Book Review: The Book Thief

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 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. 

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!

Book Review: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Book Review: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is the original title of a novella written by the famous Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson that was first published in 1886. The work is commonly known today as The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or simply Jekyll & Hyde. It is about a London lawyer named John Gabriel Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde.

Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

Rating: 3.5/5

I don’t really know what I expected from this book. I bought the book a few years ago, for $5 and expected the 300+ page novel to be entirely devoted to the Dr. Jekyll story.

When I first read it a few months ago, I was a little disappointed that the story was maybe a third of the bok, and the rest was filled with other short stories written by Stevenson.

I did enjoy Dr. Jekyll, but I think the lack of surprise ruined it for me. I think most people know that Dr. Jekyll turns into Mr. Hyde. If that isn’t something you knew then maybe the book would be a better experience for you.

I think that most books written before 2000 are still a surpirise for the most part, at least for me. Some of the classical books, Tom Sawyer, Dr. Jekyll, Moby Dick, are so well known thugh, that they inspire other creative works throughout time and most people know the general premise and the surprise is already ruined if they ever read the books.

There are a lot of books that are very well written, and have an interesting premise that are written in the 1800s and early 1900s, that a lot of people don’t know about because they didnt receive the celebrity status.

The reason I rated Dr. Jekyll a 3.5 was because I knew the mystery already. When I finished, I imagined people sitting in their chair, reading this by candlelight and being amazed at the realization that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are one and the same. I mostly read it on a smelly bus crowded with people, and knew the entire time who Mr. Hyde was.

From what I remember, I first found out about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde after watching The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which ruined the surprise for many mythical characters in novels for me.

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Overall it was a good book, but the lack of surprise and length brought the score down for me.

What are some of your favourite classics? Let me know in the comments. I think my favourite has to be the Adventure of Huckleberry Finn.

Next week I’m gonna take a look at a book about some not so good inventions throughout history.

 

Channel Update

Alright so I originally started this blog as a school assignment but I really started to like it and spent some free time during the term figuring out whether or not I should take the blog full time, and how I would be able to do that.

Well good news is I figured out how I can do both of those. I’ve got new ideas for the blog and plan on updating it every day, but I’m not guarenteeing anything with school going on.

So here is the updated schedule of what the posts will look like:

Monday: Book Review

Tuesday: Type it Out Tuesdays (post different writing prompts for people     interested in writing themselves)

Wednesday: Book related news (books being adapted to movies/tv shows, new books coming out, etc.)

Thursday: Thursday Thoughts (different thoughts I have on book related things ex. My Top 10s, Book related life stories, seasonal book topics, writing challenges etc.)

Friday: Quote of the Day (from the book I reviewed that week)

Saturday/Sunday: Taking a break to relax

I also have some channel updates coming out too. I want to update the books I’ve read/want to read  and throw in alphabetical shortcuts so it’s easier to find the author.

I’m also gonna make a Facebook group book club so theres an easier platform for more people to chat about a book. The book club will be one book a month to start instead of every week.

I’m also going to update some pictures and minor pages on the blog itself.

I hope everyone is as excited as I am for this update.

Book Review: A Game of Thrones Graphic Novel 1-3

Book Review: A Game of Thrones Graphic Novel 1-3

These three books were the first ever Graphic Novels I had ever read and honestly I was pleasently surprised by the whole experience.

I’ve read some manga in the past so I guess I had some experience with reading narration and speech bubbles, but I really enjoyed seeing a book and TV series I love come to life by an artist and writer’s imagination.

AND…The three graphic novels were definitely a nice break from reading the 1000+ page novels I’m so used to.

On a different note, I may be alone in thinking this but I believe that some characters from a book just can’t be portrayed on a TV or movie screen properly.

Personally I enjoy this look to Robert Baratheon much more than the one we got on the show. This look appears a bit more natural and a good mix of king and drunk fat man. The Robert we got in the show never was much more than the latter.

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After looking at those panels I know what you’re thinking. WOW this artwork is really good!

