January Reading Roundup

Y’all!

Earlier this year I made it clear how disappointed I was in my reading last year. 5 books. Just saying that makes me want to hit my head on my desk. But 2019 is off to a better start! So I decided to do a little roundup of my January reading.

Two Kinds of Truth

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Harry Bosch ages in real time. In this book he’s into his 60s, but I DON’T CARE. Never stop writing him, Michael Connelly. Or we’re fighting.

Crimson Joy

⭐⭐⭐

I hate to say it, but this was rather unremarkable. I love Spenser. And this won’t discourage me from continuing the series, but I finished the book wanting more.

LA Requiem

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I wrote about this earlier in the week here. This book was the best crime novel I’ve read! There’s no exaggeration. I gave my reasoning in my previous post. I’m still considering it, but it’s likely a top five all-time read for me. And I have the next four in the series awaiting my curious eyes.

Rodrick Rules

⭐⭐⭐

I said I’d stay with crime novels for a bit, and I mostly did. But this was the lone exception last month. It didn’t have hardly any laugh out loud moments, whereas the first in the series was full of them.

The Second Life of Nick Mason

⭐⭐⭐

This was the first in a new series written by Steve Hamilton. He’s also one of my favorite authors and it was my first time reading one of his books in several years. It’s well below 300 pages and I felt it. It went way too fast and lacked much depth throughout. But still had a number of exciting moments, which kept it at the above rating.

I count 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 books for the month! It was really in the last two weeks, but shh. I matched my entire 2018 in the first month of 2019 and I’m still going! I know there will be some down months ahead, but I’m happy with and encouraged by my start to the year.

How was your month of reading!?

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There’s A New Sheriff In Town

AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA!

I sincerely hope you’re aware of the meme that I’m referencing. If not, you’re lost. Oh well.

Very rarely do I write anything that resembles a book review. Today is one of those rare days.

Yesterday I finished LA Requiem by Robert Crais. I’m not going to get into the plot very much because if you find this interesting I would love for you to give the book a chance rather than just read spoilers here.

The story follows PIs Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. A friend and former lover of Joe is missing and they’re tasked with finding her when the police find her body first. Her father has powerful connections and the two of them get to operate within the investigation while unaffiliated with the LAPD.

That’s my synopsis, which is fairly similar to what you’d find on the back of the book.

I want to tell you about the title of the post before anything else. I’ve read more crime novels than I can remember. This one was the absolute best one I’ve read, and now that I’m thinking about it I may upload a page on here of my top reads ever that I can update as time goes along. This is likely top 5 for me. Let me tell you why.

Joe and Elvis have known each other a long time. Both are former military. Joe was LAPD for a time. They’re not friends and they’re not family. Whatever comes above that is what they are. Their care for each other goes beyond words and actions. This is the first in the series (since book 1) that highlights their relationship. Think of the people in your life who you would do anything for. Maybe there are quite a few and maybe there are none, but at least the idea of it is there. That’s Elvis and Joe. The importance of those relationships and people in our lives is something we generally can’t describe or put into words because we know deep within ourselves that we’d put ourselves in harm’s way to protect who we hold so dear, even if we can’t explain why.

During the course of the story Joe is in some serious trouble, and Elvis makes it his mission to protect him at all costs, including putting his life on the line if he has to. This exaggerated plot line happens quite a bit in movies, on TV shows, and in books. But never in my 27 years has it been so well done. Elvis and Joe are fictional characters created by who I believe is an exceptional author. But they’re not. They’re every single one of us.

This book wasn’t about solving a murder. It wasn’t about what happens when someone has connections. It wasn’t even about the detectives involved. It’s about what it means to be human and to put everything on the line for who we love. And though most of us will never have to do it, I believe it’s something we can all related to.

This was my tweet immediately after I finished.

Back at it

I last finished reading a book nearly two months ago. And then I started a book I knew nothing about. Bad choice. The book is now my latest DNF.

So last night I was deciding on what to read next. I have books from the Amazon list. I have books for my reading challenge. And I have books that are right in my wheelhouse of crime fiction. I decided to go with what I know. I started the next book in the Elvis Cole series. And only later did I realize that I’d not read in the series since 2014. That’s outrageous. I love Elvis and Joe, and it took the first five pages for me to realize how much I’ve missed them.

Do you have any books you turn to when you’re in the midst of a reading slump?

The Importance of Genres

Sometimes people say things that make no sense. Like comparing the work of two authors who have no business being compared. I think it’s a little ridiculous to say that genres limit creativity by placing labels on one’s work.

No one is saying that certain genres need very specific stories or characters. I mean, just look at young adult. Sure we have an expectation of what to expect when starting a new young adult book, but that doesn’t mean every book is the same. Which goes for every genre.

The fact is (to me) that we need genres. Let me make a comparison here. Imagine if we didn’t have genres in music. Then we wouldn’t have radio stations genre-specific. And maybe that’d be interesting to some, but not to me. Imagine a Madonna song followed by Kendrick Lamar and then Blake Shelton. It would be odd.

Now let’s get back to books. Imagine going into a bookstore and there is not a single label or sign anywhere in the store to tell you which section you’re in. Why? No genres. So the entire store is alphabetized by author. The store is one big blob of books. Business books. Young adult. Mystery. History. Art. All shelved together with no “label”.

Think about this. How many times have you read a book, series, or author and immediately wondered what to read next? I haven’t done it much recently, but I have done it. So you play around on Amazon or Google or maybe even on the author’s website trying to find similar works. That’s what genres help with. I once randomly grabbed a book at Barnes and Noble by Robert B. Parker. I’d never read any detective fiction before. In subsequent years I found Spenser, Elvis Cole, Alex McKnight, Charlie Hood, Alex Cross, and Harry Bosch. These characters are not the same and they’re not directly influential of one another, but they do fall under the same umbrella of detective fiction.

