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review 2018-04-19 17:52
This isn't a love story...but it is a story about love...
Crocus - Amy Lane

First off...if you haven't read 'Bonfires' you need to scoot off and do that because reading this book without that one is like going to a movie and not having popcorn...you can do it, but it's going to feel like something's missing and honestly, it's just not going to be as much fun.

 

Ok, so you've been warned this is one of those times when book #2 needs to follow book #1.  In the first book we got to meet Deputy Aaron George and Principal Larkin (a,k.a. Larx)  and see them do their adorable mating dance and cheer for them as they figured out how to make their lives mesh...kids and all.

 

So here we are after the events of 'Bonfires' and Larx and Aaron are together...well, there's Larx and Aaron and their combined family of 5 kids (Larx has 2 and Aaron has 3) and then we have some strays...see, Larx and Aaron are both nurturers in their own right and they're men with big hearts and a lot of love. So as we lovingly say at my house they take in strays and I'm not talking about four-legged furry ones, either...although I'm pretty sure they take in those as well. I'm talking about kids who got the short end of the stick in the life lottery...kids who's parents weren't bright enough or unselfish enough to get what being a parent really means...kids who just need someone to love and believe in them so that they can show the world what an awesome person they really are.

 

'Crocus' is still Larx and Aaron's story but it's a busy one and you can't have the jobs that these men have and the number of people depending on you that these men have and not have a busy life...it's neither possible nor realistic. 

 

You can't have a big family and not have chaos and confusion...I know  I came from a big family and whether it's the family you're given like mine was or the one that you've created like Aaron and Larx's the results are pretty predictable and this family that we get see here is just filled with love.

 

'Crocus' is about two men who are in love but like many of us they don't live in a bubble and much of what happens in their world intersects with their private life whether they want it to or not and luckily for these men love is something that the more you open up your heart and share the more you seem to have and 'Crocus' shows that in so many ways.

 

Larx and Aaron are already living together in a house that's packed tight not just with love but with kids...they've got Christiana, Kelsey and Kellen living with them and then there's Dozer...Larx's (read Aaron's) big blonde retriever dog. So do they really need a pregnant Olivia knocking on their door followed by Elton (Wombat Willie) and Jamie and his brother Berto...of course not but sometimes life gives to us that which we can handle and not necessarily only what we want.

 

I have to admit I loved this. I'm not bothered by big, noisy family type stories for me it's the familiar and having lived away from mine for a few years now for me stories like this are becoming comfort food and I'm not sure that anyone does this recipe better than Ms Lane. 

 

For me 'Crocus' was about family and love. It's set in a small town and sure there's more going on in this small town than the usual but let's face it if there wasn't a little extra imagination added to this...well, we'd all be bored silly. Yeah, I've lived in small towns for most of my life and really there's only so much of neighbor 'A' sleeping with neighbor 'C' while neighbor 'B' gets quietly sloshed every night that one can take before 'neighbor 'D' falls asleep from the sheer boredom and repetition of it.

 

While Larx and Aaron both seemed to frequently have the same objective...one that, while it seemed simple enough, was often a task of monumental proportions for them to accomplish and that was simply getting some time together...alone as couple...trust me when I say while it may not have happened often when it did these two men know how to take full advantage of their time together and it as worth the wait.

 

We've got a world of opportunities here for what can happen next in this series and while I'm on board for pretty much anything even different MCs for the next story. I'm still hoping that no matter what we'll always get more Aaron and Larx because truthfully I'm not even close to having had my fill of these two men. I'm so enjoying having a series with 'mature' men as the MC's, men who love and have messy, busy, crazy at times overwhelming and larger than but still real lives that we get to be a part of.

 

From start to finish for me it never felt like the happiness that Aaron and Larx had found was at risk it was more about the reader getting to see what as individuals we already know...if you are lucky enough to get an HEA in life, then keeping it means a lot of hard work and effort, keeping it takes a lot of effort and hard work, you have to hang on to it with everything you've got...but and I'm sure that Aaron and Larx would agree with me when I say...it's worth it, so very worth it.

 

This one definitely gets 5 big, shiny, messy, happy family stars from me as I try to patiently wait for what comes next.

