The churchyard was peaceful in the summer afternoon. Twigs and branches lay strewn across the gravel path, torn from the trees by the gales which had swept the country in that stormy June of 1545. In London we had escaped lightly, only a few chimneypots gone, but the winds had wreaked havoc in the north. People spoke of hailstones there as large as fists, with the shapes of faces on them. But tales became more dramatic as they spread, as any lawyer knows.I had been in my chambers in Lincoln's In all morning, working through some briefs for cases in the Court of Requests. They would not be heard until the autumn now; the Trinity law term had ended early by order of the King, in view of the threat of invasion.In recent months I had found myself becoming restless with my paperwork. With a few exceptions the same cases came up again and again in Requests: landlords wanting to turn tenant farmers off their lands to pasture sheep for the profitable wool trade, or for the same reason trying to appropriate the village commons on which the poor depended. Worthy cases, but always the same. And as I worked, my eyes kept drifting to the letter delivered by a messenger from Hampton Court. It aly on the corner of my desk, a white rectangle with a lump of red sealing wax glinting in the centre. The letter worried me, all the more for its lack of detail. Eventually, unable to keep my thoughts from wandering, I decided to go for a walk.When I left chambers I saw a flower seller, a young woman, had got past the Lincoln's Inn gatekeeper. She stood in a corner of Gatehouse Court, in a grey dress with a dirty apron, her face framed by a white coif, holding out posies to the passing barristers. As I went by she called out that she was a widow, her husband dead in the war. I saw she had wallflowers in her basket; they reminded me I had not visited my poor housekeeper's grave for nearly a month, for wallflowers had been Joan's favorite. I asked for a bunch, and she held them out to me with a work-roughened hand. I passed her a halfpenny; she curtsied and thanked me graciously, though her eyes were cold. I walked on, under the Great Gate and up newly paved Chancery Lane to the little church at the top.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
This is 5th of 5 in series featuring Matthew Shardlake, a lawyer in mid-16th century England. Here's a description:
Summer, 1545. England is at war. Henry VIII’s invasion of France has gone badly wrong, and a massive French fleet is preparing to sail across the Channel. As the English fleet gathers at Portsmouth, the country raises the largest militia army it has ever seen. The King has debased the currency to pay for the war, and England is in the grip of soaring inflation and economic crisis. Meanwhile Matthew Shardlake is given an intriguing legal case by an old servant of Queen Catherine Parr. Asked to investigate claims of “monstrous wrongs” committed against a young ward of the court, which have already involved one mysterious death, Shardlake and his assistant Barak journey to Portsmouth. Once arrived, Shardlake and Barak find themselves in a city preparing to become a war zone; and Shardlake takes the opportunity to also investigate the mysterious past of Ellen Fettipace, a young woman incarcerated in the Bedlam. The emerging mysteries around the young ward, and the events that destroyed Ellen’s family nineteen years before, involve Shardlake in reunions both with an old friend and an old enemy close to the throne. Events will converge on board one of the King’s great warships, primed for battle in
Portsmouth harbour . . .
It was just published and has 626 pages and comes with one of those attached ribbons as bookmark, isn't that cool? Yes, this is now my current read. This series is the measuring stick for good historical mysteries. I had let myself forget about it coming and when I opened the mailbox after a Monday at work, it was pure bliss.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
It turns out that the secret base was a staging point for an invasion of Beta Colony's ally Escobar, to be led by Crown Prince Serg, the vicious son and heir of Emperor Ezar. Cordelia goes to Escobar in command of a decoy ship and successfully distracts the Barrayaran ships on picket duty at the wormhole exit so the transport ships following her can deliver a devastating new Betan weapon to the Escobaran defenders.
