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.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

11 Non-Fiction Books About Famous Women to Add to Your Reading List

From Culturess:
Hedy Lamarr
Sometimes, the truth really can be stranger than fiction, especially when it comes to famous women around the world. Besides, a good non-fiction book not only teaches you about its subject, it makes you want to read more of the book and hopefully more about that person!
That’s why we’ve put together this starting list. Books featured here cover history stretching all the way back to ancient Egypt and coming all the way here to today with a Nobel Prize winner and a rather notorious judge. Each book features one — or more — real women.
Some books are autobiographies. Others instead put together several shorter entries about plenty of different women, gathered around a theme. Many of these entries have plenty of pages to consume, but some shrink it down to about the length of a normal novel.
We’ll also include more books about famous women as additional recommended reading on each slide.
Together, they represent a very short introduction to women in history around the world, and how to find them in the world of non-fiction, all presented in no particular order. All that said, let’s get started.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Thomas Cromwell - A Life In Print

Aside from the famous six wives, Henry VIII's "faithful servant" Thomas Cromwell has recently come to the fore with both the reading and viewing public alike. There are now more "modern" accounts (both factual and fictional) of the life of this dogged Tudor statesman than you can poke a stick at - and I will share a few with you.

The most current rendition of the life of Thomas Cromwell is Tracey Borman's "Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant" (a copy which sits on my own library shelves). A review by The Independent says: " ...  Tracy Borman shows in this excellent, scrupulous biography, Anne’s shockingly fast fall from grace was largely engineered by Thomas Cromwell, a rather plain and overweight Putney-born man in his fifties whose intelligence and daring had made him the king’s closest advisor." The articles goes on further to say that "Borman has scoured the sources to explore the life and personality of the man who in effect created the break from the Church of Rome and her book is an impressive investigation into one of our most elusive characters in history."

This was in comparison to Hilary Mantle's "Wolf Hall" (2009) and "Bring Up The Bodies" (2012) (and the third, soon to be released book in the trilogy - "The Mirror & The Light") whom the same article says "Hilary Mantel’s crafting of Cromwell in her bestselling novels has been a triumph: sensitive, intellectual, brutal, strong. "

For many, however, Thomas Cromwell was not particularly well-known until Hilary Mantel’s best-selling novels (and the series based upon them) brought this protagonist to wider public attention. The Independent article goes further to say: "But the publishers have given Tracy Borman’s biography of Thomas Cromwell an unfortunate subtitle: “The untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant.” It is no such thing. Besides Ms. Mantel’s fictional versions, Ms. Borman lists 10 previous lives of Cromwell in her bibliography."

And well she may - and here are a few worthy tomes to consider:
  • "Thomas Cromwell: Servant to Henry VIII (2013) by David Loades
  • "Thomas Cromwell: The Rise And Fall Of Henry VIII's Most Notorious Minister" (2012) by Robert Hutchinson
  • "The Rise and Fall of Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant" (2011) by John Schofield
  • "Thomas Cromwell" (2013) by J Patrick Coby
  • "The Rise of Thomas Cromwell: Power and Politics in the Reign of Henry VIII, 1485-1534" (2015) by Michael Everette
  • "Life and Letters of Thomas Cromwell" - 6vols (2000) by Roger Bigelow Merriman
  • "The Crown and the Cross: A Biography of Thomas Cromwell" (1950) by Theodore Maynard
  • "Thomas Cromwell: Tudor Minister" by B. W. Beckingsale (1978)
  • "The Character and Times of Thomas Cromwell: A Sixteenth Century Criticism" (1887) by Arthur Howard Galton
  • "Thomas Cromwell" (1991) by Geoffrey Rudolph Elton
  • "Policy and Police: The Enforcement of the Reformation in the Age of Thomas Cromwell" (1985) by G. R. Elton 

There are indeed numerous books on the English Reformation, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and the Reign of Henry VIII in which Thomas Cromwell plays a role not consigned to the shadows.

Further readings & reviews:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

10 Worldwide Rad Women Writers You Should Know

10 Worldwide Rad Women Writers You Should Know

The first known author was an ancient Sumerian priestess named Enheduanna. The first novel was written by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady-in-waiting at the Imperial Court in Japan. Women wrote plays in ancient Greece, poems in ancient Persia. Fast forward some centuries, and five of the world’s top ten bestselling authors are women. Women from all over the world have been creating, influencing, and contributing to literature since its inception. 
Kate Schatz puts forth her list of writers from this last century that we should all read.

