Archive for February, 2013

Popular Pre-Twilight Vampire Fictions

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Author: Sherry Helms

Twilight series has always been favorite among the vampire fans. When we talk about the most brilliant Vampire novels, the majority of the reading enthusiasts choose Stephenie Meyers’s Twilight Series. However, there are various other eminent authors who had written vampire novels before twilight books became famous. Today, I’ve compiled a list of the top most frightening and must read vampire novels published before the twilight series that will make you believe in the ostensible existence of the very blood-sucking vampires. Take a look:

 Dracula by Bram Stoker

This heart throbbing novel spawned countless derivatives and brought the vampire fable into community perception. The blood-curdling tale reveals about a young man’s confrontation with the wicked count Dracula in his castle. Gothic touches like eerie castle, ferocious vampires and horror romance in this novel is able to hold readers awestruck with its many spine-chilling scenes.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

A most influential and spine tingling novel that has a great set-up and awesome ending. A very well-written novel by Richard Matheson with in-depth survival details that crafts vampires into the realm of science fiction. Robert Neville is the only human left alive on Earth who struggles to reverse the incurable plague that has mutated everyone into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

Considered one of the most horrifying vampire novels ever written, this amazing book is both homage to Bram Stoker’s classic “Dracula” and a tale of our post-Vietnam society. This freaky novel investigates the darkness of the human heart and the inward-looking evils of Salem’s lot, a small town in America.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

If you are looking for a fast paced mystery with a fun twist, this book is for you. Sookie Stackhouse is an attractive protagonist, around which the whole story revolves. She is a cocktail waitress in Louisiana, who has a special power of hearing every thought the other person is having. But, she is in dilemma that why she cannot hear a single word her boyfriend is thinking?

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

This is actually a modest novel as compared to other novels at that time, but it is well-investigated and beautifully written by Anne Rice. It is a worthy reading and superb introduction into the bloodsucker world. This heart-stopping Vampire novel shows the journey of Louis, who makes his mind up to interview a radiant and sinister vampire named Lestat to know more about vampires.

Lost Souls by Poppy Z. Brite

Lost Souls is dark and gloomy, and more than a little scary, but innovative novel by Poppy Z. Brite. This fable revolves around Nothing and Ann, who get interacted with three beautiful, hip vagabonds- Molochai, Twig, and Zillah-are on journey of quenching their ancient thirst for blood and searching of supple young flesh- at a club in Missing Mile, North Carolina. These three blood-thirsty vampires lead them on an illicit road trip south to New Orleans.

If you are a vampire aficionado and haven’t read any of the listed novels till yet, you’re missing something really stunning. These novels have tinges of everything like wit, romance, mystery, thrill, all are knitted well together.

5 Essential Books to Explore Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his Impressionist Art Style

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Author: Sherry Helms

One of the most celebrated painters of Impressionist era, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was born on February 25, 1841, in Limoges, France. A leading painter in the development of an artistic movement called Impressionism in 1870s, he painted every day for 60 years –that’s over 5,000 paintings. Today, on his 172nd birth anniversary, let’s know more about this archetypal artist and his impressionist artworks.

Of all the Impressionist artists, only Pierre Auguste Renoir earned distinction as a professional portrait painter. For more than fifty years Renoir explored the genre of portraiture, experimenting and pressing forward in his determination to become, as he explained to Monet in 1884, “a painter of figures”.

Renoir is now universally acclaimed as museums pride themselves on his paintings and crowds flock to his retrospectives. His work shows art at its most light-hearted, sensual and luminous. Renoir never wanted anything ugly in his paintings, nor any dramatic action. “I like pictures which make me want to wander through them when it’s a landscape”, he said, “or pass my hand over breast or back if it’s a woman”. Renoir’s entire oeuvre is dominated by the depiction of women. As a celebrator of beauty, and especially feminine sensuality, it has been said that “Renoir is the final representative of a tradition which runs directly from Rubens to Watteau.” To know more about him as a painter and his painting nuances, you may read Peter H Feist’s groundbreaking biographical epic Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1841-1919: A Dream of Harmony.

Likewise, author Barbara Ehrlich White wrote an investigative book on Renoir’s life and remarkable works: Renoir: His Life, Art, and Letters“. For twenty years, White has devoted much of her life to searching out unpublished letters, drawings and documents that reveal Renoir’s life as an artist and as a man. With 400 illustrations including 125 in color, this book further includes seldom reproduced works of Renoir, as well as some intimate photos of family and homes. This book would come out as an useful resource for the painting scholars.

