The Litigators by John Grisham

The Litigators by John Grisham is a legal thriller that revolves around lawyers, litigation, and what it takes to be the best. David Zinc is an associate at a Chicago firm that has paid him an immense sum over the last five years. He’s on the fast-track, along with thousands of other lawyers in this high-rise firm, to becoming a big name lawyer. Or at least that’s what they’re telling him. Going into work one day, David has a panic attack and dives back into the elevator to escape. Stumbling into a bar, David gets completely drunk and ends up at the law offices of Finley & Figg.

Oscar Finley and Wally Figg are law firm partners in a boutique legal firm who don’t particularly like each other. They bicker in the office over anything and everything, from advertising methods to who they take on as clients to when they come in to work. Add in some shady legal dealings and Finley & Figg find themselves in hot water over some of their cases quite frequently. Just barely making even financial wise, but not nearly making enough to be comfortable, the senior partner Oscar works to bring in some money while managing junior partner Wally comes up with crazy marketing schemes to bring in any and all clients. Neither lawyer is without fault and with the addition of a cantankerous secretary, who is actually a former client, it’s a minor miracle that the building is still standing, they’re still making some money, and no one has quit.

Wally’s latest scheme revolves around product liability and class action lawsuits dealing with medications. Wally sees dollar signs and a huge payday when he learns of a major pending class action lawsuit against the company that manufactures Krayoxx, a cholesterol-reducing drug that is suspected of causing heart attacks, death, and weakening of the heart. Oscar, and now David, are less than thrilled about this lawsuit, but once Wally gets an idea in his head, he’s going to see it through, no matter the consequences or what others think. A massive medical lawsuit ensues against the pharmaceutical company that owns the drug, Varrick Labs, with Oscar, Wally, and David quickly finding themselves in over their heads. The three join the class action and believe they are on their way to fame and fortune without ever having to set foot in a courtroom. Most of these class actions end up being settled anyway. This book is a suspenseful, entertaining read filled with courtroom drama and theatrics both inside and outside the legal system.


This book is also available in the following formats:

Recorded Books OneClickdigital & Zinio are now RBdigital!

Do you use Recorded Books OneClickdigital to download audiobooks or Zinio for Libraries to download magazines? We’ve got great news for you, even if you don’t! OneClickdigital and Zinio are merging into one platform – RBdigital!

What does this mean for you? Now, you’ll be able to find, download, and read or listen to audiobooks and magazines in the same app! The Library will update our links to the new website, which will also have a new look, simplified searching, and a more responsive audio player.

Question: When will this happen?

Answer: Beginning in mid August the app will be available.

Q: Will I be notified? 

A: Yes! If you use OneClickdigital, you will receive an email and if you use their app, you will be notified that an update is available. If you use the Zinio app, you will also be notified that a new app is available.

Q: What if I don’t update the app right away?

A: Both apps will continue to work for a time after the new app is released.

Q: What is the new app?

A: The new app will be called RBdigital and will be available in the Apple Appstore, Google Play and the Amazon App Store. Here’s what the icon will look like (depending on when you install it):

 

 

With the new app, you’ll be able to check out, read magazines, and listen to audiobooks, all in the same app.

Q: I already have titles checked out. Will I need to check them out again?

A: No, all the titles and holds you currently have will be imported into the new app.

Q: I don’t use the app, how will this effect me?

A:  If you only use OneClickdigital and/or Zinio on a computer or laptop, you will be directed to the new website, which will have a new look. Just use the links on the library’s eBooks and More page.

Note: if you use the OneClickdigital Media Manager to download and transfer audiobooks to a portable device, you may be prompted to update the program. Please go ahead and do so.

Q: Do I need to create a new account?

A: Nope! If you already have a OneClick digital and/or a Zinio account, you won’t need to make any changes your account.

Q: I’ve never heard of these services! How do I get started?

A: New users must create an account on the RBdigital website (not in the app). To get there, click here to access the Library’s eBooks and More page.  Once you’re signed up, you can start checking out right away from your computer, or download the app, sign in, and start downloading!

