sally_maria: books top and bottom, with text "I do not understand the concept of too many books." (Books - Too many?)
I've been reading a marvellous history book, "Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts" by Christopher de Hamel.

The author takes us on a tour of the libraries of the world to visit 12 of the most famous, beautiful and interesting medieval manuscripts. He describes the history, previous owners and adventures of the various volumes but also provides verbal descriptions as well as plenty of pictures, talking about the things that you can see only by looking at the original. He's obviously an expert, with a genuine love for his work that comes over - an enjoyable person to spend time with. It's a hefty volume, but I highly recommend it.

One thing I had no idea of was the connection with 1970s aftershave adverts - if you're as old as me, you'll probably remember this Old Spice ad. :-)

I knew the music was Carmina Burana, but I had no idea it was based on an early 13th century manuscript of the same name - a large collection of songs in Latin and German, that inspired Carl Orff, the composer of the music I knew... Unlike most of the manuscripts, which were copies of existing texts, this was almost certainly the original compilation of the songs, recorded from ones sung across southern Europe for over a century.
sally_maria: 1950s British Railways logo (British Railways)
Day three: a book/story/fanfic...

My apologies for missing a day - I finally got to the cinema to see Star Wars after work, and got back too late for posting. This way at least, I get to coincide with a Reading Wednesday. :-)

So firstly a book, or in fact a series of books, by Edward Marston. Victorian detective stories, but with a twist guaranteed to appeal, to me at least. :-) Our hero, Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck - The Railway Detective - is a fan of the modern new method of transport and solves various thefts, murders and other mysteries relating to the railways.

Another story relating to the railways, in a way, is a fanfic written for this year's Yuletide, based on the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch.

Mind the Gap, by maple_clef - "DCI Thomas Nightingale and his erstwhile apprentice are caught up in (un)seasonal high-jinks on the London Underground. It's the most wonderful time of the year..."

It really captures the humorous yet magical tone of the series, and I really loved the connection with the TLF Travel Alerts twitter.
sally_maria: (Dreamsheep Big Ben)
First, for any fans of Shaun, a lovely set of icons - some from the show/film and some of the Shaun in the City statues.

My book was mentioned in a blog post I was reading, one of Dimitra Fimi's, I think, and I thought it looked interesting, so I ordered it from the library. (The modern ability to order books from anywhere in the county over the internet, is definitely one of the wonders of the modern age. :-D)

"The Making of English National Identity" by Krishan Kumar, is very readable, though academic, take on a subject that I find very interesting. What he says makes a lot of sense, at least to this non-expert, and when I read this in the first chapter, I knew he was somebody whose ideas I was likely to be in sympathy with. :-)

"But it was the native English themselves who produced the best example of the genre: W.C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman's wickedly revealing 1066 and All That(1930) - the best book ever written on the English and their history, or what they take to be their history."
sally_maria: Cartoon image saying "Cool Story Bilbo" with the Ring as one of the Os. (Cool Story Bilbo)
Again, a book and a fanfic. :-)

One of the settings I very much enjoy for Middle-earth stories is what happens when Frodo and Bilbo reach the end of their sea-voyage and arrive in Valinor. It has something of the appeal of a cross-over, as two group of characters, widely separated in time, meet and learn to respect one another.

[ profile] arrogantemu's whole series is called The Splintered Light, though the first part is a prequel that isn't finished yet. The second story, And What Happened After, though, is a wonderful tale of the effect of the Undying Lands on the hobbits, and the hobbits on the ones they meet there - including the Valar themselves. (One of my favourite tags of all time - "Gandalf and his strategic hobbit deployment".) FĂ«anor the language scholar, Bilbo, still as impertinent as ever, and Sam and his potatoes. :-)

The second is a book obtained for me by [ profile] gurthaew (somebody was free-cycling some railway books, and he thought I would like them :-D).

The Ballachulish Line (The Birth and Death of a Highland Railway) by Duncan Kennedy, is actually less about the railway as a going concern, and more about the process of building it - the author came from the area, and was taken on as a trainee engineer, before going on to a successful international career. The line was built between 1898 and 1903, and the book has a wealth of social and engineering history, at a time long after the original railway builders, but which still feels like another age. The navvies still plied their trade up and down the country, engineers learnt their trade on the job, and could turn their hand to anything from black-smithing to diving, then think nothing of climbing Ben Nevis over-night, and back to work the next morning. The author comes over as a likeable, dynamic young man, eager to learn and with a kindly eye for the many different characters he met - well worth spending the time with.
sally_maria: Lego minifig monster pushing a trolley of books (Book Monster)
I'm afraid this isn't something I've been able to post on regularly, as much of my thirst for text is satisfied by many wonderful fanfiction writers, but I've read two books I very much enjoyed in the last week, and so wanted to write about them.

I'd heard a lot of good things about The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, and had a long weekend, so I thought it was worth trying. I'm very glad I did - I've been turned off a lot of modern fantasy by unlikeable characters and the unnecessary confusion between realism and nastiness. (Grimdark is so not my thing.) So I was thrilled to find a story with a hero I could really like, and a universe in which that didn't immediately mark him as weak, stupid or a helpless victim.

Read more... )

The second is Waterloo: The True Story of Four Days, Three Armies and Three Battles by Bernard Cornwell It's the first non-fiction book by the author, of Sharpe fame, and very well done, I felt.

It's not a scholarly book, no notes and references, just a bibliography, but it feels well researched, with plenty of use of original reports, letters and diaries.

Read more... )
sally_maria: (Enterprise)
I was talking to someone on Twitter about these, and I promised her some recs, but I really couldn't handle doing so 140 characters at a time. So I hope she won't mind me doing it here.

I love Kirk, Spock and the rest of the crew, but while I grew up watching the show on TV, what really made me fall for them was the series of original novels based on the show that were published in the UK in the later 1980s. I used to save up the money I earned from my paper round to buy each one as they came out, one a month. (Sorry, end nostalgia mode.)

One of things that I loved about the best of them was that they gave the crew their full due, but still manage to introduce memorable and interesting original characters as well - yes, Mary Sues can be annoying, but I do think it's a shame that all non-canon characters get tarred with the same brush, particular in a source where other characters are a vital part of the format.

Recs under here )
sally_maria: (Serenity - poem)
For loaning me the Lois McMaster Bujold book, which was excellent. I really liked Aral and Cordelia and I loved her world-building. Using characters from different cultures to carry the exposition really worked, and both Barrayaran and Betan cultures appear convincing and a logical extension of the situations they find themselves in. I shall certainly look out for more of her books, and must dig out that Buffy fusion/crossover I read and enjoyed a while ago, since it should be clearer now.

Since I have a week off next week, resting up before the Christmas rush begins, I'm glad I had the chance to get a few books at double discount last week. So I'm looking forward to

Eldest by Christopher Paolini - the sequel to Eragon, which I read and enjoyed last year. Classic dragon-rider fantasy, with the lost heir and the city of the Dwarves but good of its kind.
The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones - which is probably enough argument in itself. I love the whole concept of Chrestomanci and the way he can pop up in all sorts of stories, but it's nice to have one focused on the family for a change.
The Serpent on the Crown by Elizabeth Peters - the latest in her Amelia Peabody series. A female Egyptologist and her family deal with murderers and Master Criminals in late 19th/early 20th century Egypt. Very entertaining and a classic example of the unreliable narrator.

And I'm going to have to read the Garth Nix books again, as [ profile] rustica's enthusiasm has inspired me.


sally_maria: Daniel Jackson looking sideways (Default)
wrong but wromantic

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