Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Book of Strange New Things

Sometimes you just need a 2000 year old ultra religious Jewish dude, political insurgent, conceived by an other-worldly creature, that was part God and part human but also wholly human and wholly God and died and came back to life to somehow help you out 2000 years later when you are waiting for the results of that dubious mole. Thank you, Jesus... it was just a hairy nevus.

So, the premise of The Book of Strange New Things is that "aliens" need Jesus too. Technically, in this book, humans are the aliens but the "natives" were exposed to a Christian missionary preacher and just are craving more and more Jesus.  Like Jesus is chocolate.

This is a dystopian sci-fi novel with a lot of Christianity in it.  Now, I have two religion degrees and it was a lot for me. It has more Bible verses than a drunk Mel Gibson.

I will say, this book is for grown-ups, which is refreshing compared to a few books I've read lately. I don't think dystopian sci-fi novels should be for children anyway. Sure it starts out innocent enough with Goodnight Two Moons, but then it devolves into Pat the Mutant Radioactive Bunny, and then The Very Hungry Flesh-Eating Bacteria.  Inappropriate.

Our narrator in this book doesn't drink.  Former alcoholic preacher. Boo. Here is a fun winter cocktail to make this season more bearable.  Applejack Sazerac: 2 oz. apple brandy, 1/4 ounce maple syrup, 3 dashes Peychaud's bitters. Stir with ice then strain into an old fashioned glass. Serve up and garnish with a lemon twist.

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Darker Shade of Magic

London Multiverse! Where people drive on the right and biscuits are called "cookies"...wait... Well, in this book there are four Londons. Of course, ours (called Grey London) has the least magic (sad horns).

A Darker Shade of Magic is set about 200 years ago during mad King George's reign. How dare he think there was another London! So, while this is technically an urban fantasy it feels more like an epic fantasy. Magicians, kings, despots, pickpockets, princes, and lots of taverns. Our hero has a magic coat but does not have a magic codpiece. Well, this is the first book of the series.  I know they didn't wear codpieces in our London in 1813, but multiverses.  Maybe there is a codpiece universe, you don't know.

V.E. Schwab is the same Victoria Schwab who writes YA. V.E. is supposed to be her "adult" novelist name. The problem is...this still feels like a YA book with more violence. One does not have a wizard, who is only briefly in the book, make a seemingly offhand comment with an obvious plot point that will later be a "surprise." Readers pay attention to wizards. An adult fantasy book has wizards that secretly meet with giant eagles and tells no one.  It's hard to give me a sense of wonderment when you dumb it down. I DEMAND WONDERMENT. Anyway, it's a decent book and I actually enjoyed the worlds, but it's not very sophisticated. Perhaps we need more top hats.

Why not drink with a multiverse Old Fashioned? Winter Spiced Old Fashioned: First make a simple syrup with cardamon pods, cinnamon stick and an aniseed pod (strain the spices and cool completely). Muddle an orange slice and two maraschino cherries in the bottom of your glass. Add three ounces of bourbon or rye (per drink), the simple syrup to taste probably 1/2 ounce and ice to a shaker. Shake or stir according to your preference. Pour in your prepared glasses and garnish with an orange wedge and cinnamon stick.