Posts By: Louise

Movie Musicals Challenge –
The Sound of Music

June 4, 2016 Just for Fun, Movies 0

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Um, I am way they hey behind on my Movies Musical Challenge right now! SHAME.

Anyway, I actually watched (well, re-watched) The Sound of Music a month or so ago, and am only now getting around to writing a little something about it. At least I took notes at the time, right? And I’m very glad that I did spend an afternoon with this movie because I was reminded again why it has always been one of my favorite musicals.

I forgot how beautiful the scenery is. The aerial views of the Alps in the opening scene are especially impressive, just unbelievably gorgeous. And the Austrian town/countryside, too. The cinematography in general is amazing. I have to say that this is one of those shows that has just been done so well as a movie that no live stage play can really compare — although I have seen a couple of very entertaining stage versions of it.

I’d also forgotten how snarky the Captain is at first and how silly all the crying at the first dinner was. There are some very funny lines + scenes in this film; it isn’t all just epic music and anti-Nazi sentiment. Although there is plenty of that, too, both on purpose and accidental. I mean, I know that the “You are 16, going on 17” scene/song is supposed to be cute and romantic, but really it’s a bit creepy the way Rolf calls Liesl “little girl” and treats her like one, too, while at the same time being super flirty. Oh, well, the associated dance sequence was lovely and quite athletic, so I suppose I can’t be too critical.

The children are generally adorable without being too sickly-sweet (always a danger in old movies — or heck, even modern ones). Their little German costumes were especially charming. Yes, German, because even though they lived in Austria they were culturally German, which is a big part of why the Nazis took over the area, and anyway the whole history of the thing is quite complicated but also fascinating, if you like that sort of thing (and I do).

You have to appreciate The Sound of Music not only for its impressive soundtrack, but for telling the based-on-a-true-story story of non-Nazi Germans during WWII. ‘Edelweiss’ is incredibly sad in this context. Of course the song was invented for the film, but the flower was a cultural symbol for the people of the Alps well before that.

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Watching the movie again was like seeing an old friend. Though the particulars of her face might be forgotten over the years, she is instantly recognizable and it is as though no time has passed at all.


A Natural History of Dragons
by Marie Brennan

June 3, 2016 Book Reviews, Books 4

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★

A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent by Marie Brennan | February 2013 | Tor | Paperback $15.99

All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

File this one under ‘W’ for: Why Did It Take Me So Long To Get Around to Reading This?

I’ve been on a bit of a dragon book kick lately, rereading Seraphina and a handful of Pern books and tackling the Temeraire series for the first time (instead of working on any of my reading challenges or finishing up some ARCs like a good little book blogger should). I’m quite glad I picked this one up, too.

It has 4 of my Achilles heels (yes, I have more heels than I have feet) when it comes to fantasy stories: dragons (obviously); a plucky, smart, no-nonsense heroine; a kind of alternate-history setting; and a healthy dose of science! The story is told in the style of a memoir, and Lady Trent is an excellently-built character and convincing narrator. To be clear, this is not so much a book about dragons as it is about the early years of a young naturalist’s career. This was all the more interesting to me because the young naturalist in question is a woman in a world very much like Victorian England (albeit one with fantastical creatures), where she’s expected to develop ladylike hobbies and leave the science to the boys. Dragons do play a big part in this, but the book really focuses on Lady Trent’s first adventure into a strange land in pursuit of knowledge, and the mysterious/violent — yet very human — happenings there.

I also have to put in a good word about the illustrations by Todd Lockwood. Elegant and detailed, these “sketches” really add an extra oomph to the book that pushed it firmly into 5-star territory for me.

I will absolutely be picking up the next book or 2 in the series ASAP!


Links:


Publication information: Brennan, Marie. A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir by Lady Trent. New York: Tor Books, 2013. Print.
Source: Gift.
Disclaimer: I am not compensated, monetarily or otherwise, for reviews of books or other products.


Locally Laid
by Lucie B. Amundsen

May 9, 2016 Book Reviews, Books 6

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky, Industry-Changing Egg Farm — From Scratch by Lucie B. Amundsen | March 2016 | Avery | Hardcover $26

When Lucie Amundsen had a rare night out with her husband, she never imagined what he’d tell her over dinner — that his dream was to quit his office job (with benefits!) and start a commercial-scale pasture-raised egg farm. His entire agricultural experience consisted of raising five backyard hens, none of whom had yet laid a single egg.

With a heavy dose of humor, these newbie farmers learn to negotiate the highly stressed no-man’s-land known as Middle Agriculture. Amundsen sees firsthand how these midsized farms, situated between small-scale operations and mammoth factory farms, are vital to rebuilding America’s local food system.

With an unexpected passion for this dubious enterprise, Amundsen shares a messy, wry, and entirely educational story of the unforeseen payoffs (and frequent pitfalls) of one couple’s ag adventure — and many, many hours spent wrangling chickens.

I was fortunate enough to win this little gem of a book from a giveaway put on by Amanda and Holly of Gun in Act One.

First, let me clarify that I know very little about farming and even less about chickens in particular. What little I do know has been gleaned from various books and TV shows (of the educational variety, to be sure) rather than practical experience. So my admiration for the “middle agriculture” efforts of the Amundsen family is based entirely on the engaging way that their farming life is described in this book. I’m sure people who actually do agricultural stuff for a living could be more eloquent about the Locally Laid venture than I am.

Lucie writes in that kind of casual, “Here’s me and all my flaws, haha, and oh by the way let me drop this ton of knowledge/wisdom on you,” style that I so enjoy in contemporary nonfiction. I wouldn’t shelve this book in the humor section, but there are plenty of LOL moments — alongside some anxiety-inducing moments, of course. I can’t imagine the crushing levels of stress, physical labor, and debt that these people had to (have to?) deal with.

I think the local food movement is actually pretty great — not without its logistical problems, of course, but generally a smart idea — and I need to do a better job as a consumer of supporting smaller, hyper-local organizations. (“Hyper-local” as opposed to the general “Made in Texas” stuff that I make a point of picking up at the grocery store when the opportunity arises.) Now that I have weekends off on the reg again, it’s probably time to pick a nearby farmers market or two to try out.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in the local food movement or just the state of modern agriculture in general. I also think it would be a good pick for folks who enjoy sort of blog-like memoirs.


Links:


Publication information: Amundsen, Lucie B. Locally Laid. New York: Avery, 2016. Print.
Source: Giveaway from publisher Avery and blog Gun in Act One.
Disclaimer: I am not compensated, monetarily or otherwise, for reviews of books or other products.