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  • 2017 in books: Part 2

    In 2016, I finished 37 books. In 2017, I set a goal to get through 38 books. Well, I blew past that goal and finished 46 books:

    Screen Shot 2018-01-14 at 11.53.33 AM

    The list got long, so I split it into two posts, with the first six months of 2017’s books posted here. Without further ado, here are the books I read during the second six months of 2017.

    Five-star books:

    1. From Sand and Ash, by Amy Harmon. This was a lovely, painful, beautiful story of a Catholic boy and a Jewish girl who grew up together and whose lives were then torn apart by the Nazis. I kept wanting the sadly realistic story to end, but I also desperately wanted it to continue on, because I liked the characters so much. I’ve been reading about WWII my entire life, so I know the all-too-painful reality of Nazi atrocities, but I think maybe that made this book more real for me. It’s fiction, but it is also so real. Stories like this are the reason I have a “Never Forget” medallion on my key chain, a memento from the Holocaust Museum. People like Eva and Angelo lived beautiful lives in the midst of horror, and we must not let such horror return.
    2. A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman. A grump old man has no reason left to live, and then his new neighbors crash into his mailbox and won’t leave him alone. I debated between four and five stars for this one, but I ultimately took the generous option because the writing was good and the story kept me interested, even though it wasn’t full of action and cliff hangers. I think that says something about an author and a story.
    3. Nancy Wake, by Peter FitzSimons. In my years of WWII reading, I’d never heard of Nancy Wake until I stumbled across this audio book on sale. Nancy grew up in Australia and left for Europe as soon as she could. She loved Europe, and fought to defeat the Nazis in any way possible — from smuggling documents to parachuting into France to leading troops. It’s a remarkable true story, and Nancy sounds like one of those people who left a permanent impression of awe everywhere she went. Note: Some reviewers didn’t think the writing was good enough for more than three stars, but I listened to the audio version and loved every minute of it. (Also, her favorite book was Anne of Green Gables. Bonus points in my opinion.)

    Four-star books:

    1. Absolute Power, by David Baldacci. Last year I plowed through this author’s “King and Maxwell” series, and I decided to read this one because it was the author’s first book and possibly his best known. To clarify, this was the audio version, and I really enjoyed the pace and the plot. It’s the story of a burglar who witnesses a crime involving the president, and the subsequent cover-up. I really did not like one of the characters (the president’s chief of staff), and I know she wasn’t supposed to be liked, but it was a bit more than that for me. For that, I would give the book three stars, but the audio version was more of a five, so I cut the difference and settled on four stars.
    2. The Black Box, by Michael Connelly. This book involved places in California’s Central Valley, where I spent eight years as a newspaper reporter covering crime, so I’m being generous and giving it four stars. In this one, Detective Harry Bosch revives a 20-year-old unsolved case of a Danish reporter who was murdered during the Los Angeles riots. It takes him to Modesto, Manteca and briefly Stockton, and involves one of the county sheriffs. While some of this book seems far-fetched, I actually know first-hand about some of the Central Valley’s law enforcement corruption, and that part of the book is believable. One side note: I listened to this book, and the narrator butchered the pronunciation of Manteca and Salida (at least he got Lodi right).
    3. Two Kinds of the Truth, by Michael Connelly. Uh oh, I finished catching up on the Harry Bosch series — now what will I listen to?! That may be why I was generous with the stars on this one, though I did like the mix of crime procedure and the return of courtroom drama by Mickey Haller, Bosch’s brother. Haller comes in to defend Bosch, who’s accused of fabricating evidence in a case where the convict has spent 30 years in prison. This means his entire life work is on the line, and he’s going to fight it. Meanwhile, he has another murder case to solve, and it sends him undercover. Unrealistic? Yep. Fun? Yep.

