Friday, September 30, 2011

50. The Cuckoo's Egg

Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage

By:  Clifford Stoll
Rated 5 Stars
From:  Library

This was a real page turner for me and unbelievably kept me up until midnight to finish it.   Even though all the technology was probably out dated I am computer illiterate enough for the technology bits to go flying over my head.  It was the chase that I found so fascinating.

A poster on Bookflurries said that she had seen the author at a book reading and that he was the most entertaining author she had ever seen.  She said that he was so hyper-energetic that she jokingly compared it to someone mainlining caffeine.  I googled and found a 2007 interview on youtube and I concur with the poster completely.  But it is easy to see how someone with that kind of personality would hang on so tenaciously  in order to catch the person who was invading "his" computer system so brazenly and, getting away with it.  By the end of the book I felt like I too had a personal stake in finding the hacker.

Publisher's Description:

A 75-cent discrepancy in billing for computer time led Stoll, an astrophysicist working as a systems manager at a California laboratory, on a quest that reads with the tension and excitement of a fictional thriller. Painstakingly he tracked down a hacker who was attempting to access American computer networks, in particular those involved with national security, and actually reached into an estimated 30 of the 450 systems he attacked. Initially Stroll waged a lone battle, his employers begrudging him the time spent on his search and several government agencies refused to cooperate. 

49. To Say Nothing of the Dog

Or How We Found the Bishop's Bird Stump at Last

By Connie Willis
Rated:  Pending
Audio Book

I am still listening along to this book.  It's a long audio book.  20 hours and 58 minutes.  Audible had it on sale for $4.95 and it was too good a bargain to pass up.  Other books keep getting in my way but sooner or later I will finish it.  I kind of have to be in the mood for Connie Willis.

Publisher's Summary

Connie Willis' Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Doomsday Book uses time travel for a serious look at how people connect with each other. In this Hugo-winning companion to that novel, she offers a completely different kind of time travel adventure: a delightful romantic comedy that pays hilarious homage to Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat.
When too many jumps back to 1940 leave 21st century Oxford history student Ned Henry exhausted, a relaxing trip to Victorian England seems the perfect solution. But complexities like recalcitrant rowboats, missing cats, and love at first sight make Ned's holiday anything but restful - to say nothing of the way hideous pieces of Victorian art can jeopardize the entire course of history.

44.. Pirate King

By: Laurie King
Rated: DNF!
From: Audible
Audio Book

I did not finish this book!  I can't believe this happened to me.  I tried.  I tried three or four times but I just couldn't get into it.  Finally I just started hopping through the story clicking here and there hoping to find something going on that would grab me.  In desperation I finally  clicked about ten minutes from the end and listened to the ending.

It seemed to me that Laurie King had gotten The Pirates of Penzance stuck in her head and couldn't let go of it.  The story was all fluff and no edge.  Holmes only put in a token appearance in this book and I for one don't blame him.  The whole thing was very un-Holmes like.  Not his kind of thing at all.

I sincerely hope that this was not a harbinger of where King is planning to go with this series.  If so she has just lost a faithful reader in me and I would truly hate for that to happen.  Oh well . . . . .

Publisher's Summary

New York Times best-selling author Laurie R. King’s books have received high praise from critics and have earned the Edgar, Creasey, Wolfe, Lambda, and Macavity awards. As Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes embark on their 11th adventure together, they find themselves immersed in the world of silent filmmaking. Here, the pirates are real—and unlike the shooting done with a camera, this sort can be deadly.
In England’s young silent-film industry, the megalomaniacal Randolph Fflytte is king. Nevertheless, at the request of Scotland Yard, Mary Russell is dispatched to investigate rumors of criminal activities that swirl around Fflytte’s popular movie studio. So Russell is traveling undercover to Portugal, along with the film crew that is gearing up to shoot a cinematic extravaganza, Pirate King. Based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, the project will either set the standard for moviemaking for a generation - or sink a boatload of careers.
Nothing seems amiss until the enormous company starts rehearsals in Lisbon, where the 13 blond-haired, blue-eyed actresses whom Mary is bemusedly chaperoning meet the swarm of real buccaneers Fflytte has recruited to provide authenticity. But when the crew embarks for Morocco and the actual filming, Russell feels a building storm of trouble: a derelict boat, a film crew with secrets, ominous currents between the pirates, decks awash with budding romance—and now the pirates are ignoring Fflytte and answering only to their dangerous outlaw leader. Plus, there’s a spy on board. Where can Sherlock Holmes be? As movie make-believe becomes true terror, Russell and Holmes themselves may experience a final fadeout.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Downton Abby - DVD

Rated 5+++++ Stars
From:  Library

Absolutely Marvelous!  Even without finishing it I am giving it 5+ stars.  It is so my kind of thing.

I am rationing it out so as to draw out the fun.  Eventually I am going to purchase the DVD and I know this is one I will want to re-watch.  The sets, the clothes, the atmosphere are as appealing to me as the story is.  I just love this kind of thing.  Oh, I said that already haven't I. :)

Publisher's Summary

Set in an Edwardian country house in 1912, Downton Abbey portrays the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them. In the drawing rooms, library, and beautiful bedrooms, with their tall windows looking across the park, lives the family, but below stairs are other residents, the servants, as fiercely possessive of their ranks as anyone above.

