Kid Omega’s latest scheme to set up his own mutant school goes horribly awry when mysterious aliens called The Remaining kidnap his “students”, demanding a rare Phoenix Egg – source of the awesome Phoenix Force – in exchange for their lives. Wildly out of his depth, Kid Omega turns to Cyclops for help. He gets a ride with space pirates the Starjammers, and someone more responsible: Cyclops’ brother Alex “Havok” Summers. Their mission: rescue the students, recover the Egg, save the day. But it won’t be easy. Galaxy-hopping sleuthing, heists, and action lead the X-Men to clues that reveal a monstrous plot using the Phoenix Egg to ultimately conquer the universe.
This is a blog about recreational hobbies that I am interested in (music, TV, movies, books). I also talk about what's on my mind or things that happen in life around me. Please feel free to post comments; I want this to be an interactive dialogue. If you like what you read, please share it with your friends. Thanks.
Wednesday, March 22, 2023
Book Review: The Phoenix Chase
Monday, March 20, 2023
Book Review: Everybody Fights
We take our cars in for oil changes. We mow our lawns and pull weeds. Why don't we do maintenance on our marriages? This relationship is the most important one we will ever have, so why not get better at it?
For the last several years, Penn and Kim Holderness of The Holderness Family have done the hard maintenance and the research to learn how to fight better. With the help of their marriage coach Dr. Christopher Edmonston, they break down their biggest (and in some cases, funniest) fights. How did a question about chicken wings turn into a bra fight (no, not a bar fight or a bra fight)? How did a roll of toilet paper lead to tears, resentment, and a stint in the guest bedroom?
Saturday, March 18, 2023
Book Review: Generations
The United States is currently home to six generations of people: the Silents (born 1925–1945), Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964), Gen X (born 1965–1979), Millennials (born 1980–1994), Gen Z (born 1995–2012) and the still-to-be-named cohorts born after 2012. They have had vastly different life experiences and thus, one assumes, they must have vastly diverging beliefs and behaviors. But what are those differences, what causes them, and how deep do they actually run?
Professor of psychology Jean Twenge does a deep dive into a treasure trove of long-running, government-funded surveys and databases to answer these questions. Are we truly defined by major historical events, such as the Great Depression for the Silents and September 11 for Millennials? Or, as Twenge argues, is it the rapid evolution of technology that differentiates the generations?
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
Book Review: The Holy or the Broken
Today, “Hallelujah” is one of the most-performed rock songs in history. It has become a staple of movies and television shows as diverse as Shrek and The West Wing, of tribute videos and telethons. It has been covered by hundreds of artists, including Bob Dylan, U2, Justin Timberlake, and k.d. lang, and it is played every year at countless events—both sacred and secular—around the world.
Yet when music legend Leonard Cohen first wrote and recorded “Hallelujah,” it was for an album rejected by his longtime record label. Ten years later, charismatic newcomer Jeff Buckley reimagined the song for his much-anticipated debut album, Grace. Three years after that, Buckley would be dead, his album largely unknown, and “Hallelujah” still unreleased as a single. After two such commercially disappointing outings, how did one obscure song become an international anthem for human triumph and tragedy, a song each successive generation seems to feel they have discovered and claimed as uniquely their own?
Monday, March 13, 2023
Book Review: How to Write a Short Story in Five Days
Learn how to write a compelling short story in just five days! This step-by-step guide includes tips for planning, writing, revising, and publishing. With this book, you'll have everything you need to start crafting engaging short stories today.
How to Write a Short Story in Five Days offers a practical and effective guide to crafting compelling short stories in a short amount of time. With detailed instruction and expert advice, this book will guide you through each step of the writing process, from planning and outlining to refining and polishing. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced writer, this book offers valuable insights and techniques to help you bring your unique voice and vision to the page.
Sunday, March 12, 2023
Book Review: Cuckoo in the Nest
It’s the heatwave summer of 1976 and 14-year-old would be poet Jackie Chadwick is newly fostered by the Walls. She desperately needs stability, but their insecure, jealous teenage daughter isn't happy about the cuckoo in the nest and sets about ousting her. When her attempts to do so lead to near-tragedy – and the Walls’ veneer of middle-class respectability begins to crumble – everyone in the household is forced to reassess what really matters.
