A Look At My Week

Hi everyone. Thanks for joining me. I’ve had a super-busy reading week. I read three books plus half of another book. They are all by the same authors, Catheerine Coulter and J.T. Ellison. I got myself into this whole reading mania by not paying close attention when choosing a book on NetGalley. I saw The Devil’s Triangle by Catherine Coulter and the discussion about it being a part of the “Brit in the FBI” series. I saw this as the beginning of a series. Imagine my surprise when I learned this was the fourth book! Since I’d already agreed to read The Devil’s Triangle I started in on it. Right away I really liked it so I decided I’d pause and go back and read the first three books. I’m really glad I did. Let me tell you about them.

The “Brit” in the FBI is Nicholas Drummond, a Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector. He’s quite the dashing dude, often compared to James Bond. He is paired with Michaela (Mike) Caine. Mike is not a wimp. She’s the female version of James Bond. Nicholas and Mike are good partners and there’s a hint of a spark between them. They are the main characters in each novel, but there are a couple of other FBI agents from Ms. Coulter’s previous FBI books that show up occasionally. Here’s a summary of each of the first three novels:

The Final Cut introduces Nicholas and Michaela. They meet each other in New York and work together when the major diamond in the Queen’s crown is stolen. It’s on loan to a New York museum. Its an intricately planned theft. In addition there’s an ancient story and a subplot involving the history of the diamond and features all the thieves. Very interesting. The two FBI agents find themselves up against a very crafty thief, the Fox. At the end Nicholas is asked to join the FBI.

The Lost Key  reads like a complicated spy novel with plenty of action. It all starts with the killing of a simple ancient-book seller. It turns out that was just a cover. The man was part of a secret international cartel of highly placed men. Their goal has been to find a sunken U-boat that is hiding gold bullion and a secret scientific formula that could lead to someone’s world domination. There’s also a super-evil guy who has no qualms about taking advantage of all of this.

The End Game is just plain scary because it involves the bombing of U.S. power grids and oil refineries. One group is responsible, but the FBI is having a hard time zeroing in on them. Fortunately Nicholas is a world-class hacker whose skills are well known among other key hackers. That and good detective work will hopefully help the FBI stop them before a rumored big job is launchrd and the Vice President is assassinated.

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In addition to all that reading, I watched the fifth season of Vera staring Brenda Blethyn. I borrowed the Dvd’s from my local library. Someone at the library must be a big Ann Cleeves fan because the library has purchased quite a few copies of Ann Cleeves books (the two main series) and Dvd’s for the two TV shows based on Ann Cleeves books.

The stories for Vera are always terrific – complicated and creative, but there are two things I really love: the North Umberland scenary and the amazing Brenda Blethyn. She has such a unique way of getting suspects to open up to her. It’s hard to believe she is the same actree who played Mrs. Bennet in my favorite movie version of Pride and Prejudice (the 2005 version with Kiera Knightly). There are two more seasons of Vera, according to IMDb, but I’ll have to wait for those. The library doesn’t have them. Does anyone know if they’re been shown on PBS yet?

That’s what my week was liker. What have you been reading and/or watching? Anything you canrecommend?

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Wondrous Words #387

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.

While reading The Atlantic Monthly I saw these new words:

1. illiberalism: The preconditions are present in the U.S. today. Here’s the playbook Donald Trump could use to set the country down a path toward illiberalism.

I figured I knew the meaning of this word, but I wasn’t sure. I checked the dictionary and found that illiberalism (i(l)ˈlib(ə)rəl) means opposed to liberal principles; restricting freedom of thought or behavior. Now that I think about it, I should have known it.

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2. kleptocracy: Viktor Orbán of Hungary, the late Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, and Jacob Zuma of South Africa all turned their countries away from liberal democracy and toward kleptocracy.

Kleptocracy is the type of government that uses power to steal the country’s resources.

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That’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

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What Am I Reading? The Devil’s Triangle

Right now I’m on a marathon-read of Catherine Coulter’s latest series: A Brit In the FBI. The books are quite good mystery/thrillers. I’ve read the first two books and am now on Books #3 and #4 – The Devil’s Triangle.  There’s a connection to something by Leonardo DaVinci. The opening features one of the world’s best jewel thieves, although I suspect she’s now focusing in on the DaVinci item:

Chapter One

Kitsune stood on the Rialto Bridge and watched the sun flash against the waves of the lagoon. She enjoyed the early mornings in Venice, before the summer crowds flooded into the city. She watched pigeons peck the ground for yesterday’s crumbs, watched a row of tethered gondolas bob in the heavy sea swell. There would be a storm soon—she tasted it in the air. She looked at her watch. It was time to go. Her client had instructed her to take a water taxi to the San Zaccaria dock, then walk to the house.

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

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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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My Week . . .

Hi everyone. Thanks for stopping by to see what I’ve been up to this week. I’m happy to tell you I had another great reading week. I read two more of my “Best – So Far” books. Here’s the first one, a TLC Tour book.

