Monday, December 31, 2018
It's cold and rainy here in the northeast United States, but we're still going to try to go out a bit this evening to ring in the new year. But first I wanted to wish everyone who glances at this blog now and then a healthy and prosperous 2019.
And please continue to stop by. Despite the lack of reader comments this blog usually experiences, the "intelligence" provided to me by Google's Blogger program indicates that more than a small handful of people check out Kindle Taproom now and again. If you're one of them, thanks! This thing wouldn't be any fun without actual readers.
During January, I hope to step up the number of book, audiobook, and film opinions that I share with you, and maybe I'll do another post or two about wine, too. We'll see how that New Year's resolution works out, as a predisposition to procrastination is a hard thing to overcome.
But for now, Happy New Year, everyone!
Sunday, December 30, 2018
It's been a while since I've paid much attention to the Taproom part of Kindle Taproom, meaning it's been a while since I've written about beer, wine, and spirits. As we approach the end of another year, let me try to correct that oversight a bit.
Pictured are two terrific white wines I recently discovered. On the left is a bottle of Kepe Chardonnay, from Spain. Fruity, but with a definite tart and bite, this crisp Chard actually walks right up to doing a skilled impression of a decent Pinot Grigio, but after a few sips it's clear that this Spanish export is indeed a Chardonnay, and a good one. Not all good Chards need to be buttery or oaky.
On the right is Bertoli's broadly-labeled Bianco Italia, a white blend from, yes, Italy. I usually don't expect much from a wine with the general designation Bianco, certainly not much complexity. Just give me something clean and refreshing and I'm happy with these usually simple white table wines. But this particular Bianco had a little surprise: a nice smokiness that makes the mouth water in anticipation of each sip. Yet it's still clean and refreshing.
I discovered these wines upon purchasing a case of twelve random white wines from a bar acquaintance who recently bought more than he needed from an online wine site, and wanted to move along a case or two to others. I paid $90.00 for a case of twelve, which averages out to $7.50 a bottle. So I'm guessing it's safe to say that, even without a full-case discount, these two wines can be found individually for less than $10.00 per bottle. Both wines are definitely worth paying eight to ten bucks for, and even a little more.
Stay tuned. As I work my way through my case of wine, I'll try to report back on any other pleasant discoveries.
Friday, November 30, 2018
Creed II, currently in theaters, basically has the plot of Rocky III, while functioning as a sequel to Rocky IV, with it all being held together with the same quality acting and subtle, skillful direction that we saw in the initial film in this series, Creed.
It's a little longer than it needed to be, and a little more predictable and by-the-numbers, but if you enjoyed the first film, and more or less were into all the Rocky movies before that, there's no reason not to see this.
It was a little strange to see the Ivan Drago character, who was basically a cartoon villain in Rocky IV, return here as a character with newfound subtlety, nuance, and depth (Ivan's son is the one who fights Adonis Creed this time), but that's certainly not something to complain about.
So, all in all, this was a good time. Creed II has the big drama of a blockbuster film but with enough overall quality and grace notes to make it sometimes feel like one of those holiday season-prestige films that chase after Oscar gold.
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Lee Goldberg's True Fiction is a fun little thriller, fast-paced, entertaining, and exciting. It has an engaging premise: as a way to anticipate future terrorist attacks, thriller writer Ian Ludlow, and a few other popular fiction writers, are hired by the US government to imagine possible terrorist plots against the US, so government agencies can better keep an eye out for actual future threats. The problem is, one of those fictional imaginings- the one in fact proposed by Ian- happens for real.
Shortly after the horrific terrorist event, Ian's fellow authors on the government committee start turning up dead, and attempts are made on Ian's life. Things move quickly from there. Who wants to act out terrorist scenarios that were never meant to happen? Why are the authors who dreamed them up (again, as a way to help the government anticipate actual threats) being eliminated? It's all imaginative, interesting, and thought-provoking. And, believe it or not, fun.
