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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Left With a Lasting Impression


I don't know how I missed this book when it first came out.  It was even awarded a Discover award from Barnes and Noble, and I missed it.  I'm glad is was promoted again when it came out in paperback.

What an interesting book.  It tells the tale of the cells taken from Henrietta Lacks without her knowledge or permission and how they changed the course of medicine, making possible so many of the medications and advancements we know today.  It also tells the story of the hardship faced my Henrietta Lacks and her children.  As Henrietta's cells multiplied and flourished, her orphaned children faced poverty and abuse.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: Book CoverI was shocked when I realized, the cells discussed in this book started the cell line that I had used when I worked in a lab in college.  And like so many others, I had no idea the history behind them.  I didn't realize they came from cervical cancer cells removed from an African American woman in the 1950s.  I didn't realize that though the lab I worked in paid hundreds, probably thousands of dollars for these cells, while her children couldn't even afford medical insurance. Henrietta's cells led to the creation of medications her children needed, but couldn't get.

The story is not all sad though.  There is courage, determination, and hope.  This book would be an excellent choice for a book group because there are so many things to discuss--the civil rights movement, poverty and access to medical care, the ethics of taking tissue samples and using them for profit, and privacy issues.

I predict this leave quite an impression on you.  It may not leave an immortal impression, but it will last a very long time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

All Hail Shannon Hale

THE GOOSE GIRL by Shannon Hale

I haven't read a book by Shannon Hale that I didn't like.  I loved her extrapolation of the Grimm's fairy tale, The Goose Girl.  It's one of their more gruesome tales, and I was intrigued when I saw Hale's teen book, The Goose Girl.  I wondered what kind of a story someone could make from that tale.  Hale does a great job of seamlessly including so much of the true tale into her story and yet creates a brand new and satisfying story.  Hale's story has such likeable characters and equally devious villains.  There is adventure, self-discovery, a budding romance, and characters choosing to do what is morally right.  What more could you want?  Maybe a few more like this one?  Well, Hale supplies that, too.  There is now a series based on the characters and kingdom from the The Goose Girl.  The second book in the Books of Bayern Series, Enna Burning is quite a bit darker than The Goose Girl, but still and interesting tale.  River Secrets is the third book.  I love Razo, who is the main character in this book--another great story.  I have yet to read Forest Born, the fourth book focusing on Razo's sister.  
Hale earned a Newbery Honor Award for Princess Academy.  I also enjoyed this book.  The people on Mount Eskel work tirelessly, but live in relative poverty compared to most citizens in the kingdom.  Things change on Mount Eskel when it is announced that the prince's new wife will be found among the eligible ladies of Mount Eskel.  Miri and many others are forced to attend the princess academy (usually a formality in most provinces but desperately needed to prepare Mount Eskel girls for the role of princess).  Miri faces difficult challenges including a tyrannical headmistress, shunning from her peers, and determining her own heart.  This book also includes more of the speaking-with-nature theme found in the Books of Bayern.

Hale has another teen book which is a retelling or expansion of the tale A Book of a Thousand Days.  I have not read this teen book, but I know it is about a princess who is a tower and afraid to meet her suitors, so she insists her maid/lady-in-waiting impersonate her before a suitor with unforeseen consequences.  Shannon Hale has also written a new series of graphic novels about Rapunzel and some women's fiction books.  Austenland is one of them.  It is pictured above.  Clicking on any of the pictures will take you to a description and place to order the book if you'd like to find out more.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

St. Francis of Assisi

ST. FRANCIS by G. K. Chesterton
                        (Go to end to see comment on Picture Book)

I don't have a good picture of this book, and since it was initially published in the 1920's, I don't think the picture would be all that good anyway. St. Francis  by G.K. Chesterton is not a traditional biography of the Saint. Instead, it is a historical commentary/biography. Chesterton, a Catholic, was attempting to recapture St. Francis for the Church, after what he felt was an attempt by the Secularists of the day to claim the great Saint for themselves. The commentary focuses on the importance of God in the life of St. Francis, as well as his role in the Renaissance of the 13th Century.

I have to admit, this wasn't what I was looking for in a book about St. Francis. I was looking for more of a biography, so I'll have to continue to look. I want to understand more about the man many have said have came closer to living the life Christ intended than anybody other than Christ himself. If anybody out there has any good suggestions for books on St. Francis, please let me know.