A good friend of mine told me early last year that she was tired of all the World War II novels. She said she would no longer read any book based on that historic event. I tried to reason with her but I had no luck. I’ve pointed out various novels I’ve read since then that are flat-out superb even though they are set during the Second World War.

Now I have one more to tell my friend about. The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, I will tell her, is about a small group of women in England and how they cope with various challenges in life. Some of the challenges are related to the war – there aren’t very many men around, and the nazis fly over their village scaring everyone. But, there’s also the drama of a baron who is demanding that his wife give birth to a boy, women raising children on their own and a thirteen-year-old girl who has a crush on a young man who actually wants to marry her sister. There’s also so many negative emotions such as grief, fear, depression, etc. When the vicar cancels the choir because there are enogh men siongers, its the last straw for the women. They form their own “ladies choir.”

This is an epistolary novel which means its told by way of letters, diaries and journals. Don’t let that put you off. Each document is told in first-person and is very complete with a multitude of details including lots of dialogue. There’s a good variety between the characters who “tell” their side of the story.

This book is available in hardcover, paperback, e-reader and audiobook. I read part of the book on my kindle, but as soon as the audio version was available I went back and listened to the whole thing. It was such a good audio that I can say this: The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, in my opinion, is the year’s Best Audiobook – So Far. I loved each one of the SIX narrators. They really makes each character unique. The icing on the cake was the addition of singing by a women’s choir during some key moments in the story.
The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan is an excellent and well-told story. For a special treat, listen to it.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of it all. For other stops on the book tour, go here: The Chilbury Ladies Choir Tour Schedule

tlc tour host

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If The Chilbury Ladies Choir wasn’t good enough, I also read/listened to A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman. What an amazingly well-told story. The whole story revolves around Ove, a 59-year-old man who is so sad after the loss of his beloved wife that he sincerely wants to just die and go join her. Fortunately for Ove, there were enough people and events to keep Ove distracted from his goal.

The character of Ove is so different (not in a bad way) that it was enough to keep everyone in the book club talking about his personality. He reminded me a little of a person with Aspergers, but not exactly. We also analyzed  the other characters in the book. I loved the pregnant neighbor and her little girls, the cat, and the boys at rhe cafe.

I can’t believe I was afraid we’d have nothing to talk about with this book. I was wrong. We went on and on. Every single member loved this book and we each vowed to read more of this author. If you are one of the few who haven’t read this book yet, I strongly suggest you do so now. There’s also a movie based on the book that two book club members saw and thought it was very good.

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What I Watched:

I watched Death Comes To Pemberley this week on Netflix. Its one of the many stories based off of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. In this case the story was, in turn, based on a book written by the great mystery writer P.D. James. (Murder Comes To Pemberley)

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy have been happily married for about six years. They are preparing for an annual ball when unwelcome guests arrive along with a dead body. This brings back Wickham and Kitty into their lives causing a great deal of stress and strain on Elizabeth and Darcy’s marriage.

This was originally a TV mini-series produced by BBC. Its a three-part story that’s about 50 minutes long for each part. Overall, meaning the acting, story, and setting, was pretty good. The two people playing Elizabeth and Darcy wouldn’t have been my choice to play the characters.(I’m a Keira Knightly fan.) What I did love was the setting. They used Chatsworth House, the same estate used in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film, the one staring Keira Knightley. It’s the external picture of Derbyshire, Darcy’s estate and now Elizabeth’s home as well.

I’ve been watching way too much politics on TV, so this three-night watching of Death Comes To Pemberley was a nice change of pace.

Well, that’s my week. I hope you’ve had a good week as well.

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Wondrous Words #386

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 found a couple of new words while reading an article on Politico.com

1. impugning: The Republican-controlled chamber voted 49-43 to uphold a ruling that the Massachusetts Democrat violated Senate rules that prohibit impugning another senator as she delivered a lengthy speech against the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as the nation’s attorney general.

Impugn (imˈpyo͞on) is a verb meaning dispute the truth, validity, or honesty of motive, call into question.

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2. obfuscate: An anchor from a different network said Conway hasn’t been invited on the anchor’s show for months, saying the viewer gets “nothing out of her” because “she constantly obfuscates and misrepresents the truth.”

I thought obfuscate meant to misrepresent something, but the sentence above said something different so I looked it up. The dictionary says that obfuscate means to render obscure, unclear, or unintelligible. Also to bewilder someone.

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That’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

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What Am I Reading? A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I’m just about done reading A Man Called Ove. I’ve noticed that many fellow bloggers have read and enjoyed this book. This is a book club choice and, right now, I’m not sure there’s going to be enough in this book to talk about. Has anyone else read this as a book club choice? Was it successful?

Here’s the opening paragraph:

1.
A MAN CALLED OVE BUYS A COMPUTER

THAT IS NOT A COMPUTER

Ove is fifty-nine.

He drives a Saab. He’s the kind of man who points at people he doesn’t like the look of, as if they were burglars and his forefinger a policeman’s flashlight. He stands at the counter of a shop where owners of Japanese cars come to purchase white cables. Ove eyes the sales assistant for a long time before shaking a medium-sized white box at him.

