Friday, December 30, 2016

30 Medieval Texts Translated in 2016

From Medievalists.net comes a list of 30 medieval texts translated in 2016. 

From biographies of the leading warriors to the grumbling of a government official, here are thirty medieval texts that have been translated in 2016. Chronicles, law books, letter collections, religious and literary works were among those edited and translated this year, many for the first time. 

I have already added about four of these to my wish list - how many have you added to yours??

Modern Fight Over Ancient Library

It was filthy, cramped and in major disarray, but when art historian Eva Lindqvist Sandgren entered the library in Altomuenster Abbey, off-limits to all but the German monastery’s nuns for more than five centuries, she immediately knew she was looking at a major treasure. 

The dusty shelves held at least 500 books, by her estimate, including precious illuminated manuscripts from the 16th century, chants used by the uniquely women-led Bridgettine Order and processionals bursting with colorful religious and ornamental decoration in their margins. 

Unlike most Bridgettine libraries, the tomes had survived the Protestant Reformation, the 30 Years War and Germany’s “secularization,” when the state took most church property. It represents the most complete collection of the order known today.

“I had entered a time capsule,” said Lindqvist Sandgren, a senior lecturer at Sweden’s Uppsala University. 

Surprised by the spontaneous decision by Altomuenster’s last remaining nun, Sister Apollonia Buchinger, to open the library, 20 scholars including Sandgren made plans to return and meticulously catalog the remarkable collection. 

But before they could, the Vatican ordered the abbey in the Bavarian town of 7,500 closed and locked up the library, which also contains some 2,300 statues, paintings and other works of art.

If plans go ahead to close it down, all of the abbey’s property – the books, the artworks, the city-block-sized abbey, and the acres of forests and fields that make up the monastery grounds – would be turned over to the dioceses of Munich and Freising. 

Read More Here @ The Journal Gazette

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Review: The Book

Whilst listing his top history books for 2016, Stephen Carter of Bloomberg View posits this review:
Keith Houston, “The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time”“Find the biggest, grandest hardback you can,” advises the author in the introduction. “Hold it in your hands. Open it and hear the rustle of paper and the crackle of glue.” Exactly. Exactly. If you love books you will love this book, and not only because it is beautifully and almost reverentially put together, standing physically for the argument it makes. Books are not like anything else in human history. They have filled houses of worship and toppled empires. But we rarely pause to think about where they came from.
There are other fine volumes in recent years about the history of the book, including outstanding contributions by veteran bibliophiles Robert Darnton and Nicholas Basbanes. But Houston’s wonderful history of the science of the book is irresistible. We all know that Gutenberg and his contemporaries printed with movable type, but how did they make the molds for the letters? Houston investigates. I particularly loved the bit about the debate -- yes, the debate -- about how papyrus books were made and why they survived the ages. He is also fascinating in tracking the mystery behind the St Cuthbert’s Bible, the oldest surviving bound book.

Reading Is Not Dead

Reading, contrary to previous reports, is not dead. In fact, it's very far from it. 

How do you get to be a blockbuster author? Typing is not enough, though some of these novels certainly read that way. The writing quality and storytelling vary tremendously, but there are some similarities among hit writers.

The big writers rarely take their popularity for granted. They go where the readers are and continue to make appearances long after they've become established - and wildly wealthy - superstars. 

Most of all, though, the top sellers deliver a terrific story. In their novels, especially thrillers and science fiction, plot is paramount. The heroes tend to be relatable - shy, clumsy, anxious, myopic, in recovery, short-tempered, middle-class, broke - but their stories are fantastic, over-the-top, a wild ride and a welcome escape from a reader's quotidian life. In romance, the love is for the ages, destined, the opposite of casual. The story does not bog down with the challenge of dirty dishes or tax audits.

Read the full article by Karen Heller here @ The Independent




Ellin Carsta - The Draper's Daughter


For me, the tale started slowly, and at one stage I did consider leaving it there as there was no immediate connection with the subject and subject matter - but I persevered. 

The story, set in Cologne 1351, is of a remarkable young woman, who defies the conventions of the times by wanting to continue in her father's cloth trade. Family set backs, and a truly odious brother, ensure that the reader is constantly on the side of the underdog - in this case, our heroine Elizabeth.

What is remarkable was the depiction of Elizabeth's determination to overcome convention and stride out on her own - and author Ellin Carsta conveys this struggle well. However, being not over familiar with 14th Century Germany, and especially the pogroms against the Jews, a little (not a lot) more background would have assisted since this period is referenced.

The language is simple and not overly complex, and the author makes no attempt write in any Germanic dialect or accent, or use words a reader may not fully grasp (as other writers do and which nearly always comes off sounding phoney and contrived) - so the narrative flowed smoothly.

Overall, despite a slow start and thoughts to the contrary, I could not set the book aside until I reached its climatic conclusion.


Review @ Goodreads

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Mark Toscano - Accused

This review appears on Goodreads.


The 4-star rating is a clue that I loved this book. I have been getting into crime noir (with a touch of humour) with the likes of Maria Angelica Bosco, Frederic Dard, Augustus de Angelus and even Caimh McDonnell - and to this group I would add Mark Toscano.

