Book review: ‘Ninth City Burning’ by J Patrick Black


Before turning to fiction writing, J Patrick Black worked as a bartender, a small town lawyer, a home builder and a costumed theme-park character. “Ninth City Burning” is his debut science fiction/fantasy novel for young adults about a post-apocalyptic Earth still dealing with centuries of war with aliens.

In “Ninth City Burning,” cities have vanished due to world-wide destruction caused by aliens known as Valentines. These aliens were named after the day in which the attacks began when they brought with them a weapon so strong it was considered magical. It is known as ‘thelemity’ and it is a universe altering force. Some humans developed the ability to control this weapon and have used it to fight back and are trained in elite military academies. Those who do not support the war effort are exiled to the wilds of a ruined Earth. The war has been going on for five centuries but now the enemy’s tactics have changed and humans are in for a new attack. Jax is one of those cadets training for future military action and him, along with other fighters, have to work together one last time before the aliens completely destroy what is left of their homes.

Young readers are the target audience for “Ninth City Burning” but anyone interested in science fiction and fantasy novels will find it interesting. The action is fast paced and character driven since it is told in the first person view of multiple young characters who are well developed. The author did an exceptional job of giving them each a backstory so that the reader can identify and empathize with them as they struggle to survive. His version of the futuristic Earth is detailed and intriguing and even though it is 485 pages long it should appeal to fans of “The Hunger Games,” “Ender’s Game” and similar books.

*A copy of this book was given for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are solely the author’s.


New James Bowie exhibition at The Alamo

Ribbon cutting ceremony at the new James Bowie exhibition at The Alamo.  Photo: Sandra Cruz

Sunday March 26 was the official opening of ‘James Bowie: Man, Knife, Legend,’ the new exhibition hall at The Alamo. This new exhibition presents the life of the legendary Alamo defender and his famous knife. The ribbon cutting ceremony consisted of speeches by Bryan Preston, Dr Bruce Winders and others and after welcoming visitors to the grounds the ribbon was cut and it was officially opened to the public. This impressive exhibition includes displays of the various Bowie knives and their history. Visitors can learn more through translucent video touch screen technology that includes interactive video and text.

James Bowie was born in Kentucky and played a prominent role in the Texas Revolution. He is a legendary figure in Texas history and a folk hero of American culture. His transformation from normal citizen to a legend began ten years before his death at the Alamo. The legendary knife has deep roots throughout American history and culture throughout the years. Guests are able to learn about Bowie’s story and the history of the iconic knives that bear his family name. They can also learn about the frontier blacksmithing process and discover the many ways that the Bowie knife has appeared in contemporary culture, including movies. This exhibit is now part of the Alamo experience and is free and open to the public.

The Alamo
300 Alamo Plaza
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 225-139

Spring Jazz at La Cantera in April

TheSpring Jazz at The Falls is back at La Cantera.  Photo: The Shops at La Cantera, used with permission.

Spring Jazz at The Falls is back at The Shops at La Cantera this April. This is a series of free outdoor concerts at The Falls whose goal is to showcase and foster an appreciation for all forms of jazz through free, quality live musical performances. These concerts will be on Wednesdays from 7:30p.m. to 9:30p.m. on April 5, April 12 and April 19. They are free and open to the public but no outside coolers or pets allowed. Guests may bring their own blankets and chairs. Chair placement begins one hour prior to show time. This year’s performers include San Antonio’s own Wednesday Ball and Roger Tamez as The Show, Latin Grammy nominated composer and guitarist Sergio Lara and acoustic jazz guitarist Peter White. Schedule is subject to change. (The Shops at La Cantera, 2017)

Wednesday April 5 – Wednesday Ball and Roger Tamez as The Show. This duo is the ultimate dance, soul and R&B band and features vocalist Wednesday Ball, a local MacArthur High School graduate, and the talented Roger Tamez, another San Antonian and multi-instrumentalist. Their influences include Jill Scott, Mary J Blige, Stevie Wonder and others.

