Book Review: The Book Thief

When I think back about this book, I can honestly say that there are no happy memories that come to mind. From how I recall The Book Thief, it’s similar to A Series of Unfortunate Events–it’s just miserable.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the book as a whole. I thought it was fantastic, but there weren’t any moments that I genuinely remember being happy about it.

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will be busier still.

By her brother’s graveside, Liesel’s life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger’s Handbook, left behind there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordian-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor’s wife’s library, wherever there are books to be found.

But these are dangerous times. When Liesel’s foster family hides a Jew in their basement, Liesel’s world is both opened up, and closed down.

I hadn’t heard of this book before I started reading it, but I really enjoyed the suspense and the drama that came from it. 

If you’ve ever read the book, you’ll remember that there is a very interesting narrator–Death. Yes death is the narrator of the story, and because this is World War Two, you can imagine how busy he was collecting the dead. 

Death foreshadows constantly throughout the story, so we know a bit about which of the characters will die. I think Death’s perspective adds to the building suspense through the story. 

You might assume that Death being a narrator can be sort of intimidating. I mean he’s Death, why wouldn’t his POV be dark and greusome right? 

The truth is, Death was one of the brigher parts of the story. He was a ray of sunshine through some of the darker moments. 

I do not carry a sickle or a scythe.
I only wear a hooded black robe when it’s cold.
And I don’t have those skull-like
facial features you seem to enjoy
pinning on me from a distance. You
want to know what I truly look like?
I’ll help you out. Find yourself a mirror while I continue.


The Book Thief is also a bit of a different view of the Holocaust, because it focuses on a little German girl, Liesel, who is living in Hitler’s birthplace.

And the character growth, in my opinion, is remarkable. There are many characters that we hate throughout the story, only to love them by the end. I definitely recommend picking this one up if you haven’t read it yet. It’s technically considered a YA book, but I think it has more impact the older you are.

I will give you a fair warning though, if you want a fast read, this book isn’t for you. It’s a bit of a grind at times. You’ll feel like your clawing your way through mud, but that slow crawl adds something to the story. It adds a sense of accomplishment and connection to the entire story. 

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I’m not one for re-reading a book, but this one is on the short list for books I plan to re-read in the future. 

I have never met someone, or found a single review that has said anything against The Book Thief. Many people state it is a modern classic. It is truly a remarkable book, and I will firmly recommend that EVERYONE should read this book if they call themselves a book lover.  

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Book Review: The World of Ice & Fire

This is a little known book in the world of Westeros, and I figured I would give it its moment of fame this week before Season 8 of Game of Thrones comes out this weekend. 

Rating: ★★★★☆

Author: George R.R. Martin

I’m a big fan of history, as you probably know by now, and I’m an even bigger fan of fantasy book series, which you should know by now and if you don’t then you do now.

The World of Ice & Fire was a perfect combination of both worlds because it’s an annotated history of the Game of Thrones world that I’ve fallen in love with since reading the books and watching the shows.

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That’s one great thing that Martin has done with his Song of Ice & Fire world. He has built it up so well and so perfectly that you could probably make stories for years to come, just based on information that has already been written.

He’s created the history of these kingdoms and their stories that The World of Ice & Fire can feel like you’re reading a real history book sometimes.

If you want to pick this one up, don’t expect much of a “story”. It reads a lot like a history book. Each of the major houses in Westeros are written about, showing their history since their founding basically, with a few major events highlited for each.

Most of the names in the book one will be one’s you’ve heard before, but only the more dedicated fans will know how everything connects together. Just watching the shows and then reading this might make you a bit confused, but you can definitely do it.

Probably about half of the books gives a brief overview of what each of the Targaryen kings during their reigns. Since there has been so many it sort of glances over each of them and their more notable events, with the more important ones getting more pages than the less important ones.

The other half of the book is about the major houses’ histories, and the history of some of the other cities and countries in the world that you may have heard of at some point.

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It talks about white walkers, the first people in Westeros, some major battles, Old Valyria, Robert’s Rebellion, and everything in between. It’s a nice little book to read if you’re big into trying to predict theories for upcoming books or episodes.

What I really love about the book, and what really made me enjoy the experience of reading it is the beautiful artwork inside. Almost every page has some illustration on it, and some pages there’s nothing but.

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It almost feels like what I imagine the history books of Westeros to look like, which is a little added bonus I really enjoy. It’s really a piece of art, and if you want to consider yourself a Game of Thrones nerd you definitely need to give it a read.

I don’t really know what else to say. It’s a history book of the entire world, so there’s not even moments I’d want to point out that really stood out to me because that’s not the type of book it is, and I don’t think that was the intent of it.

The intent wasn’t to tell a story, the intent of the book was to help create the story that was already being told. I think that’s the case with all of the supplemental Game of Thrones materials.

They aren’t made to tell their own stories, they’re ment to tell the complete story of A Song of Ice and Fire, which they are all only an aspect of.

Next week I’m going to be taking a look at another Game of Thrones related book, but I’m not going to spoil it just yet. 

I would love to hear what you guys are most excited for in the upcoming season though. Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: The Once and Future King

Rating: 4/5

Author: T.H. White

The Kid Who Would Be King is a new movie out in theatres, and it’s yet another movie about King Arthur, or some version of him.

I’m not complaining, because I am a big fan of the Arthurian legend, but when we get a movie adaptation of the story every few years, it’s a little too much.

Now I haven’t read that book, but one Arthurian legend book that I have read is The Once and Future King.

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T.H. White got the name of the book from Sir Thomas Malory’s “Le Morte d’Arthur”, where he claims that King Arthur’s tomb has Hic iacet Arthurus, rex quondam, rexque futurus”. 

