Thursday, January 31, 2013

G33 Sailors of Stonehenge; The Celestial & Atlantic Origin of Civilization

Title of the book: Sailors of Stonehenge The Celestial & Atlantic Origin of Civilization

Author: Manuel Vega

Publisher: Independent not available

Publishing Date: 2012

ISBN: 9781479169238

Summary:

Could the legend of Atlantis be far simpler than we thought? By means of a novel and simple interpretation grounded in the stars, Manuel Vega presents a compelling case to answer this question positively.

In Sailors of Stonehenge, Vega cruises the prehistoric times to solve the mystifying puzzle of the origin of Civilization, by smoothly assembling the archaelogical data related to the most impressive stone monuments like Stonehenge with teh classical myths like Jason and the Argonauts.

Sailors of Stonehenge contains more than a hundred images and figures.

Other works:

From what I can see on the goodreads page, the author doesn't have any other works and this appears to be his first novel.

Background of author:
(from goodreads.com)
url
http://www.goodreads.com/Manuel_Vega

gender
male

website
http://circleofmeditation.wordpress.com/

member since
September 2012


About this author:
MANUEL VEGA, Ph.D., was formerly a researcher working for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (USA), the University of Nagoya (Japan) and the Council of Scientific Research in Oviedo (Spain). He was also a Buddhist monk for five years in monasteries of California and Canada. He has co-authored many papers and patents, has written extensively about the interface of science and spirituality, and has been the recipient of several literary awards in Spanish.

Theme:

"This book is based on the assumption that much of the knowledge of the Megalith Builders' culture may not be properly represented in the archaeological record, but it may have survived and reached us encapsulated in myths, as well as in all kinds of cultural, political and religious manifestations of modern society. We could say that this book is going to interpret the results of a very special archaeological excavation, one that does not dig in the soil but in the prehistoric stratum where the memories of our megalithic ancestors remain stored: in our collective unconscious." (4)

Problem addressed:

What do the Megaliths have in common and why were they built? What does the legend of Atlantis and the Greek myths have in common with one another?

Summary of the content:

The book begins with lots of information about the stars, the areas of the Megaliths as well as brief tales of the possibility of what the Megaliths were used for. I had no idea that they were located in different areas too. I always heard about the Stonehenge but never about Orkney or whatnot. (Interesting idea is of King Arthur Orkney and the Megaliths there...) I have to be honest that the first half with constellations, stars and whatnot I was really lost. In second half, however, the concepts, theories and whatnot were very intriguing as well as novel and enjoyable.

Thesis:

"In conclusion, this book sheds new light on the megalithic phenomenon going into detail about the timeline, design and purpose of its greatest surviving architectural manifestations, revealing a society much more organized, interconnected, mobile, advanced, and, overall, influential in western civilization than currently regarded." (143)

Main points of book:

What do stars, megaliths, Greek myths and Atlantis have in common? Read and find out.

Why its interesting and informative:

The theories and ideas of the book are interesting and its not something I have ever encountered in my life. Although I'm not an astrologer and whatnot, I admired the research that the author has done when it came to the stars as well as the huge role they have played in beginning of the civilization. Very often historic people get lumped into the "idiot" category, but from reading this, I was amazed at the imagination and what one could find out from the stars.

Support thesis:

The book does support thesis because it does have an unusual subject, that of Megaliths, Greek Myths and Atlantis legend as well as astronomy. It mentions the possibilities and reasons why the megaliths were built all over the place and so on.

Time period/subject it deals:

It deals in prehistoric period with a brief Greek myth, Atlantis and Megalith building as well as the influence of stars.

Table of contents:

1. Introduction
2. Carnac
3. Avebury
4. Stonehenge
5. Orkney Islands
6. Newgrange
7. Jason and the Argonauts
8. Almendres
9. The Iberian Zodiac
10. The Greatest Celestial Warrior
11. The Archangel Orion
12. Atlantis

Maps/illustrations/charts:

In the book there are plenty of pictures as well as maps, and how the constellations looked like so its not likely that someone who's familiar with astronomy or anything the author discusses will be lost.

Issues book raises:

Where do Megaliths come from as well as the origin of Atlantis. Mystery seemed to enfold the stories of Atlantis as well as the Megaliths. People came up with various theories about the Stonehenge, but of other Megaliths, I have never heard of. The author draws connections and explanations as to why they are where they are, and that is to be accurate with the stars. He also briefly gives glances at the theories of what the people of the Megaliths must have been like.

Book ideas vs larger ideas:

I can imagine that this book can give light to the theory that megaliths are based on stars as well as the theory of whom the Atlantians are, which perhaps can cause other theories to fall into disuse.

Agree/disagree:

While I find the author's theories to be fascinating, I have to admit that astronomy and stars and whatnot seemed beyond my reach of understanding. I do think the author has very compelling ideas about the origins of western civilization.

Sources: 

The author seemed to understand that not everyone is an astronomy person, thus he put pictures of constellations as well as the Megaliths and maps in the book to help the person understand what he is talking. I wish that the pictures and sources could have helped me out, but they didn't, although I imagine that for others, they will be of great help. There are some sources he gives, but not a lot.

Conclusion: 

I would recommend that people read this book and stick with reading it, even if a lot flies over their heads. I also think that this book requires numerous re-readings to perhaps discover other secrets that are hidden at the first glance. The parts that I did enjoy were the Jason and the Argonauts as well as the Atlantis and also tidbits about how the Megalithic people were like.

Quick notes: I entered into the giveaway originally but didn't win. Few weeks later the author contacted me and asked me if I wanted a free copy of the book. He asked me to review/rate it. I agreed. I am not being reimbursed or paid for giving it a four star rating. I gave it four stars because I liked the book. 

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Coming Up...Week 4 of 2013

Books to be reviewed:

3. The Ill-made Knight by TH White

When 1st published in its entirety in 1958, T.H. White's masterly, incomparable, entertaining epic novel about King Arthur & his round table was hailed by critics as an instant classic. So it became; widely acknowledged as one of the definitive works of the fantasy genre, The Once & Future King is a retelling of the Arthurian legend that is at once both comic & political, enchanting & educational. While it works on one level as a highly entertaining saga of knights, battles, magic & heroes, the novel also presents a conscientiously researched historical interpretation of the round table as a civilizing force that brought England out of the Dark Ages thru the notion of chivalry. Divided into four books originally published separately which detail Arthur's boyhood, the building of his empire, his doomed friendship with Lancelot & his undoing thru the boy Mordred, White's novel reimagines several of these well-known characters in unconventional ways, painting Arthur as sweet & in many ways simple, Lancelot as a complex & deeply troubled man with an ugly face, & several older knights of the table as sympathetic or even comic Good Old Boys, blundering amiably around in creaky armor as they support their young king without entirely understanding him.

3. Claimed! By Vicki Lewis Thompson

Following a dream brought Josie Keller to Shoshone, Wyoming. Following her heart brought her plenty of great sex with good-time cowboy Jack Chance She was head over heels for him... until he left her.Stay with one woman? Not a chance Then why does Jack miss Josie like crazy? Had their relationship been more than just incredible sex?

Little do Josie and Jack know that a plan's afoot to get them back in the saddle...together. And once there, it's not long before they're burning up the bedsheets again

But the past is never far away. Before it catches up with them, Jack has to decide if he's going to stake his claim on Josie, or lose her forever....



4. The Candle in the Wind by TH White

When 1st published in its entirety in 1958, T.H. White's masterly, incomparable, entertaining epic novel about King Arthur & his round table was hailed by critics as an instant classic. So it became; widely acknowledged as one of the definitive works of the fantasy genre, The Once & Future King is a retelling of the Arthurian legend that is at once both comic & political, enchanting & educational. While it works on one level as a highly entertaining saga of knights, battles, magic & heroes, the novel also presents a conscientiously researched historical interpretation of the round table as a civilizing force that brought England out of the Dark Ages thru the notion of chivalry. Divided into four books originally published separately which detail Arthur's boyhood, the building of his empire, his doomed friendship with Lancelot & his undoing thru the boy Mordred, White's novel reimagines several of these well-known characters in unconventional ways, painting Arthur as sweet & in many ways simple, Lancelot as a complex & deeply troubled man with an ugly face, & several older knights of the table as sympathetic or even comic Good Old Boys, blundering amiably around in creaky armor as they support their young king without entirely understanding him.

