The Late Show by Michael Connelly

Having read Angel Flight, The Drop, Darkness more than Night, The Gods of Guilt, The Narrows, Nine Dragons, Lost Light, the Poet, the Lincoln Lawyer, The Burning Room, the Crossing and The Wrong Side of Goodbye i would like to read The Late Show by Michael Connelly. This Fast paced thriller features Renée Ballard a strong-willed and tenacious female detective who Was once and up-and-coming detective, but now works the night shift for the Los Angeles Police Department in Hollywood, after filing a sexual harassment complaint against her former boss, Lt. Robert Olivas. She begins many investigations but finishing none as each morning she turns her cases over to day shift detectives.

However one night she investigates a number of cases she doesn’t want to part with One, an elderly woman with credit card fraud. Second a transgender prostitute, brutally beaten and left for dead, and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. So Ballard investigates, with her partner John Jenkins but she is determined not to give up at dawn.

So Against orders and her own partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. Then the unthinkable happens a mass shooting followed by the assassination of a cop. Her investigations point to the possibility of a Corrupt policeman working in her midst. As the cases entwine they gradually pull her closer to her own demons, however she is determined not to give up her job no matter what the department throws at her.

The Midnight Line by Lee Child

Having read Without Fail, sixty-one hours, The Hard Way, Night School, Never Go Back and Make Me by Lee Child, I would like to read The Midnight Line, the latest gripping and Exciting thriller by Lee Child. It is the twenty second novel to feature Army investigator Jack Reacher who is still shaken by the recent horrors of the previous novel Make Me, When he decides to take an aimless stroll past a pawn shop in a small Midwestern town. In the window he sees a West Point class ring from 2005. It’s tiny. It’s a woman cadet’s graduation present to herself. Jack Reacher is immediately suspicious, Why would she give it up? Reacher also attended West Point too, and he knows how hard it is to get those rings and what she went through to get it.

All he wants is to find the woman. If she’s OK, he’ll walk away. So Reacher decides to investigate further, thus begins a harrowing journey which takes Reacher down a criminal trail through the upper Midwest, from a lowlife bar on the sad side of small town to a dirt-blown crossroads in the middle of nowhere, encountering bikers, cops, crooks, muscle, and a missing persons PI who wears a suit and a tie in the Wyoming wilderness. The deeper Reacher digs, and the more he learns, the more dangerous the terrain becomes as it transpires that the ring was just a small link in a far darker chain and he eventually discovers some really dodgy goings on involving Powerful forces who are guarding a vast criminal enterprise, however Reacher is the sort of person who won’t take no for an answer and will stop at nothing to get justice and heaven help anyone who gets in his way…

 

Camino Island by John Grisham

Being a big fan of the Gripping Legal Thrillers by John Grisham would like to read Camino Island the latest novel by John Grisham. It is somewhat of a departure from his usual novels and is set in the murky black market underworld of rare and Valuable stolen books. It starts with one of The most audacious, daring and devastating heists in literary history during which five priceless manuscripts of F Scott Fitzgerald’s only novels are stolen. These are amongst the most valuable in the world and are valued at $25 million. They are taken from a high security vault located deep beneath Princeton Firestone University Library. However After an initial flurry of arrests, both they and the ruthless gang of thieves who took them mysteriously vanish without trace.

Dealing in stolen books is a dark business, and few are initiated to its arts, one such person is an infamous book-seller named Bruce Kable, which puts him right on the FBI’s Rare Asset Recovery Unit’s watch list. Elsewhere A struggling writer  named Mercer Mann who is burdened by debts, and has spent many enjoyable summers on Florida’s idyllic Camino Island as a kid, is being made an offer she can’t refuse: to return to the peace of the island, to write her novel – and get close to a certain infamous bookseller, and his interesting collection of manuscripts…

John Steinbeck

Prolific American author John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. sadly passed away on December 20th, 1968. He was Born February 27, 1902 in Salinas California, And is widely known for the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and East of Eden (1952) and the novella Of Mice and Men (1937). As the author of twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and five collections of short stories, Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962

The Grapes of Wrath was published in 1939 and won the annual National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize and was cited prominently when he won the Nobel Prize in 1962. Set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in financial and agricultural industries. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they were trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other “Okies”, they sought jobs, land, dignity, and a future.The Grapes of Wrath is frequently read in American high school and college literature classes due to its historical context and enduring legacy. A celebrated Hollywood film version, starring Henry Fonda and directed by John Ford, was made in 1940.

