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Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

91Aw6BgBpKLBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

In this imaginative steam-punk fantasy, the god Kos, protector of Alt Coulumb, has died and must be revived before the city falls apart. Kos the Everburning literally keeps the city going—holding up the city’s infrastructure, as well as answering the prayers of his church and clergy. Tara Abernathy, a new intern, and her boss, Mrs. Kevarian (from the investigative firm Kelethras, Albrecht and Ao) have come to Alt Coulumb to find out how Kos died and revive him. Tara and Mrs. Kevarian are magical investigators who solve problems. They have run into a big one. Kos was murdered—who would be able to murder a god? Any why?

One reviewer suggested that if the authors Roger Zelazny, Neil Gaiman and John Grisham had collaborated on a book, something like Three Parts Dead would be the result. I’d like to add Jim Butcher and possibly Terry Pratchett to this list as well.

Will Tara, with the help of the priest Abelard and Justice Cat(herine) and the despised gargoyles, find out what happened to Kos and bring him back? Will the city survive if they can’t? Why did someone wipe the vampire privateer’s mind? Is Justice truly blind? And most importantly, when will the sequel come out?! Remarkable that this is Gladstone’s first novel.

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Eragon Series by Christopher Paolini

InheritanceCycleCoversBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Christopher Paolini had an idea for a book in high school. Lucky for us all he started writing a fantasy novel featuring a young boy named Eragon who finds one of the world’s last dragons. Eragon and the dragon Saphira learn how to work together throughout the series, which enables them to fight the evil king Galbatorix. He has several setbacks, saves his village and his brother who becomes a warrior in his own right. Those of us who finished all four books (originally there were supposed to be only three) were happy to find out that Paolini will revisit Alagaesia again. If you are looking for something to read after Hunger Games, Twilight and Harry Potter, I suggest you revisit The Inheritance Cycle featuring Eragon and Saphira. The first volume is titled Eragon. Volumes two Eldest and three Brisingr followed not quickly enough for most of us waiting impatiently. The final volume Inheritance came out last fall.

Fun Facts about Our Christmas Traditions

Part 2 of 2

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference LibrarianArtificial-Christmas-Tree

Christmas Carols – These are songs specifically written and sung to celebrated the events of the Nativity. Carols have been around since the 300s. St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscans put poems to music and popularized the carols. During the reformation and in Puritan America, they were frowned upon and often illegal.

Christmas trees – No one really knows when this tradition started, but it is generally considered to have begun in Germany. Having Christmas trees spread slowly through Europe, and came to England with the German Hanoverian kings. Trees were truly popularized during Queen Victoria’s reign, with the influence of her husband, Prince Albert.

Christmas Wrapping – Originally, unwrapped presents were put out during Christmas Eve, after the tree was decorated. Nowadays, trees are put up so much earlier and gifts come from other family members. It is generally understood that any unwrapped gifts came from Santa Claus.

Christmas cards – Christmas cards started out as decorative note paper that people used to write to their relative on holidays. They became even more popular after Valentine’s Day cards spread throughout England in the 1830s.

Eggnog – This popular milk or cream based drink gets its name from an old term for ale, which was called nog. The drink was a French tradition, which we Americans promptly added ale (or liquor) to.

2256785187_179f1c297e_zNativity Scene or Crèche – The earliest known Nativity Scene dates back to Rome in the 300s; it was part of the Christ’s Mass, and was said to have come from Bethlehem. St. Francis of Assisi is credited with popularizing it when he placed real animals and people in the scene.

The Nutcracker – This story was written in 1816 by German author E T A Hoffman and was rather a dark grim tale. Alexandre Dumas adapted it in 1845 and made it less scary. In 1891, Tchaikovsky wrote the music for the ballet which opened in St. Petersburg in 1892, and has remained popular ever since.

The Twelve Days of Christmas – This time period starts on December 26 and continues through Epiphany (also known as Three Kings Day.) which is January 6th.  In 567, at the Council of Tours, it was decided that these twelve days would be set aside to honor and observe the birth of Christ.

Wassail – Wassail comes from the Old English words waes hael, which means “be well,” “be hale,” or “good health.” Originally it was a strong, hot drink (usually a mixture of ale, honey, and spices), but over the centuries some non-alcoholic versions of wassail evolved.

