Thursday, March 6, 2014
I came across this book when one of my pages gave it to me and said, "This book doesn't fit on the shelf." It really doesn't because it belongs on a coffee table, to be looked at leisurely. It is a big beautiful awkward book to be shoved on a shelf! So someone check it out to read! If you love music it is very entertaining.
Abbey Road studios have been on the cutting edge of recording for eighty years, hosting some of the biggest names in music over the decades: the Beatles, of course, who immortalized it with the title of their 1969 album; Pink Floyd; Kate Bush; Duran Duran; Radiohead; Florence and the Machine. Any number of albums made here have gone gold or platinum, picking up Grammys and other awards along the way. Famed producers and sound engineers at the studios have developed groundbreaking new techniques, including automatic double tracking at the instigation of John Lennon. And it's also been a landmark in moviemaking: here were recorded John Williams's original scores for five Star Wars films, as well the scores for the Lord of the Rings trilogy--two of them awarded Oscars. This gorgeous book includes a full history and time line, facts and figures, a discography with famous album covers from the 1930s to now, and a wealth of never-before-seen photos and treasures from the studio's own archive. It's an incredible document of cultural history, for anyone who values music and how it's made.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
(4 out of 5)
I finally jumped on the Divergent band wagon, or should I say train since they are highly referenced in the book, and read it. Also here is a new cover that I really like with Shailene Woodley on it. I think that she is a great choice to play Tris. Anyway I really liked that the setting is Chicago and I knew a lot of the places Ms. Roth talked about. I like to think I have a great imagination and can create what authors describe but I didn't have to think to hard about the landscape in this book.
With that said Veronica Roth tackles a subject that many have done before her, a dystopian world. Much like in the Hunger Games you don't know why the world is the way it is, it just is that way. In Roth's world people are separated into five factions or virtues: Abnegation (The Selfless), Erudite (The Intelligent), Dauntless (The Brave), Amity (The Peaceful), and Candor (The Honest). You are born into one of the factions and on your sixteenth birthday you are tested to see which faction you should spend the rest of your life in. But you don't have to go with what the test says, you can choose differently. For those that are Divergent the test can't determine which faction you should be in.
Beatrice Prior is Abnegation but her test results come back Divergent. She has never felt selfless enough to stay with her faction so she chooses Dauntless. Dauntless is a brutal faction that isn't quite what it seems. There she meets Four and several other people that will become friends and enemies. Some people in their society are no longer happy with the way things are ran...so of course trouble is coming!
I really enjoyed this book and the twists and turns the author took me on. I just couldn't help think while reading, especially during the initiation training, how violent some of the scenes were. Eric, their leader, was one cruel puppy. I know that I would not have made it in the Dauntless society. I really don't think I would fit very well into any of the factions but I think that is really the point. We can have a little of all the virtues. I am eagerly awaiting the movie which comes out on March 21 and until then I have started reading Insurgent.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Submitted by Gerti
This is the third novel I’ve now read by Michael Connelly, and his writing never fails to impress me. In this iteration, I’m reading again about LAPD homicide detective hero, Harry “Hieronymous” Bosch, who is on trial for having used excessive force 4 years before in killing “The Dollmaker,” a local serial killer. His city defense attorney is no match for powerful prosecutor Honey Chandler, representing the victim’s family, which contends that Bosch should not have shot and killed unarmed and naked Mr. Norman Church. The method of his death forces the prosecution to begin attacking the evidence found in Church’s secret apartment, and when another body that follows the Dollmaker’s MO shows up, even Church’s guilt is called into question.
Now I usually don’t read courtroom dramas, and this book spends a lot of it’s time inside the courtroom for this trial. But the fact that Connelly can make even testimony and the give and take of a daily trial sound riveting is a testament to how talented a writer he is. Fortunately, the other half of the book, and of Bosch’s life, is taken up solving the mystery of who killed the concrete blonde. To help him with that, he relies on his former partner, Jerry Edgar, and a vice cop named Ray Mora. Since he was the lead homicide detective on that case, Bosch immediately sees that the note recently left with the cops matches the style used by the Dollmaker, which shouldn’t be possible if Church was that killer. The body called the concrete blonde also matches the Dollmaker’s MO, except for one thing - a Marlboro pack left in the concrete next to her.
This change gets Bosch thinking that perhaps there were 2 killers working simultaneously, and the one still around was imitating the Dollmaker in order not to get caught. He gets some help from a renowned psychologist named John Locke who not only wrote books about serial killers, but also about the ladies of the porn industry. Locke also testifies at Bosch’s trial, which is how the reader is first introduced to his no-holds-barred manner of speaking.
