Madam Secretary: A book that is more than 500 pages

It took a while to read it but I finished Madeleine Albright’s memoir 20 years, to the day, after Madeleine K. Albright was sworn in as the first female Secretary of State–what a day to finish this book! A great read for anyone interested in foreign affairs or #WomenWhoLead!

“Women have to be active listeners and interrupters – but when you interrupt, you have to know what you are talking about.”

“I was taught to strive not because there were any guarantees of success but because the act of striving is in itself the only way to keep faith with life.”

What an accomplished life and this is a woman who was a two time refugee! She is my hero. It makes me want to name my daughter Madeleine.


Samantha, Daughter




House of Cards: A book that was based on or turned into a TV show

When it comes to guilty pleasure TV, House of Cards ranks pretty highly on my Netflix queue. It can be a little (okay, a lot) crude and gritty. Nonetheless, it’s a very compelling TV show. I’ve never met anyone who has watched any of House of Cards without watching all of House of Cards.

house of cards
Oh hey, Mom, check out who it is! Our old friend BAU Section Chief Strauss! Calm down, Hotch is yet to crossover to Netflix. (Pinterest, 2016)

So when I considered this objective on the year long reading crusade (#13 – A book that was based on or turned into a TV show) the choice was a no-brainer. It was nothing the show but it was exactly like the show at the same time. I know, that makes no sense, but it’s truly how it felt to read it. To start, it’s set in London versus Washington, so that creates an initial glaring difference. The American political system is very different from the parliamentary British model. It went beyond a structure difference of the political landscape. The characters differed by name (Francis Urquhart becomes Francis Underwood in America. Michael Dobbs’ Mortima becomes Claire. Mattie Storin, ironically a blond bombshell in Britain is Zoe Barnes, a mousy brunette for American television. Henry Collingwood, Prime Minister, is Garrett Walker, President… You get the picture). But the differences are more than skin deep. Peter Russo, one of my favorite characters in the Netflix series seems to be created from the ashes of Roger O’Neill and, to a certain extent, Charles Collingwood. Doug Stamper, Chief of Staff, and (until Season 3 with Rachel) another of my American House of Cards favorites, I can’t quite place in the of cards 2

I know, that mini-analysis is incredibly boring and reads as nonsense if you haven’t consumed both forms of House of Cards. To generalize, while both are very different in terms of character and plot, the creators of the Netflix series somehow captured the spirit of the novel. Both leave you with a dark and disturbed feeling. You don’t want to put the book down or stop binge-watching the show, yet the further into the abyss you delve the darker it gets… It’s a compelling dissonance that haunts you in both works. No matter how they differ in their design or execution, they tell the same story.

I need to get the next two books in the series, To Play the King and Final Cut. What I’m most looking forward to is, hopefully, and eventual demise for the corrupt leader in both the literature and the TV series. Also, I’m hoping that Mortima (read: Claire) will be developed more in future books. There’s a deliberate machismo and chauvinistic sub-current carrying the story along and *fingers crossed* Michael Dobbs is going to begin to swim against that tide in the subsequent books! Further reading is required, I couldn’t possibly comment.

Samantha, Daughter