How to write Merry Christmas in other languages

Afrikaans Geseënde Kersfees
Czech Velike Vanoce
Danish Glaedelig Jul!
French Joyeux Noël
German Froeliche Weinachten
Italian Bono Natale
Japanese Meri Kurisumasu
Polish Wesolych Swiat Bozego Narodzenia
Spanish Feliz Navidad
Swedish God Jul
Welsh Nadolig Llawen


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The History of Christmas

Part 1 of 2

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference  Librarian732px-Jonathan_G_Meath_portrays_Santa_Claus

Most church historians have said that although December 25 is the official birth date for Jesus, most believe he was born in March. So why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25?

Because of Mithras. Mithraism spread across Asia Minor from Persia and became very popular with the Roman army. The Roman army was made up of conquered peoples, many of whom worshiped Mithras. He was a sun god; one of his main celebration dates was December 25, to ensure that the sun would be reborn to bring warmth to the world again in the spring and summer.   When Christianity was just starting, Mithraism was one of its main rivals. So the church changed the date of the celebration of Jesus’ birth to December 25.

The other main rival for Christmas was the Roman celebration of Saturnalia. This farming festival included feasting, giving gifts to family and sharing food with the poor lasted a whole week, ending on December 25. The Romans drank to excess and ate to excess, which is what many do today. The early Church considered these celebrations unseemly, so they made giving gifts and food to the poor part of the Christmas festival.

Christmas was a solemn and reflective holy day (holiday) for several centuries for Christians – Christmas was originally Christ’s Mass, a special service.   But the pagan celebrations persisted for so long that the Church adopted them, hoping that the pagans would become Christian.

The way we celebrate Christmas now generally originated in the Middle Ages, mostly from England. The decorations, carols, food, cards and gift giving were brought to the United States from England, Holland and Germany. Santa Claus was originally Saint Nicolas, which in Dutch became Sinter Claus, which became Santa Claus. In Holland, Belgium and Italy, children are left presents in their shoes on December 6, which is St. Nicholas’ Day. The Santa Claus we all know and are used to was created by Thomas Nast for Harper’s Weekly, and first appeared in 1863!

Did you know Christmas was outlawed in the Puritan community of Plymouth. The Puritans associated all the celebrating and carousing with paganism. By the 1870s, Christmas gradually began to become more like what we know now. In the Jamestown Colony, in Virginia, Christmas was celebrated riotously, almost like it was in England.

Fun facts about our Christmas traditions coming in Part II!!


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Doc by Mary Doria Russell

urlBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Yes, this book is about Doc Holliday. You may think you know all you about John Henry Holliday, but this fictionalized biography focuses on his early years. J H holliday was a Southern gentleman, raised on a plantation, played piano and was devastated when his mother died, so very young, from tuberculosis. Ms. Russell portrays Doc as a Southerner who desperately missed his Southern family, but needed to go west for the dryer air. He first went to Texas, and eventually worked his way up to Dodge City, Kansas, where he first met the Earp brothers. Ms. Russell researched his early years a great deal and has poignantly shown his illness, his intelligence and wit and his loyalty to friends. She used creative license in some areas, but wrote a beautiful biography of John Henry Holliday, dentist and card sharp.

Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins

cvr9780743258098_9780743258098_hrBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Fos and Opal find each other serendipitously, since neither would have been a great catch.  Fos was nearly blinded by mustard gas in WWI, which sometimes hindered his work with bioluminescence and radium; Opal was a spinster and lived in back country North Carolina. They met while Fos was going home to watch the Perseid meteor shower on the Carolina coast.  They settled in Knoxville; Fos and his war buddy Flash opened a photographer’s shop.  On weekends, they went to county fairs and showed off the newest sensation—X-rays! They never did well in their photography business, but it wasn’t until Flash got in trouble with the law that they went bust.  Their son, Lightfoot, was their pride and joy when their knowledge led them to help form Oak Ridge.  Lightfoot tells the rest of the story, trying to figure out what happened to his parents. He finds Flash in prison, and learns more about his parents. When Flash is released, they travel together across the country. At the end, Lightfoot too, finds love serendipitously, but on the west coast.

