In the late summer of 1274, King Edward has finally been anointed England's ruler, and his queen contemplates a pilgrimage in gratitude for their safe return from Outremer, a journey that will include a stay at Tyndal Priory. Envoys are sent to confirm that everything will be suitable for the king's wife, and Prioress Eleanor nervously awaits them, knowing that regal visits bring along expense and honor. The cost is higher than expected, however, when Death arrives as the unexpected emissary. One of the courtiers is murdered near the hut where Brother Thomas now lives as a hermit. Each member of the party has reason to hate the dead man, including Crowner Ralf's eldest brother, Sir Fulke, and the prioress's nemesis, the man in black. Soon Eleanor is embroiled in the dangerous world of power games, both secular and religious. Indeed, England's future under a new king may offer hope and relief, but skeletons from the past can come back to life like those in the biblical valley of dry bones. Which had cause enough to kill?
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
For Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane, the honeymoon has ended…but the adventure is just beginning. After eight idyllic months in the Mediterranean, Lady Julia Grey and her detective husband are ready to put their investigative talents to work once more. At the urging of Julia’s eccentric family, they hurry to India to aid an old friend, the newly widowed Jane Cavendish. Living on the Cavendish tea plantation with the remnants of her husband’s family, Jane is consumed with the impending birth of her child—and with discovering the truth about her husband’s death. Was he murdered for his estate? And if he was, could Jane and her unborn child be next? Amid the lush foothills of the Himalayas, dark deeds are buried and malicious thoughts flourish. The Brisbanes uncover secrets and scandal, illicit affairs and twisted legacies. In this remote and exotic place, exploration is perilous and discovery, deadly. The danger is palpable and, if they are not careful, Julia and Nicholas will not live to celebrate their first anniversary.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
PASSAGE follows the efforts of Joanna Lander, a research psychologist, to understand the phenomenon of near-death experiences (or NDEs) by interviewing hospital patients after they are revived following clinical death. It is the electrifying story of a psychologist who has devoted her life to tracking death. But when she volunteers for a research project that simulates the near-death experience, she will either solve life's greatest mystery -- or fall victim to its greatest terror. A psychologist specializing in near-death experiences, Joanna has spent two years recording the experiences of those who have been declared clinically dead and lived to tell about it. It's research on the fringes of ordinary science, but Joanna is about to get a boost from an unexpected quarter. A new doctor has arrived at Mercy General, one with the power to give Joanna the chance to get as close to death as anyone can. A brilliant young neurologist, Dr. Richard Wright has come up with a way to manufacture the near-death experience using a psychoactive drug. Dr. Wright is convinced that the NDE is a survival mechanism and that if only doctors understood how it worked, they could someday delay the dying process, or maybe even reverse it. He can use the expertise of a psychologist of Joanna Lander's standing to lend credibility to his study. But he soon needs Joanna for more than just her reputation. When his key volunteer suddenly drops out of the study, Joanna finds herself offering to become Richard's next subject. After all, who better than she, a trained psychologist, to document the experience? Her first NDE is as fascinating as she imagined it would be -- so astounding that she knows she must go back, if only to find out why this place is so hauntingly familiar. But each time Joanna goes under, her sense of dread begins to grow, because part of her already knows why the experience is so familiar, and why she has every reason to be afraid....
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Oh! Pillars of the Earth miniseries on Starz last night was wonderful!! Happy happy happy!! And with the success of various historical epics (The Tudors, Spartacus, Rome), there is a big push to create more of them. I know of The Borgias, Camelot, more Spartacus, and Boardwalk Empire in the making or coming soon. And they're devoting a LOT of money to making them. Woot!
I've been working on my newsletter this afternoon and with permission of the moderator, posted a request for feedback on 4MA. We'll see who gets in touch. It's kinda becoming real now. This Wednesday on my day off, I'll have to start gathering info on printing expenses. *******************************************
This week's Weekly Geeks' question centered around those new books we tend to be drawn to over the older ones on our shelves. It's called Shiny Book Syndrome. As Tara SG from 25 Hour Books describes it: "It is when a person only wants to read their newest book and leave piles of poor unread books on their shelves to collect dust." She offers a few ways to ward off Shiny Book Syndrome, namely in the form of reading challenges and keeping a spreadsheet of all the books you own. I know that when I first began blogging, getting to those older books on my shelves was exactly the reason I joined reading challenges. This week Tara SG wants to know what we do to alleviate Shiny Book Syndrome.
