Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wasn't entirely sure if I was going to like this book. From the blurb I could tell that I had never read anything else like it. In fact, I doubt there is another book like it at all.
It's the story of Liesel, who is 'The Book Thief' from when she leaves her home and arrives with her foster parents Hans and Rosa, to living as a teenager through Nazi Germany and the Second World War. It sounds depressing, but despite it's sad moments, it really isn't. It's sweet and funny with a menagerie of interesting characters that she meets through this period of her life, my favourite probably being Rudy Steiner, her best friend and a Jesse Owens wannabe.
The fact that it's narrated by death also makes it interesting. He has a different take on the events in the story. It isn't related to religion in any way either which I think is better. Death isn't God, he's just the caretaker.
The Book Thief really is for book lovers, it takes you on a wondrous tale without really leaving Himmel Street.
This is a book that I will cherish for a long time and I look forward to reading it again and passing it onto others. It made me laugh and it made me cry and it's a book everybody should read.

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Saturday, 12 January 2013

Book Review: How To Lose Friends And Alienate People by Toby Young

How to Lose Friends and Alienate PeopleHow to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book does not do Toby Young any favours. I'd seen the trailer of the film, but other than having a vague idea of what it was about I pretty much went in blind.
First of all, I don't think I am the target audience for this book. I'm that kind of person that Toby Young describes that is interested (not obsessed) with celebrity culture. The bits I found most interesting were the times he was trying to get into parties and the various encounters with celebrities or people of authority. The bits where he droned on about his school days and psychology were lost to me. My brain just seemed to glaze over.
Half of the time, Toby comes across as likeable, you could even sympathise with him, but for a lot of the time he does come across as a twat who gets himself in these ridiculous situations.
One part I did find interesting was the law suit with the famous couple. I would have liked to know more about that. I would have also liked to know what the people mentioned in the book think about what Toby has written.
Two stars for the silly, funny bits, but minus three for his idiocy.

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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Book Review: Sky Burial by Xinran

Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story Of TibetSky Burial: An Epic Love Story Of Tibet by Xinran
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had a great deal of trouble finding an author beginning with the letter X and after reading some great reviews I settled on Sky Burial by Xinran. The story is about a Chinese woman who goes searching for her husband who joined the army and went to Tibet in the height of their conflicts. My knowledge of Chinese and Tibetan history is absolutely pants so I went into this book with no knowledge of any of it. In fact, it was the bit that I cared least about, but Shu Wen's story was magical, sad, interesting and suprising. Being introduced into this culture is fascinating and makes me want to visit Tibet and China. Wen's relationship with the Tibetan family she encounters is enlightening and is a true show of human compassion. But the most important thing in this story is Wen's relationship with her long lost husband Kejun. The lengths she goes to find him are indescribable, astonishing and are a mark of true love. The reason why I didn't give this five stars was because I struggled to understand all of the politics and the end I felt was a little disappointing and left some things open. I understand this is a true story and the author has tried to contact Shu Wen again, so maybe there will be more of her story in the future.

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