The plots takes twists and turns, as does the trial. It is all so riveting that I tried to read it all (597 pages in LP edition) in one day, but it proved impossible. Several of the early suspects are discounted over time, and when the final killer is revealed, it is quite a surprise. The final murder is also a twist, as Bosch thought he was protecting one blonde target, while a second, more public figure was being executed. The trial’s verdict is also a surprise for those of us used to the happy endings often found in popular media.
I strongly recommend “The Concrete Blonde” to anyone who likes a crime or court story where even the good guys know they are not so good. This story contains plausible plot twists and odd moments of humor, but should not be read by those who find details about those working in the porn industry offensive.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Submitted by Gerti
This is the second novel I’ve now read by Michael Connelly, and his writing once again impresses me. In this iteration, I met for the first time homicide detective Harry “Hieronymous” Bosch, who apparently is the hero of many of Connelly’s LAPD crime novels. In this story, Bosch is trying to solve the murder of a liquor store owner, a man who showed him a kindness many years before during the riots in LA in which Bosch’s partner was killed. The victim’s name here is John Li, and he and his wife ran Fortune Liquors in a tough south LA neighborhood. His son Robert runs another, more successful store in suburban Sherman Oaks.
At first, the police think the killing is merely a liquor store robbery gone wrong, but Bosch thinks there is more to it - that perhaps Li was killed when he couldn’t make his weekly payment to the Triads. But Bosch’s attempts to investigate are stymied as he experiences difficulties working with the men in the Asian Gang Unit who think he is prejudiced against them, even though Bosch knows China pretty well as he has family living in Hong Kong. But he rapidly gets an in-depth course in Chinese culture when his teenaged daughter Maddie is kidnapped, and Bosch must fly half way across the world to free her.
He gets some help from his ex and her new boyfriend Sun Yee, who used to be a Triad member after growing up in a poor area of Kowloon, which is where the title “9 Dragons” comes from. Bosch goes through many trials and tribulations with Sun Yee by his side as he comes to the terrible realization that the kidnappers plan to sell his daughter for her organs, and the clock on her rescue is winding down. Much like Liam Niessen in the movie “Taken”, Bosch leaves many bad guy bodies in his wake while trying to solve the mystery of where his daughter is being kept.
Eventually, Madeline is saved and bundled onto a plane back to the States, while Bosch puzzles out the details of the case and how her kidnapping is tied to the Li murder. Initially, he thought she was kidnapped after he put a Triad member in jail, but Bosch finally gets it right, after typical Connelly twists, turns and misdirection. Detective Bosch gets his man when he realizes that filial piety is not all it’s cracked up to be - his daughter and some of her friends (now dead) planned the fake kidnapping (until it went wrong), and the children of the store owner are behind his death.
I strongly recommend “9 Dragons” to anyone who likes a good crime story. This book is different than another story about Harry Bosch (“The Concrete Blonde”) that I’ve just read, because it has that fascinating international crime element which I don’t think many Americans know about. But bottomline, it’s a great read because Connelly has a brilliant way with words, and I’ll include one example here from page 1 – “She watched the clock like the owner of a candy store watches the fat kids.” Yes, Virginia, Michael Connelly really knows how to write.
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Submitted by Gertie
This is the first novel I have ever read by Michael Connelly, and I have to say that I am impressed. I usually don’t read crime or detective stories, but this one caught my eye in the library bookroom, and I’m glad it did. Apparently, Connelly is a former LA crime reporter who not only has a good, clear style of writing, but is also quite a storyteller. One of the only critiques I have of “Blood Work” is that I had already seen one aspect of the plot in a Robin Cook book before, as his novel “Blindsight” deals with mobsters killing their way down a list of people on an organ donation list to make sure their boss survives. But Connelly doesn’t stop there – he adds a twist to that plotline that makes this story his own again.
Here the protagonist is former FBI detective Terrell “Terry” McCaleb, who recently got a heart transplant from a woman killed in a convenience store robbery. Her sister, Graciela Rivers, comes to him to help solve the crime, since the LA detectives working it seem to have hit a dead (no pun intended) end. He helps her out of a sense of obligation – her sister died so he might live. He has no idea until the end of the book how very right this assessment of the crime is. He does fall for her, and of course they end up sleeping together, which I expected, but found mildly irritating. (Can’t men and women just work together on a project without having sex?) However, Connelly doesn’t make it a big deal, and the sexual details are minor and relatively inoffensive to those with sensitive tastes.
