Book Banter: Harry Bosch – Books 4 – 6 by Michael Connelly

Titles:

  • The Last Coyote
  • Trunk Music
  • Angels Flight

Page Count: About 350 to 400 each

Author: Michael Connelly

Plot Basics:

  • The Last Coyote: Bosch is on leave but unable to put behind his detective work. He takes advantage of the time to work on a cold case – the murder of his mother.
  • Trunk Music: Bosch leaves his normal territory as he investigates a murder that appears to be related to organized crime. Something about the case seems off immediately when the Organized Crime unit of the LAPD doesn’t want the case, leaving Bosch and his team in charge.
  • Angels Flight: The LAPD is constantly in the spotlight as a corrupt and incompetent police force; and the death of its largest — and most profitable critic — could ignite the City of Angels.

Banter Points: I decided to review these as one set because I have basically the same thing to say about all of them.

Bosch in the books rates closer to 10 on a 1-10 scale for level of Jerk than he does in the TV series. Since the TV series covers three or four books in 10-45 minute episodes, Bosch as a character would likely be a turn off for the viewer since he would have to be a jerk more often than not to match what I see in the books. In the books, he is a rough-edge cop, that is close to the end of his patience for the department politics and non-police work “stuff” that goes into being a detective.

The LAPD faces a ton of criticisim in the press during the time frame of the books, and Connelly adds this dimension to the storyline. It isn’t just about solving the murder, it’s also about understanding how to get something accomplished when the consequences — right or wrong — impact more then who committed the crime. Bosch just wants to do his job, and this is the kind of stuff that stops him from being able to do it. Fortunately, he is good at navigating it.

I know from being around the series that at some point Bosch does leave the force. I’m not sure when it happens, and am looking forward to reaching that point in the story line.

Bummer points: These books are popular and it creates wait time inbetween reading them since I am on hold at the Oshkosh Public Library.

Stacie’s Recommendation: Read them. This is a great series.

July Reading Challenge Report Card

July’s challenge was to read a “hot” book. “Hot” was to be define by the reader — hot like sexy, hot in the title, hot as popular. Here’s how the Word Nerds did.

Stacie’s Pick:  I picked “Hot Water” by Erin Brockovich and CJ Lyons as my pick, going with the “Hot” in the title.  This book didn’t do it for me as a reader.  The book was about 300 pages long (287 to be exact) and had two storylines that while connected, moved and resolved fast because everyone had all of the information, skills and luck needed to piece everything together.  I’m a fan of flawed heros and action that develops characters, and this was strictly action.  On the screen, this is exactly what I want from a movie.  Just not between the pages.

Bethany’s Pick: I intended to read a hot-as-in-popular book, looking at Noah Hawley’s “Before the Fall.” But, then I discovered 188 other people had it on hold from the Library and I’d never get my hands on it before July was over. So, since I’d been reading Bec McMaster’s London Steampunk romance series, I went with a hot-as-sexy book pick to finish off the series with “Of Silk and Steam.” It was OK, not as good as some of the other ones and I’m glad the series is over. I wanted to put it down, but refused to DNF this challenge.

(Un)Monogamous Reading 

I am the exact opposite of opposite of a monogamous reader. I cannot reading just one book at a time. I’ve tried. I failed miserably.

stackRight now I am in the middle of three audio books (Grace Eventually by Anne Lamott; Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson; Brisinger by Christopher Paolini). I have three ebooks in progress right now (A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander; Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas (ARC from the author) and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.) I’m also reading a paper book (only one of those, but I’m sorely tempted to pick up another be a use I have two more waiting on my nightstand to be read next.)

I also finished a couple of titles over the weekend.

This is typical of my reading. The audio book situation is a fiasco since all three of the books came in within days of each other. Two of the titles are more than 30 hours long so I’ll be reading (and coloring) for a while on those, and likely requesting them again. I’ve been on hold for one of the audio books for what feels like eons, so I have to finish that one.

Thankfully, the transition from July to August is a humid and muggy one here in Wisconsin. I shall be tucked into my cool living room with my nose stuck in a book.

One of several choices, depending on my mood.

Book Banter: The Murdstone Trilogy

murdstoneTitle: The Murdstone Trilogy

Author: Mal Peet

Genre: Literary/genre

Pages: 310 pages

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: IndyPL

Plot Basics: Author Philip Murdstone’s career is doomed… unless he’s willing to write a blockbuster fantasy novel. When he happens upon just such a story, he’s willing to bargain everything to make it big. But, the question, of course, is what’s too high a price for success?