East of Eden is Often described as Steinbeck’s most ambitious novel East of Eden is set primarily between the beginning of the 20th century and the end of World War I, It is the story of warmhearted inventor and farmer Samuel Hamilton his wife Liza, and their nine children who live on a rough, infertile piece of land in the Salinas Valley, California,. As the Hamilton children begin to grow up and leave the nest, a wealthy stranger, Adam Trask, purchases the best ranch in the Valley, Adam joined the military and then wandered the country until He was caught for vagrancy, escaped from a chain gang and burgled a store for clothing to use as a disguise. Then he learns that his father has died and left him an inheritance of $50,000.A parallel story introduces a girl named Cathy Ames, who grows up in a town not far from the brothers’ family farm who is cold, cruel, and utterly incapable of feeling for anyone but herself. She leaves home after killing both of her parents. Finally, she is viciously beaten by a pimp and is left close to death on the brothers’ doorstep. Although Charles Hamilton is repulsed by her, Adam, unaware of her past, falls in love with and marries her and goes to California where he settles with the pregnant Cathy in the Salinas Valley, near the Hamilton family ranch. Cathy does not want to be a mother or to stay in California, but Adam is so ecstatically happy with his new life that he does not realize there is any problem.

Shortly after Cathy gives birth to twin boys, she shoots Adam in the shoulder and flees. Adam recovers, but remains in a deep and terrible depression until he becomes good friends with Cantonese Cook Lee and Samuel Hamilton and learns the story of Cain & Abel and the Hebrew word “Timshel” which means “thou mayest” suggesting that mankind is neither compelled to pursue sainthood nor doomed to sin, but rather has the power to choose.Meanwhile, Cathy has become a prostitute and embarks on a devious plan to ingratiate herself with the owner, murder her and inherit the business. She makes her new brothel infamous and is not concerned that Adam might look for her, and has no feelings her children Caleb and Aron – echoing Cain and Abel – who grow up oblivious of their mother’s situation. Aron then meets a girl named Abra and the two fall in love. Soon after Samuel Hamilton passes away but Adam is inspired by the memory of his inventiveness. As the boys reach the end of their school days, Caleb decides to pursue a career in farming and Aron goes to college to become an Episcopalian priest. Soon Caleb discovers that his mother is alive and the head of a brothel. Caleb then goes into business with Will Hamilton, as an automobile dealer and also makes a fortune selling beans grown in the Salinas Valley. A successful Aron returns from Stanford for the holiday. intending to drop out of college and Caleb takes Aron to see their mother, who Wracked with self-hatred, signs her estate over to Aron, who then enlists in the army to fight in World War I, but is killed in battle and Adam is overcome with grief. A now bedridden Adam is asked to forgive his only remaining son, responds by saying Timshel.

Steinbeck’s novel “Of Mice and Men”was written in 1937 and tells the tragic story of George Milton and Lennie Small, two displaced migrant ranch workers, who move from place to place in search of new job opportunities during the Great Depression in California, USA. It is Based on Steinbeck’s own experiences as a bindlestiff in the 1920s (before the arrival of the Okies he would vividly describe in The Grapes of Wrath), the title is taken from Robert Burns’ poem “To a Mouse”, which read: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley.” (The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry.) Required reading in many schools, Of Mice and Men has been a frequent target of censors for vulgarity and what some consider offensive and racist language; consequently, it appears on the American Library Association’s list of the Most Challenged Books of 21st Century.

Carl Sagan

American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and other natural sciences, Carl Edward Sagan sadly died of Pneumonia on 20 December 1996 at the age of 62 After suffering from myelodysplasia . He was born November 9, 1934. Sagan First became interested in science and astronomy when parents took him to the 1939 New York World’s Fair when he was four years old. The exhibits became a turning point in his life. He later recalled the moving map of the America of Tomorrow exhibit which showed beautiful highways and cloverleaves and little General Motors cars all carrying people to skyscrapers, buildings with lovely spires and, flying buttresses. At other exhibits, he remembered how a flashlight that shone on a photoelectric cell created a crackling sound, and how the sound from a tuning fork became a wave on an oscilloscope. He also witnessed the future media technology that would replace radio: television.

Soon after entering elementary school he began to express a strong inquisitiveness about nature. Sagan recalled taking his first trips to the public library alone, at the age of five, when his mother got him a library card. He wanted to learn what stars were, since Nobody else could give him a clear answer. He and a close friend took trips to the American Museum of Natural History across the East River in Manhattan. While there, they went to the Hayden Planetarium and walked around the museum’s exhibits of space objects, such as meteorites, and displays of dinosaurs and animals in natural settings. His parents bought him chemistry sets and reading materials. His interest in space, however, was his primary focus, especially after reading science fiction stories by writers such as H. G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs, which stirred his imagination about life on other planets such as Mars. In 1947 he discovered Astounding Science Fiction magazine, which introduced him to more hard science fiction speculations than those in Burroughs’s novels. That same year inaugurated the “flying saucer” mass hysteria with the young Carl suspecting the “discs” might be alien spaceships.

Sagan lived in Bensonhurst where he went to David A. Boody Junior High School. He had his bar mitzvah in Bensonhurst when he turned 13. In 1948, his family moved to the nearby town of Rahway, New Jersey for his father’s work, where Sagan then entered Rahway High School. He graduated in 1951. Sagan was made president of the school’s chemistry club, and set up his own laboratory at home, teaching himself about molecules by making cardboard cutouts to help him visualize how molecules were formed and also remained interested in astronomy.

