Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Nancy Drew: The Ringmaster's Secret - Carolyn Keene

Nancy Drew: The Ringmaster's Secret - Carolyn Keene
Nancy Drew #31: The Ringmaster's Secret
Carolyn Keene
Grosset & Dunlap
Copyright : 1954

The amazon.com product description:
Nancy is given a beautiful gold bracelet and finds that one of the charms is missing. When she learns the unusual story behind the jewelry, she sets out to solve the fascinating mystery. The bracelet had been presented to a former circus performer by a queen who loved horses. For some reason the performer had to sell the bracelet but would not reveal her true identity. Clues lead Nancy to Sims’ Circus, where she meets Lolita, an unhappy young aerialist who has a horse charm wrought exactly like those on Nancy’s bracelet. Will Nancy be able to find the original owner of the bracelet?
As a kid, I collected and read my way through quite a few of the original Nancy Drew series, and I still have several boxes of the books I loved as a kid stashed away around the house. This was one of my favorites. It held up fairly well on the re-read too, even though I'm now way, way out of the target age range. That, I think is the cause of any of my gripes with the book and the series.

Nancy Drew: The Ringmaster's Secret has held up pretty well. It's now 60 years old and still in print, which is pretty amazing in itself, but the story still works well too. Everyone loves the circus, and horses are always a draw too - that's what pulled me into this book if I'm remembering correctly from the first time I read it.

Now, though, I found myself gritting my teeth at the writing - had to remind myself that this book was really geared for kids between 9 and about 15 years old. Which is most definitely no longer me, and also that the characters and setting are those of the mind 1950's. With that in mind, I still found it an enjoyable and quick read - a bit of a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Nancy's a clever character. None of my gripes can take away from that, nor do I want to. However, I did find that everyone around her was a bit too helpful - making it so that things came to her a bit too easily. Maybe that's just modern-day cynicism on my part though.

As a kid, I loved these books and collected any of them that I could. Always the original series though. For some reason I never did like any of the more modern versions. The same thing held true for the Bobsey Twins, Hardy Boys and the Cherry Ames series of books. Since then, I've recommended the original Nancy Drew books many a time when I worked in the bookstore. I still would recommend them.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Choice Of Anglo-Saxon Verse - Ed. Richard Hammer

A Choice of Anglo-Saxon Verse - Trans. Richard Hammer
A Choice of Anglo-Saxon Verse
Ed. Richard Hammer
Faber and Faber Limited
Copyright: 1970

The amazon.com product description:
 This new edition contains the Old English texts of all the major short poems, such as "The Battle of Maldon", "The Dream of the Rood", "The Wanderer" and "The Seafarer", as well as a generous representation of the many important fragments, riddles and gnomic verses that survive from the 7th to the 12th centuries, with facing-page verse translations. These poems are the wellspring of the English poetic tradition, and this anthology provides a unique window into the mind and culture of the Anglo-Saxons.
I bought this a number of years ago, just after I finished taking an introductory Old English course at university, but only just got around to reading it over the last month and a bit. Of course, after the number of years it's been, I've completely forgotten everything about Old English that I learned at the time.

That said, this is a facing page translation edition, so you don't need to know any Old English to read it. Even without that knowledge it's interesting reading.

Each poem has a short introduction where the editor/translator talks a little about the poem, scholarship, translation issues etc, giving some context for the reader. There's also a short bibliography for each poem as well - usually one to three items.

I do have one minor quibble that I hadn't realized about until I started reading A Choice of Anglo Saxon Verse: this edition is actually from 1970, not the 2006 that Amazon gives. That surprised me, and leaves me wondering if scholarly opinions and translations have changed any over the last 40 or so years.

A Choice Of Anglo-Saxon Verse was read for two separate challenges: my own Pre-Printing Press Challenge and for the Mount TBR Challenge.


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