 

*************************

An ARC of 'Crocus' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-04-19 04:41
HBU # 3: The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly
The Concrete Blonde - Michael Connelly

In this third entry into the Harry Bosch Universe, we finally get more background on The Dollmaker case, which is really the case that catapulted Bosch to fame. Harry is being sued by the widow of The Dollmaker, whom he shot during an attempted apprehension, after the man reached under his pillow for what Harry thought was probably a gun, but which was, at it turned out, a toupee.

 

The widow is represented by prominent defense attorney Honey Chandler, who is nicknamed Money Chandler. Harry is represented by the county attorney, Belk. Harry is not satisfied with the quality of his representation. In addition, LA County has wanted to settle the case, but Harry won't let them. A significant portion of The Concrete Blonde occurs in the courtroom.

 

I am not really a fan of courtroom dramas - because I am actually a prosecutor, and I've tried a lot of criminal cases, reading courtroom dramas can be frustrating because I am all too aware of errors in procedure. I think it is probably human nature to struggle with books that cover territory that the reader has a deeper understanding of than the writer. This is the case with the courtroom portions of this book. I won't bore you with a detailed analysis of things that Connelly gets wrong, but there are aspects of the courtroom drama that he does get wrong.

 

Leaving those quibbles aside, though, I really enjoyed this book and thought that the mystery was exceptionally well done. During the trial, a body is discovered that appears to be from The Dollmaker, of a young woman who was killed well after Harry Bosch killed the man who the LAPD believed to be The Dollmaker. This throws the whole case into disarray, because the defense relies on the fact that the man that Bosch killed was a serial killer.

 

As the story develops, Harry has to look back into the old case and set aside his former conclusions in light of new evidence. He also has to work through his own discomfort with the possibility that he was wrong about the Dollmaker case four years earlier. And, again, his history becomes a significant aspect of the book, when Chandler accuses him of shooting the Dollmaker because he was avenging his murdered mother, whose killer was never brought to justice. 

 

We also finally get to see Bosch getting some support from the LAPD brass, including Chief Irvin Irving who, for the first time, tells Bosch that he would back him up no matter what happened with the jury, and that the shooting was justified. Bosch is also involved with Sylvia Moore, the wife of Calexico Moore, who he has been seeing since the end of The Black Ice. She is a thoroughly nice person, a teacher, and has tried hard to pierce Bosch's nearly impenetrable armor.

 

I enjoyed this book a lot, and really liked the fact that Connelly didn't fall back on the same trope of institutional corruption that the first two books really relied upon. The interactions between Bosch and the LAPD show a different, more functional and respectful, relationship with his peers. The relationship with Sylvia isn't going to last, but it's nice to see Bosch letting down his guard a little bit. 

 

Next up is Trunk Music.

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review 2018-04-18 18:40
The Black Ice by Michael Connelly
The Black Ice - Michael Connelly

This is Connelly's second outing for LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch, opening shortly after he returns to work, having recovered from being shot in The Black Echo. Lewis and Clark, the IA detectives who wanted nothing more than to drum Bosch out of the LAPD are both dead. 

 

In this book, we have Harry investigating the murder of an unidentified male who was found outside of a restaurant that is frequented by the detectives of the undercover drug unit. During the course of the investigation, Harry realizes that there might be a connection between his murder and the suicide of Officer Calexico Moore, found dead in a hotel room over the Christmas holidays. Moore is also the subject of an IA investigation, and the belief is that he is a dirty cop who took the easy way out. 

 

Reading The Black Echo and The Black Ice in quick succession really highlighted the thematic similarities between these two books - in each of them, an effort is made to use Harry Bosch's rogue nature in a way that benefits the individuals at the heart of the conspiracy. In both of them, the individuals vastly underestimate Bosch's tenacity as an investigator, losing control of their plans midway through the book. And both of them involves themes of institutional corruption.

 

We again find Bosch in trouble with the LAPD brass, the subject of angry phone calls with management. He is, always, on the verge not just of firing, but probably of prosecution, for his policy violations. He has no sense of self-preservation. The intertwined cases lead him to the border towns of Calexico and Mexicali, where he runs afoul of the powerful head of a drug syndicate. Given the present situation in Mexico, with the cartels, this book maintains its currency. 

