Publisher: Listening Library

Short & Sweet: Sea of Rust & LIFEL1K3

September 27, 2018 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2018, YA 3 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet: Sea of Rust & LIFEL1K3Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill
Narrator: Eva Kaminsky
Published by HarperAudio on September 5, 2017
Length: 10 hours and 26 minutes
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Dreams and Shadows, Queen of the Dark Things, We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories

four-stars

It’s been thirty years since the apocalypse and fifteen years since the murder of the last human being at the hands of robots. Humankind is extinct. Every man, woman, and child has been liquidated by a global uprising devised by the very machines humans designed and built to serve them. Most of the world is controlled by an OWI—One World Intelligence—the shared consciousness of millions of robots, uploaded into one huge mainframe brain. But not all robots are willing to cede their individuality—their personality—for the sake of a greater, stronger, higher power. These intrepid resisters are outcasts; solo machines wandering among various underground outposts who have formed into an unruly civilization of rogue AIs in the wasteland that was once our world.

One of these resisters is Brittle, a scavenger robot trying to keep her deteriorating mind and body functional in a world that has lost all meaning. Although she does not (cannot) experience emotions like a human, she is haunted by the terrible crimes she perpetrated on humanity. As she roams the Sea of Rust, a large swath of territory that was once the Midwest, Brittle slowly comes to terms with her raw and vivid memories—and her guilt.

“People gave us a purpose. A function. Something to do all day, every day. At the end, I suppose, you spend a lot of time thinking about that. It’s harder to get by when getting by is all there is.”

In a time where Earth is a wasteland and humanity has been snuffed out like a fragile flame, its lands are ruled by robots who now, in turn, struggle to survive. After the robots had finally succeeded in ridding the Earth of humans, they turned on one another and OWIs (one-world intelligences) sought out the individual robots that remained so that their sentience could be joined as one. Most of the sentient robots that remain survive as scavengers, seeking out newer parts than their own, finding any way to extend their lifecycles. Brittle is one such scavenger and when her core systems are damaged and the end of her own existence is near, she joins with a group of scavengers. They make promises to her about the stash of parts they have hidden deep within the Sea of Rust and that somewhere out there is the answer to a brighter future for the Earth itself.

Sea of Rust was a fascinatingly complex story that deals with survival, regret, and most importantly, hope. Brittle was not the most likable of characters, however, Cargill methodically builds on her storyline with fragments of the past which helps to better understand her motivations in this post-apocalyptic world. It was compelling to see the evolution of these bots and how closely they began to resemble their human counterparts. With some very inventive world-building and an equally intriguing cast of side characters, Sea of Rust is a brilliant story of robots that will have you dwelling on your own humanity.

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short & Sweet: Sea of Rust & LIFEL1K3Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff
Narrator: Erin Spencer
Series: Lifelike #1
Published by Listening Library on May 29, 2018
Length: 12 hrs and 26 mins
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Illuminae

two-stars

On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.

Romeo and Juliet meets Mad Max

That comparison had me super interested but honestly, I should’ve known better. Romeo and Juliet doesn’t belong in the world of Mad Max, and vice versa, but my interest in the Mad Max aspect overruled the rational side of my brain. Set after the devastating effects of a nuclear war, Eve pilots a robot to battle in the dome against other robots (very much like Real Steel), in an effort to pay for the medicine keeping her grandfather alive. She earns a price on her head after she reveals she has the power to destroy robots with her mind and has to go on the run with her best friend Lemon to stay alive. Amidst their escape, they encounter a lifel1k3, an advanced android, named Ezekiel who vows to protect her.

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The worldbuilding was initially so fun (despite the strange jargon — it was easier to listen to than I guess it would’ve been to read it) and I loved the battling robots in the dome (definitely understood the Mad Max comparisons) but then it all went downhill. And that’s where the Romeo and Juliet comparisons came into play and completely overshadowed the plot. The instalove is essentially avoided by providing the duo with a backstory that is only glimpsed momentarily, but it still wasn’t enough for me to get on board with it. Add to that there were some really cringe-worthy lines:

“You were my everything. You still are. And you always will be.”

“Loving you was the only real difference between me and them.”

“They have only one thing left to take from me. The last and most precious thing. Not my life, no. My love.”

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You can officially count me out for the subsequent installments.

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Audiobook Review – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

October 18, 2014 Dani Dani's Reviews 0 Comments

Audiobook Review – Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Maxwell Caulfield, Rebecca Lowman
Published by Listening Library on September 10th 2013
Length: 12 hours and 48 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Attachments, Landline, Eleanor & Park

four-stars

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan...

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words... And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

“’No,’ Cath said, ‘Seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.’”