If you are interested in having sumptuous feast for your eyes, you may check out the book, Renoir: A Master of Impressionism compiled by Gerhard Gruitrooy. A handsomely illustrated volume, it offers insight into the live and works of Renoir. And, the thing that makes the book unique is that every painting is shown in rich colors in a section taking up half the book. From aw-inspiring landscapes and portraiture to outdoor paintings and depictions of bathers, this volume offers an intimate view of the artist and his work.

Young readers will obtain a light-hearted, yet realistic overview of Renoir’s life through the kid’s special book, Pierre Auguste Renoir (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists), and will get to know how his style changed over the years. This introductory guide includes full color pictures of Renoir and his acclaimed paintings.

There is another handy book on Renoir for children: Smart About Art, Pierre-Auguste Renoir Paintings That Smile that reflects the same joie de vivre expressed in Renoir’s works on every page through colorful, dynamic illustrations and 17 reproductions. With humor and insight, this title takes young minds through the life of an artist who at first was so unpopular that his paintings were attacked with umbrellas. Written as if it were a child’s own class report, this book is sure to draw new young fans to Renoir’s paintings.

Some of the widely acclaimed Impressionist works of Renoir are:


"Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette"

Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette (Bal du moulin de la Galette), 1876, Pierre-Auguste Renoir

"The Theater Box"

The Theater Box, 1874 by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Courtauld Institute Galleries, London

"Girls at the Piano"

Girls at the Piano, 1892, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

"On the Terrace"

On the Terrace, oil on canvas, 1881, Art Institute of Chicago


Chinese Philosophy: A Solid Counterpart of Western Philosophy

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Guest Author: Dr. Haiming Wen

Many people wonder how China’s history of thought can be identified as “philosophical.” Professors and students, both in China and the West, wonder whether it is proper to claim there are philosophical ideas in the Chinese tradition. Given Western definitions of philosophy, are the Chinese classical works really philosophical? My answer is yes. China has her own philosophical system which has evolved through history, independent of other philosophical systems. However, it is not enough to just claim that Chinese philosophy can be described in its own self-sufficient jargon, especially when there are many Chinese terms which are not prima facie compatible with Western philosophical categories. I am taking a risk in writing this introduction to Chinese philosophy by applying western philosophical categories – such as metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology – in order to reconstruct Chinese traditional thought. In answering the question, “what is the Chinese philosophical sensibility,” I try to construct Chinese philosophical systems as solid “philosophical” counterparts of Western philosophy. We can claim that the Chinese are “philosophical” in their own way, and at the same time see that the Chinese provide different answers to familiar western philosophical issues.

Ever since the origin of “Chinese philosophy” as a discipline in modern era, researchers have made great efforts and achieved much. However, there is very little special study or discourse by scholars on the “Chinese philosophical sensibility.” The Chinese philosophical sensibility is built out of the shared assumptions of traditional Chinese philosophers throughout a long historical development. From the perspective of academic research, Chinese philosophical sensibility is the theoretical agreements of Chinese philosophers based on the sense of Chinese philosophy as “philosophy.” Therefore, “Chinese philosophical sensibility” is not only a new direction of thought and a theoretical focus based on the traditional horizon of Chinese philosophical problems, but also the researchers’ basic theoretical starting-point and self-awareness when exploring traditional Chinese philosophical problems.

The relationship between human beings and the world is the central concern of Chinese philosophers. Chinese philosophical sensibility encompasses the use of wisdom in regard to human life, and various arguments regarding the perception of the world. Most Chinese philosophies, such as The Book of Change (Zhouyi周易), Confucianism, and Daosim pursue the meaning of life through revealing the relationship between tian (tian天/heavens) and human beings. This focus leads to philosophical reflection on a human being’s place and role in the world.

We might say that traditional Chinese thinkers try to help people live good lives so they could enjoy their single journey of living existence. In the eyes of traditional Chinese philosophers, people naturally have puzzlement about life and world, but this confusion comes from their misunderstanding of dao (dao道/way-making). Dao is the road we walk in life, which is analogous to a person’s behavior and development. Throughout this life journey, we remain unclear of its direction because we lack understanding of our nature, or xing (xing性/nature). Thus, the basic philosophical inquires of Western philosophers, such as social, political, and cosmic problems concerning life and knowledge, are also those of Chinese philosophers. It is in the process of answering these fundamental philosophical problems that Chinese philosophers develop a unique “Chinese philosophical sensibility.”

