: Every Hero Has a Story. The Library has weekly activities, reading challenges and encouragement to meet some local heroes, escape the routine, try something new, and become a hero yourself. Registration for SRP starts Wednesday, May 20!

Get started with your summer reading by selecting from these Random Reviews in Random order from Random Library Staff and our One Prolific Volunteer, Mr. Von Hatch:

THE ESCAPE by David Baldacci

There are few dull moments in any Baldacci book and this one may set some sort of record for twists and turns as well as a nicely convoluted plot. This is the third book of the series featuring the Puller brothers. It is not necessary to have read the first two, but it wouldn’t hurt. Our hero, John Puller, is an Army investigator who is assigned, against his better judgment, to investigate the escape by his brother, Robert, from the super-max facility at the prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. Part of the thrill of the book is the how of the escape and part is trying to figure out the alphabet soup that is the nation’s intelligence system. It is scary to think that mess is anything other than fiction. I’ll leave that up to the reader, but first you gotta read this one.


It finally dawned on someone important in the Army that our intelligence gathering capabilities in Afghanistan were ignoring half the population. Unless a man is blood kin or married to a woman, he cannot have any contact at all with the woman. This clever fellow figured if we had the services of an American woman to console, and talk to the women concerned, there might be a wealth of information available. Suddenly a lot of important people were thinking this was a great idea. The major problem was, the groups that needed the support of trained women were all door kickers and trigger men and in the U.S. Army. These are occupations and situations absolutely forbidden to women. Well, they made it work. How that happened and the stories of some of the pioneering women who made it happen is the topic of this book. It’s not long but it’s big. Mr. and Mrs. America, if you’re lucky, Ashley is your daughter!

DIE AGAIN by Tess Gerritsen

This is the 11th book in the Rizzoli & Isles series. I love the way the author catches your attention right off the bat by describing dawn in Botswana. What a beautiful picture she paints in your mind. The story, of course, is very intriguing. Either you like her writing and have already read the previous 10 or you might want to try this one and see if you like this type of fiction. Then go back and read the rest of the Rizzoli & Isles series.


This a must read for big fans of Martin Short. It’s not exactly rags to riches, but it is an engaging tale of a man who, according to some, is one of the comedic greats of our time. I am not counted among their number but I have laughed at his work. He has worked with people I consider to be his superior in the field of and he names them all and does have many amusing tales to report. In short, this is an entertaining read. As far as I am concerned his story rises to much greater heights when he relates the loss of his wife to cancer. For those of you who have trudged that rough road, your heart will hurt all over again for his pain. His comedy doesn’t do much for me but his story is a compelling one. And there really are a lot of laughs in this book.


Nathaniel Fick was a Marine grunt lieutenant. One bullet away is the notion that one enemy bullet can make the platoon leader the company commander or the gunny become the platoon commander. This is a pretty gung-ho book about the training of a Marine officer and the subsequent war Lt. Fick attended in the early days of the Iraq war. Lt. Fick was in Recon. Recon is the Marine equivalent to the Navy SEALS. They are the point on the pointy end of the spear. The beginning of the war in Iraq was so vastly different from the end. Many people at that time thought we were doing the right thing and could be a force for good in that sad country. This book is a compelling look at that early war from the front seat of an un-armored Humvee in the dash to Baghdad.


The story takes place in 1959 when a group of black students are forced to go to an all-white school. The students think that all will go smoothly and book highlights the lies they tell themselves regarding desegregation. This is a powerful story told from the perspective of Sarah, a senior girl who was heading to college before she was sent to the all-white school where they believed that she wasn’t capable of intelligence because she was black. The story also brings in the LGBT topic which adds an interesting twist. The book has it all: the taunts, the insults, the shouts, the abuse, the fear she experiences. Despite the obstacles Sarah bounces back, so there is hope. I highly recommend young and old read it.


This is a serious study of one murder in particular and several other ancillary ones in a small section of Los Angeles County. It reads like a fictional murder mystery but is a riveting account of one particular murder. Jill Leovy is very good at word painting. The characters (real people) are clearly defined, as is their role in this drama. On the one hand are the cops. Some are dedicated and caring in spite of the demographic of the neighborhood: largely Black, mostly poor, and well represented in local crime statistics. Others, of the Thin Blue Line variety, have little invested in the area. The attitudes of too many of the police are reflective of the national attitude about Black on Black murder. NHI- no humans involved. There are a number of good guys in this police story. One dedicated cop who continues to live in the same neighborhood he has always lived in sees his son murdered, and another dedicated cop eventually solves the murder. There is no happy ending in this book. It does pose the idea that the inability of the legal system to function for the people of these neighborhoods reflects the inability of our country to function as advertised for the same people. Some people will call the author a bleeding heart liberal, and they may be right. I don’t think we should dismiss the idea she might be right.


