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review 2018-07-31 21:06
When Death comes calling......
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

What makes this story unique and a novel enjoyed by both young and old is due primarily  to two outstanding elements. First, is the use of "Death" as the narrator; Death is devoid of all emotion and his role is simple that of an impartial observer and the story teller of events as they unfold. He retains no particular allegiance to those who die either as a result of actions caused by the Nazi party or bombing of the allies, he is simply there to collect souls and business is good. Equally important the story is viewed through the eyes of children. The young are totally unaware of the gathering storm and cannot appreciate the enormity of what is about to happen....but the adults know (and so do you and I dear reader) Germany has embarked on a course of annihilation, at its head a tyrannical fascist and his jackbooted  henchmen. (the innocence of children is also dramatically explored in another great novel; "The boy in stripped pajamas" when the child Bruno exchanges his clothes so he can copy  his friend Shmuel....those who have read will know what heartbreak follows) The adults understand the significance of "Kristallnacht" the night of broken glass, the persecution of the Jewish population or any individual or party who dared to stand in opposition to the Fuhrer.


Liesel Meminger lives with her adoptive parents Rosa and Hans Hubermann. She enjoys care free days with her friend Rudy Steiner and is besotted with Max Vandenburg who lives in the basement of the Hubermann residence..."The basement was the only place for him as far as he was concerned. Forget the cold and loneliness. He was a Jew and if there was one place he was destined to exist, it was a basement or any other such hidden venue of survival"....."Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day. That was the business of hiding a Jew"..... She collects books and loves to listen to stories recited by her friend Max and is always excited when stepdad Hans plays on his piano accordion reading magical stories into the night. But as the war comes even closer the comfort she has known and the love she cherishes begins to fade when the walls of innocence start to tumble....when Death comes calling....


Markus Zusak as an author has a unique poetic voice as he describes the horrific events unfolding in Nazi Germany from the mid 1930's. This is a very emotional tale with few survivors and one patiently waiting narrator....."I see their ugliness and their beauty, and I wonder how the same thing can be both. Still they have one thing that I envy. Humans, if nothing else, have the good sense to die"...."one opportunity leads directly to another, just as risk, life leads to more risk, life to more life, and death to more death"....


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review 2018-05-09 16:15
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

This is my absolute favorite book!  I have read a lot of Holocaust novels, but this one really sticks out.  The characters are very complex.  This book also has an extremely unique and thought-provoking element (if you have read it,you know what I mean.)

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review 2018-02-10 10:46
The Book Thief
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

I didn't even bring this book home for myself. It is the strange way that my story with what arguably has become my favourite book begins. I didn't bring it for myself, but still, being me I couldn't resist picking it up and reading a little bit. Only for then, I had to say, sorry, I'm keeping it for a while, because it was impossible to put it down.

The story is narrated by Death, and while at first I wasn't sure about this (I was younger when I read it), I quickly saw that my fears were ungrounded and that Death was the perfect narrator for the story. The story itself is nothing big, but more powerful just because it remains small. One of the few books that managed to make me cry.

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review 2018-02-08 06:10
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: My convoluted thoughts quickly typed
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

Nobody needs a review from me of a book that's been around forever, but I was so affected by this one that I feel a need to at least commemorate that much. I read it a few weeks ago, and the characters are still with me. I'm still affected by this book, and I'm sure I will be for a very long time.


I can't believe it was only intended for kids/young adults. I also think - after rereading books I read when I was far too young, that it's almost silly to have younger kids read books with such subtle nuances. Just because you can read something doesn't mean you will fully absorb what the book has to offer -- and that's true at any age.


It says ages 12 and up. Maybe, I guess. I don't really know a lot about kids, so perhaps I'm way off, but I'm finding that a lot of the books I was given in school were just a touch beyond where I was as a human being when I read them. I loved books. I loved reading. I'm thrilled I read The Catcher in the Rye back then since I didn't like it nearly as much as an adult, and I credit Holden Caulfield with saving my young life.


“Certain things, they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.” -- Holden, Catcher in the Rye


I think that's actually what I should have done with that book! Anyway...


This one is a bit different. I think it has a lot to say about what is often painted as pure evil: Germany during the Holocaust and the subtleties included in a situation like PaPa fighting for the Third Reich. As an American 12 year old, would I know that invasive poverty and love/ wanting to protect your family would conflict with your own moral imperatives? Would I understand the self-sacrifice involved in something like that? I honestly don't know. I suppose if I had a great teacher, maybe I would. On my own, I'm not so sure.


As an adult though, I loved this book. It's a terrific lesson on why nobody should count out any genre or classification: you could miss an awesome book! I tend to avoid super-hyped books if I haven't read them before the hype, so that's probably what put me off this one.

In January 2018 though, I cried SO hard during parts that I just gave in to it at one point and doubled over sobbing in my kitchen with the water running. I went through an entire box of tissues. I loved these characters more than my own family. I want to read it again already.

It's really good at showing the humanity and the ease with which good people can find themselves caught up in a morally perilous situation that is, on the other side, a life-threatening situation. Every character in this book is fully realized and so real, they come off the pages. I will never forget Rudy and PaPa, Max and Liesel, and the relationships between them all especially caught my heart. Liesel's a tough little girl who is so very vulnerable and only feels safe enough to express that at the height of the second world war in a horrendously awful situation, but to her: it's the best her life has ever been. It's really very very tragic. I'm tearing up right now!


To top the whole thing off, we have Death as narrator. I know some people in my book club hated this. I adored him. He was so kind and gentle, so genuine and wise. He was also dangerously seductive, and most of all, he felt like a dear old grandpa to me. While humans may break his heart, he broke mine. I honestly loved this book, and I'm guessing that waiting a decade plus after the hype helped me get to it in an unfettered way.


Oh, PS, I loved the book so much, I decided to rent the movie, and BOY was that a huge let-down. I didn't even cry any tears until the very end, and that may have just been relief that the film was ending. It wasn't horrible, but in comparison to the book: no comparison.

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review 2017-11-27 21:22
Medieval Fantasy
Dreadmarrow Thief (The Conjurer Fellstone Book 1) - Marjory Kaptanoglu

While I admittedly don't read a ton in the Fantasy/Adventure genre, I do love medieval settings filled with magic and mayhem. Dreadmarrow Thief has plenty of both with magical amulets, a wicked conjurer living in a dark castle, and a quest that seems doomed to fail. The story is told from the perspectives of Tessa, Ash, and Calder - three people whose lives are intertwined by secrets both past and present. As the story progresses and secrets are revealed, the action ramps up for this trio and main character, Tessa, learns more than she bargained for. 

The characters are interesting and the premise is a good one, especially for those that enjoy reading about medieval quests and magic. I did find the writing style to be more telling than showing, which tends to keep the reader on the outside looking in, and the point of view switches from first to third person were an added distraction. Other than that, the book does introduce an exciting world and is a promising lead-in to the series. 

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