More Than Stolen Books

Markus Zusak‘s The Book Thief is another book that qualifies for the Irresistible Review Challenge. I found this book on The Hidden Side of the Leaf blog and a number of others. Only one more book to go for this challenge.

I want to start off by saying, this was not a book I instantly loved. I had trouble getting into the story for the first 80 pages are so because of the disjointed and disruptive narrator. I now understand the reason for the interruptions, given the narrator’s identity, but I still was not overly thrilled with it, particularly when major plot points, like which characters will die, are given away before the story comes up several chapters later.

***Spoiler Alert***

Anna and I discussed how given the fact that the narrator is death and we all know that we are going to die someday, it makes sense that Death would tell the reader beforehand what he knows, even though as humans we have no idea when we are going to die…just that we are. Though this explanation eases my irritation, I still think the narration could have been done differently.

The story begins with a young girl’s train ride to Molching. Her brother dies on the train ride and at his funeral, her thievery begins. She steals a gravedigger’s manual. This starts her journey of words and reading. Her mother leaves her with foster parents and never returns, despite all of Leisel’s hopes. However, she grows to love her foster family in the midst of the Nazi’s rise to power. While she is mostly sheltered from the atrocities surrounding her, and joins the Youth Hitler Group, she still remains naive in a way. She believes that humans are genuinely good, even though she and her friend, Rudy Steiner, steal apples and other items from friends, neighbors, and farmers.

She grows up as the war grows stronger and the German armies begin to trudge into Russia and Jews are marched through the streets to concentration camps. It is not until Max Vandenburg arrives on her foster parents’ doorstep. The Jew changes her life. While her Papa taught her to read, Vandenburg teaches her to dream, and the mayor’s wife teachers her to reach for the stars in spite of the sadness that enters her life.

***End Spoiler Alert***

There is a great deal going on in this book, and I would recommend it to young and adult readers. It’s a good work of fiction that takes a look at the German side of the equation present during the Holocaust. The Germans who feared their own government, disagreed with the tactics used, but also agreed that their livelihoods would improve if the Jews were gone. But it also is a story of how these individuals dig into themselves to find the best reaction they can to their given situations. Their humanity in the face of adversity is sometimes troubling, and sometimes admirable. While the book thief, Liesel, is stealing books and words, she is also stealing some of the Fuhrers’ thunder…his ability to use words to spur hate and death.

Anyone who also has reviewed this, please send me the link.

Also Reviewed By:

Our New Poet Laureate

Kay Ryan is the latest Poet Laureate announced by the Library of Congress. She is the 16th Poet Laureate, and I am thrilled that our new poet laureate has experienced a calm and quiet career. It’s time for her to come out into the light and inspire budding poets and bring poetry to the forefront of the literary world.

I often wondered what the purpose of the Poet Laureate is, but according to Wikipedia, the poet laureate is called upon to write poems for state occasions and attend government-sponsored functions, like the Washington D.C. Book Festival this September.

Some familiar names will be at this year’s book festival: Tiki Barber from the NFL, Dionne Warwick, Bob Schieffer, Cokie Roberts, and Neil Gaiman.

I hope that with each new poet laureate, poetry garners greater standing in the literary community. Unfortunately, it does not look like any other poets will be attending the D.C. Book Festival except Kay Ryan.

Writer’s Digest and Poetic Asides

Writer’s Digest has been my favorite magazine as a writer for some time. I have subscribed to it for many years, probably going on a decade at least. Being an avid reader of this magazine, I had failed to notice all the goodies available on their Website.

One such item, Poetic Asides, is a blog written by Robert Lee Brewer, whom I met online at Facebook. Now, I often get his updates about his blog on Writer’s Digest through Facebook, which helps me keep up-to-date on professionals in the writing world and my friends that live all over the place.

A few days ago, Mr. Brewer sent out a Facebook message that he wanted to know what we used for our bios when we submit to magazines and contests. Suffice to say, he picked what I said and a bunch of other comments and recommendations and posted them on his blog yesterday. I was shocked, since I think what I said is so dry and elementary. I just hope it helps. If you are interested in finding out what I said, please visit the post here. You’ll have to scroll down a bit, or you can use “find on this page” to find me.

