Monday, December 7, 2015

Book Reviews

2015 has been a disappointing book year for me, but at least I'm ending strong.  Three of my four most recent reads garnered five stars on my reading scale.

This double-header from Michael Connelly was a double-hit.  Dave introduced me to the Harry Bosch series several years ago, but I have only read a few. I'm not sure why that is. Every one I've read has been a winner - fast paced, gripping, and always a surprise at the end.  I need to go back and catch up on early volumes.

In the LAPD's Open-Unsolved Unit, not many murder victims die almost a decade after the crime. So when a man succumbs to complications from being shot by a stray bullet nine years earlier, Bosch catches a case in which the body is still fresh, but all other evidence is virtually nonexistent.  Now Bosh and rookie Detective Lucia Soto, are tasked with solving what turns out to be a highly charged, politically sensitive case.  Beginning with the bullet that's been lodged for years in the victim's spine, they must pull new leads from years-old information, which soon reveal that this shooting may have been anything but random.

I don't want to give away too much, but when The Burning Room ended, I was convinced that the series had also ended, so I was thrilled when The Crossing was released.  Turn about being fair play, I introduced Dave to Connelly's Mickey Haller series.  What better book for us to share than one combining both series.  We took it along on our Thanksgiving trip to see the kids.  I read while Dave fought the freezing rain and icy roads.

Detective Harry Bosch has retired from the LAPD, but his half-brother, defense attorney Mickey Haller, needs his help.  The murder rap against his client seems ironclad, but Mickey is sure it's a setup.  Thought it goes against all his instincts, Bosch takes the case.  With the secret help of his former LAPD partner, Lucia Soto, he turns the investigation inside the police department.  But as Bosch gets closer to discovering the truth, he makes himself a target.

Dave and I agreed that this was one of Connelly's best.  I hope the Bosch/Haller team will continue.

It will come as no surprise to anyone who has read any of my previous reviews that I love, love, love the newest Mitford story by Jan Karon.  
Mitford fans have kept a special place in their hearts for Dooley Kavanagh, first seen in "At Home in Mitford" as a barefoot, freckle-faced boy in filthy overalls.  Now, Father Tim's adopted son has graduated from vet school, opened his own animal clinic, and is about to marry Lace Harper.  Jan Karon delivers the wedding that millions of Mitford fans have waited for.  It's a June day in the mountains, with more than a few creatures great and small, and you're invited -- because you're family.

This is one of my top 3 series, mostly due to that "family" feeling.  Not only do I anticipate the next installment, but I frequently revisit earlier volumes.  They have tremendous re-readability.

The disappointment in my recent reads was sit! stay! speak!  I picked it up in the airport with visions of a "Marley and Me-esque story. It turned out to be standard romance, mixed with a predictable mystery, with a puppy in a supporting role.   It's not a bad book, just not what I expected given the title and cover photo.

Tragedy sent Addie Andrews fleeing from Chicago to the shelter of an unexpected inheritance - her beloved aunt's somewhat dilapidated home in Eunice, Arkansas.  There,

she reconnects with some of her most cherished childhood memories.  People say nothing happens in a small towns, but Addie quickly learns better.  She's got an elderly next-door-neighbor who dances outside in his underwear, a house needing more work than she has money, and a local drug dealer holding a massive grudge against her.

Most surprising of all, she's got a dog - a bedraggled puppy she discovered abandoned, lost and in desperate need of love.  Kind of like Addie herself.  She'd come to Eunice hoping to hide from the world, but soon discovers that perhaps she's finding her way back to living, laughing and loving once more.

I may be admitting my own stupidity here - or at least my delusion - but does anyone else have higher expectations from a book printed in trade paperback size rather than mass market size?  For some reason I always assume that publishers wouldn't give those extra inches to an average story.


  1. Sorry that the dog book didn't work out, but between Connelly and Karon, you more than made up for it. Way to finish up the year strong!

  2. I haven't read as much this year as I did other years. Too busy doing other things I guess. I found a few good books, but not that many that were really memorable. Anyway, as for your question about trade vs mass market. I, too, have that expectation...that the stories in hardcover/trade would/should be "better". Sadly, I've learned that this isn't the case. Stinkers come in all shapes and sizes. ;)

  3. I'm all about the story when it comes to reading. I don't care if it's a big name author or a self published one. If the story appeals to me and catches my heart, then i'm all in. That being said, 5 star books are hard to come by and when i find one of those authors, I find myself looking for more of their books. Glad that you found Michael Connelly. I think I have read a few of his books and enjoyed them a lot.