Tag: Historian fiction

Book Review: The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

I’ve been really looking forward to sharing my thoughts on The Book Thief with you. This was a very easy five-star read, and it was far more emotional than I imagined it was going to be! I enjoyed this book so much that I went on to purchase a physical copy. If I’m not sure about books, I tend to get them on my kindle. However, books by authors that I know and love, and will read again, end up on my physical shelf. That’s also the case if I go on to love something new, as was the case with The Book Thief. If that doesn’t tell you how much I enjoyed this book then I don’t know what will!

 

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 552

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Publication Date: 14 Mar 2006

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

 

 

Goodreads – The Book Thief

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.

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

 

My Thoughts…

I find it more common to find books about the Second World War written from an English or American perspective. It is rare that we see the effects of the war from the perspective of Germans. The Book Thief is refreshing in that aspect because it fills a gap that isn’t explored enough. It peels away any stigma that all Germans supported and contributed to the war activity. On the contrary, a lot of them objected to it and actively tried to help those of Jewish faith, who were victimised. 

I also enjoy how the book is told from the perspective of death. It is a challenging narrative to write, but it is one I have enjoyed by other authors in different contexts. An author who has been similarly bold in writing from this character perspective is Terry Pratchett, in his Discworld series. It would be remiss of me to imply that these books were similar, however. On the contrary, the tone is very different. That said, I appreciated both for different reasons. In The Book Thief, it emphasises how prevalent death is throughout such a tragic, heartbreaking narrative.

This is a book that will tug at your heartstrings. The ending is especially emotional, and whilst extremely personal to one of our main characters, Liesel, it fits with the events of the book. I shed a few tears. However, this book is not all doom and gloom. If anything, it only goes to emphasise the goodness of the human spirit in times of hardship. Liesel, who tragically loses her brother at the beginning of the narrative, and whose mother is taken away, is taken in by another family. Not only do they raise her when they have very little to offer in the first place, but they help inspire a fierce love – of reading.

Perhaps it is the quality time that learning to read gives her with her foster father. Perhaps it is because books are a ‘forbidden fruit’. Whatever her reasons, Liesel is a character that all book lovers can understand and come to love. She is a wilful, passionate child, growing up in a difficult time and turning to books and writing to escape. I think that is something we can all understand!

I don’t really want to discuss the finer points of the narrative and spoil the book for anyone. However, there is a lot that happens in this book. It is not the shortest at around 550 pages, but it is worth the investment of time. This is a book that I will be going back and reading again at some point in the future. It is one of those where you can do so and take away something new every time.

 

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First Lines Friday – 16/09/2022

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post!

I’m really excited to share today’s book, as it is written by an author I am already familiar with. However, it is a bit different from another series of his that I have been reading. I also read something similar earlier this year (set in the same time period and featuring the same famous character of the period). I for one I’m really excited to see how I enjoy this book.

Without further preamble, shall we dive into today’s First Lines Friday intro: –

 

I died just after the clock in the passageway struck nine.

There are those who claim that her Majesty, Elizabeth, by the grace of God, Queen of England, France, and of Ireland, will not allow clocks to strike the hour in her palaces. Time is not allowed to pass for her. She has defeated time. But that clock struck. I remember it.

I counted the bells. Nine. Then my killer struck.

And I died.

 

 

 

Fools and Mortals – Bernard Cornwell

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 416

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication Date: 19 Oct 2017

 

 

Goodreads – Fools and Mortals

Lord, what fools these mortals be . . .

In the heart of Elizabethan England, Richard Shakespeare dreams of a glittering career in one of the London playhouses, a world dominated by his older brother, William. But he is a penniless actor, making ends meet through a combination of a beautiful face, petty theft and a silver tongue. As William’s star rises, Richard’s onetime gratitude is souring and he is sorely tempted to abandon family loyalty.

So when a priceless manuscript goes missing, suspicion falls upon Richard, forcing him onto a perilous path through a bawdy and frequently brutal London. Entangled in a high-stakes game of duplicity and betrayal which threatens not only his career and potential fortune, but also the lives of his fellow players, Richard has to call on all he has now learned from the brightest stages and the darkest alleyways of the city. To avoid the gallows, he must play the part of a lifetime . . . .

Showcasing the superb storytelling skill that has won Bernard Cornwell international renown, Fools and Mortals is a richly portrayed tour de force that brings to life a vivid world of intricate stagecraft, fierce competition, and consuming ambition.

 

My Thoughts…

Earlier this year I read Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham. This book, as you can probably guess by the title, is influenced by William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare is a key character in Twelve Nights, and he is also prominent in Fools and Mortals.

The main character is Richard, William’s brother. Richard is an actor and therefore we find ourselves in a very similar setting to Twelve Nights. I really enjoyed that particular book, so I’m interested to see how Bernard Cornwell Write this kind of narrative in comparison.