I found this book compelling and intriguing. I am relatively new to Tennessee and knew nothing about the history of Knoxville. Fos and Opal have a great relationship. I never knew that X-rays were county fair material.   There is a fuzzy, cloudy quality to the words, partly I suspect to show how Fos saw the world. He sees how cloudy or soft light reflects on and off things and people. Luminescence in many forms plays a role throughout the book. This is a satisfying story of a loving couple living and working in the early 1900s in Tennessee, and their son who finds his way to adulthood almost alone.

Sheriff of Yrnameer by Michael Rubens

indxBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

If you like humorous science fiction, I recommend The Sheriff of Yrnameer. This is Mr. Rubens’ first novel, but he has had plenty of experience with comedy while working on the Daily Show with John Stewart.

Cole is an opportunist, shady pilot and a thief; when we meet him he is between a rock and a hard place. A relentless tentacled bounty hunter named Kenneth has found him and his spaceship has been particalized by a robot for parking illegally. He really needs a way out. And he finds it unexpectedly—he high jacks a ship going to Yrnameer. The only problem is Yrnameer is known to be non-existent, and then there’s the whole issue of the twelve (no, make that eleven) bad men and becoming the sheriff…

Mr. Rubens writes like Douglas Adams with a dose of Terry Pratchett. Imagine an American version of these two authors writing about a much seedier Han Solo, and you can imagine the fun involved in reading this book.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

The-Rook-194x300By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Imagine waking up in a park with a ring of dead people around you. You have no memory of who you are, where you are or why you are surrounded by dead people with latex gloves on their hands. As you go through your pockets, you find an envelope with a letter inside. “Dear You, the body you’re in used to be mine…” is how the letter starts. Decisions need to be made and many letters have to be read. Agent Thomas learns she works in a secret organization—kind of like Her Majesty’s Supernatural Secret Service (think British Men in Black.)

The reader learns along with the amnesiac what happened and who she is. She finds out through letters written by her former self that she has lots of money, some sort of pet named Wolfgang and deadly enemies. She has to get up to speed quickly—people are trying to kill her.

I enjoyed this book—hard to believe this novel is Mr. O’Mallye’s first book. If you like wry humor, interesting paranormal monsters, and great fantasy fun, you should read this book. It is a little long, but moves quickly.

The War that Killed Achilles: the true story of Homer’s Iliad and the Trojan War By Caroline Alexander.

9780670021123_custom-6a502cede7d6bcb9959048d49d9ed3377fe36778-s2-c85By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Ms. Alexander, the author of The Bounty; the true story of the mutiny on the Bounty and The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition, has written another riveting account of an historical event, even though the Trojan War is often thought to be mythical. Alexander reveals the story part by part, giving historical background and quoting the epic in large chunks. She explains where Achilles came from, why he is the main character, and why after two millennia we still read and remember this epic poem. I would recommend this for those interested in ancient history, and even for those who are just trying to write a paper on the Trojan War. It kept my attention, and I even looked up some of the footnotes. It turns out there is evidence that Aeneas really did go to the Italian peninsula from Troy.

Welcome back, Paks!

indexBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Fans of Elizabeth Moon’s books featuring the heroine Paksenarrion will rejoice, as I did, when I heard that the author will be continuing the story of Paks in another trilogy. The first trilogy tells the story of Paksenarrion, a girl who doesn’t want to be a shepherd, so she runs away to become a soldier. She joins a tightly run mercenary troop, learns how to fight, becomes an outstanding soldier, works her way up the ranks while the troop fights Orcs, magic and evil, is knighted and is called to be a paladin.

When the first volume came out, some reviewers said Moon was following in Tolkien’s footsteps. While it is true there are Orcs, Elves and Dwarves, these tale are usually about the world of men. Moon is a former Marine, and her experiences certainly help make the novels more realistic, in a fantasy milieu. The first trilogy is comprised of Sheepfarmer’s Daughter, Divided Allegiance and Oath of Gold. The first book in this new series is Oath of Fealty. I recommend these titles if you like high fantasy, with a developed world, full of battles, magic, gods and kings.

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