Q: I have more questions!

A: As always, you can contact us at (563) 326-7832, email us here or text DPLKNOWS to 66746. You can find user guides on our eBooks and More LibGuide and you can contact RBdigital directly at 1-877-772-8346 or yoursupport@recordedbooks.com.

The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain

I read a lot of non-fiction about food and nutrition and, admittedly, there are a dizzying number of flash-in-a-pan diet/lifestyle books that villanize some foods and glorify others.   The Plant Paradox is absolutely another book in a sea of books that touts the healing powers of food to reverse and prevent illness and inflammation; but you will definitely appreciate the nuance Gundry offers even though the books isn’t without some alarmist language, too (Gundry likens taking NSAIDs to dropping a grenade into the body…but honestly, maybe it is like that).

The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers in “Healthy” Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain offers new insights into food-related causes of  illness.  One thing that gives Author and cardio-surgeon Dr. Steven Gundry an edge–in addition to his rigorous research studies and research citations–is his admission that he changes his stance on what constitutes “healthy food” based on a changing body of evidence. Sticking to your guns is great if you’re not a cardio-surgeon when patients require that your practices are current and evidence-based!

First-off, people who follow a plant-based diet or lifestyle can rest assured that Gundry in no way vilifies plant-based living and eating: most of the food choices he recommends are still plant-centric. But there are certain plants you should avoid or pressure cook so as not to incur their wrath. So what’s the problem? Blame the lectins, those teeny, tiny little things that cumulatively wreak havoc in our bodies causing inflammation and auto-immune disorders. What in the world is a lectin, you may wonder? I, too, furrowed my brow at the mentioning of the word. Let’s have a look and go straight to the source. Although Gundry spends nearly 400 pages discussing what lectins are and why they’re so problematic, you might sum them up simply in one of his earliest statements that “they are large proteins found in plants and animals, and they are a crucial weapon in the arsenal of strategies that plants use to defend themselves in their ongoing battle with animals” (14). One of the most infamous lectins starts with the letter “G” and I’ll give you one guess! If you thought of gluten, you’re right! As you have witnessed, most grocery stores sell “gluten-free” variants of bread, baked goods, pasta, soups, and frozen entrees; but gluten is just one of many, many lectins. Gundry discusses how avoiding one lectin will do little to help individuals attempting to adhere to a gluten-free diet and lifestyle because they have not removed the other lectin-containing foods from their diets. And you better believe those little buggers are everywhere. To add insult to injury, most gluten-free foods are far more calorically dense and sugar-laden than their gluten-containing counterparts.

One major takeaway from the book is that making healthier food choices is less about what you add to your diet and more about what you remove to improve your health. Check out this book to discover Gundry’s recipes for a 3-day cleanse and what he refers to as the “Plant Paradox” program. If you like avocados like me, I think you’ll be happy to find that many of the 3-day cleanse recipes involve guacamole. There is also a list of lectin-containing culprits and lectin-free foods. Gundry also devised vegan and vegetarian variations of his recipes, for those who currently supplement their plant-based diets with copious amounts of beans, grains, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, white potatoes, goji berries) and legumes.

One consideration with the Plant Paradox “diet” is that it’s somewhat restrictive and likely unsustainable. While it’s possible to loosely follow Dr. Gundry’s instruction, it would likely take time, patience, dedication, and extra cash-flow to implement and be in strict compliance with his plan (especially if you opt for pastured animals, for example). Someone who regularly eats grains, breads, and nightshades (or several other items from the “Do not eat” list) will require quite a few adjustments as they learn to navigate the boundaries of the Plant Paradox program. And something that Gundry likely takes for granted is simply the mental load of having to exert substantial thought into what you’re going to eat for every meal of every day. Grain-based foods, beans, and legumes are filling and cheap whereas “pastured” animal products are more costly (in comparison to their feedlot-raised counterparts). However, it’s reasonable to start with some small part of Gundry’s plan and try to implement that first, i.e. maybe you weed out the simple carbohydrates and refined flours from your diet first rather than trying to do everything at once. Everyone’s nutritional needs are very different, too, so while one person may suffer little or no consequence from regularly consuming the above-listed offenders, another may experience debilitating gastrointestinal issues.  There is one thing I know for sure, though, and personally, when I replace the bread, flour, and dairy products in my diet with greens and velvety avocados, just to name a couple, there is a marked difference in how my gut responds. Happy gut, happy life!