Well you’re right, I’d dare to say its fantastic. Every little inch of each panel has so much detail to it. It is so beautifully made. Like look at Danaerys’ dress. It’s so perfectly drawn.

The art is done by a guy named Tommy Patterson and I really think you should look him up. He does a hell of a job.

Here’s a few more of his creations in the Graphic Novels

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Look at all of the individual swords that make uo the Iron Throne. You can’t imagine that, and you sure as hell can’t show that on TV. This was one of the best moments that won me over in the books.

This quality of art and the depiction of the book series into pictures has definitely turned me on to looking at more graphic novels in the future.

Another thing about Graphic Novels that I thought of while reading these 3 is that graphic novels are the perfect middle ground for people who don’t read much, but want to read a book series of their favourite television shows.

They’re not text heavy. They can actually be read in probably a few hours only. Plus they offer really beautiful visuals that might surpass even your imagination of what things really looked like.

I know that was the case for me. Looking at the Graphic Novels actually made me imagine a few characters to be different than when I originally imagined them.

Verdict: Worth the read, especially if you’re not a regular reader but want to better understand Game of Thrones as a whole or if you want to see the beautiful depictions of the characters and the story.

Let me know in the comics what graphic novels you’re reading. I’m new to the genre, but so far I’m hooked so I’d love to start exploring some more.

Next week I’m gonna take a look at a book I read back in high school. Theres a guy named Matthew, and he has some sort of effect on people. Stay tuned 🙂

p.s. news coming on an updated schedule in the next few weeks.

 

Book Review: A Question of Torture

Book Review: A Question of Torture

This book is the very reason why I hate ordering things online

I had to do a book review for a Journalism class I took in university and this book was on the reading list of potential options.

The book report was due in early December, so I started the assignment, like a good student, in late November, even though it was given to us the first day of class.

I ordered a copy of the book and it should have arrived with ample time to read it and make a report on it.

A week later the book still hadn’t arrived and I had only a week and a half till the due date

Slightly panicked I emailed Amazon and had another book sent to replace the one that didn’t arrive.

Fast forward to three days before the assignment was due. Still neither book came and I couldn’t wait any longer. 

Also, none of the books on the reading list were available at any bookstore in the city.

I had a small hope that I could download the book on my Kobo (e-reader) and to my luck it was there. I then spent the next 2 or so days reading this book and making a 10 page report on it. 

Now time for the actual review.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s a researched account of the use of torture by the US.


“An indispensable and riveting account” of the CIA’s development and use of torture, from the cold war to Abu Ghraib and beyond (Naomi Klein, The Nation


In this revelatory account of the CIA’s fifty-year effort to develop new forms of torture, historian Alfred W. McCoy locates the deep roots of recent scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo in a long-standing, covert program of interrogation. A Question of Torture investigates the CIA’s practice of “sensory deprivation” and “self-inflicted pain,” in which techniques including isolation, hooding, hours of standing, and manipulation of time assault the victim’s senses and destroy the basis of personal identity. 

It is really fascinating to learn of the methods that the US developed and tried to spread around the world, but at the same time disturbing when you hear of the people that were being tortured.

It is also a different view on torture that I think a lot of people have.

I think most people think torture is someone beating the crap out of another guy to get information, which is what we see in a lot of action movies.

What McCoy talks about is torture that involves much less physical harm and much more psychological harm. 

I am a little bit of a history nerd so this book shed some light on a part of history that I had never really thought of before. 

Fair warning, it can get a bit gruesome at some points. It gives some pretty detailed account of different torture techniques.

Another little interesting fact from the book, the US was doing torturing people and trying to teach their allies how to do so also, all while speaking out against torture internationally…some may not be surprised.

Verdict: Worth the read, only if you can stomach it and if you love history. I think that torture is something that not a lot of people want to think about but its something that needs to be known.

I want to hear what you guys love about history, or some of your favorite moments from history. Let me know in the comments or send me an email. Feel free to contact me for the ending of my book fiasco too, I’ll tell you what happened to the 2 copies I ordered.

Next week I’m gonna take a look at the first and only graphic novel I’ve ever read about a popular fantasy show/book series.

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