Saturday, July 28, 2018

CONDI: The Condoleezza Rice Story by Antonia Felix

Image result for Condi: The Condoleezza Rice Story

As Secretary of State and a close confidant of President George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice is the most influential woman in the history of the United States government, and perhaps one of the most famous black women in the world. Her latest stint in Washington, D.C., follows her role as National Security Advisor to the President and a distinguished career as scholar, professor, provost, and foreign policy advisor that has taken her from Birmingham, Alabama, to Denver, Colorado, to Palo Alto, California, to the White House-all by the age of 50.

But just who is this powerful woman who has experienced firsthand some of our nation's darkest and brightest moments, who was a key player in the government's response to the September 11 tragedies, and who some believe will likely be a future governor, senator, vice president, or even president.

Read more @ Harper Collins and review @ Publishers Weekly: "Although Felix didn't interview Rice, this informative biography draws on a thorough list of secondary sources and on interviews with family, friends and colleagues."

‘Women are three dimensional and flawed, just like men’

Daniel MalloryAuthor Daniel Mallory talks to the Irish Independent about his book, The Woman in the Window, and the success that followed.

When he outed himself as AJ Finn - a deliberately gender-neutral nom de plume he took on partly "because up until December I was still working and I didn't want my authors to see their editor's name scrawled across a hardback in the bookshop", partly "because I'm a private person" - it was the 'poacher turned gamekeeper' pieces that annoyed him the most. "Because no book is sure-fire and, far from being easy, this was a labour of love. "So these journalists intent on suggesting, or even asserting, that I know the secret ingredients needed to cook up a bestseller are wrong. There is no secret sauce. If there were, I would have written a huge bestseller long ago."

Review of The Woman in the Window @ Melisende's Library

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Blog Tour - Smile of the Wolf

Smile of the Wolf by Tim LeachEleventh-century Iceland. One night in the darkness of winter, two friends set out on an adventure but end up killing a man. Kjaran, a traveling poet who trades songs for food and shelter, and Gunnar, a feared warrior, must make a choice: conceal the deed or confess to the crime and pay the blood price to the family. But their decision leads to a brutal feud: one man is outlawed, free to be killed by anyone without consequence; the other remorselessly hunted by the dead man's kin. Set in a world of ice and snow, this is an epic story of exile and revenge, of duels and betrayals, and two friends struggling to survive in a desolate landscape, where honor is the only code that men abide by.

See my review here @ Goodreads
A well told story of a blood-feud in Iceland, written in the stylings of the medieval Icelandic Sagas.

Our narrator, Kjaran the Landless, a poet, a skald, a wandering minstrel, does what he does best, he tells us - the reader - the story of how he became involved in a bitter feud, and the fatal consequences of all those touched by it. To tell you more, would be to spoil the story, and like all good Viking-age poets, Kjaran must weave his tale at his own pace, revealing little by little, but never out-staying his welcome.

read excerpt here 
The feud began in winter, when a dead man rose from the earth. In the distant lands where men worship the White Christ, I have heard that a ghost is not such a dangerous thing. They are creatures of no substance, who may wail and howl but cannot hurt a man. But in my country, the people are warriors even in death. Our ghosts are not shadow and air, but walking flesh. They wield their weapons with as much strength as they did in life, and more bravely, for they have nothing left to fear. And so, when we heard that Hrapp Osmundsson had crawled from his grave and begun to wander his lands at night, no man in the Salmon River Valley would leave his house after dark without a good blade at his side and a shield on his arm.

In life, Hrapp had been the terror of his neighbours, ever covetous for their lands, their women, their blood. When the winter fever came on him and he knew he was soon to die, he commanded his wife to bury him upright beneath the doorway of his house, so that he could watch over his lands even in death.

Soon enough, the stories spread throughout the dale. Thord the Sly had gone to check on his sheep at night and been set upon by a dead man carrying an axe. Erik Haroldsson, a braver man, had grappled with the creature when it came for him, but was sent running for his life with the heavy tread of the ghost behind him.

No man sought to buy the farm from Hrapp’s widow. Indeed, there was talk amongst the neighbours of selling their own lands and moving on elsewhere, though there were few farmlands so prized in all of Iceland as those in the Salmon River Valley.

