Books Read in 2010

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1. B is for Beer - Tom Robbins - This book is both a childrens book for grownup and a grownup book for children. It is an entertaining story about a little girl and a beer fairy who teaches her about how beer is made and the good and bad aspects of alcohol. This is the same author that wrote Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and other books I read while in college. Robbins is both irreverent and humorous as is usual and points out how beer helps humans see the mystery in life. This is a short read; I read it in about an hour and a half. I would recommend this book to anyone regardless of age.
2. Atlantis - David Gibbins - This book is based on the same formula as The Last Tomb (lots of history and much speculation) but is still entertaining. In the first part of the book the author gives a lot of history but then the action picks up and the story really gets going. The cast of characters is the mainly the same with Jack, Costas and Hiebermeyer (the German Egyptologist). In this story Jack and company find information from a mummy wrapping that points to the fact that Atlantis was a real place on the Black Sea not an island in the Atlantic as most people think. The flood of Noah flooded Atlantis and hid it from history but Jack and his crew find the location and see it for the first time in modern times. Complicating the research are a bunch of well equipped pirates and political tension between Turkey and Russia. Coincidentally a sunken Russian sub with nuclear weapons is found at Atlantis's front door and that is what the pirates are after. After the bad guys are subdued the volcano on which Atlantis is located erupts and Atlantis is hidden again; this time for good. Oh well.
3. Crusader Gold - David Gibbins - Another Gibbins book with the same main characters. This is a story about the history and search for the Jewish Menorah which was taken from Jerusalem during the Rome conquest of the middle east and never seen again. Jack and Costas dive for clues at the Golden Horn off of Turkey and then travel all over the world (England, Greenland, Northern Canada and even to Central America) in their search. As is typical, there is a lot of history laid out in this book and Gibbins does a good job of keeping the reader entertained and educated. The authors background as an underwater archaeologist really shows in this story. Of course there are the bad guys who are trying to stop Jack and Costas because they want to find the menorah as well and sell it to the highest bidder. Also there is one incredible scene where Jack and Costas are diving inside an ice burg which is really well written and keeps you on the edge of your seat. A good book but I think I will wait until I read another Gibbins book because this makes three I have read in a short time.
4. Lost Symbol - Dan Brown - Dan's newest long awaited book that will definitely become a movie. Overall I would say this book is on par with the Da Vinci Code and Angles & Daemons. This story however takes place in a single 24 hour period and as a result is fast paced all of the way through. It is obvious that Dan is currently facinated by Noetic science as one of his characters is a Noetic scientist who espouses the current thoughts and scientific experiments being done in that field. This story is about the Masons and how our fore fathers (Washington, Franklin, etc.) who were mostly Masons built Washington DC. Brown does a good job of pointing out all the Masonic aspects of Washington and the rituals that the Mason have and continue to practice. He has a lot of his government official characters being Mason which very well could reflect the current makeup of our politicians. As is typical with Browns books, once you get into this story it is hard to put the book down. Robert Langdon is again the main character as symbols play a very important part in Masonic tradition, their secrets and the plot of the story. The Noetic scientist in the book talks about a book called "The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World" which Heather and I have placed a hold on at the library and will report on after we read it.
5. The Day We Found the Universe - Marcia Bartusiak - A well written account of advances in astronomy in the late 19th and 20th centuries. It is hard to believe that just 100 years ago the perception scientists had about what the universe was was vastly different than our perception today. At that time they didn't know there were other things in the universe other than the Milky Way. They had no way of measuring the distances to stars and had no idea of the materials that stars were made of. But from the late 19th century telescopes were continually improving with larger mirrors for better gathering of light. America was trying to catch up with Europe in astronomy and effectively blew right past them in the process. This story tells about the dedicated astronomers that rang every bit of data out of the images they were taking of the sky along with the hardships they endured doing it. All of the famous names Hale, Hubble, Shipley, Einstein and many others are discussed along with their contributions to the science.  Many of these were colorful characters to say the least. This book also discusses the scientific politics of the times and who was agreeing with whom and who was against whom which makes for interesting reading. An interesting fact that I was not aware of was the part women played in early astronomy. For the first quarter of the 20th century women weren't allowed to touch the telescopes because that was considered mans work. Women were put to use as human computers crunching the data from the plates the men took. In fact it was a women who came up with the idea of using variable stars and super novas as "standard candles" for computing the distances to various celestial objects. Women were just not given credit for the contributions to science during these times. Reading this book also reminded me that science was very important to common people during this time and rich people would fund many of the scientific ventures because they were interested and because it might help cement their legacies. As far as I can tell this philosophy just doesn't exist anymore. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in astronomy or in the advances of science.
