Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I’m frugal with my five-star ratings, but any book that can make me cry deserves all the stars.

When I first read The Book Thief at sixteen, I didn’t see what the fuss was all about.  It was good, but not great.  I liked the writing, the story, and enjoyed the characters well enough, but it didn’t make an impression.

This time around, the book absolutely wrecked me.

I picked it up for one of my summer grad school classes and it was love from page one.  I opted for the audiobook and soaked in every minute of my daily commute.  Zusak’s writing is incredible.  The characters are well-formed, with realistic development and motivations. The book’s themes about the power of words and the inconsistency of humanity are so well-implemented, I can’t get them out of my head.  It’s taken me a month to sit and write out this review because there’s just so much to think about.

Reading The Book Thief as an adult was also a very personal experience.  I’ve recently experienced several deaths and this book helped me grieve.  I finished the same day I learned one of my favorite library patrons had died and the last fifteen minutes of the audiobook had me sobbing uncontrollably on my way home from work.  I was a total traffic hazard.  For someone who doesn’t cry often, this kind reaction is noteworthy.  I haven’t connected with a story on this a visceral level like this in a long time.

Overall, this is the kind of book that you can’t look away from.  It’s the kind of story that haunts you for years after reading and keeps bringing you back for more.  It’s the kind of story that worms its way into your being.  It sounds strange, but I feel a more complete person after reading this book.

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Reading Recap: May 2018

Yay, another reading recap!

My main goal this month was to get through all the required books in the syllabus for my Young Adult lit class before term starts.  I’m happy to say that I succeeded with three days to spare!  Required novels dominated my pleasure reading this month.  Eight of the following books were for class.  There were some really great titles and I’m really looking forward to discussing Maus, Brown Girl Dreaming, and the book on the Romanovs with my classmates.

As for the books I picked up purely for fun… I was unimpressed with the newest Court of Thorns and Roses installment, but enjoyed being back in that world.  Naturally, rereading Cinder for my class launched another reread of the entire Lunar Chronicles series, which has been delightful.  For my morning cup-of-tea Christian nonfiction, both titles I finished this month were excellent.

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Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 11
  • Number of pages read: 2,949
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 2
  • Number of rereads: 2
  • Longest book: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
  • Shortest book: Maus by Art Spiegleman
  • Highest ratings:
    • Cinder by Marissa Meyer (4.75 stars)
    • Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren (4.5 stars)
  • Lowest rating: Black Butler Vol. 1 by Yana Toboso, translated by Tomo Kimura

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Poetry Talk: Twirling in Flames by Tinu Bello

A couple of months ago, my friend Tinu approached me about helping review and publicize her debut poetry collection.  I hadn’t heard from her since college and, while I was swamped with grad school work at the time, couldn’t say no.  What’s the point of having being involved in the online bookish community if you can’t use your platform to support the creative endeavors of your friends?

It’s been a long time coming, but a short break between grad school semesters has given me the chance to sit down with the collection and pull together some thoughts.  This is by no means a comprehensive review, but I hope you get a sense for what the poems are about.  I had so much fun digging into them.

I hope you enjoy my scattered thoughts!

You can buy your own copy of Twirling in Flames by Tinu Bello on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Be sure to add it to your reading list on Goodreads.

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Reading Recap: April 2018

Oh, April, thank goodness you are a thing of the past.

This month, I had my first true reading slump in years, which was frustrating.  A two-week bout of anxiety, a death in the family, and a misguided jump onto the hype-train that was Ready Player One took all the wind out of my sails.  I spent two weeks on a book that should have taken two days and I didn’t even like it.  What a huge waste!

When it only took three days to make it through the 600 page beast that is Obsidio, I knew I was back to normal.  After that, I cruised through the rest of the month.

Halfway through April, I received the syllabus for my summer class, Library Services for Young Adults.  My goal is to have all the required books finished by the time the semester starts.  (Yes, I am a crazy person.  Embrace it.)  I’ve already covered nearly half of the list and definitely think I can finish by the end of May.

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This post is part of my 2018 Reading Challenge.

Overall Statistics:

  • Number of books read: 13
  • Number of pages read: 4, 098
  • Number of audiobooks listened to: 3
  • Number of rereads: 4
  • Longest book: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • Shortest book: The Separate Rose by Pablo Neruda
  • Highest ratings:
    • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (5 stars)
    • Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (4.5 stars)
    • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (4.5 stars)
  • Lowest rating:
    • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (1.5 stars)

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Reading Recap: February 2018

It’s time for another reading recap!  Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a month since I last posted.

February was an underwhelming reading month for me.  I read a lot of books I enjoyed, but only a few that fully sucked me in and captured my imagination.  My highest rating was a reread and the majority of my ratings were in the 3-4 range.  The whole month, I felt overwhelmed by a massive pile of library holds that I felt obligated to read right away.  I did read a few books that I own that have been sitting on my shelf for a long time, so that felt good.

Time to plunge into the books!  My thoughts are all spoiler-free.  If you want to talk about any of the titles, feel free do drop by the comments!

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Reading Recap: January 2018

It’s time for my first reading recap of the year!

As part of a project to better track my reading habits, at the end of each month, I’m sharing some statistics from what books I covered. Being a graduate student on top of working full time, I really don’t have the mental capacity to review each book I read.  So this is a way to share what I’m reading.  These posts will also be handy summaries that I can use later for personal purposes.