Oh boy, do I suffer from this Syndrome. There are books that I just HAVE to read -- or at least get -- the day it comes out. JD Robb I must get THE DAY. I will purchase books via www.bookdepository.com to get books that are released in the UK before the US. CJ Sansom is at the top of the list. Or I get the books but then something newer and shinier jumps up and the former shiny book gets lost in the shuffle. Of these, I have many. Examples include Phil Rickman's BONES OF AVALON, the new Nancy Pickard, another historical called THE FIFTH SERVANT, etc., etc. ...
I don't think there is anything that one can do to alleviate Shiny Book Syndrome. It is a by-product of being a Book Addict. The only thing I can think of is to create a sub-set of TBR. The newer TBRs that one draws from before looking at the even older stuff. I know there's a lot of challenges out there to help deal with what to read next: the spell you name with the first letter of the title, geographic challenges, and so forth. I've been dealing with back lists of the series I'm interested in by trying to read one per month by the author but I have so many, it is difficult to do. And then those shiny new releases happen ....
PK the Bookeemonster
Friday, July 23, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Sunday, July 18, 2010
THE STAND by Stephen King
Forget the tv miniseries (please). Forget the size of the book. If you've not read this book, read it now.
Very simply, here is a description:
After a plague is accidentally released upon the world the few survivors are divided between the forces of good and evil to determine who will rebuild the world.
This is from Wikipedia (I know, I know):
The novel is divided into three parts, or books. The first is titled "Captain Trips" and takes place over nineteen days, with the escape and spread of a human-made biological weapon, a superflu (influenza) virus known formally as "Project Blue" but most commonly as "Captain Trips" (among some other colloquialisms). The epidemic leads directly to the death of an estimated 99.4% of the world's human population.
King outlines the total breakdown and destruction of society through widespread violence, the failure of martial law to contain the outbreak, and eventually the death of virtually the entire population. The human toll is also dealt with, as the few survivors must care for their families and friends, dealing with confusion and grief as their loved ones succumb to the flu.
"On the Border"
Intertwining cross-country odysseys are undertaken by a small number of survivors, including:
-Stuart Redman, a factory worker from the fictional tiny town of Arnette, Texas;
-Frances (Frannie) Goldsmith, a pregnant pre-college student, and Harold Lauder, an obnoxious and angry 16 year-old high school outcast, both from Ogunquit, Maine;
-Glen Bateman, a quick-witted, pessimistic sociology professor from New Hampshire, and his adopted dog, an Irish Setter named Kojak (or Big Steve, as he later reveals himself)— one of the very few dogs immune to the plague;
-Perion McCarthy and Mark Braddock, two lovers who are already a couple when they meet
-Dayna Jurgens, a hard-headed and determined woman from Xenia, Ohio;
-Susan Stern, a former student from Kent State University;
-Patty Kroger, a beautiful young girl in her teen years.
-Nick Andros, an insightful deaf-mute wanderer originally from fictional Caslin, Nebraska, who was in the fictional town of Shoyo, Arkansas when the plague also occurred;
-Tom Cullen, a kind-hearted mentally challenged man, with child-like enthusiasm from May, Oklahoma.
-Ralph Brentner, a jolly, easy-going farmer from Oklahoma;
-Dick Ellis, a former veterinarian in his early 50s;
-Gina McCone, a little girl;
-Olivia Walker, a sympathetic older woman;
-June Brinkmeyer, an auburn haired woman in her mid-20s.
-Larry Underwood, a disillusioned pop musician from New York City;
-Rita Blakemoor, a rich middle-aged woman from New York City;
-Nadine Cross, a virginal kindergarten teacher with a very dark secret from New Hampshire;
-Leo "Joe" Rockway, a savage, amnesiac, and telepathic boy;
-Lucy Swann, a 24-year-old housewife from New Hampshire;
-Judge Farris, a man in his late seventies.
