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Book Review: ‘Food Whore’

Food Whore is a deliciously devised debut novel from author Jessica Tom. Tom’s background in the culinary world not only lends a hand but creates a fantastic entrée of intrigue and enchantment. Still, some sections of Food Whore are simply too difficult to digest. Tom’s knowledge of ingredients and the manner in which they blend and tangle with your taste buds will make you wish you had an ounce of the culinary skill of her characters. These intense descriptions of the many delights encountered in the New York City dining landscape may leave the pages of your book damp with your own ardent saliva.

FoodWhore paperback cover - finalLike any fine dining experience this one begins with hors d’oeuvres at a finely set table. Though the tablecloth is silk, the diners are rayon; well-meaning and fine to gaze upon from a distance, but not quite well refined. Tia Monroe is a prodigy with culinary dreams. She will put herself on the plate of culinary legend Helen Lansky and acquire a coveted internship. When her dreams burn on the stove, she is salvaged by feared and powerful New York Times food critic Michael Salz.

The entrée is not au maigre. Michael Salz suffers from a condition of the tongue, aguesia, which prevents him from continuing his journey into the succulent world of foie gras and entrecôte. Impressed by Monroe’s written works, Salz hires her to deceive the culinary world. Working for Salz takes Monroe on a fascinating journey through the sophisticated world she longs to dine in, but quickly learns it isn’t all flambé and macaroons.

No entrée would be complete without its side and this one is starchy. Though Monroe’s personal goals have taken a backseat to the misstep of the professional, she is still determined to create a whipped mashed yam joy. Her tenacity sometimes leads to a lumpy, gluey concoction that only her inner circle can enjoy and only the truest of her inner circle can truly critique to better her skill.

For dessert Tom serves a tarte tatin, warm and gooey with the surprising prospect of emotional response. With this full meal behind, satisfaction is inevitable. You may even need a nap from impending food coma, but for some reason you will crave another helping.

Portrait of author Jessica Tom by Liz Clayman
Portrait of author Jessica Tom by Liz Clayman

Jessica Tom is a writer and food blogger living in Brooklyn. She has worked on initiatives with restaurants, hospitality startups, food trucks, and citywide culinary programs. She graduated from Yale University with a concentration in fiction writing and wrote the restaurant review for the Yale Daily News Magazine. Food Whore is her first novel.


Food Whore

by Jessica Tom

Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 27, 2015)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0062387006

ISBN-13: 978-006238700

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Book Review: The Glass Gauntlet by Carter Roy

“I’m not my father’s biggest fan. Not just because he ordered a flunky to kill me the last time I saw him…And not because of his secret identity as the head of the Bend Sinister…All of that is bad enough, but even worse? He stole a person’s soul.”
The Glass GauntletThe Glass Gauntlet picks up where The Blood Guard (Book #1) leaves off. Ronan, Greta, Sammy and Dawkins are dodging the Bend Sinister, finding new places to hide and clever ways to communicate. A piece in a chapter about communicating through an abandoned massively multiplayer online game (MMO) stole my nerdy heart.
Some of the best moments in the book are the attention to detail. Though I don’t care for Dawkins, I do find it amusing that he wore a YOLO T-shirt with the last “O” crossed out. There is a mention of Minecraft, a phenomenon amongst children (and adults), which made me appreciate Roy’s knowledge of his audience.
Unlike the first book of the series, high octane action transpires near the beginning after only minimal exposition. This structural shift is complete when the children, Ronan, Greta and Sammy, are enrolled in a school to test their intelligence. This is where it gets a little boring. The chapters seem to drag on a little bit. Admittedly the results of this school are predictable and throw the kids into a Maze Runner-like situation.
The dialogue and exposition are simple, even for the elementary grade levels. The characters don’t exhibit any development. These characters could actually be the same archetypes from the first few chapters of the first book and Sammy may as well not even have existed. Despite these critiques, the overall story is enjoyable for its target audience. If you or your little ones are looking for something very quick and fun to read, this is that book.

