Monday, September 7, 2009

Mailbox Monday - September 7

Mailbox Monday is hosted each Monday by Marcia of The Printed Page blog. She warns that participation in the meme can lead to overwhelming TBR piles, and although I already had one of those before I began joining in, I've found that it's true.

This week's haul was:

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much
Allison Hoover Bartlett
The amazon.com description:
In the tradition of The Orchid Thief, a compelling narrative set within the strange and genteel world of rare-book collecting: the true story of an infamous book thief, his victims, and the man determined to catch him.

Rare-book theft is even more widespread than fine-art theft. Most thieves, of course, steal for profit. John Charles Gilkey steals purely for the love of books. In an attempt to understand him better, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged herself into the world of book lust and discovered just how dangerous it can be.

Gilkey is an obsessed, unrepentant book thief who has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of rare books from book fairs, stores, and libraries around the country. Ken Sanders is the self-appointed "bibliodick" (book dealer with a penchant for detective work) driven to catch him. Bartlett befriended both outlandish characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, she has woven this entertaining cat-and-mouse chase into a narrative that not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes, where he stashed the loot, and how Sanders ultimately caught him but also explores the romance of books, the lure to collect them, and the temptation to steal them. Immersing the reader in a rich, wide world of literary obsession, Bartlett looks at the history of book passion, collection, and theft through the ages, to examine the craving that makes some people willing to stop at nothing to possess the books they love.
This was the first ARC copy of a book that I've been asked to review. I've got to say that I've already read the book and reviewed it here.

The copy of Defenders of the Scroll that I've been asked to read also arrived this past week.
The Amazon.com description:
A teenage boy.A dark wizard.A mystic scroll. And the fate of a world hangs in the balance. . . When Alex "the Axeman" Logan is pulled from his world to help young princess Dara save her kingdom from the Shadow Lord, he thinks there has been a mistake. He's a teen guitar player close to failing 11th grade, not some defender of the realm. All he has are some school books, his wits, and his love of fantasy movies. Overnight his life is history. Alex must confront the Shadow Lord and his minions when he is thrust into a land that has changed from a magical paradise to a barren, hopeless, helpless realm invaded by a dark army. But Alex is not alone. He has the help of Dara, a magic scroll, and a band of unlikely companions drawn from his own history books: a hardened Roman Legionnaire, a swift Japanese Samurai, a mighty African Warrior, a fiery Amazon Archer, and a spirited Shaolin Monk. Can Alex become more than he believes and lead his small band of Defenders to the Hall of Shadows, the birthplace of the Shadow Lord? The fate of the realm and everyone in it rests on him.
The book has quite the list of awards to its name, and it's gorgeously illustrated, with a scroll acting as the background on each page as well as full page illustrations. I suspect it's targeted to the Young Adult market.

Now it's on to the books I bought for myself (something I just can't seem to stop doing):

The Inheritance of Rome
Chris Wickham
The Amazon.com description:
Prizewinning historian Chris Wickham defies the conventional view of the Dark Ages in European history with a work of remarkable scope and rigorous yet accessible scholarship. Drawing on a wealth of new material and featuring a thoughtful synthesis of historical and archaeological approaches, Wickham argues that these centuries were critical in the formulation of European identity. Far from being a middle period between more significant epochs, this age has much to tell us in its own right about the progress of culture and the development of political thought.

Sweeping in its breadth, Wickham's incisive history focuses on a world still profoundly shaped by Rome, which encompassed the remarkable Byzantine, Carolingian, and Ottonian empires, and peoples ranging from Goths, Franks, and Vandals to Arabs, Anglo- Saxons, and Vikings. Digging deep into each culture, Wickham constructs a vivid portrait of a vast and varied world stretching from Ireland to Constantinople, the Baltic to the Mediterranean. The Inheritance of Rome brilliantly presents a fresh understanding of the crucible in which Europe would ultimately be created.
I've been looking at this book for some time now, and finally couldn't resist temptation anymore.

Hadrian And The Triumph Of Rome
Anthony Everitt
The Amazon.com description:
Acclaimed author Anthony Everitt, whose Augustus was praised by the Philadelphia Inquirer as “a narrative of sustained drama and skillful analysis,” is the rare writer whose work both informs and enthralls. In Hadrian and the Triumph of Rome–the first major account of the emperor in nearly a century–Everitt presents a compelling, richly researched biography of the man whom he calls arguably “the most successful of Rome’s rulers.”

Born in A.D. 76, Hadrian lived through and ruled during a tempestuous era, a time when the Colosseum was opened to the public and Pompeii was buried under a mountain of lava and ash. Everitt vividly recounts Hadrian’s thrilling life, in which the emperor brings a century of disorder and costly warfare to a peaceful conclusion while demonstrating how a monarchy can be compatible with good governance. Hadrian was brave and astute–despite his sometimes prickly demeanor–as well as an accomplished huntsman, poet, and student of philosophy.

What distinguished Hadrian’s rule, according to Everitt, were two insights that inevitably ensured the empire’s long and prosperous future: He ended Rome’s territorial expansion, which had become strategically and economically untenable, by fortifying her boundaries (the many famed Walls of Hadrian), and he effectively “Hellenized” Rome by anointing Athens the empire’s cultural center, thereby making Greek learning and art vastly more prominent in Roman life.

With unprecedented detail, Everitt illuminates Hadrian’s private life, including his marriage to Sabina–a loveless, frequently unhappy bond that bore no heirs–and his enduring yet doomed relationship with the true love of his life, Antinous, a beautiful young Bithynian man. Everitt also covers Hadrian’s war against the Jews, which planted the seeds of present-day discord in the Middle East.

Despite his tremendous legacy–including a virtual “marble biography” of still-standing structures–Hadrian is considered one of Rome’s more enigmatic emperors. But making splendid use of recently discovered archaeological materials and his own exhaustive research, Everitt sheds new light on one of the most important figures of the ancient world.

Ariel
Steven Boyett
The Amazon.com description (minimal as it is):
It's been five years since the lights went out, cars stopped in the streets, and magical creatures began roaming Earth.

Pete Garey survived the Change, trusting no one but himself until the day he met Ariel-a unicorn who brought new meaning and adventure to his life.
This is a book that was being discussed on Scifiguy.ca, one of the blogs I follow. It's a re-release of an older book with a new cover. I thought it looked really neat, and similar to some of the other books I like, so I couldn't resist.
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