Wednesday April 12 – Musical artist and composer Sergio Lara. He is a renowned guitarist and composer who was nominated for a 2001 Latin Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album. He has contributed to more than a dozen CD compilations with musicians like Dave Brubeck, Pat Matheny and Ottmar Liebert.

Wednesday April 19 – Acoustic guitarist Peter White. As a versatile and prolific multi-instrumentalist, the British native’s career has consisted of folk rock and keyboardist for and co-writer with Al Stewart. He released his first solo album in 1990.

The Shops at La Cantera
15900 La Cantera Pkwy
On Main Street near Bar Louie
San Antonio, TX 78256
(210) 582-6255

‘The House on Mango Street’ at The Classic Theatre

Sandra Cisneros’ ‘The House on Mango Street’ is back for a limited run at The Classic Theatre. Photo courtesy of The Classic Theatre, used with permission.

Back by popular demand this April is ‘The House on Mango Street’ at The Classic Theatre of San Antonio. This return engagement is for a limited run and will consist of only seven shows from Thursday April 6 through Saturday April 15. ‘The House on Mango Street’ was adapted from Sandra Cisneros’ book by Amy Ludwig. It is the story of Esperanza Cordero whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauties. She is determined to “say goodbye” to her impoverished neighborhood by turning to a life on the streets. Major themes include her quest for a better life and the promise she makes to come back for those she left behind. Esperanza is a young Latina coming into her power and finding out what she will become. Show times are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8p.m. and Sunday at 3p.m. There will be no show on Easter Sunday April 16. Ticket prices are $25 for general admission, $20 for senior, military, educator or SATCO and $10 for students. They are available online or by calling the box office at (210) 589-8450 (The Classic Theatre, 2017)

The Classic Theatre of San Antonio
1924 Fredericksburg Rd
San Antonio, TX 78201
(210) 589-8450

Spring Cocktails

Cork Bar’s Primavera Cocktail. Photo courtesy of Hotel Contessa, used with permission.

It is now officially spring and several bars and restaurants in town have updated their menus to offer patrons spring drinks. Each of these new cocktails feature bright flavors that will help ease the transition to warmer weather. The following is Paramour’s Spring Cocktail Menu and cocktail recipes from the Cork Bar at Hotel Contessa and Boiler House Texas Beer & Wine Garden. (Giant Noise, 2017)

Paramour Spring Cocktail Menu
Cocktails – Missionary Reach, Smoke vs Sea, Coupe de Grâce, You Can’t Handle the Proof, De Novo Punch, A Brand, New Dance, Down South Smash, Just a Friend, Subpoenaed in Texas, Sequestered in Memphis, Walls Are, For Tyrants, One For Mahler!, G.I.L.F, Barrel Aged – Old Fashioned, Hanky Panky, Martini
Food is offered until 10p.m and incudes Charcuterie Board – a selection of cured meats and cheese, Prosciutto Sliders- prosciutto, warm brie and lemon basil aioli and Bar Snack Trio that includes chili rosemary mixed nuts, marinated olives and sweet and spicy peppers.

102 9th St, Suite 400
San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 340-9880

Primavera (Spring) Cocktail
Cork Bar at Hotel Contessa’s Featured Cocktail
March and April
1.5 oz Seersucker Southern Gin
1 oz Simple Syrup Shrub: white vinegar, infused cucumber, rosemary and ginger candy
Topped off with 1 oz ginger beer
Garnished with cucumber slice, sprig of rosemary and lemon twist

The Hotel Contessa
306 W Market St
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 229-9222

Boiler House’s ‘Come Rum with Me Julep’
2oz Bullit Bourbon
½ oz Ron Zacapa 23 yr old
Solera Rum (to float)
½ oz Honey Simple Syrup
10 mint leaves, plus more to garnish

Boiler House Texas Beer & Wine Garden
312 Pearl Parkway. Building 3
San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 354-464

‘The Real La La Land’ at Jazz, TX

Jazz, TX is hosting ‘The Real La La Land’ on April 5, 6 and 7. Photo courtesy of Jazz, TX, used with permission.

