Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My first book review!

"On Hitler's Mountain" by Irmgard Hunt

So, here goes my first book review attempt! I've decided I'm not going to try to do a plot summary, because you can get plenty of those just by going to Amazon. I have a notebook where I write down quotes that I've liked from books that I have read, and little commentaries on them, so these blog posts will be slightly edited versions of what I write in my notebook. I'll just go ahead and say that recently I have been on a big WWII kick, and this book is one of the many WWII books I've recently read. The author grew up on the same mountain where Hitler built his "eagle's nest." She was just an average little German girl growing up in the thick of WWII.

I read this book back in October. It is one of the few books that I bought new and in an actual bookstore. Usually I buy all of my books online. Affordable used books are the best!! But when I saw this one in Barnes and Noble I just couldn't resist (plus I had a gift card...hehe). Here is the quote that I chose to write down from the book:

"I knew then that there were three things I would never get tired of: our mountains, Mozart's music, and Salzburg. But the shadows were lengthening and the clouds were losing their light. The Nazis had taken over our mountains, and soon most of Europe's ancient cities would be in ashes. Bombs would fall on the great dome of the Salzburg Cathedral, and to this day the sound of Mozart's music breaks my heart."

The author is talking about a trip she took to Salzburg in 1939 (I think it was for her 7th or 8th birthday maybe). I liked this quote because, just like the author, I love Salzburg and the mountains in Southern Germany (two of the few places in Europe that I have been lucky enough to visit)! I don't dislike Mozart's music, but I'm not familiar enough with it to say that I love it. What the author says is so accurately sad and foreboding to me. It's such a shame that so many of Europe's ancient cities had to be destroyed.
I really enjoyed this book because of the new and interesting perspective it gave to WWII Germany. It seems like the country life in Germany was much more sheltered than the life of those in the city. The people in Irmgard's life were almost unaware of how horrible things had become (of course part of this could be because this is coming from the perspective of a child).

Another interesting facet of this book was Irmgard's stories on the aftermath of the war. It was crazy to me to realize how different things were for the Germans occupied by Russia versus the parts of Germany occupied by America/Britain/France. In the years after the war, the most valuable currency to the people of Berchtesgaden were Lucky Strike cigarettes because that was what the American soldiers wanted.

I enjoyed the beginning of the book because it gave a back story on all of Irmgard's grandparents and their lives (how they dealt with WWI etc.). It was interesting to see how all of the problems and issues faced by that generation and their children worked together to sort of create the perfect storm that brought Hitler to power. Irmgard's maternal grandfather married a woman 12 years older than him! I just found that intriguing.

In my opinion, Irmgard turned out to be a bit of a nut as an adult. But...who can blame her with all she went through growing up. You will just have to read the book (and all of the extra interviews and such at the end of the book) and form your own opinions on her. =) If anyone has read the book I would love to hear your thoughts as well! Ok....even if you haven't read the book I would like to hear your thoughts. Because as of now....if I'm going by comments....I have 0 readers!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this, my very first book review. I hope to post more eventually! I may dig up a notebook I have with short reviews on lots and lots of LM Montgomery books that I read in 2009 (and a few in 2010). So....if you're an LM Montgomery fan....get excited!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jessi and Anna's Betsy Tacy Fun!

Just something I posted on facebook yesterday and thought I would put it on my blog as well...since I haven't posted in about 2 years!!! Wow. This was incredibly amusing to Anna and me. Some of our answers will not even make sense to die hard Betsy Tacy fans because they are our own little inside jokes that have come from reading the books out loud so many times. Example: Bobby being the sun god in training, or Mr. Sibley having a crush on Bonnie.

So...Anna and I created this little activity to amuse ourselves in class today, and it was so diverting I decided to make it into a FB note so that our (very few) Betsy Tacy appreciating friends could join in if they so desired. If you are not tagged in this note, but you are reading it, and are a closet fan...please join in! And if you just want to make picks without having to explain, go for it...but I warn you..it's hard to pick without offering a little justification!

So, we took turns picking pairs of characters/things from the books and then we had to pick which we liked better. We allowed ourselves a bit of explanation just because. We wrote our answers/explanations separately and then compared. Some of our answers were amazingly similar and some were very different. Here are the pairs:

1. Tacy vs Tib

2. Carney vs Winona

3. Bonnie vs Irma

4. Cab vs Tony

5. Bangeter vs Clarke

6. Tilda vs Helena

7. Hunter vs Bobby (Sibley)

8. Mr vs Mrs Sibley

9. Win vs Winkie

10. Miss Mix vs Miss Sparrow

11. Miss Cobb vs Aunt Ruth

12. Mr O'Farrell vs Bob Barhydt

13. Larry vs Phil

14. Rocky vs Mr Bagshaw

15. Hazel vs Mamie Dodd

16. Sam vs Joe

17. Freshman Betsy vs Married Betsy

18. Onion Sandwiches vs Rarebit

19. Coconut Cake vs Lady Baltimore Cake

20. Dennie vs Squirelly

Our Picks:

1. Jessi: Tacy- she's more loveable.

Anna: Tacy- this was hard..but sometimes Tib's bluntness rubs me the wrong way.