She is captured, briefly tortured by the sadistic Admiral Vorrutyer, then unexpectedly rescued by Vorrutyer's mentally unstable batman, Sergeant Bothari, who kills his master. Afterwards, Commodore Vorkosigan hides the pair in his cabin. The new weapons give the Escobarans an overwhelming advantage and the Barrayaran invasion is driven back with heavy losses. Crown Prince Serg, his flagship, and all hands aboard are lost. As Vorkosigan takes charge and organizes his fleet's retreat, Cordelia overhears one critical fact and deduces, step by step, a political secret that would plunge Barrayar into civil war if it ever got out. When Vorkosigan no longer needs to hide her in his cabin, she is placed in the ship's brig. The ship is attacked and loses power temporarily, including the internal gravity, and Cordelia is injured. The Barrayaran retreat is successful, in part due to a suicide mission that blocks the wormhole.
On her way back to Beta Colony after a prisoner exchange, she is assigned a cabin mate who turns out to be a Betan psychiatrist convinced that her injuries are evidence that she was tortured by Vorkosigan, and the fact that she denies being tortured means that she has been psychologically tampered with. Desperate to keep her secret, Cordelia refuses to let herself sleep, developing insomnia, stuttering, and a nervous tic, which further leads the psychiatrist and doctors to conclude that she has been brainwashed and may even be a spy. At home on Beta, the authorities are determined to "cure" her, forcing her to flee.
She manages to reach Barrayar, where she marries Aral Vorkosigan. The dying Emperor Ezar Vorbarra appoints Aral as Regent-Elect for his grandson and heir, the four-year-old Prince Gregor. Aral, who is next in line of succession, at first refuses, but Cordelia convinces him to take the job.
Shards of Honor (1986)
Barrayar (1991) - Hugo and Locus SF Awards winner, 1992, Nebula Award nominee, 1991
The Warrior's Apprentice (1986)
Borders of Infinity (1989)
Brothers in Arms (1989)
The Vor Game (1990)
Mirror Dance (1994)
A Civil Campaign (1999)
Diplomatic Immunity (2002)
"Winterfair Gifts" (2008)
CryoBurn (forthcoming, late 2010)
Ethan of Athos (1986)
Falling Free (1988)
Dreamweaver's Dilemma (1995)
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Winner: THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM, by Adam Hall (Simon & Schuster)
By Katherine Anne Porter (Harcourt, Brace)
Drama: (No Award)
History: The Life of the Mind in America by the late Perry Miller (Harcourt)
Biography or Autobiography: A Thousand Days by Arthur M. Schlesinger
Poetry:Selected Poems by Richard Eberhart (New Directions)
General Nonfiction: Wandering Through Winter by Edwin Way Teale (Dodd)
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Someone, someTHING, is shredding people in Chicago, leaving behind huge doggy footprints painted in the blood of the victims. Oh, and of course, it's round about full moon time. Reluctantly Karrin Murphy, Director of Special Investigations for the Chicago P.D., has had to call in Harry Dresden, professional wizard. Not that she trusts him much anymore after the way he left her hanging the last time they worked together. But he's the only with the knowledge and special skills she'll need if she has to deal with a werewolf on the loose.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Harry gets what he believes to be a stroke of luck - a woman whose husband has disappeared wants to hire Harry to find him AND his friend Lieutenant Karrin Murphy with Special Investigations in the Chicago PD calls Harry in to consult on a murder case. Two paying jobs in one day has Harry thinking that things are looking up, but in truth, Harry's trouble is only just beginning. The murder scene Murphy shows to Harry has him feeling distinctly nervous. Someone very powerful has used Black Magic to murder two people in a violent and horrifying way, and the only way Harry can help Murphy is to figure out the spell the killer used. Not a good idea when Harry is already under the Doom of Damocles, a kind of magic probation, from the all-powerful White Council, whose job it is to ensure that those who abuse magic are dealt with swiftly and permanently. Morgan, the White Council representative monitoring Harry, would just love to nail him for messing with Black Magic. And Morgan and the White Council aren't Harry's only problem. Gentleman Johnny Marcone, Chicago's top mob boss, warns Harry to keep his nose out of this case, which of course Harry can't do. Especially when he somehow becomes the top suspect in these Black Magic murders. Now Harry has to get to work fast and find the real wizard who is committing these atrocities, otherwise, Harry's not going to live to see another week.
