hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 152-161


152-156. Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth, Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse, and Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian.

I confess, I'm actually deeply impressed with these books. Riordan takes Greek myth and transposes it to the modern day, remaining aware not only of its contradictions and its inherent, amoral brutality, but also of its humour and, well, glory. The Percy Jackson books are tightly-written and highly entertaining, with compelling characters and a distinctive voice. There is much to love here.

They're YA, in case the titles weren't a clue, and the book Lightning Thief? Much smarter and more entertaining than the film of the same name.

Humorous highlights include an Apollo with appalling haiku, a Demeter who is obsessed with cereal, and an evil-school-teacher-esque Sphinx with an automated marking machine.

Dramatic highlights - but that would be spoiler territory. Well worth reading.


157. Celine Kiernan, The Rebel Prince.

The concluding volume in the Moorehawke trilogy, seen through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Iseult "Wynter" Moorehawke. YA set in a kingdom in the south of a medieval Europe-analogue. The tone is fairly but not unremittingly grim, as befits a story set around the possibility of a civil war between the king and his only legitimate son, and both character and story remain compelling to the last.


158. Daniel Fox, Hidden Cities. ARC.

To be spoken of in another venue closer to its release date. One word: ἀρετή.


nonfiction


159. Ovid, Metamorphoses. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1986. Translated by A.D. Melville.


Ovid's famous treatment of Greek and Roman myths about human and animal transformation is startlingly entertaining. Melville's translation is in blank verse, and is both readable and accessible.

I enjoyed reading this far, far more than I expected to. It's good.


160. Aristophanes, Lysistrata and Other Plays. Penguin Classics, London, 1973. Translated by Alan H. Sommerstein.

Being a translation of "Archarnians," "Clouds," and "Lysistrata." Which are all bloody hilarious.


161. Amanda Vickery, Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2009.

This is a brilliant and very readable book about what was a "home" in Georgian England. Men, women, bachelors, spinsters, lodgers and householders, gendered space and how people lived: lucid and fascinating and concerning the gentry, comprehensive.

It fails to assess the really poor, but it is already a large book.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 152-161


152-156. Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, Percy Jackson and the Battle of the Labyrinth, Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse, and Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian.

I confess, I'm actually deeply impressed with these books. Riordan takes Greek myth and transposes it to the modern day, remaining aware not only of its contradictions and its inherent, amoral brutality, but also of its humour and, well, glory. The Percy Jackson books are tightly-written and highly entertaining, with compelling characters and a distinctive voice. There is much to love here.

They're YA, in case the titles weren't a clue, and the book Lightning Thief? Much smarter and more entertaining than the film of the same name.

Humorous highlights include an Apollo with appalling haiku, a Demeter who is obsessed with cereal, and an evil-school-teacher-esque Sphinx with an automated marking machine.

Dramatic highlights - but that would be spoiler territory. Well worth reading.


157. Celine Kiernan, The Rebel Prince.

The concluding volume in the Moorehawke trilogy, seen through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Iseult "Wynter" Moorehawke. YA set in a kingdom in the south of a medieval Europe-analogue. The tone is fairly but not unremittingly grim, as befits a story set around the possibility of a civil war between the king and his only legitimate son, and both character and story remain compelling to the last.


158. Daniel Fox, Hidden Cities. ARC.

To be spoken of in another venue closer to its release date. One word: ἀρετή.


nonfiction


159. Ovid, Metamorphoses. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1986. Translated by A.D. Melville.


Ovid's famous treatment of Greek and Roman myths about human and animal transformation is startlingly entertaining. Melville's translation is in blank verse, and is both readable and accessible.

I enjoyed reading this far, far more than I expected to. It's good.


160. Aristophanes, Lysistrata and Other Plays. Penguin Classics, London, 1973. Translated by Alan H. Sommerstein.

Being a translation of "Archarnians," "Clouds," and "Lysistrata." Which are all bloody hilarious.


161. Amanda Vickery, Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2009.

This is a brilliant and very readable book about what was a "home" in Georgian England. Men, women, bachelors, spinsters, lodgers and householders, gendered space and how people lived: lucid and fascinating and concerning the gentry, comprehensive.