For all that was spoken of the ghost, I thought it mere winter talk at first, one of those foolish tales spun to pass the long cold months of near-permanent night, when men do little but huddle round their fires and drink mead, sing songs, tell stories and wait for the sun to return. I am a collector of such tales, yet I tell only the ones I know to be true – or half-true at least. This ghost story held little interest for me.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Frightening Truth About a German Diary from the Nazi Era

Robert Scott Kellner talks about his grandfather's diary @ History News Network:

Friedrich Kellner, a courthouse administrator in a small town in central Germany, began his diary on the day Adolf Hitler sent the German Wehrmacht into Poland. He knew the risks in such an undertaking, but as a former Social Democrat who had campaigned against the Nazis before they came to power, Kellner deeply felt the necessity to expose Nazi crimes, record the public's approval of their Führer and the Nazi Party, unmask the truth cloaked by Joseph Goebbels's propaganda, and also lay bare the Allies' many lost chances to prevent the war. Above all else, Kellner wanted to be sure future generations would know the terrible consequences of not defending their individual liberties against totalitarian ideologues with anti-democratic agendas. 

read more here @ History News Network

Review: August Falling by Les Zig

August Falling
For me, this was a quick read - the story of a man recovering from a bad relationship, who becomes infatuated by a mysterious woman with a tattoo in his local cafe. But as the author states, ".. this isn't a love story, it's a story of acceptance and hope. And of finding yourself." So when August (our narrator) finally overcomes some of his social awkwardness and plucks up the courage to talk to Julie, the tale picks up speed as we are taken through the heady days of a new relationship.

It's a light easy read - a narrative of two strangers, with secrets who embark on a new relationship together - but can those secrets in the past be overcome or will they hinder.

read more @ Goodreads and @ Les Zig

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Book Review: ‘The Mere Wife’

Review by Jennifer Kay of Associated press for Aspen Times:

Maria Dahvana Headley's new novel, "The Mere Wife," is much more than a simple recasting of the ancient epic poem "Beowulf" in the suburbs. It's "The Stepford Wives," 9/11 and English class thrown into a lyrical blender, and it's kind of glorious.

For those who forgot the poem immediately after high school, "Beowulf" is the Anglo-Saxon classic about a warrior who saves a kingdom first from the monster Grendel, then Grendel's mother and then a dragon.

Headley, who also is working on a new translation of "Beowulf," subverts the epic by exploring its good-versus-evil battle from the perspective of women who were largely left on the margins by the ancient bards.

read Beowulf online @ Project Gutenburg

King of the North Wind by Claudia Gold

Henry II conquered the largest empire of any English medieval king. Yet it is the people around him we remember: his wife Eleanor, whom he seduced from the French king; his son Richard the Lionheart; Thomas Becket, murdered in his cathedral. Who was this great, yet tragic king? For fans of Dan Jones, George RR Martin and Bernard Cornwell.  The only thing that could have stopped Henry was himself.

Henry II had all the gifts of the gods. He was charismatic, clever, learned, empathetic, a brilliant tactician, with great physical strength and an astonishing self-belief. Henry was the creator of the Plantagenet dynasty of kings, who ruled through eight generations in command of vast lands in Britain and Europe. Virtually unbeaten in battle, and engaged in a ceaseless round of conquest and diplomacy, Henry forged an empire that matched Charlemagne’s.

It was not just on the battlefield that Henry excelled; he presided over a blossoming of culture and learning termed the twelfth century Renaissance’, pursued the tenets of reason over religious faith, and did more to advance the cause of justice and enforce the rule of law than any other English monarch before or since. Contemporaries lauded his greatness and described him as their Alexander of the West’.

And yet it is the people around him who are remembered: his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, whom he seduced away from the French king; his sons Richard the Lionheart and John; Thomas Becket, murdered in his cathedral. Henry so famed during his lifetime has slipped into the shadows of history. King of the North Wind offers a fresh evaluation of this great yet tragic ruler.

Written as historical tragedy, it tells how this most talented of kings came into conflict with those closest to him, to become the most haunted.

An angry outburst from Henry II provoked the murder of Thomas Becket, once his best friend, in 1170

First Scottish historical fiction festival to be held

BooksFrom BBC News:
The first Scottish historical fiction festival is to be held later this year.

Taking place in Grantown-on-Spey, the event will feature writers Susan Fletcher, Andrew Grieg, SG Maclean, Rosemary Goring and Maggie Craig.

It's Nae the Tudors: Scottish Historical Fiction Festival will be held on 8 and 9 September.