In this illustrated introduction I explore the characteristics of different philosophers in Chinese history and distinguish the “Chinese philosophical sensibility” motivating their thoughts. Employing Western philosophical categories to describe significant issues in the history of philosophy, I examine Chinese political philosophy in the pre-Qin era, Chinese metaphysics from the Han to Tang Dynasties, Chinese epistemology from the Song to Ming Dynasties, and modern Chinese-Western comparative philosophy. I try to provide a clear, accessible conception of the Chinese philosophical sensibility and its evolution throughout history.

Author’s Bio: Dr. Haiming Wen is a scholar of Chinese and comparative philosophy. He is a professor at the School of Philosophy, Renmin University of China (RUC). Professor Wen received his Ph.D. in comparative philosophy from the University of Hawaii in 2006. His published books include Confucian Pragmatism as the Art of Contextualizing Personal Experience and World (in English), 2009, Lexington, and Chinese Philosophy (in English), 2012, Cambridge University Press; (in Chinese), 2010, China International Press. He has also published more than 50 journal articles in both English and Chinese, including nearly 10 articles in English peer-reviewed journals like Asian Philosophy, Journal of Chinese Philosophy, Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, Contemporary Chinese Thought, Culture and Psychology, Frontier of Philosophy in China, etc.

It’s Time to Greening the Media: The Dark Side of the Technology

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Guest Authors: Richard Maxwell  & Toby Miller

We’re all enamored of the many new technologies that enrich our lives as students, consumers, and workers. The internet brings knowledge and fun to the desk, the sofa, and the office. But a dark side exists, as well. In Greening the Media, we offer a new approach to thinking about these gadgets through a revisionist view of media history. Starting with the earliest days of print and moving through the advent of film, radio, and television and on to the world of modern telephony, we criticize the dominant narrative of progress and pleasure. In place of this happy tale, we suggest a corrective that looks at these media technologies’ impact on workers and the Earth.

The media come to us at terrible human cost, such as the health impact on women, whether they were recycling rags in 19th century New York so we could have paper, or recycling phones in 21st century New Delhi so we could have new circuit boards; whether it is young Congolese enslaved and murdered so coltan can endow our cell phones or pre-teen Chinese suffering lead poisoning so the gold in computers can be reused. The same applies to the natural environment, from the town of Rochester, New York—polluted beyond all measure during Kodak’s decades making film stock there—to the municipal dumps where carcinogens from computers are burnt or buried.

But there are hopeful signs of change as well. Pressure from activists, unions, and image-conscious governments and corporations is helping to improve working conditions in the global supply chain of media technologies. Electronic waste has become an unavoidable policy issue, and major efforts to minimize it and its impact on the planet are embodied in new regulation in Europe and elsewhere. The most advanced policy-making targets are the origin of the toxic waste, and pressure is mounting on manufacturers to exclude by design the poisons and wasteful by-products now embodied in these technologies.

A hopeful as well as realistic book, Greening the Media offers ways to challenge our love affair with these gadgets and the unthinking throw-away culture of consumerism.

 Authors’ Bio: Toby Miller is a British-Australian-US interdisciplinary social scientist. He is the author and editor of over 30 books, has published essays in more than 100 journals and edited collections, and is a frequent guest commentator on television and radio programs.

Based in New York, Richard Maxwell is a political economist of media and Professor and Chair of Media Studies at Queens College, City University of New York. He has published widely on a range of topics: media and the environment; broadcast reform during Spain’s democratic transition; Hollywood’s international dominance; media politics in the post 9-11 era; marketing research and the surveillance society; and the impact of political economic forces in daily life and culture. His most recent book is Greening the Media (Oxford 2012, with Toby Miller).

Remembering Nicolaus Copernicus, the Centre of the World of Astronomy

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Author: Sherry Helms

Today is the 540th birth anniversary of Nicolaus Copernicus, one of the most transcendent geniuses of the Renaissance era. Born on February 19, 1473, in the province of Royal Prussia, in the Kingdom of Poland, Copernicus pursued his education with remarkable mathematical achievements. He was a great polymaths with skills as a mathematician, astronomer, jurist with a doctorate in law, physician, polyglot, classics scholar, translator, artist, Catholic cleric, governor, diplomat and economist.