I really liked this book.  It's short (I think 94 pages).  The pace I read it at made it seem to be about 200 pages, but I don't think that was a bad thing.  I have always thought so much of St. Francis.  I was eager to learn more about him and I knew Chesterton was a good writer, so I picked up this book.  I was not disappointed. 

The first time I picked it up, I had checked it out from the library and I didn't get very far before I had to return it.  This time, I got it on my Nook, which was astoundingly handy for looking words up in the dictionary on the Nook.  I did need to have a dictionary to fully appreciate what I was reading.  I would highly suggest looking up the words you don't know in this book rather than guessing using the context.  The precise words Chesterton uses often have a double meaning which is significant or are so exact at relating his point, it's impressive. 

Chesterton approaches this book as an address to those who are skeptical or don't believe St. Francis is a saint but rather was just a radical.  But he doesn't prove his point by listing miracle after miracle performed by or to St. Francis because if a person is already skeptical-miracles are suspect.  Chesterton explains the amazing things St. Francis did and the self-sacrifices he made.  And because Francis was a human being just like all of us, his sacrifice is inspiring.  In the beginning of the turn in direction of St. Francis' life, Chesterton comments, "Francis still looks more or less like an ordinary young man; and it is only when we look at him as an ordinary young man, that we realise what an extraordinary young man he must be."  Chesterton also shows how St. Francis' life mirrored Christ's.  Examining St. Francis' life, which mirrored Christ's so closely, may help us to base our life on Christ's because we may be able to relate more to St. Francis as he was an ordinary man who took up an extraordinary life and who faced the questions and struggles we all face.  Chesterton wrote, "St. Francis is the mirror of Christ rather as the moon is the mirror of the sun.  The moon is much smaller than the sun, but it is also much nearer to us; and being less vivid it is more visible." 

Francis, the Poor Man of Assisi by Tomie dePaola: Book Cover
In the end, Chesterton lays out a powerful case for St. Francis' honor and sainthood.  This book literally made me stop and think as I was reading it.  It really is worth the time (and perhaps extra effort) it may take to read.

If you would like a more simple introduction to St. Francis' life rather than a commentary on his holiness and relevance, I highly recommend FRANCIS, HOLY MAN OF ASSISSI by Tomie dePaola.  This is a wonderful book, even for adults.  Tomie dePaola has many excellent books on saints and Jesus.  You should really check them out.

Erin Go Bragh--Ireland Forever


Mr. McCourt (yes, brother of Frank McCourt) has written a wonderful synopsis of Ireland's history.  He does this by telling mini biographies of important people throughout the history of Ireland.  By reading this line of biographies, the reader develops an understanding of the timeline of events and the impact of these events in Irish history.  And McCourt follows Irish tradition by not just informing us about these influential Irish, instead, he tells us the story of their life and times with personal anecdotes included in the story.  This was a very fun way to learn the history of Ireland.  I highly recommend it!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

An Insightful Read

MY STROKE OF INSIGHT: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.

I just finished reading this book.  I'd put off reading this book for almost a year.  I wish I hadn't.  I learned a lot from Dr. Taylor's journey.  In the book, Dr. Taylor first introduces herself, her career, and professional activities.  She is a nueroanatomist who also served on the board of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) with a specific interest in schizophrenia, which her brother suffers from.  On December 10, 1996 this brain scientist has as a serious stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain.

Dr. Taylor first takes us on a tour of the brain and it's workings before telling us the story of her stroke.  This information aids in the appreciation of the rest of her story.  I think part of the reason I put off reading this book was because I felt I already know about the brain because I'm fascinated by it and I didn't want to go through a prolonged lesson of brain anatomy.  However, this is not what Dr. Taylor gives us.  She gives us an interesting overview to help our understanding of what was going on in her brain/mind during her stroke and subsequent recovery. 

The details of what her brain was going through and what she could and could not do during her stroke was very interesting, as was the story of her recovery.  She talks about what she really needed immediately after her stroke and during her recovery.  She gives suggestion on how to treat and help stroke victims based on what she as experiencing.  This was very enlightening and I hope the medical community studies her story and insights.

