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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Island of Bones by Imogen Robertson

Island of Bones is scheduled for release Oct.  11.  I read the first of this series, Instruments of Darkness, about Harriet Westerman and anatomist Gabriel Crowther last year.  Evidently I've missed the second in the series and will have to go back and pick it up.

In this book, Crowther must confront episodes from his own past, as he and Harriet travel to his family home to investigate the discovery of an extra body in a tomb.  The family estate, which Crowther sold years ago, evokes memories that the reclusive Crowther would prefer to forget.

The unexpected body discovered in the tomb is only one of the mysteries that the unusual pair must unravel.  The reason behind the visit of Crowther's sister and her son, a missing girl, another body, a "cunning" man respected by the entire village, the murder of a local museum owner...how do all of these strange incidents fit together?

This is a series that I really enjoy, largely because I like the characters, but I found the first chapter or two slow.  When the book picked up, however, my interest was totally engaged.  Robertson does a good job with both the major and minor characters, and I enjoyed the setting and the details of Crowther's attempts at forensic science with the knowledge and instruments available in the 1780's.

Another Net Galley read from the Penguin Group.

Fiction.  Historical Mystery.  2012.  Print version 384 pages.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Clio Loves to Read

My latest Eccentric creation:  Clio, Goddess of Epic Poetry.
You know those ARCs that you don't care to pass along 
or donate to Goodwill, etc.?

After seeing a couple of "book dolls" online,
I decided to fold some pages 
and create my own.
More pics over at Bayou Quilts.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Secret Lives of Codebreakers


(I thought I had this scheduled for earlier this month, but had left it in draft form.  I read it in July, and it is scheduled for release Sept. 25.)

This is, perhaps, my favorite book this year.  The Secret Lives of Codebreakers: The Men and Women Who Cracked the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park allows us a uniquely fascinating glimpse into the lives of those who worked at Bletchley Park during WWII, breaking the Enigma codes that the Germans and others considered unbreakable.

The author brings life to this secret world with interviews from many of the individuals who worked there during the war, keeping their activities secret from each other and from their families for decades.  A remarkable and strangely lively look at the men and women whose secret work had everything to do with the success of the Allies in ending the war.  

There were so many bookmarks on my Kindle that when I went over them, I found I'd bookmarked and highlighted way, way too much.  However, the reason was simply that almost everything I found was fascinating--from the ordinary men and women involved to the genius of Alan Turing.

The book was exceptionally readable for a work of nonfiction; informative and entertaining at the same time.  I really loved this book!

From Net Galley.


More About Bletchley Park:

Film:  Enigma
(interesting blog review of Enigma)

Televison series:  Danger UXB
Television documentary:  Station X

Books:

fiction:  Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson and All Clear by Connie Willis

nonfiction:
  Colossus:  The Secrets of Bletchley Park's Codebreaking Computers by B. Jack Copeland
  Alan Turing:  The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
  Seizing the Enigma:  The Race to Break the German U-Boats Codes, 1939-1943 by David Kahn




Monday, September 17, 2012

Two More Completed

Murder in Mumbai  by K.D. Calamur (Netgalley ARC) begins when two burglars discover a dead body and in a panic, decide to dispose of it themselves.  When the body is eventually discovered, Inspector Vijay Gaikwad and journalist Jay Ganesh approach the case from different vantage points.

Some of the most interesting parts of the novel have to do with the contrasts and conditions of Bombay/Mumbai.  The novel is very short and the characters don't seem fully developed.  I found it difficult to care much about the victim as she remained a bit of a cipher, but I did enjoy some of the details about Mumbai.

E-book from Netgalley/Penguin.

Fiction.  Mystery.  2012. print version:  184 pages.


The White Forest by Adam McOmber is a little bit Gothic, a little bit Supernatural, and a lot less than I hoped for.  Jane Silverlake has an unusual gift:  she can see the souls of man-made objects.  (?)

Largely separated from society in her father's crumbling mansion, Jane has two close friends, Maddy and Nathan.  When Nathan goes missing, Jane and Maddy believe his disappearance has something to do with Ariston Day's cult following.

The blurb sounded interesting, but the novel failed to really capture my interest or concern for the characters.

Netgalley ARC e-book.

Fiction.  Gothic/Mystery.  2012.  print version:  320 pages.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Peaches for Father Francis

Peaches for Father Francis continues the story of Vianne Rocher which Harris began with Chocolat.  Vianne returns to Lansquenet with her daughters Anouk and Rosette after receiving a letter from her friend Armande Voizin.  The letter was written before Armande's death, but by a strange (magical?) coincidence, makes its way to Vianne at a time when her presence is indeed needed.