Funny and poignant, Cuckoo in the Nest is inspired by Fran Hill’s own experience of being fostered. A glorious coming of age story set in the summer of 1976.
Thursday, March 9, 2023
Book Review: Acid Detroit
Redefining the counterculture as a time of Acid Communism, Acid Detroit: A Psychedelic Story of Motor City Music diverges from most books on the Sixties, which centre on California, to show that Detroit was an unequalled hotbed of radical activism, urban unrest and sonic innovation. Considering Detroit's unique mix of people and cultures and enduring sonic legacies, it covers everything from incendiary garage rock, to European-influenced techno and experimental hip-hop crews, intertwining the artist’s lives and works with the city’s rise and decline, from its establishment as an industrial powerhouse to the high point of Motor City, into its decline and tentative rebirth.
Tuesday, March 7, 2023
Book Review: Symphony of Secrets
Bern Hendricks has just received the call of a lifetime. As one of the world’s preeminent experts on the famed twentieth-century composer Frederick Delaney, Bern knows everything there is to know about the man behind the music. When Mallory Roberts, a board member of the distinguished Delaney Foundation and direct descendant of the man himself, asks for Bern’s help authenticating a newly discovered piece, which may be his famous lost opera, RED, he jumps at the chance. With the help of his tech-savvy acquaintance Eboni, Bern soon discovers that the truth is far more complicated than history would have them believe.
Friday, March 3, 2023
Book Review: Like, Literally, Dude
Paranoid about the “ums” and “uhs” that pepper your presentations? Concerned that people notice your vocal fry? Bewildered by “hella” or the meteoric rise of “so”? What if these features of our speech weren’t a sign of cultural and linguistic degeneration, but rather, some of the most dynamic and revolutionary tools at our disposal?
In Like, Literally, Dude, linguist Valerie Fridland shows how we can re-imagine these forms as exciting new linguistic frontiers rather than our culture’s impending demise. With delightful irreverence and expertise built over two decades of research, Fridland weaves together history, psychology, science, and laugh-out-loud anecdotes to explain why we speak the way we do today, and how that impacts what our kids may be saying tomorrow. She teaches us that language is both function and fashion, and that though we often blame the young, the female, and the uneducated for its downfall, we should actually thank them for their linguistic ingenuity.
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Book Review: This Bird Has Flown
Jane Start is thirty-three, broke, and recently single. Ten years prior, she had a hit song—written by world-famous superstar Jonesy—but Jane hasn’t had a breakout since. Now she's living out of four garbage bags at her parents’ house, reduced to performing to Karaoke tracks in Las Vegas. Rock bottom.
But when her longtime manager Pippa sends Jane to London to regroup, she’s seated next to an intriguing stranger on the flight—the other Tom Hardy, an elegantly handsome Oxford professor of literature. Jane is instantly smitten by Tom, and soon, truly inspired. But it’s not Jane’s past alone that haunts her second chance at stardom, and at love. Is Tom all that he seems? And can Jane emerge from the shadow of Jonesy's earlier hit, and into the light of her own?
Friday, February 24, 2023
Book Review: Leon Russell
Leon Russell is an icon, but somehow is still an underappreciated artist. He is spoken of in tones reserved not just for the most talented musicians, but also for the most complex and fascinating. His career is like a roadmap of music history, often intersecting with rock royalty like Bob Dylan, the Stones, and the Beatles. He started in the Fifties as a teenager touring with Jerry Lee Lewis, going on to play piano on records by such giants as Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, and Phil Spector, and on hundreds of classic songs with major recording artists. Leon was Elton John’s idol, and Elton inducted him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. Leon also gets credit for altering Willie Nelson’s career, giving us the long-haired, pot-friendly Willie we all know and love today.
Now, acclaimed author and founding member of Buffalo Tom, Bill Janovitz shines the spotlight on one of the most important music makers of the twentieth century.
Monday, February 20, 2023
Book Review: Into the Dark Dimension
Dormammu, Lord of the Dark Dimension has almost completed his conquest of Earth, with a stranglehold on the minds of its citizens. Only a few have managed to resist him… To free the world, Doctor Strange must reassemble his Shadow Avengers, while Tony Stark and a team of amoral tech geniuses cook up a tech defense to break the mind control. As the Shadow Avengers defend Earth, even against those heroes under Dormammu’s influence, Ms Marvel must enlist an unlikely ally to destroy the evil lurking within the Dark Dimension.
