Monday, November 23, 2020
Saturday, November 21, 2020
One book I've enjoyed this year is The Eternal City: Rome as Idea and Reality, by Jessica Maier. Published by University of Chicago Press. It was just released this month (11/4). While I mostly read fiction, I enjoy many non-fiction topics such as history, how-to, and art, and in many respects, The Eternal City covers all these categories.
The concept of learning from maps is unusual as most history books are straight forward chronological records. However, as author Maier shows through her map technique Rome's population through every age has had its own perception of their city and its purpose. It shows how the change in time, populations, and their ideas and beliefs also affect history. Rome's citizens essentially changed not only the physical appearance of Rome but also overlapped those changes with the past. The city and its structure have changed both physically and spiritually over time; indeed, different cities have emerged during Rome's long history, but each was built on the past.
Images and ideas take the reader from the beginnings of Rome to the time of the Ceasars, to the age of popes, through Rome's decline and recovery, and now its tourist period. The Eternal City shows how the city's population changed through time and how that changed Rome. Surprisingly, each era's maps show not only the physical changes but also society's perceptions about the city.
Rome, as one of the world's oldest continuing cities, has a long progression of maps. Some have a similarity to today's concept of maps, but not as directionally precise, and historical maps are often affected by the maker's era and purpose. Others are visual landscapes of the city, which in part, also serve as maps. The book's maps, visual images, and photographs are beautiful and insightful and tied to each age's beliefs, prejudices, and sense of humanity.
In the age of global warming, this book, in some sense, is also a warning. People are creative, adaptable, and constantly changing their landscape. This book brings awareness of those changes and of how we need to be aware of them and to be more careful in our choices going forward.
For more reviews please see the following authors' posts:
Sunday, November 15, 2020
Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Finland, Sweden, and Malta – the Present,
Ethan McCloud’s mother unexpectedly calls him. She wants him to come home. His father is acting weird, and she needs Ethan’s help. As he has been laid off from his job as a math teacher, Ethan drives from Nebraska to Denver and gets there in the early morning.
He has a brief talk with his father. His father tells him a six-fingered man haunts his dreams. Matt, his father’s Vietnam war-time buddy, sent him a box, which he sent on to Ethan. Matt was killed in a hit-and-run accident the day Ethan’s father received the box. It seems whoever has the box is destined to die. Shortly after his father goes to take a shower, his mother screams. His father is dead, supposedly from a brain aneurysm, but Ethan believes the six-fingered man killed his father. Ethan is determined to find this man and kill him. He discovers his father left him a laptop computer with a message from him, which also tells Ethan of a debit card with ten-grand in cash on it. He wants Ethan to solve the problem Matt presented. The screen saver on the laptop is a Sumerian statue of a six-fingered giant. It is clear to Ethan that he will be taking a journey, so he inveigles his girlfriend, former soldier Shannon Witherspoon, to join him.
From the notes his father left him, Ethan learns of many legends about giants. Mentions of giants are found in the Bible, and other historical references claim giant skeletal remains were found not only in Europe and the Middle East but also in Native American sites. Those skeletons, of course, have disappeared. It seems two opposing groups are trying to discover the truth or prevent the truth about giants from being known. One group is the Council of David, which wants to wipe giants from existence. The other is the Six-Fingered Mafia, who wants to protect those hunting for the truth (bone chasers), or perhaps they each have different goals. Both groups are willing to kill anyone interfering with their goals. Within minutes of typing some of this information on a library computer, Ethan finds himself being hunted, supposedly by police.
What ensues is a long hunt for facts and truth. Along the way, Ethan and Shannon become separated, making Ethan even more determined to finish his father’s request and find Shannon. Are giants just legends? Have they ever existed? Are there giants living now? All questions are explored in BONE CHASE.
Monday, November 2, 2020
November 17, 2020
Bridgeport, Ohio – the Present
Kimber Klein doesn’t regret leaving her successful modeling job to join her new-found sisters Shannon and Traci in Ohio. Unlike Traci, she was adopted and her parents love her. However, she is unsure of what direction her life should take. She is volunteering in an elementary school library reading books. A high school boy, Jeremy, is there too, doing volunteer work credits for school. Leaving the school, Kimber finds her brand-new Mercedes in the parking lot with two split tires. She fears her stalker from New York, Peter Mohler, has discovered where she is.
Gunner Law is waiting at the school to pick up his foster child Jeremy. The stunning-looking woman draws his attention, and he sees her car has two flat tires, not old-tire break-down, but someone’s intentional slicing of the tires. Learning Jeremy, his foster child, knows who the woman is, he suggests they help her. Once her car is towed away, Gunner is hoping he can see Kimber Klein again.
Kimber is as attracted to Gunner as he is to her, but their lives are complicated. Her agent keeps contacting her about possible jobs, and his latest one is very tempting. Gunner wants to adopt Jeremy, but the boy is quiet and withdrawn and fighting issues of another possible abandonment. Jeremy also worries about what his schoolmates would think if they discovered he is a foster child. Jeremy is, however, interested in one of his classmates and is trying to work up the courage to ask her to the Christmas dance, but he has no idea how to approach her.
This story, like the previous two in the series, is about family and friendship, building new relationships, and helping those you love when things go wrong, and lots of things go wrong in the story. Great Christmas read!
Random House Children’s Books
November 10, 2020
Teen and Young Adult
Camelot – Early Middle Ages
At sixteen, Guinevere is married to King Arthur, but their marriage is not yet consummated. She isn’t sure why, but Arthur wants it that way. She thinks perhaps it is because Merlin arranged their marriage. Using her magic, Guinevere has tied knots of protection on all entrances to Camelot to prevent the Dark Queen Malagant from entering (story in book 1). Yet, she has dreams where Mordred, Arthur’s nephew, who betrayed her, is involved. This frightens her. Her magic knots should prevent her from dreaming.
Arthur, of all people, knows Guinevere is not who everyone believes her to be. He also knows that she has magic, which is forbidden in Camelot. However, the worst is that she has no memory about her past or who she was, and if he knows, he won’t tell her.
Camelot is where Guinevere believes she wants to be, and Arthur is who she wants to be with. Soon she and Arthur will escort her friend Dindrane to her parents’ castle to be married to Arthur’s knight Sir Bors. Dindrane is the daughter of a southern lord and a sister to Sir Percival, another of Arthur’s knights. During the journey, many problems occur, and while Guinevere attempts to help people, she often fatally injures others. It haunts her, and with all the questions troubling her, how can she determine who she is or what she should do?
THE CAMELOT BETRAYAL is an evocative journey about finding yourself despite many adversities. It changes parts of the legendary story, but this fantasy is exciting and evocative.