Organiser Marjory Marshall said: "There have been, and are, historical fiction festivals in Scotland, but none focusing entirely on Scots history."

Ms Marshall, who owns local independent bookstore The Bookmark, added: "A great deal of attention has been given to 16th Century British history in recent fiction, and associated film and TV dramas - another film about Mary Queen of Scots will be released later in the year - and I wanted to look beyond that period.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Crystal Smith's Bloodleaf: 2019's hottest YA fantasy

If the buzz surrounding it is any indication, Bloodleaf has a good chance of becoming your next YA obsession. Described as a retelling of the Grimm Brothers’ The Goose Girl, the fantasy marks the debut of author Crystal Smith, and was acquired in a lucrative deal out of a heated six-publishing-house auction.

Mixing romance with magic and paranormal intrigue, Bloodleaf centers on young Princess Aurelia. When she’s forced to switch places with her maid, stripped of her title in a devastating betrayal, she ends up powerless in an enemy city and alone for the first time in her life. But even without her crown, she can’t leave politics behind. As her city goes under attack, Aurelia must decide what price she’s willing to pay to save her enemy and reclaim her throne. With an enigmatic prince asking questions Aurelia can’t answer, the ghost of an ancient queen haunting her mind, and an unstable and primordial magic gathering in the air she knows she must fight for her crown — whatever the cost.

The Miasmic Mist by Stephen Grenfell

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The new science fiction action-adventure novel, “The Miasmic Mist: Volume One: Sisters of Aphrodite”, by Stephen Grenfell tells the tale of several characters and the adventures they share, beginning in 1950s Britain. The novel is the first book in a planned trilogy. 

The novel follows the lives of five people: a brother and sister from the British aristocracy, James and Philippa Marchant, a young man, Daniel Gibson, and young woman, Emily Wilkinson, from less elevated backgrounds, and Kelly Aresti, who is the doppelganger of the female upper class woman in a parallel universe. The novel follows the characters from their school days in the 1950s to growing up and entering the workforce.

The men mainly go into military service in the Royal Marines, while the women have more varied paths. One woman becomes a lawyer while the other is studying to be a doctor. Philippa’s doppelganger Kelly is a practicing physician who is the first to pursue the evil presence that manifests itself.

“Baby boomers will certainly identify with the time frame as will others,” Grenfell explains. “There is much for all including much actual history of the time used as a backdrop to the story.”

read more @ Amazon and @ PR Web

Book review: Roman burial art reveals forgotten women of Christianity

Is there such a thing as reverent glee? If so, then that's how I would have described St. Joseph Sr. Christine Schenk as she bounded among the ruins of ancient Cenchreae, the location of the house church of the deacon Phoebe during a travel program I led. There is something about standing in the place mentioned in our Scriptures that stirs us, and reminds us that our ancestors in the faith were real, historical folks. In this case, a first-century woman whom the Apostle Paul called "our sister, who is [also] a diakonos of the church at Cenchreae" (Romans 16:1).

It is this sense of immediacy that permeates Crispina and Her Sisters: Women and Authority in Early Christianity. This connection across the expanse of time makes what could have been a recitation of dusty facts into an engaging read.

While her work makes a valuable contribution to the conversation about women's authority roles within the early church, Crispina and Her Sisters does a mitzvah for academics who investigate early Christian burial practices. Schenk analyzed 2,119 images and descriptors of sarcophagi (stone coffins) and fragments from the third to fifth centuries — "all currently available images of Christian sarcophagi and loculus plates" — focusing on the portraits and their accompanying iconography.

The Napoleon the French Turned Their Backs On

Review from History News Network:

Rarely in history has a country so blindly, maliciously and relentlessly turned against the memory of one of its national leaders in blatant defiance of the historical facts, as French historians have against Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon III. And they continue to do so to this day. The complete distortion and denial of Napoleon III’s true achievements began with his arch political opponent, Adolphe Thiers, in his undisguised strongly biased history of this period. Thiers reminds readers that Napoleon III was defeated by Prussian armies in 1870 and brought shame to the country. Overlooked were the real, solid achievements of the Second Empire. 

And yet, despite all his faults, Louis Napoleon’s intentions were honorable and most constructive, providing a long-term legacy, introducing progressive education, new hospitals and a greatly expanding economy thanks to a thriving commercial and industrial revolution. Napoleon III also succeeded in removing some of the shackles of the working class. He completely rebuilt the national economy, created genuine prosperity for the country’s first middle classes, and launched the country into a modern new world.