Aided by Graciela and Buddy, his hippyish houseboat neighbor, Terry goes through the old case file of the crime, visiting locations, and re-interviewing witnesses. He finds a connection with another murder, this one at an ATM, and follows up on that one as well. When a third murder is connected to the same weapon, Terry sees the big picture at last, but the killer has a few surprises up his sleeve for him, too, including planting evidence on his houseboat that makes the FBI think Terry committed the crimes to get a new heart, and an escape to Mexico where a final showdown takes place.
Half Sherlock Holmes, half Columbo, Terry works his way through the evidence with logic and gut instinct, thrilling readers like me with his inside knowledge of cops and how crime solving actually works. Since I’m unfamiliar with the genre, the language and politics were fascinating to me, and the writing was good enough that I’ve already requested other Connelly novels to read during the Christmas vacation. I strongly recommend “Blood Work” if you like a crime story where the good guys win out, but which also contains lots of plot twists and odd moments of humor.
Friday, January 24, 2014
Submitted by Gerti
Because of the huge winter storm that came through Northwest Indiana this week, I figured it was the perfect time to read about the blizzard of January 12th, 1888. It took place in Dakota and Nebraska, and killed between a few hundred and a thousand people, especially school children, who were often on their way home when the blinding snow and below-zero temps descended on the Plains.
David Laskin’s “The Children’s Blizzard” details that horrible episode in US history, and instead of laying blame on the national weather service (which didn’t exist at the time), he shows why the “Signal Corps” which predicted the weather back then failed to predict much of anything. Laskin shows how the person most often blamed for failing to warn people, Lieutenant Woodruff, was just an honest man caught in the infighting taking place between college professors and governmental opportunists, none of whom could really predict the weather at all. From information given, it shows that Woodruff had actually made inroads into understanding how a polar vortex could come from Canada to kill school kids in the Plains. He also understood what lower barometric pressures indicated, and how cold and warm fronts interacted, even though fronts would not even be named for another 30 years. So Laskin details the early history of meteorology, and the nature of global weather itself, although at times those paragraphs were really hard to get through.
More entertaining for me were the stories of the school kids and their families, which often included why those families left Europe to come to the settle on free farmland in the Plains. These stories were easy to read, and engaging emotionally, as I read hoping against hope that certain children would live through the storm. Laskin definitely sees the big picture, as he linked the whole tragedy to the greed of various wealthy and often unscrupulous businessmen (namely those running railroads) who wanted to make money from passengers and therefore advertised this second Eden in Europe, despite the fact that running a successful farm on the American Plains was never a sure thing. We know that 100+ years later, but in the 1880s, many people thought success was simply a matter of hard work and stick-to-it-iveness, which sadly, it was not.
It is obvious through the passage of time to see how the tragedy occurred, and how the death of so many children was the perfect storm of meteorology in its infancy, and an immigrant populous with little experience of the Plain’s vicious weather. But like any tragedy, so much turns on the decision of the moment - parents who refused to let children go to school that day, children who ran outside when they should have stayed inside the safe and warm school buildings - but the true message is that so much is random, and no one could predict that morning which decisions would mean life or death. I did, however, learn a lot about hypothermia from this book, and reading it scared me enough about freezing cold and snow to keep me off the roads during yesterday’s blizzard!
Thursday, January 23, 2014
After a traumatic experience at fourteen, Avery Montgomery decides to move across the country for college in order to forget everything. She just wants to get through college without causing any attention. Plans for this get thrown after Avery runs right into Cameron Hamilton on her first day of college. Neighbors and classmates the two form a friendship. Cam is attracted to her and asks her out every chance he gets, but Avery is reluctant to begin a relationship. The two form a friendship and as Avery's heart begins to soften for Cam, her past starts to resurface she is afraid she'll lose everything again.
Wait for You is a wonderfully written New Adult book by J. Lynn (who also writes books under Jennifer Armentrout). New Adult books are a fairly new genre that center on adults in the late teens and early twenties. The male love interests in the books tend to be bad boys with big hearts. Cam was a reformed playboy who liked to bake cookies. Every Sunday he would come over to Avery's apartment and make her breakfast. Where is this man in real life?
Although the reader could figure out what made Avery's high school experience so bad, it was still shocking to read about what happened afterwards. She had to learn how trust people again and did have some time believing that Cam actually liked her.
If you are looking for a steamy romance then this is the book for you. There is a sequel available on e-book for the library called Trust in Me that is Cam's side of the story.