Sunday, February 19, 2023
Book Review: The Tyrant Skies
Victor Von Doom has many enemies, but he has a special loathing for the Red Skull. When the Red Skull creates a flying haven for the billionaire elite who share his deplorable values, Doom prepares himself for the worst. When Latveria is beset by a rash of terrorist attacks, his suspicions are confirmed: the Red Skull is coming for Doom’s homeland. Now he must infiltrate the shielded microstate drifting in the skies above Latveria to save his people from annihilation. But finding a way on board the floating city is just the first in a series of trials that will test Doctor Doom to the limits of his beliefs, his strength and his powers.
Thursday, February 16, 2023
Book Review: When Rock Met Disco
Disco began as a gay, black, and brown underground New York City party music scene, which alone was enough to ward off most rockers. The difference between rock and disco was as sociological as it was aesthetic. At its best, disco was galvanizing and affirmative. Its hypnotic power to uplift a broad spectrum of the populace made it the ubiquitous music of the late '70s. Disco was a primal and gaudy fanfare for the apocalypse, a rage for exhibitionism, free of moralizing. Disco was an exclamatory musical passageway into the future.
For all its apparent excesses and ritual zealotry, disco was a conservative realm, with obsolete rules like formal dress code and dance floor etiquette. When most '70s artists "went disco," it was the relatively few daring rockers who had the most impact, bringing their intensity and personality to a faceless phenomenon. Rock stars who "went disco" crossed a musical rubicon and forever smashed cultural conformity. The ongoing dance-rock phenomenon demonstrates the impact of this unique place and time. The disco crossover forever changed rock.
Monday, February 13, 2023
Book Review: A Broken People's Playlist
A Broken People’s Playlist is the soundtrack of life, comprised of twelve music-inspired tales about love, the human condition, micro-moments, and the search for meaning and sometimes, redemption. It is also Chimeka Garricks’s love letter to his native city, Port Harcourt, the setting of most of the stories.
In these loosely interlocked tales, Garricks introduces a cast of indelible characters. There is a teenage wannabe-DJ eager to play his first gig even as his family disastrously falls apart—who reappears many years later as an unhappy middle-aged man drunk-calling his ex-wife; a man who throws a living funeral for his dying brother; three friends who ponder penis captivus and one’s peculiar erectile dysfunction; a troubled woman who tries to find her peace-place in the world, helped by a headful of songs and a pot of ginger tea.
Friday, February 10, 2023
Book Review: The Farewell Tour
It’s 1980, and Lillian Waters is hitting the road for the very last time. Jaded from her years in the music business, perpetually hungover, and diagnosed with career-ending vocal problems, Lillian cobbles together a nationwide farewell tour featuring some old hands plus a few new ones. She yearns to feel the rush of making live music one more time and bask in the glow of a packed house before she makes the last, and most important, stop on the tour: the farm she left behind at age ten and the sister she is finally ready to confront about an agonizing betrayal in their childhood.
As the novel crisscrosses eras, moving between Lillian’s youth—the Depression, the Second World War, the rise of Nashville—and her middle-aged life in 1980, we see her striving to build a career in the male-dominated world of country music, including the hard choices she makes as she tries to redefine music, love, aging, and womanhood on her own terms. Nearing her final tour stop, Lil is forced to confront those choices and how they shaped her life.
Monday, February 6, 2023
Book Review: The Missing Hours
One moment, Dr. Selena Cole, a consultant on kidnap and rescue operations, is at the playground with her children . . . the next, she has vanished without a trace.
The body of Dominic Newell, a well-respected lawyer, is found on a remote mountain road, blood oozing from the stab wound in his neck.
In the sleepy borderland between England and Wales, serious crimes are rare. Which makes this Tuesday morning, with two calls coming in to the local police station, even more remarkable. Detective Constable Leah Mackay and her brother, Detective Sergeant Finn Hale, soon find their respective investigations inextricably linked. And when Selena reappears alive and unhurt twenty hours later, the mystery deepens.
