My Week In Review . . .

Hi everyone. Thanks for stopping by. I’ve had a lovely, quiet week — except for the excitement of Halloween. I read two books that I enjoyed so much. They are both going to rank high among my year’s favorites.

Giant of the Senate by Al Franken was, for me, a five-star book. I’m a politics-junkie anyway, but this is way above politics. Al Franken is currently one of the senators from Minnesota, but probably best known among my generation for his work on Saturday Night Live. So, although I’ve been a fan, this is the first time I’ve read any of his books. (There are nine.)

There were many things I didn’t know about Al Franken, but was happy to learn. I did know he is an excellent writer and super smart, but I didn’t know he graduated from Harvard. I also didn’t realize the depth of his knowledge on law, government and culture. It has helped him in his career in the senate — at least enough to get him re-elected for a second term. The book ranges widely from his childhood to his early comedy work, his marriage, his first campaign and the narrow vote, and then the varied subjects he’s worked on during his senate years. Most important, I think, is that I realized Al Franken is a common-sense guy who cares about people.

I borrowed the audiobook from the library, which is probably the best way to read this book. The author reads the book himself and, since he is well known for his comedic timing, so his narration is excellent on this audio. I have strongly recommended this book to many already and will do the same hear. I laughed a great deal while reading the book while at the same time shaking my head at all I was learning. Everyone should take a look at this book.

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I also read Seeing Red by Sandra Brown. I started reading Ms Brown’s books back when she wrote simple romance novels. Then she moved into thrillers and mysteries and I followed along. This book is a combination mystery/romance. Just to be different, let me start with the things I didn’t like: In addition to lots of F-words, there were the goopey-sex scenes. Okay, maybe I’m a prude, but most of this was icky. My advice: skip those pages or fast-forward the audio. I also thought the story was too long. It could have been 100-pages shorter.

What I did like was the actual story. One of the main characters, Kiera, was a TV Journalist who came to Dallas for a live interview with the hero of a twenty-five-year-old bombing. When she and the hero are seriously attacked, the hero’s son, John, steps in. He’s a former ATF agent and, of course, tall and handsome and smart. He rescues Keira and they are on the run from unknown opponents who want them dead. John has a few friends and some creative ways to help them escape while still working to uncover the truth of what’s happening. Overall, I liked it in spite the icky sex scenes. It was a true mystery for me as I didn’t figure out the bad guys until the very end.

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Away From My Blog:

We had a great Halloween thanks to our four-year-old grandson. His enthusiasm for Halloween was infectious. He is on the right in the picture above. He decided a month ago that for his costume he would be an excavator. Yes, the “large machine for removing soil from the ground, especially on a building site.” He’s a big fan of the Mighty Machines films, so it was a natural choice. One of his grandmothers (not me) is super-creative when it comes to costumes, so she created the yellow machine you see him wearing above. The lights in the front actually were real, so he could visit the neighbors after dark and shout “Trick or Treat!” He was so excited with the bag of goodies he brought home. The excitement lasted all week! He will probably follow the opinions of all three of my children — they all claim Halloween as their favorite holiday, second only to Christmas. I hope you had a fun holiday too.

Until next week, Happy Reading!

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Wondrous Words #415

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

  1.  As I heard on the news:

synchronic: “There are a number of news items that can only be called synchronic.

Synchonic ( siNGˈkränik ) means concerned with something, especially a language, as it exists at one point in time

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2.  This word came from a blurb for a new book, Disrobed by Syl Tang. I’ll be reviewing the book next week for a TLC Book Tour.

presage: Why do banker’s wives sell off their clothes and how does that presage a recession?

Presage (ˈpresijprəˈsāj) is a verb  that means to be a sign or warning that something, typically something bad.

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That’s all for me this week. Don’t forget to visit Kathy for more Wondrous Words Wednesday.

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First Paragraph: Seeing Red

firstparagraphEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first paragraph of a book currently being read. Feel free to join the fun.