Banter Points: If you are a fantasy fan, this is a must-read. Also, if you’re thinking this feels like Faust, you’re right on too. The humor was dark and the send-up of fantasy tropes is spot on. Also, for anyone who has ever agonized over writing anything, Murdstone becomes relatable in his quest (even if fantasy novels aren’t your genre).

Bummer Points: Sadly, Mal Peet has died which means no more brilliant books like this one.

Also, the ending might leave you sort of wondering what happened in this magical realism romp, but if you’re enjoying it, just go with it.

Word Nerd Recommendation: Read it.

Coloring Check In

The latest coloring endeavor has me enthralled with something called a blender pencil. I’m quite impressed with how this colorless pencil can change the pigments after they are on paper and push them around. It’s added a dimension to my coloring knowledge that makes me feel like I’m actually an artist. Like I’m part of the club that knows what they are doing.

The picture comes from Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden and is the second picture that I’ve started in that book. The paper is lovely, heavy and a slight cream color rather than straight white. I’m using Prismacolor pencils for this one.

I’m really thrilled with this picture so far. The weather this weekend should be perfect to indulge this hobby.

Book Banter: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

besideTitle: We are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Author: Karen Joy Fowler

Length: ~300 pages

Genre: literacy fiction

Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: IndyPL

Plot Basics: Rosemary Cooke was raised with her “sister,” a chimpanzee named Fern for the first part of her life as part of a research experiment. But when Fern is sent away, it has rippling consequences for the whole Cooke family for years to come.

Banter Points: This is a title from the 2016 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award National Winner and WOW. She deserves the award for sure.

Interestingly, while the back of the book does tell the reader about the connection with the chimpanzees, when I read it, I think I believed that to be metaphorical. Symbolic. She couldn’t possibly mean her sister was a chimpanzee. When that part of the plot was revealed, I was stunned. The chimp was real. Not a nickname, not a symbol. Real.

Fowler’s writing was beautiful. She crafted amazing sentences and I really was blown away. Rosemary and her family all struggle with the idea of success and failure and which things a person is remembered for. Fowler did an excellent job of running that theme through the novel in ways that were poignant without being heavy-handed.

Bummer Points: From reading the blurbs, Fowler’s other books are quite like this which is disappointing.

Word Nerd Recommendation: I will be pushing this book on people for sure. It’s definitely a top 10 pick for me this year.

Author Answers with Cara Sexton

soulbareToday the Word Nerds have Cara Sexton, editor of the forthcoming “Soul Bare.” If you click on the cover image, you can read an excerpt!

WN: What should readers expect from your book?

SEXTON: Readers should expect to find themselves in the pages. Soul Bare is a collection of raw and real stories that don’t dance around so many of the things we so often avoid in polite Christian company but desperately need to be part of the conversation. We barrel headlong into personal battles with doubt, confusion, depression, addiction, fear, and other dark and challenging things. But you will not find a linear narrative here that follows a familiar formulaic equation of pain + Jesus = happy and healed. Life rarely ties everything up with a pretty bow, though this is the story we so often tell in religious community.

Instead, the stories in Soul Bare are those that mine for the joy, gratitude, growth, discovery, and unlikely beauty that is found right in the center of the hardest things we’ll ever encounter, even (maybe especially) when they aren’t easily overcome. They are about digging into the white hot middle of the moments that most reveal our humanity and letting ourselves evolve in compassion, love, and joy because of the things we’ve been through and are going through.

WN: What message are you hoping that they hear after reading it?

SEXTON: That we are all a beautiful mess, and that there is redemption here for all of us, right in the middle of the tangled-up uncertainty. I think we so often are inadvertently given the message that there is hope and healing for us on the other side of something, but we need it now, in the messy middle. Soul Bare is about learning to find sanctuary in both the ordinary tedium and the beautifully catastrophic challenges of this life.

WN: Pulling together the stories and reading through the submissions had to be a challenge?  What was it like as the editor and crafting the overall message?

SEXTON: It was…heavy, but it was also life changing. We’ve been working on this book for over 3 years and I cannot tell you how many times I returned to these stories, even when I thought I couldn’t bear to look at these pages one more time (because as an editor, I have been through them so many times).

It’s been a very, very challenging few years for me personally and these stories pulled my heart toward the light over and over and over again. The team of writers was so gracious and we all poured our whole hearts into this thing for so long that we became a sort of rag-tag family from far and wide, all with our raw and broken stories, a little terrified of putting them out into the world, but also a little in awe of just how much our collective brokenness, infused with the breath of God, was able to create. And my editor at IVP, Helen Lee, was instrumental in helping deconstruct and reconstruct what we initially brought to the table to refine into the final product of its current form.

