Bookanista Rec – THE BOOK THIEF

summer reading. #books, #reading, #summer

Oh, my. I haven’t done a Book of the Month post since… FEBRUARY. Bad Katy! So, since yesterday was the first day of SUMMER, let’s play catch up, shall we?

I present:

The Books I Read This Spring (with a Bookanista rec at the end!)

Delirium by Lauren Oliver – Delirium sat on my nightstand for months. I passed it up time and again (I’d been underwhelmed by several dystopians of late), and honestly, I thought the idea of love-as-a-disease was a little hard to buy into . Turns out it wasn’t, not when written by the incredibly talented Lauren Oliver. Delirium was good. Quiet, but with lovely prose and characters I wanted to know. I recommend it!

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver – This book grabbed me and never let go. If you were disappointed by the slow pace and inherent quietness of Delirium (I, as I mentioned above, was not), you should know that Pandemonium is a turn around. While it’s similar to Delirium in its gorgeous writing and gripping characters, it’s also action-packed, with tension that made it utterly unputdownable. You can read my Bookanista recommendation HERE.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard – I’m a sucker for beautifully written contemporary YA, especially when the story is set somewhere warm and beachy, and ESPECIALLY when there’s a slow-burn (read: realistic) romance involved. In these ways, Wanderlove is a triple threat. Oh, and Kirsten Hubbard’s writing is enviable. My Bookanista recommendation is HERE.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore – What I loved most about Graceling‘s Katsa is that her strength, while very much present, is not at all black and white. She’s layered, definitely not perfect and not always likable, but very real. And the Graced prince, Po? You will totally fall for him! More about why I adored Graceling HERE.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi – Main character Aria’s steep, authentic arc transformed her from a character I felt eh about, into a character I wanted to befriend, a character whose story I can’t wait to continue reading. This book has it all: fantastic pacing, world building that blew my mind, and a romance that had me flipping pages late into the night. More on Under the Never Sky HERE.

Ten by Gretchen McNeil (available September 18th, 2012) – I found this book to be reminiscent of the movies Scream and The Ring. It’s a murder mystery, a big group of kids secluded during a storm, picked off by the unknown killer among them. Ten is packed with tension and twists right up to the very end. A scary but fun read.

Happy Families by Tanita S. Davis – A no-nonsense contemporary about a family going through a big change. It’s narrated by a brother-sister pair (good, smart kids with lofty goals), and while I liked the protagonists and their respective arcs, the tone of this book was a little on the young side for my taste. Still, if you love stories about complex family dynamics, Happy Families is one to check out.

This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers – Not regular Courtney Summers contemporary fare, but just as absorbing, just as unputdownable, as any of her other novels. Raw and unflinching, I suspect that even non-zombie-lovers will be captivated by this book! My YA Confidential review is HERE.

On Writing by Stephen King – The end-all-be-all of craft books! I was long overdue in giving this one a read, but I’m so glad I finally did. Stephen King writes with honestly and a touch of irony that made this book hard to step away from. It helped me reflect on my writing goals and writing practices in a way I haven’t before. I recommend this one to anyone who writes or wants to write, and to non-writers who simply enjoy Stephen King’s nonfiction articles (he’s had many pop culture bits published in Entertainment Weekly… they’re awesome!).

Insurgent by Veronica Roth – I had mixed feelings about this one right up until the big reveal at the end, which is when I fell in love. I enjoyed Tris and her narration throughout, but my thoughts during most of the book were this: Too much action (YES). Not enough Four. But, I have to see where this is going. I’m glad I did, because Veronica Roth made it all worthwhile at the end. I can’t wait to see what the final installment of this trilogy brings.

Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield (available July 5, 2012) – Kat Rosenfield holds nothing back in the weaving of Rebecca and Amelia’s parallel stories. Her prose is enchantingly gritty, and the relationships she fosters between her characters feel real and flawed and dangerously precarious. One part literary fiction, one part murder mystery… This book blew me away. My Bookanista recommendation is HERE.

And, finally(!), my favorite book of the season, one I highly recommend: The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak.

The Book ThiefFrom Goodreads: It’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . . Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel 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 before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

I’ve read quite a few books set during the Holocaust, stand-outs being Number the Stars, Night, Sarah’s Key, and The Diary of Anne Frank. The Book Thief has quite a bit in common with these stories, yet in many ways it isn’t like them it all. It focuses on blonde, German kids, “normal” kids who attend book burnings and Hitler Youth rallies. They’re kids who, as part of their everyday lives, deal with the Gestapo and food rationings and parades of emaciated Jews marching through their streets toward probable death. It’s rare to hear stories about these kids, kids caught between innocence and evil who, for the most part, lack the power to make real change in a world many of them recognize as incredibly unjust.

A few points about The Book Thief:

~ It was a slow read for me, but that was okay. The characters (even the lesser characters) were absolutely captivating. I didn’t want to hurry their story along.

~ The language… Oh, my gosh. So gorgeous. The imagery and the personification and the metaphors. This novel is a study in weaving beautiful prose.

~ The narrator of the story is Death. I was weirded out by this initially, but I got used to it quickly. In my opinion, Death’s perspective was the only one from which to tell this story.

~ The only (tiny) thing I didn’t like about Death’s narration was that he wasn’t one for foreshadowing. He gave away big plot points seemingly willy-nilly, which I could have done without.

~ Rudy Steiner. *sigh* I absolutely adore that kid. He is by far my favorite character. Such a little shit, but with the world’s biggest heart. He alone is worth picking up The Book Thief for.

So, that’s that. The Book Thief: If it’s one of your gap books, please, please please run to your local bookseller or library to pick it up!

Don’t forget to check out what my fellow Bookanistas are up to: 

Elana Johnson can’t get enough of See You At Harry’s

Shannon Messenger shares some YA cover lust

Shelli Johannes-Wells talks about the cover for The 13th Sign–with a contest!

Stasia Ward Kehoe and Nikki Katz gush about Surrender

Jessica Love has feelings for The List

Tell me, have you read The Book Thief? If so, what did you love about it? If not… WHY?!