    Three-star books:

    1. The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling. This is the story of a private investigator who is hired to look into the suicide of a model — yes, another in that genre. This one happens to be written by the Harry Potter author, who wanted some anonymity so the book could be judged on its own, though I don’t think that anonymity lasted very long. I admire Rowling for wanting to do that, though. Anyway, the main characters were likable and the writing certainly warranted four stars, but the plot and its absurd twists were more on the two-star level.
    2. Lost Light, by Michael Connelly. Harry Bosch has retired as an LAPD detective, but he can’t really leave the work behind him. Soon he’s looking into one of the old homicide cases that haunted him, and then homeland security gets involved. This book was told in first-person by Bosch, and while I’m not always a fan of first-person, it actually worked.
    3. The Narrows, by Michael Connelly. The “Poet” has returned from an earlier book, to which I gave four stars. He’s a conniving killer who betrayed a bunch of people, and now he’s back for more. It was kind of far-fetched so I was tempted to give it two stars, but I admit to plowing through it and waiting to see what happened, and having fun in the process.
    4. The Closers, by Michael Connelly. Harry Bosch has returned to the LAPD, working on cold cases, and he’s partnered again with Kiz Rider. They start off on a DNA hit from an old case, and Bosch’s old nemesis, Capt. Irving, pops up to make things interesting. I almost gave this four stars because the characters were good, but maybe I’m just on a three-star streak?
    5. The Body Reader, by Anne Frasier. The heroine is a police detective who was kidnapped and held captive for three years before escaping and getting her job back. The book goes back and forth between that time and present day, as she and her new partner hunt down a serial killer. I was impressed by how the author managed to switch from past to present without making it confusing or jumpy, but the storyline itself was a little too far-fetched for me.
    6. The Sound of Glass, by Karen White. This is the story of a southern family with secrets, ranging from a plane crash to domestic violence to illness, that all come back full-circle. I would have easily given it four stars if the crash part hadn’t been so far-fetched, but when that also came around full-circle, I rolled my eyes.
    7. All the Winters After, by Sere Prince Halverson. Ah, Alaska, a state I really want to visit again and explore more — but until then, I’ll just have to settle for stumbling across books set there. This is the tale of a guy who left home a decade ago after tragedy and returns now, expecting the family home to be in ruins. However, a woman escaping a harsh religious sect has been keeping the place in shape. Commence romance and a bad guy, that I knew from the beginning was THE bad guy. It just became too contrived, which was disappointing because it had potential to be a really great book.
    8. The Brass Verdict, by Michael Connelly. Defense attorney Mickey Haller hasn’t been practicing law for a year, until a lawyer is murdered and Mickey inherits his cases, including a high profile murder defendant. Detective Harry Bosch is investigating the lawyer’s murder, so their paths cross. I like the characters and would give this 3.5 stars if that were an option, but some of it was just a bit too far-fetched for me.
    9. Murder in an Irish Village, by Carlene O’Connor. A book set in Ireland! An audio book with an Irish reader! Yes, it was another murder mystery, which I seem to be reading in droves lately (then again, I always have veered toward the genre). The main character is trying to care for her five siblings and run the family business, but then a murder victim turns up at said business, and then she sets out to solve the crime while also getting into some romance. That was all formulaic, so it only gets three stars.
    10. Nine Dragons, by Michael Connelly. I’m feeling generous today, so I rounded up from what I think was more like 2.5 stars. This book started out with a murder that Detective Harry Bosch is sent to investigate, but then the book becomes this unbelievable caper that goes to Hong Kong, involves his daughter, has someone being trapped in a ship, kills off a recurring character in the Bosch books, and it just keeps being ridiculous. And yet, I still really like that Harry Bosch character.
