Year One by Nora Roberts – Book

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Nora Roberts, author of Year One usually writes romance novels. I do enjoy a good romance novel. It doesn’t necessarily give your brain a workout but it sends you on an emotional journey that often ends in a happy sigh and a temporary uplift in your spirts. Lately I forgo the brief jolt of endorphins offered by fake joy for books with a more mental punch. But I will say that I think even fake joy can make your day. This time Nora Roberts goes off the chart and gives us an apocalypse. Even if it still encompasses a good deal of romance, there is also suspense and grief and magic and black magic, and this is only the first book of a trilogy, The Chronicles of the One. One of my sisters passed this book on to me.

The story begins in Scotland where Ross MacLeod, who now resides in NYC, visits the family farm in Dumfries, Scotland which has been in the family for over two hundred years. Ross goes for a walk on his land and changes the world when he shoots a pheasant that lands in a magic circle and activates an old blood sacrifice he accidentally contributed to fifty years earlier, simply by tripping and scraping a hand on a stone that sits in that ancient stone circle on the property. Ross is a bit freaked by the circling of crows above the site but he is no believer in magic. When he gets very ill he thinks it is a flu virus. Then he dies. Soon this untreatable and incurable disease, named the Doom, begins to spread as rapidly as people move around the globe these days.

The grief people feel is enormous. Max and Lana, newly in love and experimenting with some talents they seem to possess which indicate they might be witches, do not sense the enormity of the escalating depopulation right away. For a moment they are a spot of joy in a city that is being devastated by disease and looting and violence. Lana is a chef, Max a writer. Arlys, a newscaster on a popular NYC stations has been promoted to the main news desk by default. She offers daily news to anyone who is still listening. Fred is an intern who works with Arlys and who has a secret which might help explain her effervescent personality. One day Arlys is given reasons to tell her listeners the real news, which is far more frightening than what she is used to offering. Rachel is a doctor, Jonah an EMT. They are trying to run a hospital with fewer and fewer staff, and patients they are unable to save.

When these New Yorkers finally accept that they must leave their beloved city and travel to more rural areas we see them depart in pairs to look for more people who have survived the Doom. Why some people survive while others do not is something that has no satisfactory answer. Some survivors have found that they now have magical talents. Fred’s secret is that she is a faerie with wings and a sprightly spirit that makes her quite lovable. Max and Lana find that they have become more talented witches than they ever were before. Some people find they are elves. And yet some people like Rachel and Arlys have no discernible magical talents and yet they survive.

Getting out of New York is not an easy thing for anyone. It turns out that magical people, like normal people can use their talents for good or for evil. Many survivors have turned to evil and can harm magical people who strive to be good if they catch them off guard or if their talents are unequal. There are also the usual gangs that thrive on chaos. Traveling is scary and dangerous and there is more safety in numbers. Eventually all these New Yorkers meet, not quite by accident in a new community that is taking shape in New Hope, Virginia.

There is social commentary here. The Uncanny, as the magical humans are named, become “the other” and are feared by intolerant humans who cannot accept people with magical talents as neighbors. They taunt them and troll them and make sharing a community uncomfortable and sometimes worse things happen when the intolerants do more than use their words.

As soon as the internet is partially restored this message is posted:  “If you are reading this, you are one of the chosen. No doubt you have lost those dear to you and have felt, many still know, despair. No doubt you have witnessed firsthand the abominations that have desecrated the world Our Lord created. You may believe the End Times are upon us. But take heart! You are not alone! Have faith! Have courage! We who survived this demonic plague wrought by Satan’s Children face a Great Test. Only we can defend our world, our lives our very souls. Arm yourselves and join The Holy Crusade.” – The Purity Warriors

The Purity Warriors pretend to save the world in the name of religion but they actually spread terror and violent rape and death, especially targeting the Uncanny. But Lana is carrying The One. Will she bear the child in safety to grow to her full powers? How will she change the sad equation in a ruined world? Good stuff for real, even if a bit too much sugar on occasion.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Parade

Find me on goodreads.com as Nancy Brisson

The Heist by Daniel Silva – Books

the Heist by Daniel Silva NewsOK

Daniel Silva’s 14th book featuring his reader’s favorite Israeli spy is The Heist. Gabriel Allon kills the people who do evil in the world (Europe and the Middle East for the most part). Gabriel is an unlikely hero, slight of build, not very tall, with a full head of dark hair graying at the temples. He has aged some through the years and is somewhere in his fifties but he has a new young wife, Chiara, who also works for “the Office”. Gabriel feels regret for the killing he does but he doesn’t let that govern him because these are villains exhibiting some serious anti-social behaviors.

