Some of my recent reading has been from Net Galley sent to my Kindle. Some are excellent, of course, and some are not. I've enjoyed the following, though I haven't reviewed them yet, and haven't even finished The Secret Lives of Codebreakers.
The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: The Men and Women Who Cracked the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay is my current read. The book won't be released until Sept. 25--so my review will have to wait until closer to publication, but I can tell you that it is one of the most interesting books I've read in a long time. The nonfiction account of Bletchley Park is fascinating; I'm about 1/2 way through and have highlighted something on almost every page.
McKay writes nonfiction with the same attention to detail and suspense that you might find in a spy novel. I've mentioned before my interest in Bletchley Park and the Enigma machine (and cryptography and code breakers in general), but I have to admit that I expected the book to be on the dry side. Not at all the case! Codebreakers is an absolute pleasure to read, and I return to it with enthusiasm each time.
I've finished, but must also hold the review for Peaches for Father Francis by Joanne Harris which continues the story of Vienne Rocher that Harris began with Chocolate and continued with The Girl with No Shadow. I've enjoyed all three of these books and several others by Harris. They are all light reading, magical realism.
The Joy Brigade by Martin Limon is due out at the end of this month and is set in North Korea in the 1970s. The information about North Korea and the Joy Brigade (distasteful as it is) was worth the read, but I found the story itself less satisfying. As I know little about North Korea other than the what I read in the news or know about the Korean War from brief comments, books about North Korea interest me.
I did a little research to see if there really is a Joy Brigade-- unfortunately, yes. However, the Manchurian Battalion did not exist.
Also found some sad, but interesting info about an incident called the Axe Murders in which two unarmed American officers were slain by North Korean soldiers in 1976. Not connected to the book's narrative, but provide interesting insight to the existing tensions at the DMZ.
Another interesting look at life in the closed society of North Korea is A Corpse in the Koryo by James Church.
The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro (due out in Oct.) provides an intriguing look at art theft and art forgery. There really is an Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, but the story is fiction. Claire Roth is a young artist, who due to a difficult situation in the past, finds herself pretty much blacklisted by galleries. She makes a living reproducing famous works of art for an online retailer. The works are reproductions, not forgeries, but the skills are similar, and when a gallery owner approaches Claire with a dubious project, Claire had decisions to make.
I enjoyed both the story and the sections on art in this one.
The above Net Galley teasers (along with others that I've reviewed fully) have been both entertaining and educational. There have, of course, been some real duds, books that whether I finished them or abandoned them don't really rate reviews or mention, but the majority of my Net Galley ebooks have been a pleasure.