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Showing posts from September, 2014

Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King (♦♦♦♦)

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How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture


On August 19, 1418 a competition was announced calling for designs for vaulting of the dome of Florence's cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, scaffolds, as well as the design of machines that would make possible the erecting of the dome. The cathedral had been under construction for over a century and its foundation had been laid in 1296. The designer and original architect was a master mason named Arnolfo di Cambio, builder of both the Palazzo Vecchio and the city's fortifications.
In 1366 there was a call for models as how the dome of the cathedral would be built. Two models were submitted, one by Giovanni Di Lapo Ghini detailing external buttresses to channel the stress of high walls; Neri di Fioravanti's model did away with the buttresses by vaulting using iron rings embedded in the masonry to absorb the stress on the structure. The latter was the model chosen. Fifty years later, the problem of how to build the dome still con…

The Night Is Forever by Heather Graham (♦♦♦♦)

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On the hills of Tennessee, outside Nashville, lies the Horse Farm, a farm devoted to healing of afflicted people through equine therapy. The farm owner, Marcus Danby, dies of an apparent self-inflicted drug overdose in a ravine near the farm. Olivia “Liv” Gordon, a farm therapist and Marcus’ friend, discovers the body. With sunset quickly approaching, Liv sees the ghost in the sky of General Rufus Cunnigham, a Confederate general during the Civil War, riding his horse Loki, apparently watching over her.
Olivia contacts Malachi Gordon, her cousin and an agent with the FBI’s Krewe of Hunters, to question Marcus’ official cause of death by telling him that Marcus’ ghost appeared to her and told her he had been murdered. Malachi promises to send an agent undercover to investigate. Enter agent Dustin Blake, in his first assignment with the Krewe of Hunters. Within days of his arrival there is an attempt on the life of the farm’s director—attempt disguised as an accident. When the director is…

Exiles by Ron Hansen (♦♦♦♦)

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As early as 1932, the great British literary critic F.R. Leavis could write that Hopkins ‘is likely to prove, for our time and the future, the only influential poet of the Victorian age, and he seems to me the greatest.’” Page 210
Gerard Manley Hopkins was born on July 28, 1844, the eldest child of Kate and Manley Hopkins. His mother was a dedicated housewife, while his father had a successful marine insurance adjuster business and wrote standard manuals on the topic. His father also delved into a literary career.
Gerard Hopkins won a poetry prize when he was sixteen years-old, and later won a partial scholarship to Oxford thanks to his poetry writing. During his studies at Oxford, Hopkins continued writing poetry, this time of a more religious nature. He graduated with honors from Oxford in classical studies, but his placement as a professor was endangered when he decided to leave the Church of England and join the Catholic Church at the age of twenty-two. At twenty-four he joi…

Harbor Island by Carla Neggers (♦♦♦♦)

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Emma and Colin have been in Boston for a few days, back from their Irish getaway detailed in Declan's Cross. Emma receives a call from a confidential source to meet in Bristol Island, an island in the Boston harbor. When Emma arrives, she finds the woman dead of a gunshot.
The victim's name was Rachel Bristol, a movie director interested in making a movie about the Declan's Cross art heist. She had been staying at a house property of her ex-husband in an affluent neighborhood in Boston. The morning of her death she was supposed to have a meeting with her ex-husband Travis, and Maisie, his daughter and movie mogul producer.
Travis and Maisie are naturally distressed by the news, though Finian Bracken learns through Maisie that she didn't share Rachel's vision for the movie and wanted to sever their links. Apparently Rachel thought that she had figured out the identity of the serial art thief.
To complicate matters further, Oliver Fairbairn, an English mythologist consu…

Rock Point (novella) by Carla Neggers (♦♦♦♦)

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Bonus Content
Father Bracken is having a drink with Garda Sean Murphy at the recently opened O'Byrne Hotel, when he meets by chance an American priest on holiday. Father Callahan is so taken with Ireland that he wants to take a sabbatical year to explore it.
Father Bracken needs to escape Ireland because it reminds him of his former self, the family he lost, so what better way to serve God than in a struggling parish across the Atlantic? Father Bracken pulls some strings and gets assigned to St. Patrick's Church of Rock Point, Maine.
As the Father is planning his trip, Garda Murphy is after the name of one of Bracken Distillers’ former employee, a man who appears to be involved in a very dangerous smuggling ring.
Rock Point apparently was written after Heron's Cove, but it seems to me that it's a prequel not only to the latter, but an introduction to the Sharpe & Donovan series because the events detailed in Saint's Gate occurred in September while those in Rock Po…

Q &A with Carla Neggers author of HARBOR ISLAND

1.What about HARBOR ISLAND sets it apart from your other books in the Sharpe & Donovan series?
Boston, and FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan are engaged but haven’t told anyone. They’re back from a short break in Ireland, at work with their small, Boston-based FBI unit. Emma, an art crimes expert, is on the hot seat. She needs to find out why her boss was sent a replica of an Irish Celtic cross exactly like crosses she and her grandfather have received after unsolved art thefts over the past decade. Colin, a deep-cover agent, was shoe-horned into Emma’s unit, and his role is still unclear…but he finds himself checking up on their boss’s missing wife. Four books into this series, and I’m as excited about Emma and Colin and their families, friends and colleagues as ever!
2.The book takes readers on a ride from Boston to Ireland to the coast of Maine. What drew you to these locations?
I love Boston, Ireland and Maine and know them well, but it didn’t occur to me they would be at…

Declan’s Cross (re-read) by Carla Neggers (♦♦♦♦)

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I initially reviewed Declan’s Cross last September as part of Carla Neggers’ blog tour to promote its release. I have spent the last few weeks catching on the Sharpe & Donovan series, which started with Saint’s Gate, followed by Heron’s Cove, and Declan’s Cross.
Last year I had a family emergency that didn’t allow me to concentrate as well as I should have, and I think I did a disservice to the author by stating that the mystery was less important than the love interactions. I re-read this book again for several reasons: 1) to read the series in order to understand the characters better; 2) to be sure I hadn’t missed anything the first time around.
I think that in the Sharpe & Donovan series the mystery is a strong component, almost breathing element in the plots, and they have to be, considering Emma and Colin make their living as FBI agents. I still think that Emma and Colin should be flesh-out more because they are the protagonists. I like Father Bracken better, though I hav…