Monday, August 23, 2010
In the simmering hot summer of 1492, a monstrous evil is stirring within the Eternal City of Rome. The brutal murder of an alchemist sets off a desperate race to uncover the plot that threatens to extinguish the light of the Renaissance and plunge Europe back into medieval darkness. Determined to avenge the killing of her father, Francesca Giordano defies all convention to claim for herself the position of poisoner serving Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, head of the most notorious and dangerous family in Italy. She becomes the confidante of Lucrezia Borgia and the lover of Cesare Borgia. At the same time, she is drawn to the young renegade monk who yearns to save her life and her soul. Navigating a web of treachery and deceit, Francesca pursues her father’s killer from the depths of Rome’s Jewish ghetto to the heights of the Vatican itself. In so doing, she sets the stage for the ultimate confrontation with ancient forces
that will seek to use her darkest desires to achieve their own catastrophic ends.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
DISSOLUTION by CJ Sansom
It is 1537, a time of revolution that sees the greatest changes in England since 1066. Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church. The country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers it has ever seen. Under the orders of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent throughout the country to investigate the monasteries. There can be only one outcome: dissolution.
But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell's commissioner, Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege – a black cockerel sacrificed on the church altar, and the disappearance of Scarnsea's Great Relic.
Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell into this atmosphere of treachery and death, accompanied by his loyal assistant Mark. His duty is to discover the truth behind the dark happenings at Scarnsea.
The period is shortly after the beheading of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, and the King’s marriage to Jane Seymour. This was a period of religious revolution in England where Henry declared himself via The Act of Supremacy 1534 "the only Supreme Head in Earth of the Church of England.” That same year the Treasons Act made it high treason punishable by death to refuse to acknowledge the King as such. Both circumstances loom large in the backdrop of C.J. Sansom’s intricate murder mystery. The book’s title is derived from the dissolution of England’s Catholic Monasteries, ordered by Henry through Cromwell. Henry was given the authority to do this by the Act of Supremacy, along with the First Suppression Act (1536, dissolving smaller monasteries) and the Second Suppression Act (1539, dissolving the remaining monasteries). In April 1536 the Augmentations Office was established to handle the receipt and processing of goods confiscated from the dissolved monasteries.
It was nominated for the 2003 Crime Writers' Association (CWA) John Creasey Memorial Dagger, for first books by previously unpublished writers. It was also nominated for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger in the same year.
Published first in the UK 2007; it has 300 pages.
This is one the finest series to get a taste for historical mysteries. It has depth of character and a rich setting. I absolutely love this time period with all its political and religious upheaval. Sansom is finally releasing his fifth in this series, supposedly next month. I can't wait.
PK the Bookeemonster
Saturday, August 21, 2010
*lack of interest in other books
Friday, August 20, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
The Bill of Attainder brought by Henry VII against Richard III makes no mention whatsoever of the Princes. There never was any formal accusation, much less a verdict of guilt.
In fact, there is no historical evidence whatsoever that the Princes were found missing from the Tower when Henry VII took over.
The mother of the Princes, Elizabeth Woodville, remained on good terms with Richard. Tey sees this as proof of Richard's innocence. (There are possible explanations for Elizabeth Woodville's behavior, including self-interest, her hope to marry her daughter to Richard, her trying to placate him while Henry made preparations for war - but if she put any of these considerations above the lives of her sons, that would make her an unspeakable monster of evil.)
There was no political advantage for Richard III in killing the young princes. He was legitimately made king. (Under English law there is no absolute undeniable heir to the throne, only an Heir Apparent. In fact, any male person born in England could be declared King by the Star Chamber.)
The Princes were more of a threat to Henry VII as the foundation of his claim to the crown was significantly more remote than theirs.