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I’m an old – uh, make that a long-time reader of Sandra Brown. I still remember some of her earlier, cheesy-yet-fun romance novels. I loved it when she veered over toward the thriller market. Seeing Red is a good combination of mystery, thriller, and romance. Here’s how it begins:

 

Prologue

“Did you think you were going to die?”

The Major pursed his lips with disapproval. “That question wasn’t on the list I approved.”

“Which is why I didn’t ask it while the cameras were rolling. But there’s no one here now but us. I’m asking off the record. Were you in fear of your life? Did dying cross your mind?”

“I didn’t stop to think about it.”

 

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The Last Few Weeks . . .

Thanks for stopping by. We are back to whatever “normal” is after two weeks of scary fire storms. Nearly everyone I’ve talk to was affected by the fires, either through the death of a loved one, the loss of a home and/or a job. Personally, our family, friends are neighbors are all safe, although the two medical buildings where I go were burned and my favorite Trader Joe’s. Everyone will rebuild. It will just require time. We did have a nice day of rain which helped wth the fires and the hopes of residents. It brought my family back to doing normal things like reading.

I’ve been reading the novels of William Kent Krueger for two years now. With only two exceptions, all his novels are mysteries staring Cork O”Connor, a former sheriff in northern Minnesota. Prior to this month I had read nine books. I know the author just released his latest book (the sixteenth) in August and I’ve been feeling the need to catch up. So I challenged myself to complete as many as possible. I managed to complete four books.

The main thing I like about these books are the characters. Cork O’Connor is a private investigator who loves his family, his small town, and the great wilderness that is northern Minnesota. Cork also has strong personal values and tries to practice the wisdom taught him by Henry Meloux, his wise mentor and friend from the Ojibwe tribe.

Within the series we get to know the whole O’Connor family. The mystery in each book is usually something that has come up naturally within the story. Cork has three children – now all teenagers when I begin Thunder Bay. Henry Meloux is in every book as is the local sheriff and deputies. Various other characters show up from time to time and it’s always nice to see them.

Each book tells a different story. In Thunder Bay Henry Meloux asks Cork to find his long-lost son. He traces him to Thunder Bay in Canada, but soon Henry’s life is threatened. Could it be his son trying to kill him?

In Red Knife, Cork is caught in the middle of a conflict involving a powerful white father and his people and an Ojibwe gang. The father’s daughter died from her meth addiction which the father believes is the fault of an Ojibwe gang who supplied the meth. Cork tries to find the truth of the execution style murder before a war breaks out in his county.

My favorite book of this foursome is Northwest Angle. The whole O’Connor family is on a houseboat vacation when a freak storm descends and leads Cork and his oldest daughter, Jenny, to discover the dead body of a yoiung woman and, nearby, an infant daughter still alive. First the family tries to figure out who the woman and baby are and then they find them selves caught in a strange war between an island compound of religious “end-of-days” people and gun-toting locals. Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, and what is going on?

Trickster’s Point, the fourth book I read is chock full of mysterious clues and tons of who-and-how-did-they-do-it. Cork is invited to go hunting with a childhood friend who is running for governor. They are way out in the wilderness when the friend is killed with an arrow that is an exact duplicate of Cork’s. Lots of folks believe this to be an open and shut case with Cork as the guilty party. Cork has to hustle to get through all the various options. This was really complicated.

As you can see this is an excellent series, well worth exploring. Because the characters grow, start at the beginning with Iron Lake.

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Away From the Blog:

How lovely it was to get out to the movies this week! (Our favorite movie theater was spared during the fires.) My husband and I saw Victoria and Abdul. I am a Judi Dench fan, so I was excited to see she was staring in this new movie. Ms. Dench plays the British queen, Victoria, in the later years of her reign. Judi Dench was perfect in the role and, as you can see from the picture, quite beautiful. Victoria was queen over the great British Empire which covered a great deal of the world. The movie featured her during the last years of her life when, I think, she was bored with all the ceremony of being the queen. And then along comes a man, Abdul, from India to present her with a ceremonial coin. Victoria saw something different in Abdul and she asked him to be her teacher. A friendship grew from that, but her family and household resented Abdul. After all, he was of a different race and religion. I liked the story and, in particular, the photography of somer specular scenery. There is another point of view on this movie: My husband thought it was slow and it dragged a lot. Be warned: there are no car chases in this movie. However, if you’re a Judi Dench fan, go see her in this movie.