That's because even though True fiction is a pretty straight-up thriller, there's frequent humor to lighten the mix. In particular, there are several instances of dumb luck that keep Ian alive as highly-trained killers try to take him out while he's on the run trying to piece things together. There's also a lot of cleverness in the area of technology and gadgets. One can tell Mr. Goldberg is the self-professed James Bond fan he admits to on social media.
True Fiction is a fast, entertaining read, so I don't want to tell you too much more now that I've recommended it. I'll let you discover the action scenes, supporting characters, and revelations (all three of those things are good) for yourself. It's basically a fun thriller that was constructed with some seriousness, but doesn't take itself too seriously. I had a lot of, well, fun with it.
True Fiction is available in print and on Kindle.
Sunday, September 30, 2018
Nothing heavy at the moment, just three silly book-related jokes. Enjoy (I hope).
Bookworm #1: Can I borrow a bookmark?
Bookworm #2: Bookmark? You mean a quitter strip?
* * *
Book #1: You look so much thinner!
* * *
Overheard from Sean Connery: A book fell on my head. I can only blame my shelf.
* * *
Okay, sorry for all of the above. More serious stuff on the way shortly.
Friday, August 31, 2018
Agatha Christie wrote roughly eighty novels and short-story collections over the course of her life, so one could read one of her books every now and then and never run out. That's what I do: read maybe one or two a year. My latest was Peril at End House, and it was another good one. And, no, even though Dame Christie played fair with the clues, I didn't guess the killer (yet again).
This one was interesting because there wasn't so much a killer but a would-be killer. A young pretty heiress, with the cute name of Nick Buckley, has had several clumsy attempts made on her life, and has been shrugging them off as weird accidents. Master detective Hercule Poirot, who has met Ms. Buckley by chance because the hotel where he is vacationing is located near the Buckley estate, begs to differ.
So the bulk of this fast-paced novel involves Poirot attempting to prevent further attempts on Ms. Buckley's life while trying to ascertain who is trying to kill her and why. The stakes are eventually raised when a collateral death (not Ms. Buckley's) does occur, making the brilliant Poirot take things personally. How dare someone have the temerity to kill someone right under the detective's nose?
Needless to say, not everything is as it seems, and that can eventually be frustrating when one fails to detect the skillfully-placed distractions and false paths. But that's okay: along the way it's all very moody and dramatic and entertaining. So, all in all, I quite enjoyed Peril at End House, even though I was once again stumped.
"Peril at End House" was originally published in the early 1930's but has never gone out of print. It is also available on Kindle and in various audiobook editions.
Tuesday, July 31, 2018
After more than two years of service (who knows, time flies and maybe it's even been more than three years), I'm still enjoying and regularly using my Kindle Paperwhite. This was the first Kindle I bought that featured a backlit screen, and while I was originally skeptical about how important that feature would be, I'm now sold on the concept.
It's really great to be able to read in the most dimly-lit room, or even in an unlit room, and my current Kindle makes the words on the page crisper and clearer in well-lit rooms, too. And yet, even with the back lighting feature, I'm still experiencing the same pleasant-looking, paper-like Kindle screen (like my previous Kindles), and not a harsh, overly bright computer-type screen.
So, if you haven't made the jump to one of the newer backlit Kindles, don't be afraid to do so. They are still the same easy-on-the-eyes Kindles, only now you can use them whether or not there is adequate lighting in the place you want to read.
There are newer Kindles out there- including the Oasis and the Voyage- and I'm sure one day I will upgrade. But for now my Kindle Paperwhite performs perfectly well. But one thing is for sure: I will always have an actual Kindle device, and not simply install a Kindle app on my smartphone and iPad. I've always liked the simple elegance of an actual Kindle. I have plenty of other devices that can do a thousand things, so it's nice to relax once or twice a day with a piece of technology that just worries about making my reading experience as pleasant as possible.