Check this out if you like to stay on the up and up with new diet and nutrition information. This book is incredibly dense with a thorough bibliography if you’re inclined to reference some of Gundry’s research.

 

Are You Anybody? by Jeffrey Tambor

I love reading autobiographies by funny people. I can see them in my head acting out each part of their life and I’m instantly amused. I feel like I’m being given a behind-the-scenes look into their daily lives every time I pick up the book. It’s fascinating. Finding new autobiographies by funny people, who also do their own audiobook narration, is one of my favorite things to do. I recently found another and decided to give it a go.

Are You Anybody? by Jeffrey Tambor popped up in my Rivershare OverDrive book list one day and I knew I needed it. I put the audiobook on hold and quickly forgot about it. When the email finally came that it was ready for me to check out, I downloaded it instantly and began listening.  Jeffrey Tambor is funny and spends equal amounts of time on each part of his life, which is a great plus.

Now, I must preface this blog by saying that I have never seen an episode of ‘Arrested Development’ or ‘Transparent,’ both shows that Jeffrey Tambor starred/stars in, respectively. Now you’re probably thinking , “Well then, how did you know he was funny? Why’d you check this book out?” I frequently see commercials for ‘Arrested Development’ on television late at night when I can’t sleep and decided to give his book a go. That was a good decision all around.

In this book, Tambor writes a series of autobiographical essays about topics all the way from his childhood to his current life. While some of the topics discussed are indeed humorous, most of his stories are more emotional. Every topic he writes about he labels as a ‘formative event’. Beginning at the start with the question ‘Are you anybody?’, Tambor moves the book right along by answering with a resounding ‘No’. His relationships with his Russian and Hungarian-Jewish parents and his childhood as a husky kid with a lisp shaped his years of work in repertoire theater which in turn led to his first film, ‘And Justice for All’, and then later led to fame in various television roles. Each defining moment in his life is hashed out in relation to what he had to do to get to that point. Tambor’s driving motivation throughout the book is his overwhelming desire to rise above his troubled upbringing and provide a better life/home for himself and, now, his family.

Reaching to the present, Tambor discusses how his ‘Are you anybody?’ question revolves around his family now. His creative process has expanded and Tambor finds that in his more than four decades of entertainment, he still has no idea who he is. That’s not a problem per se, more of a challenge to figure out how to balance the triumphs and pitfalls of the entertainment industry. Tambor also is quick to mention that even if you’re successful, that doesn’t mean you’re perfect. Failing, while disastrous, heart-breaking, and depressing at the time, may actually lead you down a better path to who you want to be.

Jeffrey Tambor may be a television legend, a Broadway star, and an accomplished screen actor, but he is still struggling to figure out just who he is and if he is anybody. I enjoyed that he swept between essays about famous people (check out his shout-outs to said people) and every day discussions of his family (his stories about his young children crack me up). The differentiation between those two types of essays lends a necessary balance to this book that allows readers to view Tambor as a normal person who just happens to be famous. He still gets up in the morning to make his kids’ lunches, takes them to all of their practices, and then makes sure they read every night. Just like the rest of us. If you have the chance to listen to or read this book, I recommend you give it a go. I enjoyed it and now I’m off to start ‘Arrested Development’!


