Thursday, April 30, 2020

Audiobook Challenge 2020 - May Book

The Audiobook Listening Challenge for May is 
An Audiobook Featuring a Murder

This month's challenge is perfect for me.  I would say 90% of the books I read/listen to have at least one murder.  

Finally my favorite genre, Mystery and Thrillers.

This gives me the opportunity to go back to a book series I started in 2017: The Bernie Gunther series of novels by Philip Kerr.

Berliner Bernie Gunther goes from World War I soldier, to homicide detective, to private detective, and from 1928 Berlin, through Hitler's victory, Nazi dictatorship, World War II, and through the late 50's.   

What would you do to survive, what compromises would you make, where would you draw the line?

This is a Historical Mystery Book series that weaves real life people and events with fictional characters and a fictional main murder mystery plot.

There were times when reading/listening to the books I would pause at a name and think surely this was a fictional character and event. Only to look up the name and find to my horror this was a real person (I can't even say they were human) and a true horrendous event.  

Not an easy series to read/listen to, but I highly recommend it for those that like mystery and history. 

I started by reading Berlin Noir, which has the first three Bernie Gunther novels in one volume. After reading this volume I started listening to the audiobooks.  I've now read/listened to ten (10) of the books that make up this series of fourteen (14) novels. I was trying to read the books chronologically rather then the order they were written, and then took what has been a long reading/listening break after Bernie reaches the mid-1950's.

I had Metropolis in my Audible library waiting to be in a Gunther mood again. Chronologically in Bernie's life it is the first of the books. But sadly it is also the last book, since Philip Kerr died shortly before it was published. 

John Lee narrates Metropolis and he's my favorite of the two narrators of the Bernie series. (The other is Paul Hecht.)

I discovered the book series thanks to Sean Bean.  In an interview some years ago Sean is asked, by Viggo Mortensen, what is his favorite book of the moment, and Sean says Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr.  So thank you Sean and Viggo. 

Tom Hanks is supposed to be developing a series based on the Bernie Gunther novels.  This has been going on for several years now according to all the Bernie blogs. The key of course is the casting of the right actor to play Bernie Gunther.  

Despite the fact that Tom Hanks, who I love by the way, is producing this series, I hope they select a European actor, or a UK actor, to play Bernie. 

Note:  Bernie Gunther is not an enlightened male by any means.  He is a man of his time. There is a bit of "James Bond" in Bernie's relationships with women. But Kerr does have a few interesting and sympathetic female characters throughout the books. 

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Another Richard Armitage Challenge! Social Distancing Edition #14

Most annoying character?

I have an old one and a new one  😊

Dr. Tom Steele in Doctors

Richard played a doctor in a UK TV series called Doctors.  

This role was before he was in North & South and like any working actor he appeared as a temporary guest  character in a number of TV series.  When I first became an Armitage fan, as you do, I searched for everything he had been in before I discovered him.  

Thanks to YouTube you can find Richard's scenes as Dr. Tom Steele.

What can I say.  Hope he forgives me for saying this doctor has the worlds worst bedside manner.  Yes, he look very handsome, but so irresponsible a character.  I have watched Richard play many different roles through the years, even several evil characters, but even those I don't find annoying. Scary yes, but not annoying.  But Steele I do.


My new most annoying character is Richard Hall (the father) in The Lodge.

The movie was playing in an AMC theater near me a while back.  Horror films are not my genre, but I couldn't pass up the chance of seeing Richard on the big screen.


I thought it was a good psychological horror. All the actors, especially the children, were very effective in their roles. 

I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but if you like psychological horror films or don't mind them, I would encourage you to see it. 

The film also has a clear warning message about fanaticism.  

I was pleasantly surprised that Armitage's role was bigger than I thought it would be, and key to what happens in the film. Yes, even when his character is not physically there on screen.

But I did find the father character, named Richard as it happens, very annoying. There were times in the movie theater that I wanted to yell at this Richard, but of course I contained myself in public. 

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Another Richard Armitage Challenge! Social Distancing Edition #12 and #13

I think I will answer two questions in this post because they are one and the same.

12.  Favorite kiss?

Could there be any other?  The kiss at the train station - John and Margaret

Video from jillyb85

13.  Favorite Season Finale?

The train station scene from North and South. 

A happy and romantic ending.  It's a balm to the spirit and to the incurable romantic that dwells extremely deeply within me.  


I'm taking a free online course from Future Learn about Mills and Mill Workers.  Can you guess why I am interested in this subject?

This afternoon I'm taking time for my course and we are now studying the work of Elizabeth Gaskell and the video below was part of our lesson.

I had not seen this video before, but I love it. Of course it's also about the mill workers and their working conditions as well as the love between Margaret and Thornton, beautiful and thought-provoking I thought.

Video is by lim.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Another Richard Armitage Challenge! Social Distancing Edition #11

Which episode did you watch more than five times?

This is more what episode haven't you watched more than five times!  

