Justinian's Flea by William Rosen chronicles the Byzantine Empire under Emperor Justinian. From his collection of law into the Justinian Code to the military victories under his general Belisarius, the author gives a detailed history of an era under one of the few Byzantine emperors commonly-known. The author devotes particular attention to the outbreak of plague during the seventh century, which gives the book its title. Well worth reading for history enthusiasts.
--Michael B., Jamestown Bluffs Branch
Suzzy Roche, youngest sister in the trio known as The Roches, has written "Wayward Saints" her first literary offering. Roche has had an amazing career with and without her sisters, Maggie and Terre. She's acted on the big screen in "Crossing Delancey" and on the New York stage. She's a talented guitarist and vocalist with two solo CDs in addition to those made with the group.
In "The Long Night," author Steve Wick tells us what it was like to be a broadcast journalist in Europe, and chiefly Berlin, during the 1930's rise of Adolf Hitler. But Wick wasn't born until 1951. So instead, he examines the work of William Shirer to capture a foreign correspondent's view of a Germany gone mad.
The first time I read Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," I was troubled by the author's too close proximity to the history. Part history, part memoir, the book also reflects a measure of intimacy like the pages of a diary. Though I did not doubt or distrust the author's honesty or the integrity of his research, his personal involvement in the story made me question his objectivity.
I've always found that any mundane task, such as studying, cleaning, or the aforementioned laundry, always goes faster set to some really good music. Luckily for those of us who get stuck with drudgery, SLCL has some grand scores to make your next annoying chore feel like an epic quest.
"I think you might want to watch this movie," a co-worker told me.
"What's it about?"
"Well, it is about a tire that comes to life and goes on a killing spree."
(Insert chirping noises representing the crickets in my head as I stare dumbfounded at said co-worker.) "OK...a tire. That comes to life. And kills people."
A week later I bring home my DVD copy of "Rubber" and the above conversation repeats itself between my husband and myself, both of whom have been known to lament the lack of new and creative thinking in the movies today. Well, a killer tire certainly challenges that belief - let "Rubber" begin.
And here is the weirdest thing of all; "Rubber" is actually very entertaining. The film sets itself up as a meta-cinema experiment where the audience at home is watching a group of spectators on the screen who have gone to the desert to watch a movie. So, it's all a joke - the killer tire, the exploding heads, the squished scorpions. Or is it?
How would the modern superheroes we have come to know and love have lived in the 17th century? Prolific author Neil Gaiman gives us his vision in "Marvel 1602," which collects an eight-part mini-series from Marvel Comics. Branching from the courts of Queen Elizabeth to a colony in the New World, this critically acclaimed series mixes historic settings with vivid art to create a tale worth reading. Instead of spandex-wearing superheroes publicly using their powers to fight crime or save the world, Gaiman created a time and place where anyone with unnatural abilities is considered a witch. Readers will be introduced to familiar characters in new roles, such as Daredevil as a blind minstrel, Dr. Strange as the Queen's physician, the Fantastic Four as elemental explorers, and a worthy enemy in Count Otto Von Doom. This graphic novel is a fun read for teens and adults.
--Aaron E., Headquarters