Coming up in April at Jazz, TX is the musical revue ‘The Real Life La La Land’ from Wednesday April 5 through Friday April 7, 2017. It mirrors the inspiration of the critically acclaimed musical movie La La Land and it is told from the perspective of former jazz club bartender and singing waiter Dave Damiani. Dave Damiani and Graham Fenton met over 10 years ago at Miceli’s Restaurant in Hollywood where they were working as singing waiters. Their ultimate dream is to bring back the class, style and swagger of places like the 500 Club and The Copacabana. Straight from Las Vegas it will feature Jazz, TX club owner Doc Watkins and special guests Graham Fenton, star of Las Vegas’ Jersey Boys, Dave Damiani, from Sinatra 100, CBS Vegas, Bijon Watson, trumpet player featured in La La Land and Watkin’s orchestra. They will be performing songs from famed jazz artists like Frank Sinatra, Frankie Valli, Dean Martin and Nat “King” Cole as well as melodies from the movie. There will be two sets each night, one at 7p.m. and the other at 9:30p.m. Tickets are $25 each and are available online. (Jazz, TX, 2016)

Jazz, TX is the Pearl’s newest upscale music venue owned and operated by renowned musician Brent “Doc” Watkins. It is in the cellar of the Bottling House and hosts musical acts ranging from jazz to blues, big band, Texas swing, salsa, conjunto and Americana including Doc Watkins. Business hours are Tuesday through Saturday and aside from music, guests can enjoy a wide variety of food, beverages, wine and spirits.

Jazz, TX
312 Pearl Pkwy, Building 6 Suite 6001
San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 332-9386

Television adaptation: ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ by Jay Asher

‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ by Jay Asher is coming to Netflix on March 31. Photo: google

The New York Times’ 2007 bestselling novel “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher is coming to Netflix on March 31 starring Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker and Dylan Minnette Clay Jensen. Aside from writing several picture books and middle school humor novels, Jay Asher writes contemporary novels for young adults including “The Future of Us” and “Thirteen Reasons Why.” The latter has won several awards and has received five stars from Teen Book Review. It is the story of Hanna Baker, a girl who commits suicide and then reveals her reasons why in a series of audio tapes mailed to a classmate.

According to Amazon, in “Thirteen Reasons Why” Clay Jensen is a high school student who comes home from school and finds a mysterious box with his name on it lying on the porch. Inside the box he finds cassette tapes recorded by Hanna Baker, a girl who committed suicide two weeks ago who also happens to be his classmate and crush. In those tapes she explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to make the hard decision about ending her life with Clay being one of those reasons. He spends the rest of the night going around town with Hannah as his guide being a witness to Hannah’s daily struggles and pain. Along the way, what he discovers changes his own life forever.

Austin Eastciders announces Blood Orange Cider

Austin Eastcider’s new Blood Orange Cider will be available starting April 3. Photo courtesy of Austin  Eastciders, used with permission.

Austin Eastciders announces the release of their new Austin Eastciders Blood Orange Cider effective April 3. It will be available in individual, 6 pack and 12 pack 12 oz cans in bars, restaurants and other fine retailers including Costco, HEB and Whole Foods throughout Texas, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Virginia. The new flavor is a zesty, dry cider crafted with bright red Sicilian blood oranges, heirloom bittersweet apples and American dessert apples. The tangy citrus adds a unique complexity to the effervescent cider and will delight cider drinkers, beer fans and wine enthusiasts alike. (Austin Eastciders, 2017)

Other Austin Eastciders flavors include Austin Eastciders Original, Austin Eastciders Texas Honey, Austin Eastciders Hopped and Austin Eastciders Pineapple ciders. These products are naturally gluten-free, not overly sweet and have a smooth, dry flavor. Austin Eastciders Blood Orange is 5% ABV and makes the perfect cocktail base.