It fails to assess the really poor, but it is already a large book.

hawkwing_lb: (sunset dreamed)
Books 2010: 151


151. Apollodorus, The Library of Greek Mythology. OUP, Oxford, 1997. Translated by Robin Hard.

This is essentially a cheat-sheet to Greek mythology. A short précis of the genealogies of the gods and heroes, and their deeds down to the Trojan War. It's short, entertaining, and full of everything you never knew about the deeds of Hellenic yore.

I enjoyed it, which made it much less of a research slog.

hawkwing_lb: (sunset dreamed)
Books 2010: 151


151. Apollodorus, The Library of Greek Mythology. OUP, Oxford, 1997. Translated by Robin Hard.

This is essentially a cheat-sheet to Greek mythology. A short précis of the genealogies of the gods and heroes, and their deeds down to the Trojan War. It's short, entertaining, and full of everything you never knew about the deeds of Hellenic yore.

I enjoyed it, which made it much less of a research slog.

hawkwing_lb: (helen mirren tempest)
Books 2010: 147-150


147. Laura Bickle, Sparks.

Second book starring Anya Kalinczyk, medium and arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department. Neat little mystery, with some untidy asides and personal complications. I enjoyed it a lot.


148. Patricia Briggs, Wolfsbane.

Enjoyable modest fantasy with a faked murder, some intrigue, and unquiet ghosts. Also a mercenary and her wolf.


nonfiction


149. James McMurdo, McMurdo's Account of Sind. Oxford In Asia Historical Reprints, Oxford Unversity Press, Oxford, 2007. With an introduction by Sarah Ansari.

A very, very short historical and geographical account of the area along the Indus river then known as Sindh or Sind, by a little-known British officer in the 1830s. For a small piece of historical context, it's interesting, and in a way, somewhat horrifying.

But then. British imperialism. So judgemental.


150. Shaun Tougher, Julian the Apostate. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2007.

A short but comprehensive overview of the life of the fourth-century emperor Julian, who attempted with limited success (which may be due as much to the brevity of his reign as anything else) to disentangle the Christian churches from the apparatus of Roman governance. A Hellenophile, a lover of philosophy, and a convinced pagan, his death during a campaign against the Persians remains one of the more interesting "what would have happened if he'd survived?" questions of late Antiquity.

This book's value is greatly enhanced by the fact that its second half comprises a large selection of contemporary or near-contemporary (well, within a couple of centuries at the outside, in the case f the historian Zosimus) writings by and about Julian.

I recommend it.





Today's morning temperatures were -5 degrees Celsius when I went to catch the train at ten to nine. Having thawed up to maybe plus one, tonight we are back at zero, with fluffy, powdery snow six centimeters deep. Or maybe deeper, where it hasn't been disturbed. I cannot recall walking through powdery snow ever before. Nor a sight like this morning's hoarfrost, which turned to dust at a touch: dry, so cold and dry, and riming the branches like weird white glass.

I don't think I was alive the last time we had weather like this.

hawkwing_lb: (helen mirren tempest)
Books 2010: 147-150


147. Laura Bickle, Sparks.

Second book starring Anya Kalinczyk, medium and arson investigator with the Detroit Fire Department. Neat little mystery, with some untidy asides and personal complications. I enjoyed it a lot.


148. Patricia Briggs, Wolfsbane.

Enjoyable modest fantasy with a faked murder, some intrigue, and unquiet ghosts. Also a mercenary and her wolf.


nonfiction


149. James McMurdo, McMurdo's Account of Sind. Oxford In Asia Historical Reprints, Oxford Unversity Press, Oxford, 2007. With an introduction by Sarah Ansari.

A very, very short historical and geographical account of the area along the Indus river then known as Sindh or Sind, by a little-known British officer in the 1830s. For a small piece of historical context, it's interesting, and in a way, somewhat horrifying.

But then. British imperialism. So judgemental.


