LIBERATION DAY by Andy McNab - Written shortly after 9-11, the evildoers in this story are America's newest nemesis. It's not communism, it's not a country. It's terrorists. And in this story, the protagonist, one Nick Stone, has taken on one last mission for the CIA. Once accomplished, he has been promised American citizenship and is planning on starting a new life with the woman he loves. Which is why he finds himself sneaking into the country of Algeria, with orders to kill and bring back the head of big money laundering businessman. He isn't told why the man has to die this way and there are some things you just don't ask. But Nick finds that he hasn't been told the entire story and has been manipulated by the head of the CIA, who also happens to his fiance's father and has no choice but to help the CIA in their dirty war against some very powerful people.
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA by Ernest Hemingway - Sometimes I get an irrational urge to read a classic. Being one who shunned literature all throughout my academic career and took alternative courses such as Creative Writing, Independent Reading, and Science-Fiction, my father still shakes his head as I told him I had never read Shakespeare in high school or college. But when you work in a book store and are not required to read such items, you begin to wonder what made those classics so great that they teach them in high school. And so, I found myself reading this Nobel prize-winning Hemingway classic. Did you know this story is quite short and simple? It was a breeze to read as compared to Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" which I gave up on less than half-way through. This story is as the title suggests about an old man and the sea and his determination to catch one big fish. Although I found this to be entertaining, I'm still at a loss as to why it was chosen for the Nobel prize. But then again, movies which have won many awards at film festivals aren't always great as you would think them to be. Take for instance the Russian film "The Return", which won 28 awards and another 12 nominations. I watched it and it was a vast waste of my time, and I couldn't for the life of me, see what was so great about it. I would nominate it for one of my all time worst films. I'm not saying that this book was terrible. As I said earlier, I quite enjoyed it. But Nobel Prize? Hmm?
THE JOURNALS OF ELEANOR DRUSE: MY INVESTIGATION OF THE KINGDOM HOSPITAL INCIDENT by Eleanor Druse – While I am not familiar with the Stephen King produced television series, “Kingdom Hospital”, I did rather enjoy this story which delves into the world of the paranormal. Eleanor is a sixty-year old mystic who is summoned to the newly built Kingdom Hospital in Lewiston Maine by her childhood friend who had attempted suicide. When Eleanor gets to the hospital to see her friend, some unexplained events occur and the next time Eleanor wakes, she finds herself in a hospital in Boston General. She had known that the Kingdom Hospital was built on top of the old one that burned down, but it seems she has been repressing a memory of a childhood tragedy at that hospital where she and her friend were admitted to the hospital for whooping cough. It also appears her friend remembers the past too well. When Eleanor digs deeper into the mystery, instead of answers, a bigger and horrible secret is revealed!
SOMEDAY, ANGELINE by Louis Sachar - Sometimes I just like to relax with a children's book. They're usually a quick read for me and for the most part, I seem to choose titles that have a happy end or are just plain funny. I think it's a shame that some adults don't read children's book just because they think it's only for children. This story is about a little girl who just happens to be a genius. She is being raised by her garbage man father who finds it hard to talk to his own daughter because she's so smart. But being so smart isn't what it's all cracked up to be as her classmates call her Freak and her teacher thinks she's just a show-off. However, things look brighter when Angeline makes friends with "Goon" and his teacher "Mr. Bone" - Miss Turbone.
