Monday, June 14, 2010

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Wow.  That's the perfect word for The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.  Yes, I loved the book.  I thought it was brilliantly written, incredibly moving, and terribly devastating.  This is the second book I've read that takes place during World War II and the Holocaust.  Believe it or not, I have two more on tap for the year.  Sometimes book themes come in waves, usually unintentionally.  I figure I'm supposed to be learning something.  I hope I do.

What makes The Book Thief different, and special, is that it is not the story of the soldiers.  It isn't the story of the Jewish people.  It's a story about a German family, trying to survive.  Obviously I knew that not every German during that time period was a Nazi, but I rarely thought about the people living in a devastated country, led by an insane ruler.

The Book Thief is narrated by Death -who or what he is can be your interpretation.  I choose to believe he was an angel of death, taking souls to some Heavenly processing center.  Death is moved -as much as death can be- by a young girl named Liesel and he tells her story.  Liesel's mother can not take care of her anymore due to her ties with the communist party.  On the way to Munich, where Liesel and her brother will be placed in foster care, Liesel's brother dies.  At his funeral, she spies a book in the snow and steals it, having no idea what it is called or what it's about.

Fortunately for Liesel, she is placed in a good home with good people.  Sure Mama has a temper and a foul mouth.  She still treats her new daughter with love.  Papa is wonderful.  He is warm and comforting to the girl plagued with nightmares of her brother's death.  He gives her the greatest gift by teaching her to read. She makes friends, steals more books, and learns how important words are.

I don't want to give anything away so I won't go on but I will tell you to go read this book.  It's a life changer.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

I confess that I struggled to finish Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen. It took me a very long time to get into the book. It didn't help that I read it at night and only a chapter at a time. That doesn't reflect on my thoughts at the end of the book though.

The story is about Colie. She's fifteen years old and spent her childhood as the fat girl. She'd recently lost weight with her fitness/nutrition guru mother but never got over the trauma of being teased. Colie's mother heads to Europe on a promotional tour and sends Colie to live with her eccentric aunt.

While at her aunt's house, Colie makes friends for the first time in her life. She is taught how to feel beautiful and gains confidence. She even learns that being different is not always a bad thing.

By the end of the book, Colie has evolved and I can imagine that she goes home stronger and more confident than ever before. This is a great story for girls with body image issues. It may focus a bit too much on being thin, but I think it leans toward being healthy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson

I've read several of James Patterson's books but I didn't intend to read The Dangerous Days of Daniel X.  It didn't appeal to me and frankly it didn't get great reviews.  This one won't be great either.

The book centers on Daniel.  He's a fifteen year old orphan that comes from a long line of alien hunters - outer space not illegal.  He is also an alien himself, just a good alien.  This gives him super speed, the ability to change form, and a few other unique gifts.  Daniel has a list of the twenty bad aliens.  The worst of the worst.  They apparently are wreaking havoc on earth, of course. Think Men in Black but even sillier.  Daniel's goal is to destroy each of those bad aliens.

The best thing I can say is that the book was a very quick read.  Patterson's typical quick pacing and short paragraphs moved things along.  While I never became invested in the character, I was at least slightly entertained by him.  He was completely on his own in the world and yet he made the best of it.  I give him credit for that.

From what I understand this is going to be a series, but I doubt I will go any further.  It might appeal to teens, particularly young boys.  It isn't horrible, it's just not very good.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Evermore by Alyson Noel

So I continue my quest for a supernatural-ish series that will grip me and force me to go out and get all the sequels available.  Evermore, by Alyson Noel, isn't quite there.  It's just all right.

The plot is interesting.  What or who exactly is Damen?  He's not a vampire, he insists on that.  He must not want to be compared to his sparkly counterpart over in the Twilight series.  He is immortal though, and what that means is all a bit confusing.  It involved chemistry (alchemy) and frankly I got a bit lost.  I think it's flashbacks to 11th grade.

Just like all good teen books, Ever is a high school student with a lot of angst.  Ever's angst is more valid than some.  She lost her entire family in a car accident and she is suffering from survivor's guilt.  While Ever is the new kid in school, Damen is even newer and conveniently he sits next to Ever in English class.  She is drawn to him and he seems to know an awful lot about her. 

I just couldn't find any affection toward the couple.  I tried.  Once again I was left wanting more of a conclusion.  I felt that all the elements were there, they just weren't that exciting.  I want to be sucked into a book and this one didn't do that.