150. Shaun Tougher, Julian the Apostate. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2007.

A short but comprehensive overview of the life of the fourth-century emperor Julian, who attempted with limited success (which may be due as much to the brevity of his reign as anything else) to disentangle the Christian churches from the apparatus of Roman governance. A Hellenophile, a lover of philosophy, and a convinced pagan, his death during a campaign against the Persians remains one of the more interesting "what would have happened if he'd survived?" questions of late Antiquity.

This book's value is greatly enhanced by the fact that its second half comprises a large selection of contemporary or near-contemporary (well, within a couple of centuries at the outside, in the case f the historian Zosimus) writings by and about Julian.

I recommend it.





Today's morning temperatures were -5 degrees Celsius when I went to catch the train at ten to nine. Having thawed up to maybe plus one, tonight we are back at zero, with fluffy, powdery snow six centimeters deep. Or maybe deeper, where it hasn't been disturbed. I cannot recall walking through powdery snow ever before. Nor a sight like this morning's hoarfrost, which turned to dust at a touch: dry, so cold and dry, and riming the branches like weird white glass.

I don't think I was alive the last time we had weather like this.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 145-146


145. Anthony Hope, The Prisoner of Zenda.

A ridiculous implausible fantasy (using the word broadly, but if this was written today it would be a genre work, I imagine), but entertaining.


nonfiction


146. Amanda Vickery, The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1998.

Because, of course, I really need to be reading books on the eighteenth century while supposed to be researching the third. BCE.

This is a fascinating examination of the wives and daughters of the Georgian gentry, centred on Lancaster, and focusing on the kinship networks of said women, their letters, pocketbooks, and diaries. One Elizabeth Shackleton, née Parker, first married name also Parker, occupies a fair amount of space due to the amount of detail which she left behind her.

The book's divided into seven chapters, not counting the introduction and conclusion. They each deal with aspects of the conventional gentlewoman's life and attitudes towards those aspects as revealed in letters, records, and literature, under the headings, "Gentility," "Love and Duty," "Fortitude and Resignation," "Prudent Economy," "Elegance," "Civility and Vulgarity," and "Propriety."

It's an interesting and extremely readable work, giving access to the kind of information that classicists only wish they had. *sigh* *is jealous of wealth of sources*

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 145-146


145. Anthony Hope, The Prisoner of Zenda.

A ridiculous implausible fantasy (using the word broadly, but if this was written today it would be a genre work, I imagine), but entertaining.


nonfiction


146. Amanda Vickery, The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1998.

Because, of course, I really need to be reading books on the eighteenth century while supposed to be researching the third. BCE.

This is a fascinating examination of the wives and daughters of the Georgian gentry, centred on Lancaster, and focusing on the kinship networks of said women, their letters, pocketbooks, and diaries. One Elizabeth Shackleton, née Parker, first married name also Parker, occupies a fair amount of space due to the amount of detail which she left behind her.

The book's divided into seven chapters, not counting the introduction and conclusion. They each deal with aspects of the conventional gentlewoman's life and attitudes towards those aspects as revealed in letters, records, and literature, under the headings, "Gentility," "Love and Duty," "Fortitude and Resignation," "Prudent Economy," "Elegance," "Civility and Vulgarity," and "Propriety."

It's an interesting and extremely readable work, giving access to the kind of information that classicists only wish they had. *sigh* *is jealous of wealth of sources*

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 144


144. Sharon Lee, Carousel Tides.

A modern-day fantasy. When her grandmother fails to return her calls, Kate Archer returns to the Maine sea-coast town where she was raised, to find said grandmother's property deeded over to her and grandmother gone, with no one knowing either where or when she might return. While she looks for her grandmother, Kate's murky past returns to bite her, to say nothing of encounters with magically-protected drugrunners, etc.

This is quite a brilliant fantasy. The sense of place is very strong, and both Kate and the interaction between magic and the mundane feel to me both real and believable. I enjoyed it extremely, recommend it without hesitation, and devoutly hope there will be a sequel.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 144


144. Sharon Lee, Carousel Tides.

A modern-day fantasy. When her grandmother fails to return her calls, Kate Archer returns to the Maine sea-coast town where she was raised, to find said grandmother's property deeded over to her and grandmother gone, with no one knowing either where or when she might return. While she looks for her grandmother, Kate's murky past returns to bite her, to say nothing of encounters with magically-protected drugrunners, etc.

