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Since I’m trying to aggregate multiple loves into one blog (books, brunch, bites and booze), I have a new plan for posting reviews on my City Imbibing page.
- I’m first going to write my review on this main page
- If the experience lends itself to a book, I will make the connection
- I will then add a shortened review to my City Imbibing section
- I know this isn’t all that exciting, but it feels like a personal epiphany
My inaugural post now begins –
“Get drunk by the fire at Shoolbred’s. We did that last winter and Fab Moretti showed up.”
— Chris Baio (Vampire Weekend Guitarist)
Shoolbreds: A neighborhood favorite (East Village – 2nd Ave btwn 12th & 13th), this bar is my go-to hangout on these cold winter evenings (afternoons, mornings…). It boasts four coveted seats by a crackling fireplace (you have to lurk, ready to pounce as soon as the seats are available) as well as a “buy one get a token for another free one” beer and well-drink special from 4-8pm every single day. Though not included in this special, they make a wonderful hot toddy (may beat my own personal recipe), delicious spinach and artichoke dip and lamb sliders. Another advantage to the flocked-velvet decor is the lack of tacky illumination due to flickering TV screens – this is moving-picture-free-zone.
My beloved fireplace experiences with Shoolbred’s does lend itself well to Winter-based novels. Two very different titles immediately come to mind:
- SNOW ANGELS by James Thompson: I reviewed this in greater detail here, but this thrilling noir mystery set in the very cold, snow covered, 24-hours of darkness country of Finland will make you shiver and have a greater appreciation for the fireplace.
- NERD GONE WILD: The antithesis of Thompson’s scary debut, this book is in Vicki Lewis’s humorous Nerd Series. It’s a cozy, quirky romance set in the wildness of Alaska, with endearing character and laughable “enemies.” This is a total guilty indulgence – get your hand out of that cookie jar and give this a try (hold the neon-colored jacket proudly).
- THE GLASS CASTLE: Most of you have probably already read this memoir from Jeanette Walls, that became a bestseller after astounded readers all over told their friends about the author’s horrible childhood. It’s a book that makes you appreciate what you have – and respect those who go without. At the same time, I hated the book and found it hard not to shake it (as a way to reach the characters), since the parents were so capable and made life hell for their children, when it may not have been necessary to suffer…
I’ll leave you with these pictures our assistant took of Central Park yesterday afternoon, of the “SnOwMG” (she was brave to venture into the weather, while I was safely ensconced at, you know this, Shoolbred’s)-
Brrrrrrr… I thought moving from Chicago to NYC would be a breeze, since I literally would be escaping the Windy City (yes I realize that refers to politics and not weather, but anyway you look at it Chicago has damn bitter gusts) to the land of a more mild temperate. But last week Gothamist burst my bubble, reporting that this may be the coldest NYC winter in almost 30 years! Totally unnecessary, and unappreciated.
I’ve brought out my woolies and curled up next to my radiator (yes, this is also my first experience with a radiator – the little things like thermostats I used to take for granted <sigh>) and have managed to survive this cold snap. While I love paradise, drinks with a straw and my hammock on the beach, sometimes I get bitter at reading about these places when my own surroundings are far different. So as I avoid beach reading, I wait, along with many others, for the third installment in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST… Not only has this proven to be a fantastically thrilling series, but the fictional weather tends to be more dismal than I’m experiencing – which makes me both selfish and happy.
Due to this new found love for Scandinavian thrillers, I was doubly triply excited for the recent U.S. debut of SNOW ANGELS by James Thompson, an author out of Finland. Not only did this novel make my winter seem decidedly less severe (considering 24-hours of darkness, like they have in Finland, tends to put things in perspective) but I found the characters and the setting compelling… and add in the twisting and turning plot and it was overall un-put-downable!
I am unbiased. For real. But James is a Putnam author, so instead of giving too complete a review and have you guys think that my having spoken to him on the phone and listened to his nice Finnish accent gives me a clouded opinion, I’ll share those of others (beyond the “MASTERFUL” Michael Connelly quote on the jacket).
Jen Forbus at Jen’s Book Thoughts reviewed SNOW ANGELS and also shared a Q&A with James. I also direct your reviewing eyes to the thoughtful reviews on Jenn’s Bookshelves and Whimpulsive. And there are more – if you’d like to share your thoughts on SNOW ANGELS I invite you to leave a link in the comments and I will add you here!
So next time you’re staying in a cold winter night, take my advice and make a hot toddy (yummy & easy: tea *I’ve tried black, lemon, raspberry and mango- all delicious*, lemon juice, cinnamon stick or clover, honey… don’t forget the whiskey!) and escape to Finland with SNOW ANGELS – though you may have to sleep with a nightlight on.