“So this is one of those O-Pads, is it?” he demands.

 

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

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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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A Look At My Week:

Hi Everyone. Thanks for stopping by to check on my activities this week. I had a superb week – yes, superb. Let me tell you about it.

What I Read:

I attended a meeting of one of my book clubs this week. Americanah was the book club choice – not my choice, but I’m so glad the choice was made. This book is rich is characters and themes while still being interesting and a good plot. It took me to a world I would never know any other way. It was more than a great book – It was a great experience.

As the novel opened we met the main character, Ifemelu. She’s a young woman who has come to America from Nigeria to go to college. In Part One, through flashbacks we learn about Ifemelu’s life in Nigeria and we learn about Obinze, Ifemelu’s serious boyfriend since high school. Ifemelu and Obinze were both excellent observers. They paid attention to the various cultural and political aspects of Nigeria and America and, for Obinze, Britain. They were eager to leave Nigeria for what they perceived as better opportunities, but of course, they missed home.

Americanah made for an excellent book club discussion. We analyzed the two main characters: how, or if, they changed after their time abroad; the difference in Nigerian childhoods and American. Race was an important isues in the book. In Nigeria there was just one race, but in America Ifemelu found the subject complex, especially among African Americans. Although she looked like them, Ifemelu was not an African American. She was an African living in Anerica. That was very thought provoking. We also had a fun discussion around our take on the various cultural differences in the two countries. There was plenty to discuss so, if you’re looking for a book club choice, I can strongly recommend Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi.

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The other book I read was a really good memoir: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. I couldn’t find his exact birth date, but Mr. Vance looks to be a young man, so this is not a long-life memoir. What makes this book so dynamic is the very open revelation of his life in small-town Kentucky and Ohio. His dad was not present in his life and, although his mom was around, she was not an effective parent. He credits his “mamaw” as the positive parent in his life. Vance says his up-bringing was not unusual in his area. He was very open in his discussion of the dynamics at work among what he calls the “hillbillies.” Vance’s story of his path to law school at Yale was heartwarming. Definitely, read A Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.

I know we’re only a couple months into the year. but I’d like to name both of these books as BEST OF THEW YEAR – SO FAR. Until something better coms along, Americanah is my Best Book Club Choice and Hillbilly Elegy is my Best Non Fiction. Yep – I had a really good reading week.c

What I Watched:

I spent a lot of my mental time this week in Africa. A friend at book club recommended this PBS Special that ran this week on three nights. I was amazed at the depth of all the historical and anthropological information given and the beautiful film-work.

The show, Africa’s Great Civilization, began with new-and-surprising-to-me information about the discovery in Africa of a human body that dates back to 200,000 years ago making this the oldest homo sapiens discovered. Experts on the show point to multiple evidence that civilization began right there in Africa. The show then looks into all the history, art, geography and so many anthropological aspects of Africa.

Africa’s Great Civilization is hosted by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. I love his voice and his manner throughout. There are also many experts who weigh in at various points in the discussion. I really enjoyed this documentary. I believe you can still view this online at PBS.org or if your television set-up has an on-demand feature. Our on-demand system says it will be available until March 27.

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Overall, I had a great week. I loved my time in Africa and the hill country of America. The good news on the weather front is that we had sunny days every day this past week. Woo-hoo! It was so nice to see the sun and the blue skies again. Our rivers and creeks are going down gradually. We are cautious, however, because when mountain thawing time starts in the next couple of months, they will be filling those rivers and creeks again. All of this is good news for our formerly drought-ridden land.

Everyone: I hope you have a great week ahead.

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Wondrous Words #385

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.

It seems like I’ve looked this one up before, but I don’t remember. I found it in a NY Times Opinion newsletter:

1. xenophobic: “Trump is governing in full accordance with the xenophobic nationalism that drove his campaign,”

Xenophobic (zēnəˈfōbēə) is a noun meaning intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.

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I found this word in a book I’m currently reading, The Chilbury Ladies Choir.

2. crump:  “Holy, holy, holy” limped out as if we were a crump of warbling sparrows.”

This story is set in England so perhaps crump is a British term, but its actually in the dictionary. Crump is a loud thudding sound, especially one made by an exploding bomb or shell.

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That’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

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What Am I Reading? The Chilbury Ladies Choir

I’m listening to an excellent audio version of a historical novel: The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan. The story is set in a small village in Britain in the early years of World War II. Here’s the opening paragraph:

Mrs. Tilling’s Journal

Tuesday, 26th March, 1940

First funeral of the war, and our little village choir simply couldn’t sing in tune. “Holy, holy, holy” limped out as if we were a crump of warbling sparrows. But it wasn’t because of the young scoundrel Edmund Winthrop torpedoed in his submarine, or even the Vicar’s abysmal conducting. No, it was because this was the final performance of the Chilbury Choir. Our swan song.

“I don’t see why we have to be closed down,” Mrs. B. snapped afterward as we congregated in the foggy graveyard. “It’ not as if we’re a threat to national security.”

 

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

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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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