Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fleur - Cynthia Harrold-Eagles

sub-title: Part Two of the Kirov Saga

I read the first part of this trilogy a while back and while I liked the history lesson on Russia, the characters weren't interesting.  I'd put off reading the second installment until I'd finished some other books and picked this up a few nights ago.

This is the story of Fleur Hamilton, an Englishwoman who falls for a Russian count and pines for him throughout the Crimean War period (1851-1856 for those, like me, who may be history challenged).  I learned more about Russia and the Russian temperament but I think the author is better when she sticks to her own culture (English).  Her heroine is a ninny and not believable, even in mid-1800's.  The characters are again too shallow and much writing is spent on describing the homes and clothing and uniforms of the period.

The Kirov trilogy was written after she'd done about 10 books of the Morland Dynasty, a series of hers I love and highly recommend and is now up to book 34.

I'll finish the third volume because I can't stand incompleteness!  The second novel is available on half.com.

Published: 1991  Read: July 2012  Genre: Historical fiction

Thursday, July 19, 2012

And Eternity - Piers Anthony

This is Book Seven of the Incarnations of Immortality, the last in the series.  Written in the late 80's, it is opinionated about the state of the world, from the environment, religion, politics, feminism and war.  It's the final installment telling of the roles of the 7 incarnations: Nature, Fate, War, Death, Time, Evil and Good and their struggle to save the world.  It's fantasy and has been a hoot to read.

My favorite read of this author's was the first of the series, "On a Pale Horse".  And, his "end notes", the stories he tells at the end of every book of how the book was written and what was going on in his life at the time.

If you've never dabbled in reading Fantasy this series might be a good place to start.  Anthony is better known for his Xanth series, now on its 26th volume.

Published:  1990  Read:  July 2012  Genre: Fantasy fiction

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Someday this All Will Be Yours - Hendrik Hartog

Subtitle: A history of Inheritance and Old Age

I picked up this non-fiction read at the library because it talked about aging, one of my favorite topics.  The author reviewed law cases from the late 19th and early 20th century in New Jersey to analyze the evolution of caring for older adults.  His intro references a poem he says was popular at the time "Over the Hill to the Poor-House" the source of the "over the hill" phrase.  He identifies the "market revolution"  as being responsible for a move away from raising lots of children to insure care to bartering with property.  The "market revolution" was the explosion in opportunity in America that set children away from home to seek their fortune leaving their elder parent to fend for themselves.  Their parents responded by offering property and assets to keep them or other family members and even caretakers around.  He also identifies the fear of loneliness being touted as the inevitability of old age and the "transcendent destiny" to be realized in caring for one's parents.  He concludes his book by comparing today's social systems that support the elderly and questions whether it really suffices.

The book was well researched and thorough, in a dry lawyer tone.  While the jacket touts his compassion it didn't come through to me in the story.  His epilogue refers to caretakers as "trapped kin" who "may not want pay" and "may discover enormous satisfaction in doing the work well; still few are doing real work--following a calling or destiny--when caretaking." [my emphasis].  His tone here and other comments throughout hinted at a bitterness and resentment at having to care for his own parent or parents.  His closing comment that "the real mystery is why some younger people still stay home to provide care" reveals to me he learned nothing from his study.

Published: 2012  Read: July 2012   Genre:  Non-fiction

Monday, July 2, 2012

Swimming to Antarctica - Lynne Cox

Tales of a Long Distance Swimmer


This is a memoir of the many open water swimming records achieved by the author since age 16.  It's fascinating to me how she thinks when taking on physical challenges, how she pushes her limits and continues to set new goals.  The writing is awkward and choppy at times but her spirit, will and determination to make a difference in the world is inspiring.

Lynne Cox swam the English Channel, Cape of Good Hope, Bering Strait and several other never before attempted distances as well as over 1 mile in the Antarctic Ocean - 38 degree water!   And, in just a swimsuit, cap and goggles.  The book tells how she prepares for her swims, what it is like to swim in these places and the crew that supports her.  She has written two other books, most recently one on Roald Amundsen's Antarctic expedition that I will be adding to my TBR.

Published: 2004   Read: June 2012   Genre: Non-Fiction