Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: The Ides of April

The Ides of April by Lindsey Davis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I recently started to re-listen to this series. I am constantly amazed at how much I discover when I go back to a previously read (listened to) book!

Having endured the angry teenager from the Falco series, the shift to focus on said no longer teenager has been quite enjoyable. That being said, in the first part of the book, we are dealing with a cynical, still angry adult who has become quite jaded in her opinions and behaviors. Yes, she’s been through a lot, but still.

It wasn’t until she actually met and started to work with “the Runner” that these behaviors started to temper. Much like his did. Knowing how this relationship evolves, it is an interesting experience to see how two people can affect each other so profoundly.

I’ve been listening to the entire series and am enjoying not only the new characters, but the occasional visits with those from the original series. This literally ties all the strings of a family together.

I still strongly recommend this series and am looking forward to the next installment. Can’t come soon enough!



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Audiobooks · Books · Media · Movie Night · Movies · One of My Favorites

Movie Night: The Hunt For Red October

Back in 1990 I stepped into one of my local movie theaters to check out a new movie starring Sean Connery and a host of other favorite performers. It was an experience I didn’t expect and has been repeated frequently over the years. The viewing of the film, that is.

The Hunt For Red October came from the Tom Clancy book of the same name, published in 1984. The story is about a high level Russian submarine that may, or may not, be defecting and the high octane multi level chess game (my description) of the efforts to find her before the Russians can sink her.

The film clocks in at 2 hours 15 minutes. It is worth every second.

There’s a funny thing about me and this film. I enjoyed the first viewing so much I went back a few times to try and spot the technical details I enjoy in films. (I’m one of those geeks who love the extras on the DVDs – I love the behind the scenes stuff.) I finally gave up because inevitably I’d find myself walking out 2 hours later having totally gotten lost in the plot. It is that good.

The book, in case you are interested, is as good. If you are not experienced reading Tom Clancy consider this fair warning. He didn’t write small books, nor did he write simple plot lines. Brace yourself with an estimated page count of 387, I don’t recall how many characters or subplot lines. Consider the movie the condensed version. 🙂

Even after all these years, I have no idea how many viewings, I love this film. I must, I own two copies and I have both the paperback and the audio version of the book.

The cast is the cream of the crop. The production values are stellar. The story is compelling, and if you like edge of your seat adventure, this is the film you should see.

Have you seen, or read, The Hunt For Red October?

Audiobooks · Books

Reading Table: Nemesis

Nemesis by Lindsey Davis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I’ve loved the entire series but this book is quite special. It brings all the strings from all the books in the series together and provides a most interesting and satisfying solution to a problem that has been around for a long time; Anacrites.

I have to give it to Ms. Davis, she writes a very excellent mystery in addition to creating a magnificent world to host it. She literally brings Rome (city and empire) to life in ways that I can’t imagine anyone else doing, much less attempting.

As a side note, I haven’t binged a book series in decades, so the ability to find, and dive into, this one has been quite a wonderful ride. Of course, it is also the entry into the Flavia Albia series, which I have also inhaled with great enjoyment.

The readers, Christian Rodska and Simon Prebble, were fantastic.

A fitting end to a wonderful series and a great beginning to another.





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Audiobooks · Books

Reading Table: Murder In An English Glade

Murder in an English Glade by Jessica Ellicott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I love this series! I admit that I was first drawn to it because Barbara Rosenblatt is the reader of the audiobooks. Her on-point presentation only serves to highlight great characters and some rather interesting mysteries.

I like the way the regulars keep evolving. It is a great change from the cookie-cutter books where we find ourselves still in the same situations by book 24 that we were in book 1. Not so here!

This latest addition to the series not only brings a few twists and turns mystery-wise, but it provides some character growth, not to mention a bit of the hidden history of at least one of our favorite characters.

Beryl & Edwina are interesting ladies of a certain age and in a certain age. Their experiences bring about some food for thought when it comes to how people are affected by life. While Edwina is coming to terms with life in an English Village, Beryl is becoming aware of how her preconceived notions of life as an American Adventuress are not always in tune with folks who are from a totally different background. You could almost call their evolution as a coming-of-age story.

I definitely recommend this series and this book if you are looking for a cozy mystery. And, if you enjoy Barbara Rosenblatt’s work, definitely grab the audio version! They are delicious!




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Audiobooks · Books

On the Reading Table: Marcus Didius Falco

I love a book series that is so compelling, captures so much interest, evolves into that rare realm titled “Can’t Put It Down!” that I literally can’t stop. Lucky for me, I discovered Falco thanks to Audible.com

I recently found myself stuck in a rut while waiting for other series to update via newer additions. Thanks to Audible, I have access to a very large and varied collection of books as part of their Audible Plus offering. What started as a test run with book one evolved into a marathon download and listen to each book in turn – some of the books listened to/read multiple times before moving on.