The most powerful reason for Dr. Taylor to write this book was to show people how they could access the joy and peace residing in the circuitry of our brain's right-hemisphere.  Her stroke basically incapacitated her left-hemisphere for some time, so she was left with a deep feeling of peace and oneness with the universe while she resided nearly wholly in her right-hemisphere.  She gives us practical advice to help us limit the stories our left-hemisphere tells us that cause us to worry and relive emotional baggage and instead to tap into the peace of our right-hemisphere.

Even before I finished this book, I started to use some of her advice and found it really did help me.  I have depression and I get caught in my left-hemisphere loops of chastising and hopelessness so many times each day.  Sometimes I would recognize a negative thought loop, but I didn't know what to do about it.  I felt like there was nothing I could do.  Dr. Taylor guides us in many ways to end this left-sided brain chatter. 

Maybe sometimes this book was a little repetitive, but I found this book extremely interesting as an exploration of the purpose and power of our brains and inspirational as a guide to a more peaceful personal experience. 

I would be remiss not to mention two of Dr. Taylor's messages she works passionately to get out to the public.  They are the importance of helping individuals and their families who have a mental illness and the request that people donate their brains to Harvard's Brain Bank.  Advancement in treating those with mental illness can come more rapidly if scientists have brains to study.  For more information call 1-800-BrainBank.

I personally hope, the more information scientists call learn about the brain can also help those who have autism.  I found it extremely interesting when Dr. Taylor talked about what strengths or weakness she had with the different hemispheres of her brain.  I once saw a theory that an autistic brain was just an extreme "male" brain.  I think it would be an interesting line of investigation to look at the dominance/balance in autistic brains of the left and right hemispheres.  It's seems many people on the autism spectrum excel at activities associated with the left-hemisphere and lack abilities normally associated with the right-hemisphere.  I wonder if there is an imbalance of development or ability in the two hemispheres or problems with the corpus collasum  (the connection between the two hemispheres).

This is not a long book, so it will be well worth your time to read this remarkable story.  (BTW, you can get the hardcover of this book in Barnes and Noble stores for less than $6.00 right now.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Return of the Percy

THE LOST HERO by Rick Riordan
I think Rick Riordan might be my favorite author. First he wrote the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series, which were 5 fantastic books. Then he got started on "The Kane Chronicles", which I thoroughly enjoyed. And now, he's giving us a sequel to the Percy Jackson series, "The Heroes of Olympus." I just completed it's first book, "The Lost Hero."

The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus Series #1) by Rick Riordan: Book Cover"The Lost Hero" is different from the Percy Jackson books in that it is told from a 3rd person point of view, and centers around 3 new heroes...Jason, Piper and Leo. This story takes place about 1 year after "The Last Olympian" (the final book in the Percy Jackson series), and things are amiss all around. First, Jason shows up at Camp Half-Blood, and is pretty sure he doesn't belong there, but he is also suffering from amnesia so he doesn't know why. Piper and Leo have memories of Jason that may or may not be real. It turns out, all 3 are demigods...children of the Greek gods. Oh, and one hero of Camp Half-Blood has gone missing (I bet you can't guess who that is).

I loved this book...couldn't put it down. I read it's 557 pages in about 4 sittings. The 3rd person point of view didn't bother me at all, and I liked that Riordan continually switches the focus between Jason, Piper and Leo. All 3 characters are great and mold well with the carry-over characters from the Percy Jackson series. I did miss some of the old characters, but I think all of my old favorites will gain more prominent roles and the series progresses. There's also the suspense of not knowing where the lost hero is and the worry over that throughout the book that kept me turning pages. Just a top notch story.

But, I will issue a warning, there is quite the cliffhanger at the end, so if you don't like cliffhangers, wait for the 2nd book to be released next fall. The title of the next book will be "Son of Neptune"...hmmm, wonder who that could be?

You May Know the Lightning Thief, But Do You Know the Demigod Files?


