Wednesday, February 28, 2018

adventure travel and exploration

Upcoming programs:

Thursday, March 8 – UAB Neuroscience Café discussing the latest research on epilepsy, 6:30pm

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Tuesday, March 20 – Documentaries After Dark presents “Art and Craft,” 6:30pm

(Rotten Tomatoes) Mark Landis has been called one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. His impressive body of work spans thirty years, covering multiple styles and periods. And while the copies could fetch impressive sums on the open market, Landis isn't in it for money, but instead donates his fakes to museums across the country. When Matthew Leininger, a tenacious registrar in Cincinnati, discovers the ruse and organizes an exhibition of the work, Landis must confront his legacy and a chorus of museum professionals clamoring for him to stop. However, it's not so clear that he can. Landis is a diagnosed schizophrenic whose elaborate con is also a means to cultivate connection and respect - feeding what he now understands as an outright "addiction to philanthropy." ART AND CRAFT starts out as an art caper, rooted in questions of authorship and authenticity. What emerges is an unflinching exploration of life with mental illness and the universal need for community, appreciation, and purpose. (C) Oscilloscope

Friday, March 23 – Standing Room Only presents a beer & cheese tasting, ages 21+ only and registration required, 6pm ( or 205-445-1119)

Sunday, March 25 – Organizational meeting for the library’s newest book group, Lost & Found, discussing lost 20th century classics, 6:30pm.  Contact Gregory for more information at

Tuesday, March 27 – Genre Reading Group is back, discussing debut novels, 6:30pm

This week, GRG met to discuss books on exploration and adventure travel.  From space, to jungle, to the lightless depths of the Marianas Trench’s Challenger Deep, we discussed them all!

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Jungle of Stone: The True Story of Two Men, Their Extraordinary Journey, and the Discovery of the Lost Civilization of the Maya by William Carlsen

In 1839, rumors of extraordinary yet baffling stone ruins buried within the unmapped jungles of Central America reached two of the world’s most intrepid travelers. Seized by the reports, American diplomat John Lloyd Stephens and British artist Frederick Catherwood—both already celebrated for their adventures in Egypt, the Holy Land, Greece, and Rome—sailed together out of New York Harbor on an expedition into the forbidding rainforests of present-day Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. What they found would upend the West’s understanding of human history.
In the tradition of Lost City of Z and In the Kingdom of Ice, former San Francisco Chronicle journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist William Carlsen reveals the remarkable story of the discovery of the ancient Maya. Enduring disease, war, and the torments of nature and terrain, Stephens and Catherwood meticulously uncovered and documented the remains of an astonishing civilization that had flourished in the Americas at the same time as classic Greece and Rome—and had been its rival in art, architecture, and power. Their masterful book about the experience, written by Stephens and illustrated by Catherwood, became a sensation, hailed by Edgar Allan Poe as “perhaps the most interesting book of travel ever published” and recognized today as the birth of American archaeology. Most important, Stephens and Catherwood were the first to grasp the significance of the Maya remains, understanding that their antiquity and sophistication overturned the West’s assumptions about the development of civilization.
By the time of the flowering of classical Greece (400 b.c.), the Maya were already constructing pyramids and temples around central plazas. Within a few hundred years the structures took on a monumental scale that required millions of man-hours of labor, and technical and organizational expertise. Over the next millennium, dozens of city-states evolved, each governed by powerful lords, some with populations larger than any city in Europe at the time, and connected by road-like causeways of crushed stone. The Maya developed a cohesive, unified cosmology, an array of common gods, a creation story, and a shared artistic and architectural vision. They created stucco and stone monuments and bas reliefs, sculpting figures and hieroglyphs with refined artistic skill. At their peak, an estimated ten million people occupied the Maya’s heartland on the Yucatan Peninsula, a region where only half a million now live. And yet by the time the Spanish reached the “New World,” the Maya had all but disappeared; they would remain a mystery for the next three hundred years.
Today, the tables are turned: the Maya are justly famous, if sometimes misunderstood, while Stephens and Catherwood have been nearly forgotten. Based on Carlsen’s rigorous research and his own 1,500-mile journey throughout the Yucatan and Central America, Jungle of Stone is equally a thrilling adventure narrative and a revelatory work of history that corrects our understanding of Stephens, Catherwood, and the Maya themselves.

The Pacific Tourist: Willimas' Illlustrated Guide to Pacific RR California and Pleasure Resorts Across the Continent by Henry T. Williams (published in 1876, seven years after the transcontinental railroad was completed)
I bought this in an antique mall some years ago and it is one of my prized possessions.  It's not wildly valuable, but I love having it. The preface states that "This volume represents over nine months' actual time spent in personal travel - over 2,500 miles - getting with faithfulness all possible facts of interest and the latest information. Over 40 artists, engravers and correspondents have been employed, and the whole represents an outlay of nearly $20,000: thus making it not only the most elaborate, but the costliest and handsomest Guide Book in the world." The book commences with a chapter on The Pacific Railroad, "America's Greatest Wonder," and then goes on to provide information on towns and sights in: "California, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Montana, the mines and mining of the territories, the lands of the Pacific Coast..." etc etc featuring information on "Pleasure Resorts and Places of Most Noted Scenery in the Far West, All Cities, Towns, Villages, U.S. Forts, Springs, Lakes, Mountains, Routes of Summer Travel, Best Localities for Hunting, Fishing, Sporting." A fascinating glimpse of the American West at the moment that railroad links from the East Coast were making it a tourist, as well as a settlement, destination."

