Band of Brothers: Episode 10, Chpts. 17-19

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HBO Synopsis: Points

Once home to the top officers of the Third Reich, Easy Co. enters the Bavarian town of Berchtesgaden, and captures “Eagle’s Nest,” Hitler’s mountaintop fortress. Facing imminent deployment to the Pacific Theater, the men compare their “points” to see who has earned enough to go home. However, the Japanese surrender ends the war. A closing vignette tells what happened to the men of Easy Company after they returned home.

This episode is a great close to the miniseries. The actual soldiers of Easy, who give introductory commentary prior to each episode are revealed, we get to see their joy at being off the front, their frustration at not being able to go home, their fatigue and resentment at waiting to deploy to the Pacific, and the effects of no one to fight and endless supplies of alcohol, ammo, and vehicles.

One aspect I really appreciated about these last chapters though, is the level of soldierly respect between the German and American soldiers. Besides the Nazis, who were tracked down and sent to prisons, the average German soldier and American soldier had a common bond through war and were able to show each other mutual respect and solidarity.

And the reason for Ambrose’s focus on Easy, the rare bond that these men forged, was brought home one more time. After talking about how much the men hated the Army, how much they hated the war, it all came back to this: “They also found in combat the closest brotherhood they ever knew. They found selflessness. They found they could love the other guy in their foxhole more than themselves. They found that in war, men who loved life would give their lives for them.” (289)

The majority of the men went on to lead very successful lives, some finding wealth, but most finding a niche of the world to call their own and carve out a good life. Many went into teaching or building, though some also fought issues of PTSD and an inability to figure out where they belonged outside of combat.

The ending of the book though, which was also the ending of the show, is an amazing quote that I think sums up how all of these men felt about each other (and that always make me misty eyed):

“Mike Ranney wrote: In thinking back on the days of Easy Company, I’m treasuring my remark to a grandson who asked, ‘Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?’ ‘No,’ I answered, ‘but I served in a company of heroes’.” (307)

Ok, now I need to go watch the show all over again.

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Fire Study

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Goodreads Summary:

The apprenticeship is over—now the real test has begun.

When word that Yelena is a Soulfinder—able to capture and release souls—spreads like wildfire, people grow uneasy. Already Yelena’s unusual abilities and past have set her apart. As the Council debates Yelena’s fate, she receives a disturbing message: a plot is rising against her homeland, led by a murderous sorcerer she has defeated before…

Honor sets Yelena on a path that will test the limits of her skills, and the hope of reuniting with her beloved spurs her onward. Her journey is fraught with allies, enemies, lovers and would-be assassins, each of questionable loyalty. Yelena will have but one chance to prove herself—and save the land she holds dear.

I had a lot of problems with this book, and almost set it aside to finish it later.

I hate Yelena for so much of this book. All the angst and insecurities and isolation we normally see from characters in the second book came out here, and it really disappointed me. One of the reasons I liked Yelena so much was because she always found a way to prevail, she trusted her friends to help her, and she trusted herself. She throws all that away for the majority of this book and it’s so annoying. Also, there are so many new issues introduced that I was nervous they wouldn’t be resolved well.

And they kind of weren’t. The real baddie wasn’t too much of a surprise, and Yelena is in the parallel world while all her friends deal with the problems left in Sitia. Also, Yelena almost gives up AGAIN and resigned herself to living in this other world and never returning back to the people she loves. Everything is basically tied into a pretty little bow, but I felt like it was too easy.

Also, there was SO MUCH summary! It was ridiculously annoying and left me scanning paragraphs of the book. I mean, we’ve all read the first two books, yes mention an event to refresh our memory, but don’t give us the whole run down again, if we want that much detail we’ll re-read the books. Without so much summary I’m sure the book could have been cut down by at least 30 pages and not suffered one bit.

This one, in my opinion, was the worst of the three. And while I am still planning to read the rest of the  books set in this world, I’m going to take a break first.

