Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Netflix Led Me to Jo Nesbo

Dear Readers,

I am a Toastmaster who likes to read. I am pausing from my reading to meet my Toastmasters challenge. My challenge is to create 8 compelling blog posts this month. “Compelling” suggests that my posts need to be interesting and engaging. This is my fourth post to date.

What am I reading? The Redbreast , a crime novel featuring a character called Harry Hole, by a Norwegian writer; Jo Nesbø. I had heard about this writer but can not recall ever reading any of his books.  Recently, I came across a TV series 🎥 🍿 on Netflix called Occupied and read that one of the creators was Jo Nesbø. I watched 3 seasons over a three day weekend. It was scary, full of political drama, and I could not stop watching. Scary because the Russians were insidiously occupying Norway and manipulating the Norwegian government. Scary because it seemed like life could possibly imitate art, the storyline seemed so realistic. In fact, in real life I read that the Kremlin is unhappy with how Russia is portrayed in this series.

The movie or TV series, led me to an interview with Jo Nesbø. Nesbø mentioned in the interview that at the age of 15, he discovered that his Dad fought on the side of the Nazis in World War 11. The information gleaned from his Dad was used in the writing ✍️ of The Redbreast. And that is how a Netflix movie led me to my current reading interest.

What are you reading these days?

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Book Blogs

Dear Readers,

I am a Toastmaster. I am on a Toastmasters journey and am following the Innovative Planning Path as part of the Toastmasters educational program to improve communication and leadership skills. My challenge is to create 8 compelling blog posts related to books and this is my third post.

This morning I am looking at other Book Blogs. A google search directed me to Book Smugglers. This is a book review blog for all ages started in 2007 by Ana Grilo and Thea James and specializing in “speculative fiction” since 2008. Speculative fiction refers to fiction that has futuristic or supernatural  themes.

The bloggers mostly review books sent to them by the authors or publishers. The January 8th post, the most current post at this time, is featured under the title, Old School Wednesdays. The bloggers indicate that Old School Wednesdays is a regular feature since the end of 2012. The book reviewed is a Terry Pratchett book, Jingo, published in 1997 hence the “old school” reference.

Jingo does not sound like my kind of book and I am not familiar with this writer. His last name actually reminded me of Ann Patchett. Patchett wrote a book called Bel Canto which I loved. One reason I loved Bel Canto was because it was loosely based on a real life hostage situation in Peru under former President Alberto Fujimori. I  was always fascinated by President Fujimori, a Peruvian of Japanese descent. Sadly, he was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to prison. Now his intriguing life story would be a great book and movie. A quick amazon search revealed that Bel Canto is a 2018 movie in the drama/thriller category.

Are you a fan of speculative fiction? Check out the Book Smugglers blog.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Best Books 2019

Hello Dear Readers,

Here I am posting again for my Toastmasters challenge. My challenge is to complete a Level 4 elective by writing a “compelling” blog and post 8 times in the month of January.  Here we go!

What were your favorite books to read in 2019? President Barack Obama tweeted a list of his favorite books for 2019. AARP magazine, the December 2019 issue, also has a list of recommended books in an article on page 13 titled, “Our Top Picks of 2019”.

None of the books on these two lists was even on my radar.  I was too busy reading books by one of my favorite writers, Lisa Jewell. I read about 9 books by her in 2019. What all her books had in common was family drama. The Family Upstairs, the most recent publication, was the last book I read for 2019. This story about three dysfunctional families, who ended up living in the same house in London, held my interest to the very end. This was a story about manipulation, obsession, and murder.

On President Obama’s list, the book I’d like to read is American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson because I like thrillers:

 “Structured as a letter addressed to her two young sons, this thriller is centered around Marie Mitchell, a black FBI intelligence officer. American Spy travels in time between Marie’s upbringing in 1960s Queens and her spy work during the Cold War to highlight the trials of a protagonist questioning her identity as a woman, a person of color and an American.” Source: Time Magazine

From the AARP list, the book I’d like to read is Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson. This is a family saga told from different perspectives. From the amazon reviews, it is about teenage pregnancy and the impact on the generations. The AARP list also includes The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. I have enjoyed the dystopian world of Margaret Atwood in the past but I didn’t enjoy reading The Handmaid’s Tale. I couldn’t complete reading the book.

What were your favorite books 📚?

Friday, January 03, 2020

Public Domain Day

Happy New Year Dear Readers:

Hoping you will have a holy, happy, and healthy 2020. I have a new challenge in 2020. For my Toastmasters Club I need to maintain a “compelling” blog and post at least 8 times this month. My focus will continue to be books and anything related to books. Here we go with the first post.

This morning I found an interesting article on the important subject of “public domain” for all you avid readers of the classics. What is public domain, some of you may be wondering. It is related to copyright. Copyright protection of a literary, artistic, or musical work in the United States lasts 95 years. A number of books, as well as films and music, that were copyrighted in 1924 are now copyright free as of January 1, 2020. This means that these classics can  be legally accessed, remixed, and republished by the general public. Full text of the books will now be available on Internet Archive, HathiTrust, and Google Books, not just snippets of the books. 