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The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage by Anthony Brandt
After the triumphant end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the British took it upon themselves to complete something they had been trying to do since the sixteenth century: find the fabled Northwest Passage. For the next thirty-five years the British Admiralty sent out expedition after expedition to probe the ice-bound waters of the Canadian Arctic in search of a route, and then, after 1845, to find Sir John Franklin, the Royal Navy hero who led the last of these Admiralty expeditions. Enthralling and often harrowing, The Man Who Ate His Boots captures the glory and the folly of this ultimately tragic enterprise.

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Oxford Atlas of Exploration
From the ancient Polynesians who struck out across the vast Pacific in dug-out canoes with only the stars to guide them, to the Victorian missionaries and adventurers who opened the way for European colonial expansion, and the intrepid scientists of our own time, explorers have long tested their courage in an uncharted world. 

The Atlas of Exploration, now in an updated Second Edition, is a splendidly illustrated and authoritative history of these bold adventures. With a vivid and informative text, supported by nearly 100 specially drawn maps and 300 photographs and illustrations, it traces these journeys of discovery from the earliest recorded trips, ranging from the time of the Phoenicians' voyages in the North Atlantic through the launch of the first Pluto explorer. We follow Cortes in Mexico, La Salle on the Mississippi, Darwin in the Galapagos Islands, James Cook in the Antarctic, and many others. In each section, graphic relief maps highlight the main routes of exploration, while photographs, paintings and engravings brilliantly capture the variety of terrain through which these courageous men and women passed. Also included are maps from different historical periods which reveal cartographers' growing knowledge of the shape of the world's continents and oceans. The final section of the atlas, thoroughly updated and expanded, covers many of the discoveries of the last decade. The Second Edition also contains new biographical details on many great explorers, geographers, and cartographers, plus a revised time chart which summarizes the history of exploration over 5000 years.

From the High Andes to the ocean depths, from the Sahara desert to the outer planets, The Atlas of Exploration allows us to rediscover the extraordinary journeys of humanity. Opening its pages is taking the first step on a grand adventure.

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James Cameron's Deepsea Challenge
As a boy, filmmaker James Cameron dreamed of a journey to the deepest part of the ocean. This film is the dramatic fulfillment of that dream. It chronicles Cameron's solo dive to the depths of the Mariana Trench-nearly seven miles beneath the ocean's surface-piloting a submersible he designed himself. The risks were astounding. The footage is breathtaking. JAMES CAMERON'S DEEPSEA CHALLENGE is a celebration of science, courage, and extraordinary human aspiration.

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Women in Space: 23 Stories of First Flights, Scientific Missions, and Gravity-Breaking Adventures by Karen Bush Gibson
When Valentina Tereshkova blasted off aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963, she became the first woman to rocket into space. It would be 19 years before another woman got a chance—cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982—followed by American astronaut Sally Ride a year later. By breaking the stratospheric ceiling, these women forged a path for many female astronauts, cosmonauts, and mission specialists to follow.
Women in Space profiles 23 pioneers, including Eileen Collins, the first woman to command the space shuttle; Peggy Whitson, who logged more than a year in orbit aboard the International Space Station; and Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; as well as astronauts from Japan, Canada, Italy, South Korea, France, and more. Readers will also learn about the Mercury 13, American women selected by NASA in the late 1950s to train for spaceflight. Though they matched and sometimes surpassed their male counterparts in performance, they were ultimately denied the opportunity to head out to the launching pad. Their story, and the stories of the pilots, physicists, and doctors who followed them, demonstrate the vital role women have played in the quest for scientific understanding.

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Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart by Tim Butcher
Published to rave reviews in the United Kingdom and named a Richard & Judy Book Club selection—the only work of nonfiction on the 2008 list—Blood River is the harrowing and audacious story of Tim Butcher's journey in the Congo and his retracing of renowned explorer H. M. Stanley's famous 1874 expedition in which he mapped the Congo River. When Daily Telegraph correspondent Tim Butcher was sent to Africa in 2000 he quickly became obsessed with the legendary Congo River and the idea of re-creating Stanley's legendary journey along the three-thousand-mile waterway. Despite warnings that his plan was suicidal, Butcher set out for the Congo's eastern border with just a rucksack and a few thousand dollars hidden in his boots. Making his way in an assortment of vehicles, including a motorbike and a dugout canoe, helped along by a cast of characters from UN aid workers to a pygmy-rights advocate, he followed in the footsteps of the great Victorian adventurers. An utterly absorbing narrative that chronicles Tim Butcher's forty-four-day journey along the Congo River, Blood River is an unforgettable story of exploration and survival.

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The Stowaway: A Young Man's Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica by Laurie Gwen Shapiro
The spectacular, true story of a scrappy teenager from New York’s Lower East Side who stowed away on the Roaring Twenties’ most remarkable feat of science and daring: an expedition to Antarctica.

