This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time–it’s well-written, insightful, thought-provoking, moving, and disturbing all at once–and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since reading it.Continue reading “Philippe Sands’ The Ratline (2020)”
Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For April, we’re looking at a new fantasy novel that draws on ancient Mesoamerican mythology and culture for its worldbuilding, a literary fiction fairy tale, a humorous mystery about retirees solving crimes, and a historical fiction audiobook set in Italy during the Second World War.Continue reading “Book Buzz: Mesoamerican-Inspired Fantasy, Racehorses Gone Wild, Murderous Retirements, and WWII-Era Italy”
When journalist Hadley Freeman set out to write about her enigmatic French Jewish grandmother Sala, she thought she would write about Sala and her quintessentially French fashion sense, which her grandmother maintained despite living for decades in America and being surrounded by decidedly less chic company. Instead, Freeman ended up writing a dual biography of Sala and her brothers, who remained in France. It’s a heartbreaking and inspiring story about World War II, the Holocaust, the French Resistance, and yes, French fashion and culture (Picasso and Dior both make appearances), but more than anything, it is a story about family, secrets, social mobility, assimilation, and identity. I’ve been wanting to read this book since I read an excerpt published earlier this year, and it did not disappoint. Thanks so much to Julie for ordering it for me!
Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For November, we’re looking at a witty rom com revolving around social media, the intense hunt for a fictional Nazi war criminal in the years following WWII, and a fascinating actual treasure hunt that has spanned over 200 years.
In the middle of WWII, the German military was not especially enthused with the idea of tying up resources guarding troublesome POWs who kept wanting to escape. Now, to my mind, it would probably be more logical to separate all the troublesome prisoners from each other, but instead, the Germans decided to lump them all together in a special high-security POW camp. Probably not too surprising when you gather together dozens of escape artists, they end up orchestrating, well, a great escape. . . .
Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For August, we’re looking at a surprisingly sweet romance, a trilogy of historical romances set in 19th century Oklahoma, and a history of British secret operations in France during WWII.
Since we’re focusing on letting the light shine on long-held secrets this month, I have a soon-to-no-longer-be secret secret confession: I love reading nonfiction about WWII-era espionage and cryptography. I blame this love on J.C. Masterman’s The Double-Cross System in the War of 1939 to 1945. It’s not in our library system, but it’s well worth requesting through ILL if you also like reading about history and/or espionage. In it, Masterman meticulously and matter-of-factly details the espionage system he ran for British intelligence in turning German agents in Britain into British double agents.
It’s a fascinating book, but it also permanently ruined espionage thrillers for me. I’ve never found a spy novel (or movie, for that matter) that captures the sheer boredom punctuated with sheer terror and the anxiety of the spy life that lurks between the lines of Masterman’s book.
That is, I hadn’t encountered it until I read Leo Marks’s insightful, hilarious memoir Between Silk and Cyanide.
[Last month, Green Forest’s library director, Tiffany Newton, was kind enough to write a review for Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. It was an incredibly popular post, and we’re excited to continue the Guest Blogger series with a new post from LeAnn Stark, the assistant librarian at Green Forest. ]
My New Favorite Women Sleuths
Early detectives have mainly been male, with a few exceptions–Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple being the most famous. Recently I discovered 3 authors, Laurie R. King, Jaqueline Winspear and Susan Elia MacNeal, with strong female private investigators. They were inspired by real-life stories from the women who pitched in during the 2 great world wars. While thousands of men were fighting, women found themselves filling in jobs that had previously been deemed unacceptable to them: building ships, aircraft, and tanks, delivering milk and coal and other supplies, driving ambulances, and much more. After the wars were over, many women didn’t want to return to the old restricted ways. Some had to keep working, due to a lack of men lost in the wars. These 3 authors do a wonderful job of exploring these issues.