There’s nothing limiting about genres. If you want to write something that blends several different genres together in the pages of a single book, then go ahead. But newsflash, it’s already been done plenty before you and those books are all categorized somewhere.

Do you think genres are important? Or are they just stupid labels to you?

My First Half Price Books Book Haul

I told you guys yesterday about how impressed I was during my first experience at Half Price Books, and I promised to show y’all which books I came away with. It looks like I make good on my promises. Sometimes. Ha. Anyway, I’m just going to show you the books now. Normally when I glance over book haul posts I see long lists of covers and descriptions of the books included. I’m not going to do that because those are almost always ultra popular YA titles that everyone knows about. I’m pretty sure you’ve never even heard of half my books, so no point in me acting like everyone will know them. To the books!

20150716_111655I know you can see the titles just fine, but I’ll tell you the book titles anyway.

Mary Mary (Alex Cross #11) by James Patterson

The Strain (The Strain #1) by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan

LA Requiem (Elvis Cole #8) by Robert Crais

Fahrenheit 451 by Rad Bradbury

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Dracula by Bram Stoker

I have two interesting points about these books before I leave you alone for the rest of the day. First, I’ll be making videos for three of these titles. And second, three of the books are actually new! I bet you can’t even tell which ones aren’t. Remember what I said about the books available at Half Price Books?

Have you read any of these books? Tell me about the books you’ve added to your collection recently.


 

On this day in 2014 I published Writer’s Privilege is a Real Thing.

Which Characters Would you Follow into Battle?

I’ve been thinking of this post for a few weeks now. I think I may have been watching a Narnia movie when I came up with it. Pretty sure. Anyway, I want you to do something for me. Get off your phone or computer or whatever for just a minute. Now think of some books with ridiculous battle sequences. They don’t even have to be actual battles. Maybe a particular character or two or ten is embarking on an unknown journey and knows a fight’s ahead. Or maybe a character has been told not to examine something further. A battle can be any sort of conflict for this. Now let me tell you who I’d follow into battle or stand with against the worst of odds.

Katniss Everdeen

There are way too many reasons for my eagerness to stand with Katniss through anything for me to list them all here. Like she said in Mockingjay Part 1, she never asked for any of what’s happened to her. If I have to give at least one reason why I’d stand with her, then that’s it. Because she starts off fighting just to stay alive, and for her family. But eventually she embraces who she is and what she has come to represent and fights for so much more than just those immediately around her. She’s the mockingjay. And she’s ready to fight for me. I’d be ready to fight for her.

Albus Dumbledore

Don’t tell me I can’t say him if I haven’t read all the books yet. My reasoning for choosing him is because I don’t think he’d ever hesitate to help someone, especially a student in need. But eventually he’s going to find himself in a position in which he can’t get by on his own. And I’d want to be there. So someone could help him for once.

Elvis Cole

Y’all probably don’t know him as well as the first two selections, but I’ve talked about him a number of times in the past on here. He’s an LA private eye. I would want to be right there next to him as he faces impossible odds because that’s what he always finds himself doing. I’m sure some of you don’t even read detective fiction, but this guy doesn’t just think of his clients as a means to make money. His clients are people in need. And they’ve gone to him for help. And he never lets them down. He refuses to.

Master Chief

John-117 is more than the last of the Spartans left. He’s more than a super soldier. He’s more than a guy in fancy armor. He’s hope. Mankind is on the brink of total annihilation, but it’d be impossible to give up if you get one look at him. Knowing that he’s ready to fight to the death. Knowing that he will never give up. Knowing that he still believes the war can be won. No. He doesn’t make me want to go into shelter and hope that he’ll eventually come through and save humanity. Seeing him makes me want to suit up and grab an assault rifle to stand with him. To fight alongside him. Even knowing the war may never be won.

So those are the four characters I would follow into battle! What about you? Which characters would you stand with?

Do you shy Away From Reading Long Series?

I actually just read a blog post about this topic yesterday that gave me the idea to write this. I’d link to the post if I remembered the name. Oh well.

Let me just tell you what this other blogger said. She categorized a “long” series as more than five books. And basically said that anything more than that is just too long and fails to keep her attention. I disagree. Let’s not forget Harry Potter was seven. Just saying.

I mean, five books being categorized as a “long” series is a joke. That is a short series. A very short one. I mean, five books is probably only long to YA readers who read trilogy after trilogy. Followed by Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. I’m not trying to generalize here, but really who thinks five books is a long series? Who? Another question. How many books are in your favorite series? Mine happens to have three, but when I start looking at more of the series I read I see a whole lot more books than that. Let me see. Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series is into the 40s. And oh by the way, this is only considered one of the great detective series of the past half century. Jack Reacher is about to reach 20. Alex Cross is into the 20s. Harry Bosch is nearing 20 books. Alex McKnight is in the double digits. Jesse Stone is at 14. Elvis Cole is at 16.

See what I’m saying? These are not just random series I found on the internet. I read all of them and there are several more that I could name. But I think I’ve made my point. I know I don’t speak for every reader out there, but it does beg the question that if readers were turned off by long series, then why are so many authors writing them? Michael Connelly just released a new Bosch novel this week and I’m near certain that it’ll be a #1 NYT bestseller whenever the list updates. As is also the case with most of James Patterson’s books. And Lee Child’s. And Sue Grafton’s. And I know there are YA series that go on and on, as well.

The moral of this post is that I don’t buy into the notion that readers are turned off by long series. Not at all. There are way too many that sell quite well for that to be the case. But I’ll ask anyway, do you shy away from reading lengthy series?