This is quite a brilliant fantasy. The sense of place is very strong, and both Kate and the interaction between magic and the mundane feel to me both real and believable. I enjoyed it extremely, recommend it without hesitation, and devoutly hope there will be a sequel.

hawkwing_lb: (helen mirren tempest)
Books 2010: 140-143


140. Plato, Timaeus & Critias. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005. Translated by Robin Waterfield.

Ack. Ack. Ick. This is the most unreadable book in the history of unreadable books, the one most purely concerned with the nature of the universe and the reasons for created bodies - and I have never been much in the theological line.

I will have to go back and take notes with more assiduity on Plato's teleology of the human form. But right now, I cannot bear the thought.


141-143. Patrick O'Brian, Clarissa Oates, The Wine-Dark Sea, and The Commodore.

Clarissa Oates is possibly the first believable non-incidental woman I have encounted in O'Brian's writings, and whether or not that says more about Oates and her peculiar circumstances or me, I can't say.

Notwithstanding O'Brian's women, he writes most excellent naval men, naval actions, and the relationship between Aubrey and Maturin. I admit to beng somewhat disappointed in Martin's fate/development, but it may well have been only to be expected.

hawkwing_lb: (helen mirren tempest)
Books 2010: 140-143


140. Plato, Timaeus & Critias. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2005. Translated by Robin Waterfield.

Ack. Ack. Ick. This is the most unreadable book in the history of unreadable books, the one most purely concerned with the nature of the universe and the reasons for created bodies - and I have never been much in the theological line.

I will have to go back and take notes with more assiduity on Plato's teleology of the human form. But right now, I cannot bear the thought.


141-143. Patrick O'Brian, Clarissa Oates, The Wine-Dark Sea, and The Commodore.

Clarissa Oates is possibly the first believable non-incidental woman I have encounted in O'Brian's writings, and whether or not that says more about Oates and her peculiar circumstances or me, I can't say.

Notwithstanding O'Brian's women, he writes most excellent naval men, naval actions, and the relationship between Aubrey and Maturin. I admit to beng somewhat disappointed in Martin's fate/development, but it may well have been only to be expected.

hawkwing_lb: (No dumping dead bodies!)
Books 2010: 139


139. Apollonius of Rhodes, Jason and the Golden Fleece. Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, 1993. Translated by Richard Hunter.

The son of Aison goes to seek the Golden Fleece in the company of the heroes of the generation before the Trojan War. Many encounters take place. All in all, it's a very interesting example of a Hellenistic epic.

hawkwing_lb: (No dumping dead bodies!)
Books 2010: 139


139. Apollonius of Rhodes, Jason and the Golden Fleece. Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, 1993. Translated by Richard Hunter.

The son of Aison goes to seek the Golden Fleece in the company of the heroes of the generation before the Trojan War. Many encounters take place. All in all, it's a very interesting example of a Hellenistic epic.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 137-138


137. Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation.

Another brilliant Aubrey and Maturin novel. Only six remain for my enjoyment: I'll have to be careful about reading them slowly.


nonfiction


138. Dan Cruickshank, The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital. Windmill, London, 2009.

This is a massive, fascinating, extraordinarily readable social history of prostitution in Georgian London. One word for it is magisterial: Cruickshank occasionally lets his fondness for architectural history run away with him, but for the most part it remains solidly grounded in its human characters, and - for a work dealing with this topic - remarkably generous towards all of them, from streetwalkers to courtesans of the highest class, pimps and madams and bullies, to the artists, magistrates, and political animals with whom they interacted.

It's divided into four "Acts" which in their respective chapters deal with four different primary themes in the sexual life of the city, a prologue dealing with William Hogarth's Harlot's Progress, and three brief Appendices on the London mob, women who lived as men, and the interesting entrepreneur Dr. James Graham. The whole arrangement is broadly, though not particularly, chronological, and while it assumes a little familiarity with the major figures and political developments of the period, in a volume of not less than six hundred pages it could hardly do otherwise.