He offered the world perhaps the most significant scientific insight of the human civilization till date, the heliocentric model and theory that placed the Sun at the centre of the solar system, rather than the Earth. He further asserted that the other planets including Earth revolve around the sun. Otherwise, throughout his lifetime almost people believed that a perfectly still earth rested in the middle of the cosmos, where all the heavenly bodies including sun revolved around it. Copernicus was also the first to ascertain that the earth rotates on its axis once every twenty-four hours.

Copernicus’ seminal book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) that publicly expressed his views about the heliocentric hypothesis, is considered as a major achievement  in the history of science. Published just before his death in 1543, this book asserted that the universe is comprised of eight spheres amid which the Sun stood still at the centre, and the other planets including the Earth, in their own spheres, revolve around the Sun. Following his personal observations of the heavenly bodies, Nicolaus Copernicus abandoned the then prevailed Ptolemy’s geocentric system placing the earth at the centre, and created a heliocentric model, with the sun at the centre.

Though Copernicus would not live to hear its extraordinary impact, his book, De revolutionibus is recognized today as one of the most influential scientific works of all time. There’s an interesting story regarding  its popularity:

Four and a half centuries after its initial publication, an astrophysicist Owen Gingerich embarked on an epic quest to see in person all extant copies of the first and second editions of De revolutionibus. The source of his inspiration was two contradictory pieces of information — one is Arthur Koestler’s claim, in his book, The Sleepwalkers, that nobody had read Copernicus’s book when it was published; and the second was Gingerich’s own discovery, in Edinburgh, of a first edition richly annotated in the margins by a leading teacher of astronomy in Europe in the 1540s. This made Gingerich to reason himself that if one copy had been so quickly appreciated, perhaps others were as well, and perhaps they could shed new light on a hinge point in the history of astronomy.

After three decades of investigation, and after traveling hundreds of thousands of miles across the globe –from Melbourne to Moscow, Boston to Beijing, Gingerich has come up with an utterly original book, The Book Nobody Read: Chasing the Revolutions of Nicolaus Copernicus, complied on his experience and the remarkable insights garnered from examining some 600 copies of De revolutionibus. During his research, he found the books owned and annotated by Galileo, Kepler and many other lesser-known astronomers, which illuminate the long, reluctant process of accepting the Sun-centered cosmos and highlight the historic tensions between science and the Catholic Church. He traced the ownership of individual copies through the hands of saints, heretics, scalawags, and bibliomaniacs. He was called as the expert witness in the theft of one copy, witnessed the dramatic auction of another, and proved conclusively that the De revolutionibus was as inspirational as it was revolutionary.

A blend of the biography of a book, a scientific exploration, and a bibliographic detective story, The Book Nobody Read revives the history of cosmology and offers new appreciation of the enduring power of an extraordinary book and its ideas.

If you want to go deeper into the life and world of Nicolaus Copernicus, you can check out the book, Copernicus’ Secret: How the Scientific Revolution Began written by Jack Repcheck. Covering the life and works of the great scientific genius of the Renaissance era, Repcheck tells with every possible details the surprising, little-known story behind the dawn of the scientific age.

Since our solar system and its propounders are included in the subjects to study from early childhood classes, there’s available an attractive picture-book biography of Nicolaus Copernicus for kids — Nicolaus Copernicus: The Earth Is a Planet. Illustrated richly, this book describes many interesting facts about this fascinating 16th-century scientist, covering Copernicus’ passion for astronomy and his rediscovery about the solar system –after studying the works of the ancient Greeks and their idea– that the Earth is not the center of the universe but planets orbiting the Sun at the centre.

The life and achievements of Nicolaus Copernicus has even been powerfully evoked in a novel, Doctor Copernicus by John Banville that offers a vivid portrait of this man of painful reticence, haunted by a malevolent brother and baffled by the conspiracies raging around him and his ideas while he searches for the secret of life. This fictional evocation of the great astronomer is a tour de force, which is equally exciting and beautifully written.