Thursday, February 2, 2023
Book Review: Into the Groove
In Into the Groove, vinyl collector and music buff Jonathan Scott dissects a mind-blowing feat that we all take for granted today--the domestication of sound. Thomas Edison's phonograph, the first device that could both record and reproduce sound, represented an important turning point in the story of recorded sound, but it was only the tip of the iceberg, and came after decades of invention, tinkering and experimentation. Scott traces the birth of sound back to the earliest serious attempts in the 1850s, celebrating the ingenuity, rivalries and science of the modulated groove.
He examines the first attempts to record and reproduce sounds, the origins of the phonograph, and the development of commercial shellac discs. Then he divulges the fascinating story of the LP record, from the rise of electric recording to the fall of 7-inch vinyl, the competing speed and format wars, and an epilogue that takes the story up to the present-day return of vinyl to vogue.
Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Book Review: Silver Sable - Payback
Doctor Victor von Doom holds Symkaria in his despotic grip, selling its treasures to pay off the country’s exorbitant debt. Yet patriotic heroine Silver Sable desires its freedom. Doom doesn’t do favors, so he offers her a deal: track down the Clairvoyant – a device for seeing the future – and he’ll erase her homeland’s deficit. Sable soon discovers she can’t outwit someone who can predict her every move. She needs the help of someone wild and unpredictable. Someone like Black Cat… Together they must chase down the Clairvoyant’s creator, pull off the ultimate Vegas heist, survive backstabbing exes, and outsmart one of the most powerful people on the planet. All they need now is a little bit of luck.
Friday, January 27, 2023
Book Review: All the Knowledge in the World
The encyclopedia once shaped our understanding of the world. Created by thousands of scholars and the most obsessive of editors, a good set conveyed a sense of absolute wisdom on its reader. Contributions from Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Orville Wright, Alfred Hitchcock, Marie Curie and Indira Gandhi helped millions of children with their homework. Adults cleared their shelves in the belief that everything that was explainable was now effortlessly accessible in their living rooms.
Now these huge books gather dust and sell for almost nothing on eBay. Instead, we get our information from our phones and computers, apparently for free. What have we lost in this transition? And how did we tell the progress of our lives in the past?
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Book Review: The Connection Game
Benny Basilworth makes connections. A rare intellect, he sees things that others don't see and draws conclusions that others completely fail to grasp. He has the kind of mind that can make a person a national sensation on the television gameshow "The Connection Game"– and the kind of mind that can be the target of predators.
Despite his brilliance, Benny and his family find themselves destitute, living in a basement apartment with one tiny window that affords them only the view of the feet of passersby on the street above. It is from this vantagepoint that Benny once again starts making connections. Mad, inconceivable connections. Connections that can change lives . . . and turn the entire world upside down.
Monday, January 23, 2023
Book Review: Nothing But Beginner Vocab - Spanish Edition
Specially written for beginner and intermediate Spanish students, Nothing But Beginner Vocab is your ultimate handbook for mastering 90% of the vital Spanish words that you’ll need for fluency. With a practical mix of quizzes, exercises, and exams to test your memory, inside you’ll discover a comprehensive path that makes learning Spanish fun.
Even if you’ve never spoken a syllable of Spanish before, or if you’re stuck at the A1-B2 level, this workbook provides you with all the must-know words that you’ll need to learn, develop, train, and test your Spanish vocab, so you can build your confidence and deepen your understanding of this amazing language.
Saturday, January 21, 2023
Book Review: Oscar Wars
America does not have royalty. It has the Academy Awards. For nine decades, perfectly coiffed starlets, debonair leading men, and producers with gold in their eyes have chased the elusive Oscar. What began as an industry banquet in 1929 has now exploded into a hallowed ceremony, complete with red carpets, envelopes, and little gold men. But don’t be fooled by the pomp: the Oscars, more than anything, are a battlefield, where the history of Hollywood—and of America itself—unfolds in dramas large and small. The road to the Oscars may be golden, but it’s paved in blood, sweat, and broken hearts.
Saturday, January 14, 2023
Book Review: Varina Palladino's Jersey Italian Love Story
Lively widow Varina Paladino has lived in the same house in Wyldale, New Jersey, her entire life. The town might be slightly stuck in the 1960s, when small businesses thrived and most residents were Italian, but its population is getting younger and the Paladinos are embracing the change. What Varina’s not embracing, much to her ninety-two-year-old mother’s dismay, is dating. Running Paladino’s Italian Specialties grocery, caring for her mother, and keeping her large, loud Jersey Italian family from killing one another takes up all of Varina’s energy anyway.
