Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Reading in Cleveland

Last week, I was in Cleveland, on business, and had some time to read. As a result, I have not one, but two, books to review, and will get to that in a minute.

One night while in Cleveland, Marty (my boss) and Sam (a consultant from our vendor) and I had dinner at The Brew Kettle Restaurant. In addition to the restaurant, the Brew Kettle has equipment and ingredients so people can come in to brew and bottle beer for themselves. While we waited for our food, Marty showed us around, and explained how it all works (he's been brewing there for a number of years). It was really fascinating, and almost made me wish I were a beer drinker - the whole process just looked like a lot of fun!

The restaurant had a comfortable, gathering-place feel to it. There were trays and signs everywhere, from different micro breweries whose beer they served - even a sign from Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo.

I contented myself with their house-brewed root beer. It was delicious! (And now I am wondering if one could opt to brew root beer instead of beer...)

Now, for the books. Neither is a literary masterpiece, but both were enjoyable reads.

A Pug's Tale, by Alison Pace, describes our heroine Hope McNeill, and her effort to solve a mystery: the disappearance, from the Met, of Pansies, a painting by Henri Fantin-Latour. Hope narrates the tale, describing a life that sounds pretty good: a boyfriend (albeit in Africa for the time being); a dream job at the Met; a charming pug. But overarching all this is the problem of that missing painting, and the need to find it and clear her name (and save her job!). Reminiscent of Lilian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who... series, Hope is assisted by her intuitive pug, Max.

This is a light and fun read, even if you haven't read Pace's earlier book, Pug Hill (which I have not).

Richard Paul Evans is not my favorite author - his books tend to be too sentimental for my taste - but I found that I enjoyed The Looking Glass.

This is the story of Hunter Bell and Quaye McGandley. Their past is fed to us a piece at a time, much as a fisherman carefully lets out his fishing line. (Some might say too carefully, but I didn't mind; I was in no hurry with this read.)

Hunter is a former minister, now a gambler and gold prospector. Quaye is a young girl who has escaped Ireland's famine, exchanging certain death there for a harsh life with an abusive husband in America.

Eventually their paths cross. Quaye is able to mend Hunter's broken heart, and tear down the wall he has built between himself and his God. Hunter helps Quaye to see herself as a woman of beauty and worth, deserving of love and happiness. Everything is wrapped up perhaps too nicely, but it was an enjoyable read even so.

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