Thursday, July 29, 2010

Operation Mincemeat

I love spy stories. True ones even more so because you just can't make the scenarios up. World War II, North Africa, Southern Europe, Hitler and Allied Counter-intelligence. D-Day for southern Europe is in the planning stages and the concern is how to keep the plans a secret. The answer? Gather together a group of intelligence officers who also happen to be amateur writers and let them plan it. One of the group happens to be Ian Fleming (of James Bond Fame). Before long they have a plan.

Send false information into Germany by letting it go through Nazi sympathizing Spain. "Operation Mincemeat" starts with the procurement of a body no one will miss. Done. Create a false identity for him as a Royal marine. Done. Create misleading and outright lying documents about the invasion plans and put them with the body. Done. Get cooperation from military commanders, politicians, morticians, living people (to provide pictures of friends), smuggle the body onto a British submarine in a custom made container marked "supplies" and have the sub commander float it towards shore on a cloudy night. OK, now really done.

I couldn't believe what I was reading. Fascinating and true. A group of British intelligence officers came up with this plan and the German high command bought into it. So sure were the Nazi's that the misinformation was correct, the invasion of Sicily took days not the weeks and months it was thought.

The book is well written, filled with facts. Pages of footnotes and annotations as well as pictures make this book more than interesting. The story is so preposterous it has to be true. What I really liked about this book (besides the story line) is that at the end of the book is a summary of what happened to the major participants.

This is a great read for the summer. While it is a non-fiction book it reads like fiction. More than a summer beach book, it is great if you want a new spy adventure that just happens to be true.

From the acclaimed author of "Agent Zigzag" comes an extraordinary account of the most successful deception--and certainly the strangest--ever carried out in World War II, one that changed the prospects for an Allied victory. …More

Monday, July 26, 2010

Guide to Wisconsin Suds

Summer calls for Wisconsin road trips and Wisconsin road trips call for two things: cheese and beer!  While we don't own any cheese travel guides, we do have a brand new guide to beer in Wisconsin.  Wisconsin's Best Beer Guide by Kevin Revolinski tells the history of beer in Wisconsin and reviews breweries and brewpubs from Milwaukee to Madison, Oshkosh to Superior.  If Miller is the only Wisconsin beer that you are familiar with, you will be pleasantly surprised!  Filled with trivia, lists of nearby attractions and a calendar of beer festivals, Wisconsin's Best Beer Guide is really the only guide you need when you visit Wisconsin.

If for some reason you should you need more travel guides for Wisconsin (or anywhere else on the planet) or if you're just looking for some great vacation ideas, be sure to check out our extensive travel collection!

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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Hot New Teen Books!

Check out some of these HOT books before the summer's over!

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Thirteen Days to Midnight
by Patrick Carman

In the aftermath of the accident that killed his foster father, high school student Jacob discovers that he has acquired the power of indestructibility, and the more he learns about it the more he realizes that it is a heavy burden, if not a curse.

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Something Like Fate
by Susane Colasanti

Lani and Jason, who is her best friend's boyfriend, fall in love, causing Lani tremendous anguish and guilt.

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Lies: A Gone Novel
by Michael Grant

As conditions worsen in the FAYZ, where supernatural forces have trapped children under the age of fifteen and resources are running out, it becomes tempting to heed the words of a prophet who says that only death will set them free.

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by Phoebe Kitanidis

Although fifteen-year-old Joy, who uses her mind-reading ability to grant wishes for people, and her older sister Jessica, who uses the same ability to bring misery into the lives of others, do not get along, Joy tries to find and protect Jessica when she goes missing.

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The Necromancer: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
by Michael Scott

Back in London, fifteen-year-old twins Sophie and Josh must determine whom they can and cannot trust as they search for both Scatty and an immortal who can teach Josh the magic of fire while Doctor Dee and Machiavelli continue to seek power.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The third of Stieg Larsson's trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest starts with the survival of Lisbeth Salander. She has been beaten, shot in the head and buried alive, left for dead. Woman of many talents that she is, she survives.

Once I got past that improbability, I settled into the story. Salander is in the hospital, allowed no visitors but her attorney, police investigators (whom she refuses to speak to) and her old psychiatrist, Dr. Teleborian.

Salander is having none of this - her father is still alive and down the hall recovering from her axe attack on him. Her half brother, Niederman is also still alive and still trying to kill her. Salander survives with help from Mikael Blomkvist.

Blomkvist smuggles a computer into the hospital so Salander can do what she does best, hack into someones computer. He bribes a hospital worker and a doctor and cuts a deal with the police in order to get Lisbeth Salander's true story out to the public. The fact the Blomkvist gets a new bestselling book and brings down part of the government is just a side bonus.

Not nearly as violent as The Girl Who Played with Fire, the story is graphic. Salander's past is rehashed - as all the horrors she has been through are investigated by the police. The twist in this book is who is actually behind the nightmare that has been Salander's life.

Blomkvist plods through, methodically putting clues together with the help of Salander's hacking skills. The end result is a new book for Blomkvist that will bring down the government's security agency while allowing evidence that will help Salander to become public.

While the series of events that must occur to save Salander are somewhat improbable at times - a lot of national figures die and there is an impromptu meeting with the prime minister - the story line is a good one.

