Monthly Archives: February 2014

Thoughts on Bosch

boschJust as they did last year, Amazon is allowing the audience to decide which of several new pilots will go to series.  But unlike last year, this time around there were two pilots that immediately caught my eye and I added to my “to watch” list sooner rather than later.

The first is Chris Carter’s new series The After and the other Bosch, which is based on the best-selling mystery series by Michael Connelly.

I had some free time this afternoon and enough time to watch one of the two series.  After much debating, I decided to go with Bosch first.

First of all, I will admit that I’m a big fan of Connelly”s mysteries and the Bosch novels in particular.  So, I had some fairly high hopes and expectations heading into the series.

And while it did take me a few minutes to reconcile how the various actors involved in the series differed from my own mental casting (for some reason, my mental image of Bosch is closer to Ron Pearlman), overall I like what I’ve seen so far.

The series has a couple of things going for it right up front.  First is that Connelly is involved as a producer — he even co-wrote the pilot episode.  In addition, some of the creative team in front of and behind the camera gave us The Wire, which I’ve heard nothing but great things about and is on my bucket list of TV shows to watch when time permits.

As the pilot begins, Bosch is stuck in court, facing charges in a civil trial related to a perp that he took out two years before.   While Bosch was exonerated by Los Angeles police department, he’s still facing civil penalties from the family of the man who was shot.   Bosch is going a bit stir crazy being stuck in court all day and pulled off regular duty rotation — so much so that he trades Laker tickets to a couple of guys on the force to cover their weekend shift.

While doing this, Bosch uncovers a case of a child’s bones buried in the hills.   Bosch manipulates the system and his partner, Jerry Edgar, to stay on the case while he’s in court facing trial.

As an introduction to the universe of all things Harry Bosch, the pilot works extremely well. And while I’ll readily admit that Titus Weliver wasn’t the actor I had mentally cast as Bosch, it only took a few minutes for me to get past this and to really like Weliver in the role.  The series has softened Bosch a bit — in the books, he’s a bit of jerk to people — so that we’ll at least root for him as a hero, or possibly an anti-hero.

I’ve read that should the pilot get ordered to series, it will follow Connelly’s “City of Bones” as the backbone of the season.  Interestingly, I believe this is next in line of the Bosch novels I haven’t ready yet and it’s sitting on my to-be-read pile.  It may have to make a move up the pile a bit since the mystery intrigued me enough that I wanted to know more once the fifty or so minutes has finished streaming to my set.

As for the rest of Bosch’s world, it’s all there — from his love of jazz to his taste in food and liquor.  There are also several familiar faces from the novels that crop up.

So far, I’m sold.  If Amazon decides to move forward on this one, I’ll watch.  And given that Bosch has a good sized catalog of books, this is a show that has ample material for a long and fascinating run.

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Review: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)

I’ll have to admit I was about ready to give up on Red Rising after wading through the first hundred or so pages of the novel, but solid on-line buzz and a glowing review from Entertainment Weekly made me determined to muddle on and see if I could find out what all the buzz was about.

And now that I’ve finished the book (the first in a trilogy of novels), I can sort of see what all the buzz was about. In many ways, Pierce Brown’s debut novel feels like it’s taken a lot of ingredients from other popular novels — dystopian future, a hero who must reinvent himself and embrace his destiny, lost love, a winner take all, no-holds barred contest – and blended them all together like a stew. And while all the ingredients are good, I still don’t feel like everything blended together well enough to leave me feeling satisfied when I got to the bottom of the bowl.

Darrow is the lowest of the low in the future dystopian caste system on Mars. He’s a miner who endures day after day of back breaking labor in an attempt to get ahead a bit. His lifespan is expected to be short, but Darrow takes comfort in the love of his wife, Eo. But when Eo speaks out against the ruling class on Mars, her final act before being hung is one of defiance. Darrow is devastated (her death is made even more brutal by the fact that due to Mars’ lower gravity, he has to pull on her legs to complete her sentence and allow her to die without further suffering) and vows to find a way to get back at those who took the light of his life from him.

This leads to his own trip to the gallows and his apparent death. But instead of dying, he’s taken and turned into an upper crust elite with the goal of leading a rebellion from the highest levels and overthrowing the powers above him and getting his revenge on those who took Eo from him. Along the way, Darrow learns that much of that Mars he knew is built lies and deception, designed to keep the lower classes down and give them just enough hope to keep toiling while the upper castes reap the benefits.

What Darrow endures to become one of the higher castes is interesting, but there were times reading this first installment I wished Brown would spend a bit less time on the world-building and a bit more time developing his characters and moving the plotline forward. At times, Darrow is difficult to like, making some portions of the book less interesting to read than others.

And yet, this book is garnering a lot of glowing reviews from the on-line community, I kept reminding myself. And there are a few twists in the novel’s last third as well as a pick-up in the intensity of developments that I could almost see what everyone else seems to love about this book.

It’s enough to have me interested in a second installment and curious to see what happens next. But it’s not enough for to me really rave about this book and feel completely satisfied with it overall. It feels like it’s a few ingredients short of a complete meal.

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Review: The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep And Never Had To by D.C. Pierson

The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To

If you’re expecting D.C. Pierson’s novel The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To to address and resolve all the issues related to the title character and his sleeping disorder, you’re going to be sorely disappointed by this book.

However, if you approach this book and view the title as a hook to get you interested in the story of the friendship to two young, geeky teenage boys and their trials, tribulations and first loves, then you’re probably going to love this book. I know I did.

Darren Bennett is a bit of a loner, constantly doodling in his notebooks, textbooks and anything else he can find. One day, Eric Lederer notices the drawings and the two begin their friendship — one that includes developing the outline for an epic franchise of space fantasy films. It also involves avoiding Darren’s older brother and his bullying friends, falling for the same girl (though dating her at different times) and, oh yeah, the secret that Eric doesn’t sleep and never has.

Despite having a sci-fi element to it, Pierson keeps his novels and characters ground, interesting and utterly relatable. This is one of those books that had me losing sleep just wanting to spend a few more minutes in the world of Darren and Eric. Of course, it’s the girl who comes between our two heroes that leads Darren leaking Eric’s secret and the inevitable complications that arise from it.

Pierson’s writing is enveloping and this entertaining, charming story has earned a spot on my favorites shelf and it will likely remain there for a long time. I picked up this one in the hopes of scratching a book off my to-be-read pile and discovered a real gem.

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Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrado

Roomies

Can you become best friends before you’ve even met in real life?

That’s the question that Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrado pose in Roomies.

Elizabeth and Lauren have little in common — except that by a quirk of the housing department, they will be roommates in the fall. Elizabeth is more pleased by this news than Lauren, who admits she was hoping for a single room after a life in a small apartment with her parents and four younger siblings. The two begin exchanging e-mail messages, which initially center on who is bringing the microwave and other logistical issues.

But as the summer progresses and both girls are thrown loops in their personal lives, they begin to open up a bit and tell each other more of what’s going on in their romantic, family and personal lives.

Told in alternating point of view chapters, Roomies allows both Elizabeth and Lauren to be sympathetic and un-sympathetic to each other and readers over the course of the novel. Zarr and Alterbrado made both characters feel authentic and their worlds lived in. In fact, there could be room for a sequel that catches up with these two either during their freshman year or the summer after their freshman year. (It’s not necessary, mind you, but it could be interesting).

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