Monday, August 3, 2009

Mailbox Monday - August 3

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page blog each Monday. She warns that it leads to increasingly large TBR piles, and I'd have to say she's correct. It's also a lot of fun to participate in.

Anyway, this was a special week for me, as my first two requested review books in hardcopy came in. I know I posted about them earlier, but I just couldn't wait until today.

Curse of the Tahiera
Wendy Gillissen

The jacket blurb:
A journey through haunted forests, through dreams and time.
A story of love, magic and the power of forgiveness.
Rom, a young Tzanatzi outcast and Yldich, a mysterious Einache shaman are on the trail of an ancient curse.
Will they save their people from destruction?
This book was offered to me by the author for review.


Defenders of the Faith
James Reston

The jacket description:
A bestselling historian recounts sixteen years that shook the world— the epic clash between Europe and the Ottoman Turks that ended the Renaissance and brought Islam to the gates of Vienna

In the bestselling Warriors of God and Dogs of God, James Reston, Jr., limned two epochal conflicts between Islam and Christendom. Here he examines the ultimate battle in that centuries-long war, which found Europe at its most vulnerable and Islam on the attack. This drama was propelled by two astonishing young sovereigns: Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and Turkish sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Though they represented two colliding worlds, they were remarkably similar. Each was a poet and cultured cosmopolitan; each was the most powerful man on his continent; each was called “Defender of the Faith”; and each faced strident religious rebellion in his domain. Charles was beset by the “heresy” of Martin Luther and his fervid adherents, even while tensions between him and the pope threatened to boil over, and the upstart French king Francis I harried Charles’s realm by land and sea. Suleyman was hardly more comfortable on his throne. He had earned his crown by avoiding the grim Ottoman tradition of royal fratricide. Shiites in the East were fighting off the Sunni Turks’ cruel repression of their “heresy.” The ferocity and skill of Suleyman’s Janissaries had expanded the Ottoman Empire to its greatest extent ever, but these slave soldiers became rebellious when foreign wars did not engage them.

With Europe newly hobbled and the Turks suffused with restless vigor, the stage was set for a drama that unfolded from Hungary to Rhodes and ultimately to Vienna itself, which both sides thought the Turks could win. If that happened, it was generally agreed that Europe would become Muslim as far west as the Rhine.

During these same years, Europe was roiled by constant internal tumult that saw, among other spectacles, the Diet of Worms, the Sack of Rome, and an actual wrestling match between the English and French monarchs in which Henry VIII’s pride was badly hurt. Would—could—this fractious continent be united to repulse a fearsome enemy?
This was the first review offer I got, and it came from the publishing company. Funnily enough, both books arrived on the same day.

The third book I got this past week was one I bought. It was recommended to me by the folks at the Digital Photograpy School forums.

Understanding Exposure
Bryan Peterson

The amazon.com blurb:
For serious amateur photographers who already shoot perfectly focused, accurately exposed images but want to be more creative with a camera, here’s the book to consult. More than seventy techniques, both popular and less-familiar approaches, are covered in detail, including advanced exposure, bounced flash and candlelight, infrared, multiple images, soft-focus effects, unusual vantage points, zooming, and other carefully chosen ways to enhance photographs. The A-Z format make sit easy for readers to find a specific technique, and each one is explained in jargon-free language. Top Tips for each technique help readers achieve superb results, even on the first attempt.
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