Saturday, July 16, 2016

5 fantasy novels to read while you wait for next Game of Thrones book

5 fantasy novels to read while you wait for next Game of Thrones book | books$ht-picks | Hindustan Times
With George RR Martin’s The Winds of Winter experiencing further delays, what other great new fantasy books can we sink our teeth into?
The Winds of Winter may have originally been scheduled for publication before the sixth season of Game of Thrones aired, but fans of the fantasy series are still waiting for author George RR Martin to put his pen down, despite the TV season having already finished. Some have even speculated that the book will not be released until early 2017.
All that book readers have to go on for the moment are the potential spoilers given away by the TV show, although the two do not share all the same plot lines, and an excerpt of a chapter entitled Ariane published by the author on his website.
To keep our fantastic imaginations whirring, there are thankfully several new fantasy novels that have just been, or are about to be, released: Behind the Throne by KB Wagers, The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin, Age of Myth by Michael J Sullivan, The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence and Summerlong by Peter S Beagle.
See these books here at Hindustan Times

How Amazon influences what we read

How Amazon influences what we read |
Within the highly automated folds of Amazon's online bookstore, there's a small team of literary types whose main job is rather old school. They read books, write about them and rank the works according to their qualities, helping readers sift through thousands of offerings while also planting the tech juggernaut's flag in the world of literary culture.

The editors produce Amazon Book Review, an online offering similar to literary supplements newspapers have been putting out for more than a century. They also put together frequent lists of recommendations prominently displayed on Amazon's bookstore.

Unlike most literary reviews, which rely on freelancers, Amazon Book Review depends on content mostly churned out by the Amazon bookworms at the tune of a couple of posts a day. That includes about 10 book reviews per month.

Perhaps where the editors have had their biggest impact is in their recommendations of what they consider the best reads.

Continue reading here: Stuff - Technology 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Royal Album

Picked up this little gem from local secondhand shop - it's entitled "The Royal Album - A Symposium on their Majesties King George The Sixth & Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Possessions".  The book (hardback) was first printed in 1951 and is basically a look at the royal family, their residences, their lineage, the art collections, and lastly a family photo album.  This book is chock full of photos and images that I don't think are out there in the public realm.  

A bargain at $3.00 (Australian).

Monday, July 11, 2016

Valley Of The Dolls Relevant Now?

Valley Of The Dolls Relevant Now Women Beauty Standard

There is a long list of narrative constructs from Jacqueline Susann's 1966 novel, Valley of the Dolls, that have aged badly. Among them: abject sexism, including outlandish assumptions about the female brain and body; and the idea that a 30-year-old woman — hell, a 25-year-old woman — is pretty much past her prime. Also, the concept of a "prime." Seriously. What the fuck?

So if you have not yet read the novel, which turns 50 this month (positively ancient by its own standards) here is a thought: Maybe don't.

In a nutshell, Valley of the Dolls is a story about three young women who come to New York City seeking fame, validation, and love — in varying orders of importance. Over the course of nearly 500 pages, they rise through the ranks of the Hollywood's Golden Age, achieving success and acclaim through a cocktail of beauty, talent, scheming, and being in the right place at the right time. 

Continue reading article by Elizabeth Kiefer at Refinery29

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

May & June Additions To The Library

I have been a little lax in updating the new additions to my Library, so here are the additions for May & June 2016 - quite an eclectic collection.

(1) The Accursed Kings series by Maurice Duron.     

This French series is set in the reign of Philip IV 'the Fair" of France and his counterpart, Edward II of England.  It begins with a curse, and is followed closely by political intrigue, murder, and adultery.  I have this series on DVD and have wanted to own the books for some time.

(2) Eclectic Europe: A rather wide-ranging subject matter from Scotland & Wales, to the Normans & Norsemen, and back to the Renaissance Italy with Sam Black's "The Ground is Burning".

(3) Secondhand Gold: A few favourites discovered at the local secondhand shop - Breaker Morant is an Aussie legend, so a must have for this Aussie girl. Eoin Colfer's "Artemis Fowl" series has a place alongside "Harry Potter". And who doesn't love a good medieval murder mystery?

(4) The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski (The Last Wish, Blood of Elves, Time of Contempt, Baptism of Fire, Tower of Swallows, Sword of Destiny) - all wrapped up for a forthcoming birthday present - though the seventh book is on pre-order.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Fez's Al Qarawiyyin University and Library

Fez's Al Qarawiyyin University and library, founded and restored by women — Quartz
Founded by a Muslim woman, the University of Al Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morroco, opened its doors in 859. Its library has been restored during the last three years by another woman, Canadian-Moroccan architect Aziza Chaouni. A wing will be open to the general public later this year.
The library houses a collection of 4,000 rare books and ancient arabic manuscripts written by renowned scholars of the region. According to the AP, the manuscripts include a 9th century version of the Quran and a manuscript on Islamic jurisprudence written by philosopher Averroes.

Read More here at QUARTZ

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Shakespeare’s Bold Social Climbing

Found: Evidence of Shakespeare’s Bold Social Climbing | Atlas Obscura
William Shakespeare might have been an extraordinary writer, but he came from a fairly ordinary family. His father was a glover; his mother’s family owned land. They were doing well enough that in 1575, John, Shakespeare’s father starting working towards obtaining a coat of arms for the family—a unique symbol of social status recognizing his line as a worthy one.

Although the coat of arms was eventually granted to the Shakespeares, in 1596, the earliest well-known illustration of it was dated to around 1700, well after Shakespeare’s death in 1616. But recently, the New York Times reports, Heather Wolfe, a Shakespeare scholar at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., found “a dozen unknown or forgotten depictions of the arms,” some dating back to around 1600.

These records solidify the association between William Shakespeare and the coat of arms and indicate how important it was to him that his family obtain this signifier of status. Even though the arms were technically for Shakespeares' father, still, they're often noted as arms for "Shakespeare the player." The documents also clearly link William Shakespeare the theater person to William Shakespeare who lived in Stratford-on-Avon, a connection that a handful of skeptics still doubted.

To find these records of the arms, Wolfe had to painstakingly look through records kept by the College of Arms, a British institution that traces its history back to the work of medieval heralds. She first started the hunt after seeing an image of the circa 1600 example in a book. Once she was looking for examples of the symbol, she says, “I just started finding them everywhere.”
Post by Sarah Laskow at Atlas Obscura

A mysterious medieval text decrypted

A mysterious medieval text, decrypted - The Boston Globe
AROUND THE YEAR 1290, a set of mysterious writings began to circulate in the Jewish community of Castile, an area in what is now modern-day Spain. Written in a lyrical, abstruse Aramaic, they were disseminated by a man named Moses ben Shem-Tov de León, a member of the region’s circle of Jewish mystics. De León claimed that the work was not his own — that he had copied an ancient manuscript in his possession, which had been composed in Palestine in the second century by the legendary sage Rabbi Shim’on bar Yohai. These writings had remained secret for centuries, de León claimed, and were only now being revealed to the world at large.

After decades of work, Matt has left a permanent mark on the world library of mystical literature, and the Zohar has left a permanent mark on him. “The Zohar forces you to look into yourself,” he told me, describing the effect of translating day in and day out, for years on end. “In trying to decipher what the text means, you’re actually engaged in an inner spiritual search.” Through that search, the “new-ancient” teachings of the Zohar have been renewed yet again.
Continue reading HERE