3. Night Thunder's Bride by Karen Kay

When lady’s maid Rebecca Cothern journeyed westward, she never thought to leave her mistress’s side. Yet as Katrina Wellington completes her own journey with White Eagle, Rebecca waits at Ft. Union under the protection of Blackfoot warrior, Night Thunder.

Despite what she’s been told about the wild nature of the native tribes, Night Thunder is different. Kind, gentle, honorable to a fault…and handsome in a way that makes her breathless for his next touch.

Though Night Thunder relishes stolen moments with the beautiful white woman, circumstances dictate that he should keep his distance. Until she is stolen away in the night, and he discovers he cannot simply ride into the enemy camp, kill the guilty and sweep her to safety. The thieves are vengeful malcontents from his own tribe, which leaves him only one way to save her from the worst kind of violation.

He must claim that she is his bride. Not only that, she must willingly bare all—heart, soul and body—to claim him as hers.

5. The Book of Merlyn by TH White

An evocative and exciting tale of wizardry and war, this magnificent fantasy of the last days of King Arthur, his faithful magician and his animal teachers, completes the tragedy and romance of T. H. White's masterpiece The Once and Future King.













What I'm reading now:

1. Joheved by Maggie Anton

The first two novels in a dramatic trilogy set in eleventh-century France about the lives and loves of three daughters of the great Talmud scholar In 1068, the scholar Salomon ben Isaac returns home to Troyes, France, to take over the family winemaking business and embark on a path that will indelibly influence the Jewish world-writing the first Talmud commentary, and secretly teaching Talmud to his daughters. Joheved, the eldest of his three girls, finds her mind and spirit awakened by religious study, but, knowing the risk, she must keep her passion for learning and prayer hidden. When she becomes betrothed to Meir ben Samuel, she is forced to choose between marital happiness and being true to her love of the Talmud. Rich in period detail and drama, Joheved is a must read for fans of Tracy Chevalier's Girl With a Pearl Earring.

Progress: page 50 out of 403, chapter 3 out of 28 plus an afterword


The Court of the Lion by Eleanor Cooney and Daniel Altieri

In a magnificent age of exotic splendor and blackest treachery, the sun set on the mighty T'ang dynasty

In the 8th century, the great Emperor Hsuan-tsung arose from the flames of chaos and terror to rule the majesty that was China- a vast and mysterious domain of witches, artists, concubines, poets, and assassins. But by the year 738 AD, tragedy upon tragedy had unhinged the beloved Son of Heaven, setting loose the jackals in the Court of the Lion: Li Lin-fu, the evil Chief Minister, discretely gaining power through intrigue and murder...An Lu-shan, the sadistic barbarian general, who played the royal bufon while plotting his master's downfall...Yang Kuei-fei, the beautiful Precious Consort, whose hunger for decadent erotic pleasures could destroy a dynasty. And the fate of the T'ang throne rested in the hands of one trusted advisor: the eunuch Kao Li-shih- he who had sacrificed his manhood to become the second most important man in Imperial China...and would sacrifice his life to save a glorious kingdom.

Progress: page 355 out of 1001, chapter 12 out of 26 plus foreword, epilogue and afterword

Rootless by Chris Howard

17-year-old Banyan is a tree builder. Using scrap metal and salvaged junk, he creates forests for rich patrons who seek a reprieve from the desolate landscape. Although Banyan's never seen a real tree—they were destroyed more than a century ago—his father used to tell him stories about the Old World. But that was before his father was taken . . .

Everything changes when Banyan meets a woman with a strange tattoo—a clue to the whereabouts of the last living trees on earth, and he sets off across a wasteland from which few return. Those who make it past the pirates and poachers can't escape the locusts—the locusts that now feed on human flesh.

But Banyan isn't the only one looking for the trees, and he's running out of time. Unsure of whom to trust, he's forced to make an uneasy alliance with Alpha, an alluring, dangerous pirate with an agenda of her own. As they race towards a promised land that might only be a myth, Banyan makes shocking discoveries about his family, his past, and how far people will go to bring back the trees.

In this dazzling debut, Howard presents a disturbing world with uncanny similarities to our own. Like the forests Banyan seeks to rebuild, this visionary novel is both beautiful and haunting—full of images that will take permanent root in your mind . . . and forever change the way you think about nature.

Progress: page 43 out of 326, chapter 7 out of 59

Sailors of Stonehenge by Manuel Vega

Former scientist and monk, Manuel Vega sheds new light upon prehistory, on the mystery that shrouds our ancestors the builders of megalithic monuments such as Stonehenge, Carnac, Avebury, Newgrange, Almendres or those at Orkney Islands. He also exposes the information hidden in the classical myths like Jason and the Argonauts, Hyperborea or the Twelve Labors of Hercules, and even in the legends of Atlantis and King Arthur, discovering in the process the cosmic roots of Christianity and Western Civilization. "Sailors of Stonehenge" contains more than a hundred images and figures.

Progress: 95 out of 143 pages, chapter 9 out of 12





The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

The Tale of Genji was written in the eleventh century by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady of the Heian court. It is universally recognized as the greatest masterpiece of Japanese prose narrative, perhaps the earliest true novel in the history of the world. Until now there has been no translation that is both complete and scrupulously faithful to the original text. Edward G Seidensticker's masterly rendering was first published in two volumes in 1976 and immediately hailed as a classic of the translator's art. It is here presented in one unabrdiged volume, illustrated through-out by woodcuts taken from a 1650 Japanese edition of The Tale of Genji

Progress: page 84 out of 1090, chapter 5 out of 54




Books I'm reading lazily and will take long time to finish:

Life in Ancient Egypt- Adolf Erman

The fullest, most thoroughly detailed account — including much material not found in more recent books — of domestic life, religion, magic, medicine, commerce, and much more in ancient Egypt. Many illustrations reproduce tomb paintings, carvings, and hieroglyphs.

Progress: page 167 out of 550, chapter 9 out of 20











The Greek Myths 1 by Robert Graves

Endymion, Pelops, Daedalus, Pygmalion- what are the stories behidn these and the hundreds of other familiar names from Greek mythology- names that recur throughout the history of European culture?

In a two-volume work that has become a classic reference book for both the serious scholar and the casual inquirer, Robert Graves here retells the adventures of the important gods and heroes worshipped by the ancient Greeks.

Drawing on an enormous range of sources, he has brought together all the elements of every myth in simple narrative form, supplying detailed cross-references and indexes. Each entry has a full commentary which examines problems of interpretation in both historical and anthropological terms, and in the light of contemporary research.

Progress: page 172 out of 370, chapter 49 out of 104

Mythology by Edith Hamilton

The world-renowned classic that has enthralled and delighted millions of readers with its timeless tales of gods and heroes.

Edith Hamilton's Mythology succeeds like no other book in bringing to life for the modern reader the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths that are the keystone of Western culture--the stories of gods and heroes that have inspired human creativity from antiquity to the present. We meet the Greek gods on Olympus and Norse gods in Valhalla. We follow the drama of the Trojan War and the wanderings of Odysseus. We hear the tales of Jason and the Golden Fleece, Cupid and Psyche, and mighty King Midas. We discover the origins of the names of the constellations. And we recognize reference points for countless works of art, literature, and cultural inquiry--from Freud's Oedipus complex to Wagner's Ring Cycle of operas to Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra. Praised throughout the world for its authority and lucidity, Mythology is Edith Hamilton's masterpiece--the standard by which all other books on mythology are measured.

Progress: page 236 out of 315, chapter 17 out of 23

Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism by Howard Schwartz

The first anthology of Jewish mythology in English, Tree of Souls reveals a mythical tradition as rich and as fascinating as any in the world. Drawing from the Bible, the Pseudepigrapha, the Talmud and Midrash, the kabbalistic literature, medieval folklore, Hasidic texts, and oral lore collected in the modern era, Schwartz has gathered together nearly 700 of the key Jewish myths. The myths themselves are marvelous. We read of Adams diamond and the Land of Eretz (where it is always dark), the fall of Lucifer and the quarrel of the sun and the moon, the Treasury of Souls and the Divine Chariot. We discover new tales about the great figures of the Hebrew Bible, from Adam to Moses; stories about God's Bride, the Shekhinah, and the evil temptress, Lilith; plus many tales about angels and demons, spirits and vampires, giant beasts and the Golem. Equally important, Schwartz provides a wealth of additional information. For each myth, he includes extensive commentary, revealing the source of the myth and explaining how it relates to other Jewish myths as well as to world literature (for instance, comparing Eves release of evil into the world with Pandoras). For ease of use, Schwartz divides the volume into ten books, Myths of God, Myths of Creation, Myths of Heaven, Myths of Hell, Myths of the Holy Word, Myths of the Holy Time, Myths of the Holy People, Myths of the Holy Land, Myths of Exile, and Myths of the Messiah.