Assisted Reproduction Techniques: A Technological Insight to IVF or Test Tube Baby

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

Guest Author: Dr. Khaldoun Sharif

While over-population is often cited as one of the biggest challenges facing our planet, this is no comfort to the millions of couples having problems getting pregnant. About 1 in 6 couples wishing to conceive need medical help, totaling over 100 million worldwide. Their distress has been biblically highlighted by barren Rachel who said “Give me children, or else I die” (Genesis 30:1). The mainstay of treatment for many of them is assisted reproduction, mainly in-vitro fertilization – better known as IVF or test-tube baby. Relatively speaking, human IVF is a new science, with the world’s first IVF baby turning 35 later this year. However, in this short time in terms of scientific evolution, IVF has progressed and spread all over the world, with more than 5 million IVF babies born so far. Assisted reproduction is needed, and is here to stay. But the more we use it, the more challenges we face. How do we treat those with infection such as HIV? How do we treat older women? Does it cause cancer? Does it lead to early menopause? What are the complications and how to treat them? Better still, how to prevent them? For challenges and questions that both providers and users of IVF face and ask, but to which they may not find readily available evidence-based answers, here comes our new book, Assisted Reproduction Techniques: Challenges and Management Options.

For a global issue such as infertility, a global perspective is needed, and this book is truly an international joint effort, written by 122 experts from all over the world. The process of IVF treatment involves various counseling, medical, surgical and laboratory steps, and at each step challenges may be faced. The aim of this book is to stimulate resourceful thinking in the IVF practitioner when dealing with those challenges, by outlining various management options, the reasoning behind them, and the evidence on which they are based. The practitioner would then be better equipped to choose the most suitable solution that best fits the needs of each patient. Each of the 100 concise chapters includes clinical cases, background, evidence-based practical management options, preventive measures and key-point summaries of the important details.

Author’s Bios: The book, Assisted Reproduction Techniques: Challenges and Management Options” is edited by Khaldoun Sharif and Arri Coomarsamy. Khaldoun is a consultant in reproductive medicine and surgery and the director of the Istishari Fertility Center in Amman, Jordan. Arri is a professor of gynaecology and a sub-specialist in reproductive medicine and surgery at the Birmingham University, Birmingham, United Kingdom. They collaborate from different corners of the world in writing, research, and to treat their patients who are, in the final analysis, the most informative teachers. Khaldoun’s website is and Arri’s is

Yinyang: The Way of Heaven and Earth in Chinese Thought and Culture

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Guest Author: Robin R. Wang

Yinyang concept is at once utterly simple and wildly complicated. The book Yinyang: The Way of Heaven and Earth in Chinese Thought and Culture traces the historical development and diversified manifestations of yinyang, drawing together the different uses and models of yinyang, starting from its origins in early classical texts to lay out the ways in which yinyang functioned as the warp and woof of Chinese thought and culture. The goal is to give a more nuanced, synchronic account of the richness meanings and applications of yinyang, from logical reasoning to aesthetic understanding, from divination to medicine, from the art of fengshui to the art of sex. Westerners tend to assume the Chinese mind runs like a Swiss clock that goes tick/tock…when in fact it yins and yangs.

Yet yinyang is not simply or just about balance or harmony but far beyond those common assumptions. One of the most important functions of yinyang is a matrix to describe, guide, and structure concrete phenomena. The yinyang matrix is a way of linking and classifying particular phenomena or all things and leading to actions. It functions analogous to scientific accounts, although extending more broadly to encompass ethics, politics, health and well-being. It arranges human knowledge into a simple, integrated, and flexible pattern, which can be applied to an extremely wide range of phenomena. For example, “mother” is a predicate for a woman who has given birth or has a child. If one were to follow deductive logic, one could go by this: all mothers have a child; Mary is a mother, therefore, Mary has a child. According to the yinyang matrix, mother belongs to the category of yin, things with giving and nurturing functions, and thus can be grouped with earth, moon, and water. Anything perceived as yin or nurturing fits into this image of giving and nurturing. Mary is a mother, therefore, she has the yin properties of x, y, and z.

Yinyang matrix is also flexible and complex in its application on different levels and with different scopes. Two things can be in the same group of yin or yang in one sense, however, in different on another level; for example, the sun and ginger belong to the same group of yang because they both have properties of being hot and warm. Snow and watermelon belong to the group of yin because they have properties of being cool. However, because sun and snow belong in a group in heaven, and ginger and watermelon belong to the group in earth.

