Monday, July 27, 2009

Mailbox Monday - July 27th

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page, and it's a lot of fun to see what people are getting each week.

I missed last week's although I had wanted to post due to not having internet that day. Now I can't remember the books I was going to include.

Anyway, I've got quite the pile this week thanks to a trip to my favorite used book store:

Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen

I've heard so many good things about this book that it's become one of the few books I recommend to people unread. Now I'm finally going to get a chance to read it myself.

The Amazon.com description:
When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.
Life In A Medieval Castle by Joseph Gies and Francis Gies

One of their series on medieval life. I already had their books on Life in A Medieval Village (which I've read) and Life in a Medieval City (which I've looked at, but still have on my TBR list). Overall, I've found their books to be quite readable and interesting, although I've seen some debate about accuracy. This is an older book, with a publication date of 1979, so there may well have been some new discoveries and interpretations since it came out. Still, the books make for a good introduction to the subject.

Joust by Mercedes Lackey

Interestingly (and amusingly) I bought this two days after I'd given in and gotten it through interlibrary loan. By which point I'd already finished reading it. My review is posted here.

The jacket blurb:
Vetch was an Altan serf working the land which had once been his family's farm. Young and slight, Vetch would have died of overwork, exposure, and starvation if not for anger which was his only real sustenance - anger that he had lost his home and family in a war of conquest waged by the dragon-riding Jousters of Tia. Tia had usurped nearly half of Alta's lands and enslaved or killed many of Vetch's countrymen. Sometimes it seemed that his entire cruel fate revolved around dragons and the Jousters who rode them.

But his fate changed forever the day he first saw a dragon.

From its narrow, golden, large-eyed head, to its pointed emerald ears, to the magnificent blue wings, the dragon was a thing of multicolored, jeweled beauty, slim and supple, and quite as large as the shed it perched on. Vetch almost failed to notice the Jouster who stood beside him. "I need a boy," the rider had said, and suddenly Vetch found himself lifted above the earth and transported by dragon-back to a different world.

Vetch was to be trained as a dragon-boy, and he hardly believed his luck. The compound seemed like paradise: he could eat until he was full, and all he had to do was care for his Jouster's dragon, Kashet.

It didn't take long for Vetch to realize that Kashet was very special - for unlike other dragons, Kashet was gentle by nature, and did not need the tranquilizing tala plant to make her tractable. Vetch became determined to learn the secret of how Kashet had been tamed. For if Kashet could be tamed, perhaps Vetch could tame a dragon of his own. And if he could, then he might be able to escape and bring the secret of dragon-taming with him back to his homeland of Alta. And that secret might prove to be the key to Alta's liberation....
The Forbidden Circle by Marion Zimmer Bradley

The Forbidden Circle is the omnibus edition of The Spell Sword and The Forbidden Tower. Both of them are from her famous (and long-running) Darkover series. I've read them both before, but my copies were pretty abysmal: the yellow-spined DAW covers, creased up and with spots pulled away where masking-tape had been peeled off. Please, please, never use masking tape on your books (and this was a used book store doing it for their price tags). The glue never comes off or, if it does, it takes the cover with it.

Medieval English Prose For Women edited by Bella Millett & Jocelyn Wogan-Browne

A smallish book, this contains selections from the manuscripts known as the Katherine Group, and also two parts of the Ancrene Wisse. The text is in the facing page form, where the Middle-English of the original is on the left-hand page, and the modern English translation is on the right. There is also a textual commentary and a glossary for the Middle-English words. Should be an interesting read when (some might say "If") I get to it.

The jacket description:
The Ancrene Wisse, a guide for female recluses in the West Midlands in the early thirteenth century, and the closely related works of the "Katherine Group," offer vivid and fascinating insights into the religious life of the time. The difficulty of the language however, which skillfully blends Latin and native English stylistic traditions, has made the documents largely inaccessible to all but experts in Middle English. This edition presents the works in a new and readable critical text that includes interspersed translations, notes, a select glossary, and a general introduction, making this volume highly useful to undergraduates and generalists with limited knowledge of Middle English.
The Art Of Medieval Hunting: The Hound And The Hawk by John Cummins
Another book on medieval life to add to my TBR list. I'll get to it one day, but it definitely looks interesting.

The jacket description:
The gentlemen of medieval and Renaissance Europe had three all-consuming passions: warfare, courtly love, and hunting with a hawk or hound--and the philosophy behind the last of the trio really encompasses them all. Hunting, the sport of kings, served as training for battle, a rite of manhood, and a powerful ritualistic pastime. In vivid and engrossing detail, here are all the appropriate methods for hunting deer, boar, wolves, foxes, bears, otters, birds, hares...even unicorns!
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