Summer's almost over... dive into a beer and a book

Summer's almost over... dive into a beer and a book

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On the road again

On this fine September morning, here are a few amusing bumper stickers I've recently seen in my travels...

It's not whether you win or lose, but how you place the blame.

A fool and his money can throw one heck of a party.

We are born naked, wet, and hungry. Then things get worse.

Red meat is not bad for you.  Green fuzzy meat is bad for you.

Members of Congress should wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers, so we can identify their corporate sponsors.

Politicians try so hard to get re-elected because they'd hate to have to make a living under the laws they've passed.

Xerox and Wultitzer are merging into a new company. It'll make reproductive organs.

99% percent of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

The latest survey shows that three out of four people make up 75% of the population.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Get stirred

I enjoyed J.A. Konrath's Shaken, the previous Jack Daniels thriller just fine, but was glad to get back to more traditional (that is, not multiple timeline-oriented) storytelling this time out with Stirred, its immersive, epic follow-up.  Stirred does throw us one curve ball, however: this time Konrath teams up with fellow thriller writer Blake Crouch to deliver this ambitious, stirring (sorry, couldn't resist) story.

And stir you up this book will likely do. I mean, c'mon: the main antagonist is essentially a serial killer and a James Bond villain rolled into one, and- as if that isn't enough- you also get a handful of supporting serial killer characters who were strong enough to be the main villains in past stories individually produced by Stirred co-authors Konrath and Crouch.

And why am I comparing the central killer to a James Bond villain? Because he uses his vast resources to buy a small corner of a dilapidated city and convert it to his version of Dante's Inferno, complete with writhing, tortured souls (previously captured from a tour bus!), who are chained to everything. Then he goes after the people he really wants to torture, namely Jack Daniels and her friends- and drops them into that booby-trapped, deadly world, for his own amusement. Crazy stuff.

And get this: Amid all the horror (and there's a lot of it) you still get this series' usual big laughs, clever banter, and touching character moments, to help break up all the torture, murders, and dismemberments. Oh, and how's this for another distraction from the dark doings: Jack Daniels spends the whole novel about to give birth! Which, come to think of it, functions as both a distraction from the horror and an underscoring of it. After all, would you want the kicking baby in your belly to be born in a dungeon full of corpses?

And about the co-author thing: Blake Crouch must write a lot like J.A. Konrath, and have many of the same obsessions and thematic interests, because this two-author book isn't schizo at all. It just feels like the latest J.A. Konrath Jack Daniels thriller, just bigger, better, and more intense.

I was skeptical when Crouch and Konrath decided to combine their characters and situations into one universe, thinking it was a problematic, self-indulgent idea probably generated from too many beers at a mystery writers convention. But this final (for now) Jack Daniels book, where Konrath's heroes meet Crouch's baddies really turned out to be intense, moving, page-turning fun.

Who would have thought Kindle time could be so cool?

Stirred is available on Kindle for $3.99, or is free to borrow by Amazon Prime members.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Attention, cola lovers

Alison often orders drinks based on what looks interesting behind the bar.  In this case, we were recently having a bite at the P.J. Whelihan's in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, and a bottle of Three Olives Super Cola Vodka caught her eye.  She asked our barmaid what kind of drink could be made with it.  The barmaid smiled and said she'd make her something good.

The result is the drink in the photo, which was comprised of the Three Olives Super Cola Vodka mentioned above, Three Olives Vanilla Vodka, grenadine (didn't catch the brand), and Diet Coke, served over ice and artfully garnished with a Maraschino cherry and a slice of green apple.  The Mason jar-style glass was also a nice touch, I thought.

The drink was a bit sweet for my personal taste (I gave it a sip), but Alison liked it a lot.  Anyway, if you think you'd like a drink that pretty much tastes like a combination Vanilla/Cherry Coke with a manageable kick (I think the plain ol' Diet Coke was the lion's share of the drink), you might want to give it a whirl.  And, no, the barmaid didn't have a name for it.  If you come up with a good name, I'll pass it on the next time we're out that way.