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What Are Buzz Residents Reading?: Caren McKinnie

Cindy Burnett
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Caren McKinnie

Caren McKinnie recently read and enjoyed The Codebreaker’s Secret by Sara Ackerman. 

This week, I interviewed Buzz resident Caren McKinnie about what she has read recently and loved. She selected The Codebreaker’s Secret by Sara Ackerman. The book opens when Isabel Cooper is sent to Pearl Harbor’s Station HYPO, its code breaking center, to help break the Japanese Magenta codes. Angry that her brother was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, Isabel believes the only way she can avenge her brother’s death is to crack these codes. Two decades later, a young journalist is sent to Hawaii to cover the opening of the Rockefeller’s latest project, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, where she uncovers a wartime secret that she must work to unlock.

One of my favorite authors, Elise Hooper, raves about The Codebreaker’s Secret: "In this clever dual-timeline novel, Ackerman writes about two smart, adventurous women solving a captivating historical mystery, all set against the tropical beauty of Hawai'i during World War II and the 1960s. When I finished this book, I was more than ready to book a one-way ticket to the Big Island.” 

This book was a September 2022 Buzz Reads pick for me so I was excited to see that Caren liked it as well.

Here is what Caren has to say about it:

What is the best book you have read recently?

A recent favorite is The Codebreaker’s Secret by Sara Ackerman.

What did you like about it? What made it stand out to you? 

I am a sucker for historical fiction with compelling characters, a little mystery never hurts either, and this book fits the bill. While this story takes place during WWII, which is more recent history, it is still no less fascinating to be confronted with how far women have come in the last 80 years. Diving into the world in different times and spaces and then pondering how I would react is an intriguing exercise.

However, the real hook for me for this particular story is the location. Much of the book takes place in Hawaii, and specifically at a hotel that I have been visiting since I was 8 years old and that my family has gone to since before I was born. The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is truly my “happy place” and I so thoroughly enjoyed seeing it come alive on the pages, recognizing all of the landmarks that the characters are discovering. It was so fun and really makes me want to plan our next visit!

How did you learn about the book?

I do almost all of my reading on a Nook and, to be honest, I think The Codebreaker’s Secret came up on the “recommended for you” list that is generated by the algorithms at Barnes and Noble. Score one for the AI here because I did enjoy the read. 

What are you reading now?
I am just about to start Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. Taking a break from the historical part and going with the mystery and a little magic, also a great combination in my opinion. 

I would love to hear what you are reading! Feel free to drop it in the comments below.

For more book recommendations and bookish thoughts, see Cindy’s monthly Buzz Reads column, her Thoughts from a Page Podcast or follow @ThoughtsFromaPage on Instagram. Find upcoming Conversations from a Page events here.

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