6. Entanglement - Amir D. Aczel - This is a book about the quantum mechanics with its concept of entanglement. Entanglement is a microscopic concept that says if two particles like photons, neutrons or electrons are created a the same time that any manipulation of one of the particles results in the immediate corresponding manipulation of the other entangled  particle regardless of the distance between them. In other words the entangled particles would react this way if they were positioned across the room or across the universe. Einstein had actually deduced entanglement mathematically in the 1920s but had thought that the world couldn't work that way and so he was convinced that quantum theory was not correct or not yet complete. Einstein called entanglement "Spooky action at a distance" and said of the statistical nature of quantum mechanics that "God doesn't play dice with the universe". Subsequent experiments over the years have convinced quantum physicists that Einstein was wrong (was actually correct) and that entanglement does indeed exist. This book follows the science from the end of the 19th century to the present day and talks about each scientist that advanced the science along the way. The descriptions of some of the experimental equipment used to validate entanglement is pretty interesting. At the end of the book the topics of teleportation and quantum computing are touched upon. I'm sure a lot more work has been done in these areas since the book was written.

This is not the best writing I have ever read but the author does get his points across and that is saying something because of the complexity of the subject matter. The author has other books on physics topics which I might try to get at the library.
7. The Peoples History of the United States (1492 - present) - Howard Zinn - This is a rather amazing book that tries to tell history from the vantage point of common people and not from the perspective of the state or polical elites. It starts with how Columbus murdered, raped and pillaged the native peoples of the Caribbean in his quest for riches for the Spanish royalty. After reading this story you never want to think of Columbus as the hero and explorer that he has been made out to have been. The story continues with the history of slavery in the US and how from the first day of the US the rich business people (all men of course) have done what ever was necessary to get rich and stay rich without the slightest regard for those people being exploited. This part of the book will make you hate capitalism. As the book continues you find out that it is business that runs this country and that both political parties are nothing but ineffective pawns to business interests. And you find out that politicans will only help the common people when their interests align. Zinn said the only way possible to put our country back on track would be to 1) instigate a 90% tax on income above $1 mil / year as was done following WWII. 2) Disband the CIA because they mess with the internal policies of foreign countries all for US business interests and they have given America a bad name. 3) Create a new political party that really has the people's best interest in mind. 4) Slash the military budget by about 2/3rds and if that doesn't allow enough money for fighting wars, end the wars.

This is a big book with a lot of content which was gathered from non governmental sources over the time periods discussed. Reading this book made me sick when I realized the history I was spoon fed over the years really wasn't the real or the whole story. Everyone should read this book.
8. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (A JP Kinkaid Mystery) - Deborah Grabien - This is a murder mystery about rock musicians trying to record a CD for a record company. The Bombardiers have just lost their singer/guitar play to alcoholism and their record company is putting pressure on them because their new CD is very late. They enlist the talents of JP Kinkaid an english guitarist (partial to Les Pauls) with MS to partially fill in. JP is in a international band called Blacklight which has recently completed a world tour so he is game to help them out as they are old friends. He calls in his band mate (sexpot) Mac from Blacklight to do the singing. While starting work on the CD, Vinny their replacement guitar player is murdered and subsequently his roady and cousin is as well. The story details the life style of the rich and famous along with their trials and tribulations (there is a lot of discussion of illness, death and addiction).  Throughout the story there is talk of guitars and equipment and the lust some of us have for such things. PRS guitars and Zemaitis guitars play prominent roles in the story. The story takes place in the San Francisco Bay area and in Sausalito. It turns out that stolen art and greed caused the deaths and in the end the Bombardiers make a brilliant CD. This was a fun read because of all the band, equipment and guitar references. It might be boring for some people. The author has other books in this series that I will probably seek out.
