...continued from page 1
I bought every bottle of Noble tangerine juice on the shelf. And when they restock it, you'll still have to race me to get any of it.
So even though Earth Fare's paper bags fall apart with even modest loads, it's worth holding them from underneath in order to bring home the goods. Earth Fare is determined to be competitive, and for me, at least, they're succeeding.
That doesn't mean there's no reason to shop at Whole Foods and Fresh Market! We don't buy meat or fish from anybody but Fresh Market; their deli is where we buy salads, fruit and vegetable platters, and my eternal supply of Newman's Own Limeade, and so many other products I can't list them all.
And Whole Foods is our sole supplier of Red Jacket apple juice. Produced in the Red Jacket orchards in Geneva, New York, this apple juice is from cold-pressed apples, never from concentrate.
It's the closest we've ever come to the perfect apple juice we have, till now, found only in Japan.
I wish I could tell you that Red Jacket's apricot juice was as good, but I can't say that. You can't actually juice apricots – you can only puree them and mix them with other liquids.
Most apricot nectars are mixed with water, so the only flavor you get is the apricot puree. Red Jacket, unfortunately, mixes their apricot mash with other fruit juices. And apricot is such a delicate flavor that it gets lost in the mix.
But getting apple juice right is enough of an achievement!
I vaguely remember Richard Marx as a singer who was popular when my older kids were in their early teens. He had some monster hits in that era. But I'd lost track of him completely, so his name was only vaguely familiar when I picked up his holiday album at Target.
Christmas Spirit is my favorite new Christmas album this year. Richard Marx is not a kid anymore, but his voice sounds like that of a 20-year-old. His touch is light and the arrangements are gentle and nostalgic. It's definitely pop music, with no attempt at anything else – but it's pop Christmas music done right.
And the title track, "Christmas Spirit," is bright and lovely. It deserves to become a new Christmas anthem, covered by many other singers.
His "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" is the most powerful musical setting of the Longfellow poem that I've ever heard, and he performs it brilliantly.
And "Christmas Mornings" is thick with nostalgia. Some might think it's too sentimental. But not me. It's exactly as sentimental as I want a great Christmas song to be.
"The Safe Man: A Ghost Story" is a novelette by Michael Connelly that is sold as a "Kindle Single" for a couple of bucks, or as a short audio on Audible.com.
It begins as if it's the kind of story we expect from detective novelist Connelly, creator of the Harry Bosch series. Hero Brian Holloway is a safecracker – the legal kind. A locksmith, he gets hired by people who have forgotten (or never knew) the combination to a safe they legally own.
But in the floor of an old house in Los Angeles, he comes upon a safe whose French manufacturer he never heard of. He inquires in the online locksmith community but doesn't hear back until he's already drilled and taken the door off the safe.
"Don't open it," he is warned – too late. And the reason why has to do with the "ghost story" subtitle.
However, this is not your ordinary ghost story. Connelly has come up with a really cool twist on ghost stories, a highly unusual kind of ghost that "haunts" with a powerful purpose.
The trouble is that Connelly stopped with a short story twist ending, which is very frustrating, because there is no way that's the story's end. There's a great novel in this idea, as we follow through to see what the hero does about the things he learned from the ghost he met.
So Mr. Connelly, if somebody kindly calls your attention to this review, please heed me as I respectfully beg you, as reader to writer, for the rest of this story. I know how I would deal with the rest of the novel, but I don't want to read my version, I want to read your version!
And I won't settle for an easy Oedipus Rex you-can't-change-fate rule set. You've never gone for the simple solution in any of your fiction. So I'm counting on the full story sometime. Soon, because I'm getting older, and so are you, and if I croak before you've done the novel version, I'll haunt you, and it won't be pleasant.
Not that I expect you to yield to such dire threats. I'm just saying.
Meanwhile, I look forward to listening to your new Harry Bosch novel, The Black Box, as soon as I finish listening to the Churchill biography.
The problem with listening to audiobooks is that I don't have a copy of the book to set beside my computer, where I'm reminded to write a review.
Fortunately, I ran into Kristine Kathryn Rusch at a librarians' conference in Washington a few months ago, and she was kind enough to give me an ARC of her latest novel, Blowback.
It was scheduled for December release, but now I see that it's already out – and ready to be given as a gift to your sci-fi-reading relative or friend.
Blowback is the most recent installment in a long series – perhaps the best continuing science fiction series that isn't by me. (I have to make an exception for my work, just in case it's as good as I hope it is.)
Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Retrieval Artist series is set in a future in which humans have an uneasy relationship with aliens who demand that the human race show respect for their laws and customs.
And some of the aliens, at least, have the military power to back up their demands.
Imagine our world if the US and Europe were bound by treaty to turn over to Saudi Arabia or Iran any offenders against Islamic law. Salman Rushdie could not be given protection; anyone who offended their laws, in their territory, would have to be extradited.
That's the moral universe in which Blowback is set. Our main hero, Miles Flint, has a long and bitter history, which led him into the career of finding people who have gone into hiding in order to avoid alien "justice." But he usually doesn't find them in order to turn them over to the aliens – there are always good but complicated reasons for "retrieving" them.
Among the "retrieved" is his own daughter, Talia, who didn't know he existed until he saved her from alien "justice" a few years ago. Now they're both living on the Moon as a terrorist act takes place, and Miles has to find out what is happening and why in order to prevent an even worse attack that could happen any day now.
Even if you've never read a Retrieval Artist novel, Blowback will work all by itself. But you will want to go back and read every other installment in the series, because this is among the best fiction of any kind being written today.
It's also available at Audible.com. Rusch writes for adults and mature young readers alike – her books make good gifts for mature boys and girls, and for men and women who want fiction that gives them something to think about....continued on page 3