Friday, January 18, 2013

6. The Case of the Missing Marquise

By: Nancy Springer
Rated 4 Stars

 I read this book in one night.  It was a fast but fun read.  I didn't think I was going to like it at first because it started off slow and I wasn't sure where the author was trying to go with Sherlock and Mycroft.  I hate it when  pastiche authors expect the established characters to carry all the water so to speak.  But Enola elbowed them both out of the way pretty quickly (she too is a Holmes after all) and the story zipped right along for me.  Thank you Sabrina for the recommendation.  I will be reading the sequels and I hope there will be many.

 Publisher's Summary

Two-time Edgar Award-winning author Nancy Springer introduces the sleuthing powers of Sherlock Holmes' sister in the captivating mystery Booklist and School Library Journal praise with starred reviews. Prompted by clues her missing mother cleverly left her, 14-year-old Enola races from the clutches of her captors. But how can Enola escape these slimy ruffians and find her mother?

Monday, January 14, 2013

5. The Terra-Cotta Dog

By:  Andrea Camilleri
Rated 3 1/2

Copy of an e-mail I sent to friend regarding this book:

Your right, I do need to re-read the book because I was very confused for a great deal of it.  To start with, it had nothing to do with the blurb which highlighted the bodies in the cave and that part didn't come into the story until about half way through so I was wondering if I had gotten the wrong recording.  I had that happen to me once so I knew it was possible.

Also the crude language kept jolting me out of the story.  Not because I am a prude but because it felt like the author just threw it in for effect.  But then I remembered that you had mentioned that this was the second book in the series and I decided that the author was still trying to find the right 'feel" for the character.  Then after a while the crude language stopped and I decided I was right.  THEN I realized that this series is being written by two authors instead of one and then I decided that one of them was a much better writer than the other and that was the reason for how uneven the language was and for the fact that the second half of the book was much better than the first half.

Well, by that time my head was starting to spin! <LOL>  I was very happy to get your comments because they were a great help.   I am going to save your spoilers and then relisten with all of them in mind.  And yes, I would like to continue to read the series because the venue is very interesting.  It is a little serendipitous that we just finished reading about Operation Mincemeat because it added some background for this story. I caught myself watching for the submarine lurking silently off shore. :) 

Publisher's Summary

Montalbano's latest case begins with a mysterious tête à tête with a Mafioso, some inexplicably abandoned loot from a supermarket heist, and some dying words that lead him to an illegal arms cache in a mountain cave. There the inspector finds two young lovers, dead for 50 years and still embracing, watched over by a life-sized terra-cotta dog. Montalbano's passion to solve this old crime takes him on a journey through Sicily's past and into a family's dark heart amidst the horrors of World War II bombardment.
Andrea Camilleri's Inspector Montalbano has garnered millions of fans worldwide with his sardonic take on Sicilian life. With sly wit and a keen understanding of human nature, Montalbano is a detective whose earthiness, compassion, and imagination make him totally irresistible.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

4. The Walnut Tree

By:  Charles Todd
Rated: 4 Stars

For what it is, this is a very nice little book.  What it ISN'T is a Charles Todd mystery like the Ian Rutledge/Beth Crawford series.

It is a nice little romance/adventure story written in a style which ought to appeal to someone looking for a light and easy read with a good story and not to much tedious attention to details.  It should especially appeal  readers who are dipping a tentative toe into historical fiction from that era.

For those of you old enough to remember the Cherry Ames books Lady Elspeth is Cherry Ames reincarnated.  Back in the day when I was a young and enthusiastic reader (still enthusiastic BTW) developing my reading tastes and cutting my literary teeth on historical fiction I went through the Cherry Ames books like a hot knife through butter.

For those of you who don't remember them google Cherry Ames and you will see what I mean.  If my Granddaughter was still in her teens I would definitely buy this book as a birthday gift as I know she would have loved it.

For folks who are looking for a book written about this era but who want realism I recommend Vera Brittain's excellent book Testament to Youth.  That ought to be enough realism for anyone.

Monday, January 7, 2013

3. A Higher Call

An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II

By:  Adam Makos & Adam Alexander
Rated: 5 Stars

Who knew that the first book I read in 2013 was going to be my top book for the year.  I say that because it's hard to imagine how I could like any book more than I liked this one.

I have read many books about WW2 but this is the first one that tells what the war in the air was like from a German point of view. Beautifully written, it simply tells the reader exactly how it was.  This is an important book for anyone interested in the history of this era.