9. We'll Be Here for the Rest of our Lives - Paul Shaffer (with David Ritz) - Paul Shaffer is the band leader for the David Letterman show. This book is about his life starting as a youth in Canada til the present day as a world renown band leader and musical personality. He talks about the gigs he has had (including music director for the Olympics) and all of the celebrities he has met (he drops names as often as possible) over the years. I ordinarily wouldn't have purchased a book like this but my Mother saw I had some interest in the book when we saw it on TV so she bought it for me. Paul has had an amazing life and has managed to hold his family together through it all. My hat is off to him.
10. Naked Earth (The New Geophysics) - Shawna Vogel - As the title says this book is about geophysics and the theories of how our Earth works. It talks about tomoseismology advancements that has allowed scientists to create maps of the layers of the Earth similar to MRI used on people. It talks about the theories that have sprung forth to explain the ananomolies seen in the maps and what could cause them. For example the discussion of anti terrains which are mountains and valleys they see at the mantle core boundry with the thought being that super hot iron under incredible pressure undergoes a strange mutation with the host rock (which is like rubies) to create a new material that may accumulate into great quantites and thus create the mountains. The theories of magmatic plumes that slowly rise to the surface of the Earth creating hot spots and basaltic lava flows was interesting. Most interestng of all was the discussion of Super Continents whereby all the land on Earth over time accumulates together and then the heat from the Earth  concentrates under this huge land mass causing it to stretch and finally break apart only to start the cycle over and over again. Very thought provoking. Finally, the concept that once land has been stressed by geologic forces it is forever subject to hot spot envasion or mid plate earthquakes was interesting as well. This is the current theory about the New Madrid Mississippi earthquakes that occur in the middle of the North American plate not at the boundries as most quakes do. This book was well written and the complex topics were well explained.
11. Build Your Own Electric Vehicle (Second Edition) - Seth Leitman and Bob Brant - Being an electrical engineer this book caught my eye at the library. I've never had any ideas of building an electric vehicle but I thought it might be interesting to read about the process. Boy was I correct. This book is an amazing resource for all aspects of designing and building your own vehicle. This book talks in great detail (including masses of equations) about the components used in electric cars and how they work including: battery types, controller types, electric motor types, battery chargers and everything else you need to know about before building an electric vehicle. The authors provide an amazing amount of information in this book including the complete conversion of a Ford Ranger truck to run on electricity. I'm tempted to go buy this book just to have it around. This book and its authors totally blew me away with the scope of their discussions. A+ for these guys.
12. Atomic Awakening - James Mahaffey - Mahaffey is a senor research scientist who has worked in nuclear engineering for almost three decades giving him the expertise and background to write this book. This is a book about the history of atomic energy from the first experiments by Marie Curie and Becquerel, through the development of the first nuclear reactor by Fermi in Chicago, through the Manhattan project during WWII and the subsequent bombings of Japan, to the development by Hyman Rickover of the pressurized water reactor (PWR) for submarines (which is still considered one of the safest nuclear reactors in existence) , the development of the hydrogen bomb, nuclear rocket engines and nuclear power for spacecraft, and the use of radiation to cure cancer. The author paints a clear picture of the successes and failures that have accompanied nuclear research from the very beginning. He draws upon lots of recently declassified documents to give the reader the real facts, not just what the government would like you to believe. He describes all of the known melt downs that have occurred (3 Mile Island, Chernobyl and Windscale Unit 1) and their amazingly limited impact on people and the environment. He describes one incident that occurred at a government reactor test site in Idaho where a reactor blew up and actually jumped out of the ground. The incident killed three people who became so radioactive that parts of their bodies had to be cut up and put into atomic waste vats for long term storage and their other remains had to be buried in lead caskets. It turns out that this was a murder suicide as two of the operators were chasing the same woman. He also describes the purpose of the Carlsbad, NM and the Yucca Mountain, NV nuclear waste storage sites. The author goes on to explain the advances that have been made in reactor design and discusses the fact that since 2006 there have been many permits issued for new nuclear power plants in the US. He also talks about how expensive building new plants are but that society is going to have to do it anyway to prevent further global warming. This was an interesting book for those interested in the subject matter.
13. The Road to Gandolfo - Robert Ludlum - This is a mildly entertaining novel about a plot to kidnap and ransom the Pope by an x American General who needed something to do with his life and the talents he learned while in command. Sam, a well meaning lawyer, is caught up in this mad mans plan but cannot seem to extricate himself. As it turns out this is the best thing that ever happened to the kidnapped Pope and it allowed him to recuperate from a medical condition that was to kill him. In the end the general decides his plan to ransom the Pope was not a total failure and because of this turns his attention to helping native Americans out of poverty. Like I said, mildly entertaining.
