Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rob recommends Act of Treason by Vince Flynn

If you like Tom Clancy, try Vince Flynn. Or should I say, if you enjoy the likes of Clancy's John Clark, you'll love Flynn's Mitch Rapp. Flynn's protagonist is a top-notch CIA agent who's not keen on rules of engagement. Luckily, he's so good at his job that his higher-ups tend to tolerate his rule-bending, law-breaking, insubordination and all-round orneriness. In Act of Treason, a terrorist, in an apparent attempt to assassinate a presidential candidate, kills the candidate's wife (and a slew of others) instead. Rapp is tasked with bringing the murderer to justice. Finding the killer is one thing, but then, who's behind the fiendish plot? The author delivers a Clancy-load of righteous black ops, bumbling and devious politicians and swashbuckling action. How can you go wrong?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Megan suggests: Sweet Land

I was watching The Good Wife on TV the other night and enjoyed seeing Elizabeth Reaser and Alan Cumming on the same show. It made me think of a movie I had seen them in together a few years ago: Sweet Land.

Inge (Elizabeth Reaser) is an orphan from Norway who has come to rural Minnesota to marry Olaf, a young Norwegian immigrant farmer. Olaf's parents back in Norway have arranged the marriage, but the small farming town (and her future husband) soon find out that Inge is a German with no papers. Anti-German sentiment in Post World War I society impedes their marriage, but love eventually conquers all. Alan Cumming appears as Olaf's friend Frandsen, whose farm is in danger of foreclosure.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

No Impact Man is a winner

The documentary of Colin Beavan's year-long experiment to lessen his carbon footprint on the planet was a 2009 selection at the Sundance Film Festival. Beavan, along with his wife, young daughter and dog, committed to 12 months of New York City hi-rise living minus elevators, motorized transportation, electricity, toilet paper, and take-out. Family relationships and dynamics were changed in a way Beavan never anticipated. The experience was life-changing for all involved. Even Michelle, Colin's fashionista wife, joined the side of sustainability. Enjoy the companion book of the same name No Impact Man : The advantures of a guilty liberal who attempts to save the planet and the discoveries he makes about himself and our way of life in the process by Colin Beavan.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mike Asks: Have You Seen The Tudors?

Following up on my interest in Henry VIII that was generated by reading Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, I started watching the Showtime dramatization of his reign, which just wrapped up with its fourth season this year. The Tudors provides some very high drama, the kind you would expect with a philandering king drunk on absolute power, willing and able to slaughter his enemies (who were most often his friends just the day before), and subject to mood swings befitting a four-year-old. The writers take quite a bit of artistic liberty and don't pretend to be historically accurate, so don't get upset when events that took years to play out happen in the span of one episode, but the courtly intrigues and skillful acting by Jonathan Rhys Meyers more than make up for any of that.

Great Captains

Great Captains
by Theodore Ayrault Dodge

A course of six lectures showing the influence on the art of war of the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus Adolphus, Frederick, and Napoleon. These lectures were delivered in Boston in 1889. Dodge rose to the rank of brevet lieutenant-colonel during the Civil War, losing his right leg at the Battle of Gettysburg. From 1890 to 1907 he published twelve volumes of his History of the Art of War: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus Adolphus, Frederick the Great, Napoleon, although the volumes on Frederick the Great were not completed before his death. Dodge is considered the foremost military historian of the nineteenth century.

These lectures are a great survey of the campaigns of the great captains. They are a summary of his larger works. Dodge like Plutarch, compares the commanders to each other pointing out there strengths and weaknesses. Dodge is not shy about giving his opinions and is one military historian that has actually been in a cavalry charge.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

101 Cookbooks is a Sweet Treat

If you haven't visited the site yet, you are in for a good food time. Heidi Swanson, the creator of this recipe journal, includes natural, whole foods and recipes from her life, friends and travels. Her beautiful photographs are awesome! Try her Orange & Oat Scones (pictured above) for starters this weekend.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rob swears that 99 out of 100 librarians recommend Proofiness by Charles Seife

Potemkin Numbers|Cherry-picking|Fruit-packing|Regression to the moon

In the OJ Simpson murder case, lawyer Allan Dershowitz took Simpson’s previous arrest for battering his wife and used it as an argument against Simpson’s guilt as murderer. How? By producing the statistic that only 1 batterer in a thousand ends up killing his wife.

Women who have had abortions are up to six times more likely to commit suicide. Assuming that the abortions led to the suicides, South Dakota enacted a law requiring women be warned about suicide risk before having an abortion.

In 2005 anthropologists published a study in Nature showing that Olympic athletes who wore red tended to win over athletes who wore blue.

Numbers do lie! Find out how in Proofiness.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sue Recommends Broken by Karin Slaughter

Broken brings together characters from two of Karin Slaughter's mystery series--the Atlanta with Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (2 book series) and Grant County with Dr Sara Linton and Police Officer Lena Adams (8 book series)--in an intriguing search for who and why a college student is stabbed and thrown into the local lake. The action is fast and the deaths keep coming as Will Trent tries to uncover secrets within the walls of the Police Station.

Will Trent is such an unusual character--an extremely bright, articulate investigator who is hiding secrets of his own (dyslexia, an unhappy marriage, and a "crush" on Dr. Sara Linton). He seems so mild mannered but is able to outwit suspects and witnesses through his easy interview style.

I enjoyed this novel so much that I am anxious to go back and read the other Will Trent books--Triptych and Fractured.

If you enjoy audiobooks, I felt that Natalie Ross performed well in her reading of this novel. SH

Monday, October 4, 2010

Megan recommends: Joe College

Joe College by Tom Perrotta

I've always been a big fan of Tom Perrotta. Joe College is probably my favorite novel of his, with The Wishbones running a close second. Every time I see a "roach coach," I think of this novel. I saw a lunch truck yesterday, so there you go. Yale junior Danny is going back to his working class family's home in New Jersey for spring break. His plans? Take over his father's lunch truck route so his dad can have a hernia operation while simultaneously trying to avoid running into his old high school girlfriend, Cindy. The book is full of wry observations about social class issues that students face at elite private universities.