August Awakenings

What can I tell you about August? I still have moments of wanting to hurl myself off a cliff. But, but. But! The good news is, by default, that recklessness has made me shed my fear of flying, ants, and flying ants. I went zip lining in Alaska and found myself the first to volunteer; literally throwing myself off every platform.
I was forced to dedicate more time to the run while I punished myself with late-read books from July. As a result of all that, August’s mileage was decent considering 10 days were spent traveling (25 – the most since April) while the reading list was a little lackluster:

Fiction:

  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein (AB left over from July)
  • In Tragic Life by Vardis Fisher – such a sad book!

Nonfiction:

  • Hawthorne: a Life by Brenda Wineapple (left over from July)
  • Miami by Joan Didion

Series Continuations:

  • The Eagle Has Flown by Jack Higgins
  • Henry James: the Middle Years by Leon Edel (left over from JUNE)

Early Review:

  • Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea J. Ritchie

For Fun:

  • Pharos Gate by Nick Bantock – I know, I know. I shouldn’t be reading anything for fun while I had so many July books still on my plate. This took me all over an hour to read and besides, Bantock is one of my favorites. How could I not?

Eagle Has Flown

Higgins, Jack. The Eagle Has Flown. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1991.

Reason read: Jack Higgins was born in July. This finishes the series started in honor of his birth month.

At the end of The Eagle Has Landed a German plot to kidnap Prime Minister Winston Churchill had failed horribly and a massacre ensued. Left in suspense, readers didn’t know if antagonists Liam Devlin and Kurt Steiner survived. Now, in the much-anticipated sequel we learn Steiner did survive. He is being held prisoner in the Tower of London. And who better to rescue Steiner than Liam Devlin who also survived the botched kidnapping? Yes, he survived. Of course he did, he’s the center character. Devlin is the bad guy we all love to hate: poet, daredevil, ruggedly handsome gunslinger, a scholar and, as a member of the IRA, a man who stands by his convictions. He claims to be neutral but wants a united Ireland; he couldn’t care a lick about Nazi Germany but will chose the side with the biggest payout. General Walter Schellenberg is sent to recruit Devlin to the task, but standing in his way is Brigadier Dougal Munro of British Intelligence. He has a few tricks up his sleeve as well and what ensues is a fast paced chase across Europe. True to form, behind every Higgins plot there is an astonishingly resourceful and brilliant woman. This time there are a few. True to Higgins form, expect a twist at the end.

As an aside, I see my reading friend has taken to writing in books again. Shame on you, W.P.!

Author fact: in the blog before I mentioned Higgins wrote this book and Eye of the Needle. This time the author fact is simple. At the time of the publication of The Eagle Has Flown Higgins was living in the Channel Islands off the coast of California. Not be confused with the ones in the English Channel.

Book trivia: Eagle Has Flown is short and fast paced. One could read in a weekend.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the obvious chapter “World War II Fiction” (p 253).


Eagle Has Landed

Higgins, Jack. The Eagle Has Landed. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975.

Reason read: Higgins was born in the month of July.

The entire premise of The Eagle Has Landed is based on the fact that a small group of German paratroopers had safely arrived in England and were about to do the unthinkable, they were about to kidnap Winston Churchill. If Mussolini can be rescued from an enemy hotel then surely Churchill could be taken while on a discreet “vacation.”
There is so much to like about The Eagle Has Landed (code for Liam Devlin’s safe drop into enemy territory). There is also so much that could potentially go wrong with Higgins’s technique. First, the frame narrative is the author, Jack Higgins himself, researching a botched attempt to kidnap the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill during the final moments of World War II. Giving away the plot in the very beginning of a novel is a risky move. where is the suspense? Why read on knowing the Germans failed? Second, the majority of the story is told from the point of view of the antagonists. Why be on their side?
Why care about the enemy? Because Liam Devlin is an irresistible bad guy. You want him to succeed and you don’t know why. He’s a charming cad; the kind of guy everyone loves to hate. That’s why. You keep reading because Higgins has spun the plot. Yes, you may know the Germans failed to kidnap Churchill but…did Devlin survive?

The one line that caught my eye and mind: “Words become meaningless, the mind cuts itself off from reality for a little while, a necessary breathing space until one is ready to cope” (p 18).

Author fact: Higgins also wrote The Eagle Has Flown, also on my list. His (supposedly) most famous book, Eye of the Needle, is not on my list.

Book trivia: The Eagle Has Landed is based on true events. According to Higgins, “at least” fifty percent is fiction but the reader must decide for herself how much of the rest is a “matter of speculation.”

Nancy said: Nancy called the stories of Jack Higgins “some of the best World War II thrillers” (p 253). I would definitely agree.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “World War II Fiction” (p 253).


July Unraveled

What can I tell you about July? What a crazy effed up month! For my state of mind it was better than the last simply because the Kisa and I ran all over California for a week. I was terribly distracted from the run and the books. Once you see the numbers you’ll understand. For the run I conquered only two runs in sunny CA and totaled 20.5 miles for the entire month. Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • Anna and Her Daughters by D.E. Stevenson
  • The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins

Nonfiction:

  • Pacific Lady by Sharon S. Adams
  • Hawthorne: a Life by Brenda Wineapple

Series Continuations:

  • Moment of War by Laurie Lee

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • The World Broke in Two by Bill Goldstein

Did Not Finish (still reading):

  • Henry James: The Middle Years by Leon Edel -STILL! Since June!
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

Never Started (didn’t arrive in time):

  • In Tragic Life by Vandis Fisher

July with a Bang

The one good thing about July is that I am starting to train for a half mara in October. I am praying this gets me out of my funk…

Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins ~ in honor of Higgins’s birth month
  • Anna and Her Daughters by DE Stevenson ~ in honor of July being Ice Cream Month (this is further explained in the book review).

Nonfiction:

  • Hawthorne: a Life by Brenda Wineapple ~ in honor of Hawthorne’s birth month
  • Pacific Lady by Sharon Adams ~ in honor of July being Ocean Month

Series Continuations:

  • Henry James: the Middle Years by Leon Edel (didn’t finish in June) ~ to continue the series started in April in honor of James’s birth month.
  • A Moment of War by Laurie Leeto continue the series started in honor of April’s Madrid festival.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, and the Year That Change Literature by Bill Goldstein