Gabriel is an unusual spy because he is a great art restorer (who perhaps would have been a great artist except for his mentor, Ari Shamron). Shamron recruited him and he wants Allon to agree to become the head of Israeli Intelligence. Gabriel has resisted this role but has recently promised that he will do that when Uzi Navot’s term ends.

Art heists have become common in Europe. Security in museums is often fairly lax or spread a bit thin. Art thieves have many ways to trick museums, but one of the safest is to employ a great forger. Empty spaces tend to attract attention, but it often takes time to identify a really good forgery as a fake. One painting, missing for a long time, is a Caravaggio painting of a mother and child. Gabriel may be Jewish but he specializes in restoring Renaissance religious art. He hopes to find that Caravaggio, but the painting seems to have fallen into the hands of a dictator who gases his own people.

So, there is a Syrian connection in this story, and Silva provides an informative backstory of the origins of the regime of Bashar al Assad, which is now in Gabriel’s sights. Gabriel cannot assassinate Assad, but he can try to make some of his ill-gotten fortune turn up in other bank accounts. There is a woman involved who works for a Saudi man who hides Assad’s fortune in lots of places where banking secrets are seen as sacred, and where laws can’t reach, such as the Cayman Islands. Gabriel doesn’t let women off the hook as sources and allies in matters of conscience. He has only lost one of the women he enlisted to help so far, although she was already ill and dying. Does the woman he recruits this time live through this op?

Does Gabriel Allon get Assad’s money? Does he find the Caravaggio? Does Chiara lose the twins she is carrying? Fourteen books later, still good stuff.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search, NewOK

November 2018 Book List

book-club-recomendations

November 2018 Book List

What I noticed about the books published in October (which are on this November book list) is that there are many enticing biographies, memoirs, and autobiographies just in time for finding a lamp, a chair, and a blanket this winter and getting lost in someone else’s life. Here’s a list of some of the people’s lives you can immerse yourself in: Marie Colvin, Johnny Rosselli, John Marshall, Edward Gorey, the Beastie Boys, Churchill, Henry Worsley, Michelle Obama, Sally Fields, Ghandi, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Babe Ruth, John Williams, Chopin, Bing Crosby, Philip Johnson, Saul Bellow, Benjamin Rush, Andrew Johnson, and John Kerry. That is quite a list. Surely almost anyone can find a great read for November, or way too many great reads for November. Stay toasty.

 

Amazon

 

Literature and Fiction

My Sister, the Serial Killer: A Novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite

The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim

A Ladder to the Sky: A Novel by John Boyne

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Heads You Win by Jeffrey Archer

Insurrecto by Gina Apostol

Wolves of Eden: A Novel by Kevin McCarthy

Tony’s Wife: A Novel by Adriana Trigani

Those Who Knew by Idra Novey

 

Mystery and Thrillers

The Best Bad Things: A Novel by Katrina Carrasco

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Night Town (A Junior Bender Mystery) by Timothy Hallinan

The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem

Dark Sacred Heart by Michael Connelly

Wolves of Eden by Kevin McCarthy

Past Tense (A Jack Reacher Novel) by Lee Child

Debris Line (Gibson Vaughn) by Matthew Fitzsimmons

Seventeen: A Novel by Hideo Yokoyama, Louise Heal Kawai

A Ladder to the Sky: A Novel by John Boyne

The Shadows We Hide by Allen Eskens

Someone Like Me by M R Carey

 

Nonfiction

The White Darkness by David Grann

Nashville: Scenes from the New American South by Ann Patchett, Heidi Ross

Heirs of the Founders (The Epic Rivalry of Henry, John Calhoun, and Daniel Webster, the Second Generation of American Giants) by H W Brands

Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond, Adam Horowitz

Einstein’s Monsters: The Life and Times of Black Holes by Chris Impey

The End of the End of the Earth by Jonathan Franzen (Essays)

Gene Machine: The Race to Decipher the Secrets of the Ribosome by Venki Ramakrishnan

The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success by Albert-LászlóBarabási

Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World by Neil Gaiman, Chris Riddell

Seduction: Sex, Lies, and Stardom in Howard Hughes’ Hollywood by Karina Longworth

 

Biographies and Memoirs

In Extremis: The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin by Lindsey Hilsum

Handsome Johnny: The Life and Death of Johnny Rosselli; Gentleman Gangster, Hollywood Producer, Assassin by Lee Server

John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court by Richard Brookhiser

Born to be Posthumous: The Eccentric Life and Mysterious Genius of Edward Gorey by Mark Dery

Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond and Adam Horowitz

Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts

Why Religion: A Personal Story by Elaine Pagels

The White Darkness by David Grann (Henry Worsley)

Becoming Michelle Obama by Michelle Obama

 

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Fire and Blood: 300 Years Before a Game of Thrones by George R R Martin, Doug Wheatley

Someone Like Me by M R Carey

The Winter Road by Adrian Selby

Kimiko and the Accidental Proposal by Forthright

Vita Nostra: A Novel by Sergey and Marina Dyachenko

 

New York Times Book Review

Oct 7

Nonfiction

American Prison by Shane Bauer

The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre

Farsighted by Steven Johnson

Attention: Dispatches From a Land of Distraction by Joshua Cohen (essays)

The Dinosaur Artist by Paige Williams

Beautiful Country Burn Again by Ben Fountain

The Imposter: A True Story (Enric Marco) by Frank Wayne

The Shortlist

Orca: How We Came to Know and Love the Ocean’s Greatest Predator by Jason M Colby

Spying on Whales by Nick Pyenson

The Last Lobster: Boom or Bust for Maine’s Greatest Fishery? by Christopher White

Eye of the Shoal: A Fisherman’s Guide to Life, the Ocean and Everything by Helen Scales

Fiction

Crime

Wrecked by Joe Ide

Holy Ghost by John Sanford

Dark Tide Rising by Anne Perry

Death of a Rainmaker by Laurie Loewenstein

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Boomer1 by Daniel Torday

The End of the Moment We Had by Toshiki Okada

Crudo by Kathy Acker

Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman

Ordinary People by Diana Evans

Best New Fantasy Novels

Witchmark by C L Polk

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

Half Witch by John Schoffstall

Every River Runs to Salt by Rachael K Jones

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix (YA)

Oct. 14

Fiction

The Witch Elm by Tana French

Patient X by David Peace

Deviation by Luce D’Eramo

Nonfiction

The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis

Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss

Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger by Rebecca Traister

Rage Becomes Her by Soraya Chemaly

In Pieces by Sally Field

Looking for Lorraine by Imani Perry

If You Love Me by Maureen Cavanaugh

Ghandi: The Years That Changed the World, 1914-1948 by Ramachandra Guha

You’ve Been so Lucky Already by Alethea Black

The Arab of the Future 3: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1985-1987 by Riad Sattouf, trans. from the French by Sam Taylor

Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War by Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple

Unwanted: Stories of Syrian Refugees by Don Brown (YA)

Oct. 21

Nonfiction

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Poison Squad by Deborah Blum

Mind Unraveled by Kurt Eichenwald

No Property Man by Sean Wilentz

Grand Improvisation by Derek Leebaert

Every Day is Extra by John Kerry

Fiction

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

Children of God by Lars Petter Sveen

Jean Harley Was Here by Heather Taylor-Johnson

One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan (Tamil)

CoDex 1962 by Sion

Crime Novels

Shell Game (V I Warshawski) by Sara Paretsky

The Stranger Game by Peter Godol

The Darkness by Victoria Cribb

The Midnight Witness (Louise Rich) by Sara Blaedel trans. from the Danish by Mark Kline

