I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Friday, June 22, 2018

X-Men: Primer by Brian Wood (Writer), Chris Claremont (Writer), Oliver Coipel (Penciler, Inker), David Lopez (Penclier), Marc Sliverstri (Penciler), Mark Morales (Inker), Scott Hanna (Inker), Cam Smith (Inker), Norman Lee (Inker), Dan Green (Inker), Laura Martin (Colorist), Matt Milla (Colorist), Christina Strain (Colorist), Chris Peter (Colorist), Glynis Oliver (Colorist), Tom Orzechowski (Letterer)

Jubilee is returning from a mission in Bulgaria with a baby in tow. She plans on adopting the child and providing it a home just like the X-Men did with her.  The baby was in an orphanage and she felt that she just couldn't leave him there.  Someone is following her home.  His name is John Sublime and he has been on earth since its beginning. He can infect hosts since he is a bacteria lifeform.  His plan has been to take over the world.  He has been fighting the X-Men for a long time.  Once he figured out that Jubliee was headed for the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning he headed there as quickly as possible to talk to them.

He explained to Rachel Summers and Psylocke about his sister whom he kicked away from the earth at the beginning and how she is now back and being reborn in a host body and that she wants to destroy the Earth.  She has the power of mechanics and tech.  It turns out that she is hiding inside the baby that Jubilee is carrying on a train back to the school.  Rogue, Storm, and Kitty have all gone to pick up Jubilee from the train thinking she is in danger and they are pretty right as the baby sets the train on a collision course with another train. The three manage to save the day and get Jubilee and the baby back to the mansion where Sublime's sister, Arkea Prime takes the body of Karima Shapandar who was being held in stasis because no one was sure if she was completely dead or whether some part of her consciousness still lived on.

Arkea immediately gets into their computer and begins to go to work. She sets off the danger room protocol which locks everyone out of the room she is in with Beast, but Rogue is able to bust through. Arkea proves stronger than Rogue and completely cybernetic.  Kitty has a chance to end her but this is still the body of Karima and there's a chance that she is still in there so she doesn't take it and let's Arkea get away.

Now the X-Men must find and defeat Arkea while at the same time fixing the damage done to the computer system that is now attacking them at the mansion.  Also included in this book is Uncanny X-Men #244 the issue where Jubliee is first introduced.  It's interesting to see the old Rogue that was having problems with integrating Carol Danvers into her mind.  Also seeing the tough as nails Psylocke in a dowdy dress with her hair pulled back in a bun is hilarious.  This is an interesting storyline, though to be honest, Jubilee is not one of my favorite X-Men. I really don't like her. But in this comic, she's trying to act more grown-up than I've ever seen her. She really was an annoying teenager.  Hopefully, she'll be a less annoying grown-up.  It was pretty cool to read a pretty much all female X-Men comic for a change.  I really recommend this book.     

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/X-Men-Vol-Primer-2013-2015-ebook/dp/B00PSN2NWW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529669873&sr=8-1&keywords=x-men+primer

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks by Amy Stewart

This book is broken down into different sections such as Part I: We Explore the Twin Alchemical Processes of Fermentation and Distillation, From Which Wine, Beer, and Spirits Issue Forth; Part II: We Then Suffuse Your Creations With A Wonderous Assortment of Nature's Bounty Herbs and Spices, Flowers, Trees, Fruit, Nuts and Seeds; Part III At Last we Venture Forth Into the Garden, Where we Encounter a Seasonal Array of Botanical Mixers and Garnishes To Be Introduced To the Cocktail In Its Final Stage of Preparation.

The shrub Damiana that grows in Mexico has long been believed to be an aphrodisiac.  In 1879 a doctor wrote that it could be given to female patients to "produce in her the very important yet not absolutely essential orgasm."  For decades people made imitation Damiana, sometimes made of strychnine and sold it as the real deal.  However, in 2009 a study on rats showed that sexually exhausted rats could perform again quicker if given Damiana.  No explanation was given as to how they exhausted the rats and no human trials have ever been given. The herbal liqueur is often sold in a bottle shaped like a fertility goddess.