The Bigger, Better Cider (The BBC)
Created by: Nick Bustillos, mixologist
¾ oz lime juice
1 oz Vodka (or tequila)
¾ oz Galliano Italian liqueur
Dry shake to emulsify
Pour over ice in a tall “Collins” glass
Top with Blood Orange Cider
Add Peychauds bitters to taste
Garnish with slice of blood orange

Founded in 2013, Austin Eastciders has five cider varieties, including Austin Eastciders Original Dry Cider, Austin Eastciders Texas Honey, Austin Eastciders Hopped Cider, Austin Eastciders Blood Orange and Austin Eastciders Pineapple Cider. It uses all-natural ingredients and bittersweet apples to create authentic traditionally inspired examples of ‘The Original Drink of America.’ Their products are available at HEB, Target and Whole Foods as well as bars and restaurants throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Philadelphia and New York. They are 5% ABV and available in 6-pack and 12-pack 12oz cans and by draft. Austin Eastciders often hosts several “tap takeover” events each month, where fans can sample limited release offerings and special tasting experiences.

Devils River Whiskey launches in Texas

Devils River Whisky will be available in stores in early April. Photo by Jessica Giesey, used with permission.

Mike Cameron, president and chief operating officer of Devils River Whiskey, recently announced that Devils River Whiskey, the newest small-batch bourbon to become available in Texas, will be available in stores in early April. The Texas whiskey will capture the spirit of the water it draws its name from with bold flavors at the heart of each sip. The small-batch bourbon is made from the highest quality grains.  It is high-rye bourbon because it dials back on the corn and doubles up on the rye, resulting in rich and flavorful bourbon that can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in your favorite whiskey cocktail. It will begin shipping across Texas in April with a suggested retail price of $29.99/750ml bottle. (Devils River Whiskey, 2017)

Devils River Whiskey is a premium spirits company based in Frisco, Texas and is committed to creating bold Texas whiskey. Devils River Whiskey stands apart from competition because of its use of the purest water in Texas at the heart of the production process. Devils River Whiskey is distributed by Republic National Distributing Company. Devils River Whiskey is available in stores throughout Texas.

Suggested recipe:
Devils River Whiskey Buck
2 oz Devils River Bourbon Whiskey
½ oz fresh lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
1½ oz Chilled ginger beer

Pour Devils River Bourbon Whiskey, lime juice and simple syrup over ice in a copper mug.  Stir to combine.  Top with ginger beer and garnish with a lime wedge.

Book review: ‘Healthy Joints for Life’ by Richard Diana MD

‘Healthy Joint for Life’ by Richard Diana MD is about learning to reduce joint pain. Photo: google

Richard Diana, MD is a board-certified surgeon, clinical instructor at Yale School of Medicine and attending surgeon at Yale-New Haven Hospital. After years playing football with the Miami Dolphins he retired after Super Bowl XVII to attend Yale School of Medicine and has been an orthopedic consultant to several athletic programs. In his book “Healthy Joints for Life: An Orthopedic Surgeon’s Proven Plan to Reduce Pain and Inflammation, Avoid Surgery and Get Moving Again” he applies his experiences and training to write about ways to reduce joint pain.

“Healthy Joints for Life” is a ground breaking book by an orthopedic surgeon and former NFL player. It involves no surgery, no medication and no drastic measures and is based on cutting edge research that has identified the role that the molecule known as NFkB plays in the regulation of inflammation. His plan for reducing joint pain includes an eight week program that teaches readers to take advantage of this research to reduce inflammation, relieve pain and rejuvenate their joints. It includes information about which foods to eat to reduce inflammation, simple exercises based on mobility and the right supplements to take to increase overall mobility. In the introduction, the author introduces himself and describes how his past experiences shaped his life. The book is divided into two parts: in part one he explains how joint pain works, including what joints are, how they work and how food affects them; in part two he introduces his plan and how to tailor it to meet an individual’s need. He also includes personal anecdotes and experiences.

The main theme of “Healthy Joints for Life” is that “to control joint pain, you need to control the information.” Richard Diana does his best to keep the science behind this information at a level that can be easily understood. For those wanting an in-depth explanation he includes a longer explanation in an Appendix. Other than that, everything else is within easy grasp of most readers and includes diet and exercise information that anyone can use to lessen their joint pain. It is an excellent reference guide for anyone interested in learning more about how the body works and how external factors affect it.

*A copy of this book was given for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are solely the author’s.