Oct. 28

Thrillers

The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

Find Me Gone by Sarah Meuleman

Horror Fiction

Melmoth by Sarah Perry

Little by Edward Carey

I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Devil’s Day by Andrew Michael Hurley

True Crime

Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers from the Stone Age to the Present by Peter Vronsky

The Kill Jar: Obsession, Descent, and a Hunt for Detroit’s Most Notorious Serial Killer by J Reuben Appelman

In the Name of the Children: An FBI Agent’s Relentless Pursuit of the Nation’s Worst Predators by Jeffry L Rinek

A Tale of Two Murders: Guilt, Innocence, and the Execution of Edith Thompson by Laura Thompson

The Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, and Murder Most Foul by Eleanor Herman

Blood and Ivy: The 1849 Murder that Scandalized Harvard by Paul Collins

Fiction

City of Crows by Chris Womersley

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

Shortlist (Crossover YA Novels)

A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos

A Heart in the Body of the World by Deb Caletti

Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

Nonfiction

The Sky is Falling by Peter Biskind

Kafka’s Last Trial by Benjamin Balint

Daemon Voices by Philip Pullman (Essays)

University of Nike by Joshua Hunt

Nov. 2

Fiction

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

The Lake on Fire by Rosellen Brown

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

Virgil Wander by Leif Enger

The Shortlist (Family Sagas)

In Your Hands by Inês Pedrosa

The Hope Fault by Tracy Farr

News of Our Loved Ones by Abigail DeWitt

Transgender Literature

Freshwater by Akwaeki Emezi

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir by Kai Chen Thom

Nonfiction

On Sunset by Kathryn Harrison

American Dialogue by Joseph J Ellis

The King and the Catholics by Antonia Fraser

She Wants It by Jill Soloway

Melting Pot or Civil War by Reihan Salam *

Capitalism in America by Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge *

Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Jane Sherron DeHart *

The Corrosion of Conservatism by Max Boot *

Never Ran, Never Will by Albert Samaha

We Are the Nerds by Christine Lagorio-Chafkin

 

Publisher’s Weekly

 

Oct 8

What if it’s Us? By Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (YA)

Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly – Thriller

The Witch Elm by Tana French – Mystery

99 Ways to Die by Ed Lin – F

Death of a Rainmaker: A Dust Bowl Mystery by Laurie Loewenstein – Mystery

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton – F

One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan trans. from the Tamil by Aniruddhan Vasudevan – F

Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return by Martin Riker – F

The Souls of Yellow Folk by Wesley Yang – Essays

Bridge City by Markus Zusak – YA

Oct 15

Unfurled by Michelle Bailat-Jones – F

A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese-Anne Fowler – F

Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl by Uwe Johnson, trans, from the German by Damion Searls – F

The Darkness by Ragnor Jonasson – Thriller

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver – F

Heavy – An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon – Memoir

The Big Fella by Jan Leavy (Babe Ruth) – Biography

The Library Book by Susan Orlean – NF

Melmoth by Sarah Perry – F

Wasteland: The Great War and the Origins of Modern Horror by W Scott-Poole – NF

The Man Who Wrote the Perfect Novel: John Williams, ‘Stoner’, and the Writing Life by Charles J Shields – Biography

Unholy Land by Lavie Tidhar – Fantasy

Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times by Alan Walker – Bio

The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of US Primacy by Stephen M Wait – NF *

Oct. 22

Of Love and War by Lynsey Addario – Photos

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah – Short stories

Little by Edward Carey – F

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay – F

18 Miles: The Epic Drama of Our Atmosphere and its Weather by Christopher Dewdney – NF

Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond and Adam Horowitz – Illus. Bio

The Fox by Frederick Forsyth – Thriller

Rush: Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father by Stephen Fried – Bio

The Rise of Andrew Jackson: Myth, Manipulation, and the Making of Modern Politics by David S Heidler and Jeanne T Heidler – Bio

Everything Under by Daisy Johnson – F

The Line by Martin Limón -Mystery

Astounding: John W Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A Heinlein, L Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee – NF *

An Empire for Ravens: A John the Lord Chamberlain Mystery by Mary Reid and Eric Mayer – Mystery

