Sunday, October 23, 2011


The first complete narrative of the pursuit and capture of Adolf Eichmann, based on groundbreaking new information and interviews. When the Allies stormed Berlin in the last days of the Third Reich, the operational manager of the mass murder of Europe’s Jews shed his SS uniform and vanished.

Alternating from a criminal on the run to his pursuers closing in on his trail ,Hunting Eichmann follows the Nazi as he escapes two American POW camps, hides in the mountains, slips out of Europe on the ratlines, and builds an anonymous life in Buenos Aires. Meanwhile, a persistent search for Eichmann gradually evolves into an international manhunt that includes a bulldog West German prosecutor, a blind Argentinean Jew and his beautiful daughter, and a budding, ragtag spy agency called the Mossad, whose operatives have their own scores to settle.

My Thoughts:

There is a quote at the very beginning of the book "Justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done." - Lord Chief Justice Gordon Hewart, 1924. This quote will make sense once you have read the book.
Wow – this book was very, very good. I love it when an author takes a true story and writes about it in such a way that it is still suspenseful.  Even though we know the ending, how does it all go down?  How does Eichmann escape from Germany?  How did he stay under the radar for so long?  How was he found?  And then the big question – how did they get him??
 I learned allot by reading this book.  Eichmann was responsible for heading what was called “The Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”   Can you imagine – naming a plan to exterminate human beings with this kind of title.   How frightening.  I was also not aware of the involvement of the Catholic church in helping war criminals escape from Germany.  As a former Catholic, I can only say – how sad.
Probably the most exciting part of the story was the plot to get Eichmann out of Argentina and into Israel.  The logistics seemed almost overwhelming.  It all had to be secret – there was no help for the Mossad from any other country.  There were only two ways out – by air or by water, and each route had its own set of difficulties to overcome.  Oh – the intrigue, the planning, the tension – I can’t give any of it away – it’s too integral to the overall story.  You’ll just have to read the book!
This book was so well written – so well organized, I know I am going to have to check out more books by Mr. Bascomb. 
I gave this book a rating of 5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker

   Book Overview from Goodreads:

Kyra and David Winter are happier than they ever thought they could be. They have a comfortable home, stable careers, and a young son, Michael, whom they love more than anything. Yet because of their complicated histories, Kyra and David have always feared that the life they created was destined to be disrupted. And on one perfectly average summer day, it is: Michael disappears from his own backyard.

The only question is whose past has finally caught up with them: David feels sure that Michael was taken by his troubled ex-wife, while Kyra believes the kidnapper must be someone from her estranged family, someone she betrayed years ago.

As the Winters embark on a journey of time and memory to find Michael, they will be forced to admit these suspicions, revealing secrets about themselves they’ve always kept hidden. But they will also have a chance to discover that it’s not too late to have the family they’ve dreamed of; that even if the world is full of risks, as long as they have hope, the future can bloom.

My Thoughts:
I liked this book.  Poor little Michael –his parents have so many restrictions, if he were older than five, he might have actually put a sign around his neck that said GET ME OUT OF HERE.   On the day he was taken, it was only the second time his Mom had let him outside by himself and this was after reading a book about letting kids be free range!
I won’t be ruining anything by letting you know that fairly early in the book, we find out that the police find a “happy kidnapper note” explaining that the person who took Michael does not intend to hurt him and will return him soon.   So this isn’t a scary book about a child kidnapping, but the story of Krya and David’s past, their perception of mistakes made early in their lives and how they feel it has led to Michael’s disappearance.  The author weaves a good tale and throws a twist in at the end that I did not see coming.

I rate this book 4 stars out of 5.

This book was published 9/13/11.

I would like to thank netGalley and Simon &Schuster Publishing, Inc. for allowing me to read this copy.
Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small TownMethland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town by Nick Reding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Overview from Goodreads:

Crystal methamphetamine is widely considered to be the most dangerous drug in the world, and nowhere is that more true than in the small towns of the American heartland. Methland tells the story of Oelwein, Iowa (pop. 6,159), which, like thousands of other small towns across the country, has been left in the dust by the consolidation of the agricultural industry, a depressed local economy, and an out-migration of people. As if this weren’t enough to deal with, an incredibly cheap, longlasting, and highly addictive drug has rolled into town.

Over a period of four years, journalist Nick Reding brings us into the heart of Oelwein through a cast of intimately drawn characters, including: Clay Hallburg, the town doctor, who fights meth even as he struggles with his own alcoholism; Nathan Lein, the town prosecutor, whose caseload is filled almost exclusively with meth-related crime; and Jeff Rohrick, a meth addict, still trying to kick the habit after twenty years.