RED, WHITE, AND BREW: AN AMERICAN BEER ODYSSEY by Brian Yaeger - Last year I read a few books where the authors traveled the world in search of culinary delights. But this time, instead of food, this author travels around America to discover the delights of craft beers. You won't find him stopping for a Bud or Coors here. To think, I almost passed up on reading this because his travels didn't take him to the Northwest corner of the States (he does hit Portland to check out Widmer). He starts his travels with America's oldest operating brewery - D. G. Yuengling & Sons in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Also stops in Adamstown (D. L. Geary's Brewery). He then travels to New England (Allagash Brewery, Shipyard Brewery, Gritty McDuff's Brewpub - Portland, Maine), then makes for the Midwest (Bell's Brewery - Comstok & Kalamazoo, Michigan / Goose Island Brewpub - Chicago, Illinois / Leinenkugel's Brewery - Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin / Summit Brewery - St. Paul, Minnesota / August Schell Brewery - New Ulm, Minnesota / Court Avenue Brewpub - Des Moines, Iowa), heads to middle America (Free State Brewpub - Lawrence, Kansas/ Boulevard Brewery - Kansas City, Missouri / , continues on through Colorado (New Belgian Brewery, Coopersmith's Brewpub, Odell's Brewery all in Ft. Collins), then Laramie, Wyoming (O'Dwyer's Brewpub), Victor, Idaho (Grand Teton Brewery), Portland, Oregon (Widmer Brothers Brewery)...you get the picture. Heads south to Cali, to Arizona, New Mexico, the Big Easy to Kentucky and end his trip at the Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware. And lastly, for a celebration of completing his trip, beers with friends in brewpub in New York (Brooklyn Brewing). The other breweries and brewpubs visited were Steelhead Brewpub, Standing Stone Brewpub, Sierra Nevada Brewery, Anchor Brewery, San Francisco Brewpub, Firestone Walker Brewery, The Brewhouse Brewpub, Electric Brewery, High Desert Brewpub, Spoetzel Brewery, Orf Brewery, Dixie Brewery, Crescent City Brewpub, Lazy Magnolia's Brewery, and Alltech's Lexington Brewery. Now, go out and drink a beer - make that drink a craft beer!
LIONBOY by Zizou Corder - Charlie Ashanti is the child of a Ghanaian father and an English mother and has the ability to speak Cat! Yes, he can speak to cats (and big cats like lions) in their own language. It was a gift he's had since childhood. As he came home one day, he found that his parents were missing and a local boy named Rafi, the neighborhood good-for-nothing said his parents had to leave town quickly and that he was take Charlie to his uncle. But Charlie is no dummy. He plays along with Rafi until he gets an idea of where his parents were taken and makes his escape. Charlie finds himself on a large circus ship headed towards Paris (which is where he knows his parents are). It's upon this chip where Charlie meets and befriends six lions. He learns the story of the lions and sympathises with them and helps them escape from the circus ship. Can Charlie help these lions and also find his parents? This is the first volume in a three volume series.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON by F. Scott Fitzgerald - What? Me reading another classic? Well, this isn't "The Great Gatsby". But with the really of the Brad Pitt starring movie of the same name which will be released here next week and which Mikako wants to see at the theater, I decided to read the original short story. As the story took less than an hour to read, I will be looking forward to seeing how it was adapted for the silver screen. If you're not familiar with the premise of the story yet, its quite simple. Benjamin Button (in the original story, his father actually wanted to call him Methuselah!) is born as an eighty-year old man and ages in reverse.
WORLD FOOD: SPAIN by Richard Sterling - Once again I find myself reading about my favorite subject - food and travel. This time, I have taken myself to Spain. So, what do you think of when you think of Spanish cuisine? For starters - Paella! And you mustn't forget your Iberico pig! And Spain is wine country. True, it's not as popular as the wines of France or Italy, but this is the country where Sangria was born. Oh, and the tapas. If I read this book when I was still traveling here and there with my drinking buddy, I would have suggested Spain in a heartbeat. It would have had everything we wanted - drinking and eating at all hours of the night and day and then some. Time to check out the small Spanish restaurant in my neighborhood!
LIONBOY: THE CHASE by Zizou Corder - When we last left Charlie, he was headed to Paris to look for his parents and accompanying him were six lions. Well now, it seems that not only is the good-for-nothing Rafi after him, the circus owner believes his lions were stolen and the lion-tamer has guessed that Charlie can speak to cats, setting in motion a chase of a grand proportions. But this isn't just a Cat-speaking boy's adventure story - it's a metaphor for greed and conspiracy. This book shines light on who and why his parents were abducted. As you read this story, you realized that the Corporacy (the people who payed to have Charlie's parents abducted) relate to the pharmaceutical companies of today's world. Did any of you read or watch John Le Carre's "The Constant Gardener"? The only thing the Corporacy loves is MONEY! They have created cats that promote asthma in children, and are making money by charging astronomical sums for the medicine. Charlie's parents are on the breakthrough of having found a cure for asthma (and that's something the Corporacy doesn't want the people to know). In the meantime, Charlie is also helping his lion friends make their trek back home to Morocco. But Rafi is still in pursuit, as is Maccomo - the lion trainer. But along with his enemies, Charlie has a few allies of his own - the King of Bulgaria and a gondolier named Claudio (along with all the cats). The chase takes them from Paris to Venice (in a out of the frying pan and into the fire scenario), and from Venice to Morocco.