    11. Fast Girl: A Life Spent Running From the Madness, by Suzy Favor Hamilton with Sarah Tomlinson. Suzy Favor Hamilton was a three-time Olympian, attracting plenty of attention as a speedy runner with a blonde ponytail. Then, as she says in this book, she wasn’t getting enough thrills to combat her increasing but undiagnosed bipolarism, so she found new levels of highs and risks by spending nearly a year as an escort in Las Vegas. Her last Olympics were in 2000, about five years before I got interested in running, so when the Smoking Gun website outed her in 2012, I didn’t know anything about her. I remember thinking, “That’s weird” and, “Huh, her husband is standing by her,” and then she left my mind. So when I took a walk through a local library for the first time and, out of pure coincidence, turned down an aisle that had running books, I stopped and skimmed the selections. And I took this one home. You would think, after such a long preamble and a subject I love, I would give this book five stars. It really was a fascinating story, and a topic we should all pay more attention to so we can try to help those with mental health troubles. But the writing was just really sub-par. Words were repetitive, sentences were choppy when they didn’t need to be, and it needed several more rounds of editing. It was a fast read and I would love to see Favor Hamilton speak about surviving, but it’s not a book I would buy.
    12. The Reversal, by Michael Connelly. This one would be closer to four stars, if fractions of stars were allowed, because it combines courtroom procedure with the crime novel stuff — and I’m a sucker for both. Defense attorney Mickey Haller is back, which is fun, this time as a special prosecutor in a case that was thrown out after the suspect spent 24 years in prison. He gets Harry Bosch as the lead investigator who’s challenged with decades-old evidence and witnesses. It was really well done until the end, which was rushed and a let-down, and the reason I didn’t seriously consider giving it four stars.
    13. The Drop, by Michael Connelly. Detective Harry Bosch is given a cold murder case in which blood evidence is checked for a DNA match and comes back with a hit — but it’s linked to a guy who was only 8 years old at the time of the crime. And then Irvin Irving, who was a thorn in Bosch’s side during years of senior management in the LAPD, asks that he investigate his son’s apparent suicide. Some of the Amazon show “Bosch” was taken from this book, so that was cool to bring things back around for me. The insider politics were frustrating but I know they’re sadly realistic. The other case was definitely unique, though it went a bit over the top into “really?!” land.
    14. The Burning Room, by Michael Connelly. Another cold case for Detective Harry Bosch, this time one that comes about because a guy dies with a bullet that’s been in him for 10 years. This one was rather forgettable, though I liked his latest partner, LAPD Detective Lucia Soto, who wants to solve an old arson homicide case that changed her life as a child.
    15. The Crossing, by Michael Connelly. Harry Bosch can’t stay retired, so he agrees to work on a case for his half brother, though he has a hard time being on the defense side. I liked the mix of cop and courtroom procedural.
    16. The Wrong Side of Goodbye, by Michael Connelly. This one was close to four stars, because I liked the story behind a case that now-private investigator Harry Bosch takes on — looking for an old man’s possible heir. Meanwhile, he becomes a volunteer detective for a different police department, goes to work on a serial rapist investigation, and that just feels a bit too contrived to warrant four stars.
    17. The Lincoln Lawyer, by Michael Connelly. I ran out of Harry Bosch books, so I read this one, involving his defense attorney brother, Mickey Haller. This one definitely deserves another half a star, but I guess I’m feeling miserly today. Anyway, this one is about a new client Haller takes on, one with money and an alibi. It seems like a great case with a great payout, until Haller learns some awful truths and finds himself stuck in the attorney-client-privilege quandry.