"Beer is not made from hops. It is made from barley, and sometimes other grains then flavored with hops."  Hops make the beer last longer. It is said that the reason the Mayflower landed on Plymouth Rock is that their beer had soured and they had nothing to drink.  The Hop vine is from the cannabis family and is closely related to the sticky cannabis flower buds.  Getting a harvest of hops in has always been a difficult task, though it is easier now than it used to be.  First, it only grows where there is sunlight for thirteen hours a day, so 35 to 55 degrees north and south latitude.  It is grown in Oregan and Washington, China and Japan, Australia and New Zealand, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and of course, England and Germany.

Then you have to make sure the seeds set and reproduce.  The vines are grown on trellises. The vines have these little bristles on them that are abrasive and leave welts when you pick the hops by hand, which some people still do.  Hops are also highly flammable.  They can easily spontaneously combust and burn a barn or warehouse down.  Then they have to be bottled in dark bottles in order to keep the light from spoiling the hops. By the way, any beer maker that tells you to put a lime in your beer is trying to get you to disguise the skankiness of their beer from its spoilage. To grow them you go to a lot of trouble, but for beer drinkers, it does seem worth it.

Engineer, Amedee Francois Frezier was sent to Peru and Chile to make a reliable map of the area in 1712. The problem was it was under Spanish Control and he was French, so he went undercover as a traveling merchant.  While he made quite a few great maps, he also picked up some plants.  In Europe, they did have strawberries, but they were small, nothing like the large Chilean strawberries. So he grabbed some to sneak out of the country. Only five of those plants survived. He gave two to the ship's cargo master as a gesture of thanks for letting him use the limited supply of the ship's water on the voyage.  One went to his supervisor and one to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, which left one for himself. There was only one problem. The plants were sterile. Chilean strawberries are either male, female, or bisexual. He chose the ones with the biggest fruits and they were all females. They needed a male to reproduce.  Luckily they eventually discovered that the Chilean strawberry could be crossed with males from strawberries of other species. By the mid-nineteenth century, it was mated to the native Virginian species and the modern strawberry was born and put into all sorts of mixed drinks.

Stewert makes reading about plants and such fascinating. They all have such interesting stories to tell and most of them have been around for thousands of years, with some going back as far as the Jurassic period.  They've been used for all manner of things besides an alcoholic beverage too.  For example, the star anise has long been used in herbal liqueurs, but 90% of its production is used to make Tamiflu.  There is not much that people haven't tried to make alcohol out of including trees, which to me seems an odd choice.  This book also includes recipes for various intriguing drinks and additives, such as syrups as well as tips on how to grow your own plants, herbs, flowers, fruits, and trees.  Alcohol has been a part of humanity since the beginning of time.  This incredible book illustrates how this has come to be and how they are used today.  I really enjoyed this fun and delectable book that has inspired me to experiment in my home bar and truly appreciate what I've been drinking. This book is a must-read. 

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Drunken-Botanist-Amy-Stewart-ebook/dp/B00AFKIRGY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529504105&sr=8-1&keywords=the+drunken+botanist+by+amy+stewart            

Monday, June 18, 2018

Death Doesn't Bargain by Sherriln Kenyon

In this second Deadman's Cross book set in 1717, some time has passed and the evil Vine is loose and gunning for someone other than her ex-husband Devyl Bane the Captain of the Sea Witch.  The crew is made up of damned souls who have been given a second chance by Thorn, the Devil's son, who rebelled against his father and fights for the side of the angels who treat him like crap because when they see him they see his father.  Every one of them carries the deadman's mark which ties them to Thorn. Thorn can take them back to Hell at any time.  Otherwise, they can't die, though if their bodies are obliterated they will wind up in Hell again, or if someone else comes along with the power to send them back to Hell or if a creature comes looking for a host to live in they might lose their bodies and find themselves in Hell.  The idea is that they will do enough good that they will erase the deadman's mark and earn a real human life and a second chance.

