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Adult content warning!

This blog includes texts which are not suitable for minors. So, if you are under the age of 18 or if my entries might offend you, please leave immediately.


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Friday, July 18, 2014

My reading experience of Prague Counterpoint (Zion Covenant book 2); authors: Bodie and Brock Thoene

Now, let’s have a complicated start. I write primarily about Prague Counterpoint here, because this one was available for my Kindle. Vienna Prelude, the first book of the Zion Covenant series is available for Kindle in the US and the UK, but the German amazon only had the paperback edition and not the ebook. So, while I was waiting for the first of the series, I peeked into Prague Counterpoint and later found myself on the bed, reading and reading until I finished book 2. By now, I have read halfway through the first book of the series, too, and I also have read the first pages of book 3 (Munich Signature). I am not paid for this, nevertheless, something positive is to follow. :-)

Originally I got the suggestion for the books of the Zion Covenant series from Anastasia Vitsky. Since I enjoy reading her reviews and know she has an eye for the important bits, I thought I’d give the Zion Covenant books a try. I did not regret that I did, and I say that even though the historic topic covered in Prague Counterpoint is not exactly mine.

The plot of the series starts in 1936, in the early years of the Third Reich, and you can follow the development in Germany and her neighbours primarily through the eyes of two jewish women, musicians, and an American journalist. You see with a lot of detail, how the jewish people are degraded and humiliated systematically and continuously, how racial hatred takes over and only the basest instincts and immoral behavior rules and how jewish people suffer because of this.
The historic background must have been researched in great detail and it sounded convincing and accurate to me. I remembered some of German history under the Nazi regime from school and found all that in the books, too. Some of the historic descriptions went into greater detail than I would have cared for, but leaving them out would not always have been easy either, because the historic events are intermingled with the plot. I think this is a matter of personal preference and it did not reduce the positive reading experience for me.

What I found absolutely well done, is how in many scenes the main characters are tossed around, often victim-like helpless, unable to change much, unable to influence major parts of their own or their loved ones’ fates. There were some cruel scenes, though they were by far not as cruel and horrid as they could have been. But for me, they were more than enough. I could virtually feel how helpless and humiliated the characters must have felt. Their suffering is described in a convincing way, at least for me. And even against all odds, these characters go on. While reading I felt several times how they drew me with them and I felt as lost as they must have. They do not give up, nor do they find ways easily to solve the problems they have to face. Their sorrows are heartbreaking and touching and in a way, how they cope is one of the reasons why you want to read on. 

If you are looking for a fully fledged love-story, you will be disappointed. This is a family and friends drama with a little bit of a clean love-story included. The characters often enough act out of love and out of a selfless sense of responsibility and there are romantic moments, thought they are few. The lovers in the book have problems, too and don’t find to each other easily, but the interpersonal problems of them appear actually rather small, compared to those they have to face just because they are in the wrong city in the wrong moment. Sometimes it reminded me of a ship that is lost in a severe storm and can only move to and fro helplessly, as the wind dictates. Still, this is not a negative point, because it fits well into the plot. The historical development is interwoven with it and all in all, this combination with characters who have to face enormous problems, a believable plot and the historic background of a cruel time, definitely made it a good read for me.

Who is meant to read the Zion Covenant series? I assume that the Zion Covenant series is meant to be read by youths and young adults, starting around the age of not younger than 15. The assumption is based on the level of understanding you need to see the immoral and cruel behavior of people in the book, to understand the systematic reduction of rights for jewish people and to understand the implications of it all. The book has a section with questions which help to understand what was read before. This is pretty helpful for younger readers and readers without any background knowledge. The language that The Thoenes use in all three books I know about, is very clear, as are the descriptions. The language is also very easy to understand, which I think I am allowed to say as a non-native English-speaker. But that does not mean that you can only enjoy this book at that age.
All in all I found this a very captivating read and not at all boring. Prague Counterpoint surely is not a difficult book, and in the past I have stopped reading books by other authors because the plot was too obvious, combined with a too basic language, even for me. But Prague Counterpoint is different. The characters move through the historical events in a way that you want to know what is going to happen next. And for me, it was not clear if they’d survive all this or not. Therefore, even though the appropriate age of when to start reading the Zion Covenant might be 15 and up, I could not see that it would be boring for adults. I am 35 and enjoyed reading it. … I might even smuggle my kindle into the labour ward, if the latter books of the series are as good as the first three. :D (=clear recommendation)

 This entry is scheduled for 18th July, 2.00 AM Pacific Daylight Time. I hope it works

I hope you all have a nice and wonderful weekend !

