Friday, December 31, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 50 -- The Star Wars Album

from Ballantine Books

Started: Dec. 29
Finished: Dec. 31

Notes: This book was a collector's edition originally published in late 1977 soon after the release of the original Star Wars movie. I bought a copy then as a kid and I held onto that copy for years and years. However, somewhere along the long line of my life I lost my copy. Yet we live in the day and age of online auction sites and sales sites, etc. So I was able to purchase another copy for a fair price, though this one is from the second publication date in 1978. This might seem a strange book today considering how far the Star Wars universe and phenomena has come in the last forty-plus years; most of this book deals with a recap of that first movie plus some writings about the sources that influenced Star Wars and some talk of a possible sequel. Oh boy, was there a sequel, and then some.

Mini review: This was a fun, interesting, nostalgic read. It was especially interesting to read about the predictions for a Star Wars sequel, and to chew on some of the comments made by the cast and George Lucas.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 49 -- The Metaphysics of the Novel

by Don Pendleton with Linda Pendleton

Started: Dec. 22
Finished: Dec. 28

Notes: Don Pendleton was the creator of the men's action/adventure series known as The Executioner, and he was the author of the first thirty-eight novels in that series. Sadly, Don passed away back in 1995. His wife Linda carried on the torch, promoting Don's work and the books they had written together. Linda had made herself available online to fans, so when I purchased this book six or so months ago, I had looked forward to reading it with hopes of being able to ask Linda any questions which I might have had. Sadly, Linda herself passed away just a couple of weeks ago. My condolences to her and her family. Still, having read much of Don's work, I'm interested to get his taking on writing a novel.

Mini review: This one was a bit dated in a lot of its advice concerning publishing, but the writing advice remains solid, though I can't say I learned much there. Still, it was interesting to see how Don Pendleton approached his fiction writing, especially for The Executioner series.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Beer of the Week: Joymongers Porter

Beer score: 7.4

Company: Joymongers Brewing Co.

ABV: 4.8

I was at a small party recently and had the pleasure of trying several brews from the Joymongers folks in central North Carolina. The first of their beers I tried was this porter.

This one pours a nice dark chocolate color, and while doing so it gives off scents of baked bread and maybe a few hints of fruit.

The taste is quite excellent. The toasted malt textures hit you right off the bat, strong but not so much you can't enjoy the drink. Then a bit of a dark burnt chocolate flavor hits the tongue, but again, it doesn't hurt this drink but actually boosts its quality of flavor. There are definitely overtones of bread and toast here, and porter fans should enjoy that.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 48 -- Hail to the Chief

by Ed McBain

Started: Dec. 18
Finished: Dec. 22

Notes: Been reading a bunch of detective novels of late, and I can't do so without reading from my favorite series, that of the 87th Precinct. Man, I love these books. This one is from the early1970s.

Mini review: McBain tried something differently stylistically this time, something I don't recall him using in any other 87th Precinct novels. A good third of this novel is told in the first person, something McBain usually doesn't try. I can't say it worked much here, which is probably why the author didn't use this technique often. It was wordy and slowed the story down, and slowness is definitely unusual for 87th Precinct novels. Still, this wasn't a bad tale. It mainly concerns a gang war between three gangs, and the body county is high.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Beer of the Week: Tommyknocker Maple Nut Brown Ale

Beer score: 5.3

Company: Tommyknocker Brewery

ABV: 4.5
IBU: 20

Pours a dark brown with a nice, foamy head. Has a maple syrup scent to it as it hits the glass.

The taste is also reminiscent of maple syrup. Folks who like their brews sweet should enjoy this one, though even those who prefer bitter ales will find the sweetness here not overpowering.

Over all, not the best beer in the world, but don't pass it up if you get the chance. I'd drink another.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 47 -- City Problems

by Steve Goble

Started: Dec. 16
Finished: Dec. 18

Notes: As I'm reading detective fiction of late, I thought it high time I read my friend Steve's latest novel, that of a detective in Ohio, Steve's first not pirating mystery book.