However, Tey does not address or obscures a number of points of evidence that support the theory that Richard murdered the Princes. For example, one character wonders why no one revolted against Richard if he was such a tyrant. Tey does not then mention that there was a revolt: the Duke of Buckingham specifically cited the Princes as a reason for his uprising against Richard. In addition, regardless of the legality of Richard's dubious claim to the throne after Edward V's proclamation as King, Richard knew the boys would be an obvious and dangerous focal point for any opposition to his reign. As a result, their elimination could serve to remove potential rivals.
A major question concerning the guilt or innocence of Richard is why did Richard himself not produce the princes alive, when rumours about their murder were running rampant through London. Tey's story acknowledges that there were rumours during Richard's lifetime and attributes them to the Croyland Chronicle and to the Lord Chancellor of France. But she claims they had little circulation, and all may have been originated by Tudor sympathiser John Morton. (Other commentators suggest that the Chancellor's source was Dominic Mancini). Tey contends that the princes remained alive throughout Richard's reign and were later killed by Henry.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Heralded as “a modern day Jane Austen” by USA Today, National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Allegra Goodman has compelled and delighted hundreds of thousands of readers. Now, in her most ambitious work yet, Goodman weaves together the worlds of Silicon Valley and rare book collecting in a delicious novel about appetite, temptation, and fulfillment.Emily and Jessamine Bach are opposites in every way: Twenty-eight-year-old Emily is the CEO of Veritech, twenty-three-year-old Jess is an environmental activist and graduate student in philosophy. Pragmatic Emily is making a fortune in Silicon Valley, romantic Jess works in an antiquarian bookstore. Emily is rational and driven, while Jess is dreamy and whimsical. Emily’s boyfriend, Jonathan, is fantastically successful. Jess’s boyfriends, not so much—as her employer George points out in what he hopes is a completely disinterested way.Bicoastal, surprising, rich in ideas and characters, The Cookbook Collector is a novel about getting and spending, and about the substitutions we make when we can’t find what we’re looking for: reading cookbooks instead of cooking, speculating instead of creating, collecting instead of living. But above all it is about holding on to what is real in a virtual world: love that stays.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Annie Cabbot wished she could go with them as she drove the last few miles to work that Monday morning. A few days on a game reserve would do her the world of good, photographing and sketching giraffes, zebras, leopards, lions and elephants. Then perhaps a tour of the Winelands, a taste of fine Cape Town cuisine and night life.
But it was not to be. She had exhausted her entire holiday allowance for the year, apart from a few days, which she planned to use to create occasional long weekends between now and Christmas. Besides, she couldn’t afford to go to South Africa; she would be hard pushed to pay for a mini-break in Blackpool. Lucky swallows.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Thornleigh Hall, seat of the Earl of Sussex, dominates its surroundings. Its heir is missing, and the once vigorous family is reduced to a cripple, his whore and his alcoholic second son, but its power endures. Impulsive Harriet Westerman has felt the Hall’s menace long before she happens upon a dead man bearing the Thornleigh arms. The grim discovery cries out for justice, and she persuades reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther to her cause, much against his better udgement; he knows a dark path lies before those who stray from society’s expectations. That same day, Alexander Adams is killed in a London music shop, leaving his young children orphaned. His death will lead back to Sussex, and an explosive secret that has already destroyed one family and threatens many others.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
DUNE by Frank Herbert
Oh how I love this book. I first read this in junior high ... I even remember finding it on the shelves in the library at Lewis and Clark Junior High. What an amazing world Herbert built and the philosophies and ethics to be found in a story of political power plays and religious manipulations all based around who controls the Spice. I knew little of how the world worked back then but it started to open my eyes. The cover here isn't the one from the first edition. This is the cover of the one I first read. Just seeing this cover gives me this internal thrill, a buzzing, of recognition that is difficult to describe.
It was published in 1965. It won the Hugo Award in 1966, and the inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. Dune is frequently cited as the world's best-selling science fiction novel.It is one thing to postulate the existence of intelligent life in another part of the universe, it is a much different (and more challenging) task to situate this alien culture in a rich world, fully equipped with distinctive flora, fauna, ecology, traditions, institutions, religious beliefs, ancestral conflicts, technologies, myths and other cultural details. The richness of this contextual framework is what typically sets the finer works of speculative fiction apart from the rest. Only a few authors have achieved this at a very high degree.