    Two-star books:

    1. My Sister’s Grave, by Robert Dugoni. This was a cheap Audible sale book, and not bad for easy listening. But the whole plot was unrealistic, and some of the characters were very inconsistent. It’s about a homicide detective whose sister disappeared 20 years earlier, and she restarts her own investigation when the body is found. It’s just all really not plausible, and I rolled my eyes through the whole story.
    2. The Overlook, by Michael Connelly. My Harry Bosch devouring continued into this one, which dipped into terrorism and thus seemed kind of cliche. A stash of cesium goes missing, a doctor turns up dead, cops start fighting over who gets the case, and it just didn’t really do it for me.


    1. Private, by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. This was a free Audible book so I figured I’d try it out and see if it was good adventure/crime/mystery listening while driving and working out. It was not. I made myself get through two hours of it before I gave up, and I just could not handle the choppy storyline that moved from good guy to bad guy and everywhere in between. I still don’t know really know what it was about, except that it involved a hit man.

  • 2017 in books: Part 1

    Last year, I finished 36 books. This year, I have a goal to get through 37 books. Since I’m ahead of schedule at 21 books and the list is getting long, I figured I’d split this into to posts. So, here are the books I read during the first six months of 2017.

    When Powell's Books likes your tweet...
    When Powell’s Books likes your tweet…


    Five-star books:

    1. The Life We Bury, by Allen Eskins. A college student from a dysfunctional family finds himself learning and writing the story of a man who spent 30 years in prison for rape and murder. The book is a sort of a thriller, but not the full-speed-ahead craziness of most books in the genre — this one was more thoughtful and focused more on the characters.
    2. Becoming Rain, by K.A. Tucker. Is it realistic? No. Is it a fun read about a cop in Oregon? Most definitely. I read “Burying Water” last year and also gave that one five stars, because they’re just the perfect blend of mild chick lit, crime, and nice scenery. This book is about a female cop who goes undercover to bust a crime ring, and that’s about all I will say to avoid any spoilers.

    Four-star books:

    1. The Bette Davis Club, by Jane Lotter.  A light-hearted tale that involves a road trip, so I was automatically interested. It wasn’t a sappy romance, but just a fun story about a runaway bride who is chased across the country by her aunt and her jilted groom — but it’s about the aunt, not the bride.
    2. The Poet, by Michael Connelly. As a former crime reporter, Connelly knows journalism, so of course I wanted to try this book that stars a reporter who starts looking into the suicide of his twin, a homicide detective. This was just a fun romp that was pretty accurate about the life of a newspaper reporter.
    3. The Scarecrow, by Michael Connelly. This was a sequel of sorts to “The Poet,” with the same main character, who is now an LA Times crime reporter who just got a pink slip. He wants to find one last big story, and of course he does, because that’s the only way we have a not-quite-realistic novel to read about a reporter once again teaming up with an FBI agent. This one involves cyber crimes that were more realistic than you’d expect, and it was just a guilty pleasure book to listen to while packing up my apartment.
    4. Whoever Fights Monsters, by Robert Ressler with Tom Shachtman. I waffled between three and four stars on this one, but went with four stars because it held my attention well, though I spent a month on it. The subtitle is “My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for the FBI” sums up a lot of it — Ressler was an FBI agent who was fascinated by murderers since childhood, and he wanted to know what made them tick. I have a lot of respect for that, and for the fact that he didn’t lose sight of the world. Side note: I was sad to learn that he died four years ago of Parkinson’s Disease; he was only 76, so I suspect he had at least another decade of lecturing and knowledge-sharing in him if that awful disease hadn’t invaded.
    5. Forgotten Secrets, by Robin Perini. Yep, another crime caper involving an FBI agent, and a Navy Seal. One’s sister goes missing, and the other comes to help him because she’s been spent 15 years looking for her missing sister. A lot of it was predictable, but it was a good, easy distraction from my world of studying for tests.
    6. Off the Record, by K.A. Linde. This was a $2.95 Audible sale, and it caught my attention because I briefly thought the author was K.A. Tucker (to whom I’ve give two five-star ratings). I was tempted to give this book five stars, though it should get, at most, three stars on my scale. Well, it gets four because I related so much to this book. It’s the somewhat fluffy story of a college journalist who gets into a relationship with a guy she’s covering for the newspaper, and they both have to keep it secret for their own careers. I devoured this book in two days and HATED the “to be continued” ending, but luckily I was able to start the next book immediately.
    7. On the Record, by K.A. Linde. This book picked up where the previous one left off, regarding the relationship between the newspaper reporter and a guy she’s writing about. I don’t want to say much about the plot to avoid spoilers, but a lot of it was pretty realistic. And, once again, I related to a lot of it and inhaled it in a few days. I’m a little embarrassed to give these four stars, but hey, we can’t all just read “War and Peace.”
    8. For the Record, by K.A. Linde. This was another guilty pleasure book, and it wrapped up the story of the journalist in the previous two books. Again, I don’t want to give away spoilers, but it continues her story of work vs romance. I’ve been out of journalism for nearly seven years, but I still related a lot to it, and also to the relationship dilemmas.