This book takes place between books 4 and 5 in the Percy Jackson series, and is a collection of 3 short stories and interviews with some various Demigods, including Percy and Annabeth. Each of the short stories features Percy on some type of mini-quest with another Demigod (remember Demigods have a human parent and a Greek god as a parent). The short stories are classic Percy Jackson, told from the first person, with lots of heroics and humor. Great stuff!
The Demigod Files (Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series) by Rick Riordan: Book Cover
The interviews with the Demigods are also hilarious. Rick Riordan does such a great job writing these characters. I can't wait for more books...if only someone would invent time travel so I could go forward and read the rest of the books in the "Heroes of Olympus" series. Alas, we don't have a Delorean, or a flux capacitor. But if we did...88 mph here we come baby!

Note: If you don't understand the time travel references I just made, I feel pity for you.

Anyway, back to the book...if you are in need of a Percy Jackson fix, pick up a copy of "The Demigod Files". It's a quick read and you won't be disappointed.

I Can't Lie About this Book

COMPANY OF LIARS by Karen Maitland

I will first say that three of my co-workers at the bookstore read this book and really did like it...but I didn't.  It's a bit like Canterbury Tales by Geoffery Chaucer; a group of people eventually gather together as they encounter each other on the desolate roads through plague-country.  None of them tell the truth about who they really are or for what purpose they are traveling other than to escape the plague.

There's some fairly gross icky things that happen along the way.  It didn't bother me in Mistress of the Art of Death, but for some reason it really bothered me in this book.  Maybe it was because in this book it seems the story is just one icky situation, then trudging, then another icky occurrence.  I don't know.  I also figured out the truth of some of the characters including the character telling the story much sooner than it was revealed.  So, rather than the suspense building for me, I became impatient waiting for the reveal.  This book also had an element of the supernatural.  I thought things would be explained, but in the end your left with the fact that, well, it was spirits and ghosts and witches.  I was disappointed with the answer to the mystery.  I think it's more interesting to see how someone fooled or haunted others than to just say, it was a real ghost, it wasn't a person, when the entire focus in on the people.

I could never write a book as good as Company of Liars so it is very hard for me to write this review, but it just wasn't a book for me.  I wondered what others thought, so I checked out ratings on some website to see if I was way off in my opinion.  It seems people either really enjoy like my co-workers or really don't enjoy  it, like me.  It may be a book for you if you enjoy reading about that time-period (I feel Ms. Maitland gives an accurate view of that time) or you like books with a supernatural aspect to them.

(The picture is of the hard cover; it just came out in paperback with a different cover.)

God Created Science and Saw that it was Good


I've wanted to read this book for years.  I don't know why it took me so long to get around to it, but I finally did and I really enjoyed it.  Dr. Francis Collins was the lead person for the Human Genome Project.  Dr. Collins (whose profession as a scientist depends on observation, data collection, and analysis) takes you through his journey to belief.  Dr. Collins didn't grow up a "cradle-Christian" and has had painful things happen to his family.  I think that can help the skeptic to be even more open-minded to what Dr. Collins has to say.

The Language of God by Francis S. Collins: NOOKbook CoverHe definitely shows how science and religion on in harmony with each other.  As a serious Catholic and would-be scientist, I have felt this my whole life, but the loudest voices in the discussion are the two extremes: no God or no Science.  My opinion has always been that religion tells us who and science tells us how.  And I have no fear because I know as Pope Leo XIII said, "truth cannot contradict truth".

But that's not the only point Dr. Collins makes.  He makes a logical basis for believing in God.  Some of the points he discusses include the overall moral scales that humans across the globe have and our emotional responses to beauty.  A symphony is actually only sound waves vibrating in the air to our ear, yet it can stir powerful emotions within us. 

I highly recommend this book for people who don't think science and religion work together, those who think believing in God is illogical or a crutch, for those who want to know how to talk with others about their doubts, and for those who appreciate the beauty in the science of creation.

At the end of the book, Dr. Collins offers a synopsis of a few bioethics situation.  It's not an in depth discussion--it's not meant to be, but it's good for sparking discussion or pondering for those who haven't though about it before.  The book also includes further resources and a reading group discussion guide.

Are You an Oxymoron?

CHRISTIAN ATHEIST by Craig Groeschel
This book was loaned to me by a friend several weeks ago.  I'm glad they loaned it to me.  It's a fast read, which is unusual for many Christian books.