Book Booty

I just wanted to say that my local library’s Book Sale this past weekend was better than I could have imagined. I have never seen such a wide variety of people grabbing books left and right, and trying to be courteous about it. There was no shoving and pulling of books out of people’s hands. I guess that means everyone who attended and found treasures really enjoys books and reading.

Without further ado, I would like to present my book booty. You heard me: I sought buried treasure in the depths of the library sale and found it. One photo is hard cover book booty and the other is my soft cover book booty.

Can you believe all of this for just $12.50, less than one hard cover book in the bookstore!?!

Austenland, the Theme Park for the Rich

Shannon Hale’s Austenland examines the twentieth century woman’s obsession with Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy, and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Jane Hayes, a very typical first name for a Jane Austenesque novel, is a thirty-something career woman in New York, whose mother is concerned that she has given up on love because of an unhealthy obsession with Mr. Darcy. An impromptu meeting with Jane’s Great Aunt Carolyn changes the course of this woman’s life when she is bequeathed a non-refundable trip to Austenland in England, which traditionally caters to the fantasies of the wealthy, trophy wives of powerful businessmen.

I saw this book on Eclectic Closet and added it to my list of Jane Austen spin-off reads. It also helps fulfill my Irresistable Review Challenge. I have only 2 more books to read to finish off this challenge.

***Spoiler Alert***

Jane is hesitant to take up the task of severing her ties with her Mr. Darcy fantasies in Austenland, but ultimately decides to go and reclaim her “real” self and her ability to have a relationship without worrying about how it would end before it even began.

She is a bit of a crazy character who numbers her boyfriends even if she only spent as little as a few weeks with them. She arrives at Austenland to be lectured by Mrs. Wattlesbrook about her finances and how she is not their typical client and that if she breaks the rules, she will be kicked out. Jane is uncomfortable in Regency clothes and manners from the start. The false manners and pretense grate on her nerves, which is when she begins to seek out some normalcy in Austenland and turns to the gardener, Martin. How cliche in my opinion, but for this book it worked. I was still rooting for Mr. Nobley…aka Mr. Darcy.

Through a series of bungling moments, Jane gets trapped up with Martin and untangled from him. She then falls into the trappings of Austenland and Mr. Nobley. By the time her vacation ends, Jane has grown and changed…become a stronger woman.

***End Spoiler Alert***

I like this book because it is entertaining. Jane Austen and Pride & Prejudice are my favorite part of classic literature. I like how Shannon Hale builds up Jane as a lost, romantic career woman who struggles to find her perfect man. I like how skeptical the character is throughout the Austenland experience and how she struggles with herself to stay focused on the act and immersing herself in the role she is expected to play. I also enjoyed how this character learned that she should not have given up her dreams and her artistic outlet of painting, despite her move to graphic design on a computer. Hale does a great job showing the reader how Jane evolves. The final scenes are spectacular and kept me enthralled until its conclusion.

Also Reviewed By:
It’s All About Books (SUEY)
Book Escape
The Written Word
A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore

Word-Nerd Fiction Prompt

Hello All:

I wanted to provide the fiction writers in the Word Nerd Co-Op with a prompt this week, so here it is.

Think back to either one of the worst or best moments in your life and write about it from the point of view of the opposite sex. How would they react differently; what would they say that you didn’t; what emotions would they express or keep inside that you wouldn’t have?

Try to explore what you think are the different ways in which men or women cope with the same situation. You can feel free to embellish and change facts to make it less like your life if you prefer. Additionally, you could write a piece from a woman’s point of view and then use the same situation to write another piece from a man’s point of view.

Anyone who feels free to post their attempt (even if it is in rough draft form), feel free. I think it would be great to see what everyone comes up with.

Most of all, Have fun and keep writing.

Would You Believe?

My blog is worth $5,645.40.
How much is your blog worth?

Weekly Geeks #10

I have not participated in Weekly Geeks as much as I would have hoped, but lives get in the way sometimes. Anyway, I decided to post on this week’s topic: The Magazines We Read

Here’s the rules:

For each magazine you want to talk about, here are a few questions. Answer as many or as few as you want.