The Light Between Worlds by Laura E Weymouth – YA Fantasy

Oct. 29

Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly – F

Valley Forge by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin – NF

Bing Crosby: Swinging on a Star – The War Years, 1940-1946 by Gary Giddens – Bio

An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris – Fantasy Thriller

Marooned: Jamestown, Shipwreck and a New History of America’s Origin by Joseph Kelly – NF

Elevation by Stephen King – F

Bastard by Max Radiguès – Graphic Novel

The Hole by Jose Revueltas, trans. from the Spanish by Amanda Hopkinson and Sophie Hughes – F

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol. 2 1956-1963, Edited by Peter K Steinberg and Karen V Kukil – NF

Family Trust by Kathy Wang – F

Nov. 5

The Day that Went Missing by Richard Beard – F

Evening in Paradise: More Stories by Lucia Berlin (pub. Posthumously) – short stories

An Unexplained Death: The True Story of a Body at the Belvedere by Mikita Brottman – True crime

Past Tense: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child – F

An Agent of Utopia by Andy Duncan – Short Stories

The Man in the Glass House: Philip Johnson, Architect of the Modern Century by Mark Lamster – Bio

The Life of Saul Bellow: Love and Strife, 1965-2005 by Zackary Leader – Biography

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty – Thriller

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan – Fantasy

Churchill: Walking with Destiny by Andrew Roberts – Bio *

We Begin in Gladness: How Poets Progress by Craig Morgan Teicher – NF

Beyoncéin Formation: Remixing Black Feminism by Omise’eke Tinsley – NF

A Shot in the Dark: A Constable Twitten Mystery by Lynn Truss – Mystery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The English Girl by Daniel Silva – Book

The English Girl ClipZui.com

The English Girl by Daniel Silva stands out as a Gabriel Allon book that sort of breaks the mold. It has all the characters we expect to find, but they don’t show up for quite a while. Instead Gabriel teams up with a character who has enticed our interest from time to time, Christopher Keller.

Christopher Keller is a dead man. On the record he died as a British soldier. In actual fact he was the only survivor of a deadly attack. Since his parents in London have already mourned his death, and since he has no official identity he took a job as an assassin in the service of Don Orsati, the “Don” of Corsica. Don Orsati pays well and he treat Chris Keller like a son.

Up to now Silva has used Christopher sparingly in his books, perhaps because he does not always “fight for the right”. But in The English Girl he teams up with Gabriel and we see a social, “bro”-style side to Gabriel that we rarely if ever see. The two men seem relaxed with each other. This may also be because the details of this particular spy tale are a bit unusual.

Gabriel is supposed to be permanently retired but when a young English woman on a Corsican vacation is kidnapped, Graham Seymour of MI5 (soon to be MI6) asks Gabriel for some hush-hush help. Why is this girl more important than your average British subject? Perhaps because she holds the Prime Minister’s career in her hands. Since Gabriel’s trail starts on Corsica, Christopher is a natural choice for a partner in the investigation which seems like it will be quite simple to resolve. Also Christopher owes Gabriel a favor and Gabriel has a token attesting to that debt which he plans to redeem.

Corsica requires certain behaviors that must be observed if one wants to borrow Keller from Don Orsati. Gabriel must always stop by to see Don Orsati first and share a meal and a few intimidating amenities. And, although Gabriel scoffs at superstition, a rather talented seer must be consulted. For some reason she tells Gabriel he will die if he goes to Moscow. How could the kidnapping of an English girl possibly have a Moscow connection? To unravel that mystery you will have to start in Corsica with Gabriel and Christopher. I did not foresee the twist this thriller takes. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search, ClipZui.com

Find me on goodreads.com as Nancy Brisson

Transcription by Kate Atkinson – Book

kate-atkinson-running in heels

Kate Atkinson’s new novel, Transcription, joins a spate of World War literature coming out of Great Britain. All these books talk about what British citizens who were not soldiers did during wars. People wanted to help with the war effort and since many of the adults who were still in British cities were women, the tasks women took on often affected them in ways similar to the way soldiers are affected. The end of the war found women who had done unlikely, dangerous and heroic things, having to assimilate their war time behavior into the person they would be moving forward in peacetime. Other recent novels include: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn which I have not read yet, Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce, and Warlight by Michael Ondaatje.

