Thursday, July 5, 2012

Nevermore: Real Life Spies and Fictional Leftovers

While Jud was off exploring the fascinating country of Turkey, with its bustling bazaars, architectural wonders, delicious food, friendly people and streets not designed for cars, the Nevermore Book Club soldiered on.  This was made easier by our doughnuts from the Blackbird Bakery, of course.
The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA’s clandestine service by Henry A. Crumpton was read by one of the club members who found it interesting but said that it didn’t deliver any “inside information.” Crompton was a high ranking CIA official who was in charge of counterterrorism operations against the Taliban, al Qaeda and other organizations.  It’s a good book, but don’t expect to find any secrets revealed.
Another club member recommended The Spy Wore Red: My Adventures as an Undercover Agent in World War II by Aline, Countess of Romanone, as a very good, very exciting biography.  Aline Griffith was born in Brooklyn and went to work for the OSS, taking her into international high society and the world of espionage.  The book proved so popular that she wrote two sequels, The Spy Went Dancing and The Spy Wore Silk.
Psychic Intelligence:  Tune in and Discover the Power of Your Intuition by Terry and Linda Jamison disappointed our reader.  It was too vague, too imprecise and too superficial.  It failed the fifty page test.
Lee Smith’s The Last Day the Dogbushes Bloomed was a pleasant surprise!  It was Smith’s first book, yet our reader felt it was one of her best.  The book tells of a pivotal summer in the life of a young girl. The first person narration was very effective, and the child’s point of view was very well done.
Say the name “Arianna Huffington” and now people will think of “The Huffington Post” or political commentary, but some of her first publications were biographies.  Picasso: Creator and Destroyer is her biography of the celebrated painter.  Our club member says that it’s well-written and quite an interesting look at a very complicated man.
Born Under an Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy’s Daughter by Sara Mansfield Taber won praise for its perceptive and thoughtful story of a CIA family. As the title hints, an important part of the book is a search for identity caused in part from living in so many different countries and so many different cultures. Sara defines herself as American, seeing herself as “other,” but when the family returns to the United States she finds that her definition of what that means is not exactly what she expected.  Taber’s writing is vivid, evoking many different places and times.
Jayne Castle aka Jayne Ann Krentz aka Amanda Quick is the author of several different series.  Castle is the name she uses for her futuristic paranormal romance series, including the St. Helen’s series.  Set in a world where everyone has some sort of paranormal ability, the books are romantic, sexy, lively and fun.  Our club member was rereading the series, so we know she enjoyed them!  The books are Amaryllis, Zinnia and Orchid. These do not have to be read in order.
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta concerns a Rapture-like event when millions of people suddenly disappear.  Those left are bewildered, seeing neither rhyme nor reason as to why some people were taken and others left.  The reactions range from anger to repentance to slow suicide by smoking cigarettes.  Our reviewer praised Perrotta’s witty writing and the fascinating characters who populate the bewildered world left behind, especially cult leader Holy Wayne.

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