Here is the story:
Emperor Shaddam IV has come to fear House Atreides because of the growing popularity of Duke Leto Atreides and the fact that Leto's fighting force is beginning to rival the effectiveness of the Emperor's own dreaded Sardaukar, whose (perceived) invincibility helps guarantee the Emperor's power. Shaddam decides that House Atreides must be destroyed, but cannot risk an overt attack on a single House, as this would not be accepted by the Landsraad, the convocation of ruling Houses. The Emperor instead uses the centuries-old feud between House Atreides and House Harkonnen to disguise his assault, enlisting the brilliant and power-hungry Baron Vladimir Harkonnen in his plan to trap and eliminate the Atreides. Shaddam entices Leto to accept the lucrative fief of the desert planet Arrakis, previously controlled by the Harkonnens, and the only known source of the spice melange.
Complicating the political intrigue is the fact that the Duke's son Paul Atreides is an essential part of the Bene Gesserit's secret, centuries-old breeding program to create a superhuman called the Kwisatz Haderach. Leto's concubine, the Bene Gesserit Lady Jessica, had been ordered by the Sisterhood to bear him a daughter who would then be bred with the Harkonnen heir in a union that would likely produce the Kwisatz Haderach. Jessica had defied these orders and instead bore her lover the son he desired, and Jessica recognizes that Paul might actually be the Kwisatz Haderach, born one generation earlier than expected.
The Atreides expect plots and challenges to their rule over Arrakis, and are able to thwart initial Harkonnen traps and complications while simultaneously building trust with the local population of Fremen, humans who live in the deep desert, with whom they hope to ally. However, the Atreides are ultimately unable to withstand a devastating Harkonnen attack, supported by Imperial Sardaukar disguised as Harkonnen troops and aided by a traitor within House Atreides itself — the Suk doctor Wellington Yueh. House Atreides is scattered. Of its important retainers, the Mentat Thufir Hawat is taken by the Baron and eventually convinced to work for his captors; the troubador-soldier Gurney Halleck escapes with the aid of smugglers, whom he also joins; and Duncan Idaho is killed defending Paul and Jessica. Per his bargain, Yueh delivers a captive Leto to the Baron, but double-crosses Harkonnen by ensuring Paul and Jessica's escape. He also provides Leto with a fake tooth that is actually a poison-gas capsule, which he can bite down on, simultaneously committing suicide and assassinating the Baron Harkonnen. The Baron kills Yueh, and Leto dies in this failed attempt on the Baron's life, though the Baron's twisted Mentat Piter De Vries dies with him. Paul and Jessica, aided variously by Duncan, Yueh, and the Fremen leader Liet-Kynes, escape their captors and flee into the deep desert.
Jessica's Bene Gesserit abilities and Paul's developing skills help them join a band of Fremen. Paul and his mother quickly learn Fremen ways while teaching the Fremen the weirding way, a Bene Gesserit method of fighting. Jessica becomes a Reverend Mother, swallowing the poisonous Water of Life while pregnant with her second child; this unborn daughter Alia is subjected to the same ordeal, dangerously acquiring the full abilities of a Reverend Mother before even being born. Paul takes a Fremen lover, Chani, with whom he fathers a son. Years pass, and Paul increasingly recognizes the strength of the Fremen fighting force — during the joint Sardaukar/Harkonnen invasion, the Fremen had killed three Sardaukar for every man they lost — and their potential to overtake even the Sardaukar and win back Arrakis. Living on the spice diet of the Fremen, Paul's prescience increases dramatically, enabling him to foresee future events and gaining him a religious respect from the Fremen, who regard him as their prophesied messiah. As Paul grows in influence, he begins a jihad against Harkonnen rule of the planet under his new Fremen name, Muad'Dib. However, Paul becomes aware through his prescience that, if he is not careful, the Fremen will extend that jihad against all the known universe, which Paul describes as a humanity-spanning subconscious effort to avoid genetic stagnation.