    Three-star books:

    1. Angel’s Flight, by Michael Connelly. The sixth book in the series about Harry Bosch, LAPD homicide detective. This one involved racism in post-Rodney King Los Angeles.
    2. Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple. Told from the viewpoint of a mature 15-year-old girl piecing together emails and letters about her mother, this story was great until it took a turn for the unrealistic/absurd. I guess the author just really wanted to write about Antarctica (and I can’t blame her), but it just felt like a jolt.
    3. Julie, by Catherine Marshall. I read this years ago and when the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway threatened to send a 30-foot wall of water into Northern California towns in February, I pulled out the book and read it again. I like the story, of an 18-year-old girl whose family takes over a struggling newspaper in the 1930s (bonus points for the newspaper stuff) downstream from a large dam. But the evangelical Christian stuff was too much for me now — it was kind of like mild flashbacks for me, which weren’t necessarily bad but felt unsettling and unfriendly.
    4. Rogue Lawyer, by John Grisham. This was about a defense attorney who takes the cases nobody wants. I would have liked it more if the story hadn’t been rather disjointed (I think Grisham just wanted to write short stories this time).
    5. An Accidental Death, by Peter Grainger. I waffled between two and three stars on this one, but I erred on the side of generosity because the characters were realistic and had a lot of promise if I chose to continue with the next book in the series. It’s a British police procedural, focusing on the death of a canoeist (a word that amused me, for some reason). I listened to this one, so the British accent certainly contributed to the third star, but I wonder if the history lesson would have been less confusing if I’d read it instead.
    6. Poisonfeather, by Matthew FitzSimmons. I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Gibson Vaughn series, but I only liked parts of this one. The main character learns that the judge who saved him from prison as a teenager is now elderly, ill, and the victim of a con artist. Commence treasure hunting, a Chinese spy, CIA hijinks, and a weird ending.
    7. A Darkness More Than Night, by Michael Connelly. The new season of “Bosch” is out, so I wanted to catch up on the books. I really enjoy listening to these books while running and doing things around the house, though I also find myself sucked into them when I should be studying. Oops? Anyway, this one also featured retired FBI agent Terry McCaleb, who appeared in another book not in this series. I felt like I was missing a few things and didn’t know him because of that disconnect. The plot was also kind of ridiculous and had someone scheming to set up Bosch in order to get out of a case, and I was rolling my eyes at times. I couldn’t quite bring myself to give it two stars, though, because it was still a fun, easy read.
    8. Missing, Presumed, by Susie Steiner. I’m being generous and giving this three stars, because I think some of my disappointment was caused by comparisons to Tana French novels. This was definitely no such thing, and was kind of forgettable. It’s about a British police detective looking into a case of the missing daughter of a bigwig, and I just found it to be so mundane.
    9. City of Bones, by Michael Connelly. Yep, another Harry Bosch book, and I apparently read this one years ago. This time I did the audio book version, so I liked listening to it but kept knowing what was going to happen next. The story itself isn’t bad: Bosch is called out to look at a human bone, which turns out to be a 20-year-old murder case. Oh, and he gets involved with a newbie police officer.
    10. Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, by Curtis Sittenfeld. I almost gave this one four stars because it was well-written pleasure reading. There were no surprises, since it is basically a modernized version of the Jane Austen book, but it certainly is modern — including paleo diets and text messages.

    Two-star books:

    1. The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro. The premise seemed interesting: An art museum heist has gone cold when one of the stolen pieces surfaces and the main character is asked to make a copy of it, but then she has suspicions about the artwork itself. However, the main character annoyed me (how she got that far in life is beyond me; she’s so stupid), and the art talk didn’t interest me.