I do share some brief thoughts about each book and I do my best to phrase things in a way that don’t have spoilers.  These aren’t reviews, just scattered thoughts that I put in my notebook to help me remember my impression of the book.  If you have any questions or want to talk further about anything you see on this list, I’d be happy to do that with you in the comments!  Or, feel free to add me on Goodreads!

If you want more information about each book, follow the links embedded in the titles.  That will bring you to the book’s Goodreads page.

So here we go!

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What I’m Reading: Early November Part 2

And… here’s part two of my recent reads list!  As always, let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments.

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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Oh, what an absolute pleasure to be immersed in a John Green novel!  I’ve been a fan of his work for nearly ten years now and have loved watching his stories progress.  His writing, as always, is rich and deep and leaves me longing for more.  A lot of people criticize Green for creating overly pretentious and deep-thinking protagonists and Turtles definitely falls in line.  But I find it endearing.  This book explores sixteen year old Asa’s experience with mental illness.  The story takes you deep into her mind and I came out with better understanding of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  I feel like this is one of those books that will become richer each time I read it.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

This book was sooooo hyped on bookstagram.  It had everything going for it: gorgeous cover, ACOTAR-like plot… but I was definitely underwhelmed.  The writing was good, but the story just didn’t suck me in.  The season-themed courts seemed used and the characters did nothing for me.  If there was chemistry, I missed it.  And, good grief, don’t get me started on insta-love.  How come supposedly smart, practical leading ladies constantly lose their minds the second an attractive man (or fairy) walks into their life?  I did love the cultural/biological differences between the fairies and humans.  Each longs for what the other has, in their own way.  Fairies long for the ability to create and humans long for eternal youth and beauty.  I did like that this book conveys that these human longings result in nothing but emptiness.

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

This was such a delightful comfort read.  It’s my second book by Lord and I’ve been so impressed with her writing.  It’s the story of sixteen-year-old Paige, who is best known at school as the girl whose boyfriend tragically drowned a year before. It’s not a story of grief, rather a story of figuring out life after grief.  How to put yourself out there and begin anew.  Surrounded by her best friends, Paige goes through her junior year of high school.  Along the way, she meets Max, the nerdy Quiz Bowl captain with whom she becomes close.  I wish I had been able to read this book at the age of sixteen because Max is everything my high school self wanted in a boyfriend.  Sometimes, it’s a treat to lose yourself in a low-key high school novel, and Lord did not disappoint.

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

Kaur is the darling of Instagram and… I don’t know.  I’m so torn when it comes to her poetry.  On the one hand, I adore the content.  It’s raw, realistic, and I appreciate the honesty.  I like the way the poems look on the page and love the art that accompanies them.  This collection addresses topics like heartbreak, immigration, and self love… all great subjects!  On the other hand, I don’t think the poems are actually well written.  They’re just thoughts on the page, spaced and formatted to look like poems.  There’s little rhythm, rhyme, or structure to them.  Call me a snob, but I’ve studied and read plenty of poetry.  Technical structures add so much depth and richness.  They’re challenging to implement, but almost always pay off.  I want to like Kaur’s work… but am always left wanting more.


For more of my reading adventures, add me on Goodreads

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What I’m Reading: Early November Part 1

Hello, there!  I’m back and ready to share this past month’s batch of reads.  I’m running a bit behind, so this will come in two parts.  Keep a lookout for the next installment sometime next week!  Enjoy, and be sure to let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments.

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What I’m Reading: YA Fall Releases

It’s Thursday night and I’ve managed to talk myself down from the “I should be studying” ledge.  So, since I’ve decided that grad school is no excuse to not read for fun, why not talk about all the books I’ve been cramming in my spare time?  Thanks to my library, I’ve been on the top of the list for many of this fall’s hottest YA releases.

My mini reviews are spoiler-free, so no worries if you haven’t read them.

Here’s my lineup:

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Review: Monsters of Verity Duology by Victoria Schwab

Book Talk on Keep Your Feet

Format: eAudiobook from Overdrive / physical book

My Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars for both books


Over the past few months, I’ve read quite a bit of Schwab’s writing.  Recently, I finished her Shades of Magic series, which I adored.  Several of my friends on Goodreads were reading her YA Monsters of Verity duology, so I jumped on the bandwagon.  In this post, I discuss both books in a relatively spoiler-free fashion.

On the whole I was… underwhelmed by these books.  While there were aspects I really enjoyed, there was quite a bit that just didn’t capture my imagination.  I’m realizing more and more that dark dystopia might not be my thing.

A bit about the books: the series takes place in a dystopian America in which the states are split into territories named after virtues.  The main action takes place in the city of Verity, where monsters roam at night keeping everyone in terror.  Verity is a city split in two, held together by a tenuous agreement that is quickly fraying.  The north is lead by Callum Harker, who reigns through fear and uses the monsters to his advantage.  The south is held by Henry Flynn, an ex-surgeon who heads the military-like organization, FTF.

The series centers around Kate Harker and August Flynn, the children of these two leaders.  Kate is reckless, impulsive, and on a mission to prove her worth to her father.  August, quiet and sensitive, just wants to be human.  Pushed together by circumstances, they forge a deep friendship.

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