Monday, July 9, 2018

25 Best True Crime Books of All Time

From Esquire:

For every suspense novel that shocks and awes readers, there are real life stories that make fiction seem tame and predictable. True crime is a loaded genre: The best authors do not sensationalize violence and human suffering, but they provide context and depth to the crimes they study. 
In these excellent books we see how all lives—from the perpetrators and the investigators, to the victims and their families—are profoundly changed by the destruction detailed within.

read more here for full list @ Esquire

Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom by Sher Banu A. L. Khan

Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom
In Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom, Sher Banu A. L. Khan provides a fresh perspective on the women who ruled in succession in Aceh for half the seventeenth century. Khan draws fresh evidence about the lives and reigns of the sultanahs from contemporary indigenous texts and the archives of the Dutch East India Company.

The long reign of the sultanahs of Aceh is striking in a society where women rulers are usually seen as unnatural calamities, a violation of nature, or even forbidden in the name of religion. Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom demonstrates how the sultanahs' rule was legitimized by both Islam and adat (indigenous customary laws). Khan provides original insights on the women's style of leadership and their unique relations with the male elite and foreign European envoys who visited their court. This book calls into question received views on kingship in the Malay world and shows how an indigenous polity responded to European companies in the age of early East-West encounters during Southeast Asia's age of commerce.
Sher Banu A. L. Khan's book is the first full-length monograph to analyse female rule in Aceh. That alone makes it a major contribution to the historical scholarship on Aceh's political history as well as on Southeast Asia as a whole. Furthermore, this book does much to break through somewhat stale arguments about female rule in Aceh and the broader region that have held sway since the 1980s. Khan is nuanced in her approach and thorough in her analysis, using an impressive array of sources to draw her conclusions.

read more here 
@ Queen Mary University - Rule Behind The Silk Curtain: The Sultanahs of Aceh 1641 - 1699 by Sher Banu A. L. Khan (thesis)

Nefertiti’s Face — Joyce Tyldesley

From the publisher, Harvard University Press:

Little is known about Nefertiti, the Egyptian queen whose name means “a beautiful woman has come.” She was the wife of Akhenaten, the pharaoh who ushered in the dramatic Amarna Age, and she bore him at least six children. She played a prominent role in political and religious affairs, but after Akhenaten’s death she apparently vanished and was soon forgotten.  Yet Nefertiti remains one of the most famous and enigmatic women who ever lived. 

In Nefertiti’s Face, Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley tells the story of the bust, from its origins in a busy workshop of the late Bronze Age to its rediscovery and controversial removal to Europe in 1912 and its present status as one of the world’s most treasured artifacts. This wide-ranging history takes us from the temples and tombs of ancient Egypt to wartime Berlin and engages the latest in Pharaonic scholarship. Tyldesley sheds light on both Nefertiti’s life and her improbable afterlife, in which she became famous simply for being famous.

read more here

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The woman behind Pippi Longstocking

A biography of Astrid Lindgren suggests her famous redhead heroine was created to defy Hitler.

When the first Pippi Longstocking book was published in 1945 (there would be three in all), a few conservative commentators in Sweden denounced this merry insubordinate as "depraved". Children instantly saw in her a kindred spirit. A year later, her creator Astrid Lindgren was already talking about her "frightening popularity". "'Tell us about Pippi Longstocking' was all I ever heard wherever I went," she said in 1946. "I felt as though this fantastical character must have hit a sore spot in their childish souls."

read more reviews here

read more about Pippi

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

From WSHU:

Leonardo exemplified creativity at its most passionate and multidisciplinary, and always with a sense of wonder. He is, says Isaacson, the “ultimate example” of the main theme of his previous biographies [Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein]– “how the ability to make connections across disciplines – arts and the sciences, humanities and technology” – is a key to innovation, imagination, and genius.” 

But what prompted Isaacson to add his name to the already rich store of writing about Leonardo, generously credited here? The answer would seem to be twofold: new information due to advances in analysis and interpretation of Leonardo’s writings and art, and new translations, especially of the Notebooks, over 7,000 pages of doodles and scribbles that constitute “the greatest record of curiosity ever created.”

read more reviews here

Review: A History of France by John Julius Norwich

France: A History
Norwich has an affinity with France stemming from early childhood, so no great surprise that this would be something he would eventual write about. And, by his own admission, this would be his last book (sadly his words were prophetic).