My Thoughts:

I wanted to post a review because I thought it was an excellent book. Released in 2009, it is still a good explanation of the ongoing battle against meth. It helped me understand the politics behind the attempt to enact laws to restrict the purchase of pseudoephedrine. Because of the similarity in chemical structure to the amphetamines, pseudoephedrine is a major ingredient used in the making of meth. Early legislative attempts to control the purchase of pseudoephedrine would have required each transaction involving the drug to be reported to the government, and federal approval of all imports and exports. Concerned this would limit legitimate use of the drug, lobbyists from over the counter drug manufacturers worked to stop this legislation from moving forward. We still hear about this ongoing debate today, as local municipalities work to establish some sort of control over the sale of pseudoephedrine products.

A few years ago, there was an article in our local newspaper about a young high school girl who got hooked on crystal meth. A popular, intelligent and hardworking student, the article documented her life before meth, how she started using and the decline in all aspects of her life due to her addiction. At the time of the article, she was in jail because her parents felt this was the safest place for her.

What I remember most about her story came at the very end of the article. When asked why she had even started using the drug, her response was “I just wanted to try it”. How very sad and frightening.

Methland told the same type of stories regarding the lives of people on meth, those trying to fight the production and sale of the drug, along with individuals working to help recovering addicts. This really was a fascinating read.

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Becoming Marie AntoinetteBecoming Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Overview:

Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.

Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in Vienna to the glitter, glamour, and gossip of Versailles, Antonia must change everything about herself in order to be accepted as dauphine of France and the wife of the awkward teenage boy who will one day be Louis XVI. Yet nothing can prepare her for the ingenuity and influence it will take to become queen.

My Thoughts:

This book was very interesting. History has never been my thing, so I have zero background knowledge about Marie Antoinette. A note from the author states that while Becoming Marie Antoinette is a work of fiction, the events are based on facts.

Forget the whole fairy princess idea. The daughters of royalty were often nothing more than pawns in the politics of establishing alliances between countries. I found one chapter of the book to be particularly representative of the sacrifice required of Marie. Titled The Remise, it describes how a 5 room wooden pavilion had been built – two rooms on the Austrian side and two rooms on the French side, with a “neutral” room in the middle. Marie had to give up everything that was Austrian – her clothes, her personal help, even her dog! She was only allowed to take her deceased father’s watch and that was because her father had been born in France.

It was in this middle room that the contract of Marie’s marriage to Louis August was read out loud. She then said goodbye to everything Austrian. The door to the Austrian side was closed and that was that. Marie was never to return to Austria. Can you image doing this at the age of fourteen? Saying goodbye to everything you grew up with – family, friends, lifestyle and even her native language.

So poor little Marie, age fourteen, uneducated in the political maneuverings of the French court, goes off to marry someone she has never met and to shoulder the burden of improving the alliance between Austria and France.

The rest of the book entails Marie’s early years as the Dauphine of France. It ends when Marie and Louis become king and queen of France.

Becoming Marie Antoinette was published in August, 2011 and is book one of a trilogy. The second book, due out in 2012, is called Days of Splendor, Days of Sorrow. The third book is yet untitled.

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishers for allowing me to read this copy.

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

At RiskAt Risk by Alice Hoffman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Overveiw from Publishers Weekly:

The Farrells are a middle-class family living in a small New England town. Ivan Farrell is an astronomer, wife Polly a photographer, eight-year-old Charlie a budding biologist and 11-year-old Amanda a talented gymnast. tension between spouses, and withal, the humor and love that holds families together. Suddenly the Farrells are singled out for grief. Amanda, who has been winning gymnastic meets despite a summer-long malaise, tests positive for AIDS, contracted some five years before when she was transfused with contaminated blood after an appendectomy. Too stunned, angry and anguished even to turn to each other, Polly and Ivan retreat into separate worlds. Charlie is abandoned by his best friend and shunned by his schoolmates. Amanda, an average adolescent who loves Madonna records, must come to grips with the process of dying. The hysterical reaction of some members of the community is a further blow. Hoffman has few rivals in depicting domestic scenes: the bickering between siblings, the tension between spouses, and withal, the humor and love that holds families together.

My Thoughts:

For such a sad subject, Ms. Hoffman handles it with lovely writing. The characters are portrayed in a realistic manner and my heart ached for each of the Farrell family as their lives changed due to Amanda’s diagnosis. Ivan attaches himself to a young man with AIDS who works an AIDS help hotline. Polly and Amanda’s doctor link together as they support each other. Amanda connects with a young woman in the community who allows her to speak honestly about her fears. And poor little Charlie, somewhat left on his own until his family finally remembers that this impacts him too.

This book was first published in 1988, at the height of the AIDS panic. It was interesting to see how it was written for the times. I would certainly like to think humanity has made great strides in dealing with AIDS diagnosis and AIDS in the community.

I was very concerned how the story would end given the prognosis for AIDS at that time. I don’t want to give it away. While no miracle happen, I do feel the author handled the ending gracefully.

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