For those who aren’t fluent in Latin, basically what that means is “Here lies Arthur, king once, and king to be.”

I heard about it from watching X2 when Professor X talks to Magneto about what a man can do when he has power.

As Arthur becomes king, he attempts to go against the “might is right” attitude that was common at the time in a historical context.

Since Arthur wasn’t a real person, White’s retelling of the story differs slightly from what people commonly associate to Arthur, but it is still the same idea.

The Once and Future King ends just before Arthur’s final battle against his illegitimate son Mordred, but follows the basic story people often know about King Arthur:

  • His training with Merlyn (no battle with Madam Mym though)
  • His seduction by his half sister Morgause, and the adoption of the chivalric order of the Round Table
  • The love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere
  • The eventual downfall of Camelot because of Mordred’s hatred of Arthur/the love affair of Lancelot and Guinevere

Now I’m a sucker for the medieval era with knights and sword fights. I’ve loved that idea since I was a kid, and I probably wont stop, and I think The Once and Future King is a great depiction of the era, using the Arthurian legend to show the code of chivalry that has come and gone through history.

What’s great about it though, is the fact that it really doesn’t much of its time on knights and fighting. I mean yeah, it is part of the story, but probably about 1/4 of it focuses on Arthur’s (or Wart as he is known at the time) training by Merlyn as different animals.

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I always thought that was a movie thing from watching The Sword in the Stone. You know, kids movie, funny talking animals that teach you a lesson. But no, it’s actually how the story was written, and being an adult I kind of understand how the lessons make sense.

I tried not to let my love of knights and the medieval era stain my judgement of this one.

I did genuinely really enjoy The Once and Future King though. I had read it a few years ago and couldn’t stop myself from reading it when I had a free moment.

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Since there are so many different adaptations of the Arthurian legend, what’s your favourite? Let me know in the comments.

Next week I’m gonna take a look at a book, named after a guy who has a metal heart. Maybe you can guess that one. 

Weekly Recap

In case you missed any of this week’s posts, here they are:

Book Review: History’s Worst Inventions

Type it Out Tuesday: January 15

Wednesday News: January 16

What does my library look like?

Quote of the Day: January 18

Quote of the Day: January 18

There were no good quotes from this week’s book that I could find, but this one is pretty funny I think.

“The very existence of flamethrowers proves that sometime, somewhere, someone said to themselves, ‘You know, I want to set those people over there on fire, but I’m just not close enough to get the job done.”
George Carlin

Book Review: History’s Worst Inventions

The people in this book set out to change the world with their brilliant new discovery or design. At best, they failed monumentally; at worse, they changed the world in ways for which no one will thank them. “History’s Worst Inventions” is an entertaining look at the failures of celebrated inventors and less well-known (for good reason) pioneers. The book includes the parachute-overcoat (its inventor leapt from the Eiffel Tower to demonstrate it and plunged to his death), Trevethick’s locomotive (too heavy for its rails and broke them), Soviet anti-tank dogs (with mines strapped to their backs, they turned on their owners and blew up an entire Red Army division) and TGN1412 (the drug which, in its 2006 clinical trial, nearly killed its test subjects). A compendium of cock-ups, “History’s Worst Inventions” provides a clear warning – it’s all too easy to go down in history as an idiot!

Author: Eric Chaline

Rating: 3.5/5

I’m gonna be honest, this was a book that I 100% judged by its cover.

I was looking through the bargain section of a bookstore and this cover actually made me chuckle. I was in a bit of a rush so I said screw it and bought the book without even looking inside.

I was not dissapointed.

Some of the inventions in the book are considered bad by today’s standard, but were pretty revolutionary at the time. Some of the inventions were pretty ridiculous, no matter when they were invented.

History’s Worst Inventions doesn’t come in novel form. Its got more of a textbook feeling to it.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend reading it all in one go, but having it as a coffee table kind of book really suits its layout.

As you probably know already I’m a big history lover, so a chance to read about some bizarre inventions by known and unknown inventors is really interesting.

Each “invention” has a few pages dedicated to it, whether it’s for giving a brief history, story, or just explaining what the product was.

What I really appreciated about it though, was the fact that it had photographs for each invention, and sidebars for each that would give the invention’s main culprits, the motivation, and the damage done. The second sidebar assesses the inventions fate: Never Got Off the Ground, Didn’t work in practice, or even Killed Its Inventor.

In my opinion, Eric Chaline was very aware of what History’s Worst Inventions was all about, and used a short write up, photos, and sidebars in a really effective way that made the whole reading process much easier and much more enjoyable.

I gave it a 3.5/5 for two reasons.

The first reason is because it is pretty clear of personal biases for some of the inventions. There are a few debatable inventions that Chaline claims have been bad or disastrous, but I think they have had some good outcomes too.

The second reason for the average rating is because I judged the book by its cover. If I had looked inside, I would have seen that a good number of the “inventions” didn’t fit into the square bike wheel category (silly things that obviously didn’t work).

For example, one of the “inventions” was biological warfare. Now I know that it technically was invented and it was bad for everyone involved, but I was expecting more of the square bike wheel category of inventions, and there are a fair number similar to biological warfare that take a pretty serious turn to a fairly humorous book.

History’s Worst Inventions is a pretty comical read when it’s not following some of the more serious inventions, and it shouldn’t take too long to get through the whole thing.

And yes… I have learned the age old lesson. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

I’d love to hear from you about some bizarre things that have been invented, or attempted throughout history. Let me know in the comments below.

Next week I’m gonna take a look at another manga I’ve really enjoyed featuring a dude with a reallllllllly big sword.

Stay tuned!

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