It was 1928: a time of illicit booze, of Gatsby and Babe Ruth, of freewheeling fun. The Great War was over and American optimism was higher than the stock market. What better moment to launch an expedition to Antarctica, the planet’s final frontier? There wouldn’t be another encounter with an unknown this magnificent until Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

Everyone wanted in on the adventure. Rockefellers and Vanderbilts begged to be taken along as mess boys, and newspapers across the globe covered the planning’s every stage. And then, the night before the expedition’s flagship set off, Billy Gawronski—a mischievous, first-generation New York City high schooler desperate to escape a dreary future in the family upholstery business—jumped into the Hudson River and snuck aboard.

Could he get away with it?

From the soda shops of New York’s Lower East Side to the dance halls of sultry Francophone Tahiti, all the way to Antarctica’s blinding white and deadly freeze, Laurie Gwen Shapiro’s The Stowaway takes you on the unforgettable voyage of a plucky young stowaway who became a Jazz Age celebrity, a mascot for an up-by-your bootstraps era.

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Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis
On June 6, 1924, two men set out from a camp perched at 23,000 feet on an ice ledge just below the lip of Mount Everest’s North Col. George Mallory, thirty-seven, was Britain’s finest climber. Sandy Irvine was a young Oxford scholar of twenty-two with little previous mountaineering experience. Neither of them returned. 
In this magisterial work of history and adventure, based on more than a decade of prodigious research in British, Canadian, and European archives, and months in the field in Nepal and Tibet, Wade Davis vividly re-creates British climbers’ epic attempts to scale Mount Everest in the early 1920s. With new access to letters and diaries, Davis recounts the heroic efforts of George Mallory and his fellow climbers to conquer the mountain in the face of treacherous terrain and furious weather. Into the Silencesets their remarkable achievements in sweeping historical context: Davis shows how the exploration originated in nineteenth-century imperial ambitions, and he takes us far beyond the Himalayas to the trenches of World War I, where Mallory and his generation found themselves and their world utterly shattered.  In the wake of the war that destroyed all notions of honor and decency, the Everest expeditions, led by these scions of Britain’s elite, emerged as a symbol of national redemption and hope.
Beautifully written and rich with detail, Into the Silence is a classic account of exploration and endurance, and a timeless portrait of an extraordinary generation of adventurers, soldiers, and mountaineers the likes of which we will never see again.

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Sir John Ross’s Second Expedition to the Arctic
We especially enjoyed seeing the images and maps in these two beautiful volumes of Sir John Ross's account of his second attempt to find the Northwest Passage.  Explore the images for yourself in the University of Glasgow's Special Collections by clicking here.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

fun, fast reads

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Upcoming programs at EOL:

Thursday, Feb 1 at 6:30pm – UAB Neuroscience Café
Identification and Treatment of Psychosis in Young People: Experience from a first episode psychosis clinic with Adrienne Lahti, M.D. and Clinton Martin, M.D.

Sunday, Feb 4 at 2pm – Holocaust in Film series presents “Amnon’s Journey”
This inspiring documentary by Jean-Marie Hosatte follows master violin maker Amnon Weinstein on his mission to recover and restore violins played by Jews during the Holocaust.

Wednesday, Feb 7 at 4pm – Smart Speakers in Your Home
Amazon Echo, Google Home, Alexa, etc: Learn what we love about our smart speakers!

Thursday, Feb 22 at 6pm – Preview Party for the Friends of the Library Booksale
A minimum monetary donation to the library of $25 or more nets you an invitation to get first pick of all the great books for sale at the library.  The sale opens to the public at 10am Friday, Feb 23.  Weekend sale hours: Friday 2/23 10am-5pm, Saturday 2/24 10am-5pm, and Sunday 2/25 1pm-4pm.

Tuesday, Feb 27 at 6:30pm – GRG discussing exploration

There is a display of books at the Reference Desk, as usual, but I’m happy to help you select something if you have a specific topic in mind!

This week, GRG met to discuss young adult fiction, a broad swath of novels for young readers ranging from 7-12th grade!

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Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
Ruby McQueen is a sixteen-year-old high school student with the name, she thinks, of a rodeo cowgirl porn star, or, maybe worse, a Texas beauty queen runner-up. Her mother, Ann, one of the town librarians, was reading too much Southern literature before Ruby was born, and Chip, Ruby's father, who was already dreaming of Nashville stardom, thought it would make a great stage name someday. Soon after Chip Jr. was born, Chip left to try his luck in the music business and ended up at the Gold Nugget Amusement Park one state over. He returns occasionally for visits that turn Ann's heart upside down, and Ruby's stomach inside out. 

It is summer in the northwest town of Nine Mile Falls, a place where brown bears sometimes show up in the shopping mall and people in hang gliders soar down the mountains and sometimes get stuck dangling from the trees. Ruby, ordinarily dubbed The Quiet Girl, finds herself hanging out with gorgeous, rich, thrill-seeking Travis Becker. With Travis, Ruby can be someone she's never been before: Fearless. Powerful. But Ruby is in over her head, and finds she is risking more and more when she's with him. 