Make no mistake, I’ve inhaled this series.

After finishing the last book in the series, ‘Nemesis’, I can honestly say that this particular odyssey was worth every single minute. Each individual book stands on its own but taken together create a tapestry that is both complicated and cohesive. Davis is an author who is willing and able to connect the dots for both history and crime fiction.

Check out the author’s website: Lindsey Davis. You can also find more by going to Goodreads.com and Amazon.com. You can also check out this entry for a broader overview.

Falco is a first century Roman citizen who is a private investigator. Between his family, his friends, and his clients (Roman Emperor Vespasian, for example), Falco encounters some complicated mysteries and family dynamics that would make any modern protagonist wonder if there was benefit to moving elsewhere and starting a new career.

Personally, I am constantly amazed at how astute Falco can be while being determinedly obtuse when it comes to certain family truths.

Historical novels can often suffer due to the research ability of their author. Some choose to avoid details that could be questionable while others dive in so deep the reader can lose track of the story altogether. Davis has provided a balanced combination of information about the Roman Empire with enough nuts and bolts operation of the private detective. We aren’t stuck in one location throughout the series, either. Starting in Britiania we visit a wide array of locations within the empire, but it is Rome itself that shines in the books. Falco loves Rome. It is his home city and he knows it like the back of his hand.

While the books themselves are true gems, don’t overlook the Official Companion. There Lindsey has gathered maps of the city and the empire along with information on all the main characters without overstepping and giving spoilers.

Speaking of spoilers…

The series has several story arcs. Some carry through several books, some carry through the entire series. Everyone evolves throughout the series, some in unexpected ways.

Once this series is completed, I plan on continuing with the second series set in Rome. It will be a welcome addition to my Reading Table. 🙂

Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: The Silver Pigs

My latest obsession:

The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The majority of my reading these days is via Audible.com. There is nothing like being read to. LOL!

That being said, I have been looking for a new book for quite a while, having been stuck in a Sherlock Holmes loop (Stephen Fry reads the entire canon.) or indulging in some mythology. Recently I sat down and started going through the Audible Plus catalog hoping to find something – anything – that caught my interest. And wouldn’t you know who popped up? Falco.

It is a rare treat to find an author who can put the reader/listener right smack in the middle of the world of their story. I would use the term ‘worldbuilding’ in a broad sense because the world in this case is Ancient Rome, a place that many of us have a slight knowledge of. Toss in a captivating story, interesting characters, and a reader (Christian Rodska) who voices the characters perfectly.

Did I enjoy the book? Let’s just say that I have inhaled the first four books in less than a week and I’ve also picked up the Official Companion book. Oh, and Number 5 is waiting for me.

For whatever reason Simon Prebble took over the reader duties from Christian Rodska in book two. I have no complaint with this as I’ve been a Prebble fan for years. It was a touch jarring at first because Mr. Prebble brings a bit more of a posh tone where Mr. Rodska’s interpretation fits the down and out Falco. Overall, I like them both.

If you like a good mystery. If you like interesting characters. If you are a bit of a history buff or if you are just curious about Rome. Check out these books. I wouldn’t be surprised if you discover that, like a certain potato chip, you can’t read just one.



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Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: “Hard Time”

Hard Time by Jodi Taylor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book has been on my Audible Wishlist for longer than I realized. My bad. I have enjoyed all of the many, many Jodi Taylor books in my library and I seem to be savoring them under the “One Of These Days” banner rather than the “Oh My What A Treat” banner they deserve.

The Weird Team is almost at the end of their training period and has made a name for themselves within the Time Police. Unfortunately, it isn’t one that many would aspire to. No real surprise there.

A semi-chance encounter with an old acquaintance of Luke’s starts them on a path that uncovers secrets, lies, truths, and a lot of evolution not only of individuals but of organizations.

With a touch of St. Mary’s thrown in for good measure. LOL!

I can not state how much I appreciate Ms. Taylor’s way with words and her knack for character and situation. I thought Gabaldon (Outlander) was a Master Wordsmith, but it turns out she is one of a very, very few. Both are astounding in the way they build worlds. It is a joy to behold!

I found myself thinking that it would be interesting to have a visual version of Ms. Taylor’s universe. The movies brought Harry Potter to life in ways that the books couldn’t. I think the same could be applied to St. Mary’s and the Time Police. Being able to actually ‘see’ things would add an interesting layer. I’m not so sure I want someone else’s interpretation of the characters, however.

You can be sure that I’ve put a reminder on my calendar for the release of Book Three and have added the book to my Wishlist over on Audible. I doubt I will wait too long to collect it once it is released so I can embark on Team Weird’s next adventure!



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Save The Date

October 14, 2021 – “Saving Time” A Time Police novel by Jodi Taylor

Books · Movies

Artemis Fowl

I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that the Artemis Fowl book series, written by Eoin Colfer, is 20 years old. Frankly, it just doesn’t seem possible. And yet…

The books, aimed at a Young Adult audience, brought together mythical creatures and Humans in a way that we hadn’t really seen before. Not, at least, in the same way. Artemis is not your typical youngster. And that is the ultimate understatement.

