Book Review: Crossing b y Michael Connelly

The CrossingYou would think that after 28 books Michael Connelly would have maybe one that might be off a bit. Afraid not. He just gets better and better. I think he really enjoys this whole creative writing process. In The Crossing, the author’s most recent novel, he does something he’s never done before: he brought together his two main characters so they could work together on a case.

Matthew M cConaugheyThe two men are half-brothers, although they didn’t know about each other until a few years ago. Mickey Haller is a defense attorney and Harry Bosch is a retired police homicide detective. Because they have always worked on opposite sides of the law their paths never cross — until now. Mickey has a client accused of a brutal murder. He actually begs for Harry’s help. He wouldn’t do it if he weren’t so desperate.

 

Titus WelliverHarry is opposed to helping on so many levels. It’s nothing personal with his brother. He’s spent three decades putting scumbags like Mickey’s client away, plus he’s morally opposed to helping the defense side. If his former colleagues were to find out, life would be hell. Harry agrees to check out some of the basic facts to see if the client is telling the truth.

Harry checked out the facts with the help of an old colleague who agrees to keep quiet. Even though Harry tried to keep his involvement secret, word gets out. Harry’s former colleagues are vicious in their hatred and harassment of Harry. Frankly, I was surprised. I guess I’m naive, but what ever happened to an open and honest justice system?

Crossing over to the other side, or the dark side, cost Harry a lot. Good friends he respected now consider him an enemy. Will it be okay for Harry in the end? How does Mickey’s client fare in the end? Searching for answers kept my ears glued to this audio book straight through to the end. I hope the author puts these two guys together again soon.  Don’t miss this one.

Audiobook narrated by Titus Welliver. Published by Hachette Group (9 hours, 24 minutes)

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Wondrous Words #346

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

Last week I finished reading The Arsonist. I had a vague idea I’d read one or two of the author’s books before. (Sue Miller) I went ro Goodreads to check out the author’s book list. While reading  the blurb for The Senator’s Wife, I found these new words:

1.   obdurate: “ . . . two marriages exposed in all their shame and imperfection, and in their obdurate, unyielding love.”

Obdurate means to stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action.

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2.   abraded:   “ . . . both reckoning with the cotours and mysteries of marriage, one refined and abraded by years of complicated intimacy, the other barely begun.

Abraded means to scrape or wear away by friction or erosion.

Okay, that’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

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What Am I Reading? The Crossing by Michael Connelly

I’m featuring a book by one of my favorite authors, Michael Connelly. This is his latest book that features his two main characters – Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller. By now we are all old friends. Here’s how the story begins:

The Crossing1
It was a Friday morning and the smart people had already taken off for the weekend. This made traffic into downtown a breeze and Harry Bosch got to the courthouse early. Rather than wait for Mickey Haller on the front steps, where they had agreed to meet, he decided to look for his lawyer inside the monolithic structure that covered half a block of space nineteen floors into the air. But the search for Haller would not be as difficult as the size of the building suggested. After clearing the lobby metal detector—a new experience for him—Bosch took an elevator up to fifteen and started checking courtrooms and using the stairs to work his way down. Most of the courtrooms assigned to criminal cases were on floors nine through fifteen. Bosch knew this because of the time he’d spent in those courtrooms over the last thirty years.

 

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

firstparagraphEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first paragraph of a book currently being read. Feel free to join the fun.

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A Book Club Choice: The Arsonist by Sue Miller

The ArsonistI’ve said this before — our best book club selections are books in which half the members like the book and the other half don’t. It fills our discussions with so much depth and liveliness. This past week we met to talk about The Arsonist by Sue Miller and our discussion was excellent.

The Arsonist is a story about a “summer” family in a small New Hampshire town. It’s the classic conflict between the full-time residents and those who only reside there in the summer. When an unknown arsonist begins setting fires, one by one, to the homes of the summer residents, it upsets the whole community.

The Rowley family has owned the house and all it’s property for a very long time. Sylvia Rowley’s family lived there for decades. She inherited the place, but has only spent summers there. But now Sylvia and her husband are no longer just summer people. They have retired to the property. Does that move them over to the full-time side?

The story really takes off when their daughter Frankie comes homer from Africa where she has been working for an aid organization for fifteen years. Frankie is exhausted and burnt out. She didn’t feel as if she belonged in Africa and would like to figure out where she does belong. She doesn’t feel she fits in at her parent’s home. What does home feel like?

One bright spot for Frankie is Bud. He is a long-time journalist/writer who has always longed for old-fashioned newspapering. He took a chance and is now the owner of the small town newspaper. It’s pretty much a one-man shop with help from volunteers. Bud hasn’t been lucky when it comes to relationships, but he really is one of the nice guys. He quickly falls for Frankie, but tries to take it slow.