Progress: page 20 out of 523, chapter 26 out of 670

Future Books I will read:

2. Miriam by Maggie Anton

The engrossing historical series of three sisters living in eleventh-century Troyes, France, continues with the tale of Miriam, the lively and daring middle child of Salomon ben Isaac, the great Talmudic authority. Having no sons, he teaches his daughters the intricacies of Mishnah and Gemara in an era when educating women in Jewish scholarship was unheard of. His middle daughter, Miriam, is determined to bring new life safely into the Troyes Jewish community and becomes a midwife. As devoted as she is to her chosen path, she cannot foresee the ways in which she will be tested and how heavily she will need to rely on her faith. With Rashi?s Daughters, author Maggie Anton brings the Talmud and eleventh-century France to vivid life and poignantly captures the struggles and triumphs of strong Jewish women.

Pages: 450 on e-reader I have

Chapters: 34 plus an afterword

The Letters of Abelard and Heloise by Abelard and Heloise

The story of the relationship between Abélard and Héloïse is one of the world’s most celebrated and tragic love affairs. It is told through the letters of Peter Abélard, a French philosopher and one of the greatest logicians of the twelfth century, and of his gifted pupil Héloïse. Through their impassioned writings unfolds the story of a romance, from its reckless, ecstatic beginnings through to public scandal, an enforced secret marriage and its devastating consequences. These eloquent and intimate letters express a vast range of emotions from adoration and devotion to reproach, indignation and grief, and offer a fascinating insight into religious life in the Middle Ages.

This is the revised edition of Betty Radice's highly regarded translation, in which Michael Clanchy, the biographer of Abélard, updates the scholarship on the letters and the lovers. This volume includes Abélard's remarkable autobiography and his spiritual advice to Héloïse and her nuns, as well as a selection of the 'lost love letters' of Abélard and Héloïse, letters between Héloïse and Peter the Venerable, two of Abélard's hymns, a chronology, notes and maps.

Pages: 244

Chapters: 8 letters plus Letters of Peter the Venerable and Heloise, two hymns by Abelard, and Appendix from 'Lost Love Letters'

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Set in the reign of Richard I, Coeur de Lion, Ivanhoe is packed with memorable incidents- sieges, ambushes and combats- and equally memorable characters: Cedric of Rotherwood, the die-hard Saxon; his ward Rowena; the fierce Templar knight, Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert; the Jew, Isaac of York, and his beautiful, spriited daughter Rebecca ; Wamba and Gurth, jester and swineherd respectively.

Scott explores the conflicts between the crown and the powerful Barons, between teh Norman overlords and the conquered Saxons, and between Richard and his cheming brother, Prince John. At the same time he brings into the novel the legendary Robin Hood and his band, and creates a brilliant, colourful account of the age of chivalry with all its elaborate rituals and costumes and its values of honour and personal glory.

Pages: 405

Chapters: 44

Stuck by Lissette E Manning

A world too different from what we once knew . . . all we hold onto now is survival.

Memories of the dead remind Annie Page of the world she'd once known. Renegade forces are closing in, seeking to command the little that remains. Yet she refuses to stand by and watch the world crumble.

Her children’s love the driving force behind the choices that she’s made, she’s determined to make their world a better place. Yet their survival comes with a price – one that she never meant to pay.

Pages: 17

Chapters: 2

The Witch of Little Italy

Bewitching and beautiful, The Witch of Little Italy is an enchanting and charming debut that will cast a spell over readers everywhere.

WHen an unexpected pregnancy has Eleanor AMore reluctantly returning to New York to live with her estranged family, she swiftly finds herself in the arms of an old falme. TOgether they work to unlcok her inner powers to solve a decades-old mystery, the key to the Amore women's magical secrets.

This sparkling deubt will warm your heart through the power of love, family and magic.

Pages: 307

Chapters: 35 plus an epilogue

Anxious in love; how to manage your anxiety, reduce conflict & reconnect with your partner- Carolyn Daitch, Lissah Lorberbaum 

Healthy relationships require trust, intimacy, effective communication, and understanding. However, if you suffer from chronic anxiety you may have trouble dealing with everyday conflicts and tensions that can arise in relationships. No matter how committed you are, anxiety can leave you feeling distanced from your partner. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to overcome the anxiety-fueled reactions that keep you from achieving true closeness in your relationship.

Written by two experts on anxiety disorders, Anxious in Love offers easy-to-use techniques for calming anxieties and strengthening communication in your relationship. With this book, you will learn to stay centered when faced with conflict, understand your partner’s perspective, and become more independent. By changing the way you react to triggers and stress, you will be able to focus on enjoying time with the one you love, without anxiety getting in the way.

Pages: 189

Chapters: 9 chapters plus four appendixes and introduction

G28 Book Review of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Name of Book: Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

ISBN: 978-1-250-01257-9

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Type of book: 1986, nostalgia, misfits, first love, half Korean/American male/white female, rock and roll, domestic abuse, parental relationships

Year it was published: 2013

Summary:

Two misfits. One extraordinary love.

Its 1986 and two star-crossed teens are smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you'll remember your own first love- and just how hard it pulled you under.

Characters:

The characters are unique, memorable and stay with you for a very long time. Eleanor is a much more stronger and fleshed out character than Park, and at some points in the story I found myself irritated with her, but then I think I was in her shoes a lot, especially her view towards Park's slimness and her own weight. I would have liked to know more about Park's character and why his first name is Park. In Korea, Park is a last name, not the first. Park does have issues as a half Asian half Caucasian male, and its cool to see that he's ready to add on Eleanor's problems to his own. Other characters were there too, such as Eleanor's family, and Park's family and some friends. While parents were slightly more fleshed out, (Park's mom is an interesting character and I would have wanted to know more about her background, as well as Park's dad.) the friends are just there and don't play strong roles. (Kind of opposite of most of YA.)

Theme:

Love can happen to anyone.

Plot:

This is in third person narrative from both Eleanor's and Park's points of views. The scenes are never boring and this is a non-sexual book for those who think it might be. They hold hands, kiss, and go to second base, but nothing sexual. I was never a person who liked or appreciated the type of music that Eleanor and Park liked, but its nice to see an old fashioned courtship. I feel that the pace wasn't fast and the author really took her time with causing the characters to fall in love with each other. I felt that the book was realistic and sweet. (If you had to sit by someone you couldn't stand at first, eventually one would have no choice but to talk to that person, especially in an age where you didn't have iphones or cell phones or music players.)

Author Information:
url
http://www.goodreads.com/RainbowRowell

born
Omaha, Nebraska, The United States

website
http://www.rainbowrowell.com

twitter username
rainbowrowell

genre
Literature & Fiction

member since
January 2010

About this author

Rainbow Rowell is the author of ATTACHMENTS. She has two novels coming out in 2013 -- ELEANOR & PARK in February and FANGIRL in the fall.

Rainbow lives with her husband and two sons in Omaha, Nebraska. Right at this moment, she is probably arguing with someone about something that doesn't really matter in the big scheme of things -- or trying to figure out how Sherlock faked his death.

Blog and other stuff at rainbowrowell.com.

Opinion:

Its a well written and realistic novel that I highly recommend to everyone. I don't think I have enough words to praise this book; a realistic female heroine that I cared about and wanted her to be happy; a cool hero that oh so slowly falls in love with her, the setting is nostalgic (I was born in 1985, but still...) when I first won this book, my reaction to it was "oh, whatever." However, I started to read some other reviews about it, and unfortunately it caused me to be eager about the book. Why unfortunately? I had to wait over a month and twelve days for it to come. I won it on November 12th, 2012, and it finally arrived on December 24th, 2012. I wish this book could be famous or well known, but I would best describe as a hidden gem. The cover doesn't do it justice, (one of my friends was in shock that Eleanor is described as overweight, and in cover she matches Park's build,)  and neither does the summary, but once you start reading it, you are hooked tightly to the book. (I'm reading it to two of my friends who love it and understand it far better than I ever could.)  Both my friend and I thought this book deserves a sequel. 