They are drawn together by both circumstances and their shared dreams of a 108-year-old black woman from Hemingford Home, Hemingford, Nebraska whom they see as a refuge and a representation of good in the struggle of good versus evil. This woman, Abagail Freemantle (known as "Mother Abagail"), becomes the spiritual leader of this group of survivors, directing them to Boulder, Colorado, referred to as "the Free Zone" (officially "The Boulder Free Zone"), where they begin to reestablish a republic society; much of this section of the book involves the struggles to create an orderly society reinstating the United States Consitution and Bill of Rights as a basis more or less. Boulder is found to be hosting considerably fewer dead bodies of plague victims than other cities, due to an exodus following a false rumor in the early stages of the plague that the outbreak originated in the Boulder Air Test Center.
Meanwhile, another group of survivors, led by Randall Flagg, the Dark Man, includes:
-Lloyd Henreid, an ill tempered, not-too-bright common thief and murderer;
-Donald Merwin Elbert, known as "the Trashcan Man", a schizophrenic pyromaniac;
-Whitney Horgan, an ex-Army cook and butcher;
-Julie Lawry, an unstable, manipulative, oversexed teenager;
-"the Rat Man", a pirate-like hood;
-Barry Dorgan, a former detective of the Santa Monica Police Department;
-Jenny Engstrom, a nightclub dancer and later construction worker; and
-Hector "Heck" Drogan, a civilian who is executed crucifiction style for drug abuse by Flagg's punishment system.
They are drawn to Las Vegas, Nevada by Randall Flagg (known as "the Dark Man", "the Hardcase", "the Tall Man", and "the Walkin’ Dude"), an evil being with supernatural powers; he represents evil, the opposite influence of Mother Abagail. Flagg’s rule is tyrannical and brutal, using crucifixion, torture and other torments as punishment for those who are disloyal and disobedient. His group is able to quickly reorganize their society, restore power to Las Vegas, and rebuild the city as many technical professionals have migrated to the city. The book notes that at Las Vegas, Flagg's group is constantly working and has organized a strong but harsh structure while at the Free Zone, some survivors lounge idly and do not work as hard. Flagg's group also has started a schooling system and weapons program with survivor Carl Hough as a helicopter pilot and the Trashcan Man searching the country for weapons.
The Free Zone's democratic society is not without its problems. Mother Abagail, feeling that she has become prideful and sinned due to her pleasure at being a public figure, disappears into the wilderness on a journey of spiritual reconciliation. Meanwhile, Harold's bitterness over his unrequited love for Fran and Nadine's secret commitment to Flagg lead the two of them to detonate a dynamite bomb at a meeting of the Free Zone committee. The explosion, which kills several people (including Nick Andros), takes place at the same time that Mother Abagail is discovered, severely weakened by her time in the wilderness.
The stage is now set for the final confrontation as the two camps become aware of one another, and each recognizes the other as a threat to its survival, leading to the "stand" of good against evil. There is no pitched battle, however. Instead, at Mother Abagail's dying behest, Stu, Larry, Ralph and Glen set off on foot towards Las Vegas on an expedition to confront Randall Flagg. Stu breaks his leg en route and drops out. He encourages the others to leave without him, telling them that God will provide for him. Glen's dog stays behind with Stu. Glen, Ralph, and Larry soon encounter Flagg's men, who take them prisoner. When Glen rejects an opportunity to be spared if he kneels and begs Flagg, he is shot by Lloyd Henreid, on Flagg's direct order. Flagg gathers his entire collective to witness the execution of the other two, but before it can take place, Trashcan Man arrives with a nuclear warhead and a giant glowing hand—"The Hand of God"—detonates the bomb, destroying Flagg's followers and the two remaining prisoners.
Stu, with the aid of Kojak and later Tom Cullen, survives injury, illness, and a harsh Rocky Mountain winter. The three of them arrive back in Boulder soon after the birth of Fran’s baby. Although the baby falls ill with the superflu, he is able to fight it off. In the end, Stu and Fran decide to return to Maine, and the original edition of the novel ends with the two of them questioning whether the human race can learn from its mistakes. The answer, given in the last line, is ambiguous: "I don’t know."
First published in 1978. King released a later version, a sort of the "director's cut" version with 1153 pages. The original, I believe, was about 500 pages shorter.