The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel: NOOKbook CoverWritten by Craig Groeschel, a Pastor of a fairly large Protestant Church, "The Christian Atheist" tackles the topic that many of today's Christians face.  We say we believe in God, but live our lives as if we don't.  We worry constantly, we rely on ourselves rather than God and we take part in many activities that we shouldn't.  Groeschel points out his own Christian Atheism and then provides practical strategies for overcoming it.

I found this book to be pretty good.  It wasn't overly complicated.  The best part of the entire book was the afterward when Groeschel explained the 3 lines of Christianity.  When you cross line 1, you profess your belief in Christ, but don't really change anything.  Crossing the second line means that you follow Christ and modify your behavior when it is comfortable for you.  The third line is when you give your life completely over to God.  To me, the afterward would make a really interesting book...maybe Mr. Groeschel will take the time to write that book.

I think this would be a good read for anybody who is lukewarm in their faith, or is currently a first liner.  Overall, I don't feel like it was a waste of my time, and it probably won't be a waste of yours.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

An Unexpected Delight


I am so happy a co-worker of mine introduced me to this plentiful series.  Mrs. Pollifax is a widow whose two children live far away with families of their own.  She spends her time between pushing the book cart around at the nursing home and her garden club.  She feels unneeded and unproductive and contemplates suicide in a very matter-of-fact way.  Convinced by her doctor to give herself a little more time, she stalls on the suicide plan and through a case of misunderstanding finds herself on a plane to Mexico on a mission for the CIA!  The beginning moves quite quickly and before you know it, Mrs. Pollifax in undercover for the CIA in Mexico to bust a drug ring.  Mrs. Pollifax is so practical and matter-of-fact, and so unexpected as a CIA agent, that she is actually rather successful...until things become complicated.

This series has humor and mystery.  Mrs. Pollifax is a fantastic character who you can't help thinking of as a very clever friend that takes you all over the world from Mexico, to Turkey, to Eastern Europe, to Africa.  Sit back and enjoy the ride.

I Spy a Good G-rated Teen Book


This is the first book in the Gallagher Girls Series.  The local citizens don't realize The Gallagher Academy isn't actually just a school for rich preppy girls, but actually a school training teen girls how to become spies.   Cammie is the master at staying undetected when on missions.  So much so, she's known as the Chameleon.  But at the academy, things are different.  Everyone recogonizes her as the headmistress' daughter and the girl whose dad died on what would become his last spy mission. 

A new teacher arrives who tests the girls' skills.  Cammie was doing a great job of tracking her target undetected.  In fact no one was paying any attention to her.  She had almost completed her mission, when someone noticed her.  A very cute boy noticed her.  Maybe it wasn't so bad being noticed.

But, Cammie has a mission and training to complete.  Should she put that aside and try to live like a normal teenager?  With the help of an very unlikely allie, Cammie tries to do both--be normal and be a spy.  Will it work?  Which should she choose?  It will be fun reading to find out.

One SWEET Book


What a fantastic book!  Every year a contest his held to determine the year's best new candy created by a specially selected group of twelve-year-olds.  Logan's father owns a candy factory and invites the other three contest to join his son at their factory so they can learn more about the fine art of candymaking.  Amid the frenzy in the candy factory, friendships are forged, painful pasts are purged, and secrets are stolen.  As you encounter suspenseful plot twists you also see these kids gain self-confidence and confidence in each other.  My kids and I absolutely loved this story.  They never wanted me to stop reading.  I'm even smiling as I write this review remembering how much we all enjoyed this book.  Another great book from Wendy Mass.

Even if you don't have kids, give this book a try.  It's melt in your hands.

For parents who would like to know a little more, it's hard for me to tell you without giving away some of the surprises that make this book so great.  I'll expand my review more below but be aware SPOILER ALERT!


The story is first being told my Logan, a candymaker's son.  Logan has lived a secluded life in the factory and is eager to meet some kids his own age.  Logan is a big of a butter fingers and uses aloe and is a super nice kid.  We follow the story through Logan's eyes until we get to the spot in the story where he sees someone trying to steal the factory's secret ingredient.  Then the story is told from Miles' point-of-view starting at the very beginning.  Through Miles' eyes we find out that Logan drops things a lot and uses aloe because his hands, arms, and part of his face are disfigured from severe burns.  We see the story from Miles' point-of-view until he sees someone trying to steal the secret ingredient.  Then the story starts over again from Daisy's perspective.  (And we find out that she's actually a child spy!!)  We notice new things from Daisy's perspective and some mysteries are explained and some more evolve until, you guessed it, she sees somebody trying to steal the secret ingredient.  There the story stops and we start over again from Philip's viewpoint.  The story is actually not repetitive but layered.  For example, at one point Miles hears music.  When we read from Philip's perspective we find out about the music Miles heard.  With each person we learn more rather than rehashing old news.  Some of the time when we discovered information about a previous mystery, I had to point it out to my kids, but other times they caught it and that was always neat to see.