AUTHOR’S BIO: Prof. Robin R. Wang is Daum Professor in the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, Professor of Philosophy, and Director of Asian Pacific Studies at Loyola Marymount University. She got her MA in Philosophy at University of Notre Dame,  USA, and Peking University, China before  received her Ph.D. in Philosophy, University of Wales, Cardiff. She is the editor of Chinese Philosophy in an Era of Globalization, (SUNY Press, 2004) and Images of Women in Chinese Thought and Culture: Writings from the Pre-Qin Period to the Song Dynasty (Hackett, 2003).  She has published many articles and essays and regularly given presentations in North America, Europe, and Asia. She has also been a consultant for the media, law firms, museums, K-12 educators, and health care professionals, and was a credited Cultural Consultant for the movie Karate Kid, 2010.

Celebrating Lincoln’s Birthday: 5 Must-read Books on Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Author: Sherry Helms

Today is 204th birth anniversary of Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest political leaders in American history. On his birth day, let’s remember this legendary soul through the works of literature. Abraham Lincoln become a topic in literature shortly after his death following end of the Civil War, but the Lincoln writing matured during the second half of the twentieth century. Here, we have rounded up 5 must-read books on Abraham Lincoln covering different aspects of his life. Take a quick stroll:

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln - The life and times of Abraham Lincoln have been analyzed and described in countless books, but, this biographical work by esteemed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin covers Lincoln in a manner that offers completely fresh insights into his leadership style and his deep understanding of human behavior and motivation. This brilliant multiple biography is centered on Lincoln’s mastery of men and how it shaped the most significant presidency in the nation’s history.

Looking at Lincoln - This is the best introduction of Lincoln to children. As, Abraham Lincoln is one of the first giants of history children are introduced to, Maira Kalman shares Lincoln’s remarkable life with young readers in a fresh and exciting way.

Lincoln’s legacy is everywhere. We are still the United States because Lincoln helped hold them together. But, who was the Lincoln, really? The little girl in this book wants to find out. Among the many other things, she discovers our sixteenth president was a man who believed in freedom for all, had a dog named Fido, loved Mozart, apples, and his wife’s vanilla cake, and kept his notes in his hat. Kalman sheds light on every aspects of his life –from his boyhood in a log cabin to his famous presidency and untimely death.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years. Using the journal as his guide, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time, all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America - This is a riveting historical narrative of the heart-stopping events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. In his first work of history, bestselling author Bill O’Reilly recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history –how one gunshot changed the country forever. Featuring some of history’s most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, this groundbreaking book presents history that reads like a thriller.

Stealing Lincoln’s Body - In a lively and dramatic narrative, Thomas Craughwell digs up an intriguing and bizarre Lincoln tale that you perhaps didn’t learn about in your school –the plot hatched by a group of Chicago counterfeiters to steal the entombed embalmed body of Abraham Lincoln and hold it for ransom of $200,000 and the release of an imprisoned cohort. While taking us through the planning and execution of the crime and the outcome of the investigation, Craughwell sheds light on the rise of counterfeiting and grave robbery in America and the establishment of the Secret Service to combat it.

Fall in Love with Classic Romance Novels: Valentine Special

Friday, February 8th, 2013

Author: Sherry Helms

This Valentine Day set the scene for your date with some treasured love stories. Celebrate the delight of romance by gifting or reading to your soul mate the top classic Romance Novels of all the time. Check out our quick list of romanticism in literature:

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare - To celebrate your love day, what else can be better than reading to your date some excerpts from Romeo and Juliet, one of the greatest love stories of all time. This is a tragedy written by the greatest playwright William Shakespeare about two young “star-cross’d lovers” whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare’s most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet and Macbeth, is one of his most frequently performed plays. Today, the title characters are regarded as archetypal young lovers.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen This is a classic love story. Vivacious and witty Elizabeth Bennet, the second eldest of the five daughters whom Mrs Bennett is anxious to put into marriage, hastily dismissed the superior Mr. Darcy – the most disagreeable man in the world. But, as soon as he realizes that he is deeply in love with Elizabeth, he starts improving his stubborn manners and made her to change mind. This volume is loved by book-lovers for its depth, humor and playfulness.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë - Published a year before her death at the age of thirty, Emily Brontë’s only novel is  set in the wild, bleak Yorkshire Moors. Depicting the love story of Cathy and Heathcliff, Wuthering Heights creates a world of its own, conceived with an instinct for poetry and for the dark depths of human psychology.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy - Tells a  doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky, this classic story by Leo Tolstoy has been cherished by the generations of readers. Tragedy unfolds when Anna renounces a respectable yet stifling marriage for an affair that offers passion even as it ensnares her for destruction.