Quick notes: I won this book on goodreads.com thus this review will appear in its entirety on goodreads as well as the blog

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of #2 The Queen of Air and Darkness By TH White

Name of Book: The Queen of Air and Darkness

Author: TH White

ISBN: 0-425-06310-395

Publisher: Berkley

Part of a Series: The Once and Future King

Type of book: King Arthur, government, round table, incest, Medieval Europe possibly 1100s or 1300s?, myth, fantasy

Year it was published: 1939

Summary:

The Queen of Air and Darkness, originally titled The Witch in the Wood, is the second book in his epic work, The Once and Future King. It continues the story of the newly-crowned King Arthur, his tutelage by the wise Merlyn, his war against King Lot, and also introduces the Orkney clan, a group of characters who would cause the eventual downfall of the king. First published in 1939, it was re-released under the new title after some editing.

Characters:

The author tries to make the characters round and interesting, but I feel he doesn't do a good job of it and the characters tend to blur in my mind, or perhaps the plot and story are dead which causes me to lose interest. The author does more telling than showing, or at least there is more lecturing than there should be in my opinion.

Theme:

I honestly have no idea what I should have learned from reading this book.

Plot:

This book is from multiple points of views; that of the Orkney brothers, the mother, and King Arthur. Mostly these are Arthur's early years and his struggles to establish the government that is just and fair, where fighting can be an outlet as protecting the innocent and so forth. Its written in third person narrative.

Author Information:
(from goodreads.com)

born
May 29, 1906 in Bombay, India

died
January 17, 1964

gender
male

genre
Literature & Fiction, Children's Books, Historical Fiction

influences
Thomas Malory

About this author
Born in Bombay to English parents, Terence Hanbury White was educated at Cambridge and taught for some time at Stowe before deciding to write full-time. White moved to Ireland in 1939 as a conscientious objector to WWII, and lived out his years there.

Opinion:

This was far more entertaining than the first book, and more readable too. For one thing the vocabulary wasn't very foreign and was readable, but I felt it left out too much once more. I wanted to understand more about the Orkney brothers as well as Morgause and why nothing came out of the scene where she was boiling the cat, (literally.) I can't recall if its this book or other books that drove me nuts with some historical inaccuracy. Here Arthur struggles with implementing "might is right" motto and there is also a creation of the Round Table and Merlyn meets a woman who is destined to lock him in a cave. Of course the author does include the part where Arthur slays Lot and sleeps with Morgause who happens to be his half sister and Mordred was begotten. I would guess the three stars is accurate since the only thing I recall about the book are the brothers and the cat scene and the incest scene.

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Book Review of Greek Myths Vol I by Robert Graves Part 4.9

General Information:


Name of Book: The Greek Myths Vol I

ISBN: 0-14-020508-X

Publisher: Pelican book

Year it was published: 1955

Overall theme:

"My method has been to assemble in harmonious narrative all the scattered elements of each myth, supported by little-known variants which may help to determine the meaning, and to answer all questions that arise, as best I can, in anthropological or historical terms. " (22)

37. The Aloeids

Issue: Iphimedeia, who was a daughter of Triops, fell in love with Poseidon and got herself with twin sons named Ephialtes adn Otus. Later she married Aloeus. The boys began a war against Olympus, captured Ares, (there was a prophecy that none could kill them,) and Artemis agreed to submit them. She appeared as a doe, and the brothers began to argue and killed one another with a javelin.

38. Deucalion's Flood

Issue: Pelasgus had son named Lycaon who instituted worship of Zeus, but sacrificed a boy to him. Zeus transformed him into a wolf. Lycaon's sons had also done horrible things, including serving Nyctimus to Zeus who wasn't fooled. In response, a flood came, but Deucalion, son of Prometheus, and his wife Pyrrha, built an ark and survived the flood. They wanted for mankind to be renewed and Zeus complied with their wish by asking them to throw the bones of mother (Earth) behind them. The rocks became either men or women. Megarus, a son of Zeus, was also a survivor, alonb with Cerambus of Pelion, and possibly even inhabitants of Parnassus. The flood was for aught since such things continued. Minor genealogy of Deucalion, that he's brother to Cretan Ariade, and father of Orestheus, Amphictyon and Hellen.

39. Atlas and Prometheus

Issue: Creator of mankind and son of either Eurymedon or Iapetus by Clymene. His brothers include Epimetheus, Atlas and Menoetius. Atlas was ruler of Atlantis. Later Atlantis sank and sea became unnavigable. Later on Atlas and Menoetius joined Cronus in war against Olympian gods. Menoetius was killed with Zeus's thunderbolt, but Atlas was spared and continued to support Heaven. He's the father of Pleiades, Hyades and Hesperides. Prometheus and Epithemeus joined Zeus in fight. Athene taught Prometheus everything she knew, and he passed gifts down to mankind which caused Zeus to be angry. Dispute over sacrificial portions, men left without fire. Prometheus goes to Athene for admittance, which she agreed, he takes fire and gives it to mankind. As a revenge, Zeus asked others to create Pandora and she is sent to Epimetheus, but he refused the gift. Zeus chained Prometheus, and a vulture eats his liver all the time. Epimetheus marries Pandora, she opens the jar which they were ordered to keep closed and Spites were released, all but hope.

40. Eos

Issue: Duties of Eos, which is to announce her brother Helius and then turn into Hemera and then when she becomes Hespera, they made it safely to Ocean. Aphrodite cursed her for constant longing towards young mortals and she had countless lovers. A minor adventure of her carrying of Tithonus and forgetting to ask Zeus for youth to come with immortality until he became cicada tree.

41. Orion

Issue: Orion was the son of Poseidon and Euryale and was in love with Merope who was daughter of Oenopion and son of Dionysus. In order to win her hand, he was asked to get rid of all the bad monsters, which he does, but Oenopion is in love with Merope himself and refuses to give her up. Oenopinion blinded him due to Orion raping Merope and Eos fell in love with him and he regained his sight. Orion tried to avenge himself, failed but Artemis who convinced him to abandon revenge and come hunting with her. Orion was two timing Eos and Artemis which caused Apollo to go to Mother Earth so that a giant scorpion could chase after him. Apollo asked Artemis to shoot an object, and she, not knowing it was Orion, did so and killed him. Asclepius tried to revive him but got shot by Zeus's thunderbolt, and he along with scorpio became a constellation. Included also an account of Pleiades and how he got his name.

42. Helius

Issue: His mother is either Euryphaessa or Theia, and his father the Titan Hyperion. His siblings are Selene and Eos. He drives a chariot across heavens and sails home along Ocean stream. He can see everything that happens, but isn't observant. His islands include Sicily, Erytheia and Rhodes. When Zeus allotted land, he forgot to include Helius, and Helius politely asked for new island, which Zeus gave. Brief history account of Rhodes, that Helius fathered seven sons and one daughter on Nymph Rhode. Also includes the myth of Phaethon and how he nearly destroyed the Earth and he died and sisters changed into trees.

43. The Sons of Hellen

Issue: Son of Deucalion, married Orseis and fathered Aeolus. Also had Dorus who founded Dorian community, Xunthus had Ion and Achaeus. Aeolians, Achaeans, Ionians and Dorians all descend from Hellen. Aeolus got Thea or Thetis with child and she had a daughter named Arne. Arne was seduced by Poseidon and had Aeolus and Boeotus. Theano, Metapontus's wife "had" Boeotus and Aeolus. Later on Theano had other children and grew jealous of Aeolus and Boeotus. Aeolus and Boeotus killed their brothers with help of Poseidon and Theano killed herself. They rescued their mother and somehow, Metapontus learned that Theano deceived him and he married Arne and adopted boys as his own. Metapontus tried to marry later on, but Aeolus and Boeotus killed the new queen Autolyte and fled. They then took took refuge with grandfather Aeolus. The grandson Aeolus took possession of seven Aeolian Islands and had six sons and six daughters who started to sleep with one another. He banished his sons away and Zeus gave him winds to guard and even seated him on a throne with Cave of Winds.

44. Ion

Issue: Erechtheus had a daughter named Creusa who was wife to Xunthus and she slept with Apollo and gave birth to a son named Ion whom Apollo spirited away to Delphi. Xunthus had no children and went to ask how to get one, where he was told that first person who would greet him, would be his son, which turned out to be Ion. Xunthus thought he slept with a Maenead. Creusa became jealous, tried to kill Ion without success, then it was revealed that he was hers and Apollo's son but truth must not be told to Xunthus. Later on though, Xunthus procured Dorus and Achaeus from Creusa. Ion married Helice and became King of Athens. The four occupational classes are named after the sons borne to him by Helice.

