Vulpes Libris

A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.

What I Read on my Summer Vacation (a round-up)

Just because the Foxes were on holiday doesn’t mean we weren’t reading. Unlike some of my fellow Foxes, I wasn’t traveling, so in a way, I had more opportunity to read. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to hang a hammock near my apartment building, which cramped the whole vacation vibe, but I often drank iced tea while reading,so I did my best.
blood of the south cover One of the best books I read was the latest in the Aelf Fen historical mystery series by Alys Clare, Blood of the South.Taking place in the Middle East and England a few decades after the Norman Conquest, it centers on a healer woman, Lassair, who lives in a tiny village in the English fens.After she intervenes to save a foreign woman who is traveling to her late husband’s family who lives in the area, she is caught up in trying to track down those relatives in the midst of a severe flood and the havoc it leaves behind. Alternating with that story is the one of her lover, Rollo who possesses information which has placed his life in danger as he moves through the Holy Land. The vivid writing transported me to the exotic locales and I liked the characters enough that I want to learn more about them, so I shall be hunting the earlier books.
Obelisk-William-Bankes Also set in the Middle East was a biography of William Bankes, The Obelisk and the Englishman by Dorothy U. Seyler. Bankes was one of the foremost Egyptologist of the Regency era and spent much of his early adult life traveling to various sites, often as the first European to see some of them. He made meticulous records of them, not only the usual paintings and architectural drawings, but even measurements of inside and outsides of buildings, temples and tombs. His copies of the hieroglyphs on the walls assisted in breaking the code with the Rosetta Stone and some of the edifices have been lost since his lifetime, buried beneath sand or water. In middle age, he was forced to flee England to escape penalties of homosexuality, but bought and shipped a multitude of paintings, statues and relics back to decorate his family estates. The impeccable scholarship the author brings makes this an intriguing volume and its lavish illustrations, both color plates and numerous black and white ones, add to the learning experience.
On my own narrow range of exploration, a visit to my local library, I wandered into the graphic novel section, in search of further editions of my favorite, Chi’s Sweet Home and spotted Darth Vader & Son on display.Darth_Vader_and_Son I’ve long wanted to read this amusing take on the Star Wars characters and it didn’t disappoint. I read it twice sitting in a plump chair in one of the library’s reading rooms. It posits the idea of Darth Vader raising Luke Skywalker and dealing with all sorts of childhood experiences that we can’t imagine Darth Vader responding to, such as helping with homework, reading bedtime stories and teaching Luke how to ride a bike. Some of the situations had me laughing out loud & hoping the librarians wouldn’t notice. It’s by Jeffrey Brown who has a series of these offbeat imaginings, including Vader’s Little Princess which I haven’t read. Yet.
As I write this, I’m finishing off the first in another new cozy mystery discovery for me, those of Charles Finch. A_Beautiful_Blue_Death_coverA Beautiful Blue Death is the poetic title of the first in a series of Victorian mysteries featuring the amateur detective, Charles Lenox and his neighbor, Lady Jane Grey. Lenox doesn’t take himself seriously and his interactions with other characters are humorous and insightful. I’ve learned things that are new to me, despite decades of reading about English society and I really enjoyed the style of writing, which is light, but not fluffy. I’m really looking forward to reading more of this series.
So there you have it, the jam packed adventures of my summertime. Aren’t you glad that I didn’t tell you about some of the other things I did, such as the excitements of grocery shopping?

One comment on “What I Read on my Summer Vacation (a round-up)

  1. Kate
    July 21, 2015

    I’d love to read the first one: thanks for the tip!

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  • (The header image is from Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Francis Barlow (1666), and appears courtesy of the Digital and Multimedia Center at the Michigan State University Libraries.)
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