Book Description:

 December 12, 2012
Four days before Christmas 1943, a badly damaged American bomber struggled to fly over wartime Germany. At its controls was a 21-year-old pilot. Half his crew lay wounded or dead. It was their first mission. Suddenly, a sleek, dark shape pulled up on the bomber’s tail—a German Messerschmitt fighter. Worse, the German pilot was an ace, a man able to destroy the American bomber in the squeeze of a trigger. What happened next would defy imagination and later be called the most incredible encounter between enemies in World War II.
This is the true story of the two pilots whose lives collided in the skies that day—the American—2nd Lieutenant Charlie Brown, a former farm boy from West Virginia who came to captain a B-17—and the German—2nd Lieutenant Franz Stigler, a former airline pilot from Bavaria who sought to avoid fighting in World War II.
A Higher Call follows both Charlie and Franz’s harrowing missions. Charlie would face takeoffs in English fog over the flaming wreckage of his buddies’ planes, flak bursts so close they would light his cockpit, and packs of enemy fighters that would circle his plane like sharks. Franz would face sandstorms in the desert, a crash alone at sea, and the spectacle of 1,000 bombers each with eleven guns, waiting for his attack.
Ultimately, Charlie and Franz would stare across the frozen skies at one another. What happened between them, the American 8th Air Force would later classify as “top secret.” It was an act that Franz could never mention or else face a firing squad. It was the encounter that would haunt both Charlie and Franz for forty years until, as old men, they would search for one another, a last mission that could change their lives forever.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2. The Secret Listeners: How the Y Service Intercepted the Secret German Codes for Bletchley Park

By:  Sinclair McKay
Rated 5 stars
Audio Book

Copy of e-mail that I sent to a friend:

I just finished a book that is so much better than "The Enemy is Listening" that I just had to share with you about it.  It's on the same subject but is so much more comprehensive and therefore even more interesting as it covers the entire program from start to finish not just one person's perspective.  I would surely be wrapping it and getting ready to mail it off to you as soon as our roads melt a little but I bought it with my membership and I don't think you do audio books.

I found these books to be so interesting because they cover so much that I never had an inkling about before.  I should have, but it just never occurred to me.   And besides, the feminist in me loves the fact that  in the 1940's women in this program managed by sheer ability to overcome the "don't worry your pretty little head" or the "just hand me the bullets honey while I fire the gun" myth.  I think a lot of my fascination with WW2  comes from having so many childhood memories of those years.  Of course my perspective is as a child between 6 and 10 and are all from a perfectly safe and uneventful midwestern childhood.  Still I remember enough to make that era fascinating to me.  But this book took me by surprise because common sense should have told me that the program had to have had existed.  I read about Enigma and the Benchley code breakers practically ad nauseam and never once wondered how they came by all those codes they were breaking in the first place.  <Duh, Jeanette>

Anyway my recommendation is to consign The Enemy is Listening" to the PNBR (probably never to be read) pile and hunt up a copy of "The Secret Listeners."  It's a much better read. :)  And heaven knows any book must be a much easier read.  I really found that paperback a challenge to read.  That's why I was so quick to get the audiobook when I saw it.

Publisher's Summary

Before Bletchley Park could break the German war machine’s code, its daily military communications had to be monitored and recording by "the Listening Service" - the wartime department whose bases moved with every theatre of war: Cairo, Malta, Gibraltar, Iraq, Cyprus, as well as having listening stations along the eastern coast of Britain to intercept radio traffic in the European theatre. This is the story of the - usually very young - men and women sent out to far-flung outposts to listen in for Bletchley Park, an oral history of exotic locations and ordinary lives turned upside down by a sudden remote posting - the heady nightlife in Cairo, filing cabinets full of snakes in North Africa, and flights out to Delhi by luxurious flying boat.

1. Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WW II

Chester Nez one of the original 29 Navajo code talkers, shares the fascinating inside story of his life and service during World War II.

During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, they created the only unbroken code in modern warfare—and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific.

I found this book very interesting but also very upsetting.  The way the US has treated our Native American's is truly a disgrace.  But regardless of how much white people abused them and criticized their culture because they are not like "us" the Navaho's who volunteered to serve during WW2 deserve to be called noble.  They developed an unbreakable code  and then went into battle on the front lines to implement it and saved many, many livesAnd let me go on to say they got precious little thanks and no recognition for their service until many years the war and by then many of them had passed away.