 

Harry sees similarities between himself and Calexico Moore, a fact which makes him very uncomfortable. The reader is finding out more about Harry's personal history, that his mother was a prostitute who was murdered when he was 12, that he grew up in foster care, and that his father, it turns out, was a prominent lawyer named Haller, and that he has a half brother - through Haller's legitimate family. We will get to know Mickey Haller in some of the later books. There is a description of the one meeting that Bosch had with his father, while he was dying of cancer. 

 

Arm chair diagnosing of Harry Bosch would lead to an assessment that he probably has some sort of attachment disorder related to being shuffled between foster homes and orphanages. So far, we haven't met anyone who has gotten close to Harry Bosch - he holds everyone at arms length. For all of that, however, he is not a nihilist, believing firmly that life is sufficiently meaningful that to take it is the greatest crime. He is not swayed by the prominence of the victim, working just as hard on the case of an itinerant worker or a dead junkie as he would on a case where a more "respectable" victim is murdered.

 

I've already finished The Concrete Blonde, so you can expect a review of that one soon. Happily, Connelly steps outside of his theme of institutional corruption in that one, and gives us a straight up murder mystery.

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text 2018-04-18 11:00
Facts About Me: A Life of Reading

My parents taught me to read and write before I attended school. Here in the UK (for those not familiar) we start around the age of 4/5, depending on whether your birthday falls before or after August, which is the start date for all after-Summer-Holiday terms. I started at 4, able to read and write, which got me and my folks into trouble at school, because they like to teach their own way, and didn't like that came pre-taught. Tough luck for them.

For that reason, by the time we started doing reading for classes in school, I was at an advanced level to the other kids. I also had a bit of a knack for being patient – sometimes more patient than the teachers! – so I helped another kid in my class with his reading, because he had dyslexia and/or learning difficulties. I'm vague about this, before I was too young to really understand it (about 9/10 years old) and it wasn't talked a lot back then. Some teachers just thought those with such challenges were slow, were lazy, or didn't want to do the work. I remember that much, because I remember staying inside during break times to help him catch up with his reading. Not many of the teachers, or other students, liked it, but the kid I helped did. And he did great.

I'm pretty sure that's why I wasn't much of a reader growing up. Hard to believe, right? Well, I wasn't. I read Sweet Valley High books, Sherlock Holmes, and stuff the school made us read, but I wasn't voracious about it, like I am now. I think that's mostly because of the subject matter. I never really liked what was being given to us, or what was recommended reading for my age at the library. I guess, nowadays, you'd call me a mature reader. Back then, I just didn't have the time (between school work and home life) or the inclination (subject matter!) to be as passionate about books as I am now.

Now, I read approximate 300 books a year. That doesn't sound like a lot, to some people I know, who can read 500+ a year, but in between that, I read-to-review (which takes longer, because I write notes as I'm reading, and then have to process and type that all up when I'm done) for both Netgalley and Divine Magazine. I also write, as you probably know by now. I can write a book (say about 80k) in a month, if I had unlimited time. Since that's rare and maybe only happens once a year, I can write about 2-3 novels a year, all of which take time, planning, editing, repeated reading, and research. That all takes time. So, for me, 300 books a year is a lot.

And I LOVE it. I love getting to explore new stories, new worlds, new writing and new authors. And I love being able to write my own stories. It might have taken a while, but I found my passion in the end.

 

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text 2018-04-17 06:09
The Bookish Elf

 

"The Bookish Elf is a person with  magical capability of reading ceaselessly and tirelessly and whose growth of 'TBR' list is more than physical growth." 

 

The Bookish Elf is all about the passion for books and reading, knowledge and perception. We are a small group of readers who want the world to know what we read and what they should read.

 

We read from morning to evening, from the dawn to the dusk. we read whenever we get free time from work. And we write when we have enough of the reading. We read the books, the blogs, the article in the newspapers, the magazines, and almost anything we get our hands on. We might have lost ourselves in pages of books years ago, and to find it, we’re turning the pages of any readable thing falls ahead of us. And this Blog is the result of that passion for reading and knowledge.

 

We’ll love to hear pieces of advice, appreciation or criticism. You can send us all your queries and suggestions by filling the form on the Contact us page or mailing us on: contact@bookishelf.com. We’ll be grateful for each word of feedback received from you.

Source: www.bookishelf.com
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