Monday, August 27, 2012

The Kingmaker's Daughter

by Philippa Gregory

One of the Gregory's Cousin's War series, The Kingmaker's Daughter takes up where The Lady of the Rivers leaves off, only the point of views are in juxtaposition.  In Lady of the Rivers we follow the story of Jacquetta Woodville who becomes a close and loyal friend to Margaret, King Henry VI's wife.

Jacquetta falls in love with her husband's squire and, after the Duke dies, she marries the squire.  They share a strong love and devotion to each other that melted my heart.  Richard and Jacquetta Woodville have ten children, the first being a beautiful daughter who will eventually reign as the Queen of England.  A beautiful and touching story that had me supporting the Woodvilles every step of the way.

The Kingmaker's Daughter is told from the perspective of Anne Neville, daughter of the Earl of Warwick: the most powerful magnate in fifteenth-century England.  The Earl has no sons so he uses his daughters as pawns in his pursuit of power.  Sadly, not an unusual fate for women of the court.  Anne is forced to serve her rival for power, the beautiful Elizabeth Woodville.

The switch in perspectives, from Jacquetta Woodville's to that of Anne Neville, created in me a weary caution to like Anne, since I had previously cared so much for the character of Jacquetta.  It was far into the book that I came to respect and appreciate both viewpoints.  It was powerful to see through two different sets of eyes of two very similar women - both pawns and susceptible to the whimsical rise and fall of fortune;  both greedy; both desiring to satisfy their parents' grand plans.

I thought both books were exceptionally good and I recommend them highly.  I don't know how I missed reading The White Queen and The Red Queen but I will not let that be the case for long.

 ** I received a free copy of The Kingmaker's Daughter  from Kaitlyn McCrystal and Simon & Schuster in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

21 Memory Improvement Tips

by David Brugger

I downloaded this little ebook from Pixel of Ink and read it several weeks ago. There were suggestive reminders but nothing really new.  At age 61, I thought I might discover something innovative or that I wasn't already doing.  I do need to oxygenate more.  (I'm trying to avoid saying exercise.)  I try to make up for it with deep breathing which I'm sure isn't quite as helpful.  Why is so hard to exercise?   But I deviate - this book is about memory.  If you read very much on the subject you don't need to read this one, but if you're just starting out then I recommend 21 Memory Tips.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On Hitler's Mountain

by Irmgard A. Hunt

I read a review of this book on Cath's blog, Read_Warbler. (It's the 2nd review in the post.)  She reviewed it in Sep 2009 and, though I bought it right after reading her review, I didn't read it until this month, almost 3 years later.  


 “The trigger that could tip the scale dangerously in such a direction might be a monstrous economic disaster or more fear-inspiring terrorist attacks providing the excuse to suspend or ignore the Constitution and to declare emergency powers like Hitler did in 1933 after the fire in the Reichstag. There might be a group or groups that would be demonized and become an excuse for extreme measures. In Germany it was the Jews. Here it might be terrorists or Muslims.
“And yes, I believe we are seeing danger signs all around us, from the Homeland Security Act that diminishes civil rights and increased surveillance to scare tactics that increase fear, acceptance of torture of prisoners, and acceptance of a war based on lies. Add to that litany the increasing political power of an intolerant, ideology-driven, fundamentalist right wing and we have a scenario that could spell the end of democracy as we know it.
“There are of course enormous differences between the United States now and Germany then. For one, the ultra-fascist, violent Storm Troopers (S.A.) who staged the Kristallnacht and spread violence before and after Hitler’s power grab do not now have an American equivalent. In addition, the extreme fear of an imminent Communist revolution that haunted the Germans in the twenties does not exist.
Most importantly, the American people, unless they become completely brainwashed by their government and their fundamentalist religious leaders, are used to living in a democracy, to questioning, speaking up, protesting, marching, blowing the whistle, and pointing the finger.
“If we want to keep America free we must continue to do just that.” 

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Jane McGonigal - Playing Games

I posted a TED video on my other blog, In Season, that I hope you'll watch.  McGonigal talks about game-playing and makes some great points in favor of electronic games.  I think what she says can be applied to regular-type games, too.

She also invented a reality game called SuperBetter.  And "there's an ap for that!"  And it's FREE.  She talks about this game in the video .  I've downloaded it to my iPad and love the feeling of improving myself in manageable increments each day.  Each day there are new "quests" to do and you can choose between two.  One of the first day's  "quests" was to shake hands with someone for 6 secs.  So Candleman and I shook hands and commented on what a 6-second kiss could do for us.

Hope you'll check it out.  The video takes 20 minutes but it's 20 minutes you will be happy you spent.  I was dragging my feet when my husband asked me to watch it.  I screamed and yelled and kicked, "I don't have 20 minutes!"  I felt so good by the time the video was over.  I spent another 20 minutes ordering her book and finding the game.  Trust me - it's time well spent.  Would love to hear your reactions and thoughts . . .

Sorry if this sounds like an advertisement.  I'm receiving no payment for this - I'm just enthused about it and want to share it.  If you end up buying a copy of McGonigal's book by following my link, I will receive a few pennies from amazon, but not enough to make it worth the time it took to write this post.