One thing Sue Miller is good at is analyzing relationships. All her novels touch on that concept in one way or another. I still remember The Senator’s Wife and its diagnosis of young marriage vs. a long-term marriage. In The Arsonist we also look at a long-term marriage. There are so many issues in the marriage of Frankie’s parents. It’s not a good example for someone contemplating a long-term relationship.

I was disappointed in two things in this book. One is that I felt that Sue Miller just dropped the issue of summer residents vs. year-round residents. The issue of belonging to a community could have, should have, been covered better. There were plenty of examples but no follow through. I was also disappointed in the resolution of the arsonist. It was never established definitively who that was and the motives. That part of the book just ended.

In spite of what I just said, I actually liked the story and the main characters were well drawn. It kept my interest all the way through. I was surprised that so many book club members didn’t like the novel. But, to tell you the truth, I’m glad they did as it made me think deeper about various aspects of the story. That is one of the benefits of belonging to a book club.

If you need a book club selection and you prefer books with mixed reactions, then pick The Arsonist.

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Happy Arbor Day!

Arbor Day has been one of my favorite “holidays” since I was a child in elementary school. Focusing on trees every year made me love trees and care about their survival. I also care about the places where trees live. This year I want to share pictures of some trees that are native to northern California. The first one is the Black Oak.

Oak on Village GreenThis Black Oak sits on the side of our village green.

Oaks in ParkThere are strong rules against cutting down the Black Oaks. They are a part of many parks.

Copse Near City HallAnd, here is a copse of Black Oaks right next to the city hall.

Redwoods in NPNorthern California is famous for it’s ancient Redwood trees.

IMG_0925.JPGWhen standing in the presence of aged giants is, for me and my husband (above), an emotional experience. Truthfully, I often tear up. I think back to all they have survived and I’m grateful  for their  perseverance and their beauty.

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Okay, children, join me in reciting our annual Arbor Day Traditional Poem:

Trees

by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

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I’m linking this post with others who participate at Saturday Snapshot located at West Metro Mommy Reads. For more information, visit her website.

Saturday Snapshot

 

 

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Wondrous Words #345

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

This hasn’t happened in a long time: I found a new-to-me word in two different books in the same week! Of course, its now my Word-Of-The-Week:

Insouciance

 Insouciance (inˈso͞osēəns) means showing a casual lack of concern; indifference.

“He closed the door and I watched him saunter toward the court. The word ‘insouciance‘ was invented for Henry, and against it the teenage version suffered.”
-from Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

“I had just rounded a corner when his insouciant step caught my eye; there was no one else in sight.”
-from Only In Naples by Katherine Wilson

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Okay, that’s it for me this week. I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

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What Am I Reading? The Arsonist by Sue Miller

I’m reading a really good story. Really, its so nice to be able to say that. Its set in a small town in New Hampshire. There has always been a little tension between the “summer people” and local residents. But now someone is burning the houses of the summer people. Who? and why?

Here’s how the story begins:

The ArsonistLater, Frankie would remember the car speeding past in the dark as she stood at the edge of the old dirt road. She would remember that she had been aware of the smell of smoke for a while. Someone having a fire, she had assumed then, and that would turn out to be correct—though not in the way she was imagining it. She had the quick thought, briefly entertained amid the other, rushing thoughts that were moving through her tired brain, that it was odd for someone to be doing this, having a fire this late—or this early—on an already warm summer night.

What do you think?

Would you keep reading?

firstparagraphEvery Tuesday I join Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea  to share the first paragraph (or two) of a book I’m reading or about to read. Feel free to join the fun.

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A Book Tour Stop For Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman

Fading StarlightLauren is a young woman with a big dream. She’s a gifted fashion designer, but her dream is to have her own line. She suffers a career stopping blow when a dress she designed and made for a teenaged TV actress malfunctioned on the red carpet. The actress’s dress burst open, on camera, exposing her “assets” to the whole world. Lauren was immediately fired and widely discredited.

Lauren had to escape L.A. so she drove to Santa Barbara where she found a run-down cottage and a job designing and making school costumes. Living next door is Charlotte, an older woman who is clearly unpleasant, but gossip has it she’s an old Hollywood ingenue, hiding out in Santa Barbara.

Kendall, a reporter, comes to Lauren offering proof that the wardrobe malfunction was not her fault. Kendall promises Lauren she can get her job back. In exchange, Kendall wants Lauren to give her inormation about Charlotte. Now Lauren has an enormous ethical conundrum. What will she decide?

I liked the story but didn’t love it. It was fun to read and had a bit of romance and a little mystery. I also liked the sewing and fashion sections. The story had an inspirational/religious/Biblical element to it.

I knew that ahead of time as I know that the publisher, Bethany House is one of the largest Christian publishers. The ethical decision facing the main character is one that can affect any one of us and could make for good discussion if this were a book club choice. What made the story a negative for me was that the main character was just too nice – too good. I like characters that are more honest in their struggles. It makes them seem real.

The book will publish on May 3rd so you’ll need to pre-order it now.

