Friday, January 29, 2021

Book Review: "The Power Couple" by Alex Berenson

I've been an Alex Berenson fan for years. I enjoyed his John Wells series, and so I wasn't sure what to expect when I saw him heading in a new direction. With The Power Couple, Berenson introduces us to an ambitious lawyer/FBI agent and her husband who is far less of an establishment/conformist type of person. 

While Rebecca and Brian seem quite different on the surface, they make it work very well, falling in love, enjoying a great sex life, raising kids, and seemingly having a great marriage. Until they don't. But then they do again. Or do they? And then things take a horrifying turn as they find themselves, instead of being on the crimefighting side of things, as Rebecca normally is, the victims of a terrifying crime.

Even as we're absorbing this turn of events, things really take a wild turn, but it's a believable turn, as well, because Berenson is a skillful author who weaves a complicated yet plausible plot. At least as important, he has the power to develop his characters so we care about what happens to them. Too many authors expect readers to just care about whoever they throw out there, even without proper character development, but Berenson is far better at this. He builds the connection, so you're along for the ride.

I will admit that when a favorite author goes in a new direction, I worry about whether I'll like the new effort. Happily, I was well rewarded!

Friday, January 08, 2021

Book Review: "The Radio Operator" by Ulla Lenze


This historical novel centers on Josef Klein, a character based on a relative of the author. He came from Germany to settle in New York before World War II. He worked for a printer that did work for local Nazis, among others. His interest in radio came to their attention, and he found himself dragged into doing work for them.

The book follows Josef from his early years in New York through the war years and into his post-war life, including some romantic entanglement that doesn't really possess any passion in the pages of the book. Josef doesn't come across as the most sympathetic character. He's not necessarily someone to be disliked. Rather, he elicits a sort of emotional shrug. 

Even when it comes to the premise of his being a radio operator, a sphere that would have given another author fodder for discussions with far-flung locations during a tumultuous time in history, and allowed her to paint all sorts of interesting scenes, there was nothing there. The author referenced a few conversations with other radio operators in far off lands, but that was it. That part of the story, or a real feel for Josef's love of the radio, wasn't developed.

I don't think the author has the writing power to really develop characters so you care about them. It feels more like she just expects us to care, perhaps because this is based on someone who was a member of her family, so she and her family cared. It just didn't get there for me.  Not a bad book, but definitely not a page-turner, either.

Friday, January 01, 2021

Vaccination & a new year

So here we are, finally in 2021. I don't think anyone will miss 2020. Happily, the very end of 2020 saw Marc getting his first of two shots to immunize him against COVID-19. He got that first shot yesterday morning. By 7pm last night, he had a sore arm but that was it.

We spent about an hour on a video call starting around 7pm. That's how I remember when he had the sore arm. Our friend Keir was going to be spending his New Year's Eve alone at his place in Bristol, UK, so we decided to join him by video at midnight his time. We all had our drinks and toasted to a better year to come. Then we spent more time catching up. Always great talking to Keir. We haven't seen him in a while!

Now, about that vaccine. Marc was okay. Then he wasn't. Overnight, he got hit with dizziness, nausea and other unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects. That laid him low for much of today. Fortunately, it was easing off by this evening. He let me make him some pasta (elbow macaroni) in chicken broth with mixed vegetables. Then I made a grilled cheese that we split. He's still sore and tired, but he's definitely doing better. Best of all, he's on his way to being protected against this horrible plague that's killing thousands.

On a completely different note, I'm drafting this post on my reMarkable 2 e-ink writing tablet.

I love this thing, but I think I'll tell you more about it in its own, separate post.