Norwich's intended audience is not - as he writes - the academic or historian, but the lay reader - the general public. It is to be read as a general history (he does skip over great chunks with mere paragraphs) but that is his intent - to encapsulate this history of France "from Gaul to de Gaulle" in a mere 400 pages. Norwich achieves what he sets out to do - give the reader a sense of the author's love for a country not of his own.

This was a no-brainer for me - I love Norwich as an author and writer, and French history is something I have an interest in. Whilst for me, it was a quick an easy read, covering a lot of territory that I already knew, this is a teaser, a stepping stone for the reader to embark on their own journey through the annals of history.

He will be sadly missed, by myself and many others. Enjoy.

see also:

Bastille Mysteries

Having added "The Odd Fellow" by Ian Honeysett to my kindle reading list, I was intrigued by what more there was on offer by this author.  Not being incredibly au fait with the period of the French Revolution (aside from Hugo, Dumas, Sabatini & Baroness Orczy), I was intrigued in this set of three historical mysteries set in this period.

The Bastille Mysteries website:

Image result for bastille mysteriesThe "Bastille Mysteries" is a series of crime & suspense novels set during the French Revolution.

The first is "The Eighth Prisoner" and takes place in 1789 as the Bastille falls. The second, "The Year of the Oath", is set in 1790 when all clergy are required to swear an Oath of allegiance to the State. And the latest release is "Death A La Carte", set in 1791 when a struggle for control of the Capital's dining empire occurs.

The main characters are: Rouget Maison of the Paris Police; Abbé Pierre Reynard & Christine Gilbert, his housekeeper's daughter

Revolutionary France
A country in turmoil; overthrow of the monarchy; the reign of terror; a climate of fear and suspicion, of social and economic change; what better setting for a series of mysteries.

see also 

Nancy Drew: a brave character created by a bold author

Image result for nancy drew
Through more than 600 books published from 1930 to today, the adventures of teen-age detective Nancy Drew were often repetitive. Yet Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor have all said she was a huge influence in their lives. She represented a kind of tough American woman who was smart — and fierce — in the face of injustice or violence.

Accompanied by her best friends Bess and George, she unearthed lost heirlooms, found missing people and fought to right various wrongs. She offered American girls a sense of resourcefulness. She taught us to signal S.O.S. with a tube of lipstick, to break out of a window using spike heels and to keep an overnight bag in our car — a girl never knew when she’d encounter a sleuthing adventure. Real-life kidnapping victims have said that Nancy Drew stories inspired them use their wits to escape.

Over the years many different writers worked on Nancy Drew’s stories, which were always published under the pen name of Carolyn Keene. But the very first books in the series, the ones that established her particular steely bravery, were written by Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson, who was just as bold and independent as her heroine.

read more here @ Baltimore Sun and @ The New Yorker
list of Nancy Drew books here @ Wikipedia and @ Book Series In Order

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Review: A Gentleman's Murder by Christopher Huang

A Gentleman's Murder
The premises: a bet between two men in a London gentleman's club leads to murder in 1924.

Its a bit of a homage to the classic detective stories of the 1920s and 1930s, with a touch of the locked room mystery thrown in. But don't let that put you off - it is done remarkably well.

The main character - Eric Peterkin - is a veteran of WWI and member of the Britannia Club (a returned service-mens' club), where events take place. Despite the long family tradition of membership, Eric is a bit of an anomaly - he is a half-caste amid the snobbery of the upper echelons of pre-war Edwardian Britain. Author Huang imparts his own background onto Peterkin, which gives authenticity to Peterkin's struggles to fit into a society which whilst transitioning into the modern world, still finds the ties to the "old ways" hard to break.

There is the usual cast of suspects - for where would we be without those that give own detective the impetus to investigate what he considers his duty to the dead man .... " good or bad, the Empire owes a debt to each and every man in the Britannia ..." Each with their own secrets, foibles, and it is their collective link to the past that draws the reader ever deeper into the mystery.

Huang carefully weaves the threads of these stories together, all the while sending us off in different directions that we wonder just where we are being led, and how will it all tie together. rest assured, it does in the climatic last chapters.

What I also found enjoyable was Huang's wrap up at the end - his epilogue - wherein we are treated to why the author chose the period he did and his choice of the style of detective for the main character. I am always interested as to where authors find their inspiration, and why they choose a particular era, etc.

