February Recommendations: Read, Drink, Listen

The monthly must-haves.

Alice McDermott’s new novel, Someone, has just over two hundred pages, which means we can linger over its beautifully crafted words.  In them, this National Book Award winner packs the truth of life.  Marie, a child in pre-Depression Brooklyn, guides us through the treacheries of growing up poor and hopeful.  Fans of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn will savor the clear-eyed details of friends and neighbors, rendered with wit and affection.  The street teems with incidents – stick ball games with a blind umpire, sudden death, disgrace.  McDermott trusts readers to grasp the story as it unfolds, creating a mosaic of scenes that connect for us in unexpected and satisfying ways.  Someone is a finely tuned book to savor over a winter weekend.

EXCELSIOR BAY BOOKS; 36 Water St., Excelsior; 952.401.0932.
Ann Woodbeck has been a "bookseller extraordinaire" for Excelsior Bay Books for the past nine years. When not recommending the next great novel, she reads, writes and lives with her husband and poodle in Excelsior.

The brewery of St. Bernardus was originally the Trappist Benedictine Monastery of St. Sixtus.  They funded all operations of the monastery through the local sale of the artisanal cheese and beer that could be sold only at the monastery gates. In the late 1930s, the monks abandoned the property and returned to France. Evarist Deconinck purchased this historic abbey and with help of the brew master from the mythical Westverlatren Trappist Brewery, they continued to produce and expand the availability of this historic beer worldwide. The pride of the St. Bernardus Brewery has always been the Abt 12. This bottle conditioned Belgian Quadruple weighs in at 10.5 percent ABV (alcohol by volume). It’s full of fantastic aromatic dark malt character and shows a wonderfully dry fruity finish of figs and toffee. It can age gracefully for more than 10 years in your beer cellar. 750ML bottles, $12.99

THE WINE SHOP, 17521 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka, 952.988.9463.
Tyler Melton is the manager of The Wine Shop. Sign up for their weekly recommendations by emailing wineshopmtka@gmail.com and read their best seasonal drink pick on this page each month.

Forget the perceived error of the way their name is spelled, since there's not a beat wrong on CHVRCHES' dangerously catchy debut, The Bones of What You Believe. The Scottish trio's soaring synthpop wastes no time with the opening salvo of "The Mother We Share" and the rapid fire follow-ups of "We Sink" and "Gun." "Tether" takes the tempo down a notch, but not by much, especially when the arpeggios kick in at the midpoint. What follows are immaculate arrangements that will undoubtedly stick with you far longer than any Top 40 pop fare. The bright, refreshing sound of CHVRCHES serve as a nice soundtrack to our wintry landscape; it's a reminder that springtime sun isn't that far off.

FIND THE ALBUM AT: Barnes & Noble, 13131 Ridgedale Dr., Minnetonka, 952.546.2006.
Jack Kentala is a local filmmaker and writer. He has directed two feature films,
Transmissions (2009) and Archetype (2012). He also wrote his first novel, Meridien K, in 2011.