In an effort to keep Ruby occupied and mend her own broken heart, Ann drags Ruby to the weekly book club she runs for seniors. At first Ruby can't imagine a more boring way to spend an afternoon, but she is soon charmed by the Casserole Queens (named, quite ironically, after women who bring casseroles to new widowers' homes in hopes of snagging a husband). When the group discovers one of their own members is the subject of the tragic love story they are reading, Ann and Ruby ditch their respective obsessions to spearhead a reunion between the long-ago lovers. But this mission turns out to be more than just a road trip. Somewhere along the way Ruby and her mother learn the true meaning of love and freedom from it, individual purpose, and the real ties that bind. 

This lyrical, multigenerational story of love, loss, and redemption speaks to everyone who has ever been in love -- and lived to tell the tale. 

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The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick
The days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve are dead days, when spirits roam and magic shifts restlessly just beneath the surface of our lives. A magician called Valerian must save his own life within those few days or pay the price for the pact he made with evil so many years ago. But alchemy and sorcery are no match against the demonic power pursuing him. Helping him is his servant, Boy, a child with no name and no past. The quick-witted orphan girl, Willow, is with them as they dig in death fields at midnight, and as they are swept into the sprawling blackness of a subterranean city on a journey from which there is no escape.

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The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Giver, the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, has become one of the most influential novels of our time. The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Lois Lowry has written three companion novels to The Giver, including Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

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Railhead by Philp Reeve
The Great Network is an ancient web of routes and gates, where sentient trains can take you anywhere in the galaxy in the blink of an eye. Zen Starling is a nobody. A petty thief from the filthy streets of Thunder City who aimlessly rides the rails of the Network. So when the mysterious stranger Raven offers Zen a chance to escape the squalor of the city and live the rest of his days in luxury, Zen can’t believe his luck. All he has to do is steal one small box from the Emperor’s train with the help of Nova, an android girl. But the Great Network is a hazardous mess of twists and turns, and that little box just might bring everything in this galaxy ― and the next ― to the end of the line. The highly anticipated novel from Carnegie-Medal-winning author Philip Reeve, Railhead is a fast, immersive, and heart-pounding ride perfect for any sci-fi fan. Step aboard ― the universe is waiting.

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The Selection by Kiera Cass
Prepare to be swept into a world of breathless fairy-tale romance, swoon worthy characters, glittering gowns, and fierce intrigue perfect for readers who loved Divergent, Delirium, or The Wrath & the Dawn.

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape a rigid caste system, live in a palace, and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her, and competing for a crown she doesn’t want.

Then America meets Prince Maxon—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.


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The Alex Awards are given to books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The Alex Awards were first given annually beginning in 1998 and became an official ALA award in 2002. The award is sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust. Edwards pioneered young adult library services and worked for many years at the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore. The Alex Awards are named after Edwards, who was called “Alex” by her friends.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (a winner of the Alex Award in 2012)
The bestselling cult classic—soon to be a major motion picture directed by Steven Spielberg.

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. 

But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.



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The Costa Book Awards honor some of the most outstanding books of the year written by authors based in the UK and Ireland. There are five categories - First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book - with one of the five winners chosen as Book of the Year, announced at an awards ceremony in London every January.

Launched in 1971 as the Whitbread Literary Awards, they became the Whitbread Book Awards in 1985, with Costa taking over in 2006.

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The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge
Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy—a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men—but inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist a mystery: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She also knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. For one, she knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, she knows that he was murdered.

In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father’s possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree bears fruit only when she whispers a lie to it, and when that fruit is eaten, it delivers a hidden truth. But while the tree might hold the key to her father’s murder, it could also lure his murderer directly to Faith.

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Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
On the windswept, fossil-strewn beaches of the English coast, poor and uneducated Mary Anning learns that she has a unique gift: "the eye" to spot fossils no one else can see. When she uncovers an unusual fossilized skeleton in the cliffs near her home, she sets the religious community on edge, the townspeople to gossip, and the scientific world alight. After enduring bitter cold, thunderstorms, and landslips, her challenges only grow when she falls in love with an impossible man.

Mary soon finds an unlikely champion in prickly Elizabeth Philpot, a middle-class spinster who shares her passion for scouring the beaches. Their relationship strikes a delicate balance between fierce loyalty, mutual appreciation, and barely suppressed envy, but ultimately turns out to be their greatest asset.

Remarkable Creatures is a stunning historical novel that follows the story of two extraordinary 19th century fossil hunters who changed the scientific world forever.

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Different Seasons by Stephen King
A “hypnotic” (The New York Times Book Review) collection of four novellas—including the inspirations behind the films Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption—from Stephen King, bound together by the changing of seasons, each taking on the theme of a journey with strikingly different tones and characters.

This gripping collection begins with “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption,” in which an unjustly imprisoned convict seeks a strange and startling revenge—the basis for the Best Picture Academy Award-nominee The Shawshank Redemption.

Next is “Apt Pupil,” the inspiration for the film of the same name about top high school student Todd Bowden and his obsession with the dark and deadly past of an older man in town.

In “The Body,” four rambunctious young boys plunge through the façade of a small town and come face-to-face with life, death, and intimations of their own mortality. This novella became the movie Stand By Me.