A first novel for Huang, but let us hope not the last.

read more here 

What’s Your Poison? 2018

The Cambridge Crime Fiction Event
What’s Your Poison? 2018

5 July 6.30pm
Heffers Bookshop, Cambridge
Heffers’ celebrated summer crime and mystery fiction party is back! Featuring a selection of hand-picked authors, come along for a lively evening of readings, book chat and signing. 
This year’s treat of a line-up features Mark Billingham, Alison Bruce, Louise Candlish, Will Dean, Araminta Hall, Mick Herron, Mike Hollow, Christina James, Jim Kelly, Vaseem Khan, AC Koning, Kate Rhodes, Stuart Turton, Martyn Waites, Ruth Ware and Edward Wilson.
Tickets are priced at £7 in advance and can be purchased through, by calling 01223 463200 or in person at Heffers bookshop: 20 Trinity Street, Cambridge  CB2 1TY.

Two of my favourite authors will be appearing - Mick Herron & Stuart Turton .... and I am many miles away!

Monday, July 2, 2018

The Legacy by Melanie Phillips

From NY Blueprint:

A TV producer, the Holocaust, and an ancient Jewish manuscript collide in the latest book from British journalist Melanie Phillips, "The Legacy". As her first work of fiction, Phillips, 67, found it a particularly engaging challenge that pushed her methods of both research and writing to new heights. She explores everything from grieving, to the habits of medieval Jewry.

Some years previously, I had come across someone who had stumbled upon a medieval manuscript and that experience had lodged in my mind. I also read a book which related a particularly shocking story about Holocaust Europe and which made an enormous impression on me. Once I had written my own “medieval manuscript” for the novel, the rest of the story, including the mystery that it represents and the attempt to unravel it, gradually fell into place.
read entire interview here @ NY Blueprint

She Didn’t Know How to Read, but Her Stories Captured History

Review by Gaiutra Bahadur for The New York Times:

Aida Edemariam may not have intended the title of her book to recall the Wife of Bath, of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.” Still, three themes fundamental to that canonical work are also at the capacious, warmly beating heart of “The Wife’s Tale,” Edemariam’s chronicle of her grandmother’s life in 20th-century Ethiopia. Chaucer’s medieval classic unfolds as a storytelling battle among pilgrims traveling to the shrine of an English archbishop martyred in a church-and-state intrigue. 

The Wife throws down with a story about a knight who, to escape punishment for rape, embarks on a quest to find out what makes women happiest. (Sovereignty over their husbands, it turns out.) 

Edemariam’s sublimely crafted tribute to her grandmother also involves sparring storytellers, religion (including pilgrimage and church-and-state intrigues) and the happiness and sovereignty of married women.

Laura Purcell - The Silent Companions

Media of The Silent CompanionsReview by Jodie Sloan for Arts on the AU:

At its core, The Silent Companions is a wonderful and atmospheric Gothic horror. A creaking Victorian mansion, shifty and secretive servants, paintings that follow you with their eyes, it’s all here and it’s gleefully exploited by author Laura Purcell. The unfolding story is aided by a 17th century diary, an expanding cast of silent companions, and time spent with an incarcerated Elsie after the novel’s events, and the need to keep turning the pages and solve the mystery is tempered by the knowledge that something scary might be lurking in the following chapter.

Some doors are locked for a reason...

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II

Even before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the U.S. Navy had realized its intelligence operation was woefully inadequate. The Navy needed code-breakers, what are more formally known as cryptanalysts, and it began recruiting them … at the elite women’s colleges of the Northeast.

Between them, the two services—which were so competitive one wonders at times who they considered the true enemy in World War II—recruited more than 10,000 women to work at its top-secret code-breaking operations in Washington, D.C. Their story is told for the first time by journalist Liza Mundy in Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II. Of the 20,000 code-breakers in both services, more than half were women.

Mundy interviewed more than twenty of these “code girls” for her book. Some of them came to Washington as civilians working for the Army at a former women’s college in Arlington, Virginia called Arlington Hall, which it converted into its code-breaking nerve center. Others worked as civilians for the Navy or, more often, joined the WAVES, an acronym for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. The Navy took over another women’s college, Mount Vernon Seminary, in Northwest Washington, which it re-named the Navy Communications Annex.

read more of Kathryn Smith's review of Liza Mundy's "Code Girls" @ History News Network