Monday, July 14, 2014

I quit the second time and I do not mean blogging (so, no worries, please)

This is the beginning of part II of ‘I quit’.

Since this is all a little longer than I had thought, I divided it into different parts which I am going to blog during our holidays. ... If the schedule function works as told, that is. And I am sorry that I may not be able to respond to comments immediately.

Introductory apologies
Yes, I know, it is always very bad style to start something like this with pleas for mercy, but since this is personal I have this urge not to put myself into a completely unfavourable light. At that time I think I’d have deserved no better, and they belong to the worst years. After that, I have learned to be better. And I know more about my limits. I behaved so stupidly at that time, and there are so many things I would do differently now, if I ever came into similar situations. But I would always have left the literature department (see part I).

I love my friend Amy dearly. The most recent entry (about her and hubby), which probably contained too much information and was rather thoughtless, was meant to show some of how close we are. I would never again let her down, and in a way, because of what has happened between us (and which is based on events that happened years earlier, at school), I feel as if she has this justified and hard earned claim on me which goes beyond anything I have ever known, apart from hubby’s claim on me. I owe her, and this has a very positive connotation, because I am allowed to be friends with the best woman I have ever known. 
 We have a lovely word in Hamburg (lower German language) for what I am doing here concerning Amy; it is called Lobhudelei and means something like excessive praise or paean (?). If you hear the word, it is actually a very cute word, just like there are some lower German swear words which sound so cute that nobody is seriously miffed, even though you insulted them the worst. Yep, I have tried it all.

Since this is so long ago and I simply trust in you as readers, to accept that people change, I thought it would be safe to let it all out in my blog. This is a place where I can do that without worrying. And I told Amy that I would write it down and she could have vetoed. She did not, because I promised not to give away anything which would identify us today, and she agrees, it is too long ago to cause problems. When I showed her the pages, she was very surprised, because I had written so much about it (14 typed pages) and she asked about a lot of what I had written. She speaks little English and just let me tell her the different parts. It was a little like reliving some of the moments, which was a small drama in itself, for both of us. It was easy for me just to write some of this down, but talking it over again was a different matter. Imagine how you would tell your best friend that she disappointed you once. There were some funny moments, of course, but all the frustration and extreme up and down we went through, was suddenly back. I had warned her first, asked if she was sure that she wanted to hear it, after all, this had been forgotten for such a long time.

Most of it ended when hubby and I married eleven years ago. If you count in my first two years of studies in literature, all these troubles took four years of our time. That’s another reason why I do write it down. Those four years were crucial, definitely shaped us and even though they are long past, they have ended with drastic changes. The best of it, with writing it down and talking again about it, it felt as if the book is closed again after understanding better what happened.

 If this proves just a waste of time for you, I apologize for that. I tried not to use a too reporting style in all parts, though I am still doing so in many.  

1. Arts and a phone call
… My thinking had cleared up, slowly, but steadily. “So, what you mean is, I should go and do arts?” Amy nodded eagerly. “Yeah, why not? You are just the right one for it. You could be a teacher or…” Here she left it. I grinned, while I finally also had a bite of the roll. “Or I could be a cleaner, to earn a living. I am not good enough for more and I told you that.” I studied what Amy had left on the tray and dipped my finger into some red jam. Hmmm strawberry. The roll followed and I munched. Amy had not spoken and waited. Obviously she wanted me to listen closely to her. I stopped eating and looked at her. She has warm eyes and an abundance of patience, whenever necessary. Guess who she needs that for, usually. But I wanted to be nice, too, stopped chewing and waited. I could see her motherly instincts come forward, and I have always known that she was going to be an awesome mom. No, she would be THE MOM. She is lovely with kids of any age, … . Well, she is lovely with me, too. She waited, until I was ready to listen to her. “You can do that easily. They are not literature at all. You’ll find all you are looking for with them.” I basically agreed. According to what I had told her as my main reasons to let studies go, the art school we had visited once, would be the ideal place. 