Finally, a disgraced woman is determined to triumph over death in “The Breathing Method.”

“The wondrous readability of his work, as well as the instant sense of communication with his characters, are what make Stephen King the consummate storyteller that he is,” hailed the Houston Chronicle about 
Different Seasons.

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Professor Aronnax, his faithful servant, Conseil, and the Canadian harpooner, Ned Land, begin an extremely hazardous voyage to rid the seas of a little-known and terrifying sea monster. However, the "monster" turns out to be a giant submarine, commanded by the mysterious Captain Nemo, by whom they are soon held captive. So begins not only one of the great adventure classics by Jules Verne, the 'Father of Science Fiction', but also a truly fantastic voyage from the lost city of Atlantis to the South Pole.

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The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper
Set in the 1740’s just as the French and Indian wars have begun, the novel opens as Natty Bumppo—known as Deerslayer—and his friend Hurry Harry travel to Tom Hutter’s house in upstate New York. Hurry plans to marry Tom’s beautiful daughter Judith, while Deerslayer has come to help his close friend Chingachgook save his bride-to-be, Wah-ta-Wah, from the Huron Indians. When war breaks out, and Hurry and Tom are captured by Indians, Deerslayer must go on his first warpath to rescue them.

One of the earliest novels to be considered truly “American," The Deerslayer is a masterpiece of suspense, adventure, and romance.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

salon discussion

Mark your calendars! 

Friday, January 12 – Yoga with Marie Blair, 10am-noon

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Tuesday, January 16 – Documentaries After Dark presents “Art and Craft,” 6:30pm
Mark Landis has been called one of the most prolific art forgers in US history. His impressive body of work spans thirty years, covering a wide range of painting styles and periods that includes 15th Century Icons, Picasso, and even Walt Disney. And while the copies could fetch impressive sums on the open market, Landis isn't in it for money. Posing as a philanthropic donor, a grieving executor of a family member's will, and most recently as a Jesuit priest, Landis has given away hundreds of works over the years to a staggering list of institutions across the United States. But after duping Matthew Leininger, a tenacious registrar who ultimately discovers the decades-long ruse and sets out to expose his philanthropic escapades to the art world, Landis must confront his own legacy and a chorus of museum professionals clamoring for him to stop. ART AND CRAFT starts out as a cat-and-mouse art caper, rooted in questions of authorship and authenticity -- but what emerges is an intimate story of obsession and the universal need for community, appreciation, and purpose. 89 minutes

Beginning Thursday, January 18 – The Holocaust in Film series presents “Remember,” 6:30pm
“Never forget” acquires a double meaning in Atom Egoyan’s revenge thriller. Guided by written instructions from a fellow vengeful survivor, elderly Auschwitz survivor Zev seeks to find and murder the Nazi commander who liquidated his family, but encroaching dementia often causes him to forget his mission. 94 minutes.  

Additional Holocaust in Film series dates: Monday, January 22 6:30pm “Linie 41,” Thursday, January 25 6:30pm “The Last Laugh,” and Sunday, February 4 2pm “Amnon’s Journey.”

Tuesday, January 30 – GRG will reconvene in the Library’s conference room for a discussion of YA fiction, 6:30pm

GRG met last night to for one of our biannual Salon Discussion, where anything you’ve read goes! We talked about wine, bitcoin, the Cold War, the 1972 presidential election, geisha culture, and more!

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Professional journalist and amateur drinker Bianca Bosker didn’t know much about wine—until she discovered an alternate universe where taste reigns supreme, a world of elite sommeliers who dedicate their lives to the pursuit of flavor. Astounded by their fervor and seemingly superhuman sensory powers, she set out to uncover what drove their obsession, and whether she, too, could become a “cork dork.”

With boundless curiosity, humor, and a healthy dose of skepticism, Bosker takes the reader inside underground tasting groups, exclusive New York City restaurants, California mass-market wine factories, and even a neuroscientist’s fMRI machine as she attempts to answer the most nagging question of all: what’s the big deal about wine? What she learns will change the way you drink wine—and, perhaps, the way you live—forever.

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The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince. Richard Howard's translation of the beloved classic beautifully reflects Saint-Exupéry's unique and gifted style. Howard, an acclaimed poet and one of the preeminent translators of our time, has excelled in bringing the English text as close as possible to the French, in language, style, and most important, spirit. The artwork in this edition has been restored to match in detail and in color Saint-Exupéry's original artwork. Combining Richard Howard's translation with restored original art, this definitive English-language edition of The Little Prince will capture the hearts of readers of all ages.

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Just before Christmas in 1843, a debt-ridden and dispirited Charles Dickens wrote a small book he hoped would keep his creditors at bay. His publisher turned it down, so Dickens used what little money he had to put out A Christmas Carol himself. He worried it might be the end of his career as a novelist.

The book immediately caused a sensation. And it breathed new life into a holiday that had fallen into disfavor, undermined by lingering Puritanism and the cold modernity of the Industrial Revolution. It was a harsh and dreary age, in desperate need of spiritual renewal, ready to embrace a book that ended with blessings for one and all.