Among those on board are Mr. Death, the proper quartermaster, Kalder, a merman, Belle Morte, the doctor, Sancha, the drunk surly woman at the wheel, Simon, a shapeshifter, and Roach, the wily Frenchman.  Also, there is the ship herself, Mara who is a Deruvian or one of the tree folk.  She can take human form as well as her tree or wooden form.  Vine is her sister who has gone bad. The Captain is a sorcerer supreme among other things who will do anything for his ship or his crew whose main mission has been to fight demons who have been escaping from the several gates of Hell trying to hold them in.

When we left off, Kalder, the merman had just given his life over to take Cameron and Paden Jack's place in Hell.  Cameron and Paden are Seraphim, creatures who are descended from the Archangel Michael and who fight demons.  Thorn manages to get Kalder out of Hell, and away from Vine, but not before Vine did her damage.  She brought Kalder's dead baby brother, Muerig, to Hell and tortured him.  Then she returns him to the Sea Witch only it's with the understanding that he'll have to choose between sending Muerig or Cameron, whom he cares deeply for, back to Hell.  The Captain won't allow anyone to be sent to Hell. Not on his watch.

To make matters worse, Kalder's old mentor Chthamalus, a demon, shows up to tell him that Kalder's brother and the woman he believes to be his mother, the one who killed him, is alive and ruling Wyneria, the Mermaid kingdom which he thought had died off.  They have learned of his new situation of being alive (when he sacrificed himself by taking The Jacks places he lost his mark) they believed that he was after the throne and are coming after him to attack using the powerful and crazy Malachai, a creature that can tear the world apart. Kalder has Chthamalus create a portal to send them all to Wyneria.

There is treachery in Wyneria and Kalder finally finds out who his mother is. Paden, meanwhile is still trying to take his head off for paying attention to his sister and Cameron and Kalder wonder, as they are falling for each other, how they can possibly be together as they are so different and want different things in life.  Cameron just wants to own the tavern she works in and Kalder feels he needs to continue to work off his debt aboard the Sea Witch. And what about their children? They'd be cursed with her Seraphim abilities and a mermaid like Kalder.

But first, they must contend with the Malachai and the people controlling him. This was an amazing book that keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire way through. I was quickly flipping through pages and staying up late to finish it.  It holds many surprises that will keep you guessing what could possibly come next.  I've come to care a great deal about these characters since the first book. You can't help it. Each of the unique characters has their own compelling tale that draws you to them. Kenyon is a master storyteller and I can't wait to read the next book in this series especially since she left this one on a bit of a cliffhanger.  I can't recommend this book or this series enough.

Out of death there is life. Out of devastation comes hope. Out of tragedy comes strength. Out of your pain comes wisdom. Out of sorrow comes insight. You will never know how high you can soar until you’ve learned to fly with wings that were broken by enemies and re-forged by your own determination to succeed and let no one hold you down ever again.  You show them all that their cruelty will not define you. That you will not live by their rules or dictates.  You are your own master and they will never have power over you again. Let nothing hold you back. Let nothing hem you in. You set your course and you fly to the heavens. A beautiful, imperfect creature, capable of love and trust, even after betrayal. Capable of mastering courage in the midst of utter terror.  And capable of delivering mercy even after all you’ve been through was cruelty. You will rise above the ashes of the future they attempted to burn to the ground a stronger creature, steadfast and more determined than ever to see this through. For there is mothing more terrifying in this universe that the Soul Determinator. For it will not be stopped and it will not be daunted. So go on and bring on your worst if you must, and I will deliver unto you me very best. For you will not defeat me. Not now. Not ever. I will not allow you to.
-Sherrilyn Kenyon ( Death Doesn’t Bargain p 239-40)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Death-Doesnt-Bargain-Deadmans-Cross-ebook/dp/B074DYY99S/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1529326651&sr=8-2&keywords=death+does

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Mighty Captain Marvel Vol 1: Alien Nation by Margaret Stohl (Wrter), Emilio Laiso (Artst), Ramon Rosanas (Artist), Brent Schoonover (Artist), Ro Stein (Artist), Ted Brandt (Artst), Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist), Marcio Menyz (Colorist), VC's Joe Caramagna (Letterer)

