Sex on the Moon

From  Rita Gross
Author:  Ben Mezrich
Sex on the Moon
This is the story of the theft of moon rocks from the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center laboratories, by an intern in the NASA Coop program.  Thad Roberts served 100 months in prison for the crime.  His capture and arrest was the result of a FBI sting operation.  The government was on to him from the beginning and we watch as he and his accomplices walk into the trap.  Mezrich is also the author of The Accidental Billionaires and Bringing Down the House.

The Big Short: inside the doomsday machine

From Rita Gross
author: Lewis, Michael
The Big Short: inside the doomsday machine
This book sheds light on the 2007-2008 crash of the real estate markets which resulted in our ongoing financial crisis. The author explains the development of the arcane derivative bonds whose collapse fueled the “great recession.”  He exposes the complicity of the brokerage, banks and ratings organizations that contributed to the fall.  The author follows a group of investors who foresaw the disaster- the “big short” refers to their bet against those derivatives which resulted in billions of dollars in gains for them

Ape House

From Rita Gross
author: Gruen, Sara
Ape House
Humans share 99.4 % of our DNA with bonobo apes. In this novel, by the author of Water for Elephants, we are introduced to a group of bonobos who are kidnapped from a linguistics laboratory where they are learning English and ASL. They are then put into a reality TV show (similar to Big Brother) called Ape House. A journalist covers the story of their abduction and unravels the mystery of the apes’ disappearance.

The Lonely Polygamist

From Rita Gross
author: Udall, Brady
The Lonely Polygamist
Golden Richards has four wives, twenty eight children, three homes, a failing business and a major mid-life crisis. Just multiply the entanglements of the usual American family novel by the power of four (at least), and you will have the depths of the problems that Golden Richards encounters. The story is told from the point of view of Golden, one wife, one child and a narrative voice. Sad and funny, it is a look inside an atypical way of life.

Hitler’s holy relics : a true story of Nazi plunder and the race to recover the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire

From Rita Gross
author: Kirkpatrick, Sidney D. 
Hitler’s holy relics : a true story of Nazi plunder and the race to recover the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire
At the end of the war, Lt. Walter Horn is charged with investigating the disappearance of the crown jewels of the Holy Roman Empire, and retrieving them.  As the story of their recovery unfolds, we learn of their sinister deeper symbolic meaning to the Nazis and Hitler.  The book follows his pursuit of the relics, and the uncovering of the plot that would have used them to imbue resurgent Nazis with mythic qualities.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet

From Rita Gross
author: Mitchell, David
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet 
Jacob De Zoet, to prove himself worthy of his wealthy fiancé, travels to Japan to make his fortune.  In the final years of the 18th century Japanese trade is closed to all but the Dutch East India Company.  To complicate matters, Jacob falls in love with the daughter of a Samurai, and the British want to open Japan for trade.  Wonderful writing and rich historic detail make this a very satisfying read.

Homer & Langley

From Rita Gross
author: Doctorow, E. L.
Homer & Langley
Homer & Langley is a fictionalized account of the lives of two reclusive brothers who lived and died in their brownstone home in NYC.  They  are found buried under tons of old newspapers in their booby trapped house. The societal changes taking place around them are told in Forrest Gump-like episodes which superficially touch their lives.

The Other Wes Moore: One Name Two Fates

From Rita Gross
author: Moore, Wes
The Other Wes Moore: One Name Two Fates
The author was born in Baltimore, just blocks away from another young man with the same name.  They share many of the same experiences and life situations, growing up without fathers in a time of rampant drug violence.  The author became a Rhodes Scholar, served in the United States Armed Forces, was White House Fellow and today is a prominent businessman. The other Wes Moore is serving a life sentence for armed robbery and murder.
These men’s stories are told in parallel narratives, showing us step by step the paths their lives followed.  What were the defining moments that led to the divergence?  What were the choices that led to their ultimate fates?  Who in their lives influenced their behavior?  What role does one’s environment play?  This book describes the lives of a generation of young, urban Black teenagers and raises many questions about the choices we make early in life and their ultimate outcomes.

Conspirata : a novel of ancient Rome

From Rita Gross
author:  Harris, Robert
Conspirata : a novel of ancient Rome
This is the second installment of a trilogy about the last days of the Roman Republic.  Imperium, the first volume, depicts Cicero’s rise to power in the Senate.   Conspirata picks up the story as Cicero is serving his term as Consul.  Both books are narrated by Tiro, who is Cicero’s slave and private secretary. Tiro is credited with the invention of short hand, writing Cicero’s biography and is an eyewitness to all that unfolds.

The year of Cicero’s Consulate is plagued by treachery.  Enemies plotting against the Republic and Cicero’s life proliferate.  The political maneuverings are full of twists and turns and could serve as a textbook for political intrigue.  This is a gripping page turner.  I highly recommend both of these books to anyone who enjoys a thrilling read.

Getting organized in the Google era : how to get stuff out of your head, find it when you need it, and get it done right

From Rita Gross
author: Douglas Merrill and James A. Martin
Getting organized in the Google era : how to get stuff out of your head, find it when you need it, and get it done right
I think most of us have felt overwhelmed in the face of the information barrage that we face daily in our professional and personal lives.   In Getting Organized in the Google Era, the author lets us off the hook, by explaining that our brains are just not biologically able to accommodate the amount of information that we now require to conduct our lives.   He finds the remedy for this predicament in Google Apps, and explains how to use those digital tools to stay organized.