14. The War for Wealth - Gabor Steingart - This book is about capitalism. The kind practiced in the "social states" like the US and Western Europe and the raw kind practiced by India, China and other Asian countries. This is a cautionary tale about how China and India are over taking the US in economic output and innovation. Both India and China graduate more engineers and programmers per year than exist in the US. It tell of the disadvantages the western countries face when trying to compete with the government sponsored Asian economies. It also explains what has happen to middle/lower class American worker jobs as industry after industry have taken jobs off shore. These workers are now directly competing against workers in other countries that are willing to work for less than a dollar an hour and have absolutely no benefits. It also discusses the fact that middle class America is getting poorer, the lower class is becoming destitute while the upper class is getting substantially richer.

This book discusses a sad but interesting situation where middle/lower class Americans are going to Walmart to buy cheap goods (to enhance their standard of living)  but in doing so are promoting China/Asia's use of exploited labor with which the American worker is unsuccessfully competing. Buying goods at Walmart have taken their jobs away and continuing the practice will keep the job out of the US.

This book does not have good news for our way of life in the era of (unregulated) globalization and provides a good description of why the playing field is not level in todays global marketplace. It doesn't really have good news for China either as China is destroying its environment and people in its quest to go from an agrarian society to the biggest ever industrial producer in record time.  The author doesn't see an easy way out of this situation. His only real answer is for the US and the EU to merge and with that combined strength comes the ability to fight off the Chinese dominance that is, without a doubt, coming.
15. How To Win A Cosmic War (God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror) - Reza Aslan - Alsan is an American Muslim so he has a unique perspective on the Muslim mind. In this book he tries to get at the reasons that a global jihad has been declared on the west. He points out that globalization is partially to blame for the current terrorism problems as it has caused hundreds of thousands of Muslim to immigrate to Europe and America in the hope of a better life only to find that their way of life doesn't improve and they are not able to integrate into society. The one thought that I came away with after reading this book is that Islamic terrorists believe they are fighting a global war of good against evil that has been going on since the beginning of time. This is why these terrorists never have any demands that, if satisfied, would cause them to stop their struggle. They believe this war must be ongoing because evil (embodied by the west) is ongoing. The author points out these terrorists divide the world into those who fight world evil and those who don't and that those who don't fight (Muslim or otherwise) can and must be killed. The author also points out that there are Christian factions that believe exactly the same thing and believe the Constitution of the US should be thrown out and the Bible used as the basis of all laws. Luckily these people haven't as yet taken up arms. The author believes the only way to stop young Muslims from becoming radicalized is to raise their economic conditions by fostering democracy in all parts of the world. He slams George Bush for his war on terror that people of the middle east have equated to another Crusade to exterminate Islam. He also believes the election of Barrack Obama sent a signal to the Muslim world that maybe the US is not out to get all Muslims after all.
16. Hidden Empire - Orson Scott Card - This is the second book in the Empire series that I have read. It takes place after the civil war between the left and right has ended and things in the US have returned more or less to normal. An outbreak of a plague like flu occurs in Africa and the Americans want to quarantine the whole continent to keep it from spreading although they don't succeed. Christians in the US convince the president to allow them to go to Africa to help knowing that all of them will catch the flu and some will die. In the story a group of elite troops are given high tech robot like suits to test out by keeping the piece in Africa as the plague spreads. Because of the behind the scenes politics the reader is never sure if the US is in fact responsible for the plague and are using it to further the US adgenda. This was an OK book but nothing really special.
17. Mad Science - Experiments you can do at home but probably shouldn't - Theodore Gray - This book reminds me of when I was a kid and spent all of my time building stuff most of which blew up. The author Gray is a founder of Wolfram Research (makes of Mathematica and the Wolfram Alpha search engine) and a columnist for Popular Science (see and In this book he show some amazing experiments which as the title says you should probably not attempt. He has access to chemicals and equipment that most of us don't have but it was a fun read anyway. Many experiments do in fact explode, take place at liquid nitrogen temperatures,  burn very brightly or are poisonous, etc. I had fun reading this book of 53 experiments and you will to if you like this sort of thing.
