Monday, November 28, 2011
A book in hand...
Meanwhile, here are the real books, with real book covers, that I've read recently, plus coffee recommendations, of course.
The Settlers of Catan, by Rebecca Gable, is a huge historical novel of Viking village life, set on the mythical island of Catan and filled with real world research that brings history instantly to life. Based on the board game, this novel stands perfectly well on its own and lingers long after the last page is turned. You'll need several cups of coffee--it's a long and beautifully balanced novel, so go for a 3-star smooth full-flavored blend.
There's a rather different take on history in Theodore Morrison Homa MD's Archimedes Claw, where a modern-day scientists stumbles on the mystery of how Archimedes held the Romans at bay in 212BC Syracuse. The ethical questions raised are quite fascinating, though the detailed science grated on my mathematical expectations on occasion. It's certainly an intriguing tale, to be enjoyed with a 4-star complex coffee for the complexities of plot and explanation.
Moving to the present day, Dancing at all the Weddings by Susan Surman looks at the ethical dilemmas facing a young woman choosing between the safe, mother-pleasing marriage option and a more exciting Hollywood alternative. Delving into the five stages of divorce when a less-than-ideal marriage turns sour, and building on very genuine human interactions, this is a nicely involving, well-travelled tale, to be enjoyed with a well-balanced 3-star coffee.
A Thinking Man's Bully by Michael Adelberg is a uniquely structured novel in which a father writes stories of his childhood and his psychiatrist critiques them. The combination works wonderfully, giving a feel of someone slowly learning and freeing himself from his past, becoming ready to face the future. Matthew's son has attempted suicide and Matthew wants to be a better father to him. In this story better becomes a choice grounded in honesty. Drink a 4-star elegant complex coffee while you read.
Still in the modern world, Code Blood by Kurt Kamm weaves a noirish mix of paramedic training, vampire fetishism, high-stakes medical research and low-life drug-and-body-part dealing into a real and gritty tale with a surprisingly real and redemptive ending. Drink a 5-star bold dark coffee with this one.
And finally, 03 by Jean-Christophe Valtat weaves a one-threaded tale of a young man watching a girl at a bus-stop... for 84 pages in one paragraph. The young man is French, precociously intelligent, lonely and all those other things stereotypical of modern French protagonists. Though the book's short, you might need several 5-star bold dark coffees to keep you reading.