Monday, July 6, 2009

Mailbox Monday - July 6

Mailbox Monday, hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page. is one of my favorite memes to read. It's interesting to see what books people are getting each week.

Anyway, my haul from last Monday to today is the following:

G. R. Grove's The Ash Spear. An E-book that I got through the LibraryThing Member Giveaway program. This is the first time I've managed to get a book through either the Early Giveaway or the Member Giveaway, so that's a landmark of sorts.

The Ash Spear is set in 6th century Wales, in the generation or so following King Arthur. It's the third book in the series, following on Storyteller and Flight of the Hawk. I haven't read either of the first two books. The Ash Spear does make numerous references to the events of the previous books, but I'm finding that I can guess as the events from the context in the current book. Regardless, I'm definitely enjoying it a lot.

The remaining books of the week I bought:

This one turned up actually in the mailbox while I was writing up this post (I ordered it a couple of weeks ago):
Making A Living In The Middle Ages by Christopher Dyer
It's an ex-library book, but aside from the stickers, you'd never know it. No yellowing, no broken spine and no creases. I think I got excellent value here. This is a book which a number of people have recommended as well, so I'm definitely glad to have gotten it.
The jacket blurb says:
In this masterly survey, Christopher Dyer reviews our thinking about the economy of Britain in hte middle ages. By analysing economic developments and change, he allows us to reconstruct, often vividly, the daily lives of people in the past. The period covered here saw dramatic alterations in the state of the economy; and this account begins with the forming of villages, towns, networks of exchange and the social hierarchy in the ninth and tenth centuries, and ends with the inflation and population explosion of the sixteenth century.

This is a book about ideas and attitudes as well as the material world, and Dyer shows how people regarded the economy and how they responded to economic change. We see the growth of towns, the clearance of woods and wastes, the Great Famine, the Black Death, and the upheavals of the fifteenth century through the eyes of those who lived through these great events.

Changes were not always planned or directed by the rich and powerful, but arose from the uncoordinated ambitions and actions of thousands of ordinary people. Making a living in a changing world presented peasants, artisans and wage workers, as well as barons and monks, with dilemmas and decisions. The lives of those individuals were also subject to impersonal forces, such as climate, but the author emphasizes the choices that were made.

This book will guide readers through the controversies of the impact of the Vikings and the Norman Conquest, the importance of population growth, the fourteenth-century crisis and urban decline. Dyer deals with issues in social history which had an impact on the economy, such as family structures, social control and social protest. He uses the evidence of archaeology and the landscape as well as the more conventional records. Clearly and robustly written, this book sets a new standard for the understanding of medieval life.


The rest of the books:
Memoirs of A Geisha by Arthur Golden
I'd never read this book before. However, now that I'm past the first two chapters, I'm finding that I can't put the book down. My guess is that I'll have it finished today or tomorrow.

The amazon.com description is:
In this literary tour de force, novelist Arthur Golden enters a remote and shimmeringly exotic world. For the protagonist of this peerlessly observant first novel is Sayuri, one of Japan's most celebrated geisha, a woman who is both performer and courtesan, slave and goddess.

We follow Sayuri from her childhood in an impoverished fishing village, where in 1929, she is sold to a representative of a geisha house, who is drawn by the child's unusual blue-grey eyes. From there she is taken to Gion, the pleasure district of Kyoto. She is nine years old. In the years that follow, as she works to pay back the price of her purchase, Sayuri will be schooled in music and dance, learn to apply the geisha's elaborate makeup, wear elaborate kimono, and care for a coiffure so fragile that it requires a special pillow. She will also acquire a magnanimous tutor and a venomous rival. Surviving the intrigues of her trade and the upheavals of war, the resourceful Sayuri is a romantic heroine on the order of Jane Eyre and Scarlett O'Hara. And Memoirs of a Geisha is a triumphant work - suspenseful, and utterly persuasive.
Charmed Destinies, an anthology of stories by Mercedes Lackey, Catherine Asaro and Rachel Lee.
This is not a new book, but a newly released edition of a book from 2003, something I hadn't realized until after I bought it.
The jacket description:
Three classic stories of timeless love and tantalizing fantasy…
Counting Crows by New York Times bestselling author Mercedes Lackey
In Lady Gwynnhwyfar's dark, lonely court, her only ally was noble Sir Atremus, a warrior willing to fight for her honor. But would her powerful spell capture his heart—or tumble the kingdom into chaos?
Drusilla's Dream by USA TODAY bestselling author Rachel Lee
Every night Drusilla Morgan dreamed of courageous and handsome Miles Kennedy. Their quest: to battle evil and find true love. Yet when the sun rose, would Drusilla's fantasy man become a reality?
Moonglow by Nebula Award–winning author Catherine Asaro
In a world where kings married for magic, Iris Larkspur was required to wed the prince—despite the spell that kept him deaf, mute and blind. Healing her bridegroom would take a power greater than any she'd ever known—one only two bonded hearts could provide!
The Lost Capital Of Byzantium by Steven Runciman
I've been to Mistra, the subject of this book, although it's been a few years. As a result, since it was somewhere I wish I'd had more time to explore, I had to have the book, so I could learn more about it. This, by the way, was not the sort of book I even remotely expected to find in my local bookstore.

The jacket description:
Clinging to a rugged hillside in the lush valley of Sparta lies Mistra, one of the most dramatically beautiful Byzantine cities in Greece, a place steeped in history, myth, and romance.

Following the Frankish conquest of the Peloponnese in the thirteenth century, William II of Villehardouin built a great castle on a hill near Sparta that later came to be known as Mistra. Ten years later, in a battle in northern Greece, Villehardouin was defeated and captured by the Byzantine emperor. The terms for his release included giving Mistra to the Byzantine Greeks. Under their rule, the city flourished and developed into a center of learning and the arts and was a focal point for the cultural development of Europe.

Sir Steven Runciman, one of the most distinguished historians of the Byzantine period, traveled to Mistra on numerous occasions and became enchanted with the place. Now published in paperback for the first time, Lost Capital of Byzantium tells the story of this once-great city—its rise and fall and its place in the history of the Peloponnese and the Byzantine empire.
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