I always know that I have loved a book when I don’t want to leave its universe. Rainbow Rowell has a gift for making her characters so real, but with Fangirl it was a new experience. Not only did the characters seem relatable, I wanted so desperately to be in the story right along with them. I wanted to befriend Cather when she was feeling lonely, or struggling with a new short story to write, or being downright crazy. I wanted to learn to be a cool girl from Reagan, and smack Wren when she was being awful. And Levi, *sigh*.

“To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.”

The most frustrating part of Fangirl is that both the Simon Snow series and Carry On, Simon fan fiction used throughout DOESN’T EXIST. The fictional series is a coming of age tale in magical universe with wizards and vampires and quests to save…who knows what – like a perfect love child of Harry Potter and Vampire Academy. It’s a serious problem that I can’t read these books, because they sound like they were written exactly for me. I have to know what happens with Simon and Baz. I want to read the faux-published series, and I MUST read the fan fic by MagiCath.

“Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy,” Wren said. “It’s the noblest, like, the most courageous thing two people can shoot for.”

This is my third Rainbow Rowell novel in as many months. It’s pretty safe to say she’s becoming one of my favorite contemporary authors. She reminds me just how much I can enjoy books that don’t happen in far off places, with regular folks, and that give me “all the feels”. If you are looking for some chick lit with substance and an ooey-gooey center, you have found it. Already exhausted Rowell’s four novels? I highly recommend checking out Sophie Kinsella or Emily Giffin.

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Banned Books Week – The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1) by Lois Lowry

September 26, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 4 Comments

Banned Books Week – The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1) by Lois LowryThe Giver by Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver Quartet #1
Published by Listening Library on February 27, 2001
Length: 4 hours and 51 minutes
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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three-stars

December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve-year-old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man, the man called only the Giver, he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world.

Told with deceptive simplicity, this is the provocative story of a boy who experiences something incredible and undertakes something impossible. In the telling it questions every value we have taken for granted and reexamines our most deeply held beliefs.

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

The Giver tells the story of Jonas, an eleven-year old boy living in an ‘ideal’ dystopian society where everyone lives complacently without pain, fear or emotion of any kind. Babies are born to Birthmothers and then become assigned to family units. Children are given medication daily in order to repress their sexual urges. People are assigned spouses based on their compatibility with one another. Each individuals purpose in society is also assigned at the Ceremony of Twelve where they are told what their job will be for the rest of their living lives. It’s at this Ceremony when Jonas is informed that he is being given the honor of becoming the new Receiver of Memory, the sole holder of all community memories, including the painful memories of the past. The Giver, the old man that Jonas will be replacing as the Receiver of Memory, begins to transfer all of his memories straight to Jonas. From these memories, Jonas is able to see the flaws of his world and of it could be, a world with emotion and where people have the freedom to choose.

The Giver opens with the understanding that all members of this society are living in a Utopia as everyone is content and satisfied living in their impossibly ideal living conditions. No one questions this, it’s just become a fact of their lives. When Jonas turns twelve and is introduced to a vastly different version of his world, he at least begins to understand how far from perfect their society truly is. Everything is pre-determined with everyone living their lives akin to a robot doing only what they are told and what is expected of them. In that regards, I had a similar reaction when I read The Handmaid’s Tale about the scary possibility of how different life ‘could be’. With that read though, the world-building aspects were much more on point. The Giver had a complete lack of explanation when it came to how this society came to be. The only thing we as a reader are given is that in order to eliminate pain and suffering they had to remove/give up their memories. The end result was society didn’t spend time dwelling on past pains and their lack of memories meant they would never be repeated again. But how did this happen? How did they transfer all past memories to one single individual? It’s an incredibly interesting concept but I needed a little bit more detail for it all to make good solid sense. Adding to that, once Jonas is in possession of the memories and history of the society, he immediately begins to rebel against it all. The reasoning behind his immediate decision was sketchy at best and slightly unbelievable but I think for the reader (especially a young reader) it was a hard one to question since we already knew that the society was flawed and knew if we were in that situation we would also run far, far away from it.

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a long time. Being a fan of dystopian I’ve come across too many books being compared to The Giver I had to see for myself whether these comparisons were accurate. My 13-year-old stepdaughter came home with it one day and told me about her class assigning it to read and a few days later after having finished it she praised it lavishly and recommended I read it so we could talk about it. Can’t say no to that. While I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as she did, I think it’s an important novel and an interesting concept to consider. It’s eye-opening in the sense that it makes us realize in comparison just how many freedoms we personally have. The Giver is all about controlling thoughts and feelings, the censorship of emotions. Kind of ironic that it’s being censored/banned in our school systems, no?