In previous comics, Captain Marvel used Ulysses an Immortal who can see into the future to predict future events and prevent catastrophic events. But then she uses him to arrest those for crimes they haven't committed yet, including Miles Morales who supposedly kills Steve Rogers. Tony Stark has long been against Ulysses and he seeks to take Morales back. Iron Man and the Avengers and Magneto and his X-Men go head to head with Captain Marvel with the Ultimates, Alpha Flight, Storm's X-Men, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Immortals seek to stop the fight after Ulysses has a dire vision, but when Iron Man goes after Morales Captain Marvel delivers a punch to him that nearly kills him and leaves him in a coma. The fighting ends and Ulysses goes off to become a cosmic entity. Captain Marvel is hailed as a hero by many.

Now they are making a movie about her and she has to put up with the invasion into her life it causes because they are funding the Alpha Flight Space Station which is in dire need of funds. Danvers is having nightmares of what happened to Tony and is seeing a mandated shrink to help deal with it.  Suddenly, she senses that a Kree child is in danger.  She flies to the settlement camp on Earth and finds her being kidnapped by a shapeshifter. She saves the child and brings her back to the space station.

She names the child Bean since she doesn't seem to have a name.  They find out that other Kree children have been kidnapped and someone, likely Hydra, is building a weapon of some sort using the Kree.  Captain Marvel is having problems though. Her powers have started becoming erratic and uncontrollable. She'll need help figuring this out, but she lost a lot of friends with what she did. Will any of them help her? This book goes aways to redeem Captain Marvel's reputation after the pretty despicable things she did in the other comics.  She's truly suffering for her bad decisions that I believe she regrets making. It will be interesting to see what direction this series takes the comic in.  I highly recommend this book.

Link to Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Mighty-Captain-Marvel-Vol-2016-2017-ebook/dp/B072YQPM4N/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529065967&sr=8-1&keywords=the+mighty+captain+marvel+alien+nation&dpID=51gIyTiSeLL&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

X-Men: Phoenix Endsong Vol. 1 by Greg Pak (Writer), Greg Land (Penciler), Matt Ryan (Inker), Justin Ponsor (Colorist), and Clem Robins (Letterer)

The Dark Phoenix has returned and reanimated Jean Grey's dead body. The Phoenix is known for destroying planets for fun. This has not gone unnoticed. A Shi-ar ship has picked up on the remnant of the Phoenix and its destination of Earth and is in pursuit.  They intend to destroy the Phoenix with their powerful weapon the Eleka'an Event Horizon.  Meanwhile, Jean is leading the Phoenix to Wolverine because she knows that the Phoenix is seeking out Scott but can't quite remember that it is or why.  Wolverine gets mad at her and mentions Scott which sends the Phoenix off in search of him leaving Wolverine floored on the ground.

Wolverine gets back to the mansion and warns the others and they know they must destroy the Phoenix even though it means killing Jean.  This is hard on Emma and Scott who are dating and were already having a hard time of it dealing with the ghost of Scott's wife in their relationship.  To make matters worse, Quentin Quire, Kid Omega, escapes from stasis where he was recovering after nearly being destroyed. Quentin is a high-level telepath who is obsessed with Sophie one of the cuckoos, the identical girls who are telepaths that work with Emma Frost, who is dead.  When he finds out that the Phoenix is back he becomes determined to find the Phoenix and help her so she will help him bring Sophie back to life.

The X-Men warn the Shi-ar not to kill Quentin. The Shi'ar see him as a possible host for the Phoenix.  The Phoenix has a special plan for Scott that the X-Men intend to stop and Emma will go to any lengths to prove her worth to the team. This book is a great start to a series that proves promising. The art is incredibly vibrant and vivid.  Obviously, I love the Phoenix storylines. I picture the Phoenix on my homepage, so I am a little biased. But at the same time, I have strict standards of what makes a good Phoenix story and this comic meets them.  I highly recommend this book.

Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/X-Men-Phoenix-Endsong-ebook/dp/B00ARKCTHA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528897148&sr=8-1&keywords=x-men+phoenix+endsong

Monday, June 11, 2018

Another Brooklyn by Jacquline Woodson

This book reads like poetry rather than prose. It is even broken up almost in stanzas like poetry. Set mainly in the 1970s of Brooklyn, New York City this novel tells the story of a woman, August, from our time looking back to those days after the death of her father and to the friendship she had with three girls, Sylvia, Angela, and Gigi.