Why is this the moment when so many writers were moved to write about such very similar experiences? Are people feeling an instability in political institutions these days that could lead to war? Are people rushing to offer us some patriotic roles that we could play? Is this a creative brain meld? Is this just an odd coincidence or nostalgic moment? With all the authoritarian figures rising in nations that once flirted with democracy does this feel somewhat similar to the rise of “you know who” before WWII? Are authors feeling the same fears we all feel that we may be called upon to defend our freedoms in the very near future, or to keep them alive for what could be decades of darkness?

Transcription is an absorbing book all on its own, but I recommend giving all these books a read because each takes a different tack on the same subject. In Transcription our heroine Juliet Armstrong is recruited by MI5 to help keep an eye on Hitler lovers and want-to-be Nazi’s living in England. British intelligence rents two adjacent apartments. In one a rather convincing Godfrey Toby, a spy of course, makes friends and collects important data about England’s defenses. These friends of Hitler think Gordon will pass this strategic data on to Germany. Of course this is simply a way for Britain to keep this information away from Germany and keep potential British traitors from doing real damage to the allied side in the war.

The second apartment is filled with recording equipment and a typewriter where a very young Juliet listens to what Gordon’s unwary informants reveal and then types a transcript that tries to give a word-by-word script of who is talking and what they reveal. Not all of the dialogue comes across clearly but Juliet does the best she can. Then Juliet is embroiled further into spying when she is asked to adopt a new persona and join a more upscale right wing group of traitors. This is how a girl who simply types gets deeply into something that is so unforgettable that she will never be free of either her memories or her handlers.

Do books make the future and the culture happen, do they predict what will come, or do they just reflect the present and the culture of the times in which they are written? It seems that books can do all of these things, and they can sometimes do all of them at one and the same time, which is probably one of the aspects of reading great books that keeps readers hooked. So what will turn out to be true of this little cluster of intellectual doppelgangers?

I am happy to read every book that Kate Atkinson writes and I feel the same way about Michael Ondaatje. I don’t know the other two authors as well but I may eventually be adding them to my long list of beloved authors. However, I would much prefer that these novels be reflective rather than predictive. You may find that you begin asking yourself how you would have performed under similar circumstances. One more point, possibly a #metoo point, although all of these books feature female characters, not one of them is a “chick” book. But because they all happen in the past, all these women work for men. However war seems to blur the lines between women’s work and men’s work as you will see. Don’t forget to spend a few moments thinking about why this book is called Transcription rather than Transcriptions. Thank you Kate.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Running in Heels

Fear by Bob Woodward – Book

Fear Washington Times

Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame) recently published his exposé of the chaos in the early days of the Trump White House called simply, Fear: Trump in the White House.If you have been paying attention to the news (not Fox) then what you are reading in this book is hardly surprising. You see Steve Bannon come and go. The James Comey drama is in there. You see the contributions of people who played a role in those early days but are now gone, like Hope Hicks and Rob Porter. Tillerson and Trump disagree about foreign policy and Tillerson is replaced by Pompeo. Some of Trump’s fears about the Mueller investigation are covered.

There was a recent article in the NYT’s written by an anonymous source who told us that Trump’s West Wing staff are so worried about Trump’s orders telling them to design documents that will solidify bad policies, orders to place those documents on his desk to be signed, that they delay producing the papers and even remove the documents if they appear on Trump’s desk. They know that Trump’s mind jumps around from one idea to the next and that if the policy document is not placed in front of him he will forget about it (for a while). This is all covered in Woodward’s book. Woodward was there so it helps us feel like we are actually in the Oval Office, flies on the wall, experiencing staff fears in real time.

