My Cup Doth Groweth Over

The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Make Up the World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart

 

“Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”

-Benjamin Franklin

Have you ever considered what’s inside the bottle you’ve just ordered to celebrate your wedding anniversary, the can you’re enjoying watching the big game with your friends on Sunday, or the glass placed in front of you by your friendly neighborhood bartender? You know the names: beer, wine, whiskey, vodka, tequila; but have you ever really considered what they’re made of?

The answer may just surprise you.

From agave to Zanzibar cloves, learn the surprising stories of the plants that are used to make the world’s most famous, and infamous drinks.

 

 

Fruit of the Poisoned Tree

The Janissary Tree by Jason Goodwin

 

It has been ten years since the Auspicious Incident that saw the end of the feared and famed Janissary Corp, the elite corps of soldiers that were the terror of the world (and the terror of their own people), and the Ottoman Empire is poised to join Europe in a new modern world. That is until a series of brutal murders threaten to undo all that Sultan Mahmud II has done. Surely these murders cannot be the work of the Janissary Corps, the corps power has been broken and its survivors scattered to the farthest corners of the Empire and beyond. There is only one man who could get to the bottom of this problem and do it quickly before the mighty city of Constantinople and the rest of the Empire are thrown into chaos. From the great Topkapi palace the voice of the sultan cries forth “Send for Yashim!”

Dasvidanya Cruel World

The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin

 

In May of 1876 there is no finer place to be alive than in Moscow. But, sadly, that is not the view held by everyone in this most splendid city of the Russian Empire. In an act of shocking destruction a young student kills himself in full view of the public promenading in the Alexander Gardens. Decadence and boredom say the police, but an act still curious enough to warrant some investigation. When a close friend of the young victim is suddenly murdered, in front of the officer investigating the suicide no less, it becomes clear that the young student’s tragic death is only the beginning. It is but the tip of a sinister conspiracy that is wound in a wicked web around the world.

Strangers in a Strange Land

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

 

On a steamship from Danzig bound for New York furniture maker Otto Rotfeld dies suddenly from appendicitis leaving, secreted among his luggage, a  golem commissioned from a dark kabbalistic sorcerer and intended to be Rotfeld’s wife.

In a shop in Lower Manhattan’s Little Syria an immigrant tinsmith attempts to repair an antique copper flask and accidentally releases a jinni  an ancient spirit trapped inside the flask by a Bedouin wizard over a thousand years ago.

Adrift in a new world that is as dangerous as it is wondrous the golem and the jinni must each find their own way to survive, to blend into cultures that would destroy them if their true natures were ever revealed.

A chance meeting ignites an unlikely friendship between the pair, but tragedy tests the bonds of friendship as soon as they are formed. The past, however, refuses to stay buried and dark figures from their respective pasts have also crossed the ocean. Will the friendship between the golem and the jinni be able to withstand the coming trouble or will their different natures throw them apart leaving them alone and vulnerable in a strange new world.

Fast Food

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of A Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison

 

“‘Whatever you do, don’t run.’ This was the solemn counsel of the three guides who worked at the camp. ‘Food runs,’ added Alpheus, the tracker, his rough face split by an enormous grin.’And there is nothing here that you ran outrun anyway.'”

Many people agree that there are few things more exciting than viewing exotic wild animals in their natural habitat. What most people do not realize that there are also few things more dangerous. In his many years working as a safari guide in Botswana Peter Allison hasn’t “seen it all”, but he has come fairly close. From dinner-crashing honey badgers to naked baboons and tourists who are nearly as strange and exotic as the animals they come to see, Allison relates the many experiences and lessons he has learned while working a job that is as challenging and dangerous as it is rewarding. Running through nearly every story is the lesson that whatever happens on a safari, you should never run.

Somewhere Out There

2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

 

On the plains of Africa a tribe of ape-men on the verge of extinction encounter a strange rock, a carved and polished monolith that awakens in them the spark that will one-day move them forward into civilization.

Millions of years later, Dr. Heywood Floyd travels to the moon to investigate reports of a strange object found buried in the Tycho Crater; an object that, according to scientific tests, predates the rise of human civilization on earth.

In the furthest reaches on the Solar System astronauts David Bowman and Francis Poole command the Discovery One, a spaceship originally intended to travel to Jupiter that is suddenly given the mission to be the first manned flight to reach Saturn.

What are these mysterious monoliths, where have they come from, and why have they suddenly appeared at such momentous points in the history of the human race? What awaits the Discovery One at Saturn? What does this mean for the future of the human race? Have we finally found the answer to the question we have been asking for over a century, are we alone in the Universe? Or are there intelligent civilizations in the farthest reaches of Space?

Oh What a Tangled Web

Spider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman

When a retired colleague is gunned down just after a breakfast meeting Navajo Nation Police Officer Bernadette Manualito is shocked by the boldness and sheer cold-bloodedness of the act. What is worse is that the retired officer is a close friend both to her and to her husband Sergeant Jim Chee.
An officer known to the Navajo Nation Police as “the Legendary Lieutenant” is bound to have his share of enemies, but who would bear a grudge that strong to gun him down in broad daylight in the parking lot of a crowded restaurant full of police officers?
As a witness, Officer Manualito is forbidden by regulation to be involved in the case, but neither she is going to sit idly by and do nothing. But the identity of the shooter and the reason for the shooting are unclear, tangled up in a web of cold cases and an unfinished private investigation into the insurance value of a private collection of ancient Native American artifacts. A web as tangled as any woven by Spider Woman herself.