Getting Back into a Groove

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Last week I mentioned how I was having some writer’s block, and what I was doing to get out of that rut.

Well, it’s been going ok! I did some brainstorming to get my thoughts organized. I did some Pinteresting to give myself some visual inspiration, and I wrote longhand. I even had to refill my fountain pen, which just really made me feel like a sophisticated writer.

I haven’t been writing everyday, but I am getting back into it and have at least been doing it every other day. And when I do write I’ve been getting about 1,000 words out in a sitting, which seems to be about my quota. I am hoping once I am doing nothing but writing I will triple that, but that’s not an issue for a while!

I’m feeling good about where I this story is going, and though I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not, I am already thinking about edits to make the story stronger. Hopefully this time when I start edits I don’t toss the draft like last time!

First I have to finish this draft though. I am getting closer, and I’m getting really excited about it!

Magic Study

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Goodreads Summary:

YOU KNOW YOUR LIFE IS BAD WHEN YOU MISS YOUR DAYS AS A POISON TASTER…

With her greatest enemy dead, and on her way to be reunited with the family she’d been stolen from long ago, Yelena should be pleased. But though she has gained her freedom, she can’t help feeling isolated in Sitia. Her Ixian background has changed her in many ways—and her newfound friends and relatives don’t think it’s for the better….

Despite the turmoil, she’s eager to start her magic training—especially as she’s been given one year to harness her power or be put to death. But her plans take a radical turn when she becomes involved with a plot to reclaim Ixia’s throne for a lost prince—and gets entangled in powerful rivalries with her fellow magicians.

If that wasn’t bad enough, it appears her brother would love to see her dead. Luckily, Yelena has some old friends to help her with all her new enemies….

Based on a lot of reviews I was worried I wouldn’t like this sequel, and while I wished there was more Valek, and Yelena’s recklessness does get her into a lot of trouble that probably could have been handled better, I still thoroughly enjoyed this chapter of the story. The exploration of Sitia is really interesting and Snyder’s wild building continues to impress. It’s also nice to see Yelena start to forge her own path in the world.

What I liked most about this book was watching Yelena decide who she wants to be, since it’s pretty much the first time she’s not being forced into a role. Her interactions with her family are really interesting, and I don’t think I would have been able to handle her mother as well as she did. The relationship with her brother was probably the most complex so far and it was really nice to watch them work through it in an organic way.

We meet so many new characters in this book, and they are all super intriguing, especially seeing how they all end up by the end of the book.

What I thought was one of the best and worst parts of this book though was Valek. I missed him, but understand why Snyder had them separated for a large segment of the story. However, when they are together you don’t really get the sense that they are Together. There was so much dialogue between them in the first book, and this one it’s them having sex and then a paragraph of Yelena saying she’s updated him on whats going on in her life, and then them having sex again. Their relationship just seems so focused on the physical and it lacks the strength that they had come to embody in the first book.

Yelena’s investigation of her magic is interesting though, and the more that is revealed about magic, The Commander, Valek, and the two countries, the more questions emerge about what is influencing what. I’m hoping we’ll get some good answers in the last book!

Coming This Week: May 25

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It’s Memorial Day! So I have to get historic on you all and note where Memorial Day originates. Which I may have done last year . . . anyway it started as Decoration Day. No one knows for sure where it originated, but many of the cities who claim it are in the South (and I’m pretty sure that’s the version I was taught in my Civil War class), it was a way for the families of Civil War soldiers to celebrate the lives of their loved ones, and the sacrifices they made in fighting for their beliefs. Some city in New York was named the home of Decoration Day, but in 1971 it was finally made a national holiday and became Memorial Day as we know it, taking on the remembrance of all veterans (which started after WWI) and all American campaigns.

Well, now that I got that out, here is what you have to look for the rest of the week.

Tomorrow and Thursday book reviews will finish the new series I started on last Thursday:

Friday will be episode 10 of Band of Brothers, I can’t believe we are at the end! And Wednesday will be a writing update.