One of the greatest of all the fears is the one that shows us that someone who formed his policy ideas in some earlier decade, someone as inflexible as Trump, someone unwilling to learn about in-depth intelligence and to apply it to his fondly-held theories, someone unwilling to evolve, to revise old dogma, to encompass new data controls the nuclear codes. People in former administrations did not lightly make nuclear threats in hopes that going nuclear will turn enemies into friends. We don’t usually brag that our nuclear capabilities are greater than those of our enemies although we believe that it is basically understood. Nuclear boasting might backfire and the consequences could be devastating. Sometimes threatening documents, once produced, were removed from presidential proximity before he could sign them, but the fear that surrounds any casual treatment of nuclear weapons is always there.

Bob Woodward is not just making us aware that Trump’s staff lives in fear of Trump inadequacies and belligerent nature; he is telling us that we need to be fearful of a man who is filling a position he does not understand. We need to know that he is running America on ego, calcified opinions, and praise elicited by implied threats (fear). We need to follow Bob Woodward into those rooms in our nation’s White House and watch the slapdash way that business is now conducted daily in America. His account is very readable and the actual meat of the book ends well before the pages do. What follows is a section of photos, some pretty useful end notes, and a detailed index. If you have been paying attention to an in-depth news station like MSNBC it will all be very familiar. What will be different is that this time you are “in the room where it happens”.

The children in this Rainbow Room video offer revealing and very brief reviews of Bob Woodward’s book, reviews that sum things up very well.

https://mashable.com/video/stephen-colbert-reading-rainbow-woodward-trump/#FGlobArRcZqb

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Washington Times

Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva – Book

the fallen angel You Tube

Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva is Book 12 in the Gabriel Allon series, the fictional, but famous spy for the Israeli Intelligence Service at the Office on King Saul Boulevard in Tel Aviv Israel. Gabriel is an unusual person to be an assassin for justice, world peace, and the survival of Israel. He is an artist who gave up an artist’s life (his own) when recruited by Shamron, the aging hero of Israel, to pursue the terrorists who killed athletes from his beloved homeland at the Olympics in Munich.

Since that op he has trained with a talented art restorer and has become one of the best restorers of classic religious art in Europe. He is a bundle of contradictions but his strong values tie the whole package together. Gabriel’s family was, for the most part, killed in the Holocaust, except his mother who never really recovered from the horrors she experienced. Gabriel lost his first wife and his son to a car bomb, probably targeted towards Gabriel. Terrorists blew his life away right before his eyes. And even though they failed to kill the one the car bomb was designed to kill this became a sorrow he had to carry with him always. It hardened his heart in a more personal way and made him more lethal, more determined to fight evil in the world.

Through the first 11 books there have been plenty of evil actors to stop in their tracks, tracks which always are about either power and world domination or money or both. Eventually Gabriel remarried to the beautiful Chiara, daughter of a Rabbi, who also does intelligence work for the Office. Sometimes she is with him on ops and sometimes she stays home. Putting her at risk brings back old memories for Gabriel. After a while Allon is joined by a team, each person with different strengths and we become concerned about their safety in these rather impossible-seeming, risky, but usually successful operations they undertake. Gabriel is frequently wounded because he cannot let a villain get away. He retires every time he completes a mission as if he has beaten evil once and for all. But he knows this war is endless and he up-ends his life over and over again to do battle when he must. After a while we begin to wish there really was a Gabriel Allon and a Chiara, et al out there in the world, abolishing amorality and immorality.

So in Fallen Angel we have a lovely young woman who agrees to inventory antiquities in the Vatican collection who is found artistically dead after a fall from a balcony in the Sistine Chapel. At first her death is ruled a suicide. But Gabriel is a friend of the Vatican’s top two people, the Pope and his constant companion Father Donati, because he saved the Pope’s life and unraveled one of the plots that live in the competitive Vatican culture. Gabe is restoring a Caravaggio in some basement on the Vatican grounds and Donati has him summoned to tap into his expertise. Gabriel (also a fallen angel) does not believe this is a suicide. But when he pulls a couple of strings he opens a Pandora’s box of illegal trading in antiquities. These thieves never preserve provenance and this represents a huge loss of historical data about ancient sites and people. Once again what begins in Italy leads Gabriel all over the world and eventually home to Israel.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – You Tube

Find me on goodreads.com as Nancy Brisson