This book is also available in the following formats:

Escape by Barbara Delinsky

What would you do if one day you woke up and realized that the life you were living was not the life that you wanted for yourself? Walking into work and having that one bad day, that one interaction, that pushes you over the edge? How would you handle it? Would you try to work through it? Talk to your significant other? Would you take a much needed vacation? Quit your job? Start all over in another city with another job and another family? All of these are questions that Barbara Delinsky tackles in her novel, Escape.

Escape tells the story of Manhattan lawyer Emily Aulenbach. She is 32 years old and has been married to another lawyer, James, for the last seven years. Emily has become increasingly frustrated with her life, both professionally and personally. In law school, she dreamed of representing victims of corporate abuse and campaigning for the little guy. Always the idealist, she hoped to brighten the world. Now she sits in a cubicle alongside hundreds of other lawyers in their tiny cubicles, a headset plastered to her ear, talking to victims of tainted bottled water. You’d think that this would partly be Emily’s dream, except for the major fact that she is on the bottler’s side, NOT the victims.

After a particularly devastating interaction with a victim, Emily has had enough. She packs up, leaves town, and just drives. Looking for a purpose in her life and an escape, she meanders aimlessly and eventually ends up in the place that gave her great joy ten years ago. This small New Hampshire town is rife with good and bad memories. Emily has to find a way to deal with both, interact with the people from her past, and convince her husband and family that she’s okay and not crazy. By putting her happiness first, Emily’s selfishness reverberates throughout all the lives of the people that she knows. She must work to find her center and to decide what she actually wants. Add in an animal refuge, a former lover, and someone in desperate need of legal advice and Emily’s escape brings up some dilemmas that she cannot run away from.

This book did not go the direction that I thought that it would, for which I am very grateful. I have read too many novels where the main character decides that she needs a complete do-over and throws her entire life into shambles trying to find herself. Delinsky goes another route of self-discovery that still hits all of the necessary emotional highs and lows, but thankfully misses all of the predictable actions. This was my first Delinsky read and I am quite ready to pick up another! There was nothing that didn’t delight me within this novel.


This book is also available in the following formats:

Inspiring Children’s Books: “I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark”

As shown in the fantastic children’s book I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, loved visiting public libraries.  She “took to the library” because “on the shelves were stories of girls and women who did big things.” In 1940, when Ruth was growing up, “[B]oys were expected to grow up, go out in the world, and do big things. Girls? Girls were expected to find husbands”. But Ginsberg didn’t accept that short-sighted vision of what she was capable of. Time and time again, Ginsberg was told what she should and should not do: but she dissented on all accounts.

And thankfully so. Her initial public library education was revolutionary. Her strong and compassionate mother set an early example that women could, in fact, do anything that they set their minds to. Ginsberg learned at a young age what it felt like to be the recipient of discrimination. A young Jewish girl, she recalled a time when businesses would post signage that read “No Jews” and “Whites Only”. The pain and injustice of oppression profoundly changed her.

Ginsberg pursed social progress and social justice relentlessly. Despite efforts by her peers to diminish it, her inner strength shown brightly. She is and was true dynamo in every sense of the word: a Jewish Mother at the top of her class in law school working double-time to continue proving herself in a sexist society that viewed women as “timid”. She went on to fight for both men and women and to challenge the restrictive roles that were typical of the mid-century status quo.

For the reasons that Ginsberg was drawn to public libraries, I have always found them to be spaces of contemplation and possibility.  I spent days browsing library shelves and anticipating of all of the wonderful new things I could discover because I was fortunate enough to be able to read . Literacy enables you to change or improve your life or the lives of others. We don’t celebrate this realization nearly enough.  I brought home bags full of books, magazines, video, and music — and all for free. Today, I have the privilege of working in a library–a necessary and radical space for personal transformation available to anyone with a library card. I’m drawn to stories like the one told in I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark specifically because they feature people who refuse to have their humanity defined for them.  I’m so proud that Davenport Public Library provides access to such wonderful and inspiring children’s books.

Physical and virtual library spaces are chalk-full of stories of underdogs and of every day people who do extraordinary things, and access to these stories is gloriously free. All you need is a library card, and that won’t cost you a cent.