Carter Roy author photo credit JDZ Photography
Carter Roy author photo credit JDZ Photography

Carter Roy lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, a spiky cat, and far too many books. Visit www.carterroy.com or follow him on Twitter: @CarterRoyBooks


The Glass Gauntlett
Author: Carter Roy
Age Range: 10 – 14 year
Grade Level: 4th – 8th
Series: The Blood Guard Series (Book 2)
Hardcover: 261 pages
Publisher: Two Lions (August 18, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1477826262
ISBN-13: 978-1477826263

 

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Is Channing Tatum Leaving ‘Gambit’?

The internet went crazy after a rumor spread that Channing Tatum may be exiting FOX’s Gambit.

Fans of the Tatum Tots were disappointed in this development, while others rejoiced! “At long last the Tatum has fled!” Those dubious of his ability to properly portray the comic book character who they hold near to their hearts breathed a sigh of collective relief.

But even Tatum haters have to admit that he has evolved as an actor from his great performance in Fox Catcher, and he’s shown that he has developed comedic timing in the Jump Street reboot.

No matter where you fall in the Gambit fandom, it is important to point out that Channing Tatum was responsible for making this solo movie happen. If it wasn’t for his constant talks with studio executives, FOX may not have even considered the Cajun for his own film. Though it’s hard for fans to believe, Tatum has been a life-long fan of the character. Would he have actually portrayed the Ragin’ Cajun well? If these rumors prove to be true we’ll never know. We will, however, still have a Gambit movie that may be produced by Tatum and his creative partner, Reid Carolin.

Potential replacements have not yet been discussed.

Taylor Kitsch, who portrayed a fantastic Ultimate Gambit, has had his dance card full for quite some time now. Could Norman Reedus, a fan favorite, step into the role? What about Michael Raymond-James (True Blood, Once Upon A Time) who seems to have perfected his Cajun accent? Lets face it: fans aren’t going to be happy with any casting unless Fox can somehow use their mutant powers to bring this guy to life:

tatum2

Gambit is slated for release on Oct. 7, 2016.

How do you feel about Tatum possibly stepping out of the role? Let us know in the comments below!

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Comic Review: ‘Death Sentence: London’ # 2

Death Sentence: London #2 
WRITER: Montynero
ARTIST: Martin Simmonds
COVERS BY: Montynero, Martin Simmonds
PUBLISHER: Titan Comics
PAGECOUNT: 32
COVER PRICE: $3.99
RELEASE DATE: 08 July

Review:
Super powers, corrupt government, and a population that is hated and feared, sound familiar? Let’s be honest, it’s hard to write a graphic novel about super powers that doesn’t sound like some of the most popular MARVEL books around. When I first heard about Death Sentence I was not excited to read it. I put off reading the first issue for almost a month and when I heard the second issue was slated for release I procrastinated reading that as well. I planned on writing a simple review, a two word sentence, “See X-Men.” Then, with both issues sitting in front of me, I jumped in head first, and man was I wrong.

A British book with witty dialogue and clever storytelling, the first issue of Death Sentence was wildly entertaining. G-Plus, a superpower-causing STD, is spreading wildly in London. The infected experience extra-normal abilities never before seen. With no cure, the infected die within six months from the point of affliction, but not before experiencing depression and extreme mood swings. Protagonists Weasel and Verity must work together to not only stop a crazed terrorist, but also protect the innocent.

By the second issue, the hunt for the G-Plus infected populous is in full effect as the Federal Bureau of Investigation begins to infiltrate make-shift safe houses on American soil. As each unit does their best to take out the infected persons, we are introduced to a new protagonist, Jeb Mulgrew. Though Jeb doesn’t realize it, his own government may be the cause of the G-Plus virus and the resulting rise in England’s violent crimes.

While Montynero lets loose a story from the imagination, Martin Simmonds reels it in with magnificent artwork. Every frame serves a real purpose, nothing remains static and the shading is marvelous. Without a true background in art all I can say is that each action sequence was highly eye-catching, even without explosions or high octane drama.

The world of Death Sentence does not look like a great place to be. Superpowers come with a high cost and each world power is doing what they seem to do best in graphic novels: eradicate. If you’re looking for a great story and fun visuals then this is the book you need to purchase. I can’t wait to pick up issue three of the best thing to come out of England since Americans!