2. Jessi: Carney- I relate with her way of thinking, except I'm glad that my family isn't dove gray!

Anna: Winona- She seems more fun, and Carney is a little stiff, verging on snobby sometimes.

3. Jessi: Bonnie- Because I actually feel sorry for her. She had a good year at 15, but I feel like the rest of her youth/young adulthood was really bland.

Anna: Irma- It's not Irma's fault that she's so darn attractive, if I was her friend I'd just join forces and try to get all of the boys in school between the two of us.

4. Jessi: Tony- He's just so dashing and loafing all at the same time!

Anna: Tony- He's more romantic...even when Betsy stops being in love with him.

5. Jessi: Bangeter- She actually teaches something with her Shakespeare class. Clarke just does memorization. Although I do like how much Clarke adores Betsy.

Anna: Clarke- She's just so nice...everyone wants a teacher like her!

6. Jessi: Helena- She's just so German and Old World Europe!

Anna: Helena- Yes Helena is snobby, but so is Tilda. And Helena was basically raised to be snobby and has no way out. Tilda has no reason to be so mean.

7. Jessi: Bobby- He actually has a shot at being purple...being the Sun God in training and all!

Anna: Bobby- No brainer.

8. Jessi: Mrs. Sibley- I feel like she wishes she could break out of her New England reserve. Plus..at least she's not having a fling with her daughter's friend like Mr. Sibley!

Anna: Mr. Sibley- at least he doesn't have a block of ice for a heart.

9. Jessi: Win- she's the not as manly one...right?

Anna: Win- she's only slightly less creepy than Winkie.

10. Jessi: Miss Sparrow- She's lovable, while I feel like Miss Mix is on a fashion high horse!

Anna: Miss Sparrow- I can't help but feel like Miss Sparrow helped Betsy and Joe realize that they belong together!

11. Jessi: Aunt Ruth- She didn’t choose to be alone like Miss Cobb, it was thrust upon her. Plus, she’s a relative of Joe, so there’s got to be some cool in her deep down somewhere. Plus… Wheat!

Anna: Aunt Ruth- She helped with Joe’s story and made delicious bread!

12. Jessi: Mr O’Farrell- He’s a philanderer, but at least he’s broad minded and interesting. Bob not only helped drive a wedge between Betsy and Joe, but he’s just a callow youth frat boy river banker! Ew.

Anna: Mr O’Farrell- At least he was older and exciting and dashing and a world traveler, Bob was just a frat boy.

13. Jessi: Larry- I would probably rather date Phil, but Larry seems more overall good natured. Plus, he's related to Herbert, so he has some good genes.. or maybe Herbert got them all!

Anna: Phil- He served his purpose of making Betsy’s sophomore year more exciting. It was just so great on the Monday after the dance they went to school and realized that they both liked each other!

14. Jessi: Rocky- I find him fascinating… obnoxious, but fascinating. Mr. Bagshaw is such a sensitive, prissy mougar!

Anna: Mr. Bagshaw- if you’re going to be in an unhappy relationship, you can at least be rich! No one liked Rocky… It’s embarrassing to date someone that everyone knows is mean…

15. Jessi: Hazel- She’s almost a real person. Mamie’s like some sort of cartoon in a world of live action people. Hazel is maybe… Pixar.

Anna: Mamie Dodd- At least she was a really great piano player! Hazel was just a freckle-faced debater…

16. Jessi: Sam- If it was who I was dating I’d choose Sam, he would never hold out on someone just because of his pride! But if I was more Betsyish it would be Joe!

Anna: Joe- how could I not pick him?! Sam is fun and all, but Joe is just so cute and works so hard and is just that guy that you would always be a little bit amazed that he liked you!

17. Jessi: Married Betsy-I guess… Married Betsy is more diverse and interesting. But freshman Betsy is pretty darn absorbing for just being a regular 14 year old!

Anna: Freshman Betsy- though married Betsy is more confident and sophisticated, I like Freshman Betsy. She just loves everything so much!

18. Jessi: Onion Sandwiches- I don’t think I’d like either in real life… But in the books onion sandwiches sound delicious, while rarebit sounds harrowing.

Anna: Onion Sandwiches- I’ve always thought they sounded like the most marvelous thing ever!

19. Jessi: Coconut Cake- I can never get a clear image of what Lady Baltimore Cake actually is… but it sounds elegant!

Anna: Lady Baltimore Cake- I don’t even know what it is, but for some reason I thought it would be like a mix between Boston Cream Pie and Chocolate Éclair Cake!

20. Jessi: Dennie- he’s just so jovial! Squirrelly is kind of like Lady Baltimore Cake… I don’t exactly know who/what he is… I mean, how do you even pronounce his name?

Anna: Dennie- He seemed cuter and more fun! Wasn’t it him and Cab that had the Soirees with Betsy and Tib in Betsy was a Junior?

Well...it's been such a productive day in class...and it's not over yet!