 

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Mistress by James Patterson

James Patterson is an author that I recently started listening to quite frequently. One of my favorite things about James Patterson’s books is that he partners with a lot of different authors. Those partnerships mean that all of his books have a distinct feel to them and are not formulaic. With every Patterson book I pick up, I know I’m going to get something unique. I really enjoy that.

 Mistress by both Patterson and David Ellis was my latest listen and I enjoyed it. When this book first started, it instantly reminded me of You by Caroline Kepnes, a book I blogged about back in March. Both books begin with a noticeable creep factor. Mistress starts with the main character Ben breaking into a woman’s apartment and rummaging through her belongings. My mind instantly went, “Oh no! We’ve got another obsessed kidnapper/stalker love story.” I braced myself for that inevitability and kept reading. Boy, was I wrong! This book may seem like a creepy stalker story, but Ben is way more complex than I initially thought.

Ben is consumed by his obsessions and his racing thoughts. He may seem like he’s got it all together, but once you’ve been around him for a while, you notice that he has four major obsessions: motorcycles, movies, presidential trivia(which he spouts out frequently thanks to his father) – and the beautiful woman whose apartment he was in named Diana Hotchkiss. When Diana is found dead outside of her apartment shortly after Ben leaves it, Ben’s obsession spirals out of control. He must find out what really happened to this beautiful woman who was the love of his life.

While Ben digs into Diana’s death, the truth of his life begins to leak out. The origins of his obsessions, how he makes his living, and his reasons for behaving the way that he does all start to be revealed.  Ben discovers that Diana has been leading a double life, something that he never expected and she never mentioned. He doesn’t know how to handle that information. The more secrets he uncovers, the more he realizes that he really didn’t know Diana. Someone doesn’t want Ben digging into Diana’s life and sets out to stop him. Ben has to decide what he’s willing to risk to find out the truth about Diana and what he is going to do to ensure that he and his sources stay safe and, most importantly, alive.

I’m glad I decided to stick with this book. I was tempted to give up at the beginning because I assumed I knew what the book was going to be about, but I was wrong. Part of my enjoyment of this book was the narrator. He did an excellent job describing Ben’s eccentricities and differentiating between the present and past. James Patterson has yet to let me down!


This book is also available in the following formats:

Nevertheless: A Memoir by Alec Baldwin

I was operating under the Southpark-inspired misconception that the worst thing about being a Baldwin is….NOTHING! Quite the contrary. The story arc of Alec’s father is an arduous downhill path. Roughly the first half of the book is a serious downer, touching on all the travails of the working class poor. Marry this with the accompanying drug problems of Alec’s burgeoning fame, and wash it down with a healthy dose of painful romances.

Of interest is the inner machinations of his rise from Knots Landing to 30 Rock, with a sidetrip down a little film called The Hunt for the Red October.

No, Alec does not gloss over his sensational answering machine message. Yes, he does wrap up this work with a somewhat inspiring testimonial of what constitutes an empowered citizenry.

Of course, Alec reads the audiobook himself with his signature snarling whisper. Not surprisingly, Alec has an expansive vocabulary and repertoire of impressions of his fellow actors. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

 Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith is a mysterious, suspicious, relentless page turner of a book. Leo Demidov is an officer in Moscow’s MGB, the organizational precursor to the KGB. Leo is also a decorated hero of WWII with his picture plastered all over the newspaper. Working for the MGB in 1950s Stalinist Russia means that Leo’s life, and the life of everyone around him, is rife with fear and paranoia. Leo has a tiny bit of protection since he works for the MGB, but he is more than aware of how quickly the security afforded to him by his job can be snatched away.

The Soviet Union under Stalin’s rule lives under the heading that there is no crime. That simply isn’t true. Crime that happens is quickly quelled by the MGB and is usually stopped before it happens by quick capture and interrogation. Leo handles a variety of cases and on one of his missions, he is assigned to talk to the family of a young boy who died. The family is convinced that the boy was murdered, a fact made worse by the fact that the boy’s father works for Leo at the MGB. Tasked with making sure the family understands the boy’s death was an accident, Leo tries to get them to understand the situation.