18. Absolute Power - David Baldacci - A novel about presidential abuse of power. In this story, the president of the United States, has continuous extra martial exploits that he sees as his right because of the office he holds. His public face is one of caring and compassion, his private face is of a sexual deviate that likes to beat the women he beds. In the pivotal instance he beds the wife of a very rich businessman and friend when the friend is out of town. It just so happens that the house of the friend where the dalience takes place happens to be burglarized at the same time the president is having sex with the wife who in the beginning was really into him. As he gets violent with her, she starts to fight back and when she cannot get him to stop she stabs him with a letter opener. When he screams, the secret service agents outside rush in and kill the women. The burglar who is trapped in the walk in safe in the bedroom where the assault is talking place sees everything and knows it was self defense. The story then follows the coverup orchestrated by the president, his woman chief of staff and the two secret service agents who killed the woman. Needless to say the coverup comes apart and all involved are either dead or sent to prison. This was another good book by Baldacci. He knows how to spin a good story with good character development and a complex enough plot to be entertaining.
19. Biodiesel - Greg Pahl - As the title says this book is about biodiesel: its history, how it is made, who is making it and from what, which feedstocks are best (palm oil), what impact it could have on importation of foreign oil, the politics of biodiesel, etc. The book starts off with the story of Rudolf Diesel the inventor of the diesel engine and his mysterious demise. Some say he was murdered because he was telling the world about his wonderful engine. The author mentions two other books I will try to get at the library: "From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank: The Complete Guide to Using Vegetable Oil as an Alternative Fuel" by Joshua Tickell and "Biodiesel Homebrew Guide 2004" by Maria "Mark" Alovert. This was an interesting read about a topic I knew nothing about. I kinda want to go out and buy a diesel car and try to brew my own fuel. The book makes it sound easy (when the biodiesel is made from used cooking oil) and economical if you can get restaurants to give you the used oil. The author pointed out that people may detect the smell of french fries when you drive by. You might end up making everyone hungry.
20. The Elementary Particles - Michel Houellebeco - I picked this book up thinking it was about physics; boy was I mistaken. Despite the essentially elaborate scope of the plot revealed in the novel's conclusion (i.e. the eventual emergence of cloning as a replacement for the sexual reproduction  of the human race), the narrative focuses almost exclusively on the bleak and unrewarding day-to-day lives of the protagonists; two half-brothers who barely know each other. They seem devoid of love, and in their loveless or soon to be loveless journeys, Bruno becomes a saddened loner, wrecked by his upbringing and failure to mature, while Michel’s pioneering work in cloning removes love from the process of reproduction. Humans are proven, in the end, to be just particles and just as bodies decay (a theme in the book) they can also be created from particles. This was not a pleasant book to read and it contained a lot of pornographic descriptions of loveless sex that both brothers experienced. I'm glad I'm done reading it. One look at the author and you get an idea of why the book is the way it is. This book was originally written in French then translated into English.
21. Physics for Future Presidents - Richard A. Muller - This was an interesting book by a well known professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley. This book is based on his course of the same name which was voted "Best Class at Berkeley" by students. In this book he tries to spell out the facts and dismiss the myths that a future president will need understand in dealing with the problems of terrorism, energy, nukes and nuclear energy, space and global warming now and in the future. I read a lot about some of these topics and this book taught me a few things that I didn't know. His treatment of global warming (which he believes is happening) is the most unbiased examination of the facts that I have read to date. He also talks in detail about how atomic weapons are made and why it is unlikely that terrorist organizations will ever be able to make one from scratch. He does point out that the danger of a atomic bomb going off in the US is real but that the bomb would have to have been  purchased instead of being built. He talks alot about radioactivity in terms of fallout and nuclear waste and that the disposal of waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada is not as dangerous as people believe. In his discussion of space he points out that exploration using humans is both expensive and extremely dangerous and that robots are much better suited to such things. The author keeps the math to a minimum so that the lay person and even a future president of the US can understand the science in enough deal to make intelligent decisions. If you are interested in physics pertaining to these topics, you should read this book.
