Monday, October 29, 2012

Dissolution by C. J. Sansom

The setting of Dissolution by C.J. Sansom is a monastery named St. Donatus located in the south east of London in 1537, a time when the country was divided between those loyal to the Roman Catholic Church and those loyal to King Henry V111 and the Reformation.  Matthew Shardlake, the protagonist, is an astute lawyer who is very conscious of his deformity, a hunched back. He believes in reformation but he does not like his boss, Thomas Cromwell.  He was sent by Thomas Cromwell to quietly and discreetly investigate the murder of a Commissioner at the monastery. The Commissioner was stationed at St. Donatus for the purpose of checking out any irregularities, sexual or otherwise, at the monastery.  Naturally, the monks are suspects in his murder but the monks suggest outsiders are to be blamed; smugglers or practitioners of witchcraft.  Shardlake is sent to investigate with only one assistant, young Mark Poer.  

I am on page 180.  So far I am finding the characters at the monastery very interesting. The ones who stand out are the black healer, referred to as an infirmarian, named Brother Guy; Alice, the 22 year old Aide who works in the infirmary; and Brother Gabriel; the librarian and musician who seems to be attracted to Mark.   Brother Guy is referred to as the black goblin by the prejudiced townspeople. In general, the monks who have a monopoly on the brewing of beer, are not liked by the people in the town. For one thing, their beer is filthy with hens dropping dung in the beer. At this point in the story.  Shardlake suspects that the Commissioner may have found some accounting irregularities at the monastery which could be a motive for his murder.

The other books in the series are Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Blog Action Day 2012: The Power of We

Blog Action Day (BAD) started in 2007.  BAD has turned out to be very effective in bringing bloggers together from different countries, interests and languages to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included water, climate change, and poverty.  Food was last year's theme, that's when I first participated.  Today, October 15th, the theme is the Power of We, a celebration of people working together

I am participating in this Blog Action Day to ensure that more and more people will know about the work of this particular organization with regard to the health of women and children.   This is one international body not afraid to reach out to ELIMINATE Maternal/Neonatal  Tetanus (MNT) in Third World countries; it's The Kiwanis Club working with UNICEF

Have you noticed how fearful some people are about the Power of WE?  Why?  Is it that some people are all about the "ME" and so they fear the awesome Power of "WE"?  The irony is that WE have the power to do great things together and at the same time it takes only ONE to step forward.  WE can end poverty, WE can stop stop criminality and end violence, WE can advocate for healthy children.  Only ONE is needed to speak up and get things going.

6 Things to Do:
  1. Make a pledge to become an agent of Change in your community.
  2. Educate yourself about the issues.
  3. Read about Collaboration.  This, after all, is a book blog: Power of WE: Succeeding Through Partnerships,  Collaboration,  Collaborate: The Art of We
  4. Keep current by reading the Kiwanis/Eliminate Blog
  5. Volunteer time, money, expertise for a worthy cause.
  6.  *Speak up about children's health issues!
*If you have issues speaking up, here is another international organization that will help you.  Learn to speak up or hone your communication and leadership skills in a fun and supportive group environment, Toastmasters International.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Man Booker Prize 2012: 6 Finalists

Six books, six authors shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year. Apparently this year, the judges have passed over some well known favorites and chosen a new generation of writers which include four first-time novelists.  The winner will be announced on Tuesday.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Hangman's Daughter series

I have finished reading The Dark Monk.  This story reminded me of some of Dan Brown's thriller fictions with the Christian icons, the clues to be solved, a little history, a little mythology, and some crooked monks.   Just as Brown's readers actually visit the Italian sites mentioned in Angels and Demons, the writer seems to be expecting that his readers will be visiting some of  the Bavarian sites mentioned in the story and so he has provided a guide to the sites at the end of the novel.

Also, at the end of the story we get to know a more about the writer Oliver Potzsch and a little bit about the real Jakob Kuisl, the Schongau Hangman and also the writer's ancestor.   Interestingly, there are 14 executioners in Potzsch's family tree. 

There is also a preview of the third book in the series, The Beggar King.  The romance between Magdalena, the Hangman's daughter and Simon the Physician Assistant is moving right along in the first few pages.

I am moving on to another historical fiction, Dissolution by C.J. Samson, our book club pick for November, set in 16th century England.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

October Reads

Suggestions for October reading from Oprah's website.  The list includes several non-fiction titles.  There is  Life After Death by Damien Echols, one of the "West Memphis Three".  Also, The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace By Lynn Povich, a story of 36 staff  members, including the writer, who filed a gender discrimination lawsuit in 1970.

Friday, October 05, 2012

I am reading Dark Monk

I am on page 179 of The Dark Monk: a Hangman's Daughter's Tale,  set in 17th century Bavaria. A Knight Templar Master, Friedrich Wildgraf, has hidden a great treasure, possibly large enough to finance wars in Europe.  The Templars wanted to ensure only Christians would find the treasure so there are riddles to be solved, with Biblical vocabulary, and they are planted in various locations.  One was found in a church crypt, another at a basilica, and one more at the ruins of a castle   One of the major characters, Physician Assistant Simon, says the riddle he found at the castle is a prayer and on page 179 it puzzles him that the word TREE, in the prayer/riddle, is capitalized.

In the meantime a priest has been murdered.  The hangman's daughter, Magdalena, has gone shopping for herbs in another town.  The hangman, Kuisl and a group of his fellow citizens have gone out to capture some bandits, The Scheller Gang, who have been ambushing and murdering traders and citizens traveling to and from their town.   The vigilante group led by the hangman seems to have gotten out of hand.  To the disgust of the hangman, women and children were killed.

The first book in the series, The Hangman's Daughter, is our book club pick this month.