Thursday, November 21, 2013

Reading a very big book, and reviewing smaller ones

Our book group picked a very big book for November--Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T. E. Lawrence! I'd often thought of reading it, but fitting so many close-typed pages into my schedule, not to mention such a wealth of detail, seemed impossible. Still, the book group had made its decision, and the meeting was coming soon.

Yay for book groups; with a little encouragement from spouse and friends, and the deadline of delicious food and friendly conversation looming, it was truly amazing how many words could seep into my brain. Of course, the book has pictures too, and they help. And there's always the movie, or memories of the movie, to keep things together.

All the same, I've decided I'll have to say no to at least some book review requests, or I'll never find time enough to write. But here are the books I've read recently, including those world-famous pillars, with coffee recommendations because if I don't drink more coffee I'll fall asleep over words written or read.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom, by T. E. Lawrence, is titled for the Bible verse, or perhaps for the book on seven centers of civilization that Lawrence was going to write. It's simultaneously wise and oddly naive. It tells of the math, biology and psychology of war. And it recreates a world not so long gone--a wise reminder that our world too is only recently here, and ever changing. Drink several bold dark intense cups of five-star coffee as you read, or browse, or skim--whichever, it's worthwhile.

Fateful Night book 1, What she knew, by K. R. Hughes and T. L. Burns, tackles a more recent historical question, the death of Marilyn Munroe. Built on a series of what ifs, it recreates characters very convincingly, giving a sense of watching the movie as you read. Enjoy with bold, dark cup of five-star coffee and look out for books 2 and 3 to complete the tale.

A Very Private Grave, by Donna Fletcher Crow, is set around the present day, but anchored in ancient history, making it an intriguing mix of mystery, suspense, contemporary drama and historical novel. Plus there's that gentle touch of faith, so vital to the characters in the tale, and so naturally woven into its machinations. A priest is dead. A priest is accused. And a young woman, training for priesthood, finds herself on the run with him, seeking clues to what a dear friend might have been hiding. Enjoy this elegant complex tale with a rich cup of elegant complex 4-star coffee.

And now for one set very firmly in the present day, Veil of Civility, by Ian Graham, is a fast-moving political thriller with plenty of action taking place across the world. An ex-IRA terrorist, living in America, becomes a target after a terrorist assassination on American soil, but who is behind the multiple betrayals? The politics may not be convincing, but the plot's exciting and well-told. Enjoy this one with a bold, dark, intense 5-star coffee.

Equally anchored in the present-day world is The Condor Song, by Darryl Nyznyk, a tense mix of courtroom drama, environmental thriller, and family drama, set in California where an aging mogul wants to buy land and build in an area of natural beauty and, possibly, great ecological significance. I really enjoyed the complex characters and their interactions--and the glimpse of condors! Enjoy it yourself with some well-balance, full-flavored 3-star coffee.

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