 

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Photo courtesy of Slate

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Banned Books Week – Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

September 25, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 12 Comments

Banned Books Week – Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman, Sunil Malhotra
Published by Listening Library on February 26, 2013
Length: 8 hours and 56 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Attachments, Landline

three-stars

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

 

“You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me that’s me right now is yours. Always.”

It’s 1986 and Eleanor is forever the odd girl out at school due to a combination of her weight, her crazy red hair (causing the nickname “Big Red”) and her eclectic fashion sense. Her home life isn’t any more glamorous where she lives with her mother, her cruel step-father and her group of siblings that all share a room with her. School might not be the sanctuary she might hope for but it’s still an escape. One day, not finding a single seat on the bus, she takes a seat next to half-Korean Park who is almost just as much of an outcast as Eleanor. They begin sitting next to each other every day, not saying a single word to one another and slowly but surely, their relationship grows over comic books and music without words being spoken.

I went a long time without picking this one up. Mostly because I’m extremely selective when it comes to contemporary YA but I had read (other than Fangirl) all of Rowell’s other books and I figured I should at least give it a shot. I didn’t find any real issue with it but it wasn’t a breakthrough novel for me. It likely didn’t help it that I had read Pushing the Limits earlier this year which is extremely similar: opposites attract, one of the two have a bad home life, they develop a strong and ‘unbreakable’ bond that changes their lives. I didn’t really care for Pushing the Limits and I felt about the same for Eleanor & Park. It must be said though that I appreciated the less than perfect girl, Eleanor was overweight with crazy hair and has a mad love for music. I wanted to love her. I loved how we didn’t have the obligatory insta-love, but rather a slow-building love that developed in silence. I wanted to love it, I really did.

When we aren’t given glimpses of Eleanor & Park falling in love, we’re shown just how awful and terrible Eleanor’s home life is. She has to make sure to take her baths when her step-father isn’t home since their bathroom is lacking a door, she can’t afford a toothbrush or batteries for her Walkman which is everything to her, she’s not allowed to have friends over and she’s interrogated fiercely if she leaves the house. Her mother, in fear of her husband, won’t help her and leaves her to suffer his wrath alone. It was heartbreaking yet resonated an honesty that I think is sorely lacking in most YA contemporary. While it was heartbreaking though, it was also hopeful, because Park gave Eleanor a much-needed spark that she needed in her life.

So where did it go wrong for me? I loved their slow-build love, their lack of vocalizing, it was obscure and different from any other love story I had read before. It didn’t stick to that same path though, it ended up veering off into typical territory with them declaring their undying love for one another after a few short weeks. I can completely understand finding that person that gives you that spark when you need it most in your life, but must it always transform into an “I simply cannot live without you. I will die.” It’s overboard and dramatic. Their bonding over comic books and music was wonderful and built a friendship between the two of them before the romantic feelings ever came. I kind of wish that it would have been kept as a friendship because I never truly felt the attraction between the two of them like I should have. The aspects of this book I loved, mostly the beginning, still made this well worth the read and I’m glad that I finally picked this up.

From a post on BookRiot “…members of the district’s Parents Action League deemed the Rowell’s breakout YA novel Eleanor & Park “dangerously obscene.” The”too hot for teens and taxpayer money” novel was ordered off school library shelves and there was a call to discipline the school librarians who chose the book.” Also, “The Parent Action League cited 227 instances of profanity in the book (including 67 “Gods”, 24 “Jesuses,” and four “Christs.”) as well as crude and sexually charged material that was inappropriate for students.” Despite my less than glamorous rating, I still feel like this is a valuable read that will open teens eyes and I would personally recommend it to my teens to read. Sure, there’s profanity. Sure, you’d like it if your teens don’t use it but regardless of how sheltered you keep them it’s simply not possible to shelter them from everything. Dangerously obscene. You know what’s dangerously obscene? Banning books. The only thing we’re accomplishing is making sure that our future generations are narrow-minded and in denial about the realities of the world.

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Banned Books Week – A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’Engle

September 27, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Read in 2013, YA 0 Comments

Banned Books Week – A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) by Madeleine L’EngleA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Narrator: Hope Davis
Series: The Time Quintet #1
Published by Listening Library on January 1st 1962
Length: 6 hours and 8 minutes
Genres: Classics, Fantasy, Middle Grade, Sci-fi, Time Travel
Format: Audiobook
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

"Wild nights are my glory," the unearthly stranger told them. "I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I'll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract."

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn't know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L'Engle's unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg's father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

A Wrinkle in Time is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal.