1066 and all that: a Hong Kong novelist’s alternative history

Author Justin Hill recounts his quest to reimagine the events of 1066 and retrace the life of a legendary warrior who could have become England’s king instead of William the Conqueror.
Harald Hardrada was one of the most fabulous adventurers of medieval times. His career has served as a template for fantasy char­acters such as Conan the Barbarian and even for the tumultuous turns of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. Harald was a child exile, like Arya Stark; as clever as Tyrion Lannister; as accomplished a warrior as Jaime Lannister; and travelled into the exotic east, like Daenerys Targaryen. His story is the archetype of the barbarian who rose to the heights of power and made himself king.
Shieldwall (2011), the first of a series of books examining the narratives and context of the 1066 Battle of Hastings, was a Sunday Times book of the year. Viking Fire is the second in this series and follows the adventures of Norwegian king Harald Hardrada.
Continue reading article here at Post Magazine

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Shirley Jackson: the US Queen of Gothic Horror

Shirley Jackson: the US queen of gothic horror claims her literary crown | Books | The Guardian
She has been cited as an inspiration by Stephen King, Donna Tartt, Neil Gaiman and Joanne Harris. Now the American author Shirley Jackson, once memorably described as writing “not with a pen but a broomstick”, is set for a long overdue reappraisal on this side of the Atlantic.
This week sees the release of a new biography, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, swiftly followed by a graphic novel version of her most famous short story, The Lottery, illustrated by her grandson, Miles Hyman, and the publication of Dark Tales, a collection of her most chilling short stories. And the revival does not stop there: next year will see a film of her book We Have Always Lived In The Castle, with rising stars Taissa Farmiga and Alexandra Daddario, alongside Sebastian Stan and Crispin Glover.
In an era when domestic noir reigns at the publishing houses and our thirst for dark tales of women under threat rages unabated, Jackson’s ability to unnerve strikes a chord. “There’s a whole new appreciation today of what it means to be a mother and a writer and how to reconcile those two things,” says Franklin. “We’re also more interested in the lives of women and that in turn has led to a revival of interest in Jackson’s work. I honestly feel as though she’s one of those authors who’s been in the background for a long time, yet has a huge influence on American fiction, and it’s only now that we’re beginning to see how important she is.” 

Read More Here >>>>> Guardian Fiction

Bernicia Chronicles: The Northern Queen

This month in the "What I Learnt..." series, Matthew Harffy talks to author Kelly Evans about her new novel "The Northern Queen" and researching for her novels.

Born in Canada of Scottish extraction, Kelly graduated in History and English from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. After graduating Kelly moved to the UK where she continued her studies in history, focusing on Medieval England and the Icelandic Sagas (with a smattering of Old Norse and Old English). Her first novel, The Northern Queen, was released in 2015 and she is currently working on the second book in her Anglo-Saxon series, set in the years prior to the Norman invasion.

Read rest of the blog article here at Matthew Harffy's Bernicia Chronicles

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

June & October 2016 Additions to the Library

I have been doing a bit of a stock-take in the Library and have discovered that quite a few books have not made it on the stock list. So, after spending an afternoon (or two) reviewing what I have on the shelves, I have discovered I have, on occasion, six occasions to be exact, have duplicated books. Okay, a couple of times it has mean both a hardback and paperback copy of the same book; however, in the other instances it has mean that, because of my own poor record-keeping, I have made multiple purchases. Never mind, one can never have too many books.

So, here are the latest additions:

  • Foxe's Book of Martyrs - John Foxe
  • Hawkwood - Jack Ludlow
  • The Nevills of Middleham - K. L. Clark
  • King Rufus - Emma Mason
  • Richard, Duke of York - Matthew Lewis
  • Joan of Kent - Penny Lawne
  • The Mythology of Richard III - John Ashdown-Hill
  • The Demon's Brood - Desmond Seward
  • God's Wolf - Jeffrey Lee
  • The War on Heresy - R. I. Moore
  • The French in the Kingdom of Sicily, 1266-1305 - Jean Dunbabin
  • John of Brienne - Guy Perry
  • The Bigod Earls of Norfolk in the Thirteenth Century - Marc Morris
  • The Norman Campaigns in the Balkans, 1081-1108 - Georgios Theotokis
  • Lady Macbeth - Susan Fraser King
  • The Borders - Alistair Moffat
In addition, I have also added: these ones in "The Witcher" series by Andrzej Sapkowski:
  • The Last Wish
  • Blood of Elves
  • The Time of Contempt
  • Baptism of Fire
  • The Tower of Swallows
  • Sword of Destiny

Jezebel: Princess of Sidon, Queen of Israel

Article by Joshua J. Mark published on 18 January 2012
Jezebel was the Phoenician Princess of Sidon (9th century BCE) whose story is told in the Hebrew Tanakh (the Christian Old Testament) in I and II Kings where she is portrayed unfavorably as a conniving harlot who corrupts Israel and flaunts the commandments of God. Recent scholarship, which has led to a better understanding of the civilization of Phoenicia, the role of women, and the struggle of the adherents of the Hebrew god Yahweh for dominance over the worship of the Canaanite deities Astarte and Baal, suggest a different, and more favorable, picture of Jezebel as a woman ahead of her time married into a culture whose religious class saw her as a formidable threat (phoenicia.org). The historian and biblical scholar Janet Howe Gaines notes this new interpretation in scholarship, writing: 
For more than two thousand years, Jezebel has been saddled with a reputation as the bad girl of the Bible, the wickedest of women. This ancient queen has been denounced as a murderer, prostitute and enemy of God, and her name has been adopted for lingerie lines and World War II missiles alike. But just how depraved was Jezebel? In recent years, scholars have tried to reclaim the shadowy female figures whose tales are often only partially told in the Bible. 
Read rest of article at Ancient History Encyclopedia