45. Alcyone and Ceyx

Issue: Brief myth of Alcyone who was daughter of Aeolus, guaridan of winds and Aegiale. She married Ceyx who was son of the Morning-star and one time they compared themselves to Zeus and Hera who created a thunderstorm that killed Ceyx. She jumped off into the sea and some god transformed both her and him into kingfishers where winds don't blow for seven days before winter solstice and seven days after winter solstice.

46. Tereus

Issue: A son of Ares who ruled over Thracians, was a mediator in a boundary dispute that included Pandion who happened to be father of Butes and Erechtheus. He married his daughter Procne who gave him a son named Itys. Unfortunately he also fell in love with Philomela, and locked away Procne and cut out her tongue.  He also told Pandion that Procne was dead. He raped Philomela, and she learned of deceit. Itys was killed by his mother and served to his father who ate him. Upon learning of this, he tries to kill the sisters unsuccessfully and the three become different birds.

47. Erechtheus and Eumolpus

Issue: Pandion died of grief when he learned what happened to Procne, Philomela and Itys. Moves to Erechtehus and his offspring of four sons and seven daughters. Poseidon loved Chione who was Oreithyia's daughter by Boreas. Eumolpus was also born but was cast into the sea lest Boreas becomes angry. He eventually becomes a priest of Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone and received throne of Thrace, as well as controlf of Eleusis. Due to war later on, Erechtheus sacrifices Otionia, although Protogoia and Pandora kill themselves as well. Ion leads Athenians to victory and Eleusinians become their subjects in everything. Erectheus becomes destroyed either by Zeus or Poseidon, and Ion reigns after Erechtheus.

48. Boreas

Issue: Son of Astraeus and Eos and brother of South and West winds who ravished Oreithyia who is the daughter of Erectheus and Praxithea. He tried to marry her without success but couldn't. She bears him twin sons named Calais and Zetes, as well as two daughters Chione and Cleopatra. Brief adventure of him fathering foals to horses and how Athenians see him.

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book Review of Mythology by Edith Hamilton 4.7

General Information:

Name of Book: Mythology

ISBN: 9780316341516

Publisher: First Black Bay

Year it was published: 1942

Overall theme:

"The Greeks did not believe that the gods created the universe. It was the other way about: the universe created the gods. Before there were gods heaven and earth had been formed. They were the first parents. The Titans were their children, and the gods were their grandchildren." (24)

Part Four: The Heroes of the Trojan War

13. The Trojan War

Prologue: The Judgment of Paris

Observations: Eris created an apple called "For the Fairest" and tossed it into the crowd. Of course, all the goddesses desired it. They asked Zeus to decide but he refused and asked them to go to Paris, son of King Priam, so that he could decide. They bribed him with different gifts; Hera that he will become Lord of Europe and Asia, Pallas Athena that he will lay waste to Greece and Aphrodite that a fairest woman will be his. He decided to give the apple to Aphrodite.

The Trojan War

Observations: The fairest woman was Helen who was daughter of Leda and Zeus and had siblings in Castor and Pollux. Her father, Tyndareus, was afraid of choosing suitors and asked them all to swear an oath that they would all champion Helen's husband, which they did. Menelaus, brother of Agamemnon, was chosen and made King of Sparta. Aphrodite leads Paris to where Helen resides. Paris becomes their guest and then kidnaps Helen. Menelaus calls all to help and all but two show up; Odysseus and Achilles. Reluctantly they join the army and sail for Aulis. Strong winds come and Calchas tells them that a maiden, Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon, must be sacrificed to appease Artemis's anger. Agamemnon sacrificed her. They made it to Troy eventually where Protesilaus was first to die. Both Achilles and another of Priam's sons, Hector, knew they would die. For nine years they fought until a fight between Achilles and Agamemnon over Chryseis made Troy temporarily on winning side. Calchas asked them to give Chryseis back, which they had done, but Agamemnon, angered, asked for Briseis, Achilles's "prize". Thetis, worried about Achilles, asked Zeus to intervene on her behalf, which he did which caused a battle and that gave cause to Paris and Menelaus battling it out. Aphrodite saved Paris, causing Menelaus to be victor, but it didn't end in peace and the war continued. Ajax and Diomedes were heroes after Achilles, fought lots of Trojans, saw Ares and he was wounded and taken away. Hecuba attempted to cur favor with Athena but failed. Hector was married to Andromache and even had a boy named Astyanax. He told them goodbye, the boy afraid of helmet, and he went off fighting. Trojans won that day, and the Greeks sent back Briseis back to Achilles so he could fight. Achilles said no. Zeus planned on Trojans defeating Greeks but didn't work out because of Hera. Patroclus puts on Achilles's armor to give Greeks confidence but gets slain by Hector. Achilles joins in war and vows revenge. Achilles kills Hector, ignoring his last wish that his body should be given to his parents and drags him around. Zeus asks Priam to come and to collect Hector's body. Achilles gives back the body and for nine days Hector is mourned.

14. The Fall of Troy

Observations: Achilles died due to Paris's arrow injuring his heel. Odysseus won the armor of Achilles against Ajax, and Ajax became mad thanks to Athena and slaughtered sheep and animals and committed suicide. They captured a prophet who told them that victory wouldn't come until they got Bow and Arrow of Hercules. There was a part of Philoctetes being left in an uninhabited Island where women could have been in Quest for Golden Fleece. He was persuaded to return, wounded Paris who asked to be taken Oenone, the nymph he was with before Helen but she watched him die and killed herself. The Greeks stole Paladium and concluded that Trojans must be surprised in order to win the war. Odysseus devised the wooden horse. The Greeks pretended to give up, while Odysseus and others remained behind in belly of the horse. The Trojans fell for the ruse. Laocoon and his sons as well as Cassandra tried to warn of dangers but none listened. Poseidon crushed Laocoon and his two sons. Cassandra left for the palace before Sinus's appearance. Fighting at night begins and  Achilles son  killed Priam. Aphrodite helped Aeneas escape with his father and little boy, and brought Helen to Menelaus. Hector's son Astyanyx and his aunt Polyxena have died after the battle, sacrificed.

15. The Adventures of Odysseus 

Observations: The Greeks went crazy with victory and forgot to pay Athena and Poseidon for their help. They became violent towards another of Priam's daughters, Cassandra the Prophetess and Athena asked Poseidon for help. Misfortunes happened to the Chieftains, such as Menelaus ending up in Egypt, or the lesser Ajax drowning and so forth. Odysseus suffered for ten years. Men thought Odysseus was dead and became Penelope's suitors, refusing to leave her until she married one of them. Ten years later they were sorry for Odysseus and Athena told the gods of his fate so far. Athena visits Telemachus and encourages him to search for Odysseus. They visited Nestor who had no news, and he encouraged Telemachus to go to Menelaus who might have some. Menelaus told them the story of Proteus and that Odysseus is stuck with the nymph Calypso. Calypso gave him food along with a raft and until Poseidon spotted him and gave him big storms, Odysseus was on his way. He ended up in land of Phaeacians where King Alcinous and Queen Arete along with their daughter Nausicaa lived. Nausicca and some women went out to wash clothes, met Odysseus and invited him to come with them, which he did. Odysseus then begins to tell his tale and who he is the very next day. After the tale, he leaves and ends up in Ithaca at last where he is met by Athena and the two devise a plan. She turns him into a beggar. He stays with Eumaeus. Telemachus and he reunite, and Odysseus greets Argos although the dog dies before Odysseus could come up to him later. When Penelope asked nurse to bathe him, she recognized his foot and not a word reached to Penelope's ears. A bow contest followed, then Odysseus and Telemachus slaughtered all the suitors and Penelope and Odysseus finally reunited.

16. The Adventures of Aeneas

Part One: From Troy to Italy

Observations: Origins of Rome through Aeneas rescue and his attempts to find the homeland, visiting Andromache and Hellenus the prophet who told them their home lies farther and not to stop at an isle full of Greeks. They landed in Sicily which was filled with Cyclopes, escaped and a huge storm came out. Juno is behind the storm, and the ship was forced to land in Carthage, which Dido ruled. Venus caused Dido to fall in love, but Aeneas carried no more than sisterly feelings towards her. He stayed for a while with her, but Jupiter asked Mercury to come down and eventually Aeneas left Dido. When he left her, however, Dido killed herself.