August, her brother, and her father left her mother's family home in Tennessee after their mother went crazy when her brother died in Vietnam and she refused to believe it and threatened to become violent.    August hopes that her mother will join the family soon. She was eight and her brother was four when they moved to Brooklyn.

It would take them a while to fit in, but when they did and she made friends with the three girls, Sylvia the singer whose family has money and disapproves of them, Angela the dancer who is keeping secrets about her home life, and Gigi, the actress.  The girls are inseparable and seek to protect each other from the men who lurk in the shadows seeking to harm them.

This is a world of damaged veterans returning from the war and of drug addicts, mainly heroin, seeking to escape the pain of life. Her downstairs neighbor is a prostitute drug addict. But her world is also made up of her father's new religion, The Nation of Islam. While her brother readily embraces it, she does not quite so much. This is a beautifully written book that explores the themes of growing into womanhood and childhood friendships.  You really want to know what makes August into the woman she becomes and the people who influence that character along the way.  I highly recommend this book.

I know now that what is tragic isn’t the moment. It is the memory.
-Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn p 1)

My mother had not believed in friendship among women. She said women weren’t to be trusted. Keep your arm out, she said, And keep women a whole other hand away from the farthest tips of your fingernails. She told me to keep my nails long.
-Jaqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn p 19)
Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Another-Brooklyn-Novel-Jacqueline-Woodson-ebook/dp/B01825C5JI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528722434&sr=8-1&keywords=another+brooklyn

Friday, June 8, 2018

Mind MGMT Vol 2: Into the Future by Matt Kindt (Created, Written, and Illustrated)

In the previous comic, Meru set out to find the story for her next book about the plane landing of amnesiacs who could not remember anything before the landing. Their entire lives were erased. But there was one person whose memory was not affected.  Henry Lyme.  So she sets out to find him. What she discovers is that she knew Lyme when she was younger when something terrible happened in Zanzibar.  Lyme worked for Mind MGMT a shadowy organization that recruited those with talents and effected things around the world.  They are being hunted by Immortals who want to kill them and who they themselves can't be killed except by a shot to the head, and maybe not even then.  At the end of the comic, Meru loses her memory and the notes she wrote to help her remember are intercepted by someone.

Mind MGMT has been defunct for two years, yet they seem to still be active. Meru gets a letter sending her to a guy named Brinks, a Mind MGMT agent who was just reactivated. His power is to send a death letter.  Henry Lyme arrives just in time to save Meru from getting killed. Lyme and Meru set out to find the remaining Perrier twin who can write or draw a story to create calm or unrest in an area.

Lyme wants to stop Eraser who is starting up Mind MGMT again and reactivating agents to her cause.  They need to find Shangri-La where the old Mind MGMT headquarters was to do this and Perrier holds half of the map, but she won't go there without Duncan who can see a little bit into the future and can kill someone with his finger.  Lyme says that Duncan won't do it.

They go to Egypt to see Dusty an old agent and popular retired singer who has the other half of the map.  Along the way, they are dodging Immortals who are trying to kill them. Dusty agrees to help them and the next step is to try to get Duncan's help, but it's hard to go to Duncan when he doesn't want to see you and he can see you coming before you know you'll be there.

So how do they manage to talk to Duncan? Will Meru find out the truth?  Do they make it to Shangri-La? Will they all survive?  In the previous comic along the border of the page, Kindt wrote lines from the Mind MGMT handbook. In this comic, he has written lines from Meru's first book that she had published about a woman who killed her husband and children.  It does tie into the story of the comic at some point.   This is an unusual comic, but a really good one. It keeps you on your toes and makes you think. The characters are incredibly complex and not at all easy to define or put into a box.  This is a great series and a great comic and I highly recommend it. 

Link to Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/MIND-MGMT-Futurist-Matt-Kindt/dp/1616551984/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528462788&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=mind+mgmt+vol+2+the+future