Monday, September 14, 2009

Mailbox Monday - September 14

Note: I'm writing this ahead to post, so at some point in the next week, I'll add the proper linking and meme description.
This last week has been an incredible week for books coming in.

In the mail on Thursday, I found my copy of Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran, which I've been looking forward to for a while now.
The amazon.com description:
The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra’s Daughter. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters: Octavia, the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for Cleopatra; Livia, Octavian's bitter and jealous wife; Marcellus, Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir apparent; Tiberius, Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for power; and Juba, Octavian’s watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals.

Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place–the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the times. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority.

Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and most tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of the past, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.
I ended up buying a translation of the Chronicle of Bury St. Edwards and two more Stargate SG1 novels: The Cost of Honor and A Matter Of Honor, both by Sally Malcolm.

Then, there's the books I got from Random House:
Confessions of a Radical Industrialist by Ray C. Anderson
Amazon.com description:

In 1994, Interface founder and chairman Ray Anderson set an audacious goal for his commercial carpet company: to take nothing from the earth that can’t be replaced by the earth. Now, in the most inspiring business book of our time, Anderson leads the way forward and challenges all of industry to share that goal.
The Interface story is a compelling one: In 1994, making carpets was a toxic, petroleum-based process, releasing immense amounts of air and water pollution and creating tons of waste. Fifteen years after Anderson’s “spear in the chest” revelation, Interface has:
*Cut greenhouse gas emissions by 82%
*Cut fossil fuel consumption by 60%
*Cut waste by 66%
*Cut water use by 75%
*Invented and patented new machines, materials, and manufacturing processes
*Increased sales by 66%, doubled earnings, and raised profit margins
With practical ideas and measurable outcomes that every business can use, Anderson shows that profit and sustainability are not mutually exclusive; businesses can improve their bottom lines and do right by the earth.
Galore by Michael Crummey
Amazon.com product description:
Sprawling and intimate, stark and fantastical, Galore is a novel about the power of stories to shape and sustain us. This is Michael Crummey’s most ambitious and accomplished work to date.

An intricate family saga and love story spanning two centuries, Galore is a portrait of the improbable medieval world that was rural Newfoundland, a place almost too harrowing and extravagant to be real. Remote and isolated, exposed to savage extremes of climate and fate, the people of Paradise Deep persist in a realm where the line between the everyday and the otherworldly is impossible to distinguish.

Propelled by the disputes and alliances, grievances and trade-offs that bind the Sellers and Devine families through generations, Galore is alive with singular characters, and an uncommon insight into the complexities of human nature.
The Golden Mean by Annabel Lyon
Amazon.com description:
What would it have been like to sit at the feet of the legendary philosopher Aristotle? Even more intriguing, what would it have been like to witness Aristotle instructing the most famous of his pupils, the young Alexander the Great?

In her first novel, acclaimed fiction writer Annabel Lyon boldly imagines one of history’s most intriguing relationships and the war at its heart between ideas and action as a way of knowing the world.


As The Golden Mean opens, Aristotle is forced to postpone his dream of succeeding Plato as the leader of the Academy in Athens when Philip of Macedon asks him to stay on in his capital city of Pella to tutor his precocious son, Alexander. At first the philosopher is appalled to be stuck in the brutal backwater of his childhood, but he is soon drawn to the boy’s intellectual potential and his capacity for surprise. What he does not know is whether his ideas are any match for the warrior culture that is Alexander’s birthright.

But he feels that teaching this startling, charming, sometimes horrifying boy is a desperate necessity. And that what the boy — thrown before his time onto his father’s battlefields — needs most is to learn the golden mean, that elusive balance between extremes that Aristotle hopes will mitigate the boy’s will to conquer.

Also at stake are his own ambitions, as he plays a cat-and-mouse game of power and influence with Philip, a boyhood friend who now controls his fate.

Exploring a fabled time and place, Annabel Lyon tells her story, breathtakingly, in the earthy, frank, and perceptive voice of Aristotle himself. With sensual and muscular prose, she explores how Aristotle’s genius touched the boy who would conquer the known world. And she reveals how we still live with the ghosts of both men.
A Gate At The Stairs by Lorrie Moore
Amazon.com description:
In her best-selling story collection, Birds of America (“[it] will stand by itself as one of our funniest, most telling anatomies of human love and vulnerability” —James McManus, front page of The New York Times Book Review), Lorrie Moore wrote about the disconnect between men and women, about the precariousness of women on the edge, and about loneliness and loss.

Now, in her dazzling new novel—her first in more than a decade—Moore turns her eye on the anxiety and disconnection of post-9/11 America, on the insidiousness of racism, the blind-sidedness of war, and the recklessness thrust on others in the name of love.

As the United States begins gearing up for war in the Middle East, twenty-year-old Tassie Keltjin, the Midwestern daughter of a gentleman hill farmer—his “Keltjin potatoes” are justifiably famous—has come to a university town as a college student, her brain on fire with Chaucer, Sylvia Plath, Simone de Beauvoir.

Between semesters, she takes a job as a part-time nanny.

The family she works for seems both mysterious and glamorous to her, and although Tassie had once found children boring, she comes to care for, and to protect, their newly adopted little girl as her own.

As the year unfolds and she is drawn deeper into each of these lives, her own life back home becomes ever more alien to her: her parents are frailer; her brother, aimless and lost in high school, contemplates joining the military. Tassie finds herself becoming more and more the stranger she felt herself to be, and as life and love unravel dramatically, even shockingly, she is forever changed.

This long-awaited new novel by one of the most heralded writers of the past two decades is lyrical, funny, moving, and devastating; Lorrie Moore’s most ambitious book to date—textured, beguiling, and wise.
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