Saturday, October 28, 2017

Two Journeys Home

Two Journeys Home
A Novel Of Eighteenth Century Europe
Book 2 - The Derryname Saga
Kevin O’Connell
The Gortculinane Press
Severna, MD
ISBN: 978-0997407617
November 1, 2017
$ 14.99
295 pages

At a little over six-feet tall, long raven hair, intelligent beyond her years and Irish, all describe the beautiful Eileen O’Connell returns to her home in Ireland after spending years in the court of Empress Maria Theresa. Her duties in Austria are as nanny and friends with two of the young princesses, Archduchesses Maria Carolina and Maria Antonia. Part of her task is also to prepare each of them for their royal lives of the future, hopefully queens.
Many years ago, Eileen had been raised in western County Kerry in Ireland. Her family had earned their wealth by investing in illegal commercial maritime trading activities.
After her sixteenth birthday, Eileen’s family had arranged for her to marry a man, over fifty-years her senior. Unsurprisingly, she had hated being his young wife in this arranged situation, but within seven-months of the marriage, she had learned to love and cherish him. His death was a shock to her. The obvious solution for a wealthy young woman of the 1760s in Ireland is to be remarried.
For Eileen, there exists another option.
Her Irish relatives were already thriving in the Hapsburg court under the direction of the Emperor and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and Hungary. Her “uncle”, actually her second-cousin who is much older, is a General of the Imperial Armies of Austria and Hungary as well as being The Count Morin O’Connell. Since Ireland at this time was ruled by the English, for any Irish to join the military in their own country, required enlisting in the British army currently occupying their country. For many, especially those of wealth, serving in foreign countries greatly raised their wealth, prestige, knowledge of strategies, and respect of those at home.
About six-years later, after the death of Eileen’s father, she is finally returning. Accompanying her is the General and his new wife, Countess Maria. Von
On this voyage home, she is accompanied by the General and his new wife, Countess Maria von Graffenreit-O’Connell. Eileen has mixed feelings about her home. Is it Vienna with her friend and lover, Major Wolfgang von Klaus or is home Ireland?
She realizes that besides making close friends with the royal family, this had also given her time to heal as she learns of the magnificent lives at the palaces of Hofburg, Schönbrunn and Laxenburg.
Reading the second book in most series, especially if you have not read the first, can be a little difficult. However, Two Journeys Home is easily understandable with much of the first book being reflected upon.
This book begins with Eileen’s journey to Ireland, back to the life in Vienna at court bringing into light the history of the time period after the 7 Years War between France and Austria including Marie Antoinette. This sequel concludes with her second return to Ireland.
There are conflicts, especially within her family and the expectations, as well as religion and culture of the countries and time period. Surprisingly, much of the story seems to fit together as tightly as a puzzle.
Author, Kevin O’Connell has based this Derrynane series on much of his own family history, mixing what could have logically happened into an historical fiction novel. He is a New York City native whose ancestor had been part of the Irish Brigade of the French army during the time of Marie Antoinette. The Derrynane series is expected to include four novels, starting with Beyond Derrynane and the second, Two Journeys Home.
Mr. O’Connell has spent over forty-years in the legal field of international business transactional law throughout the world.
Two Journeys Home is part of a wonderful epic-saga in the past of Ireland, Austria, and France.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A Farewell to Ice

A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic
Peter Wadhams
Oxford University Press
New York City, New York
First published in Great Britain by Allen Lane
ISBN: 978-0-19-069115-8
$ 15.95
206 pages

How would you explain climate change to someone who does not believe it is a reality?  How could you prove to anyone of the rising temperatures of the ocean or the melting of the Arctic?
Would they believe someone who has been a polar researcher for forty-seven years and is considered an expert scientist?
Peter Wadhams, who wrote this readable scientific data-driven report for the non-scientist, A Farewell to Ice, is one person no one could disagree with the disappearance of the polar ice.
Wadhams is one of the few people who truly understands the changes since 1970, he has documented the tremendous changes of the Arctic region as a polar researcher.  His descriptions, evidence, pictures, and graphs tell a story of their own that is and should be frightening to every creature on this planet.
Even though everyone needs to see this information, the reader needs a basic understanding of chemistry to fully absorb the concepts.
To take non-fictional scientific reader and turn it into a thriller is a task of a genius.   The book is difficult to leave once you start it.   The author’s knowledge, experiences, and love of this area of the world is exhibited on every page.   Unfortunately, the tale has a grim prognosis for future generations.
Most of us are aware of the melting of the glaciers, Arctic ice, and the tremendous sections of glacier ice that has broken off and floating in the ocean as it melts and raises sea levels.  Additionally, Wadhams explains and documents additional problems such as the release of additional methane into the atmosphere and the effect on each of us.   Also discussed in depth is the importance of radiation from the sun reflecting off the ice and how this has changed in the past half-of-century.
Cambridge University has the distinction of employing Peter Wadhams as Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group in the Department Of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics as well as Professor of Ocean Physics.
A Farewell to Ice is a foretelling of the future by tables, graphs, photographs, and writing that completely engages the knowledge of the ocean.

Walk Shepherdess, Walk

Walk Shepherdess, Walk: A Sing-Along Book
Barrett Cobb-Illustrator and Performer
Dog Ear Publishing
Indianapolis, Indiana
ISBN: 978-1-4575-4893-9
$ 17.98
36 pages

Barrett Cobb’s childhood was filled with literature and songs. As a young child one tune stayed with her, almost as a lilting lullaby.
Eleanor Farjeon wrote both the words and melody which were first published in Nursery Rhymes of London Town in 1916 and adopted by the American Girl Scouts evolving the little tune into a folk song reflecting to the world a different time, place, and culture for most of the world.
As with most folk songs, throughout the years the song has been modified slightly with the tune and alternative words. This book focuses on the original version. The book is based on a basic three-versed four-lined poem. Some of the vocabulary could be difficult depending on the past experiences of the readers. The story was written with sheep wandering through the nearby hills and uses words, not always commonly spoken in today’s city culture. Some words need to be introduced such as shepherdess, ebony, ram, ewe, fleece, wether, and shan’t. The book explains that a wether is a lead sheep which could be compared to the game Follow-the-Leader.
The music is beautifully performed by the author, Barrett Cobb and can be downloaded through the website listed in the book. The melody is an easy tune which quickly can be a haunting selection, staying with you for days. The simplistic tune is sung by Barrett, who has a beautiful, well-trained voice adding accompaniment harmonies, flute and piano into a memorable performance.
Twelve gorgeous watercolor paintings perfectly parallel the story in poem form as the story progressing reinforcing the poetic story.
After a few readings, it is easy for a young prereader or early reader to sing the melody as the pages are turned with the pictures reinforcing the words.
At the conclusion of the tale, a narrative explaining the poem assists in further demonstrating the theme being jealousy and how to appropriately recognize and turn this into a positive life lesson.
Barrett Cobb is a painter, singer, flutist and now a visual storyteller turning a childhood folk song is an enchanting life lesson for everyone.