Sylvia Spini worries about her daughter Varina being left all alone when she dies. Sylvia knows what it is to be old and alone, so when her granddaughter, Donatella, comes to her with an ill-conceived plan to find Varina a man, Sylvia dives in. The three men of the family—Dante, Tommy, and Paulie—are each secretly plotting their own big life changes, which will throw everyone for a loop.
Three generations of Paladinos butt heads and break one another’s hearts as they wrestle with their own Jersey Italian love stories in this hilarious and life-affirming ode to love and family.
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Book Review: Wild Massive
Welcome to the Building, an infinitely tall skyscraper in the center of the multiverse, where any floor could contain a sprawling desert oasis, a cyanide rain forest, or an entire world.
Carissa loves her elevator. Up and down she goes, content with the sometimes chewy food her reality fabricator spits out, as long as it means she doesn’t have to speak to another living person. But when a mysterious shapeshifter from an ambiguous world lands on top of her elevator, intent on stopping a plot to annihilate hundreds of floors, Carissa finds herself stepping out of her comfort zone. She is forced to flee into the Wild Massive network of theme parks in the Building, where technology, sorcery, and elaborate media tie-ins combine to form impossible ride experiences, where every guest is a VIP, the roller coasters are frequently safe, and if you don’t have a valid day pass, the automated defense lasers will escort you from being alive.
Friday, January 6, 2023
Book Review: Queen of Deception
A burst of magic from Midgard attracts the attention of Hela, Queen of Hel. The Goddess of Death craves power to enable her ultimate conquest of the Realms, and this new sorcery from Earth is tantalizing… Pursuing its source, Hela is appalled to find herself in Elizabethan England. From Asgard, Lady Sif and the valkyrie, Brunnhilde are also dispatched to Midgard, and neither of them have any love for Hela. Yet a still greater threat awaits: the Dark Elves see Midgard as the first battle in war of the Realms. Only a team-up between hated enemies can win the day, but how far can you really trust the Queen of Hel?
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Book Review: The Twyford Code
Forty years ago, Steven “Smithy” Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. When he showed it to his remedial English teacher Miss Iles, she believed that it was part of a secret code that ran through all of Twyford’s novels. And when she disappeared on a class field trip, Smithy became convinced that she had been right.
Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Smithy decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. In a series of voice recordings on an old iPhone from his estranged son, Smithy alternates between visiting the people of his childhood and looking back on the events that later landed him in prison.
But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code holds a great secret, and Smithy may just have the key.
Monday, January 2, 2023
Book Review: The Fresh Prince Project
More than thirty years have passed since The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air premiered on NBC but unlike other family sitcoms of its era, it has remained culturally relevant and beloved by new generations of fans.
With fresh eyes on the show in the wake of 2022’s launch of Bel-Air, a Fresh Prince reboot on NBC’s Peacock, The Fresh Prince Project brings us never-before-told stories based on exclusive interviews with the show’s cast, creators, writers, and crew. The Fresh Prince Project is an eye-opening exploration and celebration of a show that not only made Will Smith a household name but helped redefine America’s understandings of race, sex, parenthood, and class.
Sunday, January 1, 2023
Book Review: The Shards
Seventeen-year-old Bret is a senior at the exclusive Buckley prep school when a new student arrives with a mysterious past. Robert Mallory is bright, handsome, charismatic, and shielding a secret from Bret and his friends even as he becomes a part of their tightly knit circle. Bret’s obsession with Mallory is equaled only by his increasingly unsettling preoccupation with the Trawler, a serial killer on the loose who seems to be drawing ever closer to Bret and his friends, taunting them—and Bret in particular—with grotesque threats and horrific, sharply local acts of violence. The coincidences are uncanny, but they are also filtered through the imagination of a teenager whose gifts for constructing narrative from the filaments of his own life are about to make him one of the most explosive literary sensations of his generation. Can he trust his friends—or his own mind—to make sense of the danger they appear to be in? Thwarted by the world and by his own innate desires, buffeted by unhealthy fixations, he spirals into paranoia and isolation as the relationship between the Trawler and Robert Mallory hurtles inexorably toward a collision.