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway - High in the pine forests of the Spanish Sierra, a guerrilla band prepares to blow up a vital bridge. Robert Jordan, a young American volunteer, has been sent to handle the dyamiting. There, in the mountains, he finds the dangers and the intense comradeship of war. And there he discovers Maria, a young woman who has escaped from Franco’s rebels. Telling about an unusual love story, For Whom the bell Tolls is one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century by one of the greatest American writers.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell First published in 1936, this book is a historical novel set off against the harrowing milieu of the American Civil War. This American classic has a page-turning love story in which a manipulative woman, Scarlett O’Hara and a roguish man, Rhett Butler carry on a turbulent love affair in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Its movie adaptation is also as popular as this book is.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - This is a moving love story written by the Nobel Prize-winning author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude“, Gabriel Garcia Marquez that binds three people’s lives together for more than fifty years. In this chronicle of a unique love triangle, readers will meet the character of Florentino Ariza, who waits more than half a century to declare his undying love to the beautiful Fermina Daza, whom he lost to Dr. Juvenal Urbino so many years before. An enthralling story of an eternal love.

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks - This is another romance novel by Nicholas Sparks that have been touching the hearts of our readers. The Notebook, a story about love-lost-and-found-again, revolves around a single time-honored romantic dilemma: will beautiful Allison Nelson stay with Mr. Respectability (to whom she happens to be engaged), or will she choose Noah Calhoun, her teenage love who she left so many years ago? The movie adaptation of this book has also received as much applause as the book had.

The Long Shadow of Antiquity: What Have the Greeks and Romans Done for Us?

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Guest Author: Alicia Aldrete

In a rapidly changing world obsessed with newness, the latest craze, being up-to-date, and its own modernity, does the past still matter?  In an era when the phrase “That’s ancient history” has become a put-down suggesting obsolescence and irrelevance, do we still feel the effects of long-dead civilizations in our daily lives?  My husband, Gregory S. Aldrete, a professor who teaches ancient Greek and Roman history, often encounters students who assume that history is boring and pointless, and it is his mission to convince them otherwise.  With our new book, The Long Shadow of Antiquity: What Have the Greeks and Romans Done for Us?, we seek to demonstrate how numerous Western customs, rituals, and attitudes have their roots in the ancient world.  Along the way, our book offers readers entertaining and enlightening anecdotes and points out many unexpected connections between then and now.

Our calendar, the shapes of our cities, the holidays we celebrate, the English alphabet and language, and even how we measure time all bear the imprint of ancient Greece and Rome. Many of our beliefs and behaviors–from how we view, exercise, and clean our bodies to how we celebrate important milestones such as marriages and funerals—have their origins in classical antiquity. The profound contributions of the Greeks and Romans to such areas as architecture, government, literature, and law are widely acknowledged, and this book fully, clearly, and engagingly explores all of these topics, but it also exposes the various ways in which we still walk in the footsteps of the ancients in our everyday activities. 

We examine striking parallels between those ancient societies and the world today.  Celebrity athletes, maniacal sports fans, fad diets, fashion trends, superstitions, soap operas, high-rise apartments, voter fraud, and tourist hot spots—the classical world had them all. This book takes you on a lively tour through antiquity, pointing out instances when we copy, repeat, and parallel the Greeks and Romans.  Having a familiarity with the ancient civilizations that preceded and shaped the world enables one to better understand and make sense of the present.  That is why, in the 21st century, we should still care about the ancient Greco-Roman world, which has helped to make us who we are.

The book “The Long Shadow of Antiquity is the result of joint efforts by Gregory S. Aldrete and Alicia Aldrete.

Author Bios: Gregory S. and Alicia Aldrete are graduates of Princeton University, and hold advanced degrees from the University of Michigan in, respectively, History and Literature.  They are co-authors of a book on ancient armor made of linen, and Greg has written four other scholarly books on antiquity.   They live in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where Greg is a history professor.  Visit Greg’s website at:

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