That’s it for me this week. Happy Reading everyone.

 

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Wondrous Words #414

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

Frisson: This word seemed strange to me when I saw it in a blurb for the Val McDermid version of Northanger Abbey:

“In Northanger Abbey, she delivers her own, witty, updated take on Austen’s classic novel about a young woman whose visit to the stately home of a well-to-do acquaintance stirs her most macabre imaginings, with an extra frisson of suspense that only McDermid could provide.

Thanks to Wikipedia Dictionary, I learned that frisson (frēˈsôn) is French for shiver. The picture shows the physical effects of frisson — goosebumps. In addition, frisson means a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear.

 

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That’s all for me this week. Don’t forget to visit Kathy for more Wondrous Words Wednesday.

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First Paragraph: Giant Of The Senate

I’m back! We survived all the fire storms, although many around us did not. It was scary and disrupted our lives for a soloid two weeks. Fortunately, we still have our lives and our homes. Thanks so much to everyone who sent prayers and good wishes our way. I appreciate your thougtfulness.

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firstparagraphEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first paragraph of a book currently being read. Feel free to join the fun.

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I just finished reading a book that is probably going to be one of my favorites of 2017. Its Al Franken’s Giant Of the Senate. It is, of course, fun, but its also interesting and a heart-tugger. I’ve already told my kids this is required reading. Here’s how it starts:

 

Foreword
An Optimist’s Guide to Politics

In the eight years since I came to Washington, probably the question I’ve been asked more than any other is some version of this “Is being a United States senator as much fun as working on Saturday Nigfht Live?”

The answer has always been NO!!! Why would it be?

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

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We’re Having a Few Problems

I live in Windsor, California which is a few miles north of Santa Rosa where 1500 structures were burned down and many people died. There are still non-contained fires north and east of our town. Our homes are still standing, but we have been on “Evacuation Watch” since early Monday morning. We each have a suitcase of clothes and bags of medications and other important items packed in the vehicles. We can be on the road within minutes. And all the neighbors are watching out for each other.

The photo above was taken about 10 a.m. over the top of our neighbor’s house. That’s how thick with smoke our skies are.

It definitely has been an experience which is not yet over. The devastation in Santa Rosa included the tower for our TV and Internet service. At the same time all gas was turned off which means no hot water or cooking/baking, except for electrical appliances. And then this morning, the electricity went down – for about five hours. What are we doing? Using camping gear, playing board games. and reading. All of this is inconvenient for sure, but we are not complaining. Our property and lives are still in tact. We are very thankful.

I’m posting this while I still have a little window of time with the internet and/or electricity. Joyfully Retired will be quiet until things are back to normal. Don’t worry about us. We’re fine.

 

Posted in This and That | 6 Comments

Wondrous Words #413

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

I was reading an article on Wikipedia about the author Rex Stout when I found this new-to-me word:

corpus: “The Nero Wolfe corpus was nominated Best Mystery Series of the Century . . .”

I should have know this from the context, but I looked it up. I learned that corpus means a collection of written texts, especially the entire works of a particular author or a body of writing on a particular subject.

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That’s all for me this week. Don’t forget to visit Kathy for more Wondrous Words Wednesday.

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First Paragraph: Trickster’s Point

firstparagraphEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first paragraph of a book currently being read. Feel free to join the fun.

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I’m on a William Kent Krueger/Cork O’Connor roll. So far this week I’ve read three of his novels in the series and I’m current reading “Trickster’s Point. Before you ask, the answer is yes, I really like this series.

 

PROLOGUE

The dying don’t easily become the dead.

Even with an arrow in his heart, Jubal Little took three hours to die. Politician that he was, most of that time he couldn’t stop talking. At first, he talked about the arrow. Not how it got there—he believed he knew the answer to that—but arguing with Cork over whether to try to pull it out or push it through. Corcoran O’Connor did neither.

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

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