Well written with pacing that never slows down the story comes to satisfying end. Salander wins, of course.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest By Larsson, Stieg 2010-05 - Knopf Publishing Group

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Postmistress, by Sarah Blake

The Postmistress combines the quirkiness of Anne Tyler's novels with the historical relevance of good World War II fiction. It tells the story of three women (and assorted men), whose vastly different lives intertwine because of the delivery, and the "non-delivery," of a letter.

Frankie Bard, the narrator, is a fictional character, a composite of the women reporters who worked under Edward R. Murrow in England during 1940 and 1941. Frankie, as she delivers her radio broadcasts from England during the Blitz, and later, as she travels through Europe with the first recorder, the reader is moved to tears by her heart-wrenching stories of Jews fleeing the Nazis.

Meanwhile, back in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the residents listen to Frankie's radio broadcasts, trying not to face the horror of what they hear. Iris James, the postmistress, obsessively keeps order in the post office for which she works. She watches over people as she makes sure their mail is delivered. Under her care is a letter, written by Dr. Fitch, to be delivered by her should he die. Also, under her care, comes a letter from the landlady where Dr. Fitch roomed. It is the letter that reports him missing, the letter Iris chooses not to deliver to his wife, Emma.

Emma Fitch's quiet world collapses when her doctor- husband volunteers to work in London during the height of The Blitz. There, in a bomb shelter, he meets Frankie, and shares his feelings of self-worth with her. Unlike Frankie, who is numbed by the death and destruction around her, Dr. Fitch feels suddenly alive. After blaming himself for the death of a mother in childbirth, he is invigorated by his utter lack of control over events. Here, he feels he is making a difference and feels alive.

Frankie argues with him, indicating that life is often determined by whether we turn left rather than right. It is purely meaningless coincidence. His death- from injuries incurred by being hit by a cab-substantiates this very fact. Before he dies, Dr. Fitch gives Frankie a letter for his wife--a letter which belies the emotional distance he feels.

This letter becomes Frankie's reason for returning to Cape Cod. She wants to personally deliver it to his wife, and tell her of Dr. Fitch's fate. Frankie has left her journalism job, thinking her radio broadcasts futile in getting America to listen and intervene. She returns to this country suffering from emotional exhaustion and psychological trauma. She relives the war though nightmares, and re-plays the voices of those she witnessed killed or suspects perished. She listens to those voices night after night, watching the house of Emma Fitch.

Eventually, she befriends Emma, who long suspects her as a harbinger of bad news. Iris, who reminds one of a nicer "Olive Kitteridge," dislikes Frankie intensely. She knows Frankie doesn't belong in Cape Cod, and she, too, thinks her a harbinger of doom.

The lives of the women eventually come together, and redemption, at least on a personal level, is achieved. Blake has done a masterful job, using broadcasts that were true to fact, in depicting events leading up to our military involvement. But her gift is in evoking the lives of those affected by World War II, and in showing us, in Frankie's words, "the parts around the edges."

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Murderous Procession

Adelia Aguilar's life had finally settled down. Living a quiet life in the medieval English countryside she almost believed she and her young daughter could have a normal life.

But Henry II has a different idea. He "requests" Adelia accompany his daughter Joanna to Italy where she will marry. Henry offers to keep Adelia's daughter with his wife Queen Elanor until Adelia returns safely. The royal procession sets off.

Deaths start to occur. Procession participants are dying in strange ways. Already under suspicion because she is thought to be the interpreter for Mansur, who has been sent as a doctor, Adelia becomes the prime suspect. Events will show otherwise. Adelia is the target of Scruffy, a malevolent character from her past, who has resurfaced and is bent on revenge.

Franklin's story line and historical accuracy make for a interesting read. Medieval female pathologists - yes! Henry's diabolical personality - yes! Richard the Lionhearted - yes! This book is simply a great read. A note of caution, readers new to the series would be advised to start at the beginning with Mistress of the Art of Death as this book builds on the others.

A Murderous Procession By Franklin, Ariana2010-04 - Putnam Adult9780399156281 Check Our Catalog

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Magazines and The Beach House, by Jane Green

It's Summer and the Reading is Easy....

Did you know that magazines, other than the most current issue, can be checked out for one week and renewed for one more week? Enjoy our large and varied collection of journals while sitting in your yard or on a blanket at the beach.

And, for a book on the lighter side, try Jane Green's, Beach House. Set on the beautiful island of Nantucket, it is about two couples and a lovely, aging matriarch, whose home, Windermere, is the beach house of the title. The story explores two marriages, one in which a partner is unfaithful, and the other in which the husband must come to terms with being gay.

Another relationship that is explored is that of Nan Powell, owner of the family house and matriarch of the family. The old house is the repository of many memories for Nan, including that of a husband who gambled away their fortune. Michael, their child, now an adult, was told his father died. His sense of loss manifests itself in chasing women, and showing very poor judgment in his pursuit of them.

Jane Green shows sensitivity in dealing with complex issues of sexual identity, loss, and betrayal, as well as the complex feelings that make up a marriage. She also deals with the special issues of children of divorce.

The Beach House is pure entertainment, and sorting through the complicated lives of the inhabitants of Windermere is a delightful escape.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

The End of the Line, A New Documentary on DVD

Imagine an ocean without fish. This is the future - in less than 40 years - if we do not stop, think and act. Filmed over two years across the world, featuring top scientists, indigenous fishermen, and fisheries enforcement, this film is a wake-up call to the world. Narrated by Ted Danson.

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