Cars, Beers, and Books

When I last saw Steve Berry at The BookMark in January, he announced that he would be back on March 6, 2020 for his new book The Warsaw Protocol. Last time, I left work at 5:00 pm and arrived at the bookstore just in time for the talk. This time I decided to leave work at noon and spend the afternoon in Jacksonville beforehand.

My car was originally sold by Porsche Jacksonville. I didn’t get any service history when I bought the car and I hoped that the Jacksonville dealership would have it. So my first stop was to visit the Service department. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any records after the initial sales preparation. I did buy a shirt in the shop, so I didn’t leave empty-handed.

Porsche Jacksonville

While there, I had a walk around the cat lot. They had all of the new 911s, 718 Boxsters and Caymans, Panameras, Cayennes, and Macans, as well as an interesting variety of used Porsches. Along the street were several other brands including a rare Karma Revero.

Karma Revero

There were many 911 models to choose from.

Porsche 911 Lineup

While wandering the lot, a man drove in with his Porsche Boxster Spyder 987 (a special edition Boxster). The car was probably 9-10 years old but in excellent condition. I like the side stripes a lot, maybe a future addition to my car?

Porsche Boxster Spyder 987
Porsche Boxster Spyder 987

Business and pleasure finished, I headed east toward Atlantic Beach to Reve Brewing (pronounced “rev”). I had heard about this new brewery from some craft-beer friends and had tasted one of their beers. But I didn’t really know what to expect when I arrived. The brewery was fairly small and located in a strip mall.

Reve Brewing
Reve Brewing

The place was fairly crowded for an early Friday afternoon. The interior was a combination of modern industrial and old-fashioned. The beer menu was entirely trendy. Reve specializes in three styles of beer: IPAs, sours, and imperial stouts—the current popular styles. However, I did notice a different recent addition, a Mexican lager (whatever that means) called Conejo Especial, and ordered a “taster” size. It was good.

Reve Brewing Beer

I wasn’t sure what, if anything, I would like next. I asked the bartender, Joey, what the least hoppy IPA was and he returned with two samples. The first one, called Feed Your Head, was very bitter and not to my liking. However, the second one, called A Bit Too Leisurely, was dry hopped and not bitter at all but rather citrus-like. It might be the first IPA that I genuinely like. I ordered a taster size and really enjoyed it.

Finally, I purchased a crowler of their Along the Cherry Lane, a sour with cherries and dragonfruit. I will take this to the next beer-share at Red Pig Brewing.

Before I drank any more beer, I need some (late) lunch so I drove south towards Jacksonville Beach and picked up some fast food to-go. I headed next to Green Room Brewing a few blocks away. I had been there once in September 2018 and liked the place.

Green Room Brewing

I ordered a flight of four beers and found a table with my food. The bartender, Brendan, was a graduate of Embry-Riddle so we had a good chat about that.

Green Room Brewing Beers

I drank the beers in order (right-to-left in the photo). The flavors were OK, but the common characteristic was that they were thin and with low carbonation. I like my beer less filtered with a bit more bubbles. I still wanted to pick up a small crowler to bring home, so I ordered one of the Count Shakula, a chocolate oatmeal stout.

Next I headed north to Neptune Beach where the book signing would take place. I was early, so after snagging a parking spot in front of the bookstore I had a walk around town. I also walked the one block down to the beach to pass some time. Neptune Beach is a beautiful area with many good shops, restaurants, and bars. The nearby houses and condos are very nice with well-kept landscaping. It’s somewhere I could happily live, for sure.

Neptune Beach Trail
Neptune Beach
Neptune Beach Orange Street

It was time to get back to The BookMark in order to purchase a book and get a good seat. The shop is very nice, but rather small, so it was best to get there early.