With warmth, wit, and an infusion of Christmas cheer, Les Standiford whisks us back to Victorian England, its most beloved storyteller, and the birth of the Christmas we know best. The Man Who Invented Christmas is a rich and satisfying read for Scrooges and sentimentalists alike.

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Mastering Bitcoin by Andreas Antonopoulos
Join the technological revolution that's taking the world of finance by storm. Mastering Bitcoin is your guide through the seemingly complex world of bitcoin, providing the knowledge you need to participate in the internet of money. Whether you're building the next killer app, investing in a startup, or simply curious about the technology, this revised and expanded second edition provides essential detail to get you started. Bitcoin, the first successful decentralized digital currency, is still in its early stages and yet it's already spawned a multi-billion dollar global economy. This economy is open to anyone with the knowledge and passion to participate. Mastering Bitcoin provides the knowledge. You simply supply the passion.

The second edition includes:
--A broad introduction to bitcoin--ideal for non-technical users, investors, and business executives
--An explanation of the technical foundations of bitcoin and cryptographic currencies for developers, engineers, and software and systems architects
--Details of the bitcoin decentralized network, peer-to-peer architecture, transaction lifecycle, and security principles
--New developments such as Segregated Witness, Payment Channels, and Lightning Network
--Improved explanations of keys, addresses and wallets
--User stories, analogies, examples, and code snippets illustrating key technical concepts

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Pollinator by Blondie
(Pitchfork Magazine) Featuring collaborations with Sia, Dev Hynes, Charli XCX and more, Blondie’s 11th album is a bit uneven but remains a showcase for Debbie Harry’s versatile, supremely grounded voice and style.

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Silver Eye by Goldfrapp
(Pitchfork Magazine) On their first album in four years, Goldfrapp synthesize all their many sounds and modes to get at the core of their musical identity. They find a beautiful, poppy, platonic ideal.

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(NME Magazine) Dark, sexy, grown-up – not adjectives you would previously have associated with Massachusetts trio PVRIS, who were until recently poised to clamber their way to the position of electropop-punk heroes. After 2014’s debut album ‘White Noise’ and its killer singles ‘Fire’ and ‘St Patrick’ rose up the charts, PVRIS could have followed the tried and tested route to fame by dialling back the heavy and upping the pop. Hey, it’s worked for Paramore (they’re still epic) and even Avenged Sevenfold (they’re just as heavy, less screamy). What PVRIS have somehow managed to do is keep everything they put into the first record, but add a darkness that’s taken their game to a whole new level.

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Legacy of Spies by John le Carre
Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, is living out his old age on the family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London, and involved such characters as Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley and Peter Guillam himself, are to be scrutinized by a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications.

Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own intense story, John le Carré has spun a single plot as ingenious and thrilling as the two predecessors on which it looks back: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In a story resonating with tension, humor and moral ambivalence, le Carré and his narrator Peter Guillam present the reader with a legacy of unforgettable characters old and new.

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The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs
Set against the dramatic backdrop of the American Revolution, and featuring a cast of legendary characters, The Hamilton Affair tells the sweeping, tumultuous, true story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, from passionate and tender beginnings of their romance to his fateful duel on the banks of the Hudson River.

Hamilton was a bastard and orphan, raised in the Caribbean and desperate for legitimacy, who became one of the American Revolution's most dashing--and improbable--heroes. Admired by George Washington, scorned by Thomas Jefferson, Hamilton was a lightning rod: the most controversial leader of the new nation. Elizabeth was the wealthy, beautiful, adventurous daughter of the respectable Schuyler clan--and a pioneering advocate for women. Together, the unlikely couple braved the dangers of war, the perils of seduction, the anguish of infidelity, and the scourge of partisanship that menaced their family and the country itself. With flawless writing, brilliantly drawn characters, and epic scope, The Hamilton Affair tells a story of love forged in revolution and tested by the bitter strife of young America, and will take its place among the greatest novels of American history ever written.

Image result for book cover the usual santas
This captivating collection, which features bestselling and award-winning authors, contains laughs aplenty, the most hardboiled of holiday noir, and heartwarming  reminders of the spirit of the season. Nine mall Santas must find the imposter among them. An elderly lady seeks peace from her murderously loud neighbors at Christmastime. A young woman receives a mysterious invitation to Christmas dinner with a stranger. Niccolò Machiavelli sets out to save an Italian city. Sherlock Holmes’s one-time nemesis Irene Adler finds herself in an unexpected tangle in Paris while on a routine espionage assignment. Jane Austen searches for the Dowager Duchess of Wilborough’s stolen diamonds. These and other adventures in this delectable volume will whisk readers away to Christmases around the globe, from a Korean War POW camp to a Copenhagen refugee squat, from a palatial hotel in 1920s Bombay to a crumbling mansion in Havana.

Image result for book cover fear and loathing on the campaign trail
Forty years after its original publication, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 remains a cornerstone of American political journalism and one of the bestselling campaign books of all time. Hunter S. Thompson’s searing account of the battle for the 1972 presidency—from the Democratic primaries to the eventual showdown between George McGovern and Richard Nixon—is infused with the characteristic wit, intensity, and emotional engagement that made Thompson “the flamboyant apostle and avatar of gonzo journalism” (The New York Times). Hilarious, terrifying, insightful, and compulsively readable, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 is an epic political adventure that captures the feel of the American democratic process better than any other book ever written.

