Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dreams, nightmares, and book reviews

Dreams, longings, and yes, nightmares too, all play a part in the books I'm reviewing today. But perhaps they're part of every story--the longing for something different or more that drives both character and plot. As I work on more five-minute Bible stories, I'm looking at which part of dreams and longings read into tales of Jesus' miracles. It's easy when somebody wants to be healed, but what about when someone hears a truth they'd rather keep hidden, or when what's asked for isn't what's received?

They tell us to be careful what we ask for. But I'm asking for coffee now and in a few minutes, warm cup in hand, I will type in some book reviews of tales you might want to drink with your own caffeine infusion. Don't forget, coffee ratings are for flavor--you can judge the quality for yourself.

First is a delightful little children's book, Amazing Matilda, by Bette A. Stevens. For any child who has ever dreamed of being able to do something new, this tale of a caterpillar dreaming of flight is the perfect lesson in patience and hard work. Enjoy it with a 1-star light crisp cup of coffee.

Next is a short new adult romance (says she, still unsure what New Adult means, but it's older than young adult, and geared to the lifestyles and expectations of readers much younger than myself). Snowbound, by Kim Golden, takes readers from big-city romantic deceptions to small-town honesty, and from Thanksgiving to Christmas, as its protagonists follows the cruel end to a romantic dream with the enticing start of another. Enjoy with seriously hot 2-star easy-drinking coffee.

Uvi Poznasky's Rise to Power (The David Chronicles) is fairly short too, telling the story of a court musician dreaming ambitious thoughts of more. Blending the formality of court (and Bible) with the modern attitudes of believable characters, it covers the slaying of Goliath, David's exile, a few marriages, and more. Nicely historical, with a modern touch, this is one to enjoy with an elegant 4-star coffee.

In Gulf Boulevard, by Dennis Hart, a young man dreams of winning the lottery. Actually, he dreams of many things--a house in the sun, clean beaches, naked girls sitting on turtles... and maybe gangsters, or maybe the gangster's real. Sometimes his dreams come true too. But always he narrates his life and adventures with pithy male humor and breakneck urgency. Oh, his ex is dreaming of marrying his fortune too... A fun story, best enjoyed with a well-balanced 3-star coffee.

Death in Venice, California, by Vinton Rafe McCabe, (a title deliberately evocative of Thomas Mann's famous novel) is a much darker tale of a much darker dreamer. Jameson Frame yearns for more and heads for a perfect vacation at a perfect hotel in Venice Beach. But the lure of the imperfect leaves him doubting his own self. And the steps he takes to change himself might leave him irrevocably scarred. Read this dark tale of consumerism, elitism and folly with a dark 5-star cup of coffee.

And finally, Smokestack, by J. R. Hobeck, tells of many dreamers in a small mid-western town who are suddenly faced with the nightmare of an alien artifact in the local quarry. Broken dreams, forgotten dreams, longed-for dreams, forbidden dreams and more all play their part in this tale that's filled with subtales, backstories, and careful reasonings. But the end justifies the plot and is certainly intriguing. Enjoy with a dark intense 5-star coffee.

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