Each of the four children have something to overcome.  Logan wants to show his father than he can be the best candymaker and overcome his isolation, Miles is haunted by a death he believes he witnessed though no one else saw it, Daisy has conflicting feelings about her spy mission, and Philip has a painful family situation.  And these four kids find that with help from each other, they can overcome.  Can they also win the candymakers' competition?

He's Actually a Genius!!

                                                                         illustrated by John O'Brien

Blockhead by Joseph D'Agnese: Book CoverMy mom told me about this book after seeing a review of it in her local newspaper.  I got it right away since one of my kids loves math (just like Mom).  It's a good book and not too long as some historical picture books can be.  It begins in a classroom with a young Fibonacci.  He is called a blockhead because he always seems to be thinking rather than paying attention.  Fibonacci's tutor understands his brilliance and encourages him.  Throughout the book, the illustrations contains Fibonacci curves and things in nature made up of numbers in the Fibonacci sequence like flowers with three petals and starfish with five legs.  The book explains the significance of the Fibonacci sequence and how Fibonacci came about defining it in simple terms most can understand.

This is a good book not just for math lovers, but for those who need to hear the message that being different doesn't mean you're bad, it might just mean you're great.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Medieval Ages Meet CSI


I LOVE this book.  I really like science and I like reading about the times of kings and queens or fantasy lands of kings and queens, so I knew I had to read this book and I was not disappointed. 

Mistress of the Art of Death (Mistress of the Art of Death Series #1) by Ariana Franklin: Book CoverAdelia Aguilar is trained by her unconventional adoptive parents in the science of forensics, in other words "the art of death".  She is summoned to England by King Henry II (after he has taken his lashes for the death of Thomas a Becket).  Several children have been killed and the townspeople are blaming the local Jews.  King  wants to Jews exonerated so he can keep collecting taxes from them.  However, as hard as that task may sound it's even trickier because she is a woman.  She must convey her findings through a man in order to avoid accusations of witchcraft.  Thus, a thrilling suspenseful story ensues.

I also enjoyed the mix of true characters and events Franklin includes in the story.

Now, I normally cannot handle much violence in books, especially when it involves women and children.  I read River God by Wilbur Smith.  Good book.  After reading that, I figured I could handle more than I thought, but then with Kite Runner, I couldn't even read up to chapter 2.  So, what I'm saying is this:  Yes, we know there have been children murdered.  We get information as to how they were killed and the end is a bit violent and a little grotesque, but it's quick.  I don't think it would bother most people at all, but since I'm really sensitive to that stuff, I always feel I need to let people know so they can decide if it's okay for them.  I figure if I can handle them 98% of people won't have a problem with it.  I was very motivated to read this book and that my have helped me just get past the short gruesomes.

I like this book so much, I've recommended it to many people.  Everyone has really really liked it, but one, who said it was okay.  I read this book during the summer and I will admit that I wanted to know who the killer was so badly, I put a movie in for my kids, got them a treat, told them to just watch the movie and enjoy their food, all so I could read and find out who-dun-it.  I do not usually do that type of thing at all!!

I was thrilled when I found out the book was the first of a series.  The fourth book just came out in paperback recently.  I've enjoyed the other books in this series as well.  The second one is probably my least favorite, though I still really liked it, and I have not yet read the fourth.  I'm starting this week, which inspired me to write this blog post.  Here is a list of the other books in the series so far.  (The second book happens within a year of the first book.  The third and fourth books happen several years after their predecessor.)

The Serpant's Tale-involves King Henry II mistress, Rosamond
Grave Goods-has the grave of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere been discovered or is the fabled King still alive as some hope?
A Murderous Procession-Adelia accompanies King Henry II's daughter to Sicily for her wedding