Friday, October 16, 2015

Repost: My Review of Flight of the Earls

Having set out on a journey of change in my life, I opened a book for the first time in months. At one time I was an avid reader, but lately…well…I will spare you the excuses. After being called out by my son for no longer showing a dedication to the written word, I decided to keep a promise I made to myself back in 2013.

Michael K. Reynolds’ book Flight of the Earls left me wanting to know more about the Hanley family. The book also left me wanting more information about life in the mid 1800’s and about the struggles faced by immigrants to the U. S. as they worked to become a part of their new nation. I promised myself I would read the rest of the Heirs of Ireland series. So far the book two has delivered, reaching the bar set by the first book. I will write a review once I have finished reading. Until then, here is a repost of my 2013 review of Flight of the Earls.

What I Am Reading: Flight of the Earls

There are three ways for a book to hold my attention. The first is to deliver characters in whom I want to invest my time. If I care about the people in the book I want to find out what happens in the end. In his first novel Michael K. Reynolds delivers characters who held my attention from start to finish.

Part one of the Heirs of Ireland series, Flight of the Earls takes us back to 1846. Ireland is in the second year of a famine which would last until 1849, during which the nation would see crop failures caused by a Phytophthora infestation. Once thought to be a form of mold the recently reclassified organism is, under the right conditions, capable of destroying an entire field of potatoes or tomatoes in a matter of days. Its assault on Irish potato crops caused a million people to die of starvation. Another million would migrate to America in hopes of finding work. Reynolds introduces us to the Hanley family just as they begin to suffer the effects of the Great Potato Famine.

The blight has just started to affect the Hanley fields, yet another burden weighing on the family. The decision is made to send daughter Clare and son Seamus to follow their older sister’s path to America. The plan was for the two to send money home to keep the family afloat until the end of the famine. Through their eyes we experience the difficult journey made by many past immigrants. We see a side of immigration which is rarely ever spoken of, obstacles and plot twists which beg us to ask if the journey was worth the effort. From the potato fields of Ireland to the streets of New York Mr. Reynolds weaves a story that is as compelling as the characters he uses to take us back in history.

As the first of a series this book leaves me wanting more but I must wait until July for book two. I suspect the continuation of the story will be well worth the wait. If you love learning about the past or if you just love a good story you will find Flight of the Earls well worth your time.

For more on Flight of the Earls and the Heirs of Ireland series see Follow Michael K. Reynolds on twitter: @M_K_Reynolds.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Looking Through the Eyes of Others and Not Liking What I See

By Michaelsaludo ({Michaelsaludo) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
It all started with an innocent question from my younger son who wanted to know why he had to read every night if he never saw me reading. I was once an avid reader. Now I mostly read magazines, a fact for which my son called me out. What am I doing with my time? According to my older son I watch too much television. He sort of alluded to this one time when he was shocked to find the TV turned off.

Then there are my neighbors. More than one of them has spoken of not seeing me much lately. It's not like I've been out on the town. I am a home body, not really prone to enjoying the night life. But I do enjoy the outdoors which at one time made me a common sight in the neighborhood. And yet I find myself sitting and watching the world of scripted, and unscripted but partially staged, entertainment. In the process I think I have lost sight of what it really means to live.

These are just two of many areas where I am not being true to who I want to be. I won't bore you with the details of why I am where I am. Just know that this is not where I plan to stay. I caught a glimpse of myself through the eyes of my family, friends and neighbors. I didn't like what I saw. It's time to make some changes.

You can follow my changes here and on twitter. What life changes are you making? Let me know and we can encourage each other.