Some books included in the article are listed here:


Will you be reading any of these books?

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Teens’ Choices: Top 10 Favorite Books 2019

This is the 2019 list of best books for young adults. I love that one of my favorites is there: Children of Blood and Bone, the first of a trilogy by Tomi Adeyemi.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Another favorite Writer

I found a new author who I like and that I can recommend. She is Lisa Jewell, a British writer whose books don’t seem to fit into any one genre. One thing they have in common is family drama. I started off my Jewell reading experience with Then She Was Gone, a murder mystery. That was the hook. Since then I have read The Third Wife, The Girls in the Garden, Roommates Wanted, I Found You, and Before I Met You. That’s six books altogether.  Before I Met You started off really slowly but eventually I got into the story and really loved it.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Some Books I Read in 2018

We did not meet often this year and I did not keep track of the books we read together in 2018. A really good book we selected in September was, The Baker’s Secret by Stephen Kiernan. I am sure we read more books. If I can recall them later, I will share.

I read other books on my own that I loved: Night of Camp David by Fletcher Knebel. This was a book published in the 1960s. It became so popular this year, it was published again in November.

This was a year of political books. I only read two out of curiosity but they turned out to be really good: A Higher Loyalty  by James Comey and Becoming by Michelle Obama.

Becoming was divided into 3 parts and written in a conversational tone. It consisted of stories about finding and maintaining balance. Balancing work and personal values;  balancing marriage, work, and parenting; balancing the pursuit of passion with the pursuit of work success resonated with readers, in my opinion.  That’s one reason it’s a bestseller. The stories were also about finding her voice and maintaining her authentic voice as a spouse of a politician who also happened to have been President.

Here are two more books that I really enjoyed, An American Marrage by Tayari Jones and Children of Blood & Bone, the first of a trilogy by Toni Adeyemi.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Top Library Checkouts for 2017

Link here for the popular library checkouts: New York Public Library 📚 These 2 are going to be on my What Will I Read Next? list:
  1. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  2.  Commonwealth: A Novel by Ann Patchett​

Friday, June 24, 2016

Book Club Selections 2016, January - June

What have you been reading this year? These are the books we have selected and discussed at the bookclub this year. I have enjoyed them all but my favorite so far is Ordinary Grace.

January 15 - The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant; writer of The Red Tent, a book club pick many, many years ago that we loved.  This is historical fiction. Jewish girl coming of age story. (336 pages).


February 19 - October List by Jeffrey Deaver; the book starts with the end and is filled with twists and turns. http://www.jefferydeaver.com/novel/the-october-list/  


March  18 - Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kreuger; small town murder 1961 setting. 

April 15 - Gray Mountain by John Grisham.


May 19 - Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis.


June 16 - Forgotten Room  by Lincoln Child.

What will we read next? Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Book Club Selections for 2015

Personally, I highly recommend the books by Sam Thomas, Alyson Richman, and Anthony Doerr 

February 20
The King’s Deception by Steve Berry

March 20
The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman 

April 17
MidWife's Tale (Midwife's Mysteries #1) by Sam Thomas.  

May 15
The Oath by John Lescroart 

June 19
The Harlot's Tale by Sam Thomas

July 17
Leaving Time by Jodie Picoult

August 28
Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

No meeting in September.

October 16
When the Lion Feeds by Wilbur Smith

November 20
All the World We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr




Saturday, October 31, 2015

Louise Penny's Latest Book and Project Babylon

I am reading the latest Penny book in the Inspector Gamache series, Nature of the Beast. I first became hooked on this series because of the book club. Still Life was Penny's first book.  In this book a 9 year old child, with a vivid imagination, from the village of Three Pines has been murdered.  The Surete du Quebec is in Three Pines to investigate this murder that was set up to appear as if it were an accident.

After reading every one of Penny's books, the characters have become like familiar friends. The usual quirky characters are present such as Ruth, the crazy poet; Myra, the psychologist turned bookseller; Clara, the insecure and talented artist; Gabri and his partner Olivier, owners of the local Bistro/guest house. Some of the characters from the Surete that we met in previous books are present to investigate the murder; Beauvoir and Lacoste.  My guess is that the new, young, arrogant officer Favreau, introduced in this book,may appear in a future book in the series.

Right now I am on page 109 and this murder mystery has now led me into the world of Project Babylon, a supergun created by Gerald Bull, with links to Saddam Hussein and the biblical Whore of Babylon. The "OMG" moment is that this supergun and Canadian-born Gerald Bull and the link to Saddam Hussein are factual. Fascinating.

Penny likes to sprinkle literary references in her books; usually poems. This one has references to songs, poetry, and to biblical verses. "By the waters of Babylon...." words from the Bible come up often. The biblical words put to song by a Jamaican group, the Melodians, is a favorite of mine.

Fans of Louise Penny, you will enjoy this interview with the writer. 

Netflix Led Me to Jo Nesbo

Dear Readers, I am a Toastmaster who likes to read. I am pausing from my reading to meet my Toastmasters challenge. My challenge is to cre...