I nodded. “Maybe, but we’d see less of each other, because they are in the opposite direction.” So far, we had had many times when we met on campus, had the same ways, could meet easily whenever we wanted to. This would change. “Oh come on. You are not going to skip this chance because you have to take another bus line, are you?” I waited and thought for a moment , but I knew she was right. I’d still need some time to get used to these upcoming changes, but inwardly, I had already agreed. Amy grabbed my piece of roll with jam, pushed it into my mouth and held my arms. “Say it!” Munching, I nodded “Promise, deal, ok!” We hugged and as usual she had made me feel like a champion, as if I had achieved something. “Good girl.” I kissed her on her cheek ”Thanks. You made things easy. Bribed me with Aspirin and rolls and not leaving an alternative.” I pressed her closer a second time. “I am glad that you helped me”. She beamed at me. “My pleasure. … I knew the rolls would do the trick.” She laughed and started being Miss Buzzling. “Up now, get dressed, there are so many things to do.” I was not inclined to follow suite, but she had stood up, taken the tray and simply pulled my blanket away, before I even knew what was happening. She loves that, and although she is the warmest and most understanding woman I know, she also enjoys bossing sleepy flatmates around on occasion.

The following weeks differed a little from my original schedule on campus. Before I had decided to ‘Let it go’, I would have appeared in the literature department, would have attended courses and written my papers. Kafka! This was my first one I would not write. I wouldn’t collect the credits and felt free. Instead, I went to the arts department. It was around fifteen minutes from our flat, so no big deal. I had weeks off, because I did not attend the courses. Amy had suggested that I’d work some more in that time, which was the obvious thing to do, after all I’d need a few new things.

Now and then, I got calls from my former department. It was always the same phone number. I had only once in this time made the mistake to answer the call. “Hello, Nina xxxxxxx speaking.” I had been far away with my thoughts. “I am glad to reach you. Where have you been?! I worried.” I did not know what or if to answer, but my professor went on before I could. “You should have left a note that you could not attend my course. We wouldn’t want to exclude you from my course due to such a slip. … Would we?” It took only this little moment to feel as if I had been thrown in front of a car. “What? Well, ehm, sorry…” I was absolutely dumbfounded. I mean it is easy to do that to me, but hearing this woman’s voice was like a very chilling shower. And I had not expected her to call me. There was no reason. Her office deals with these petty things, like unruly students.
“We can talk about it and there will be opportunities to avoid problems. I have no time this afternoon. But please do me the favour and meet me in my office at 7pm. We can discuss everything.” I hated every word she said, but the way she stressed this ‘everything’ made me almost vomit. “Be there in time. Goodbye!” This brought life back to my senses. “NO! Wait. I can’t… I won’t come.” She was still there. I could hear her breathing in. Either she was smoking, which I did not believe, or she was getting annoyed, because I was rebellious and appeared to complicate matters now. “O.K. Then tomorrow. Same time, 7 pm…” Quick now. “No, thank you Ma’am. There is no reason for us to have an appointment. I have left your course. I apologize that I caused any inconvenience. There is no reason to call me again. Goodbye!” I almost smashed the phone receiver into the cradle. It was done. I had had the last word, too! No more buxxxxxt from her side. I had kept all air in, which always happens when I am nervous or too excited. Try to speak then. She must have heard how nervous and agitated these few words had left  me. I did not want to hear her voice again, ever. She was too awful. Another four seconds and the phone rang again. It was her, and she let it ring for quite some time.

Around three months later I was officially declared an arts student. Amy even bought me one of the cliché black French berets, so that I would look the part of the poor artist.

 This is scheduled for Monday, 14th July, 7.00 AM. Hope it works!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Final words before the take off

I am super scared about the flight now and if you watch tv  tomorrow, and see a bumpy woman running away, chased by security, either in Hamburg or in London, that can only be me. I’ll be screaming then, too, so that you know who you see. :-)

 aviophobic woman who learned that she had a new job as a flight attendant.

