Monday Musing and A Review

My plan for today was to just talk about a book I’m reading that has captivated me for the past week, but then I decided to check a couple of news outlets before settling into the work day. Not a good idea for my plans or my blood pressure. 

Because I like to have something fun, or pretty, at the top of the blog, I decided on this photo of Texas Bluebonnets. They’ll soon be blanketing roadways and meadows across much of the state and are always a pleasure to see. Here’s a website that has the best places to find them this Spring.


Now, because I can’t resist pointing out some news items that made me gasp and cry out, “What?!” I just want to say a word or two about a couple of absolute absurd happenings.

Number one is a proposal by Indiana Republican Sen. Mike Braun, who spoke to reporters to spell out the desired results of Republican Supreme Court ambitions. It’s not just abortion and birth control rights they want to see rolled back to the states. “The Republican philosophy,” says Braun, “means that states should regain the ability to make interracial marriage illegal.”

Oh, happy day!! And here I thought we’d come a long way since couples had to hide their marriage or leave the country.

The other story was about a teacher at Turning Point Christian School in Norco, California, who led pre-schoolers in the following chant on President’s Day: “Who’s our president?” The teacher asks, to which they reply with Biden’s name. Then she asks, “What do we want to do with him?” to which they reply: “We want him out!”

One of the parents, Christina McFadden made the video public after pulling her child from the school. She was unhappy with the whole incident and the school’s response to the video which had previously been only shared on a school app. More at Daily Kos.


Now to something more uplifting.

Through NetGalley, I received an ARC of Two Nights In Lisbon, by Chris Pavone. I’m down to reading the last quarter of the book and almost skipped my morning work session today to keep reading after breakfast. It’s that good. The book, I mean. My breakfast was just so-so.

The book, published by MCD, a new division of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, releases on May 22, 2022 and is available for preorder for Kindle, audio, and in hardcover.

Two Nights in Lisbon: A Novel by [Chris Pavone]

Ariel Price wakes up in Lisbon, alone. Her husband is gone—no warning, no note, not answering his phone. Something is wrong.

She starts with hotel security, then the police, then the American embassy, at each confronting questions she can’t fully answer: What exactly is John doing in Lisbon? Why would he drag her along on his business trip? Who would want to harm him? And why does Ariel know so little about her new—much younger—husband?

The clock is ticking. Ariel is increasingly frustrated and desperate, running out of time, and the one person in the world who can help is the one person she least wants to ask.

With sparkling prose and razor-sharp insights, bestselling author Chris Pavone delivers a stunning and sophisticated international thriller that will linger long after the surprising final page.


A number of years ago when I was writing screenplays with Stephen Marro, a director and producer in New York, he often would ask me, “Maryann. Where’s the beef?”

What he meant was, where’s the meat of the story – the drama and suspense? How can we surprise the audience with something totally shocking and unexpected?

Stephen taught me a lot about how to add more beef to the writing, as well as how to recognize it when reading, and believe me when I say that there’s plenty of meat in this novel by Chris Pavone.

What starts out as a plotline that appears to be a straightforward story about a kidnapping, ransom, and potential release of the kidnap victim, becomes more convoluted as the story progresses. The question of who is behind the kidnapping. The question of what, if any, role does the wife play in it? The husband? The question of how explosive will the fact of how she gets the ransom money be, or even will it.

As well as the ultimate question of who has the power in this story. The Lisbon police? The CIA? The U.S. government? The wife? The powerful man she blackmails?

It’s hard to say much more about the plot without revealing spoilers, so I just end with saying that finding the answers to all those questions will keep readers engaged in this riveting story from page one to the end. So far Two Nights in Lisbon is ranking as a number one read for me for this year.

CHRIS PAVONE is author of four international thrillers: THE EXPATS (2012), THE ACCIDENT (2014), THE TRAVELERS (2016), and THE PARIS DIVERSION (2019). TWO NIGHTS IN LIBSON will be published in May 2022. Chris’s novels have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and IndieNext; have won both the Edgar and Anthony awards, and have been shortlisted for the Strand, Macavity, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize; are in development for film and television; and have been translated into two dozen languages.

He has written for outlets including the New York Times Book Review and Magazine, the Telegraph, and Salon; has appeared on Face the Nation, Good Day New York, All Things Considered, and the BBC; and has been profiled on the arts’ front page of the New York Times. He is a member of PEN, the Authors Guild, International Thriller Writers, and Mystery Writers of America, for which he has served as an Edgars judge.

Chris grew up in Brooklyn, graduated from Midwood High School and Cornell University, and worked in publishing for nearly two decades at Dell Magazines, Doubleday, the Lyons Press, Regan/HarperCollins, Clarkson Potter, and Artisan/Workman, in positions ranging from copy editor and managing editor to executive editor and deputy publisher; he also wrote a (mostly blank) book about wine, and ghost-wrote a couple of nonfiction books. Then his wife got a job in Luxembourg, and the family moved abroad, where Chris raised their twin boys and started writing THE EXPATS. They now live again in New York City and on the North Fork of Long Island with an Australian Labradoodle named Wally.FacebookTwitterEmailShare


That’s all for today folks, and probably until Friday. I’ll be on a short holiday with one of my daughters to go to Tyler where I’ll be speaking at the Tyler Junior College on March 30. Whatever your week holds, I hope it is fun and productive.

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