One more book about what we did right and what we did wrong in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This one was written by a, now retired, Lt. General. The book gives credit where credit is due, and there is a lot of that. There is much more blame than credit and it is handed out as well. America owns the greatest military organization on the planet but nation building is not a function of the military. Whomever we depend on for nation building appears as incompetent as those in Vietnam, nearly two generations ago. Micro-management from the political establishment and ineffectual leadership at the command level in the military, along with the “leadership” of the occupied nations combined to make impossible the mission the military had been given. This general doesn’t always sound like a general and that makes reading this book a bit easier. Because it’s not an easy book to read.

GRAY MOUNTAIN by John Grisham

Once again, John Grisham is encouraging us not to kill all the lawyers. He has proposed the names of a few sterling humans who are engaged in the practice of law in the cause of the greater good as opposed to the greater gain. The time of the book is the great melt down of 2008 and who can forget that? From a law firm in New York with thousands of employees to a small town in Virginia with not that many citizens, our heroine finds herself in a place that she never dreamed of being: in a courtroom. Grisham, as usual, creates villains beneath contempt and has the reader begging for their comeuppance, and the goodness of his good guys couldn’t be gooder. This is a fun read and if you liked A TIME TO KILL, chances are good you’ll be happy with GRAY MOUNTAIN.


Published in 1972, this is the second book written by Pat Conroy. He is most famous for THE GREAT SANTINI and PRINCE OF TIDES but his style and voice are evident in this short tale of his year teaching at an off shore island of South Carolina. The school is composed entirely of poor black students and the year is 1969. What follows is the collision of an Idealistic new teacher charged with educating largely illiterate students in a school governed by citizens more comfortable with 1869 than 1969 all of whom are caught up in the monumental changes of the Civil Rights Era. As is usual in Conroy’s work, there is humor and tragedy as well as a sense of the author’s attitudes about the human condition. If you have ever been a teacher or thought about being one, this is a book for you.


The Kong women are in crisis.  A disastrous trip to visit her “home” orphanage in China has plunged 18-year old Ari into a self-destructive spiral.  Her adoptive mother, kind-hearted attorney Charlie tries to help but is rebuffed. Gran, a Bryn Mawr-educated daughter of a cultured Chinese doctor and brilliant sister Les, a judge who rules everyone’s lives, have problems of their own and are no help.  Four intertwining lives, told alternately from each character’s perspective, describe accomplishment, secrets, loneliness, and love.  The difficulty of assimilation of thousands of Chinese children adopted by Americans is graphically portrayed by Ari and some of her friends in this first novel by Ms. Ma.  A quartet of unforgettable characters set in San Francisco in present time.

THE GOLEM OF HOLLYWOOD by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

This is a time-traveling, mystical, head-scratching thriller from the author of the Alex Delaware series and it is a really fun read. It begins with a bizarre death in Prague in the 17th Century and moves to modern Hollywood where it becomes the concern of our hero, Jacob Lev. It is important to the story that our protagonist should be of the Hebrew persuasion because, after all, the Golem is part of Jewish lore. The tension mounts as Jacob travels the world chasing a murderer and the centuries collapse upon themselves as the villain is revealed. It’s pretty good stuff.


If you are of an age approximating mine, Bob Hope was likely one of your favorite stars. I say star because he did it all: vaudeville, radio, movies, television and many, many personal appearances. Having said all that, he was no saint, but he was a national treasure for many years. This biography seems to be an honest look at the life of a public figure who was an incredibly private man. I was particularly interested in the development and history of his Christmas time shows for American troops serving in difficult conditions. In my home the Bob Hope Christmas Special was required watching. In my life after home, I was in the neighborhood for two Bob Hope shows that were performed on Hill 327 near Danang, Viet Nam and went to neither. Looking at those decisions after all these years, I might have made an historical blunder. But I did see it on TV.

We work in the library. We like to read. True. We do read. A lot! However, none of us read nearly as much as the entertaining Mr. Von Hatch. Giving credit where credit is due… the best of these reviews have been put forth from his computer to ours.  We’d love to have your short reviews to include next time. Just ask us!



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What’s the Holdup on Library Construction?

Granted, it’s been a little quieter than anticipated on the library’s construction site this past month. No good vibrations. No shake, rattle and roll. No dust in the air or people walking around in hard hats. No activity to amaze us when we look out our windows. As we head into May, the lot just north of the library looks pretty much like it looked at the beginning of April. So, what’s the holdup?