22. Out of the Crater - Chronicles of a Volcanologist - Richard V. Fisher - The subtitle of this book says it all. This book is a series of stories describing the author's travels around the world studying pyroclastic flows from some of the largest volcanic eruptions of all times.  Fisher taught geology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and was professor and mentor for some of the best known people in this field. This book was interesting because it documents the author's interest in geology from his early years in Whittier, Ca. till the end of his professional career. It sounds as if he had a good life as he and his wife traveled the world in search of volcanoes and the information he could gleem from them. The book was an interesting read for me as I'm a volcano nut.
23. Deliver Us From Evil - David Baldacci - Another exciting novel from Baldacci. In this story Shaw (the perfect man specimen, spy, agent) gets mixed up with a group of British citizens (represented by the equally beautiful Reggie) who have taken it upon themselves to find the truly evil people existing in the world and exterminate them. Shaw and his organization (CIA ?) are looking into a man (Evan Waller aka Fedir Kuchin) who is trafficking in young women and trying to sell nuclear materials to  Muslim extremists. This guy is evil incarnate. The British group is looking into killing Fedir Kuchin because of his activities for the KGB in Chechnya. When the attempt to kill Kuchin fails, Shaw and Reggie's organization start working together to get this guy and to prevent him from getting them. Most of the activity in this book occurs in Provence, France but the action winds up in Labrador. This book, like the other Baldacci books I have read, is fast paced and so exciting it was hard to put down. A good read.
24. The Sordid Tale of Murder, Fire, and Phosphorus - John Emsley - An interesting book about the checkered history of phosphorus, the thirteenth element. First isolated by alchemists from human urine by application of intense heat it was first thought to be able to convert lead to gold. Later white phosphorus was used to produce matches (the first portable fire) which were at first very dangerous and the cause of a serious disease called "phossy jaw" which disintegrates the teeth and jaw bone of the people who were dipping the matches. The book describes how phosphorus is a key to life as we know it (for both plants and us), how it was used as a medicine for 300 years before it was determined to be a deadly poison, some of the famous cases of phosphorus poisoning (usually women killing their husbands), how phosphorus was used as weapons of war (used to burn Hamburg Germany to the ground in WWII) and as the basis for nerve agents like sarin and VX, and later how it was used for cleaning our clothes and our mouths' (used in tooth paste). There is even a discussion of human spontaneous combustion and how it might happen because of various organic compounds containing phosphorus. Finally, this book presents the science of phosphorus in an easily understandable fashion.
25. The Whole Truth - David Baldacci - This book is the precursor to "Delivery Us From Evil" which I read previously. This story is about an arms manufacturer who attempts to restart the cold war so that his company can sell arms to all sides. To accomplish this he hires a Perception Management (PM) company to make up a story about a Russian man who is killed because of Russia returning to its pre democratic ways. The story is staged so that it looks like the Chinese are behind the lie which brings Russia and China to the brink of war. In this story Shaw looses his wife to be Anna because she happens to work for a firm who gets caught up in the middle of the lie. Tempers flare on all sides and Shaw wants revenge but he must first find out who is behind the conspiracy. A down on her luck reporter Katie James helps Shaw piece together the clues they need to eventually find the culprits. This was not the best Baldacci book I have read but it was OK. I might have liked it better if I had read it before reading "Deliver Us From Evil".
26. Able One - Ben Bova - This was a quick read and a decent story about a rogue element in the North Korean government which fire a nuke into geo synchronous orbit and destroys all of the satellites there. They eventually fire two more nukes as well but these are destroyed by an air borne laser. The story centers around the lives of the people in government who must deal with the political fallout and the geeks who run the laser. Nothing new or truely original about this story but it was well written.
27. The Paris Vendetta - Steve Berry - The story is about a group of ultra rich people called the Paris Club trying to profit by taking advantage of people's fear. This is not a new theme but is a take off on the idea (that circulates periodically) that there is a super secret organization somewhere in the world that is more powerful than governments and that is really running the show. In this story the leader of the Paris club, Eliza Larocque, uses an arms dealer, Peter Lyons, who almost blows up the Eiffel Tower to convince the French people that terrorism is at their doorstep. The main character Cotton Malone is together again with Henrik Thorvaldsen (the Danish millionaire) in this story. The background plot is about Napoleon and how he amassed treasures that he hid away and the means he used to convey the location of the treasures to his son. Berry does a good job of augmenting the history surrounding the Napoleon legend to fit his story needs. In the end Thorvaldsen is killed as he is trying to avenge the death of his son Cai which is how he and Malone got together in the first place. This is a decent book and a fast read.
