Tuesday, August 28, 2012

26. For Fukui's Sake

By:  Sam Baldwin

Rated 5 star

This book was a free Kindle download.  I really don't understand the rational amazon uses on making some books available for free but in this case it turned out to be a treasure.

I enjoyed this authors writing and story telling style very much.  I highly recommend this book to all the armchair travelers who, like me, enjoying visiting interesting places with interesting people.  

Unhappily employed in the UK, Sam Baldwin decides to make a big change. Saying sayonara to laboratory life, he takes a job as an English teacher in a small, rural Japanese town that no one – the Japanese included – has ever heard of.

Arriving in Fukui, where there’s ‘little reason to linger’ according to the guidebook, at first he wonders why he left England. But as he slowly settles in to his unfamiliar new home, Sam befriends a colourful cast of locals and begins to discover the secrets of this little known region.

Helped by headmasters, housewives and Himalayan mountain climbers, he immerses himself in a Japan still clutching its pastoral past and uncovers a landscape of lonely lakes, rice fields and lush mountain forests. Joining a master drummer’s taiko class, skiing over paddies and learning how to sharpen samurai swords, along the way Sam encounters farmers, fishermen and foreigners behaving badly.

Exploring Japan’s culture and cuisine, as well as its wild places and wildlife, For Fukui’s Sake is an adventurous, humorous and sometimes poignant insight into the frustrations and fascinations that face an outsider living in small town, backcountry Japan.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

25. Operation Mincemeat

By:  Ben MacIntyre
Rated:  5 Stars 
Audio Book

I stayed up all night listening to this book.! It's been many, many years since I've done that. I'm going to be as grouchy as an old bear by this afternoon.  I haven't seen this much daring-do and skull duggery since I worked for a lobbyist with machiavellian tendencies.  Well maybe not the daring-do but certainly the skull duggery. :)  The reader is John Lee and he has become my favorite reader of audio books.

The action in this book is primarily set in Spain.  Because Spain remained officially neutral in WW2 it is often not written about and I knew nothing about what went on there at that time  until read this book.  It was a virtual hot-bed of activity with spies so numerous they must have been tripping over each other.

The overall message that this book repeated over and over is that people can make themselves believe any thing,  no matter how improbable or insane if they really want to believe it. That's what the intelligence communities and propagandists count on and something those of us who follow politics see proof of every day.   

Publisher's Description:

As plans got under way for the Allied invasion of Sicily in June 1943, British counter-intelligence agent Ewen Montagu masterminded a scheme to mislead the Germans into thinking the next landing would occur in Greece. The innovative plot was so successful that the Germans moved some of their forces away from Sicily, and two weeks into the real invasion still expected an attack in Greece.

This extraordinary operation called for a dead body, dressed as a Royal Marine officer and carrying false information about a pending Allied invasion of Greece, to wash up on a Spanish shore near the town of a known Nazi agent.

Agent Montagu tells the story as only an insider could, offering fascinating details of the difficulties involved - especially in creating a persona for a man who never was - and of his profession as a spy and the risks involved in mounting such a complex operation. Failure could have had devastating results. Success, however, brought a decided change in the course of the war.

Friday, August 17, 2012

23. Game of Kings

By Dorothy Dunnett
Rated 5 Stars
Format:  Audio Book
In Progress

Book One of The Lymond Chronicles

I am re-reading (listening) to this book along with members of my on-line reading group.  These are the ladies who patiently held my hand through my first attempts to read The Lymond Chronicles 12 years ago. They are wonderful books but not a very easy read.  

The setting is 1547, in Edinborough, Scotland. Francis Crawford of Lymond returns to the country despite the charge of treason hanging over his head. Set on redeeming his reputation, He leads a company of outlaws against England as he fights for the country he loves so dearly. Dangerous, quick-witted, and utterly irresistible, Lymond is pure pleasure to watch as he traverses 16th-century Scotland in search of freedom.

26. The Proposal

By:  Mary Balogh
Rated 4 Stars
Audio Book

I have been a little off Mary Balogh lately.  I really didn't care that much about her last series.  However with this book she went back to one of her older series, the books that began with Slightly and  featured her of her secondary characters Gwen, Lady Muir.  It's not a great book but it's not bad either.  I enjoyed the change of pace from the other books I have been reading.  I need the balance. :)

Book Description:

After her husband dies in a freak accident, Lady Gwendoline Muir never dreams she'll love again. So when soldier-turned-nobleman Lord Hugo Trentham stirs feelings in her that have lain dormant for years, she can't help but imagine his strong embrace. Hugo finds himself drawn to Gwen, but he's never courted a woman before. Can he muster the right words to make Gwen open her heart and love once more?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

22. Singled Out

How Two Million British Women Survived Without Men After The First World War

By:  Virginia Nicholson
Rated:  In Progress
Format:  Paperback

I am still reading this book and it's going to take me a while as I have other books and a quilting project going on.  But from what I've read so far it's going to be a very interesting read.

Book Description:

Publication Date: October 29, 2008
Almost three-quarters of a million British soldiers lost their lives during the First World War, and many more were incapacitated by their wounds, leaving behind a generation of women who, raised to see marriage as "the crown and joy of woman's life," suddenly discovered that they were left without an escort to life's great feast.
Drawing upon a wealth of moving memoirs, Singled Out tells the inspiring stories of these women: the student weeping for a lost world as the Armistice bells pealed, the socialite who dedicated her life to resurrecting the ancient past after her soldier love was killed, the Bradford mill girl whose campaign to better the lot of the "War spinsters" was to make her a public figure--and many others who, deprived of their traditional roles, reinvented themselves into something better. Tracing their fates, Nicholson shows that these women did indeed harbor secret sadness, and many of them yearned for the comforts forever denied them--physical intimacy, the closeness of a loving relationship, and children. Some just endured, but others challenged the conventions, fought the system, and found fulfillment outside of marriage. From the mill-girl turned activist to the debutante turned archeologist, from the first woman stockbroker to the "business girls" and the Miss Jean Brodies, this book memorializes a generation of young women who were forced, by four of the bloodiest years in human history, to stop depending on men for their income, their identity, and their future happiness. Indeed, Singled Out pays homage to this remarkable generation of women who, changed by war, in turn would change society.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

21. No End Save Victory

Perspectives on World War II

By:  Stpehen E. Ambrose, Caleb Carr, John Keegam, William Manchester
Rated:  In Progress
Format:  Paperback
From:  My Friend Connie

I am still slowly reading this book.  It's wonderful

Book Description

March 1, 2002
Robert Cowley and the editors of Military History Quarterly present a fascinating anthology of World War II essays from some of the world's most eminent historians.