Both the Emperor and the Baron Harkonnen show increasing concern at the fervor of religious fanaticism shown on Arrakis for this "Muad'Dib," not guessing that this leader is the presumed-dead Paul. Harkonnen plots to send his nephew and heir Feyd Rautha as a replacement for his more brutish nephew Glossu Rabban — who is currently in charge of the planet — with the hope of gaining the respect of the now-troublesome Fremen. Winning them over as a fighting force would give him enough power to overtake the Emperor himself. The Emperor, however, is highly suspicious of the Baron and sends spies to watch his movements. Hawat explains the Emperor's suspicions: the Sardaukar, nearly invincible in battle, are trained on the prison planet Salusa Secundus, whose inhospitable conditions allow only the best to survive. Arrakis serves as a similar crucible, and the Emperor fears that the Baron could recruit from it a fighting force to rival his Sardaukar, just as House Atreides had intended to do before their destruction. Paul is reunited with Gurney. Completely loyal to the Atreides, Gurney is convinced that Jessica is the traitor who caused the House's downfall, and nearly kills her before being stopped by Paul. Disturbed that his prescience had not predicted this possibility, Paul decides to take the Water of Life, an act which will either confirm his status as the Kwisatz Haderach or kill him. After three weeks in a near-death state, Paul emerges with his powers refined and focused; he is able to see past, present, and future at will. Looking into space, he sees that the Emperor and the Harkonnens have amassed a huge armada to invade the planet and regain control. Paul also realizes the way to control spice production on Arrakis: saturating spice fields with the water of life would cause a chain reaction that would destroy all spice on the planet.
In an Imperial attack on a Fremen settlement, Paul and Chani's son Leto is killed, and the four-year-old Alia is captured by Sardaukar and brought to the planet's capital Arrakeen, where the Baron Harkonnen is nervously attempting to thwart the Fremen jihad under the close watch of the Emperor. The Emperor is surprised at Alia's defiance of his power and her confidence in her brother, whom she reveals to be Paul Atreides. At that moment, under cover of a gigantic sandstorm, Paul and his army of Fremen attack the city; Alia kills the Baron during the confusion. Paul quickly overtakes the city's defenses and confronts the Emperor, threatening to destroy the spice, thereby ending space travel and crippling both Imperial power and the Bene Gesserit in one blow. Feyd-Rautha challenges Paul to a knife-duel in a final attempt to stop his overthrow, but is defeated despite an attempt at treachery. Realizing that Paul is capable of doing all he has threatened, the Emperor is forced to abdicate and to promise his daughter Princess Irulan in marriage to Paul. Paul ascends the throne, his control of Arrakis and the spice establishing a new kind of power over the Empire that will change the face of the known universe. However, despite being Emperor of the Known Universe, Paul realizes that he will not be able to stop the jihad he has seen in his visions, his legendary status among the Fremen having grown past the point where he can control it.
There are many editions, the book is approximately 600 pages. Do not watch the movie made in the 1980s. Bad. The miniseries made in about 2000 is better. There are many sequels, the best are the ones written by Frank Herbert himself; his son Brian and author Kevin Anderson have taken over the franchise and written in the back story supposedly based on Frank's notes.
PK the Bookeemonster
Saturday, August 7, 2010
This is the UK cover I believe. The US one isn't as striking. The colors of antique gold and the border are very good. The pop of color the girl's dress is just right. The landscape is pretty and the font of the title just works all together. I've not read the book.
Just damn pretty. Some of the author's other books have similar covers. I think the outside border makes it happen. This is a forthcoming book.
I like the framing on the right and the tint of either evening or early morning overall. It's a window into a mysterious and beautiful place. This book will be released in September.
Phew, this took longer that I had anticipated. I've had fun looking but I've got to get to work on the newsletter. Off you go ...
PK the Bookemonster