Part Two: The Descent into the Lower World

Observations: They sought Sibyl out on what to do and she told them they must journey underworld with a golden bough to learn what they could from his father. Sibyl went with him to the underworld, they met up with Charon the boatman, saw Dido in Fields of Mourning which is a place where lovers commit suicide, met up with his father and saw his future descendants as well as hear about their deeds. Then finally they left for Italy.

Part Three: The War in Italy

Observations: They landed in Italy and met with Latinus who only had one daughter, Lavinia, that was forbidden to marry anyone who was not a foreigner. He told Aeneas' men that they could be friends. Juno sent Alecto to cause trouble and war. Everyone opposes the band of Trojans. Trojans got help from Evander. Nisus and Euryalus get involved, Evander sends his son Pallas to help, then Euryalus gets captured, Nisus tries to rescue him but is not successful and both die. Turnus and Aeneas do single combat and Turnus becomes slain. In the end Aeneas wins and marries Lavinia and they found the race of Romans.

To Be Continued...

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Review for Tree of Souls The Mythology of Judaism by Howard Schwartz Book I Part 4.15

General Information:

Name of Book: Tree of Souls

ISBN: 9780195086799

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

Year it was published: 2004

Overall theme:

"With only one God, heaven would be a barren place, at least in mythic terms. Yet the actual Jewish view of heaven is quite different. There are seven heavens, filled with angels and other divine beings, such as the Messiah [Not jesus!], who is said to have a palace of his own in the highest heaven. The clestial Temple can be found there- the mirror image of the Temple in the earthly Jerusalem- as well as an abundance of heavenly palaces, one for each of the patriarchs and matriarchs and sages, where he or she teaches Torah to the attentive souls of the righteous and the angels..." (xliii)

"Drawing on the full range of Jewish sources, sacred and nonsacred, ten major categories of Jewish mythology can be identified: Myths of God, Myths of Creation...Each of these categories explores a mythic realm, and, in the process, reimagines it. This is the secret to the transformations that characterize Jewish mythology. Building on a strong foundation of biblical myth, each generation has embellished the earlier myths, while, at the same time, reinterpeting them for tis own time." (xlv)

Book One: Myths of God

Part IV: God's Mystery

20. The Hidden God

Issue: No one has any ideas where G-d has hid himself, and some believe that true meaning of psalms chapter 30 verse means that G-d is even hidden from himself.

21. The Contraction of God

Issue: G-d's light filled all of existence before the creation of the world, and in order to create various worlds, G-d contracted Himself and left empty space, thus the light was withdrawn. To create the world, G-d carved large boulders and hewed rocks to paths of wisdom.

22. Adam Kadmon

Issue: Adam Kadmon is beginning of all beginnings and from him spring forth all the worlds as well as lights. Also he's described as a spiritual being. The main worlds titled Emanation, Creation, Formation and Action go out from him too. Unlike G-d, he has a beginning.

23. God's Disguises 

Issue:  Throughout the Biblical times, G-d has appeared in many disguises such as a mighty warrior at the Red Sea, an old man at Mount Sinai, and in days of King Solomon, a young man and  in days of Daniel an old man who taught Torah. 

24. Where God dwells

Issue: G-d can dwell either in celestial realms and in highest heaven, or he's equidistant between the upper and lower worlds. However, everyone thinks that G-d's bride, Shekhinah, the Divine Presence, lives in this world.

25. The Holy Spirit

Issue: Before the beginnings an essence called Holy Spirit came out. It has three parts which are Spirit, Voice and Word. From these three elements G-d created various things such as Throne of Glory mire and clay and so forth. Holy Spirit spoke to various patriarchs and they saw what the Spirit saw. When the Temple was destroyed, the Holy Spirit left, and a heavenly voice informed people of various things. Afterwards it moved on to letters but then no longer do letters fall and heaven is silent.

To be continued...

Friday, January 18, 2013

G29 Why we are here; Mobile and the Spirit of a Southern City

Title of the Book: Why We are here; Mobile and the spirit of a southern city

Author: Edward O Wilson and Alex Harris

Publisher: Liveright Publishing Company

Publishing Date: 2012

ISBN: 978-0-87140-470-1

Summary:

Entranced by Edward O. Wilson 's mesmerizing evocation of his Southern childhood in The Naturalist and Anthill, Alex Harris approached the scientist about collaborating on a book about Wilson 's native world of Mobile, Alabama. Perceiving that Mobile was a city small enough to be captured through a lens yet old enough to have experienced a full epic cycle of tragedy and rebirth, the photographer and the naturalist joined forces to capture the rhythms of this storied Alabama Gulf region through a swirling tango of lyrical words and breathtaking images. With Wilson tracing his family 's history from the Civil War through the Depression when mule-driven wagons still clogged the roads to Mobile 's racial and environmental struggles to its cultural triumphs today, and with Harris stunningly capturing the mood of a radically transformed city that has adapted to the twenty-first century, the book becomes a universal story, one that tells us where we all come from and why we are here.

Other Works:

Edward O Wilson has written books such as On Human Nature, The Ants and a memoir titled The Naturalist.

Alex Harris has photographed in Cuba, Inuit villages of Alaska, Hispanic villages of northern New Mexico and across American South. He also launched a DoubleTake magazine. He also helped with a book titled River of Traps. He has published fourteen books which include The Idea of Cuba, Red White Blue and God Bless You and A World Unsuspected: Portraits of Southern Childhood.

Background:
(from the book:)

Edward O Wilson was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1929 and was drawn to the natural environment from a young age. After studying evolutionary biology at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, he has spent his career focused on scientific research and teaching, including forty-one years on the faculty of Harvard University. His twenty books and more than four hundred mostly technical articles have won him over a hundred awards in science and letters, including two Pulitzer Prizes, for On Human Nature (1979) and, with Bert Holldobler, The Ants (1991); The United States National Medal of Science; the Crafoord Prize, given by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for fields not covered by the Nobel Prize; Japan's International Prize for Biology; the Presidential Medal and Nonino Prize of Italy; and the Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society. For his contributions to conservation biology, he has received the Gold Medal of the National Audubon Society and the Gold Meda of the Worldwide Fund for Nature. Much of his personal and professional life is chronicled in the memoir Naturalist, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Science in 1995. More recently, Wilson has ventured into fiction, the result being Anthill, published in 2010 by W.W. Norton & Company. Still active in field research, writing, and conservation work, Wilson lives with his wife Irene in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Alex Harris was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1949. He graduated in 1971 from Yale University where he also studied photography with Walker Evans. Harris has photographed for extended periods in Cuba, the Inuit villages of Alaska, the Hispanic villages of northern New Mexico, and across the American South. He has taught at Duke University for more than three decades and is a founder there of the Center for Documentray Photography (1979) and the Center for Documentray Studies (1989). Harris lauched DoubleTake magazine in 1995 and edited the publication through tis first twelve issues. He is currently Professor of the Practice of Public Policy and Documentray Studies at Duke. Harris's awards include a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial FOundation Fellowship in Photography, an Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Felowship, and a Lyndhurst Prize. His book River of Traps, with William deBuys (1990) was a finalist for teh Pulitzer Prize in general non-fiction. Harris's work is represented in major photographic collections, including the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the San Francisco Musem of Modern Art. His photographs have been exhibited in numerous museums, including two solo exhibitions at the International Center of Photography in New York City. As a photographer and editor, Harris has published fourteen books, including The Idea of Cuba (2007) Red White Blue and God Bless You (1992) and A World Unsuspected: Portraits of Southern Childhood (1987).

Theme:

"People must belong to a tribe; they yearn to have a purpose larger than themselves. We are obliged by the deepest drives of the human spirit to make ourselves more than animated dust, and we must have a story to tell about where we came from, and why we are here.- Edward O Wilson, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge" (v)

Problems Addressed:

I would guess that the problem would be that people cannot see or understand themselves as being in relationship to nature or to racism, in which the authors explore the past and the present society and how environment has shaped and molded these factors.

Summary of Content:

Mostly the book is made of black and white pictures (I won an ARC which had only black and white photos and no colored ones.) and there are two stories; one is of Alex Harris's experiences and how he approached this project as well as his relationship (friendly one) to Edward Wilson. The other story is Edward Wilson narrating history from 1500s to modern times about the struggles and geography of Alabama as well as the racism that he has lived through.