 

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Watching Back to The Future, For The First Time

Every time I tell anyone that I’ve never seen Back to the Future it’s greeted with a surprised “What!” I’m a lover of sci-fi and to be honest it’s not as though I’ve never had the chance to watch the trilogy; TBS used to run the movies constantly, Blockbuster (remember them?) had multiple copies on their shelves until they closed, and my closest friends all owned copies. To be honest, I knew very little about what the film was actually about, aside from time travel. Now as we witness the 30th Anniversary of the original installment, I’ve finally decided to watch the entire series and capture my thoughts.

Back to the Future Part 1:

1. This is a Spielberg film!

2. His last name is McFly? What is he, an 80s rapper?

devastatingdave

 

3. They’re treating this plutonium theft very lightly! For some reason I always thought the flux capacitor was powered by gold.

plutoniumtheft

 

4. Wait! Those are supposed to be Libyans?

Back to the Future Libyans:
Back to the Future Libyans
Actual Libyans
Actual Libyans

 

5. This entire thing with Marty’s mom’s attraction to him is weirding me out.

6. I totally admire McFly for changing his family’s future without worrying about the space-time consequences.

Part II

7. Jennifer seems really cool with this whole time travel thing. Not freaked out in the least. Did they recast the actress?
martygirlfriend
8. THIS is what they thought 2015 was going to look like? Where is my hover board?
201580s
9. At least they were right about video games.
part1-7
10. Michael Jackson and “Queen Diana” are still alive. Yikes!
michael usatoday

 

11. Kudos to Spielberg for poking fun at one of his own properties while still managing to plug it.
jaws
12. Marty’s daughter is transgendered and it’s totally a non-issue in the future! That’s pretty bad ass! (Found out later it was Michael J. Fox in costume).
13. So when Biff changed his future and created an alternate timeline it was totally not cool but when McFly did it he was a hero.

14. Wouldn’t it have been easier to take Jennifer back to the past with them to steal back the Sports Almanac since she didn’t have a double already in that timeline?
15. The 3D glasses look seems to be a pre-curser to current douchey style.

kanye glasses
16. “To Be Continued in 1990?” I wasn’t even in Kindergarten when this series wrapped! This is like time travel in real life!

Part III

17. I directly blame these movies for the failure of the DeLorean. How many times is this car going to break down?

18. This is the Western I’ve been waiting for!

My sentiments exactly
My sentiments exactly

19. Nerd love!
docandwife20. How did Doc get the train to fly!?
21. That was a fun adventure! Where is part 4!

bttf4

All images are property of Amblin Entertainment and Universal Studios.

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Comic Review: The Light and Darkness War

Light 3Tom Veitch (Elseworlds, Tales of the Jedi, Star Wars Dark Empire) and Cam Kennedy (Boba Fett, Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Punisher, Star Wars Dark Empire) join forces in one of their most captivating team-ups. The Light and Darkness War, originally printed in 1989, centers around Vietnam Veteran Lazarus Jones. Jones lost his legs in Vietnam in a helicopter explosion that killed four of his brothers-in-arms and closest friends. Within the first few pages it’s revealed that Jones is suffering from PTSD and wishes he had died with his friends. He is leaning on alcohol and drugs to handle his grief.

After visiting the Vietnam Memorial with his devoted wife, Jones is involved in a car accident that leaves him in a coma. While his body lays still in a hospital bed, his spirit starts to drift through a vague and abstract space. Everything begins to come together again and Jones finds himself in an unfamiliar place, with his legs intact.

As immediately as Jones is transcended into this strange place, he finds himself confronted with another oddity, his brothers-at-arms gathered together on a single ship. As the shock wears off, his friends inform him of the war at hand. The battle between light and darkness is all consuming in this new dimension. It’s a war that consumes their allies, turns an otherwise beautiful dimension to a bloody battlefront; it’s a war that never ends.

This book serves as an extended metaphor for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The actual war has been over for more than a decade but for the soldiers it still lives on. Jones leaves half of himself in the world as we know it while surrendering his other half to a place where reality is suspended and he can be with his friends, a soldier once more. He retreats further into himself, giving into the conflict and turmoil. This discord between light and darkness may not be an ideal place to stay but it’s a familiar one; a place Jones can deal with, free of guilt or unpleasant memories.

