Assorted recent book reviews, and maybe a couple of wines too

I noticed I’ve stockpiled a couple too many “write a brief book review” tasks in my to-do list, so this is an attempt at clearing them out. None of these are in-depth, but that’s OK, since if you care enough you’ll read the book (or a sample thereof).

Karin Muller‘s “Japanland: In Search of Wa” was fantastic. Every single chapter tells a wonderful story about the author’s year in Japan. One of the final stories is about how she undertook the famous Shikoku pilgrimage. The story of her received o-settai made me tear up a bit.
I’m a big John Rain fan, so when Barry Eisler came up with a new (relatively…) novel, “The Detachment,” I snapped it up. It sat unread in my Kindle app for a while, then I randomly noticed it on the beach a couple of weeks ago. Fast-forward about 24 hours later, and I greatly enjoyed the book. All the John Rain novels are a ton of fun, including this one.
I also read the related short story, “Paris is a Bitch,” also by Barry Eisler, and much of the same applies, although it all takes place in Paris, without the usual Tokyo shenanigans.
John Grisham‘s “Playing for Pizza” was the first non-detective, non-lawyer-type book I read from this famous author. It’s a well-written, fascinating story about a failed NFL quarterback moving to Italy to play, and adjusting to the local life.
Sara Gruen‘s “Water for Elephants” was interesting. I didn’t enjoy it as much as friends suggested I would. It’s an unusual book, and it’s well-written, but I just didn’t find it as engaging.
Alexander Maksik‘s “You Deserve Nothing,” on the other hand, was great. I don’t remember how I found out about this book, but I’m happy I read it.
I’m in the middle of the Singularity Series by William Hertling, and it’s amazing. There are three books: “Avogadro Corp,” “A.I. Apocalypse,” and coming soon, “The Last Firewall.” These books are incredible: fascinating, tight, well-written, wow. I found out about them from the Feld Thoughts blog, which is also recommended.
OK, that’s the last few weeks of books. While I’m clearing out my to-do list, maybe I’ll toss a couple of my fav recent wines on here.
Stag’s Leap “Hands of Time” from 2010 was surprisingly smooth and delicious. It’s not a wine they bottle on a regular basis, and so it’s extra-challenging to obtain, but if you see it, snag a case.
Maybe the most interesting wine I’ve had recently is an Alvarelhão, Forlorn Hope “Suspiro del Moro” 2012, from Silverspoons Vineyards. It’s an unusual grape, small production, especially outside its homeland. The winery also has several other unusual wines, exactly the kind in which I like to invest.
The Caymus Conundrum, from both 2010 and 2011, has been consistently excellent. A great wine with some raw bar or shellfish on a hot summer day. 
A great bottle for a Newport summer sunset.
My favorite rose of the sprint / summer so far is the Isola del Nuragi from Serra Lori. It’s a great balance of tasty and light. Perfect with some Island Creek Oysters, for example…
Whew, that feels good.