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Start Your Summer Reading with One of These

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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.

ASHLEY’S WAR: THE UNTOLD STORY OF A TEAM OF WOMEN SOLDIERS ON THE SPECIAL OPS BATTLEFIELD by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

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.

I MUST SAY: MY LIFE AS A HUMBLE COMEDY LEGEND by Martin Short

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.

ONE BULLET AWAY: THE MAKING OF A MARINE OFFICER by Nathaniel Fick

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.

LIES WE TELL OURSELVES by Robin Talley

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.

GHETTOSIDE: TRUE STORY OF MURDER IN AMERICA by Jill Leovy

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.

WHY WE LOST: A GENERAL’S INSIDE ACCOUNT OF THE IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN WARS by Daniel P. Bolger

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.

THE WATER IS WIDE by Pat Conroy

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 YEAR SHE LEFT US by Kathryn Ma 

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.

HOPE: ENTERTAINER OF THE CENTURY by Richard Zoglin

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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