Thesis:

"We wanted to express Mobile's impact on the senses, to capture its mood and its ambiance and- all together, if you will- its spirit: all the attributes that made me miss Mobile from my home at Harvard and all the events that make Mobile unique today among cities in the American South." (x)

Main Points:

" History, as expressed in narrative non-fiction, is inevitably a long passage of time told in gragments and, at times, sweeping observations. Thematic photography, in contrast, though planned, is instantaneous and minutely exact in composition and detail. But both arts ultimately reveal a picture whose individual components present an overall sense of place: a continuum, as when remembrance of a person's life leads to the instantaneity of conscious thought and the gift of enlightenment." (x)

Why/why not  Its interesting/informative:

Its interesting and informative because I didn't know anything about Mobile Alabama as well as history and the impact environment had on people. I also loved the pictures and photographs. When I showed them to my mom, she mentioned many times how she wished the pictures were in color instead of black and white. In order to understand the pictures, its important to read the story too. Pictures add dimension to Edward's story, although I wished they were more evenly dispersed. Instead a lot in beginning, some in middle and some in the end. Learning the culture and life of Alabama is fascinating too, because the families are of "old" aristocracy and it gives dimension to the South beyond the typical Civil War. It tries to explain why Mobile is the way it is.

Supports thesis:

I felt that the authors have done very well with capturing the mood and spirit of Alabama, as well as explaining how things were in the past and how different they became today.

Address Issues:

The issues that are addressed is the impact of nature and environment on the Southerners as well as long term effects it had. The book explores history of the South, from the time of Colonial Era of Hernando de Soto to beyond Civil War and to the time he lived and grew up in Mobile. I do wish that he could have addressed or talked about Judaism or christianity more in detail.

Book Ideas vs Larger ideas:

"There is another unifying entity at work in Mobile, unappreciated by most of its own people. The city sits in the middle of the biologically richest part of North America. From the Ice Age ravine forests of the Red Hills just to the north and thence south to the wetlands, estuary, and oceanfront at the southern rim, the land supports an unsurpassed array of ecosystems. Its inhabitants may seldom see it that way, but Alabama is preeminently an aquatic state...the whole contains the greatest diversity of aquatic organisms in America." (186)

Agree/disagree with author's opinions:

I don't see myself as a Southerner, and never will. I don't have roots that stretch out all the way to the original settlers and so forth. My family is also not part of any community. Its hard for me to either disagree or agree with the author. I agree with the impact nature has long term on people and whatnot, but others I am not sure about.

Other sources:

The author uses various books about history and nature. There are also pictures which are credited. I would think they are credible sources and whatnot.

Conclusion:

Growing up, I felt that the only part of community I have been in is with my immediate family only. Its hard for me to feel inclusion in Texas, and I had difficulty understanding or relating to what the author was writing about. In truth my lack of belonging prevents me from understanding the book, sorry to say. Still, its an enjoyable narrative and history majors or those who love history should love it.

Quick notes: I won this book on goodreads.com thus this review will appear in its entirety on goodreads as well as the blog

3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Coming up...Week 3 of 2013

Books to be reviewed:

Why we are here; Mobile and the Spirit of a Southern City by Edward O Wilson and Alex Harris

Entranced by Edward O. Wilson 's mesmerizing evocation of his Southern childhood in The Naturalist and Anthill, Alex Harris approached the scientist about collaborating on a book about Wilson 's native world of Mobile, Alabama. Perceiving that Mobile was a city small enough to be captured through a lens yet old enough to have experienced a full epic cycle of tragedy and rebirth, the photographer and the naturalist joined forces to capture the rhythms of this storied Alabama Gulf region through a swirling tango of lyrical words and breathtaking images. With Wilson tracing his family 's history from the Civil War through the Depression when mule-driven wagons still clogged the roads to Mobile 's racial and environmental struggles to its cultural triumphs today, and with Harris stunningly capturing the mood of a radically transformed city that has adapted to the twenty-first century, the book becomes a universal story, one that tells us where we all come from and why we are here.

2. The Queen of Air and Darkness by TH White 

When 1st published in its entirety in 1958, T.H. White's masterly, incomparable, entertaining epic novel about King Arthur & his round table was hailed by critics as an instant classic. So it became; widely acknowledged as one of the definitive works of the fantasy genre, The Once & Future King is a retelling of the Arthurian legend that is at once both comic & political, enchanting & educational. While it works on one level as a highly entertaining saga of knights, battles, magic & heroes, the novel also presents a conscientiously researched historical interpretation of the round table as a civilizing force that brought England out of the Dark Ages thru the notion of chivalry. Divided into four books originally published separately which detail Arthur's boyhood, the building of his empire, his doomed friendship with Lancelot & his undoing thru the boy Mordred, White's novel reimagines several of these well-known characters in unconventional ways, painting Arthur as sweet & in many ways simple, Lancelot as a complex & deeply troubled man with an ugly face, & several older knights of the table as sympathetic or even comic Good Old Boys, blundering amiably around in creaky armor as they support their young king without entirely understanding him.

 3. The Ill-made Knight by TH White 

When 1st published in its entirety in 1958, T.H. White's masterly, incomparable, entertaining epic novel about King Arthur & his round table was hailed by critics as an instant classic. So it became; widely acknowledged as one of the definitive works of the fantasy genre, The Once & Future King is a retelling of the Arthurian legend that is at once both comic & political, enchanting & educational. While it works on one level as a highly entertaining saga of knights, battles, magic & heroes, the novel also presents a conscientiously researched historical interpretation of the round table as a civilizing force that brought England out of the Dark Ages thru the notion of chivalry. Divided into four books originally published separately which detail Arthur's boyhood, the building of his empire, his doomed friendship with Lancelot & his undoing thru the boy Mordred, White's novel reimagines several of these well-known characters in unconventional ways, painting Arthur as sweet & in many ways simple, Lancelot as a complex & deeply troubled man with an ugly face, & several older knights of the table as sympathetic or even comic Good Old Boys, blundering amiably around in creaky armor as they support their young king without entirely understanding him.

 4. The Candle in the Wind by TH White 

When 1st published in its entirety in 1958, T.H. White's masterly, incomparable, entertaining epic novel about King Arthur & his round table was hailed by critics as an instant classic. So it became; widely acknowledged as one of the definitive works of the fantasy genre, The Once & Future King is a retelling of the Arthurian legend that is at once both comic & political, enchanting & educational. While it works on one level as a highly entertaining saga of knights, battles, magic & heroes, the novel also presents a conscientiously researched historical interpretation of the round table as a civilizing force that brought England out of the Dark Ages thru the notion of chivalry. Divided into four books originally published separately which detail Arthur's boyhood, the building of his empire, his doomed friendship with Lancelot & his undoing thru the boy Mordred, White's novel reimagines several of these well-known characters in unconventional ways, painting Arthur as sweet & in many ways simple, Lancelot as a complex & deeply troubled man with an ugly face, & several older knights of the table as sympathetic or even comic Good Old Boys, blundering amiably around in creaky armor as they support their young king without entirely understanding him.

What I'm reading now:

3. Night Thunder's Bride by Karen Kay

When lady’s maid Rebecca Cothern journeyed westward, she never thought to leave her mistress’s side. Yet as Katrina Wellington completes her own journey with White Eagle, Rebecca waits at Ft. Union under the protection of Blackfoot warrior, Night Thunder.

Despite what she’s been told about the wild nature of the native tribes, Night Thunder is different. Kind, gentle, honorable to a fault…and handsome in a way that makes her breathless for his next touch.

Though Night Thunder relishes stolen moments with the beautiful white woman, circumstances dictate that he should keep his distance. Until she is stolen away in the night, and he discovers he cannot simply ride into the enemy camp, kill the guilty and sweep her to safety. The thieves are vengeful malcontents from his own tribe, which leaves him only one way to save her from the worst kind of violation.

He must claim that she is his bride. Not only that, she must willingly bare all—heart, soul and body—to claim him as hers.

Progress: page 88 out of 216 (New e-reader) Chapter 11 out of 25


5. The Book of Merlyn by TH White

An evocative and exciting tale of wizardry and war, this magnificent fantasy of the last days of King Arthur, his faithful magician and his animal teachers, completes the tragedy and romance of T. H. White's masterpiece The Once and Future King.