Mini review: If Ed McBain and Waylon Jennings had had a love child, it would have been this novel. With maybe Stephen King as godfather. A rural detective has help from an urban officer who is investigating a case of a missing teenage girl, and going through the potential suspects is no easy task. The ending is more touching than many a mystery novel, and it definitely leaves room for sequels. To say more would be to give away more, and that I won't do. However, I would like to add, yeah, I'm pretty sure Hank DID do it this way. Now it's time to go enjoy some Knob Creek.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 46 -- On the Run

by John D. MacDonald

Started: Dec. 13
Finished: Dec. 15

Notes: I've only read one MacDonald novel and that was nearly three decades ago and I remember nothing about it, but over the years I've kept hearing great things about this author, so I thought I'd give him another go.

Mini review: This one was all right. Not great, but not awful. There was some good writing here, but there were also stretches which bored me. A young man is on the run after some trouble with a gangster, but then he must return to his childhood home in order to receive a hefty inheritance from a dying grandfather. Along the way this fellow and the grandfather's nurse fall in love with one another. The ending is not a happy one, but it set things up for what would be an interesting tale.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 45 -- The Destroyer #62: The Seventh Stone

by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir

Started: Dec. 9
Finished: Dec 12

Notes: I read a ton of men's action/adventure fiction as a teen back in the 80s, but I stayed away from this series only because I was already tied down to several other series. It's time to correct that and give this one a try.

Mini review: Not bad. Not overly deep, but what can one expect from what's basically an action/adventure novel? Remo and Chiun are fun characters, and that helps. The action is often unbelievable to the point of absurdity, and that took some of the fun away for me. And the end was quite abrupt. But all in all, yeah, I'd give one of these novels another chance at some point.

Beer of the Week: Otter Creek Copper Ale

Beer score: 5.9

Company: Otter Creek Brewing Co.

ABV: 5.0
IBU: 25

After a long hiatus, the fine folks at Otter Creek Brewing have brought back this beer. And that's a good thing. This is a decent beer, though admittedly not the greatest ever, and I always hate to see when a beer is no longer in production, mainly because that usually means the beer will soon be forgotten and the recipe lost to time. Such a shame.

As can be expected, this one pours a nice brown copper color. The smell isn't very strong, sort of a light maltiness.

There a slight nuttiness in the tasting, but there is a strong bitter aftertaste. I never thought I'd say this about a beer, but this one is almost too smooth, if that's possible.

Worth trying. And would make a quality bar food beer.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 44 -- The Piranhas

by Harold Robbins

Started: Dec. 2
Finished: Dec. 9

Notes: As a kid, I was surrounded by Harold Robbins novels. My step-dad at the time had been a huge fan of Robbins, reading all the author's works. However, I never touched any of those books even though I read voraciously at that age (and still do, I suppose). Robbins' works had held no interest for me in my young years. Mobsters and sex and Hollywood starlets had not been my thing. But now that I'm older, I thought I should at least give Robbins a try.

Mini review: Not bad. A young man who has family ties to the mafia tries to stay clear of the family business while becoming a millionaire at the top of a corporation. Of course he can't always stay clear of the family business, and that's where the action comes in. In many ways this is a story about the love of a young man for his family, specifically his uncle. I might give Harold Robbins another try at some point.

Monday, December 06, 2021

Beer of the Week: Brooklyn Brown Ae

Beer score: 6.1

Company: Brooklyn Brewery

ABV: 5.6
IBU: 30

This one pours a dark, chocolate brown color into the glass, and right away you're hit with scents of a burnt but sweet malty smell.

Speaking of sweet, yeah, this one is sweet. Really sweet. It also has a smooth burnt maple flavor and a touch of carbonation.

A good brew, though not quite a great one, but nothing to be ashamed of.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 43 -- Criminal Conversation

by Evan Hunter

Started: Nov. 19
Finished: Dec. 2

Notes: I'm in need of some fiction, and as I often do, I turn to one of my favorite authors, Ed McBain. Since he also wrote under the name of Evan Hunter, this should do.

Mini review: A prosecutor goes after a young mob boss. A woman has an affair with the same mob boss. To say more would be giving too much away. To tell the truth, through most of this book I felt I was having my first negative experience with an Ed McBain/Evan Hunter book. The plot seemed so slow, and was more invested in a sexual relationship than with moving forward, but I have to say the last hundred pages made up for everything, with the pace finally speeding up and running headlong into a conclusion that slammed home quite hard. Not sure I'd read this one again, but I believe I can say it's worth reading.