    1. The Killer Next Door, by Alex Marwood. I started this as an audio book and just could not get into it. The characters were depressing, the story was slow-moving, and it wasn’t living up to my expectations of a murder thriller. I rarely abandon books, but a quarter of the way into this one, I decided life is too short to not enjoy a book.

    You can find me on GoodReads. Also, I include audio books in my totals.

  • 2016 in books

    To my pleasant surprise, I finished 36 books in 2016. (The number nerd in me liked this, and promptly decided 2017 should have 37 books, but we shall see.) Goodreads tracks this info via a website and a phone app, and while I’m not thrilled with countless time-sucking semi-social sites, I think the site has encouraged me to read more and to stay a bit more organized. The payoff: their year-end “My Year in Books” summary.

    Look, geeky numbers!
    Look, geeky numbers!


    Full disclosure: The site doesn’t differentiate between physical, electronic and audio books — and I plowed through a number of audio books in 2016. Am I cheating by including audio books? I’m not sure, but my conscience rests easily if I say I “finished” the books, rather than saying I “read” them. Regardless, I did consume the entirety of each book (including the lengthy end notes in a couple of them).

    Of these 36 books, I only gave a full five-star rating to three. Coincidentally, they were either set in the Pacific Northwest or about WWII, which really isn’t much of a surprise.

    1. The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown, a well-researched account of poor, hard-working young men from the Pacific Northwest who set out to beat the Ivy League crew teams and then take on the Nazis. I have a life-long fascination with WWII, I didn’t know much about the 1936 Olympics, and I could picture the area.
    2. Burying Water, by K.A. Tucker, about a woman who was left for dead but survived — with no memory of what happened to her. It wasn’t quite the typical “girl suffers amnesia, falls in love, lives happily ever after” type of plot. The characters pulled me in, and I just wanted the story to keep going.
    3. The Lost Wife, by Alyson Richman, a story of a young couple who are separated by WWII. The novel switches between his and her perspective, present and past, and somehow it works without confusion.
    I'm not sure if 3.6 stars is a good or a bad average.
    I’m not sure if 3.6 stars is a good or a bad average.


    In no particular order, the four-star books:

    1. The Long and Faraway Gone, by Lou Berney. Two separate crimes and two separate characters are woven together. I really wanted the story to keep going!
    2. Happiness For Beginners, by Katherine Center. A light-hearted, funny tale of a newly single woman who has no business signing up for a rugged wilderness survival course.
    3. Black-Eyed Susans, by Julia Heaberlin. A suspense story of the sole survivor of a serial killer, successfully told in both present day and 20 years earlier.
    4. The Spy’s Son, by Bryan Denson. Subtitle: “The True Story of the Highest-Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son He Trained to Spy for Russia.” I came close to giving this one five stars.
    5. The Lake House, by Kate Morton. A tale about a missing person. This was a toss-up between three and four stars, but I liked the writing.
    6. An Irish Country Doctor, by Patrick Taylor. Cute little tale set in the Irish countryside: I was biased because I’ve been there and could picture it, and this was an audio book with a fantastic accent.
    7. One Plus One, by Jojo Moyes. Good blend of humor, non-cheesy romance and funny characters. Bonus: They’re on a road trip.
    8. Isaac’s Storm, by Erik Larson. One of my favorite non-fiction authors, Larson brought a 1900 hurricane to life. This was closer to five stars.
    9. Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes. A young woman takes a job caring for a grumpy man in a wheelchair. Her character is hilarious.
    10. After You, by Jojo Moyes. Sequel to the above, I continue to like the character.  (It helps that she is delightfully British.)
    11. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. I’ve read this book at least once before, but it’s been about 20 years. This was the folding pages version; I am a bad blogger who hasn’t taken a photo of it, but you can buy it here.
    12. The Diplomat’s Wife, by Pam Jenoff. A WWII story of love and heartbreak, with a plot turn that is a little too far-fetched but made it a good airplane read.
    13. I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb. The story of the remarkable teenager who stood up to the Taliban — subtitle: “The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.”
    14. The Short Drop, by Matthew FitzSimmons. Another mystery of a long-missing person. Strangely, I read this in July and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I barely remember it.
    15. Anonymous Sources, by Mary Louise Kelly. When a former NPR reporter writes a crime novel about a reporter, of course I will read it.
    16. Split Second, by David Baldacci. Two former Secret Service agents team up on a crime case. This is my guilty pleasure reading at its finest.