What Vianne finds in Lansquenet is a community divided by culture and religion:  Catholic and Muslim.  To add to the strange atmosphere, Father Francis, Vianne's former nemesis, needs her help.

Although there are magical and evocative portions (typical Harris in creating a living atmosphere), I found much of the novel a bit forced.  Nevertheless, if you've enjoyed previous books in the Chocolat series, you will appreciate the opportunity to catch up on some of the characters.

An ARC e-book from Netgalley.  Publication date:  Oct. 2

Fiction.  Magical Realism.  2012.  print version:  464 pages.

Since I Can't Make Myself Write Reviews

Photo: My pet always _______ when I'm trying to read.

(Fill in the blank!)


The tail under the nose is so typical!

And visit Steve McCurry's blog post:
To read is to fly  wonderful photos and quotes!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Joy Brigade by Martin Limon

I never got around to reviewing The Joy Brigade (an ARC from Netgalley), but here is part of the book description from Amazon:

"Seoul, early 1970s: US Army Sergeant George Sueño is on a mission of extreme importance to the South Korean government, as well as the US Army. Kim Il-Sung has vowed to reunite North and South Korea into one country before he hands control of the government over to his son, which means North Korea is planning to cross the DMZ and overpower the American-allied South Korean government. Sueño's mission is to prevent this by sneaking into North Korea and obtaining an ancient map detailing the network of secret tunnels that run underneath the DMZ. To do so, he will have to go undercover and infiltrate the North Korean Communist inner sanctum."

Although I guess I'd give the book 3 out of 5 stars, the novel spurred me to further research on North Korea and the Joy Brigade.

From Wikipedia:  "The Gippeumjo (translated variously as Pleasure GroupPleasure GroupsPleasure SquadPleasure BrigadeJoy Brigade, or Joy Division) is a collection of groups of approximately 2,000 women and girls between the ages of 13 and 40 (although most are believed to be between 18 and 25), which are maintained by the head of state of North Korea for the purpose of providing pleasure and entertainment for high-ranking Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) officials and their families, as well as occasionally also distinguished guests."

And from Yahoo-Answers:    "In North Korea there is a thing they call the "Joy Brigades." President and dictator Kim Jung Il keeps a stable of the country's prettiest girls as young as Grade nine. Their purpose is to please him, the Dear Leader, as well as to serve as sex slaves for his top beureaucrats and military elite. Sometimes they are given to 'friends' as party favours."

Disturbing, to say the least.

And more facts of which I was ignorant:

 North Korea is about the size of one U.S. State, yet has the 4th largest army in the world.

"North Korea is the most militarized country in the world today,[6] having the fourth largest army in the world, at about 1,106,000 armed personnel, with about 20% of men ages 17–54 in the regular armed forces.[7] Military service of up to 10 years is mandatory for most fit people. It also has a reserve force comprising 7,700,000 personnel.[8] It operates an enormous network of military facilities scattered around the country, a large weapons production basis, a dense air defense system,[9] the third largest chemical weapons stockpile in the world,[10] and includes the world's largest Special Forces contingent (numbering 180,000 men).[11] While the aging equipment,[12] deriving from the economic plight of the country, is seen as major defect of the North Korean military capability, it is nevertheless regarded as a significant threat due to its size and proximity to major civilian areas."   (from Wikipedia)


If North Korea were your home instead of The United States you would...

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Fiction's Science Lessons

An interesting article in The Guardian:  Fiction's Science Lessons.  The article is by Charles  Fernyhough, author of Pieces of Light.

I read the article, then looked up Fernyhough's novel.  I'm adding Pieces of Light to my list after reading this description on Amazon:

Why we remember what we remember? Memory is an essential part of who we are. But what is a memory, and how do we remember? A new consensus is emerging among cognitive scientists: rather than possessing a particular memory from our past, we construct it anew each time we are called upon to remember. Remembering is an act of narrative as much as it is the product of a neurological process. "Pieces of Light" illuminates this theory through a collection of human stories, each illustrating a facet of memory's complex synergy of cognitive and neurological functions. Drawing on the latest research, case studies and personal experience, Charles Fernyhough delves into the memories of trauma victims and amnesiacs; and of the very young and very old - visiting medieval memoria and scent-museums along the way. Exquisitely written and meticulously researched, "Pieces of Light" blends science and literature, the ordinary and the extraordinary, to illuminate the way we remember and forget.