Another of Leo’s cases puts him at odds with a different subordinate, to the point that the man seeks revenge. Forces come to a head and Leo’s steady life is rocked. Faced with the decision of whether or not to denounce his wife as an enemy spy, Leo seeks advice from his parents and wrestles with his decision. Leo is a believer in his country with his work record and military history backing up his beliefs. Asking him to denounce his wife has the potential to push him over the edge.

Circumstances collude to destroy Leo’s life. He is dispatched out of Moscow and exiled to a country village. Leo finds the body of a child killed in the same way as the young boy in Moscow, a fact that puts his whole demeanor on edge. The death he was forced to cover up in Moscow cannot be a coincidence and Leo soon believes a serial killer is after Russia’s children. The official government standpoint is that these deaths are a coincidence. This rankles Leo and sets him down a path to find the real killer, while he also works to keep he and his wife safe.

This book was a riveting read. Tom Rob Smith conveys the melancholy and oppressiveness of Stalin’s Soviet Union very well. Add in murder, espionage, intrigue, and suspense, this piece of thrilling historical fiction comes to life as Leo works to solve crime in a country where crime simply doesn’t exist. This is also the first book in a trilogy, so you can keep reading about Leo’s adventures (The other two are on my list!).


This book was made into a movie starring Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman. It’s on my holds list! Hopefully they stayed somewhat true to the book.

 


This book is also available in the following formats:

Now Departing for : Texas

Hello Online Reading Challenge Members!

Yee haw! We’re off to the Wild West this month! Well, we’re off to Texas and the American Southwest, a part of the United States with a colorful history that continues to be a favorite of writers and film makers alike. There will be no shortage of excellence this month.

I have to admit, when I first drew up this year’s list of subjects for the Online Reading Challenge I included the American Southwest with Texas because I didn’t think there would be enough books just on Texas. Wrong! I discovered lots of great titles, many of which are among my personal favorites. Here are some of them:

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. Don’t let the various awards (including the Pulitzer Prize) for the this book scare you off as “too literary”. It is indeed a masterpiece of writing and a joy to read, but more importantly, it’s a masterpiece of storytelling. It is the story of one last epic cattle drive across open country, fiercely real, set against an unforgiving landscape and filled with tragedy and triumph,  You will never forget the characters or their stories. An excellent mini-series, starring Robert Duval and Tommy Lee Jones, is also highly recommended.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles reminded me quite a bit of Lonesome Dove although it’s a very different story. What they have in common is uncommon characters, epic adventure and tragedy and triumph. I blogged about it in more detail last year. Highly recommended.

If you have not read Tony Hillerman’s books then do yourself a favor and start! Set in the Navajo Territory, these books follow Lt Leaphorn and Officer Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police as they work to solve crimes in this beautiful but remote and isolated part of the country. While these are on the surface crime-solving mysteries, there is a lot going on beneath the surface including the push and pull of old vs new – Leaphorn is older but does not believe in the Navajo myths; Chee is a young man studying to become a Navajo shaman – and the frequent misunderstandings between cultures. Hillerman was a master writer, spare and evocative with great respect for the Navajo Nation. Amazing books. The Blessing Way was the first book; Skinwalkers is the first with Leaphorn and Chee working together; The Thief of Time is probably my favorite (although I love them all).

Finally, there are many tv shows and movies set in Texas and the Southwest. My favorite is Friday Night Lights and I will argue that it is one of the best television shows ever. Starring Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, this series features great writing, excellent characters and epic stories all beautifully filmed and with a pitch perfect final episode. Set against the backdrop of football crazy Texas, it’s actually about family and friendship, finding your own way and growing up. I wrote (enthusiastically) about the show here and here.

My plan for August is to go to the classics and read Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop I’ll you know how it goes.

Now, what about you? What are you reading this month?

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