This book is iconic. King is known for his horror stories, but this truly was not horror in its true definition (examples would be CARRIE or CHRISTINE or SALEM'S LOT or THE SHINING). It is a post-apocalyptic story -- and actually pretty tame for all that (other books of this type are a probably truer depiction of that kind world which depicts cannibalism) -- and is really a story of a showdown between good and evil. King's strength has always been to show normal, average people in strange circumstances.
Sunday. Steve has to help run the pistol competition this morning for the Big Sky State Games. I'll be walking Tug and then being on the downstairs computer working on projects and otherwise doing laundry.
I'm continuing to read THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin, which I'm sure has prompted today's second look book. There is a such an impending-doom feel to the story that I can't not read it though I'm pulled toward a historical mystery. And you start to care for these characters and you know their futures are pretty terrible. I don't know if I'm halfway through or if not I'm close.
It's supposed to be in the 90s again so stay cool and hydrated.
PK the Bookeemonster
Saturday, July 17, 2010
When a secret project to create a super-soldier backfires, a virus leads to a plague of vampiric revenants that wipes out most of the population. One of the few bands of survivors is the Colony, a FEMA-established island of safety bunkered behind massive banks of lights that repel the virals, or dracs—but a small group realizes that the aging technological defenses will soon fail. When members of the Colony find a young girl, Amy, living outside their enclave, they realize that Amy shares the virals' agelessness, but not the virals' mindless hunger, and they embark on a search to find answers to her condition.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
When Elizabeth Caldwell planned a trip to Florence with her daughter, Marina, she secretly hoped for a warm, fuzzy bonding experience worthy of a Lifetime movie. But Marina - twenty-one, newly graduated, and close to her mum in many ways - has always been more the PBS type: dependable, practical, and completely in control. Elizabeth knows Marina wants to avoid the kind of 'stupid mistake' that left Elizabeth a single mother at twenty-two, and she's bitten her tongue as Marina settles for a wealthy fiance who gives. her everything she thinks she wants. After all, Elizabeth - unable to bring herself to fully commit to the man she has dated for years - is hardly an expert in romance.Still, a lot can happen on vacation, especially in Tuscany, where every scent borne on the warm breeze inspires delight, and every view makes the heart soar. There, on streets once walked by Dante and Michaelangelo, Marina is blindsided by a gorgeous Italian named Luca who shows her how gloriously unpredictable passion can be, and Elizabeth finally lets go of the role that has defined her for so long to embrace her own uncertain future...
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
He was met in the parking lot by a civilian, a compact man dressed in jeans and a khaki shirt rolled at the sleeves, a pair of old-fashioned aviators perched on his wide, faintly bulbous nose. This was Richards.
Excerpted from The Passage by Justin Cronin Copyright © 2010 by Justin Cronin.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
My Dear Cousin,
I wonder how you will greet these words; indeed, I wonder how you will receive into your hands the paper that bears them, as I think you cannot be in expectation of correspondence from me. . . .
In short, I have been given to understand that I am believed dead by all my family and acquaintance—that I was seen to die, in fact, or at least, was seen to sink beneath the water a last time, and my corpse never recovered, though long and passionately sought for. You may imagine the fascination with which I heard this account, though you will imagine, too, that my fascination is accompanied by horror, which is far from the case. I cannot tell how it is, but though I know the thought of myself as a corpse should by all rights cause me distress, I find it holds only the interest, raises only the feelings, that such a thing might in verse or fiction.
What should distress me yet more, and what may, as my sensibilities recover somewhat from the curious flattened state they are now in, is that, for all I can recall, I may indeed have drowned. I have no knowledge of any act, any word, any thing at all that occurred between the conclusion of that pleasant luncheon on the lake shore, and my discovery—rediscovery—of my wits and person at the bottom of the garden behind this respectable inn at an hour when almost none of the respectable inhabitants of it were conscious. I have read, I suppose, too many fables and fairy-tales, for the first thing I asked of the good landlord, upon gathering my straying thoughts and finding my voice, was the month, day, and year. How relieved I was to find I had not been whisked away for seven times seven years, but for a scant two months! And yet, how and where were those two months passed? For anything I could tell, I might indeed have spent them happily in Fairyland, but for sundry signs about my person that it might not have been an unalloyed happiness. . . .