Light 1Light 2This unpleasant dimension is artfully crafted by writer and artist alike. Tom Veitch delves into era specific language to help create a dimension cemented between the late 1960s and early 1970s. Every line sounds authentic as peppered by the occasional slang; waxin’, waste ya’, or dig it. Cam Kennedy adds to the authenticity with art reminiscent of a Joe Kubert style, not rich in color but great depth in shading. Every panel wordlessly reminds that the dimension is desolate of peace and traditional happiness. Kennedy’s costume and character design remains strictly of the Vietnam era even when incorporating extra-dimensional beings. The design seamlessly creates a past era while the slight contrast jarringly places the reader in a different dimension.

Not only is this a great read, with great social context, it’s magnificently eye-catching without being drawn in an over dramatic style. Though this is a reprint over 20 years past its original publication, it still stands up to criticism. It’s a classic that deserves respect and a place on every person’s bookshelf.

THE LIGHT AND DARKNESS WAR
WRITER: Tom Veitch
ARTISTS: Cam Kennedy
FORMAT: 208 pages, HC, FC,
PUBLISHER: Titan Comics
PRICE: $24.99/ $27.95 CAN/ £17.99 UK
ISBN: 9781782761808
​COMIC STORE ​RELEASE DATE: May 27
BOOK STORE ​RELEASE DATE: ​June​ 2​3​

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Review: Anathema #1

ANATHEMA: THE EVIL THAT MEN DO

WRITER: Rachel Deering
ARTISTS: Chris Mooneyham, Wesley St. Clare
FORMAT: TPB
PUBLISHER: Titan Comics
PAGE-COUNT: 96
ISBN: 9781782762935
PRICE: $12.99/$14.99 CAN/£9.99

​COMIC STORE RELEASE​
DATE: May 13, 2015

​BOOK STORE RELEASE​
DATE:  ​June ​9, 2015

Anathema_PREVIEW3Chapter one opens upon a horror. In a familiar scene, a preacher holds a Bible to the sky as he condemns and burns a heathen at the stake. As the panels unfold, we discover that this woman was his daughter, Sarah, whose crime was falling in love with another woman. Our protagonist, Anathema, watches her love burn. Unable to tear herself away, Anathema witnesses something peculiar: a constable of ravens dive downward, kill all there in witness, then steal Sarah’s soul.

While I appreciate Rachel Deering’s unique perspective on an otherwise classic scenario with two women in love instead of a male Anathema and an eliminated female character, I have to question the use of ravens. The raven has been a classic totem in dark genre fiction and horror, even before Edgar Allan Poe’s great poem. To distance herself from what seem to be a road of horror tropes, could Deering not have used another vehicle to steal Sarah’s soul?

The novel is filled with many clichés, including that of the wise man living in solitude who helps our heroine along Anathema_PREVIEWher path to avenge the death of her beloved. He informs her, in painstaking exposition, of a doctor who lived long ago who follows the archetype of many villains before him: the doctor lost everything and turns to the side of evil, becoming the wretched Karnstein.

Although Karnstein’s back story is a little banal, there were parts of it that seemed worth delving into. By the time the five page exposition was complete, I wondered why I wasn’t reading a stand-alone book about Karnstein. He may be evil, but he seemed far more interesting than our heroine.

At this point, it becomes very apparent that while this book may have some distance to travel before truly engaging the reader with the protagonist, the art is responsible for shifting the mood panel by panel. The dark nature of the novel was echoed accurately in the art. Christopher Mooneyham and Wesley St. Claire may be highly inspired by horror art styles of the past but they skillfully create unique environments for each phase of the story. I found myself caring for Anathema, not because I was sympathetic to her plight, but because the art moved me to care.

Anathema_PREVIEW2As the art moves from gritty, blended strokes to a dark yet solid style, the wise man tells Anathema that she must avenge her girlfriend’s death, not by killing Sarah’s father but by taking on Karnstein and releasing Sarah’s soul. He hands Anathema a tube filled with an unnamed liquid, tells her to drink it to “become one with the wolf.” Predictably, and part of a necessary plot device, she does drink it and finds herself turning into a werewolf, thus beginning her descent into Karnstein’s mad world.

