Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How do you relax with a book?

Things have been so hectic around here. Reading is what I do while the microwave turns (walking from room to room with a well-lit tablet screen). I read while I wait for the computer to boot, for the washing to take that final spin, the onions to soften in the pan. Sometimes paper, sometimes electronic... what matters is the words, the story, the characters, the voice. Thinking about it, what matters when I want to relax is a voice that will help me relax; a voice that, even when it's telling of the power going out and raging hotel customers, or love going wrong, or murder and mayhem and more... that even then gives me the sense that all will yet be well, and I should just read on. So what do I read when I need to relax? I read a book with a voice that soothes, that makes me believe my problems too will pass. And I drink coffee.

Fill your mug with your favorite brew and see what you think of the following... They're not all outwardly relaxing, but inside, behind the mug of cocoa...?

Winter at the Beach by Sheila Roberts starts warm and welcoming, but then that winter storm rolls in. Life's not perfect, and neither are the people of this Oregon coastal town. But the snow will ease, the power will come back on, and maybe the lights in relationships will reawaken too. A comfortably stormy read, enjoy with some smooth full-flavored three-star coffee.

Nell Goddin's The Third Girl, followed by The Luckiest Woman Ever, take the reader, very pleasingly, to smalltown France instead of smalltown America. Switches in language are implied very smoothly without ever taxing the reader, as a divorced, not necessarily seeking love, American tries to make a go of renting out a guest house. Rather like Miss Marple in France, both books are really fun reads. Enjoy with from (French roasted) lively, easy-drinking two-star coffee.

A great collection of romantic suspense novels and novellas came out recently, called Love Under Fire. I've only read two of the entries so far, but both qualify as being told in the kind of voice that allows me to relax even while speeding my heartbeat and scaring me. Virtually Lace by Uvi Poznansky blends art and computers, bending reality and threatening death. Meanwhile Aaron Paul Lazar's The Asylum invites readers behind the scenes at an asylum for the rich, where someone is maybe striving a little too hard to get richer. Enjoy these complex reads with some complex four-star coffee.

Exposed Fury by Marie Flanigan has a grittier feel to it, as an excop, recoving from injuries on the force, tries to keep life simple with quiet surveillance and background checks. But murder intervenes. The action feels authentic, the mystery is intriguing, and the portrayal of post-traumatic stress feels timely and convincing. Meanwhile there's always the possibility of romance, plus touches of wisdom. Enjoy with some well-balanced three-star coffee.

Post Facto by Darryl Wimberley wouldn't qualify as relaxing at all, except that its protagonist, suffering a heart complaint, might have to relax before something worse happens. She's a former big-city journalist, now running a local rag. Once muzzled by the bosses, now she is the boss and is muzzled by the need to sell advertising space. Just the same, she has character a voice, great headlines heading each chapter, and a fascinating tale to tell of a post-factual world where, sometimes, its easier to believe in little green men than in political goodwill. So no, it shouldn't be relaxing; with action, mystery, mayhem and threat... But the voice is perfect and the tale rings true. Enjoy with some richly elegant four-star coffee.


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