There are few things in life I love more than books and coffee, but my family and close friends outdo even that obsession. So when the time came I needed to go home, my son and I downloaded some audio books, packed up the car, and set out on our 18 hour journey. The circumstances that brought us together were bittersweet, but my family is amazing so even reunions like this one were filled with stories, laughter, and maybe a drink or two.
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, I lived there until I turned 18. In all that time, it’s amazing how little I’d actually explored the city. Most of my family lives in the surrounding area, so even when visiting I’ve had little reason to go downtown. Thankfully I have a super hip cousin that not only lives downtown, but also works in two very cool bars. It was perfect for a night out after all the driving. I grabbed four of my favorite family members (don’t tell the others I said that! 🙂 ) and went to The Honeymoon Café and Bar in the heart of downtown on the corner of Main Street and Congress Street.
When I explained I was there for some much needed coffee, my cousin Ryan offered a brilliant alternative! A coffee cocktail called Leather Elbows (rye whiskey, cold brewed coffee, sweetened condensed milk). I was a fan!! The whiskey was strong, and in our group of five only Ryan and I were loving it. It was smooth after the initial “BAM…whiskey!” The whiskey did overpower the coffee though, so I’ll be trying a few others next time I go: Idle Hands (green chartruese, chocolate syrup, espresso, streamed milk) or maybe Faded Annual (cognac, averna amaro, becherovka, cold brewed coffee).
The space itself was gorgeous and perfectly lite. I hate super dark bars. I’m always bumping into someone/something or spilling a drink. The place was really busy with a young/hipper crowd. Ryan explained that this was typical for a Friday night, but come during the day or on a week night and the vibe changes – mellow, mixed backgrounds and ages. That sounds more my speed.
SIDE NOTE Houstonians and visitors alike: if you are looking for a run-of-the-mill beer option–this is not the block to hang out on. My brother had a hell of a time just trying to find a Bud Lite. Though the looks he got when asking sort of made it worth it! 🙂
Because we were heading to Houston, Texas (and driving through Iowa to get there) it seemed like the perfect time to reread The Twelve by Justin Cronin. I read this as soon as it hit the shelves in 2012, but with City of Mirrors now available, a reread was required! Anyone who has ever read The Passage knows Justin Cronin is not afraid of an adjective or a semi-colon!
The book has two major settings, a compound in Iowa and an army base/town in Texas. It is a very complex and interwoven story. The characters and story lines (both continuing from the first book and the newly developed ones) require a flowchart.
I went back and forth listening to the audio on the drive down, and reading the book. The first half of the book was difficult for me because of it’s slower pace. I reread The Passage right before starting this and that ended with such high impact that slowing down again was tough. The story, for me at least, didn’t really start to pick up until about Chapter 30+, which is about 370-ish pages in. The story was intriguing enough to keep going and if you loved The Passage as much as I did, nothing would keep me from finding out what happened to all my favorite characters.
But MAN! Once it gets going, it really gets going and everything I love about how Justin Cronin writes just pours off the pages. His character are well developed and deep. I started to feel compassion for characters I originally questioned, and questioned others I didn’t.
When explaining this story to someone it’s not an easy task. It started in the first book with a virus that infects several people while on an expedition. The virus is harvested, so to speak, and injected into test subjects. They essentially become non-humans with hard exteriors, claws, sharp teeth, and who live for 100s of years. The virus is spread through a type of “vampire bite”. The story follows a group of survivors 100 years after the original infection took hold and their journey to rid the world of the Twelve. Though in The Twelve we finally get backstories from when the Twelve originally breaking free. It can be hard to follow with all the people and subplots happening at once. But worth it!
It is a wild ride and even the above description does not come close to doing it justice. I would HIGHLY recommend reading all three books in succession. There are a LOT of details to keep straight and people to keep track of. If you are a note taker when you read, these books will be your best friends. I know people like this and they were in heaven! 🙂
This book will definitely lead you to need a drink or two. The Honeymoon, with it’s low lighting, candles, and wall of liquor gives the perfect ambiance for this kind of read.