Sunday, December 4, 2016

Rosalie's Suggestions

Salt to the Sea
by Ruta Sepetys 
378 pages

A group of teenage refugees meet on the road in the chaotic countryside of East Prussia in winter 1945. The Nazi Reich is collapsing all around them, and they, like hundreds of thousands, are fleeing the wrathful Soviet advance. They are trapped between their German conquerors and their terrifying Russian “liberators.” Their story is told through the voices of Joana, a pretty Lithuanian nurse; Florian, a Prussian with a mysterious letter of passage from a high-ranking Nazi officer; and Emilia, an idealistic but damaged Polish girl in a pink knit cap. Thrown together, struggling to survive, they at first hardly trust one another enough even to exchange names, and so they often just use epithets: “the knight,” “the nurse,” “the Polish girl,” “the wandering boy,” “the shoe poet.” (The last, an old cobbler, gets his name from his philosophy: “The shoes always tell the story.”) Each has secrets — the histories that haunt anyone who has lived through war, flight and deprivation.  (Same author as Between Shades of Gray.)

Hidden Figures: the American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathmaticians Who Helped Win the Space Race
by Margot Lee Shetterley
346 pages
Paperback - Non-Fiction

Moving from World War II through NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s rights movement, Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of scientific achievement with the intimate stories of five women whose work forever changed the world—and whose lives show how out of one of America’s most painful histories came one of its proudes as “Human Computers,” calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements.  Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South's segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II.  Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam's call, moving to Hampton Virginia and the world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.  Even as Virginia's Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts,  these “colored computers,” as they were known, used slide rules, adding machines, and pencil and paper to support America’s fledgling aeronautics industry, and helped write the equations that would launch rockets and astronauts, into space.

The Daughter of Time 
by Josephine Tey
206 pages
paperback - mystery

The novel's title is taken from an old proverb "Truth is the daughter of time." Alan Grant, Scotland Yard Inspector is feeling bored while confined to bed in hospital with a broken leg. A friend suggests that he should amuse himself by researching a historical mystery. She brings him some pictures of historical characters, aware of Grant's interest in human faces. He becomes intrigued by a portrait of King Richard III. He prides himself on being able to read a person's character from his appearance, and King Richard seems to him a gentle and kind and wise man. Why is everyone so sure that he had his two young nephews killed so he could ascend to the throne?

With the help of a young American researcher working in the British Museum, Grant uses his detective logic to investigates Richard's life and the case of the Princes in the Tower.  Did Richard really do it?  If so, why and how?  If not, who did? 

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