Joseph Arellano

Joseph Arellano has written book reviews for multiple publications and does pre-publication review and editing work for a publisher based in England. He received his Communication Arts degree from the University of the Pacific, and a law degree from the University of Southern California.

Mr. Arellano worked in prosecutors’ offices at both the local and state level, managed the California Career Criminal Prosecution Program for a decade, ran a training program for prosecutors and public defenders, and taught in a college Criminal Justice Department. He also worked for the state’s Departments of Corrections, Education, and Consumer Affairs where he served as a Public Information Officer.

Mr. Arellano has also reviewed for Sacramento Book Review, San Francisco Book Review, and NY Journal of Books.

Book Reviews by Joseph Arellano

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“Grief never ceases to transform.”

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“Perhaps there was something buried in this memoir that I kept missing, something that I kept searching for in vain. It may be buried somewhere . . .”

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“In The Grief of Others, a promising and potentially engaging story is overwhelmed by obtuse storytelling. . . . This read was something of an exhausting experience.”

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“. . . the literary equivalent of a bridge too far.”

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“I Knew You’d Be Lovely is an impressive offering, from a strong new voice, of stories about life’s desperation.”

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It may be a shame that Marcia Clark spent so many years as a prosecutor for the County of Los Angeles.

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Writer Kevin Desinger found a great setup for his debut novel: A good citizen and wine steward, Jim Sandusky, is home one evening with his wife in a fine, quiet neighborhood when their peace is dis

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“See, we love each other. We just don’t happen to like each other very much.”

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“To be well loved is to be free of the evil lurking around the next darkened corner. Every child should know that feeling.”

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When she turned seventy-nine she wrote to tell me that although she was now legally blind she had decided to study medicine: “I am thinking of going to nursing school . . .

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“It was as if Gloria was sabotaging herself, Sam thought. Well, they were both sabotaging themselves, just going about it from opposite directions.”

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“Killing two bad guys, taking a cold-blooded murderer home. Not bad for a few days in Seattle, huh?”

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This is a novel that finishes well. That being said, the first half of the novel is a muddy bog.

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“I was born into the century in which novels lost their stories . . .”

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“I could always heal the birds,” he admits. . . . Echo takes his hand, “Joseph says that birds are the only creatures that have blind faith. This is why they are able to fly.”

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“[Elliot was] a muscular populist liberal who wasn’t afraid to confront business institutions by punching them in the nose.

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It’s doubtful that anyone would wish to take the position that a modern American prison is the perfect example of a rehabilitative environment.

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“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return.”

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“Yugoslavia should be proud of this small car. Everyone will be
talking about it in the United States.” —Malcolm Bricklin

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"There were times . . . when Kelly felt desperate, confused and shattered. But she also felt embraced and loved. And that sustained her.”

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“I wondered what he knew about the family; what he didn’t know. What family he lived in. My mind wandered around.”

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“Mario’s case was my personal salvation . . .”

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“Somebody out there had turned a gun on two kids. Whoever did it might be locked up now, and they might not. If they weren’t locked up, then they were on the street and not far away.

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“On the one hand, there was the logic of the law, the science of criminology, the processes of adjudication. On the other, there was pain, murderous rage, death.”

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“. . . that was all hindsight, and hindsight wasn’t just twenty-twenty.  
Hindsight wrapped everything in sunshine.   It got in your eyes and

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“The heart asks pleasure first, and then excuse from pain.”
—Emily Dickinson

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“Most things you have to do in life are at least a little bit questionable.”

                                  — Emily St. John Mandel

 

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Annabelle McKay is a student at U.C. Santa Barbara when she meets her future husband, Grant, at a students’ apartment eviction party in Isla Vista.

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“Better bring your own redemption when you come/
To the barricades of Heaven where I’m from . . .”
—Jackson Browne

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The time is the years 1940 and 1941 and Americans are attempting to stay out of the conflict in Europe.

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“. . . I wonder if being too satisfied with your life and becoming numb to it aren’t somehow intertwined. Like there isn’t something just as dangerous about playing it safe.”

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“A work of fiction is an excellent place for a confession.”

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“A well composed book is a magic carpet on which we are
wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.” —Caroline Gordon

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“Tracing our steps from the beginning / Until they vanished into the air / Trying to understand how our lives had led us there.”

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This begins as an excellent biography of a woman who might have remained unknown but for a miracle of medicine.

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“Maybe he realized . . . the utter aloneness of the fighter—despite the hangers-on, the crowds, the adulation, it was a pitiless profession.”

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Julie Compton’s Tell No Lies is an excellent criminal justice system and family drama story set in St. Louis.

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“The thing about Hollywood is, it’s no different from heroin or gambling or crack cocaine, except in Hollywood the high is adrenaline.  . . .

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“He is the beginning and the end of music in America.”
—Bing Crosby on Louis Armstrong

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Maggie Pouncey is bringing back language, slow and careful language. It’s the type of language that began to disappear in the 1960s.

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“Cancel my subscription to the resurrection/
Send my credentials to the house of detention/
I got some friends inside.”
—The Doors (“When the Music’s Over”)

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If reading a suspense thriller by David Baldacci is like driving in a new Porsche, reading a private investigator thriller by S. J.

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“Every writer is alone . . .”

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According to his only child, Christopher, William F.

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“. . . the lonely were more likely to have died than the nonlonely.”

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“I’m not a sexy dancer despite my athletic skills.”
“To want what we have /
 To take what we’re given with grace . . .” 
                             —Larry John McNally

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No one writes better courtroom dramas than Scott Turow. In Presumed Innocent, he told us the story of chief deputy District Attorney Rusty Sabich.

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“I try to write the books I would love to come upon. . . .”
—Anne Lamott

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This reviewer had such high hopes for this novel, a “love story” by Pete Nelson.

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“The person I used to be could have only made one choice; the grown-up (me) might have made a different one. That was how life was. You only figured out the right thing after you were old.”

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“Life is too short, the ghost knew, for a woman to waste it on a man who did not know how to love.”

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“The sins of a family always fall on the daughter.”
—P. F. Sloan

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Jason weighed the situation for a moment, and then decided to risk jumping out of character. “Pisa isn’t in the game,” he typed. Very quickly, the voice responded. “This isn’t a game.”

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“Even in the suit, (Judge) Hubbard’s thick neck and big glasses gave him the air of a character actor playing a bit part on a low-budget cable movie.  Jesse Jackson kicked into gear with kisses, so

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“We got what we needed.”

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“Most of our fears are petty and small. . . . 
            Only our love is monumental.”

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“The byproduct of suffering, if you’re lucky, is appreciation. . . .
My windfall has always been a sweet tooth, the gold watch that
deflected the bullet aimed straight at my heart.”

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Full and proper character development appears to be becoming a lost art in fiction, but author Christina Baker Kline does her bit to revive the art in the intriguing novel Bird in Hand.

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“The memory was like an explosion and he was inside it, living through it and it surrounded him and slowly he breathed life into it. . . . This was where he was headed.

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Lauren Belfer has produced a grand, glorious, and occasionally disappointing tale of medicine, war, love, and other things in this 527-page historical novel.