The holdup is that we are waiting for submittal and approval of the steel building plans before we can forge ahead. The foundation prep work cannot begin until the plans for the steel building are confirmed. In the meantime, library architect, Joel Westervelt, has been busy reviewing material samples and over 800 pages of product data sheets and shop drawings associated with the project. Mr. Westervelt assures me: “…the submittal process is a crucial part of construction. These procedures help minimize potential conflicts and additional costs during construction. Also, note that the steel building, once on site, will be erected in approximately a month.”

Work on building our new library is progressing. You just can’t see it at the moment because it’s all happening in the offices of the general contractor, the architect, the public works department, and the project engineers. Before we know it, we’ll be feeling the shake, rattle and roll of good vibrations again.

While we’re on the subject of building a new library… somebody reminded me the other day that some folks in Camp Verde still wonder why we are going for such a big library. Couldn’t we manage with half the size (see 17,000 Square Feet for Books? Really?). Even at 8,500 square feet, it would still be a lot bigger than the current one. True, it would be bigger, but it would not leave much space for the most important element of our library – the people who use it. I will remind you up front that we do not plan to fill up the place with books, movies and other stuff. Today’s libraries and the libraries of the future are more about making room for people, allowing people to interact and make connections with information and with one another, not collecting stuff that sits on shelves and collects dust.

One of the reasons public libraries have survived in this age of advancing technology is the ability of leaders in the field to re-envision 21st century library services. Rather than being threatened by the ubiquity of information and the spread of technology, librarians have embraced technology as an opportunity to learn, change, and share that knowledge and experience with library users (see Taking It to the Next Level). What we are doing is not essentially different from what librarians have done for hundreds of years – providing access to individuals and connecting them to the knowledge or information they seek/need. Now, however, we have to be a bit more creative and innovative as we apply new technologies to our mission and purpose.

As librarians, we have made major changes in the way we deliver services. There are not nearly as many shushing, frowning and distant librarians working away in dark, dusty offices as there are talking, laughing, librarians with open doors or desks out on the floor. At Camp Verde Community Library, we especially enjoy serving our patrons and helping people get what they need/want from the library. Our patrons have responded to the changing atmosphere in the library by using what we offer and seeking interaction with librarians and each other. These changes have made the library more like a community center than the traditional library (see New Library: A Place for People and Community Involvement).

Currently, as I sit here typing in our small, old, crowded slump block building we have people using all 10 public Internet computers, several people using their own laptops wherever they can setup, kids using all 6 Internet computers in the Children’s Library and parents sitting with children at the early literacy computer stations. A couple of kids have pulled out toys and are engaging in imaginative play while their mom selects picture books to take home with them. I can hear conversations between people sitting around, see some folks browsing the stacks for book selections or periodicals, see a couple of men sitting and reading the newspaper, and hear the beeping of the checkout/check-in stations. Earlier, a group of writers sat discussing, laughing and learning in our one “meeting” room, I was approached by a couple who want to learn how to use their tablet, saw a colleague helping a patron use the Job-Helps computer, assisted a patron sending a FAX, helped someone place a hold, renewed items over the phone for a patron, and helped a patron save a file to a flash-drive then showed her how to email it as an attachment. Now a group of half a dozen ranchers from Rainbow Acres have come in to pick out books and movies. It’s a typical Monday. A steady stream of activity, not our busiest day of the week since there are no children’s or teen’s programs scheduled. Still, we find people are surprised when we say it’s time to close at 4:30. They would stay longer if we were open longer and yet, a year ago we weren’t even open on Mondays at all. Now we are connecting people to what they need in their community library Monday through Saturday.

Working weekly for 3 years now, observing how people use our space and fielding requests from community members, I’d say our biggest need is room for people to connect with one another and with library programs and resources. The more space we have opened up to be used by people, the more people have come to use the space – from the table by the window with outlets for laptops to the patio with access to Wi-Fi 24/7. All the activity we have makes our library a fairly noisy place. We have no quiet spaces for people working on job applications, taking online classes or having a test proctored. Children often sit on the floor with their moms or caregivers during or after children’s programs. We like to see people interacting with one another, visiting, reading, hanging out, etc. but there is no place where families can do this without being right in the walkway between staff offices. When teens, children and families fill our Children’s Library during weekly Teen Game Nights, the room becomes an obstacle course for anyone trying to get from one side to the other.

In the new library, we will have room to separate the noisy activities and quiet activities to serve both needs while making more room for more people. The building is designed with meeting rooms, meeting spaces, study rooms, study spaces, training areas, patios, reading nooks and more. It will be both an asset and resources for Camp Verde, something to be proud of and used. I can hardly wait for you to see it. Any person with any question about the design of the new library is invited to stop by and look at the plans. Don’t ask your neighbor about the library. Stop by and ask the librarian. I’d love to give you a personal tour and the inside scoop on why we are building the library we are building.