    Moving along to the three-star books:

    1. Hell’s Guest, by Glenn Frazier. First-hand account from a survivor of the Bataan Death March in WWII, which I finished just before running the marathon that honors the victims. I wanted to love this, but the writing was mediocre and it was a little too preachy. The passion was genuine, though.
    2. Killing Floor, by Lee Child. Bad writing made tolerable by the audio book factor and the “fun action story with a cool main star so you can suspend all deep thought and just enjoy the ride” notion.
    3. Seabiscuit, by Lauren Hillenbrand. A well-written, well-researched book about the legendary race horse, which took me a very long time to read because I’m just really not a horse person. (I loved her book “Unbroken,” though.)
    4. The Girl You Left Behind, by Jojo Moyes. More Jojo Moyes fiction, this time set in WWII. This was more of a 2.5-star book.
    5. Hour Game, by David Baldacci. The second book in the “King & Maxwell” series about the former Secret Service members turned private investigators.
    6. Simple Genius, by David Baldacci. The third book in the series. This one’s plot was kind of ridiculous, but I just really get a kick out of the two main characters.
    7. First Family, by David Baldacci. Fourth book in the series. I often run without music, but when it’s a three-hour run that will get tough, this kind of audio escape is the best.
    8. The Sixth Man, by David Baldacci. Book number five. More guilty pleasure fun.
    9. King and Maxwell, by David Baldacci. The sixth, and apparently last, book in the series. Wait, that’s it? No more PI capers?
    10. The Black Echo, by Michael Connelly. Crime novels by a former LA Times crime reporter: Books I will explore. Harry Bosch, the gritty detective, is my kind of character.
    11. Black Ice, by Michael Connelly. This one took Detective Bosch into Mexico. I was a bit generous with my stars.
    12. The Concrete Blonde, by Michael Connelly.I started plowing through these Harry Bosch books because I discovered the Amazon TV series that’s taken from the books. The show is fantastic, but I wanted to read the books before seeing the episodes.
    13. The Last Coyote, by Michael Connelly. This one explores more of Bosch’s history.
    14. Trunk Music, by Michael Connelly. I polished off the second season of Amazon’s show, which ended with this book. I have a feeling I’ll binge both when the third season comes out this year.

    And then we have the two-star books. Like the five-star ones, I only gave this lower honor to three titles:

    1. The Rumor, by Elin Hilderbrand. I’ve read a couple of her books in the past and remember liking them, but this one was just too fluffy with zero substance.
    2. The Heist, by Janet Evanovich. Her books can be fast-read fun romps, but this one was ridiculous to the point of being absurd.
    3. The Enchanted April, by Elizabeth van Arnim. I really wanted to like this one because it was recommended as an antidote to a book that was miserable. But it was just so slow and seemed to have no point. A guy on an airplane was impressed that I was reading it, so maybe I am just not sophisticated enough for fine literature.

    And that last book leads to the one book I abandoned this year. I didn’t give one one star to any books, and I’m really not one to abandon books because it bothers me to leave pages unread, but I finally decided that I simply could not waste my brain cells on a book I hated. The book that gets this rare honor: Alibi, by Joseph Kanon. Another novel set in WWII, this one brings up moral questions that could be good things to think about but instead made me not want to read at all. I’ll be donating this book, which is also rare for me, though I just got the idea to leave it in my unused fireplace for the next tenant who moves in.

    And that’s a wrap for 2016 in books. What else should I read, aside from/in addition to the books on this never-ending list?


    Other things? Hmm, definitely not crocheting or cooking or quadratic equations.