Have a good Memorial Day!

Band of Brothers: Episode 9, Chtps. 15-16

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HBO Synopsis: Why We Fight

Easy Co. finally enters Germany, to surprisingly little resistance, and has a chance to relax for the first time in a long time. A patrol in a nearby forest discovers an abandoned Nazi concentration camp, still filled with emaciated prisoners. The local citizenry, unbelievably disavowing knowledge of its existence, is made to clean it up, as the news arrives that Hitler is dead.

This is my third favorite episode. I love the emotions, the revelations, the sentiment that these soldiers were really fighting for a just cause, and the level of humanity it brings to the men.

The book however, reserves only a paragraph or two to the discovery of the camp. What I found most interesting though, and something I knew pretty well already, is the fact that most of the soldiers, and the American people, thought the Concentration Camps to be blown up rumors and propaganda. One of the reasons behind that, I believe, is the general incapability to believe one could inflict such pain against a fellow human being.

The focus of the chapters was on the relationship between the German citizens and the American soldiers. Ambrose sums up: “They would be coming as conquerors who had been told to distrust all Germans,” and they would learn the difference between the Germans and the Nazis. (247) In general, the opinion of the various countries and their people as told by American GI were this: They all hated the Arabs, the Italians were never to be trusted but had redeeming qualities, the French were ungrateful and lazy, the British brave yet dull, and the Dutch wonderful in every way. The Germans however, turned out to be people they like best, and who they most closely identified with, with their modern comforts like indoor plumbing, their hard working nature, and their middle-class ways. (248)

The liberation of D. P. (Displaced Persons) camps definitely stirred up dislike of the Germans though. And on top of the discovery of the Concentration camp,exposing the lengths the Nazis went to to achieve their plans, as well as the German civilians blind eye to the atrocities, incited complicated emotions of the country’s people. Though I have to add, what were those German civilians supposed to do, not that it was right, but would I have been able to stand up to Nazi soldiers?

The closing of chapter 16, and my closing of this post, is Winters memory of the Concentration Camp: “The memory of starved, dazed men, who dropped their eyes and heads when we looked at them through the chain-link fence, in the same manner that a beaten, mistreated dog would cringe, leaves feelings that cannot be described and will never be forgotten. The impact of seeing those people behind that fence left me saying, only to myself, ‘Now I know why I am here!’.”

Poison Study

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Goodreads Summary:

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

This book left me with a lot of feels, and I think I am still working them out. But ultimately, I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to continue the series (though there are a lot of mixed reviews about the other two books that have me kind of worried).

The whole premise of this book is so interesting. Especially given the fact that the main bad guy isn’t the ruler of the country. He did take over by force, and killed a lot of people on the way, but we see so many examples of progressive thought, empathy, encouragement, and general intelligence from the Commander that it’s hard not to like him, which is how Yelena feels.

Yelena is a really interesting character too. She’s been through so much, and most people would break under the treatment she’s been through but she has a will to live and an intelligence to match it. She’s smart, though not all knowing; and actively works to improve herself in learning, relationships, and physical prowess. She seems like any other woman trying to make her way in the world, though under extreme circumstances.

Valek, her tutor and keeper, is equally interesting. His devotion to the Commander first presents him as a ruthless assassin with little care for others lives. But as we get to know him we see other sides: an artist, and intellectual, a friend. It was so fun to watch he and Yelena grow together as a team and watch them work through problems and lean on each other. Neither of them have ever had a partner like that before and it was so cute to watch them learn how to create a relationship like that.

Ari and Janco – the power twins – are some of my favorite secondary characters ever. They are the levity to the story, yet also the heart of it. They are so openly caring and protective and loyal that it brings to light a side of Yelena and Valek that is sometimes hard to see.

I loved the world Snyder built, the detail she wove into the storie and the environment. Though I do have to mention that it drove me crazy that she doesn’t use Oxford commas, I hope she gets with the program with her later books.