I am still trying to figure out the schedule function in my blog, and don’t trust it at all, because it is computer related. They hate me and know when to retaliate!
I had the next part of Sue and Martin finished for weeks by now, and most of what I started with ‘I quit’ has been done for ages too, and even now, when I have to decide what to do with it, I am not sure what of it I want to publish. Some comments have left me thinking and although I’ll just go on blogging, I actually do think a little longer before I push the publish-button, because of these strange events in blogland. It left me with a queasy feeling in my stomach…and my stomach looks pretty impressive  these days, meaning that some confidence of how much I can give away about us, has left me. I might have infringed our anonymity already in past entries and much of ‘I quit’ would be pretty obvious to anybody connected to it. But this is so long ago that I am not worried too much yet. If it contained current information, hubby would shut my blogging place down, I think.

Gloomy. I think some of these thoughts come directly from my brain’s angst center, because I imagine all sorts of horrible things connected to the flight again, now that it comes closer and I can count the hours. Why couldn’t we walk to Britain?! It’s only a little puddle of water between here and there, and flying is overrated anyway.

Well, I’ll better finish my schedule for the entries, and I’ll write down when they were meant to appear, to see if it works. So, if nothing pops up at all, I got it all wrong and had no chance to fix that with one of our in-laws’ computers. 

I am so excited to see them all, and can't wait to hear their latest news, 

... and ...

I hope you all have a pleasant and wonderful summer time

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Nursery school party

This was a super cute event (see quick note). Although the oldest kids were meant to be the stars, actually it was a party of the whole nursery school. All groups of all ages had participated in two little plays and the oldest children, those who will be school kids soon, had a kind of solo. 
The main play was about a little girl who had lost her cat. She was going to different places, all over the world and looked for her little cat. So you could see the most famous cats, like tigers, lions, pumas and leopards. My niece was the leopard. It was a very colourful event, because the children had fantastic costumes, faces and hands were coloured, too, so that they all looked the part. 

The setting was very basic, which was just right, because since they only had four trees in the background and lots of room in the foreground, they could move around easily. Oh, and of course, the trees were talking all the time, they discussed how time passed and the little girl went through the world. They were absolutely fabulous, three boys who were a little shy and were barely audible and a girl who screamed her tree-messages out into the crowd. I really had to hold my bump because I couldn’t stop laughing. They were all too cute and sweet. 

Btw, the little girl returned home, unhappy, because she could not find her loved cat. :-(   But then something that looked like a bush (no idea what that was meant to be) told her to look into her garden. The little cat had born a litter of little kittens, who were also played by children. They were half hidden behind a bench, so that you could only see their heads, face in full kitten make-up and little cat ears in black, brown and yellow. :-) Those kitten actors really took their part seriously and did not flinch once throughout the scene.

(not from the party!)

In the second play they had lots of animals from the sea, primarily dolphins, though, and everything was kept in blue, the children included, with dark blue faces… and white shining teeth and eyes.  According to their looks, they were the junior version of the Blue Man Group. But the kids were cooler, because they had big dolphin silhouettes at the sides of their heads. 

Afterwards, there was a final song sung by all children and then the buffet was open for all and after they all had something to eat and drink, the crowd dispersed a little and there was time for some small talk, final goodbyes for the older kids and nursery school teachers. As far as I understood, they had done that already in the morning, but make assurance double sure. I thought that maybe they should have put the buffet outside, because they have a large area outside and the weather is currently fantastic. It’s sunny and windy, just right to be outside.
I was not the only one with a bump, there were at least three other visibly very pregnant women, and one who looked like seventh month stood close to a man, probably in his fifties, and his belly was bigger than hers. According to the size, he was long overdue with twins. There also was a little boy, maybe four, who stood close by and looked closely at those two protruding bellies. And you could see that he had several questions, but he did not ask immediately. I admit I had been waiting for that to happen. His mom took him up a short time later and he asked her. She also tried to hide her smile in vain. Too bad I could not hear her answer.

It’s countdown time again :-) Baby and I are in week 28 now and feeling good all in all. 
 Maybe I will find time to send reports from the small island, but otherwise there will probably no preggo countdowns for the following four weeks!