Though I may seem determined to dislike this book, I have high hopes for its next issue. This was simply the introductory issue and the fact that it could provoke any strong opinion, even critical, speaks to the powerful nature of Deering’s words and the universe she created.

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Review of All New X-Men #40

The original X-Men, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Iceman, Angel and Beast, have been yanked forward through time in a fruitless attempt to correct the errors of the modern-day X-Men. The original five teenagers are now stuck in a time far ahead of their own. They’ve ventured into space, met their future selves (with the exception of Jean Grey) and traveled between alternate dimensions. But now they’re back home, on Earth, in this place outside their time.

Utopia, the Promised Land for all mutants, has fallen, leaving it susceptible to scavengers. A group of unnamed looters comes upon the island in hopes of finding implied treasures: weaponry, advanced technology, anything that can be sold on the black market. Before they are able to search the island they are blown up by a shadowy figure.

The panel cuts to the teenaged X-Men, having just returned from a space adventure and enjoying some hamburgers. Some banter, some relish in the burgers, but the most notable occurrence is Jean Grey’s conversation with Iceman. If you have been paying attention to the internet at all then you’ve already seen the panel.

How disgraceful of Jean to out Iceman before he was ready. Curiosity and the power to read minds does not give her that right! Even as his friend, her responsibility starts and stops at providing emotional support on his terms. It is her selfishness that drives her to confront him, as though everything that happens on the team must filter through her first. If Iceman wanted to stay “in the closet” until he felt comfortable then it was his call to make. Maybe he hasn’t had the time to fully comprehend how he feels about men? The time they came from was far less open to gay men; it was a time before the “It gets better” PSA, a time before characters in media could just be gay without a scandal attached to it. It would be perfectly understandable that Iceman did not feel comfortable expressing his sexuality.

iceman-jean2Iceman then goes on to make a point: the present-day Iceman isn’t gay and he dated plenty of women, including Kitty Pryde. Jean counters that present day Iceman didn’t date women very well.

This feels like a gross misunderstanding of what it means to be gay. Over the course of the history of the X-Men, Iceman dated a few women. Unfortunately, one turned out to be a cloud. Yes, a literal cloud named Cloud. He also dated Opal, Mystique, and Polaris. None of those relationships ended well for different reasons. Some were a touch evil and a few were already engaged to be married (AHEM, Polaris). None of these things in themselves are proof that anyone is gay. Making bad relationship choices is simply one of the many hazards of growing into a fully formed adult.

It is not a matter of whether or not Iceman is gay. He is, end of story. The handling of this development was simultaneously disconcerting and triumphant. Marvel stayed true to the plight of homosexuals in our society. Worried that they will be ostracized, some feel the need to hide who they are until they are adults. The irony is that Bendis chose to mirror this social struggle using the young Iceman rather than have the adult Iceman finally come out on his own terms.

There is also something to be said about outing an already beloved character. Yes, readers accept Northstar as being gay and Mystique as a bisexual. However, both of those characters were established as such earlier on in the continuity. The outing of Iceman serves a reminder that as we loved him as a character before this issue, we should continue to love him. His sexual preference changes nothing about his character. Whether or not this social relevance was executed purposefully or by happenstance doesn’t matter. It’s there, it’s relevant, and how people react will be important.

Unaware of what’s going on with his teammate; Angel is sorting through his own angsty relationship. He finally admits to Laura that he loves her and that he is terrified of ending up like the present day Angel. They have a sweet moment, they kiss, and all is well in the lives of the young X-Men.

Back in Utopia, SHIELD Agents are readying their crafts to land. They received an earlier transmission stating there may be some unregistered mutant energy, and have come to explore. Before they even have a chance to touchdown, their aircraft is destroyed.

This is an obvious twist. Clearly there are mutants still calling Utopia home, and in true Marvel form they will most likely become the next “gray area” villains: mutants trying to find a home in a world that doesn’t want them. My prediction is a long drawn out battle with SHIELD and the young X-Men, resulting in a new Brotherhood, thus bringing the X-Men full-circle.

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