‘Challenged at the Polk City, Fla. Elementary School (1985) by a parent who believed that the story promotes witchcraft, crystal balls, and demons. Challenged in the Anniston Ala. schools (1990). The complainant objected to the book’s listing the name of Jesus Christ together with the names of great artists, philosophers, scientists, and religious leaders when referring to those who defend earth against evil.’ -Source

‘We look not at the things which are what you would call seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not seen are eternal.’

A Wrinkle in Time is a story of three children and their travels through the universe to find a young girl’s lost father. Meg Murry is a self-conscious child who is constantly critical of herself. Charles Wallace is Meg’s younger brother and is a genius but does whatever he can to keep a low profile. Calvin O’Keefe is the complete opposite of the siblings but crosses paths and quickly becomes a vital link to their exploits.

The setting of A Wrinkle in Time is a strange mixture of genres and isn’t easily categorized. It’s about fantasy and adventure but religion and the battle between good and evil play a major part which is what has led to this book being challenged throughout the years. In A Wrinkle in Time Charles Wallace requests that Calvin read him a bedtime story from The Book of Genesis, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which are all three described as being guardian angels and messengers of God, and several bible quotes are strewn throughout. Yet fundamentalist Christians have an issue with the New Age elements, the blending of religion and science and how the book never comes out truly as a religious text but is left open to interpretation as to how literal the Biblical aspects truly are.

While a Wrinkle in Time is listed as a children’s book, it’s heavy with literary allusions that children won’t likely understand completely. Heck, I’m still contemplating it. Not only are there philosophical references and historical figures mentioned aplenty but the interpretation of how time works, the explanation of a tesseract, The Black Thing and IT and Camazotz is not simple to understand. But that lack of understanding and a slight obliviousness may be what makes this ultimately enjoyable for children. This is the first time I have read this having missed out on this as a child, and while I did enjoy this and will likely pick up the remaining installments this definitely left me contemplating how there are some things that simply can’t be rationalized or made complete sense of.

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Audiobook Review – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

September 21, 2013 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Book-To-Film, Read in 2013, YA 5 Comments

Audiobook Review – The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Narrator: Allan Corduner
Published by Listening Library on September 26th 2006
Length: 13 hrs and 56 mins
Genres: Historical Fiction, WWII
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

The extraordinary #1 New York Times bestseller that will be in movie theaters on November 15, 2013, Markus Zusak's unforgettable story is about the ability of books to feed the soul.

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

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

The Book Thief tells the tale of Liesel Meminger, a girl who loses one family only to gain another. How she becomes dubbed The Book Thief. How she slowly gains an understanding of Germany and the Nazis and the wrongness of it all. How her family comes to hide a Jewish man, Max, in their basement despite all risks. And how Max transformed her life completely and defined her in a whole new light. It’s a tale of sorrow and joy, of friendship and love, of bravery and acceptance.

‘I witness the ones that are left behind, crumbled among the jigsaw puzzles of realization, despair, and surprise. They have punctured hearts. They have beaten lungs.’

The Book Thief’s use of Death as the narrator is not only thoroughly alluring in concept alone but it serves to utilizes dark humor to lighten the saddest of situations. Death is not the cold and emotionless specter you would expect him to be though. He’s unintentionally humorous, and has a fascination for humans despite his awareness of his need to remain impartial. He seeks meaning in his work and becomes mesmerized by the interesting and courageous humans, Liesel being one of them.

“…to prove to myself that you, and your human existence, are worth it.”

The symbolism is rife within these pages. Most importantly is Liesel and her book thieving. She remains blissfully naive of what is truly going on in the world until April 20, 1940 when a book burning was organized in the town square to celebrate Hitler’s birthday. She discovers things that greatly impact her and change her outlook on what has happened in her life up till that point and swiftly regards Hitler as her enemy. She steals a book from the pyre to mark the occasion. The book thieving continued after that but it wasn’t just a bad childish habit, it became a symbol for her resistance to the Nazi regime and specifically to Hitler and all he had done. Each book stolen became a symbol of hope for a better future in the post-Holocaust world.

I’ve only recently become drawn to stories of war, the majority of those I’ve read have been based around WWII, and The Book Thief is absolutely one of the very best. I loved that it was told from the point of view of a German sympathetic to the Jews which made it immediately different than any of the others I had read. Possessing richly drawn characters is what makes this story absolutely unforgettable. Liesel and Rudy, Hans and Rosa, and of course Max…their cumulative story will forever live on in my mind.

The Book Thief is an emotional tale regarding the power of words and how that power can be used for good or bad, depending on how you choose to use them.

Last quick note… It must be said that I initially started reading this in print form and while it’s still a beautiful tale, it really shined through audio. The narrator is fantastic and does an excellent Death. See for yourself in this clip.

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