Sagan attended the University of Chicago. Its Chancellor, Robert Hutchins, structured the school as an “ideal meritocracy,” with no age requirement. The school also employed a number of the nation’s leading scientists, including Enrico Fermi and Edward Teller, along with operating the famous Yerkes Observatory. Sagan worked in the laboratory of the geneticist H. J. Muller and wrote a thesis on the origins of life with physical chemist Harold Urey. Sagan joined the Ryerson Astronomical Society, received a B.A. degree in self-proclaimed “nothing” with general and special honors in 1954, and a B.S. degree in physics in 1955. He went on to earn a M.S. degree in physics in 1956, before earning a Ph.D. degree in 1960 with the dissertation “Physical Studies of Planets” submitted to the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. From 1960 to 1962 Sagan was a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. he also published an article in 1961 in the journal Science on the atmosphere of Venus, while also working with NASA’s Mariner 2 team, and served as a “Planetary Sciences Consultant” to the RAND Corporation.

After the publication of Sagan’s Science article, in 1961 Harvard University astronomers Fred Whipple and Donald Menzel offered Sagan the opportunity to give a colloquium at Harvard, and they subsequently offered him a lecturer position at the institution. Sagan instead asked to be made an assistant professor. Sagan lectured, performed research, and advised graduate students at the institution from 1963 until 1968, as well as working at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, both located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cornell University astronomer Thomas Gold then asked Sagan to move to Ithaca, New York and join the faculty at Cornell. and remained a faculty member at Cornell for nearly 30 years until his death in 1996. Following two years as an associate professor, Sagan became a full professor at Cornell in 1970, and directed the Laboratory for Planetary Studies there. From 1972 to 1981, he was associate director of the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research (CRSR) at Cornell. In 1976, he became the David Duncan Professor of Astronomy and Space Sciences.

Sagan was associated with the U.S. space program from its inception. From the 1950s onward, he worked as an advisor to NASA, where one of his duties included briefing the Apollo astronauts before their flights to the Moon. Sagan contributed to many of the robotic spacecraft missions that explored the Solar System, arranging experiments on many of the expeditions. Sagan assembled the first physical message that was sent into space: a gold-anodized plaque, attached to the space probe Pioneer 10, launched in 1972. Pioneer 11, also carrying another copy of the plaque, was launched In 1973. He continued to refine his designs; the most elaborate message he helped to develop and assemble was the Voyager Golden Record that was sent out with the Voyager space probes in 1977. Sagan often challenged the decisions to fund the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station at the expense of further robotic missions.

He became known for his work as a science popularizer and communicator. His best known scientific contribution is research on extraterrestrial life, including experimental demonstration of the production of amino acids from basic chemicals by radiation. Sagan assembled the first physical messages sent into space: the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager Golden Record, universal messages that could potentially be understood by any extraterrestrial intelligence that might find them. Sagan argued the now accepted hypothesis that the high surface temperatures of Venus can be attributed to and calculated using the greenhouse effect.

Sagan published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books. He wrote many popular science books, such as The Dragons of Eden, Broca’s Brain and Pale Blue Dot, and narrated and co-wrote the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. The most widely watched series in the history of American public television, Cosmos has been seen by at least 500 million people across 60 different countries. The book Cosmos was published to accompany the series. He also wrote the science fiction novel Contact, the basis for a 1997 film of the same name. His papers, containing 595,000 items, are archived at The Library of Congress.

Sagan advocated scientific skeptical inquiry and the scientific method, pioneered exobiology and promoted the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). He spent most of his career as a professor of astronomy at Cornell University, where he directed the Laboratory for Planetary Studies. Sagan and his works received numerous awards and honors, including the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal, the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book The Dragons of Eden, and, regarding Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, two Emmy Awards, the Peabody Award and the Hugo Award. He married three times and had five children.

It’s a Wonderful Life

The popular Christmas film IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE was first released in New York City December 20th 1946. Produced and directed by Frank Capra, it is based on the short story “The Greatest Gift”, written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1939, and privately published by the author in 1945. The film is considered one of the most loved films in American cinema, and has become traditional viewing during the Christmas season.

The film stars James Stewart as a rather dispondant George Bailey, a man who is fed up with life and has given up his dreams in order to help others, who decides to commit Suicide. However his imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and how different life in his community would be had he never been born in an effort to make George change his mind.

Amazingly Despite it’s popularity today it’s A Wonderful Life was initially considered a box office flop due to high production costs and stiff competition at the time of its release. Theatrically, the film’s break-even point was actually $6.3 million, approximately twice the production cost, a figure it never came close to achieving in its initial release and was seen as a major disappointment which suggested that Capra was no longer capable of turning out the populist features that made his films the must-see, money-making events they once were.”

However The film was nominated for five Oscars and has been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made and was placed at number 11 on its initial 1998 greatest movie list, and number one on its list of the most inspirational American films of all time and It’s A Wonderful Life has become an annual fixture which is shown every year at Christmas and is now regarded as a bona fide classic Christmas film the world over.