ancient history

Book Adventures Weekly, Issue 44

Good morrow, good book adventurers! The year end approaches. We hope you’re gathering your piles of to-reads and tallying up the books on your Goodreads challenge, in preparation for some time off and new beginnings.

The Book Smugglers are nearing the end of their Smugglivus celebrations. Today, Erika of Book Punks describes why she loved her favorite books of 2015, and looks forward to a few in 2016.

For all the ancient history lovers out there, Paul Weimer answers the question, Why Rome? (Also on Smugglivus)

In more on Rome, archaeologists just found human remains where Caesar defeated two Germanic tribes in modern the Netherlands.

The top 20 searches of the Europeana public database in 2015.

Tor.com links to novellas for $2.99, including The BuildersBintiThe Last Witness, and The Drowning Eyes.

I have no words for this story and these photos about Mongolian eagle hunters. Except maybe “beautiful.”

 

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A Reader’s Guide to Devon, Bath, and London

If you’re like me, you love reading about places you travel to. Or want to travel to.

I was much busier than I expected to be (or I was nodding off on the train, or watching the scenery pass by), or I would have read more of these.

On my recent vacation to England, I was forced by necessity (a wedding) to establish a vacation base for the majority of my stay in the Devon countryside. Since I was so near, I dropped into Bath for a few days, before spending my last night in London (because trains aren’t always reliable, and getting the train to the airport on the same day I needed to fly out just seemed too risky).

Despite the distractions of exploring the outdoors, meeting up with old friends, touring tangible history, and watching British TV in hotel bedrooms, I managed to get some reading done – and to put together a list of ideal books to read to set the tone of travels to these places.

Turn the page for my guide to reading for Devon, Bath, and London.

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Book Adventures in Egypt!

Today, Jaclyn, our friend Koren and I have teamed up to bring you our Top Ten Favorite Adventures in Egypt. Mystery, history, and romance backed by lush and exciting scenery. So, if you’ve ever wanted to go to Egypt, or you’ve been, and you miss it, or even if you just want to read about an exotic, historical locale this summer… check out one of these books!

Jaclyn’s picks

The Other Guy's Bride (Braxtons 32)

The Other Guy’s Bride by Connie Brockway. If you enjoyed The Mummy at all, you will find this historical romance an absolute fantastic adventure. This book is funny and romantic and exactly how I fantasize an Egyptian adventure would unfold. This one likely isn’t the most historically accurate of the bunch, but it’s a whole lot of fun.

Shadows on the Nile

Shadows on the Nile by Kate Furnivall. Although I read this one quite some time ago, it has continued to stay with me. It’s set just after the first world war and has more of a mystery element to it. Quite a bit of the novel actually takes place in London, England, but I loved seeing the heroine’s reaction to traveling to Egypt.

Resurrection

Resurrection by Tucker Malarkey. Is another Egyptian adventure that’s similar to Shadows on the Nile. However, the novel is set completely in Egypt. What I liked about this one is that readers are treated to a more involved look at colonial life in Egypt. Again, there’s a dash of mystery here, but on the whole, Resurrection is much more introspective.

The Sacred River

The Sacred River by Wendy Wallace. I recently reviewed this one and I recommend it if you’re looking for a quieter adventure. While on the surface this one is an adventure to Egypt for three very different women, this journey is a metaphor for the internal transformation that each woman goes through. This one is beautifully written.

Koren’s picks

Memoirs of Cleopatra

Memoirs of Cleopatra: This is a long haul, but worth it. A dying Cleopatra recounts her life following her personal and political struggles (sometimes one and the same) up until her suicide. George paints a brilliant, detailed picture of Egyptian court life and politics during this period, from the relationships between the pharaohs to the strengthening hold of Rome over the country. If you really want to get to know Cleopatra, Memoirs does a great job of connecting the reader with the famous pharaoh.

The October Horse: A Novel of Caesar and Cleopatra (Masters of Rome #6)

The October Horse is the sixth book in McCullough’s Masters of Rome series and though the title suggests this is the story of Caesar and Cleopatra, that is only a portion of the book. It also covers Caesar’s dictatorship and assassination, as well as the rise of Octavian. Cleopatra and Caesar’s relationship is a different than what is usually portrayed – it is a lot more calculated (on his part) and Cleopatra comes off as more of a girl in love than a “sex-pot” set on securing her own power. McCullough makes ancient history so readable. She’s able to take oft-dry topics of ancient politics and military campaigns and makes them come alive.

The Queen of the Damned (The Vampire Chronicles #3)

The Queen of the Damned is the third book in Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Akasha, the titular “Queen of the Damned”, is an ancient Egyptian queen who is cursed to become the mother of vampires. I love Rice’s vampires – sparkly they ain’t – and this origin story is fascinating.

The Red Tent

The Red Tent is the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah (and Rachel, and Zilpah, and Bilhah). Through the teaching of Rachel and others, Dinah becomes a skilled midwife. Her life takes her into Egypt where, unknown to her, her brother Joseph (of the technicolor dreamcoat) is prime minister. There’s only a brief mention of Dinah in the Bible, but Diamant has fleshed out her story so that we have a vivid picture of the lives of women in the ancient world.

Stacey’s picks

Mara, Daughter of the Nile

Mara, Daughter of the Nile is an enchanting ancient historical romance about a proud, determined young slave named Mara. In her quest for freedom, she becomes a double agent, spying for two masters – and finds herself falling in love with one of them. I loved this quick, evocative tale that brought to life not only this clever young slave, but also the world of ancient Egypt. Marked as, and written for, young adults, it works equally well for adults.

The Beacon at Alexandria

The Beacon at Alexandria features a woman who disguises herself as a man to enter a “man’s” profession, travels to Alexandria and moves on to become a doctor on the Roman war front in Thrace. It is a wonderful tale that will surely please historical fiction fans. Bonus: it covers ancient Roman history and the war with the Visigoths.

 Honorable Mentions (by Stacey)

The Twelve Rooms of the Nile

Twelve Rooms of the Nile – the fictional tale of a passionate meeting between Florence Nightingale and Gustave Flaubert as they both travel down the Nile. Based in fact – they both traveled up the Nile at the same time – it weaves in a beautiful story of how they might have met and become soulmates. I’ve only read part of this one, but what I did read had wonderful imagery and great, boating-on-the-Nile pace.

Cleopatra and Antony

I haven’t read Cleopatra and Antony yet, but it appeals to me because the focus (even in the title) is (supposedly) on Cleopatra. This is a historical nonfiction, about the life and times of Cleopatra, Octavian, Caesar, and Antony. Have you read this? Did you like it? What were your impressions?