1. Name of magazine.
2. Do you subscribe or just buy it now and then?
3. What’s your favorite regular feature in the magazine?
4. What do you think your interest in this magazine says about you?
5. How long have you been reading this magazine?
6. Is there any unique or quirky aspect to the magazine that keeps you reading?

So here it goes:

1. Writer’s Digest

I have subscribed to this magazine off and on, mostly on since I was a pre-teen. I’ve been writing even longer than that. What this magazine says about me is that writing is an important part of me. I love the monthly contests with sentence prompts and the feature articles, which can vary from novel writing tips to whether an MFA is worth it.

2. Poetry

I’m a poet who has subscribed to this poetry journal for about three years now. I love the poems in it, though the translation issue sometimes falls flat for me. I love reading the latest poems from people we know, like Billy Collins, but also from people I don’t know.

3. Poets & Writers

I have had a love hate relationship with this magazine throughout the last eight years. i subscribe and unsubscribe, but currently, the editor is on target with me. The latest issue is about summer reading. What’s great about this magazine is that it is not only about writing, it’s also about the latest books, poetry or fiction, that are out on the market and what living poets and writers have to say about their craft and the state of literature and publishing today. What this says about me is that I enjoy reading as much as writing, and that I am concerned about the state of the literature and the market.


This literary journal is part of my own private war. I’ve always wanted to be published in this journal to prove a point to an old professor of mine, but thus far, it has not happened. I have subscribed to it for a couple of years at a time, but mostly I just buy it in the bookstore once in a while. I continue to look through it to find my niche. I will win this battle some day.

5. The Virginia Quarterly Review

This is a journal that I have not subscribed to, and will probably continue to just pick up when I find an interesting issue in the bookstore. I’m not sure what it says about me, but I have read issues over the last five years. This is the journal that published the “lost” poem of Robert Frost in 2006.

I’m sure there are other magazines and journals that I have forgotten about because I only get them sporadically when they have an interesting issue that I happen upon in the bookstore.

What magazines and journals are you reading?

Intricately Braided Family Quilt

Helen Frost’s The Braid takes the reader on a simple family journey across the Atlantic Ocean to the strange land of Canada’s Cape Breton in the Mid-1800s, while at the same time allowing us to follow the delicate yarn that stretches across the sea back to Scotland and Mingulay where the rest of the family remains. This book served three purposes for me: first, my Word Nerd partner, Jaimi, was inspired by this book to start her own writing; second, it fulfills the Irresistible Review challenge because I saw the book on two separate blogging sites ages ago—Here and Here; thirdly, it was very entertaining.

It was such an easy read, it only took me two short 15-minute Metro rides. I also didn’t even notice the intricacy of the book, its narrative poems, and its praise poems. Frost’s explanation of how the poems are interwoven together surprised me, perhaps because I was not looking for it or because it was so well done that I was not jarred out of the narrative by its style.

***Spoiler Alert***

Jeannie and Sarah are close sisters, who are separated by the Atlantic Ocean when Sarah makes a rash decision to hide away while the rest of the family boards a boat for Canada. Sarah stays behind in Scotland with her grandmother, while Jeannie boards the boat with her other sisters, brother, and parents.

Jeannie must step up to the plate in the New World and help provide for her family by begging strangers for food and shelter. She finds strength within herself. Sarah meanwhile succumbs to her emotional weakness, but turns out to be a positive for her. Jeannie, on the other hand, then transitions from an “adult” back to her childlike self.

***End Spoiler Alert***

This is another Young Adult novel that I would never have read without the advice of some great book bloggers and my Word Nerd partner. Helen Frost is a very creative author and this book is a simple story told in a unique way. I would love to recommend this to anyone who likes Young Adult novels and to those who just want a breath of fresh air.

Anyone else who has reviewed this or other books I have reviewed in the past couple months, please feel free to drop me your link. I will add it to my posts.

Another Contest Update!

Ok, So I just found out that someone in the blogosphere is celebrating their 1,000th post! Check out her contest at Monniblog.

There are a wide breadth of “surprise” prizes for readers, knitters, pet owners, and a surprise prize for the one guessing closest to the number of comments she receives for the contest.

The contest runs from July 5 through July 24th at midnight GMT-8.

I’ve entered; how about you?