Archive for January, 2014

Ben Jonson online

January 31, 2014

The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson is now on line. I don’t remember reading Ben Jonson but I might give it a try. The works are available partly on an open-access basis and present texts of all his plays, masques, poems, letters and criticism plus hundreds of supporting documents and musical scores and a bibliography. It only took a team of 30 scholars. What are masques? – a short allegorical dramatic entertainment of the 16th and 17th centuries performed by masked actors.

“Before We Met” by Lucie Whitehouse

January 30, 2014

This is a new title set mostly in London. Starting vaguely with a “Gone Girl-ish” plot, a newly married Hannah becomes suspicious when her husband fails to come off the airplane from New York. Then he claims to have lost his cell phone and cannot call her. Then he is not checked in at the usual hotel in NY when she tries to track him down there. After some investigating, she goes through their financial papers and discovers he has withdrawn all of her personal savings. Hannah confronts her husband’s secretary who she feels must know some of her husband’s secrets and goes from there down a trail to figure out who the man she married 8 months ago really is. Suspenseful.

“Mein Kampf” An E-book best seller

January 30, 2014

Amazon has reported that “Mein Kampf” has risen to the top spot on its propaganda and political philosophy chart; it has also entered the top 20 best-selling iTunes in the category of politics and events.

Should we, therefore, conclude that anti-Semitism is on the rise?  Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, doesn’t think so.  In a recent op-ed piece he defends the First Amendment rights of all.  Some believe that “Mein Kampf” should not be reprinted in order to keep it away from those that would want to revive the movement.  In fact, many European countries have used varying measures to keep it out of the hands of readers.  The Bavarian Finance Ministry holds the continental European copyright to “Mein Kampf.”  It routinely denies requests to reprint it;  the copyright is set to expire in 2015.  Other nations restrict the sales of existing copies to qualified scholars.

Perhaps the anonymous character of an E-book purchase or download may explain, to some extent, the rise in sales.  But Foxman reminds us all that even  if readers are motivated by simple curiousity,  we cannot forget the dangers presented in this political text.  As an important historical document, Foxman believes, it must remain available to the public, but “not withough the essential supplementary texts…that put Hitler’s writings into context and explain their relevance today.”

“Once Upon a Lie”

January 29, 2014

What starts out as a breezy, almost funny, mystery evolves into something very dark.  Maggie Barbieri writes strong women characters.  In her previous novels–the Murder 101 series, Alison Bergeron was a college professor who gets involved in murder cases.  In this newest novel,”Once Upon a Lie,” Maeve Conlon is a divorced mother of two teenagers living in a small Westchester community.  A CIA (Culinary Institute of America) not the other CIA,  graduate,  she owns a upscale bakery in her home town.  Her best friend Jo, who was dumped by her husband while she was undergoing chemo therapy, helps in the shop.  Maeve’s father, an ex-policeman, lives in a nearby assisted living facility.  He experiences bouts of forgetfulness that have become more frequent.  These characters lend themselves to some funny situations, at least at the beginning of the book.

When Maeve’s cousin Sean is found death with a bullet hole in his head, Maeve and her father become “persons of interest” to the police.  As we learn more about Sean and the part he played in Maeve’s childhood, the more sinister the plot becomes.  It isn’t until the very last pages of the book that the killer is revealed.

“Once Upon a Lie” is an easy to read mystery.  No blood and gore but a lot of heartache and tragedy.

 

Newbery & Caldecott 2014

January 29, 2014

2014 Medal Winner

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, written by Kate DiCamillo and published by Candlewick Press

Comic book fan and natural-born cynic Flora Belle Buckman and Ulysses, a flying, superhero, poetry-writing squirrel, join forces to overcome Ulysses’ arch-nemesis, Flora’s mother and encounter a quirky cast of characters. Through poignant, laugh-out-loud episodes, this homage to comic books is a testament to the power of love.

2014 Medal Winner

Locomotive, illustrated by Brian Floca, is the 2014 Caldecott Medal winner. The book was written by Brian Floca and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.
All aboard! Accompany a family on an unforgettable weeklong train trip from Omaha to Sacramento in 1869. Brian Floca’s dramatic watercolor, ink, acrylic and gouache illustrations incorporate meticulously-researched portraits of the train, the travelers and the crew as they traverse the American landscape on the new transcontinental railroad.

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