28. Rock & Roll Never Forgets - Deborah Grabien - Another of the JP Kinkaid mysteries about the Blacklight guitarist JP Kinkaid and his complicated life. In this story a tabloid journalist decides to write an expose on Blacklight with the idea of digging up all of the dirt possible no matter what the cost to the band members. Turns out he gets himself killed in the dressing room of JP (with JP's metal guitar stand) while Blacklight was on stage giving a concert. Bree, JP's long time live in girl friend, is the primary suspect in the murder. Turns out the journalist was killed by JP's extranged wife and druggie who was displaced by Bree. This is the second JP Kinkaid novel I have read but the other one was better. In this story JP's MS is the main character in the story and it is a bit much. JP is always ready to pass out because of the stress and it got a little old.
29. The Romanov Prophecy - Steve Berry - A good story about Russia returning to tsarist rule after its failed attempt at capitalism. Berry presents an historically inspired, rather complex and fast moving story of the murder of Tsar Nicholas II and family; the last of the Romanovs. In this story two of the children, Alexie and Alexandra, escape the death squad and go into hiding in the US awaiting the resurrection of the Romanov dynasty. The main character, Miles Lord a black lawyer from Atlanta, is engaged by western business leaders to make sure the new tsar is free of scandal so as to better protect their investments in the new Russia. Behind the scenes a group of Russian business people, criminals, politicians and church officials want to install their own candidate (a distant Romanov) so they can control him and Russia.  Lord finds information leading to the possibility that a direct line Romanov might still be alive and he and his circus performer cohort then become targets of this secret group as they only want their candidate to be selected as the new tsar. Over and over in Russia and then in the US Lord barely escapes death. In the end Lord finds a real Romanov in the US and brings to an end the actions of the secret committee. I think I read this book before and didn't write it down but it was good enough to read again.
30. The Silent Sea - Clive Cussler - This is the first Clive Cussler book I have read and I enjoyed it as he is a good story teller. This is a story about Argentina and China teaming up to claim sovereignty over Antarctica so they could have access to its abundant mineral wealth. The story posits that a group of Chinese junks sailed all the way to Antarctica before Columbus discovered America and one ship was scuttled there because the crew became mad by eating humans. If the Chinese could find the remains of that ship it would prove their claim and the world could do nothing about it. If they succeeded, the Chinese would support the Argentinian claim and allow Argentina to take over most of South America. The Chinese would get oil and building contracts in perpetuity. The plot is foiled by a group of Americans referred to as the Corporation which is made up of x-military and scientific experts. The Corporation is funded in part by the CIA so that they do jobs the CIA doesn't want to take part in.  The Corporation has a rebuilt freighter (junk scow) called the Oregon which looks like crap from the outside but is state of the art internally. They use the Oregon and its two submersibles to blow up Argentina's oil production facility and rescue all of the international scientists (from the various research facilities around Antarctica) being held against their wills. As a result China pulls its support for Argentina and the plot collapses. I think I will read other Clive Cussler books in the Oregon series because I enjoyed this one.
31. True Blue - David Baldacci - A story about a x police woman named Mace who is trying to get her life back and to become a cop again after being framed for something she didn't do and sent to prison. Turns out she is the sister of the Washington D.C. police cheif and the daughter of a decorated D.A. who was killed in the line of duty. Mace thinks that if she can solve the murder of a female lawyer she might regain face and be allowed to rejoin the police force. The plot is rather complicated with lots of characters but in short a group of national security people cross the line in their attempts to keep America safe. They try to frame an old homeless soldier for the murder of the lawyer in the name of national security. Mace, her sister Beth the police chief and a lawyer named Roy team up to exonerate the homeless vet and trap the intelligence personal who have gone bad before they kill anyone else trying to cover up their money laundering scheme. I don't usually read books about police but since I've read practically everything Baldacci has written and enjoyed it I decided to read this. Turned out to be a good story as well.
32. The Chardonnay Charade (A wine country mystery) - Ellen Crosby - A decently written story involving a winery in Virginia with the owner, Lucy, being the main character. A mysterious murder of a local socialite has the whole area talking. The story focuses on the characters, their lives and their interactions after the murder while at the same time talking about life and work on a vineyard. Crosby has another book called The Merlot Murders which I will probably read as well.

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