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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
Speaking to us with the wisdom of age and in a voice at once haunting and startlingly immediate, Nitta Sayuri tells the story of her life as a geisha. It begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old girl with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. We witness her transformation as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup, and hair; pouring sake to reveal just a touch of inner wrist; competing with a jealous rival for men's solicitude and the money that goes with it. In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction—at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful—and completely unforgettable.

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Geisha: A Life by Mineko Iwasaki
No woman in the three-hundred-year history of the karyukai has ever come forward in public to tell her story—until now. "Many say I was the best geisha of my generation," writes Mineko Iwasaki. "And yet, it was a life that I found too constricting to continue. And one that I ultimately had to leave." Trained to become a geisha from the age of five, Iwasaki would live among the other "women of art" in Kyoto's Gion Kobu district and practice the ancient customs of Japanese entertainment. She was loved by kings, princes, military heroes, and wealthy statesmen alike. But even though she became one of the most prized geishas in Japan's history, Iwasaki wanted more: her own life. And by the time she retired at age twenty-nine, Iwasaki was finally on her way toward a new beginning. Geisha, a Life is her story -- at times heartbreaking, always awe-inspiring, and totally true.

Image result for book cover little paris bookshop
Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can't seem to heal through literature is himself; he's still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop is a love letter to books, meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people's lives.

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Camino Island by John Grisham
A gang of thieves stage a daring heist from a secure vault deep below Princeton University’s Firestone Library. Their loot is priceless, but Princeton has insured it for twenty-five million dollars. Bruce Cable owns a popular bookstore in the sleepy resort town of Santa Rosa on Camino Island in Florida. He makes his real money, though, as a prominent dealer in rare books. Very few people know that he occasionally dabbles in the black market of stolen books and manuscripts. Mercer Mann is a young novelist with a severe case of writer’s block who has recently been laid off from her teaching position. She is approached by an elegant, mysterious woman working for an even more mysterious company. A generous offer of money convinces Mercer to go undercover and infiltrate Bruce Cable’s circle of literary friends, ideally getting close enough to him to learn his secrets. But eventually Mercer learns far too much, and there’s trouble in paradise as only John Grisham can deliver it.

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Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

‎Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.

With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

spy novels

Mark your calendars and join us on Thursday, December 7 at 7pm for a live reading of Charles Dickens’ beloved story, “A Christmas Carol.”  Your favorite neighborhood librarians, shop owners, and friends will appear as characters in the story.  The reading should last approximately one hour and live music will accompany.  Admission is free and cider, hot chocolate, and cookies will be available!

This week, the Genre Reading Group met to discussion spy/espionage novels!

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Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
Cayce Pollard is a new kind of prophet—a world-renowned “coolhunter” who predicts the hottest trends. While in London to evaluate the redesign of a famous corporate logo, she’s offered a different assignment: find the creator of the obscure, enigmatic video clips being uploaded to the internet—footage that is generating massive underground buzz worldwide.

Still haunted by the memory of her missing father—a Cold War security guru who disappeared in downtown Manhattan on the morning of September 11, 2001—Cayce is soon traveling through parallel universes of marketing, globalization, and terror, heading always for the still point where the three converge. From London to Tokyo to Moscow, she follows the implications of a secret as disturbing—and compelling—as the twenty-first century promises to be...

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Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
In 1942, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse—mathematical genius and young Captain in the U.S. Navy—is assigned to detachment 2702. It is an outfit so secret that only a handful of people know it exists, and some of those people have names like Churchill and Roosevelt. The mission of Waterhouse and Detachment 2702—commanded by Marine Raider Bobby Shaftoe-is to keep the Nazis ignorant of the fact that Allied Intelligence has cracked the enemy's fabled Enigma code. It is a game, a cryptographic chess match between Waterhouse and his German counterpart, translated into action by the gung-ho Shaftoe and his forces.

Fast-forward to the present, where Waterhouse's crypto-hacker grandson, Randy, is attempting to create a "data haven" in Southeast Asia—a place where encrypted data can be stored and exchanged free of repression and scrutiny. As governments and multinationals attack the endeavor, Randy joins forces with Shaftoe's tough-as-nails granddaughter, Amy, to secretly salvage a sunken Nazi submarine that holds the key to keeping the dream of a data haven afloat. But soon their scheme brings to light a massive conspiracy with its roots in Detachment 2702 linked to an unbreakable Nazi code called Arethusa. And it will represent the path to unimaginable riches and a future of personal and digital liberty...or to universal totalitarianism reborn.

A breathtaking tour de force, and Neal Stephenson's most accomplished and affecting work to date, Cryptonomicon is profound and prophetic, hypnotic and hyper-driven, as it leaps forward and back between World War II and the World Wide Web, hinting all the while at a dark day-after-tomorrow. It is a work of great art, thought and creative daring; the product of a truly iconoclastic imagination working with white-hot intensity.

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All the Old Knives by Olen Steinhauer
Six years ago in Vienna, terrorists took over a hundred hostages, and the rescue attempt went terribly wrong. The CIA's Vienna station gathered intel during those tense hours, assimilating facts from the ground and from an agent on the inside. So when it all went wrong, the question had to be asked: Had their agent been compromised, and how?