In all the years I've been an Armitage fan I've watched most of my favorite RA series at least five times I would say, counting also The Hobbit trilogy.  Not all at one sitting, but through the years.  I mean I've already watched The Stranger three times. 😄😄

But I'll narrow it down to my two favorite series: North and South and Spooks (MI-5).

Episode 2 in North and South and the proposal scene.  I love the proposal scene between John and Margaret and also John's scenes with his mother.

Also if you have the DVD there is an extended version of the proposal scene.

Spooks Season 8, Episode 4 is my favorite.  Lucas North encounters his primary torturer during his years in a Russian prison camp. But we find out that Lucas and Oleg have a complicated relationship.  Frenemies forever?

The episode also has moments of Lucas' relationship with Harry, with Ros, and his love affair with CIA agent Sarah. 

Friday, April 17, 2020

Happy Birthday Sean Bean! And Sharpe Reunion Podcast


To celebrate Sean Bean's birthday today, April 17, 2020, I encourage all Bean fans to listen to the wonderful recent Sharpe reunion podcast interview (4/12/2020)with Sean and Jason Salkey. See below:

Sharpe love from Beano.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Another Richard Armitage Challenge! Social Distancing Edition #9 and #10

Which show did you think you wouldn't like but did?


I may have mentioned a few times on this blog that I love mystery series and police procedurals, the darker the better.  But horror is definitely not my favorite genre.  

I've never watched any of the Hannibal Lecter or Red Dragon films, and I was never tempted to even try out the Hannibal series even as a fan of Mads Mikkelsen.  

But when Richard Armitage was cast as Francis Dolarhyde, The Tooth Fairy, mad serial killer, I knew I had to watch.  

In order to prepare for Richard's appearance as Dolarhyde in the last half of Season 3 of the series, I knew I had to at least watch the entire season.  And to my surprise, I liked it and thought it was very artistically done.  

Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde is one of the best performances of his career.  Richard made this monster both horrendously scary and repulsive, especially in the scenes with Raul Esparza as Dr. Chilton, and also sympathetic and even, yes, romantic, in his scenes with Rutina Wesley as Reba. 

Which show did you think you would like but didn't?

Ultimate Force

I have the DVD of Season 2 of this series.  I bought it to watch Richard as Ian Macalwain.  But I also thought that I might watch the rest since there are somewhat similar series, like UK's Red Cap, that I watch and like. 

But after watching Richard as Ian in this series I couldn't watch the rest of it.  What a horrible bunch of human beings make up Red Troop.  And I'm not just saying this because of what happens to Ian Macalwain.  They are a horrible bunch in every way.

Ultimate Force is not for me.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Another Richard Armitage Challenge! Social Distancing Edition #8

Which Audio Book Would You Like RA To Read?

I would like him to read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

He has said several times in interviews that Dickens is one of his favorite writers, if not his favorite.  I think his performance of David Copperfield is one of the top performances of his career. Amazing in many ways, all the characters so alive. You really forget he's one person bringing all these characters to life, they become your friends. It's at the top of my list of favorite Armitage audiobook narrations.  

If you don't know the story, here is a video summary. Spoilers of course if you plan on reading the book:

Richard is perfect to play Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay.  Always hoped a UK producer would make a new TV version of A Tale of Two Cities and have Richard play a dual role of Carton/Darnay.  

Image from Look and Learn.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Audiobook Challenge 2020 - April Book

The book I've selected for April is My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, read by Hugh Bonneville.

The April challenge is to select an audiobook about the natural world.

Among the books Listening Books recommended for this month of their challenge is the book by Gerald Durrell narrated by Hugh Bonneville.  So far during the challenge I've looked for and selected my own books without looking at the recommendations. But I confess the natural world is not a genre I'm that familiar with. I greatly enjoyed the TV series The Durrells in Corfu and am a fan of Hugh Bonneville, so this was an easy choice for me.

I also can use something to smile about right now, and this book seemed the perfect choice.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Another Richard Armitage Challenge! Social Distancing Edition #7

What's the best scene ever?

This is such a difficult question because I have many that I love and treasure as the best scene. There are scenes that I love or that stir my emotions in so many of Richard's characters.  I kept going through them in my mind: North & South, Spooks, The Hobbit, Strike Back, Urban and the Shed Crew, The Crucible, the list could go on and on.

What to do?

One of the scenes that came to my mind right away when I was thinking about this question is from The Crucible.  It's my favorite act in the play, Act 2.  I didn't have the privilege of seeing the play live in the theater, but thanks to Digital Theatre I've watched the filmed play several times now.  Including once in a movie theater near me on a big screen.

It's the first time we see John and Elizabeth Proctor together.  

I love the entire scene, from when John Proctor first enters the stage, to Elizabeth's concern that John is late, to his awkward attempts to reconcile with her after his infidelity. The tension and pain between them hangs in the air, but their affection for each other does as well. It's a wonderful scene and heartbreaking as the act continues to it's tragic end. 

This wasn't my first time with The Crucible. I read the play in school. I've seen it on stage long, long, ago. I watched the 1990's film with Daniel Day-Lewis. I relate to the play because of my personal and family history. But now and forever Richard Armitage is my John Proctor.  

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