Books, beer and barbarians

Home to fantasy author Ty Johnston

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 28 -- The Black Tulip

by Alexandre Dumas

Started: June 16
Finished: June 23

Notes: It has been far too long, more than a decade, since I have read anything from Dumas, and he really is one of my favorite authors. So, it is more than time I dip back into material from him, especially when it is one of his novels which I have not read before.

Mini review: Considering the title and the fact Dumas was the author, I expected this novel to be about an adventurous character with the nom de guerre of "Black Tulip," somewhat like the Scarlet Pimpernel or Scaramouche or some such. But that was not the case. No, the black tulip here is a literal black tulip. The plot concerns a wealthy young man in Holland of the 17th Century. His only love in life is growing tulips, so he becomes excited when a horticulture society offers a huge award for a black tulip. This young man sets out to grow a black tulip, but he is soon thwarted by political events and an envious neighbor. To say more would be to give away too much, but I will say this is more of a novel of intrigue than of action, though it still makes a good read. Any Dumas fan should enjoy this one.

Monday, June 17, 2024

Beer of the Week: Labatt Canadian Ale

Beer score: 5.2

Company: Labatt Brewing Company
ABV: 5.0

Like most premium beers, this one pours out a pale golden color and has a decent foamy head to it. It gives off faint bread scents but mostly just smells like a premium beer.

There is little strength here. Not real watery, but not real carbonated either. The taste is not bad, but mainly just a slight sweetness with hints of hopes. You could do worse.

A decent beer for beginning beer snobs to break their teeth on. Of all the Labatt brews, this is the best.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 27 -- The Epistle of James

published by Zondervan

Started: June 15
Finished: June 15

Notes: I'm finally getting to Biblical letters apparently written by others than Paul, and I'm glad to do so because I want to more compare them to the Pauline letter.

Mini review: This really is one of my favorite books of the Bible, and definitely my favorite of all the letters in the New Testament. It provides guidance to Christians on matters of faith, works, wisdom, wealth, treatment of others, and more. Works seems to be at least as important as faith here, and perhaps more important. This is a lesson I fear far too many so-called Christians have forgotten in this day and age.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 26 -- The Epistle to the Hebrews

published by Zondervan

Started: June 14
Finished: June 15

Notes: By tradition, the apostle Paul wrote this letter, though the book here doesn't actually say that. So, though I've read this before, I'll be doing so again with an interest in comparing it to the other letters allegedly written by Paul.

Mini review: It's difficult to believe the author of this letter is the same as that whom wrote the other Pauline letters. The other letters are somewhat more colloquial, often dealing not only with spiritual matters but some practical ones. Except for an extremely short few verses at the end of this letter, this one is entirely devoted to the spiritual, explaining to Hebrews various Christian beliefs and comparing Christ and Christianity to earlier Jewish thought.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 25 -- End of Watch

by Stephen King

Started: May 24
Finished: June 13

Notes: I just finished an  Ed McBain novel, and for some reason of recent years I've been reading one of his novels right around the time I read a King book. Strange. The two authors have different styles and write in different genres, but I suppose both have some similar themes. Anyway, I'm glad to be getting to this King novel because it is the final book in a trilogy of which I've read the first two novels, Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers.

Mini review: This was not one of my favorite King books. In fact, it's one of my least favorite. The plot was fine, the characters were great, the beginning is decent and the ending was just right, but the middle? Man, there were easily 300 pages that were just boring to me. It seemed every little move the good guys or bad guys made was covered in extreme detail, to the point of frustration for me as a reader. Once I get what's going on, I don't feel a need for a bunch of flackbacks to flesh out details, and I don't feel a need to follow every little step taken along what's basically an investigation. But it's the end of a trilogy, one which included characters I've come to enjoy, so there is a feeling of completion.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Miller Lite ice

Beer score: 2.6

They haven't made this one for a while now, and that makes sense considering how much it sucked, but I have a few old notes.

It had a harsh taste that was not unlike corn mixed with alcohol. The smell was about the same. Lots of carbonation here, more so than the usual light beer.

I don't have much good to say about this one. For once, I'm actually glad a beer is no longer being made.

Monday, June 03, 2024

Beer of the Week: Carta Blanca

Beer score: 3.2

Company: Heineken Mexico
ABV: 4.5

Mexican beer at its most mediocre.

It pours the usual pale yellow color of a cheap beer, and it gives of the expected smells of straw and corn, maybe with a hint of citrus fruit.

It's light on the tongue and has a bit of skunky sourness to it. Tastes about like you'd expect, a little bit of malt, some corn, maybe some rice, with the barest hint of lemon or possibly orange.

Not a great beer.

At least it's wet.