I enjoyed it sufficiently well to stay up past any reasonable bed-time last night reading it, so I believe whole-hearted recommendation is in order.

(No, it has nothing whatsoever to do with anything I'm supposed to be doing. But it is most fascinating.)

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 137-138


137. Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation.

Another brilliant Aubrey and Maturin novel. Only six remain for my enjoyment: I'll have to be careful about reading them slowly.


nonfiction


138. Dan Cruickshank, The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital. Windmill, London, 2009.

This is a massive, fascinating, extraordinarily readable social history of prostitution in Georgian London. One word for it is magisterial: Cruickshank occasionally lets his fondness for architectural history run away with him, but for the most part it remains solidly grounded in its human characters, and - for a work dealing with this topic - remarkably generous towards all of them, from streetwalkers to courtesans of the highest class, pimps and madams and bullies, to the artists, magistrates, and political animals with whom they interacted.

It's divided into four "Acts" which in their respective chapters deal with four different primary themes in the sexual life of the city, a prologue dealing with William Hogarth's Harlot's Progress, and three brief Appendices on the London mob, women who lived as men, and the interesting entrepreneur Dr. James Graham. The whole arrangement is broadly, though not particularly, chronological, and while it assumes a little familiarity with the major figures and political developments of the period, in a volume of not less than six hundred pages it could hardly do otherwise.

I enjoyed it sufficiently well to stay up past any reasonable bed-time last night reading it, so I believe whole-hearted recommendation is in order.

(No, it has nothing whatsoever to do with anything I'm supposed to be doing. But it is most fascinating.)

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 136

nonfiction

136. Tim Mackintosh-Smith, The Travels of Ibn Battutah. Picador, London, 2002.

This text of Ibn Battutah's Travels has been abridged and annotated from the text of the four volumes produced by Sir Hamilton Gibbs and C.F. Beckingham for the Hakluyt Society between 1954 and 1994. In many ways, it does not feel like an abridgement: only seldom does one feel that there is something lacking, that one might desire something more.

Ibn Battutah's travels spanned over twenty years and the breadth of the then-known world. Born in 1304 in Tangiers, at the age of twenty-two he set out for the Hajj and doesn't seem to have looked back until much, much later. The abridged account presented here gives a fascinating and vivid set of pictures of the world which he experience - and which experienced him.

He frequently comes across as a judgemental asshole, but that's not unusual among medieval travellers, and his position as a qadi means he owned his fair share and more of religious biases. But it's a fascinating read, and one which is actually very accessible.

I recommend it.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 136

nonfiction

136. Tim Mackintosh-Smith, The Travels of Ibn Battutah. Picador, London, 2002.

This text of Ibn Battutah's Travels has been abridged and annotated from the text of the four volumes produced by Sir Hamilton Gibbs and C.F. Beckingham for the Hakluyt Society between 1954 and 1994. In many ways, it does not feel like an abridgement: only seldom does one feel that there is something lacking, that one might desire something more.

Ibn Battutah's travels spanned over twenty years and the breadth of the then-known world. Born in 1304 in Tangiers, at the age of twenty-two he set out for the Hajj and doesn't seem to have looked back until much, much later. The abridged account presented here gives a fascinating and vivid set of pictures of the world which he experience - and which experienced him.

He frequently comes across as a judgemental asshole, but that's not unusual among medieval travellers, and his position as a qadi means he owned his fair share and more of religious biases. But it's a fascinating read, and one which is actually very accessible.

I recommend it.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 135


135. Patrick O'Brian, The Thirteen-Gun Salute

Yet another fascinating entry in the continuing adventures of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin.

I never know whether or not I love these books. I find them incredibly satisfying, but love? I'm not sure. Some days, yes. Some days, not really.

hawkwing_lb: (Default)
Books 2010: 135


135. Patrick O'Brian, The Thirteen-Gun Salute

Yet another fascinating entry in the continuing adventures of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin.

I never know whether or not I love these books. I find them incredibly satisfying, but love? I'm not sure. Some days, yes. Some days, not really.

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