The various plot threads range from the political to the prosaic, and they intertwine without a gap. The authors maintain the multiple layers of the plot clearly and cogently, and the reader is easily immersed in the story which, incredibly, transpires over three months. The main characters are vividly portrayed both through their own voices and the descriptions in letters about them. It is fascinating to see the subtle nuances of their personalities rise through the characters' portraits, transforming them from "stock" characters into people so real you would recognize them if you saw them on the street.
Furthermore, the authors maintain the integrity of the different characters' voices. This book is a fantasy, complete with a brooding hero on the run, a spirited "princess" sharing the adventure, a wicked "king" (not the monarch), secret identities and assorted assistants, Near misses and last-minute escapes abound until the final, satisfying resolution. With its rich, complicated plot and complex characters, this is a book to try to savor, but don't be surprised if you can't put it down.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
Thursday, July 8, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
In 1761, famous magistrate John Fielding is to be honoured with a knighthood. Founder of the Runners, London's metropolitan police force, John Fielding is one of several important members of the community who gather at St James's Palace for the investiture. As the invited audience eagerly crane for a first glimpse of the new queen, a terrible accident occurs when one of the crowd tumbles down the great staircase to his death. But not one person saw him begin to fall; even those standing closest to him had their eyes fixed on the royal entrance. Only one person witnessed anything untoward - John Fielding, a blindman. A whispered sentence, an exhalaion of breath - these are the only clues available to suggest the fall was no accident. Apothecary John Rawlings, accompanying his friend Fielding to the ceremony, sets out to investigate and is soon drawn into a very intriguing mystery, in which suspicious characters abound.
Monday, July 5, 2010
From its first arrival in Britain with the Norman forces of William the Conqueror, violence and revenge are the cursed sword's constant companions. From an election scandal in 13th-century Venice to the battlefield of Poitiers in 1356, the sword of shame brings bad luck and disgrace to all who possess it in this compelling collection of five interlocking mysteries.
A young woman is murdered, and the people of the town decide that Master Levitas, the Jewish moneylender and goldsmith, is responsible. While this plot provides the backbone of the novel, it is an extraordinarily rich book with multiple storylines. The language and descriptions give a strong sense of the period, and the characters are fascinating. The abbess. Emma, is slowly growing into her position of authority and attempting to cope with the abbey's severe Financial problems. Several of the nuns are adjusting to changes in their responsibilities, and some English residents of Shaftesbury are still grappling with the loss of lands and wealth under the Normans. (While this book can be read independently, t highly recommend reading Other Cods first. which takes place one year earlier and provides full introductions to many of the characters) The precarious position of Jews in medieval England is vividly portrayed. A fascinating subplot involves Master Hugo, a renowned artist who has come to the Abbey to undertake a commission, the young boy who travels with him, and Hugo's relationship with Levitas.
In Rome’s crowded Campo dei Fiori, a woman rushes up to two carabinieri lounging in their sunglasses and uniforms, insisting that her sixteen-year-old daughter has just been abducted. Detective Nic Costa sees the scene unfold and intervenes. Because Costa knows what the two officers don’t: that in the morgue at Rome’s police headquarters, a forensic pathologist is examining the strange, mummified corpse of another girl, whose disappearance and death bear haunting similarities….Police pathologist Teresa Lupo is Nic’s colleague, friend, and his only equal when it comes to breaking the rules to get results, whatever the cost. Now, after years of living with the dead, Teresa insists that her superiors move quickly to save a life. Poring over the body of the girl in the morgue, she has found too many similarities between the girls, including a unique, leering tattoo. Lupo is sure that the vanished girl is headed for a bizarre ancient Bacchanalia involving virgins and sacrificial murder–a ritual that is only days away.As Nic and Teresa claw at the case from two sides–and as Nic finds himself at once puzzled and beguiled by the missing girl’s seductive mother–a chilling picture is beginning to emerge…of secret relationships and sexual depravity, organized crime and unimaginable corruption. With the clock ticking down on a young girl’s life, Nic and Teresa are about to make the most horrifying discovery of all—in a pit of human darkness, where an age-old malevolence still endures, evil has consumed innocence…and a very modern vengeance has begun.