The BookMark Bookstore

At 7:00 pm Steve Berry and his wife Elizabeth arrived. He spoke for about 30 minutes about his new book The Warsaw Protocol and took questions from the audience. Near the end of his talk he announced that it would be his last time speaking at The BookMark because he and Elizabeth were moving to Orlando (from St. Augustine). Rona, the store owner, presented them with a brick that will be placed in front of the store.

After the talk, I quickly got in line to have my book signed. We briefly talked about Orlando and that there was only one independent bookstore (Writer’s Block Bookstore in Winter Park) they we could think of. He signed my book while we took a photo and I was soon on my way back home.

Steve Berry and James Day

In total, it was an enjoyable day filled with my three favorite things: cars, beers, and books. I got to see some great cars, taste some delicious (and not so good) new beers, and meet (again) one of my favorite authors to get a book signed. I came home with some great souvenirs from the day.

Shirt, Beer, and Book

Well done, Jacksonville.

Steve Berry at The BookMark

The title of this post should really be “Joseph Finder and Steve Berry at The BookMark” but Steve Berry was the person I went to The BookMark bookstore to see although he was not the reason for the event. But I didn’t know that until the day of the book signing. The event was a stop on the book tour of Joseph Finder, a writer I was not familiar with before this night.

I started reading Steve Berry novels after finding one while browsing the Leisure Books collection at Hunt Library. I didn’t know who he was, but the title The Patriot Threat and its story involving a conspiracy surrounding a painting of George Washington and the 16th Amendment intrigued me. I really enjoyed the fast-paced story interspersed with historical facts and conspiracies. After reading, I learned that this novel was the tenth book in the Cotton Malone Series. I decided to start reading the series from the beginning and soon bought The Templar Legacy. I have read and enjoyed all of the Cotton Malone novels and short stories.

Joseph Finder Event Sign

I knew Berry had a new novel coming out in February 2020 and that his book tours always include a talk at The BookMark bookstore in Neptune Beach, Florida. His official website showed an event on January 23. I thought it was for his forthcoming book The Warsaw Protocol. When I checked the bookstore’s social media to make sure the event was still on, I discovered that it was actually for the launch of Joseph Finder’s new novel House on Fire. Steve Berry, who lives nearby, would be interviewing Finder. I still wanted to go.

After a nearly two-hour drive to Neptune Beach, I arrived a few minutes before 7:00 pm. There was a free chair near the front so I had a close view of the talk. Steve asked Joe about his new book, the character Nick Heller, his methods of writing, and the two feature films that were based on his books (including how little influence he had on them). Steve shared his writing experiences, as well. The two writers were clearly friends and Finder didn’t seem to mind sharing the stage with Berry.

The authors discussed the pros and cons of writing series and how they have to conform to certain limits in content and style. I pointed out that Berry had strayed from his usual style with The Bishop’s Pawn by writing in the first-person. He said that departure didn’t go over well with his readers and that prompted a discussion into first-person versus third-person writing. Both authors agreed that first-person stories were harder to write.

James Day and Steve Berry at The BookMark

After the talk I purchased House on Fire and asked if I could have Steve sign my own copy of The Lost Order. Bookstores don’t often let you bring your own books to signings, but the staff were happy to let us have our personal copies signed. I first asked Steve to sign my book and then took a couple photos with him. Steve was very unassuming and probably would have been more happy to talk about the menu of Sliders Oyster Bar next door than being a famous novelist.

Next I met Joe Finder and he signed my newly-purchased book. I asked about his series and whether I could read this new book first or go back and start at the beginning of the Nick Heller Series. He said it didn’t matter, the books were written to be read in any order. I plan to read his books but I will probably start with the first one, Vanished.

After an hour of book talk, Q&A, and signing, I drove home. It was a lot of driving for a one-hour event for an author I hadn’t heard of before, but I am glad I went. Steve Berry will be back at The BookMark on March 6, 2020, to finish his book tour, and I plan to be there.

The Lost Order signed by Steve Berry
House on Fire signed by Joseph Finder