WN: What is your writing process like?  (We envision large spaces with white boards, or cramped quarters with bad light. Bad or beautiful, we love to know the process and space for the stories we read)

SEXTON: My process is basically to procrastinate by doing absolutely anything other than writing until I am so amped up with stifled words, thoughts, and feelings that my husband or a friend will (wisely) order me to sit down and write something before I make myself and everyone around me completely crazy. Hah.

I’m basically a scattered mess all the time, and my writing process is no different. I wish I could say that I sit down with my coffee at 4 a.m. every day without exception and do the hard work faithfully until it gets done, but the truth is that I’m a busy mom, a full-time college student, and a general tornado of frenetic energy, so I work wherever and whenever I can.

I’ve edited Soul Bare bouncing on a yoga ball at my big Danish drafting desk below a window that overlooks a million Oregon evergreens, with bare feet on the banks of the Rogue River, with thousands of fireflies blinking on a back porch in Oklahoma, and with my fingers in my ears in the play structures at a dozen fast food joints across the country.

I am particularly in tune with the energy of my physical surroundings, so with the nature of the work from diverse voices, it feels fitting that even architecturally the book was stitched together like patchwork across several years, places, and experiences.

WN:  What’s next for you?

SEXTON: Oh, goodness. Who can ever know? I’m about to graduate from Goddard College with a BFA in Creative Writing (it only took me 20 years), so that’s exciting, and I’m now looking at grad school MFA programs. My undergraduate work during my senior year has involved writing a memoir with themes of faith, chronic illness, identity, and home, so I hope to publish that and bring more of my own words into the light at some point in the near future. Oh, and I just returned to the blogging world after a long hiatus at carasexton.com.

Most relevant to the book, though, I have a sense that the journey of Soul Bare stories isn’t near complete. There were so many great submissions that we weren’t able to include in this volume, and I am totally fascinated by the healing processes (for writer and reader) that occur when we get in touch with some of our darkest and most tender places.

I would love to find more ways to continue to be a sort of midwife who helps deliver these kinds of bloody, screaming, miraculous stories out into a world that I believe desperately needs them. I’m interested to see what the Spirit has in store and I’m just so grateful to be a part of it.

 

WN: What question did we not ask but should have?  (Every Q&A ends this way. Be as creativity as you like:) )

SEXTON: Hmm. How about a question I heard in a Barbara Brown Taylor book, and one I think about often: “What’s saving you now?”

What’s saving me now is an increasingly sharpened sense of wonder, and summer afternoons with sunburned shoulders and my feet in the river. The perfect distribution of freckles across the face of my youngest. The sound of my only daughter’s laugh, and laughter in general–lots and lots of laughter. The kindness of strangers who turn into friends. The poetry of Anne Sexton and Mary Oliver and Whitman and Bukowski and Audre Lorde. Sarcasm, iced tea, and vintage dresses. Evergreens. The way the morning light hits the opalescent beads on my grandmother’s rosary that dangles from the dip in my ancient Underwood typewriter. Authenticity. Vulnerability. Grace. Beautiful tattoos, and my husband’s incredible cooking.

What’s saving me now is paying extra close attention to every little thing, extracting beauty, creating beauty, and making every moment meaningful.

 

Team Mystic

Yes, I (Stacie) have fallen prey to the Pokémon Go world (Bethany won’t go near this phenom…)

The last few nights have found me wandering my neighborhood so I can hit the four Pokéstops and load up on whatever goodness I’m granted. I’m hatching eggs (that’s how I got Charmander, actually. Be jealous, it’s okay.)  I’m hitting my 10k step goal regularly.

I was in my teens when the first Pokémon games came out and loved the concept of hunting in the virtual world. Hunting in the real world involves identifying other players and pack – like mentality (launching multiple lures seems to be a good way to gets lots of players into a single space. Effective for people watching.)

So far I’ve seen a fair amount of different types of Pokémon and worked up to a collection of 40 in the week I’ve been playing. I haven’t been affected by the data issues nor am I at risk of running into cars or people (it’s easier than Facebook would have you believe.) I don’t have a favorite Pokémon yet, but the picture of this one perched on my leg is pretty good:

2016 Indiana Authors Award

At the day job, we announced the winners and finalists of the 2016 Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award. Web collage - winners - finalist v2

So far, I’ve read one from Karen Joy Fowler and have Edward Kelsey Moore’s book on deck next in my TBR pile. Click the photo for more info.

If you’re in Indy, you can hear all the winners and finalists on October 29 at the Indy Author Fair.

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