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Thursday, May 18th, 2017
Book Reviews

Recommended Reading - Jonathan Swift, Bianca Bosker, Sharon Sterling

Bianca Bosker

Cork Dork

Penguin Books

Journalist Bosker took 18 months off from writing about online tech to immerse herself in the world of professional sommeliers, with the intention of earning baselevel sommelier certification. Cork Dork (what sommeliers call themselves) recounts her journey from casual wine consumer to journeyman expert. Bosker’s style brings to mind Tony Bourdain (minus the endless profanities), and she manages not only to learn a few things, but to keep her perspective and come up with some choice insights of her own. She is equally adept at quick-sketching eccentric characters and outrageous situations, and at explaining the elusive physiology of taste.

- Bruce Collier

Sharon Sterling

Fatal Refuge


The first chapter of Fatal Refuge ends with Kim Altaha, an Apache EMT in Yuma, discovering a murdered woman in a desert wildlife refuge. Kim recognizes the victim, an acquaintance of her BFF, social worker Allie Davis. The ensuing police investigation begins with the customary procedural forensics. The story itself quickly evolves into a web of interpersonal conflicts and a second murder by the same killer.

As the investigation expands, so does the cast of characters, from Kim’s love interest, to the schizophrenic, poet-mother of the murdered woman. Each of the central characters struggles with his or her own private demons. This isn’t so much a whodunit—the reader knows that early on—as a “howcatchem,” a witnessing of the inevitable convergence of the law and the psychopathic outlaw.

Sterling recently moved here from Arizona. This is the second in her Arizona Thriller Trilogy, available from Amazon and at Seaside’s Sun Dog Books and Rosemary Beach’s Hidden Lantern.

- Wynn Parks

John Stubbs

Jonathan Swift: The Reluctant Rebel

W.W. Norton

This new, lengthy biography of Anglo-Irish writer and satirist Swift is likely to be the standard work for quite a while. Most people’s acquaintance with Swift doesn’t get much past Gulliver’s Travels or A Modest Proposal, two works more quoted than actually read. Stubbs takes his time with his subject, weaving Swift’s life and works into a detailed tapestry of English and European history and politics, pausing occasionally to reflect on its effect on Swift the writer. He also delves into Swift’s religious life (he was a devout Anglican cleric), a strong influence on his personality, politics and writing.

- Bruce Collier