Thursday, June 28, 2012
Title: The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman's Fight For Justice
Author: Kathryn Bolkovac
Genre: non-fiction, book to movie
Another book and book-to-movie combo, this time based on a true story. Kathy Bolkovac was a seasoned and professional police officer when she was hired by DynCorp as part of a peacekeeping operation that would bring democracy and order into war-torn Bosnia. After being promoted to Gender Affairs, what she thought would be a noble mission turned ugly when she discovered that many of her coworkers, private contractors, and UN personnel were taking an active part in fueling drug trafficking of minors into Bosnia. The intimidation and good-ol-boy system she encountered is frustrating to read about and the layers of bureuacracy within DynCorp and the UN is mind boggling. She must have taken copious notes to keep everything straight!
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Title: The Orphan Master
Author: Jean Zimmerman
Genre: historical fiction
As promised a few months ago, I have finally reached The Orphan Master on my reading pile...
The Orphan Master is set in the colony of New Amsterdam (present-day Lower Manhattan). America's most famous, bustling metropolis started out as a humble Dutch colony complete with canals and a wall (precursor to Wall Street) to keep out the "savages." In 1663, New Amsterdam is in danger of being overtaken by the English and the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Most locals don't care about the political storm raging through their colony; there is a more serious threat that's ruining their lives. Children are being killed; specifically orphans. Not only are the orphans being killed, but they are being raped, tortured and eaten. Rumors abound of the witika, a Native American demon that eats and thrives on human flesh. Witika sightings abound and the suspect list grows. Suspects include the colony's orphan master, a visiting Englishman, a local female trader, various male leaders in the colony, and of course, some Native Americans.
Not only does The Orphan Master provide the reader with a chilling mystery, but we get a glimpse of everyday life in America in the 1600s. Oysters were about a foot long, Dutch women had more legal and social freedom than their British counterparts, and I learned about a Dutch-Indian War (the Esopus Wars) that I had never heard of before.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Title: Sarah's Key
Author: Tatiana de Rosnay
Genre: historical fiction
I watched the movie before I read the book (I usually read the book first) and I enjoyed both immensely. The two plot lines in Sarah's Key revolve around a little known piece of French history: the V'el D'Hiv roundup. In July of 1942, the French government, by order of the Nazis, rounded up French Jews and sent them to "work camps" in the French countryside. Once at the work camps the men were separated from their families. A few months later the women and children were separated and the women sent to Auschwitz. Unfortunately, the rest is history. These true events are unknown here in America and even unknown to the younger generations in France- the older generation is ashamed that they allowed this tragedy to happen.
In alternating chapters we read about Sarah's family being rounded up and sent to the camp. The other chapters take place in modern-day Paris where Julia Jarmond is remodeling an apartment with her husband. Julia is a transplanted American journalist who is assigned to write about the 60th anniversary of the V'el D'Hiv roundup. Her research and interviews eventually confirm that the apartment her family is remodeling has connections to this tragic day in French history.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Title: The Brief History of the Dead
Author: Kevin Brockmeier
Genre: Sci-fi, futuristic
In The Brief History of the Dead, we are introduced to two seemingly different plot lines that slowly converge as the book progresses.
Plot Line 1: Three scientists are stranded in the Antartic after losing contact with the outside world. The two male scientists leave and after a few weeks, the female scientist, Laura Byrd, realizes they're never coming back. When she reaches the main station, everyone is dead. While staying at the main station Luara learns that her colleagues and most of the world's population died from a global pandemic.
Plot Line 2: Everyone who has ever died is in a world just like our Earth, except with one major difference. The dead only stay in this second world as long as someone from our world remembers them.
While these plot lines may seem unrelated, as the book progresses, the reader realizes that the memories of the dead in the second world have some connection to Laura Byrd. Meanwhile, on Earth, Laura Byrd feels like the last human alive....
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Title: To Selena, With Love
Author: Chris Perez
Genre: musical biography/memoir
Like most of America, I didn't know who Selena was until after her death in 1995. When my husband and I were dating, her song "Dreaming of You" was on our personal playlists to each other (when playlists consisted of recording a song from the radio or a CD to a blank cassette).
Selena Quintinilla-Perez broke many barriers in her short, musical career: she was the first woman to break into the Tejano music scene and also the first Latino woman to successfully cross over into the American mainstream pop music genre.
Chris Perez was Selena's husband and in this beautifully written memoir, he chronicles their secret dates, elopement, and life as newlyweds. Since Selena's death, Chris Perez has fulfilled his own musical career and journey, remarried, and had children. Even with all this success, you can tell that Chris still misses Selena. You'll need tissues for the last two chapters; all in all a great tribute to his first love.