Monday, September 19, 2011

48. Enigma

By:  Robert Harris
Rated 4.5 Stars
From Library
Hardcover Book

Well here I am, once again reading on Connie's coat tails.  I watch her lists very carefully.  I always find at least one book that I wouldn't normally find out about that turn out to to gems and this is one of them. Very well written and extremely atmospheric.

Publisher Summary:

 A fictional account of the desperate efforts to break the Nazi's Enigma code takes place in a British railway town, a struggle that becomes complicated by the pivotal disappearance of a beautiful cryptographer. A member of a top-secret team of British cryptographers, Tom Jericho succeeds in cracking "Shark," the impenetrable operational cipher used by Nazi U-boats, but when the Germans change the code, Jericho must break the new code before the traitor among his group can stop him.

47. Waterloo, A Captain Richard Sharpe Adventure

By:  Bernard Cornwell
Rated:  5 Stars

I have loved this series for a long time and it's a little sad that this is the last book.  But as Douglas McArthur said "old soldiers never die they just fade away" Richard Sharpe certainly deserves to sheath his sword and fade away into comfortable retirement.   If I have missed any of the books in this series it was by sheer accident.  If I was really, really rich I would collect them all in audio format to listen to when I am in a nursing home and beyond reading. :)

But Cornwell certainly ended the series with a great big bloody bang with this book.  His battlefield descriptions were about as graphic as I have ever read.  And his description of William of Orange's character made me go running to Wickipedia to see if this was the same William of Orange that was the scourge of Ireland and despised by Clan McDonald.  He wasn't.  That King William reigned in England with his wife Mary from 1689 to 1694.  The William of Orange that Cornwell is writing about in this book was born in 1792 and was subsequently King of the Netherlands.  He may or may not have been the jerk Cornwell protrays him as but after the hatchet job he did on Alfred the Great in his Saxon series I don't entirely trust him.  What I do trust is his accuracy as far as events are concerned and anyway this is fiction so Cornwell can write whatever he pleases.  But I can grumble about it. :)

Publisher's Summary

With the emperor Napoleon at its head, an enormous French army is marching toward Brussels. The British and their allies are also converging on Brussels - in preparation for a grand society ball. And it is up to Richard Sharpe to convince the Prince of Orange, the inexperienced commander of Wellington's Dutch troops, to act before it is too late. But Sharpe's warning cannot stop the tide of battle, and the British suffer heavy losses on the road to Waterloo. Wellington has few reserves of men and ammunition, the Prussian army has not arrived, and the French advance wields tremendous firepower and determination. Victory seems impossible.
In this, the culmination of Richard Sharpe's long and arduous career, Bernard Cornwell brings to life all the horror and all the exhilaration of one of the greatest military triumphs of all time.

46. Absolute Truths

By Susan Howatch
Rated:  At least 5 Stars
Audio Book

This is my first attempt in my current plan to listen to all of these books that I can find in audio format this year.  I have, for no logical reason started with the last book. (!)  It's a variation of the old "Read the Last Page of the Book Syndrome."

Audible has Glamorous Powers, Mystical Paths and Scandalous Risks as well as this one available.  Glimmering Images and Ultimate Prizes are available at outrageous prices in cassette tape format.  I think I will pass on them but I will reread them in book format.

I re-read these books every once in a while.  I am always amazed at how much I am attracted to these books because they are not the kind of books that generally appeal to me.  I think it's the writing.  Susan Howatch is a magical writer.  I don't really like most of the characters in these books but the sincerity of their faith and the fact that they really really try to be good Christians comes shining through.  It is non judgmental Christianity without the meanness and bigotry that has become so much a part of what passes for Christianity today.   It's almost enough to restore one's faith.

Publisher's Summary

Charles Ashworth, the bishop of Starbridge, is a man of great accomplishment, confidence, and conviction, with a reputation as a no-nonsense bishop - until his beloved wife dies. Bereavement overwhelming his spiritual equilibrium, his strict morality is quickly revealed to him to be nothing more than a facade. Spiralling downwards, Ashworth knows he must find his way out of the maze of his own psyche. In doing so, he must face the absolute truths - both good and bad - of his past that may be the only keys to his future.

45. When the Emperor Was Devine

Julie Otsuka
Rated: 4 Stars
From:  Library

A very interesting story and a shameful part of our nation's history.  But sad, very sad.  Our government succumbed to public hysterics' after Pearl Harbor and . . .  dare I even say it, then to greed.  I seriously doubt if any of the U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry were ever reimbursed by as much as one penny on the dollar of what was robbed from them.  I blush to think of it.

Myself, I am of thirty one thirty seconds German ancestry and no one messed with my family during WW2.  Because we didn't look different.  Racism is not just a recent phenomena

Publisher Summary The story is told from five different points of view--a mother receiving the evacuation order, her daughter on the train ride to the camp, the son in the desert internment camp, the family's return home, and the final release of the father after years in captivity--chronicles the experiences of Japanese Americans caught up in the nightmare of the World War II internment camps.