"Accused" is flavoured with local references and language, is both hard-hitting and at times, slightly humourous; is addictive and highly readable. Told in the first person (alternating) narrative by two brothers, we are taken on a roller-coaster ride where a seemingly innocuous act sends one of the brothers headlong down the path of no return, leaving the other to solve the puzzle before them.

"Accused" is a tome I would gladly welcome to my crime shelf in my own personal library.

In summing up, author Mark Toscano lets slip that this may not be the first outing of the Corsaro brothers ....... I look forward to tracking down their earlier exploits.


Mark Toscano on Facebook
Mark Toscano on Aria Fiction
Mark Toscano - Amazon

Sunday, December 18, 2016

14 Historical Fiction Books About Anne Boleyn

14 Historical Fiction Books About Anne Boleyn 
Anne Boleyn by trickd
Anne Boleyn’s tragic death and dramatic life — including her marriages, sibling relationships, alleged crimes, and subsequent martyrdom — have cemented her place as a notorious historical figure. From biographies to movie adaptations, Boleyn’s life still fascinates us to this day. If you’re someone who loves to read about this controversial queen, check out the novels HERE, complete with publishers’ descriptions.
To which I will add these older editions:
  •  The Lady In The Tower - Jean Plaidy
  • Anne of a Thousand Days - Edward Fenton
  • The Tudors: King takes Queen - Michael Hirst & Elizabeth Massie
  • Anne Boleyn: A Tragedy - George Henry Boker
  • The Star of the Court - S. Bunbury
  • Anne Boleyn: A Dramatic Poem - Rev. H.H. Milman
  • Anne Boleyn: A Tragedy - Francis A.H. Terrell
  • A lady Raised High: A Novel of Anne Boleyn - Laurien Gardner
  • Anne Boleyn: A Tragedy In Six Acts - M.L. Tyler
  • Had The Queen Lived: An Alternate History of Anne Boleyn - Raven A. Nuckols
  • Anne Boleyn's Ghost - Liam Archer
  • In Bed With Anne Boleyn: A Novel - Lacey Baldwin Smith
  • My Story -Anne Boleyn & Me: A Tudor Girl's Diary 1525 - 1536 - Alison Prince
  • The Curse of Anne Boleyn: A Novel - C.C. Humphreys
  • The Boleyn Inheritance - Alison Weir
  • To Die For: A Novel of Anney Boleyn - Sandra Byrd
  • In the Shadows of Lions: A Novel of Anne Boleyn - Ginger Garrett
  • The Boleyn Wife - Brandy Purdy
  • I Diced With God - The Life of Henry VIII as seen by His Majesty - Dorthy Davies
  • The French Executioner - The Story of Jean Rombaud & Anne Boleyn - C.C. Humphreys



Saturday, December 17, 2016

Bibliomania, the Dark Desire For Books

Bibliomania, the Dark Desire For Books That Infected Europe in the 1800s | Atlas Obscura 
Dr. Alois Pichler was almost always surrounded by books. In 1869, Pichler, originally from Bavaria, became the so-called “extraordinary librarian” of the Imperial Public Library in St. Petersburg, Russia, a prestigious position that gave him a salary three times higher than the average librarian: 3,000 rubles. 
While many librarians have a deep appreciation for books, Pichler was afflicted with a specific irrepressible illness. A few months after Pichler took his position at the library, the staff discovered that an alarming number of books were disappearing from the collection. They suspected theft. Guards noticed that Pichler had been acting strangely—dropping books by the exit and hurriedly returning them to the shelves, refusing to remove his large overcoat, leaving the library several times within a day—and started paying close attention to him. 
On March, 1871, over 4,500 stolen library books on everything from perfume making to theology were found in his possession, Pichler committing the largest known library theft on record.

Pichler, who was found guilty and exiled to Siberia, was a victim of “bibliomania,” a dark pseudo-psychological illness that swept through the upper classes in Europe and England during the 1800s. Symptoms included a frenzy for culling and hunting down first editions, rare copies, books of certain sizes or printed on specific paper.
Read more here --->> Atlas Obscura

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Canberra writer LJM Owen devises intermillennial forensic crime series

Canberra writer LJM Owen devises intermillennial forensic crime series 
Canberra replaces Somerset. There are complicated family feuds, long-buried secrets, fireside chats, purring cats and comfort food. The cases are cold – really cold – cases connected to archaeological finds from the sites of the world's greatest ancient civilisations and Owen's young sleuth, Dr Elizabeth Pimms, must use her skills as an archaeologist and working librarian to find answers. 
The first in the series, Olmec Obituary, features the discovery of a royal Olmec cemetery deep in the Mexican jungle and a 3000-year-old sculpture of a female ball player. 
The second, Mayan Mendacity, introduces readers to the court of Lady Six Sky, a long-forgotten leader of the Mayan Empire. 
Warned by friends of the long odds of finding a publisher in the sub-genre of cosy crime, she self-published, raising $10,000 by crowdfunding. Five days into last year's Kickstarter campaign she was contacted by Angela Meyer of Echo Publishing, which has now published both books back-to-back.


Read more here @ the Sydney Morning Herald.


I am currently reading the Olmec Obituary and will follow it with the Mayan Mendacity.