Christmas is fast approaching. My Mum brought it on the plane with her luggage from England. Then we unpacked. And now we've unpacked our ornaments for the Christmas tree as well. It's definitely coming.
Meanwhile there's shopping, writing, reading, editing, and shopping some more to be done. We didn't just find Christmas puddings on today's expedition; we found brandy butter to put on them too, so our son will enjoy his just desert. And we found beef and potato pasties, frozen, ready to heat and serve for dinner (well, ready for dinner for the gluten-eaters among us, which is everyone except me--never mind; I found a wonderful gluten-free french country loaf yesterday and I'm very very happy!).
We found Mr. Kipling bakewell tarts, and viennese swirls. Sons, are you reading this? And we found Vimto! Vimto is a wonderful English drink! But coffee's the drink to go with books, and here are some book reviews to go with that coffee...
I'll start with the very seasonal set of short stories called Christmas Lites III. A great blend of genres, voices, ideas and styles, bound together by Christmas, very nicely collected and edited, they'll go well with multiple cups of different coffee genres. If you're just taking one cup though, make it a bold, dark 5-star cup.
Dan O'Brien's B-Sides tales, Hobbes Family, and Water, will go well with some more dark 5-star coffee. Dark dystopian short stories that nicely draw down global themes into the lives of ordinary people, they're both of them haunting and sad.
So now you need cheering up? The Culling, by Robert Johnson, will not cheer you but it's a great book; a truly intelligent, powerful, and exciting tale of dystopia in the making, with lots of real science, real scientists behaving like real people, plenty to think about, and moral dilemmas as scary as the plot. Enjoy this with another dark 5-star cup of coffee.
The Geronimo Breach, by Russell Blake, takes itself pretty seriously too, but requires a greater leap of faith in the reader. More message-driven than informative, it offers a darkly exciting glimpse of American global politics through the eyes of jaded operatives in Panama. Conspiracy theories abound, with explanation that sometimes overloads the storyline. But the novel is exciting, should definitely appeal to those of suitably jaded politics, and would go well with another dark 5-star coffee
Joseph M. Rinaldo's A Spy at Home takes the theme of spies in a totally different direction. Told in the laconic voice of an ex-spy, now living at home with his wife and adopted Downs syndrome son, it blends telling details of the son's life and nature with the gritty dilemmas of secret wars, turning a flawed, sometimes self-centered narrator slowly into a friend. Different, intriguing, and absorbing, this one will go well with a 4-star elegant complex coffee.
Finally, here's a mystery story equally filled with genuine characters and an honest sense of place. Murder at Eastern Columbia, by Christopher Geoffrey McPherson is almost two mysteries in one, set in Depression era Los Angeles. It's beautifully evocative, with pitch-perfect dialog, nicely contrasting and humanly informative viewpoints, and a blend of plots and clues that's very satisfyingly different; a thoroughly enjoyable novel to accompany a 4-star complex cup of coffee.
And now it's time to write, before all those other books on my Christmas list tempt me!