Progress: page 41 out of 193, chapter 4 out of 20 plus story introductions











Sailors of Stonehenge by Manuel Vega

Former scientist and monk, Manuel Vega sheds new light upon prehistory, on the mystery that shrouds our ancestors the builders of megalithic monuments such as Stonehenge, Carnac, Avebury, Newgrange, Almendres or those at Orkney Islands. He also exposes the information hidden in the classical myths like Jason and the Argonauts, Hyperborea or the Twelve Labors of Hercules, and even in the legends of Atlantis and King Arthur, discovering in the process the cosmic roots of Christianity and Western Civilization. "Sailors of Stonehenge" contains more than a hundred images and figures.

Progress: page 25 out of 143, chapter 3 out of 12






Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Two misfits. One extraordinary love.

Its 1986 and two star-crossed teens are smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you'll remember your own first love- and just how hard it pulled you under.

Progress: page 246 out of 325, chapter 42 out of 58 plus prologue








The Court of the Lion by Eleanor Cooney and Daniel Altieri 

In a magnificent age of exotic splendor and blackest treachery, the sun set on the mighty T'ang dynasty

In the 8th century, the great Emperor Hsuan-tsung arose from the flames of chaos and terror to rule the majesty that was China- a vast and mysterious domain of witches, artists, concubines, poets, and assassins. But by the year 738 AD, tragedy upon tragedy had unhinged the beloved Son of Heaven, setting loose the jackals in the Court of the Lion: Li Lin-fu, the evil Chief Minister, discretely gaining power through intrigue and murder...An Lu-shan, the sadistic barbarian general, who played the royal bufon while plotting his master's downfall...Yang Kuei-fei, the beautiful Precious Consort, whose hunger for decadent erotic pleasures could destroy a dynasty. And the fate of the T'ang throne rested in the hands of one trusted advisor: the eunuch Kao Li-shih- he who had sacrificed his manhood to become the second most important man in Imperial China...and would sacrifice his life to save a glorious kingdom.

Progress: page 164 out of 1001, chapter 7 out of 26 plus foreword, epilogue and afterword

Books I'm reading lazily and will take long time to finish:

Mythology by Edith Hamilton

The world-renowned classic that has enthralled and delighted millions of readers with its timeless tales of gods and heroes.

Edith Hamilton's Mythology succeeds like no other book in bringing to life for the modern reader the Greek, Roman, and Norse myths that are the keystone of Western culture--the stories of gods and heroes that have inspired human creativity from antiquity to the present. We meet the Greek gods on Olympus and Norse gods in Valhalla. We follow the drama of the Trojan War and the wanderings of Odysseus. We hear the tales of Jason and the Golden Fleece, Cupid and Psyche, and mighty King Midas. We discover the origins of the names of the constellations. And we recognize reference points for countless works of art, literature, and cultural inquiry--from Freud's Oedipus complex to Wagner's Ring Cycle of operas to Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra. Praised throughout the world for its authority and lucidity, Mythology is Edith Hamilton's masterpiece--the standard by which all other books on mythology are measured.

Progress: Chapter 13 out of 23, page 178 out of 315

The Greek Myths Vol I by Robert Graves

Endymion, Pelops, Daedalus, Pygmalion- what are the stories behidn these and the hundreds of other familiar names from Greek mythology- names that recur throughout the history of European culture?

In a two-volume work that has become a classic reference book for both the serious scholar and the casual inquirer, Robert Graves here retells the adventures of the important gods and heroes worshipped by the ancient Greeks.

Drawing on an enormous range of sources, he has brought together all the elements of every myth in simple narrative form, supplying detailed cross-references and indexes. Each entry has a full commentary which examines problems of interpretation in both historical and anthropological terms, and in the light of contemporary research.

Progress: Chapter 37 out of 104, page 136 out of 370

Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism by Howard Schwartz

The first anthology of Jewish mythology in English, Tree of Souls reveals a mythical tradition as rich and as fascinating as any in the world. Drawing from the Bible, the Pseudepigrapha, the Talmud and Midrash, the kabbalistic literature, medieval folklore, Hasidic texts, and oral lore collected in the modern era, Schwartz has gathered together nearly 700 of the key Jewish myths. The myths themselves are marvelous. We read of Adams diamond and the Land of Eretz (where it is always dark), the fall of Lucifer and the quarrel of the sun and the moon, the Treasury of Souls and the Divine Chariot. We discover new tales about the great figures of the Hebrew Bible, from Adam to Moses; stories about God's Bride, the Shekhinah, and the evil temptress, Lilith; plus many tales about angels and demons, spirits and vampires, giant beasts and the Golem. Equally important, Schwartz provides a wealth of additional information. For each myth, he includes extensive commentary, revealing the source of the myth and explaining how it relates to other Jewish myths as well as to world literature (for instance, comparing Eves release of evil into the world with Pandoras). For ease of use, Schwartz divides the volume into ten books, Myths of God, Myths of Creation, Myths of Heaven, Myths of Hell, Myths of the Holy Word, Myths of the Holy Time, Myths of the Holy People, Myths of the Holy Land, Myths of Exile, and Myths of the Messiah.

Progress: Chapter 20 out of 670, page 13 out of 523

Life in Ancient Egypt by Adolf Erman

The fullest, most thoroughly detailed account — including much material not found in more recent books — of domestic life, religion, magic, medicine, commerce, and much more in ancient Egypt. Many illustrations reproduce tomb paintings, carvings, and hieroglyphs.

Progress: Chapter 8 out of 20, page 150 out of 550










Future Books I will read:

3. Claimed! by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Following a dream brought Josie Keller to Shoshone, Wyoming. Following her heart brought her plenty of great sex with good-time cowboy Jack Chance She was head over heels for him... until he left her.Stay with one woman? Not a chance Then why does Jack miss Josie like crazy? Had their relationship been more than just incredible sex?

Little do Josie and Jack know that a plan's afoot to get them back in the saddle...together. And once there, it's not long before they're burning up the bedsheets again

But the past is never far away. Before it catches up with them, Jack has to decide if he's going to stake his claim on Josie, or lose her forever....

 Pages: 155 (Digital copy)

Chapters: 16 plus a prologue and an epilogue

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

The Tale of Genji was written in the eleventh century by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady of the Heian court. It is universally recognized as the greatest masterpiece of Japanese prose narrative, perhaps the earliest true novel in the history of the world. Until now there has been no translation that is both complete and scrupulously faithful to the original text. Edward G Seidensticker's masterly rendering was first published in two volumes in 1976 and immediately hailed as a classic of the translator's art. It is here presented in one unabrdiged volume, illustrated through-out by woodcuts taken from a 1650 Japanese edition of The Tale of Genji

Pages: 1090

Chapters: 54


Rootless by Chris Howard

17-year-old Banyan is a tree builder. Using scrap metal and salvaged junk, he creates forests for rich patrons who seek a reprieve from the desolate landscape. Although Banyan's never seen a real tree—they were destroyed more than a century ago—his father used to tell him stories about the Old World. But that was before his father was taken . . .

Everything changes when Banyan meets a woman with a strange tattoo—a clue to the whereabouts of the last living trees on earth, and he sets off across a wasteland from which few return. Those who make it past the pirates and poachers can't escape the locusts—the locusts that now feed on human flesh.

But Banyan isn't the only one looking for the trees, and he's running out of time. Unsure of whom to trust, he's forced to make an uneasy alliance with Alpha, an alluring, dangerous pirate with an agenda of her own. As they race towards a promised land that might only be a myth, Banyan makes shocking discoveries about his family, his past, and how far people will go to bring back the trees.

In this dazzling debut, Howard presents a disturbing world with uncanny similarities to our own. Like the forests Banyan seeks to rebuild, this visionary novel is both beautiful and haunting—full of images that will take permanent root in your mind . . . and forever change the way you think about nature.

Pages: 326

Chapters: 59

Anxious in love; how to manage your anxiety, reduce conflict & reconnect with your partner- Carolyn Daitch, Lissah Lorberbaum 

Healthy relationships require trust, intimacy, effective communication, and understanding. However, if you suffer from chronic anxiety you may have trouble dealing with everyday conflicts and tensions that can arise in relationships. No matter how committed you are, anxiety can leave you feeling distanced from your partner. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to overcome the anxiety-fueled reactions that keep you from achieving true closeness in your relationship.

Written by two experts on anxiety disorders, Anxious in Love offers easy-to-use techniques for calming anxieties and strengthening communication in your relationship. With this book, you will learn to stay centered when faced with conflict, understand your partner’s perspective, and become more independent. By changing the way you react to triggers and stress, you will be able to focus on enjoying time with the one you love, without anxiety getting in the way.

Pages: 189

Chapters: 9 chapters plus four appendixes and introduction
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