Other Ephemera From 2014

Two Thousand Fourteen found me re-reading several books that I’ve read in the past, but I squeezed in several new ones as well.  

Home is the Sailor and Fingal O’Reilly, Irish Doctor by Patrick Taylor. Dr. Taylor writes the Irish Country series, which are light-hearted tales of an older doctor, his younger partner, and the often hilarious undertakings of the villagers of Ballybucklebo, Ireland.  The series spans decades, with several books focusing on Dr. O’Reilly’s early days in practice in the 1930s, and other books detail the development of more modern medicine in the 1960s.  All of the books are great, and you can start anywhere in the series without feeling lost.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness.  This is the third in a trilogy involving a witch and a vampire (I know, I know), and is the best in the trilogy. This isn’t your average vampire romance though, and Ms. Harkness takes well-researched forays into biology, chemistry, religion and history.  I would recommend starting at the beginning with her first book, A Discovery of Witches, followed by Shadow of Night and then The Book of Life. You’ll be hard pressed to put any of them down.

The Charm School by Nelson Demille.  Mr. Demille is a previous combat veteran who went on to receive a degree in Political Science and History.  His impressive bibliography includes thrilling tales, usually related to a fearless cop or service member.  The Charm School is by far my favorite of his books, which details Intelligence Officer Hollis’s mission to find a secretive KGB training camp outside of Moscow, in the throes of the cold war.  He is assisted by the charming Lisa Rhodes, an embassy attache, and Seth Alevy, a CIA mastermind.  The KGB training site winds up being a camp where American fliers captured by the North Vietnamese are forced to teach KGB officers how to “become” American so that they may infiltrate US neighborhoods, government jobs, etc. to fullfill their goal of anihillating America. Fortunately, through some insane plans from Alevy and Hollis, the Charm School’s days are numbered.  A jaw dropping helicopter scene at the end of the novel still has me thinking about the book.  Demille’s recent and also great books are The Lion and The Panther, which deal with the American Anti-Terrorist Task Force battleing a Middle Eastern Terrorist.

Villa Incognito by Tom Robbins.  This was a re-read for me this year.  I think I read all of his books available at the time, when I was studying abroad in Australia ten years ago. His books are a delight, and I usually describe them as adult fairytales on LSD.  Villa Incognito starts out with an unusual Japanese yarn about a Badger-like “Tanuki” who can shift into human form and seduce young women.  The thick of the book eventually gets back to this unusual beginning, but focuses on three lost airmen who have been running drugs for the past 30 years since their plane crashed in the Vietnam war. I can’t even begin to describe the way that Robbins writes, except to say that its like slowly swarming orbs of electricity in his head at times rocket down to his fingertips and frission the page with unbelievable epithets. My other favorite book of his is Jitterbug Perfume.