Two of the CIA's case officers in Vienna, Henry Pelham and Celia Harrison, were lovers at the time, and on the night of the hostage crisis Celia decided she'd had enough. She left the agency, married and had children, and now lives in idyllic Carmel-by-the-Sea. Henry is still a case officer in Vienna, and has traveled to California to see her one more time, to relive the past, maybe, or to put it behind him once and for all.

But neither of them can forget that long-ago question: Had their agent been compromised? If so, how? Each also wonders what role tonight's dinner companion might have played in the way the tragedy unfolded six years ago.

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The James Bond Series by Ian Fleming
The James Bond literary franchise is a series of novels and short stories, first published in 1953 by Ian Fleming, a British author, journalist, and former naval intelligence officer. James Bond, often referred to by his code name, 007, is a British Secret Service agent; the character was created by journalist and author Ian Fleming, and first appeared in his 1953 novel Casino Royale; the books are set in a contemporary period, between May 1951 and February 1964. Fleming went on to write a total of twelve novels and two collections of short stories, all written at his Jamaican home Goldeneye and published annually. Two of his books were published after his death in 1964.

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The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
The winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as six other awards, The Sympathizer is the breakthrough novel of the year. With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Saul Bellow, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.

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Whirlwind by Joseph Garber
Charlie McKenzie was the best in the business of CIA dirty work -- until he was double-crossed by his bosses and jailed to cover up a mammoth intelligence blunder. Now they want him back. And Charlie wants to get even.

A Russian spy has stumbled upon the most important U.S. military breakthrough since the atomic bomb -- a top-secret technology called Whirlwind -- and only the disgraced former operative has the skills necessary to retrieve it. But Charlie already knows too much. And once Whirlwind is back in Company hands, his enemies intend to betray him again -- and put him out of the game permanently.
However, Charlie McKenzie has other plans. And he won't be that easy to kill.

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Mata Hari: the name breathes mystery, intrigue and sexual allure. Who better to play the notorious World War I spy than Greta Garbo, the enigmatic, exquisite screen icon called The Swedish Sphinx? Garbo is mesmerizing as the dancer-turned-German secret agent in a wartime Paris seething with secrets and betrayal. The notable supporting cast includes Lionel Barrymore as a Russian general besotted with her, Lewis Stone as an icy master spy, and Ramon Novarro as a handsome aviator who wins the heart Mata Hari did not know she possessed. With the world at war, love was her weapon. And the only men she couldn't seduce were the 12 in the firing squad that ended her tragic and tumultuous life.

Image result for American Masters presents Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive
Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive draws on the rich palette of Poe's evocative imagery and sharply drawn plots to tell the real story of the notorious author. Featuring Tony Award-winning actor Denis O'Hare, the film explores the misrepresentations of Poe as an alcoholic madman. It reveals the way in which Poe tapped into what it means to be a human in our modern and sometimes frightening world.

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Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
MI6’s man in Havana is Wormold, a former vacuum-cleaner salesman turned reluctant secret agent out of economic necessity. To keep his job, he files bogus reports based on Charles Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare and dreams up military installations from vacuum-cleaner designs. Then his stories start coming disturbingly true…

First published in 1959 against the backdrop of the Cold War, Our Man in Havana remains one of Graham Greene’s most widely read novels. It is an espionage thriller, a penetrating character study, and a political satire of government intelligence that still resonates today.

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The Polish Officer by Alan Furst
September 1939. As Warsaw falls to Hitler’s Wehrmacht, Captain Alexander de Milja is recruited by the intelligence service of the Polish underground. His mission: to transport the national gold reserve to safety, hidden on a refugee train to Bucharest. Then, in the back alleys and black-market bistros of Paris, in the tenements of Warsaw, with partizan guerrillas in the frozen forests of the Ukraine, and at Calais Harbor during an attack by British bombers, de Milja fights in the war of the shadows in a world without rules, a world of danger, treachery, and betrayal.

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A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carre
Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, is living out his old age on the family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London, and involved such characters as Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley and Peter Guillam himself, are to be scrutinized by a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications.

Interweaving past with present so that each may tell its own intense story, John le Carré has spun a single plot as ingenious and thrilling as the two predecessors on which it looks back: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. In a story resonating with tension, humor and moral ambivalence, le Carré and his narrator Peter Guillam present the reader with a legacy of unforgettable characters old and new.

Image result for spy who came in from the cold book cover
In the shadow of the newly erected Berlin Wall, Alec Leamas watches as his last agent is shot dead by East German sentries. For Leamas, the head of Berlin Station, the Cold War is over. As he faces the prospect of retirement or worse—a desk job—Control offers him a unique opportunity for revenge. Assuming the guise of an embittered and dissolute ex-agent, Leamas is set up to trap Mundt, the deputy director of the East German Intelligence Service—with himself as the bait. In the background is George Smiley, ready to make the game play out just as Control wants. Setting a standard that has never been surpassed, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a devastating tale of duplicity and espionage.

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The Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva
Gabriel Allon is a master art restorer and sometime officer of Israeli intelligence.