Giants

GiantsSometimes nature can seem so random, thousands of years after the fact. The San Pedro Parks Wilderness borders the Valles Caldera, a nature preserve in northern New Mexico. The soil is rich and fertile from volcanic deposits and the almost daily rainfall. This makes the ground almost swampy and the grass thick and smooth, like a well-manicured lawn.

It also makes the trees grow to dizzying heights that seem impossible to believe from down below. These giants tower above the meadows growing so close together it’s impossible to walk more than a few feet deep into their intertwined branches.

I’m pretty sure this is a remnant of Fangorn if there ever was one.

Angel’s Flight by Michael Connelly

Angel's Flight by Michael ConnellyI’ve said this before and I’ll probably keep saying it every time I read a Michael Connelly book: There is no such thing as a bad Michael Connelly book.

Certainly some are better than others and some of them are definitely at the top of his game but even the poorest of them is far richer than the dull paint-by-numbers ‘thrillers’ of his counterparts.

Angel’s Flight starts when Bosch is called in to investigate the murder of a local lawyer who has made a name for himself investigating corruption in the police department. Bosch’s suspicious nature kicks in almost right away as he senses that not only is he being thrust into a political hot bed that could breed riots in the streets but he’s also being set up to take the fall for it.

He reacts in typical Bosch fashion which is to bulldog his way through, working round the clock to discover the truth and in the process he unravels much more than he counted on and uncovers mysteries that everybody thought had been solved.

Bosch is a fascinating character, mostly because he can be wrong, and frequently is. What makes him so compelling is that, even though I know he leaps to conclusions, puts things together too early and has too many pages left to have figured it out already, he is so certain and convincing that I fall for it every time.

In the midst of trying to solve the crime of the decade, hold the city together and protect his fellow officers in the pursuit of truth at all costs (which might be a conflicting set of agenda) he is also struggling to keep his marriage together and to ride the heightened racial tension in the LAPD in the years following the Rodney King beatings.

Michael Connelly juggles all of those things into a nice ring around the readers head, snatching them out here and there to bring attention to them.

Angel’s Flight is a Michael Connelly book — which should be endorsement enough — but it is also a Harry Bosch book which is the best of what Michael Connelly writes. Jump in anywhere, you won’t be able to sit down until you finish.

Park

ParkThere are a lot things I love about New Mexico. This is one of them. There are few places in this country where you can find such a variety of landscapes and such vast stretches of unpeopled beauty within a short distance. Within a couple of hours drive from my house I can find desert canyons, arroyos, whitewater rivers, volcanos, dark forests and lush green meadows. And that’s not to mention the lava tubes or the ghost towns or the desolate, dust swept desert.

In northern New Mexico, just east of Cuba is a wonderful place called the San Pedro Parks Wilderness. This is one of those places that you have to be willing to spend a day walking to in order to see it — and it is inarguably worth it. I would scheme a way to build a house up there if a house wouldn’t totally destroy the verdant, wet, openness that are the never ending meadows of the Parks.

Showdown on the Hogback by Louis L’Amour

Showdown on the HogbackLouis L’amour wrote all kinds of books from murder mysteries to spy thrillers and even international chases and survival stories. The kind of books he is most famous for, though, are his westerns and anybody who has read one will see why. The man knew the genre in which he was writing and he played those strings like a practiced fiddler.

Showdown on the Hogback is one of his early ones and is only available today as an audiobook or in very old print editions of western magazines.

Despite it’s age it holds up pretty well. The story involves corrupt land barrens and mysterious ghost riders as well as squatters, gunmen, horses, secluded caves and an assortment of guns and ammunition. L’amour’s heroes are all tough men who are fantastically competent, the women tough and kind and the bad guys slimy and mean right down to the core.

There aren’t a lot of shades of gray in these books, and, being placed in northern New Mexico, there probably aren’t a lot shades of any color other than brown either.

What surprised me was the depth of politics and legal wrangling that went on in a wild west story about frontier justice. L’amour didn’t just pay tribute to legal method with a sheriff that gets overridden by the hero because of his incompetence — like the more modern westerns of Lee Child — he actually includes senators and political machinations as part of the bad guys scheme (and the heroes method of defeating them).

As a youth I enjoyed Louis L’amour immensely and I was worried starting this one out that it would have faded with time as so many of my other youthful enjoyments have done. Especially when the beginning started describing Tom Kendrick as a man who all the women liked to look at but who didn’t seem to notice them looking. I rolled my eyes so hard it was a good thing I was sitting still.

After that, however, the adventure started and L’amour knows just the right recipe of action, deceit, discussion and moral quandary to stir together and mix into a stew that equals brilliant adventure and the kind of fun that can only be had from Louis L’amour. At this point I think he pretty much owns the genre of western fiction.

Flare

FlareLens flares are tricky. They’re almost always a bad thing. They’re almost always either done on accident or done by those new photographers who have seen really cool lens flares before and want to make it work.

I guess I’m one of those. This is actually kind of both of those things. I took a picture and saw that it had a deep red flare across the image and started trying to hold my hand to block it. Then I realized that it kind of looked cool so I redid it, this time putting the flare right where I wanted it.

The grass is a little over exposed but I still like the effect of the beam of bright red sunlight lancing across the picture.

Bunnicula by James Howe

Bunnicula by James HoweI have loved this book since I was a child but I learned something upon reading it this time: nothing happens in this book. It’s funny and tremendously entertaining observing the manner in which nothing happens but it actually accomplishes very little. That left me wondering why I had such fond memories of it and I think that it is because of what it introduces.

This book is not anything amazing. Very little happens at all and many of the jokes are a little bit flat. What it starts is a series of brilliant and hilarious adventures that provide lasting memories that never get old.

Bunnicula, despite it’s name, is about a dog and a cat named Harold and Chester. The book in which they have their first literary introduction is nothing special but the relationship and entertainment value of this comedic duo that ensues in the later volumes is very special indeed.

This is a perfect book is for people who have ever observed animals, who like puns or just want to read something that makes them laugh. The best part is that this is just an introduction to a whole series of magical books.

Books I read, Pictures I take.

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