If you are interested check out Eoin Colfer’s website: https://www.eoincolfer.com/artemis-fowl

I haven’t yet caught up with the later additions to the family saga; the Fowl Twins books, but I’ll be sure to add them to my list.

From Book to Film

I’d like to say I learned a valuable lesson with the Harry Potter books and films. That is, do not – Repeat: DO NOT – expect the film to be as detailed or intricate as the books.

I’m thinking it was around film 5 that the lesson might finally have become ingrained. But I could be in error there.

Lovers of books that are made into movies or TV shows run the not uncommon risk (?) of being disappointed. Why? Simple. Time. There simply is not enough time to take the book word by word and move it into a film medium.

It might sound simple and easy but the end result just can’t justify any part of that exercise. The time and cost to actually produce the filmed product would exceed every expectation and the end result would be a disaster. The first book in the Fowl series is not that long and the resulting film, with the necessary edits, etc., still resulted in a film under two hours. Most audiences won’t want to sit through a longer film

So, do not expect the book to be the film. In fact, one thing that helped me with the Potter films was to not read the book close to the time I watched the film. I gave my brain time to ‘forget’ things so when I watched the film, it was fresh and relatively new.

The Film

First, can I just say how amazing Judi Dench is? I never, ever sit down to watch her work and am not amazed at the end result.

Second, the casting of this film is amazing. I really, really, enjoyed each and every character – the performers brought so much to the table with their efforts.

Third, Kenneth Branagh has shown a level of skill, of deftness of touch, with this film. He kept the target audience (kids) in mind every second of the way, so the audience wasn’t overloaded with graphic monsters, dark and dank settings.

In short, he wasn’t playing to adults with the standard blow things up, excess violence, not to mention graphic gore with the plot secondary to all the special effects. From some of the reviews I’ve read, this seems to have confused folks a lot. <shrug>

Granted, he could have treated us to every second of Artemis searching for the language to unlock the query to find the … … … you get the idea. The film would have gone from under two hours to over three for that alone.

The film actually gives us every piece of information we need to understand what is happening in the story. Yes, a little more information about how certain things do, or don’t, work might have been helpful, Especially if the viewer isn’t a student of myth lore.

Overall, I liked the end result. It was just the right balance of material. It has a beautiful design and the soundtrack is delicious.

Since I am one who might end up nodding off or foraging when a film loses my attention, this was a pleasant change. No pauses. No napping. No foraging.

Final Thoughts

I recommend both the books and the film. I encourage you to remember to leave some space/time between the books and the film, but both are worth your time and attention. Don’t embark with any preconceived ideas, however. Let the story unfold as written.

Enjoy!

Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: Twenty-One Days

Twenty-One Days by Anne Perry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I haven’t read anything from Anne Perry in a very long time. Thanks to a sale over on Audible, I discovered this book and decided to give it a try.

I’m glad I did!

I’m not a fan of cookie-cutter books; they seem a bit lacking when it comes to substance. Perry always provides interesting characters, settings, and situations that provide a lot of food for thought and a mystery that will keep you wondering.

Daniel is 25 and still wet behind the ears and a little unsure of his footing. This is both interesting and a tad annoying.

The client is a pompous [ fill in the blank ] and the first case is relatively straightforward. Or is it?

I found myself thinking I knew the solution, but by the time I got there, I knew I’d been brought along by a master storyteller.

I like Daniel. I like the time period. I like the masterful way Anne Perry asks the questions that make the story exceptional.




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Audiobooks · Books

From The Reading Table: ‘Another Time, Another Place’

Another Time, Another Place by Jodi Taylor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This one snuck up on me. I hadn’t noted the release date in my calendar and when I came upon a notice that the book was out I grabbed it. Needless to say, I have been up all night listening (and I still haven’t finished it).

One thing that continues to amaze me is the way Jodi is able to literally put me in the middle of whatever, wherever, whenever with such apparent ease that I feel like I’ve just joined in the latest expedition. Considering the track record of St. Mary’s, however, that might not be a good idea.

I admit, thanks to reading a review on Audible and being a bit, shall we say, concerned about the potential outcome, I did fast forward to the last chapter and then immediately return to where I left off. As a rule, this is a Major No-No for me. It did not fill in all the blanks or provide all the explanations but it did provide a bit of … relief before the next adventure.

O. M. G.!!!!!

Which, come to think about it, is pretty much the reaction of the reviewer who enticed me to do my fast forward. That, in a nutshell, should tell you a lot.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m heading back to continue the adventure and then start over for that all-important second round (of many) to make sure I caught all the little things that might have been missed. Or not.

Buckle up. It’s a grand adventure!



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