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Best Books I Read in 2017

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Out of 17 books I read this year 2017, I did not finish 1 and did not review another. In addition, I read 2 nonfiction books. Without further ado, these are the literary works that I rated four stars or higher this year, 11 in total. Why I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown (♦♦♦♦): is for the most part a science memoir of almost a decade long search for trans-Neptunian objects of significance, now denominated “dwarf planets” (for lack of a better term) […] Mike Brown’s memoir is candid…At once funny and page-turning, it will both instruct and entertain you, and will do so in under 300 pages. The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald (♦♦♦♦): Its sentences are lyrical, beautifully constructed, with very accessible language…Fitzgerald spikes the dialogues with keen observations about life and human nature, leaving, at least in the first part of the book, no other choice than to chuckle; he also peppers the dialogues with cynicism—rare among the young and privileged—,…

Snapshots - #33: Victoria and Abdul, Wind River, Menashe

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The movies…
Victoria and Abdul (♦♦♦♦½): At 81 years of age, Queen Victoria (Judi Dench) is mostly overwhelmed by her royal duties. Her children are jockeying for the throne and her household staff for suitable positions. She feels trapped and increasingly isolated from her companions, but she gets a new lease on life when she meets Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), a handsome Hindu Muslim, an envoy brought from India to present her with a coin during the celebration dinner of her Golden Jubilee. As the queen and Abdul's friendship deepens, it raises eyebrows, sends tongues wagging, and soon her entire household is up in arms over his hold on her affections and his growing influence in the household. Among so many lackluster cinematic productions this year, Victoria and Abdul is a breath of fresh air. It is wonderfully funny and delightfully entertaining. It highlights class differences in British society without offensive snobbery. Victoria and Abdul is an artful film that can boast of wonder…

TV Shows I Watched in 2017

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This year 2017 my entertainment calendar was filled with amazing TV series, newly released and old fan favorites. Since I did not watch TV for many years, I missed a great deal of what was out there; I’m starting to catch up, though that means less time for reading as I devote my weekends to watching movies. I hereby give a monthly overview of the TV shows I watched this year, and my impressions on what made them worth my time. Without further ado, here they are.
May Pride and Prejudice (1995), (♦♦♦♦♦): I fell in love with this wonderful co-production from BBC and A&E channel. The dialogues sparkle with intelligence and humor, particularly the initial banter between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Watching Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle's exchanges, I would have sworn that the love between their characters was there from the very beginning. Lovely music, perfect casting choices even for minor characters, sumptuous estates, and great chemistry among the actors, make this miniseri…

Reading/TV Watching on A Theme: Pairings from my Year 2017 in Entertainment

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Vs.
This is the first year in which I have charted most of my reading the year prior—introducing several tweaks here and there along the way. I want to continue that trend. At the start of 2017 I had planned to follow a single literary theme (i.e., read two classics by Francis Scott Fitzgerald, continue that trend by reading a novel on his last years in Hollywood, followed by a biographical novel on Zelda Fitzgerald). It didn’t turn out as planned because I abandoned Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night at the 50% mark after being awfully bored by it. Then I tackled West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan; between Zelda’s madness and Scott’s drunkenness, paired with the drunkenness described in Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned, which I read before the former two, proved too much to make this theme one to enjoy. Francis Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald:
The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (DNF @ 50%) West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan
I requested a g…

Snapshots - #32: Restless, Landline, The Bachelors

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TV shows... Restless (♦♦♦): Ruth Gilmartin (Michelle Dockery) goes with her son to visit her mother Sally (Charlotte Rampling) in the country, and finds her in a distressed state, as someone appears to be stalking her. Sally gives Ruth, in bits and pieces, her story as a British secret agent during the Second World War. Sally's real name is Eva Delectorskaya (Hayley Atwell), a Russian immigrant with flawless English diction, whose brother was killed by a fascist group he was trying to infiltrate. As Eva Dalton, Delectorskaya was trained in spy craft, and flew to America with a unit to exercise the trade. At first, they work as a news agency planting war stories to be picked up by major newspapers, but then a big assignment comes for Eva; one in which she may be either the fall guy or a dead one. This BBC adaptation of William Boyd's spy novel left me confused at first, due to the several name changes and a cast change, which I thought very unwise, for the younger characters. Polis…

Snapshots - #31: The Dark Tower, Wonder Woman

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The movies… The Dark Tower (♦♦♦♦): Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), an 11-year-old boy from New York City, has had dreams of impending world doom for a year. He always dreams more or less the same things: a Man in Black who wants to destroy a dark tower that stands at the center of the universe—holding it together and keeping it safe from dark, mysterious forces that lie on the outside. There is also a "tall, dark, and handsome" gunslinger who is supposed to protect the tower.

What Jake doesn't know is that the mind of a very special child can bring down the tower, and that the Man in Black crosses children, through portals across worlds, to sacrifice their minds, hoping that they fall the tower. The children's mind-beams rattle the tower from time to time, and echo on earth causing earthquakes. The Man in Black, whose name is Walter (Matthew McConaughey), is a sorcerer who has killed all gunslingers in Mid-World. Only Roland of Eld (Idris Elba), whose guns are forged of the…

Snapshots - #30: Megan Leavey, The Beguiled, and Lady Macbeth

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The movies…
Megan Leavey (♦♦♦♦): Young marine corporal Megan Leavey (Kate Mara) is assigned, as a result of a disciplinary action, the task of cleaning the corps' kennels for one week. She instantly takes a liking for the dogs, passing all her exams with flying colors to be given the opportunity of being a dog handler. When Rex, an aggressive German shepherd, bites and breaks his handler's hand, he is reassigned to Leavey. Soon they are both training to sniff out IED explosives, while they work on bonding, and are deployed to Iraq. Over the course of 100 missions, as a team they save countless lives, but both get injured in the line of duty. Leavey is evacuated and granted leave; Rex stays behind. After many attempts to reunite and Leavey's efforts to keep him, the army retires him and she adopts him. Together they live until the end of his days. I'm a big sucker for animal stories, even more so if they are well acted, thus it's no coincidence that I liked Megan Leave…

Snapshots - #29: House of Cards Trilogy, Baby Driver, and Churchill

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TV shows...

House of Cards (1990), (♦♦♦♦): Francis Urquhart (Ian Richardson) is the Chief Whip of Britain’s Conservative Party. He is a disciplinarian; he keeps the troops in check. Mr. Urquhart is also apparently a man without further political ambitions. But what better test for a politician's ambition than a general election in which a charismatic man, "with no background and no bottom" has been elected? Henry Collingridge (David Lyon), a relatively young man whose only political desire is to be well liked, is elected for the Conservative Party as the Prime Minister, with less majority than predicted by the polls. He is the pebble in Urquhart's shoe, the first of many, for the Chief Whip will use political mischief, and every dirty secret in his files to clear his path to higher office, including manipulating Mattie Storin (Susannah Harker), a young journalist with dreams of becoming a heavyweight political analyst. I had watched at least the first 15 minutes of the …