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 Thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book and to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of it all. To see other stops on the book tour, visit the schedule here: Fading Starlight Book Tour Schedule

tlc tour host

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A Great New Food Memoir: Only In Naples

Only In NaplesOnly In Naples:

Lessons In Food and Famiglia From My Italian Mother-In-Law

 

Are you one of those people who likes to read cookbooks like a novel? When you travel, do you like eating the food that locals eat? Then I have a book for you: Only In Naples by Katherine Wilson. The book is an ode to good eating. Every chapter will make you hungry and you’ll stop worrying about excessive calories—even while eating them. Let me share the basic outline of this book:

Katherine Wilson, an American, had just graduated from college and was ready for her traditional “year abroad.” She could only find a three-month internship at the American Consulate in Naples. She took it, loved Naples, and expanded her trip into a year-long stay. What prompted Katherine to stay was being immediately cocooned into the famiglia of the Avallones. Specifically, it was Salvatore, her future husband, but another strong pull was Raffaella, her future mother-in-law, and the amazing Neapolitan food she makes.

Although the book is considered a memoir, that is completely woven around the story of traditional food. Some of the chapters are titled with one of the food dishes that are lovingly prepared and enjoyed. That food then highlights events within Katherine Wilson’s experience. Examples are O Ragu, Pasta e Fagioli, Eggplant Parmesan and Rococo Cookies and Eggnog.

I want to give you a flavor for how much fun this book is to read. Here is the beginning of the directions for making “rushed” ragu. (“Rushed” only takes three hours vers the normal ten hours.) Please not this ragu dish bears no resemblance to that little jar by the same name.

“First put an apron on, and don’t think of removing it until you’ve turned off the stove. When the ragu starts to spit, it rakes no prisoners. Get a pot that is not only wide but tall. (The height is important when the sauce spatters—Raffaella is worried about your kitchen as well as your clothes.) Dice thwe onion and pur ir in the pot with olive oil.

Non ti detto di accendere ancora. She hasn’t told you to turn on the flame yet, so keep your pants on.”

See what I mean? It’s like sitting with your grandmother at the kitchen table as she explains all the secrets to her favorite dishes. Yes, she might think you’re dense enough not to know to put on an apron. The entire book is very conversational. I definitely feel as if Katherine Wilson is one of my friends.

The single over-arching principle I took from reading Only In Naples is that food is something to completely immerse yourself into. We should enjoy preparing it and smelling it and looking at it and carefully tasting it, then talking about it. In other words, we should completely immerse ourselves into the food we consume. Isn’t that what we “foodies” do?

Highly recommended. You won’t want to miss this one.

P.S. I listened to the audiobook version which was read by the author who has a background in theater. Very well done.

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I’m linking this post to Weekend Cooking. You can find more Weekend Cooking  posts at Beth Fish Reads.

weekendckng2

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Book Review: What You See by Hank Phillippi Ryan

What You SeePlacing myself in the world of Jane and Jake makes me smile. I don’t smile about the fact that what consumes them for all the hours I’m with them is the death of someone. No, I smile because these are enjoyable people to be with. They are both intelligent from a general perspective. They are also intelligent in the ways of their respective careers – and they have an in-born intuition about people. It’s good.

The death in What You See is a tough one to investigate. There is a stabbing victim with no id and another guy severely beaten with no id. All of this occurred right in front of Boston’s City Hall with lots of tourists and others snapping pictures on their cell phones. Surely someone got a picture of the killer.

Detective Jake Brogan is sent to investigate and Jane Ryland, journalist-between-jobs, is sent to interview witnesses and take videos. She’s sent by the news director for Channel 2 as part of a job interview. Jake and Jane know their relationship causes a conflict of interest when they find themselves working on the same case. It’s something they are struggling to resolve.

Jane’s life is complicated even further when the daughter of Jane’s sister’s finance comes up missing. It is assumed she was abducted by her stepfather. Jane’s sister begs for Jane’s help. With a cop for a boyfriend, maybe Jane can get special help. It’s a crazy couple of days. Jake actually works constantly on all of these ases with no sleep for close to 30 hours!

This story, which I listened to, is very fast-paced. It’s told from the point of view of about five different people. There’s a lot of internal dialogue, which I like, as well as external dialogue. It’s amazing how the action is played out via that dialogue. It’s a solid mystery that kept me guessing to the very end. Well, actually, I did figure out the missing child thing – just not the murderer.

It’s a pleasure to read Hank Phillippi Ryan’s novels. (This is now my eighth one.)  She’s a very smart writer. After all, she didn’t win all her awards for nothing! You can’t go wrong grabbing a book in the series. They do stand alone, but why would you want to? Start at the beginning. (See the series list below.)

Note to Hank Phillippi Ryan: Please don’t dawdle getting the next book out. That little teaser on the very last page of this book was a doozy. It has me wondering: What’s next?

The Other Books In This Series (Click the title for my review):

The Other Woman
The Wrong Girl
Truth Be Told

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