It is very different from the series of his I am also reading at the moment – the Saxon stories (aka The Last Kingdom). That is a set of books I am really enjoying, and the character development is strong in those. I’m hoping for much the same in Fools and Mortals. As a standalone book, this will be a great way to try out a narrative in a different time period from Bernard Cornwell. If I go on to enjoy it as much as I expect I will, then it is only natural that I will go on to read the rest of his books… different time periods or not.

From the introduction, we have no idea who the character is. It is a very interesting introduction because straight away, a significant event happens to draw the reader in.

This introduction really captured my attention, and I hope it has captured yours too! Have you read Fools and Mortals? Would you like to based on today’s First Lines Friday post? As always, I would love it if you could let me know in the comments!

 

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Monthly TBR – June 2022

Hello and welcome to my June Monthly TBR post!

I had a fantastic month of reading in May and I’m keen for the run to continue. Last month I put one less book on my list, purely because one of the reads I planned to pick up was over 700 pages long in its own right. I’m glad I picked this up and read it though because it has become my favourite read of 2022 so far! It’s going to be a tough one to beat, but I’m not averse to finding something even greater.

I can’t lie, I’ve had a bit of a challenge setting myself a TBR. I had one all planned out that I was excited for, but I’ve changed it several times since. Clearly I’m in a very changeable mood at the moment. I don’t want to stifle myself by committing to a list of books that I then lose enthusiasm for as I pick them up, so I’ve made a decision to have a very flexible TBR this month. So, most of my reads are going to be mood reads. As you know, I normally only set a couple of those a month, but I feel like it’s the right thing to do with my mindset at the moment.

This may also work in my favour. I have an exam to sit at the end of the month that naturally I am revising for more than ever, so having less commitments can only be better for me in that sense.

 

Fixed Reads

Wolf of Mercia

I’m only setting one fixed read this month because I’m taking part in a blog tour for this book on the 10th of June. That’s only really just around the corner, and so I picked this up in the last couple of days already to really try and make progress with it.

So far I’ve been successful and as of writing this post I am just over 70% of the way through this book. I’m really enjoying how it’s going and the character progression that has taken place since Son of Mercia, the first book in the series, that I reviewed earlier this year. I can’t wait to bring my full thoughts on the book to you in my blog tour post on the 10th.

 

Mood Reads

Norse Mythology

I have a bit of a rocky relationship with Neil Gaiman, however I’m going to give him one last try with his retelling of Norse myths. I feel like this is fairly safe territory, but we will have to see. If I don’t get on with this book then I’m pretty much going to swear off Neil Gaiman completely. He is quite a big name in the fantasy genre but the highest rating I’ve ever given him is a three star. I didn’t like another book of his even though I finished it and I’ve DNF’d others. I actually bought this copy of North Mythology several years ago before I went on to read some of the books of his that I didn’t like, so that’s how I ended up having a copy. We’ll see how this goes!

 

Assassin’s Apprentice

Not long ago I shared the First Lines Friday post in which I gave you insight into a book I was going to read later this year. Robin Hobb has been on my radar for such a long time and having sampled Assassin’s Apprentice on more than one occasion, I’ve decided now is the time to read it. I’ve seen a couple of booktubers (book bloggers who review their reads on YouTube, in case you aren’t familiar with the term) talking about later books in the series/universe and that has prompted me to decide to pick this one up now. I always knew I was going to pick it up later this year, but I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later.

As this is a mood read this is subject to change, but I’m hoping not! I’m quite excited for this one! 

 

Skyward

I’m a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson and having copies of both Skyward and Starsight on my bookshelves has prompted me to think about picking up the series.

I’ve also heard a little bit about it recently as well, and I’m ready to give this new one a try. What I really like about Brandon Sanderson so far is that I have enjoyed every one of his wide catalogue of books. They are all different, unique and have their own magic systems and plotlines, but it doesn’t matter. He has a way of writing them in such a way that every single one is enjoyable for their uniqueness and I can’t fault him.

 

The Appeal

The last book I’m going to put on my mood read list is The Appeal by Janice Hallett. I received a copy of this book for Christmas from my sister’s boyfriend Chris and what interests me about this book is that the story is told in different mediums. Rather than the typical prose we are used to, the story is told through the likes of emails, text messages and letters between characters. It’s a unique way to tell a story and I think it will be good for me to have a little bit of change and pick up something different.

 

If I get through all these books this month, then great! I’ll continue with the reading and keep you up-to-date with my Sunday Summary posts as to what I pick up next. I may not though… and that’s fine. I do have the likes of preparing for my exam to think about (and that comes first)! Once that’s done I’ll have plenty of time and opportunity to carry on reading.

I honestly can’t predict how progress with my June TBR is going to go. So far things are looking really great as I’ve nearly read my first book of the month already. That may change depending on what I pick up or what demands I have personally that I need to deal with first. I’ll just have to go with the flow this month. I definitely think that going with a more fluid monthly TBR this time is the way to go… And at the end of the month I can reflect on that and we can see whether this is something I want to adopt a little bit more permanently or not.

For now, that’s all for me in today’s June TBR post. What are you reading this month? Have you read any of the books on this list and if so, did you enjoy them? I’d love to know what you think!

 

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