Friday, September 9, 2011

43. Only Time Will Tell

By Jeffrey Archer
Rated 3 Stars
From Library

For some reason this book didn't pull me in very far.  It was an OK book but the relationship between Harry and his Father did't come off as real.  The Father's antipathy towards Harry was over the top as far as I was concerned and since that relationship was what the entire story was built around the whole story felt flat to me.

Publisher Summary 1
"From the popular author of Kane and Abel and A Prisoner of Birth comes the story of one family across generations, across oceans, from heartbreak to triumph. The epic tale of Harry Clifton's life begins in 1920, with the words, "I was told that my father was killed in the war." A dock worker in Bristol, Harry never knew his father, but he learns about life on the docks from his uncle who expects Harry to join him at the shipyard once he's left school. But then his unexpected gift wins him a scholarship to an exclusive boys' school, and his life will never be the same again. As he enters into adulthood, Harry finally learns how his father really died, but the awful truth only leads him to question who was his father? Is he the son of Arthur Clifton, a stevedore who spent his whole life on the docks, or the first-born son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line?

This introductory novel in The Clifton Chronicles includes a cast of colorful characters and takes us from the ravages of the Great War to the outbreak of the Second World War, when Harry must decide whether to take up a place at Oxford or join the navy and go to war with Hitler's Germany. From the docks of working-class England to the bustling streets of 1940 New York City, Only Time Will Tell takes readers on a journey through to future volumes, which will bring to life one hundred years of recent history to reveal a family story that neither the reader nor Harry Clifton himself could ever have imagined"--

42. The Leftovers

By:  Tom Perrotta
Rated 4 Stars
From:  Library

I've been trying to give my reading a totally different direction .  This book was highly recommended to me which is usually a kiss of death.  But I have been having such a hard time lately with books I figured what the heck I'd give it a try.  To my complete amazement I am really liking it.  This is also in spite of it being a post rapture kind of theme, another sure fire kiss of death for me. The book makes no judgements about what happened or why it happened.  It just tells a good story about how those "left behind" deal with the situation. 

Publisher Summary 2 

 What if—whoosh, right now, with no explanation—a number of us simply vanished?  Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down? That’s what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened—not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children.

Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin’s own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne.  Only Kevin’s teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet “A” student she used to be.  Kevin wants to help her, but he’s distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.

Friday, September 2, 2011

41. The Devil Himself

By Eric Dezenhall
Rated: 5 Stars
From: Library

Product Description:

In late 1982, a spike in terrorism has the Reagan Administration considering covert action to neutralize the menace before it reaches the United States. There are big risks to waging a secret war against America's enemies---but there is one little-known precedent. Forty years earlier, German U-boats had been prowling the Atlantic, sinking hundreds of U.S. ships along the east coast, including the largest cruise ship in the world, Normandie, destroyed at a Manhattan pier after Pearl Harbor.

Nazi agents even landed on Long Island with explosives and maps of railways, bridges, and defense plants. Desperate to secure the coast, the Navy turned to Meyer Lansky, the Jewish Mob boss. A newly naturalized American whose fellow Eastern European Jews were being annihilated by Hitler, Lansky headed an unlikely fellowship of mobsters Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, Frank Costello, and naval intelligence officers.

 Young Reagan White House aide Jonah Eastman, grandson of Atlantic City gangster Mickey Price, is approached by the president's top advisor with an assignment: Discreetly interview his grandfather's old friend Lansky about his wartime activities. There just might be something to learn from that secret operation. The notoriously tight-lipped gangster, dying of cancer, is finally ready to talk. Jonah gets a riveting---and darkly comic---history lesson. The Mob caught Nazi agents, planted propaganda with the help of columnist Walter Winchell, and found Mafia spies to plot the invasion of Sicily, where General Patton was poised to strike at the soft underbelly of the Axis. Lansky's men stopped at nothing to sabotage Hitler's push toward American shores.

 Based on real events, The Devil Himself is a high-energy novel of military espionage and Mafia justice.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

40. Midway

The Battle That Doomed Japan, the Japanese Navy's Story

By:  Mitsuo Fuchida and Masatake Okumiya
Rated: 4 Stars

Publisher's Summary

This landmark study was first published in English by the Naval Institute in 1955. Widely acknowledged for its valuable Japanese insights into the battle that turned the tide of war in the Pacific, the book has made a great impact on American readers over the years. Two Japanese naval aviators who participated in the operation provide an unsparing analysis of what caused Japan's staggering defeat.
Mitsuo Fuchida, who led the first air strike on Pearl Harbor, commanded the Akagi carrier air group and later made a study of the battle at the Japanese Naval War College. Masatake Okumiya, one of Japan's first dive-bomber pilots, was aboard the light carrier Ryujo and later served as a staff officer in a carrier division. Armed with knowledge of top-secret documents destroyed by the Japanese and access to private papers, they show the operation to be ill-conceived and poorly planned and executed, and fault their flag officers for lacking initiative, leadership, and clear thinking. With an introduction by an author known for his study of the battle from the American perspective, the work continues to make a significant contribution to World War II literature.