Book Review: The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Book Review: The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Sorry it’s been a while everyone! Been working on my own writing a lot the past month, and combining that with caring for a baby, I haven’t had much spare time. But I’m back for good now! Looking forward to sharing more bookish thoughts with y’all.

 

WITHOUT ANY FURTHER ADO, LET’S GET STARTED!

 

Our protagonist, Liesl Merminger, is sent to live with a middle-aged foster couple, as her mother can no longer afford to look after her during the harsh times of Nazi Germany. On the train to her new home in Himmel Street, her brother dies from illness, and Liesl steals a book from his graveside, the Gravedigger’s Handbook. Her new doting father teaches her to read, and Liesl proceeds to steal books to fuel her reading addiction. This book is about passion for literature, coming of age, and discovering the more important things in life during a period of widespread hatred.

I am still not over this book. If any book can be described as a rollercoaster, it’s this one. I went into this book with very high expectations, as I’d heard nothing but praise for it, and came away with little to no disappointment.

The setting was perfectly sculpted – either the author must have German origins, or did some fairly extensive research before the formation of the book. The small broken town of Mulching felt truly authentic, with its beautiful characters attempting to get on with their life during harsh winters and difficult monetary times. Each character reacted in the way you’d expect, as the Fuhrer further influenced the German population.

The plot was potentially the only downfall for me for this book. It was good, but it wasn’t GREAT. I feel like there was more that could have been done with the novel. The narrator of the book was ‘Death’, which personally I saw as a downfall, as everything was spoiled before it happened essentially. But somehow, it WORKED. I still found myself tearing at the pages, yearning for more. It was certainly a unique way to present a story, but it was slightly disappointing as the huge events within the book were essentially spoiled for you. I’m still very much in two minds as to whether I liked it or not.

The absolute best thing about this book was the prose. It was such a uniquely stunning book because of the writing. Words were used to their maximum capacity to invoke feeling, and it was just simply beautiful. The author truly had you in his grasp as you read it.

I’ve rated this book a 4.5/5 stars.

I can understand if this book isn’t for everyone, but it’s one of those books you ask yourself why you hadn’t picked it up earlier. This story is one that has the potential to break you, and I know that it will continue to stay with me for a long time.

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INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY!

INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY!

Hi everyone! This is just a quick update.

Along with starting my blog, I’ve also re-started my BookTube channel. And to celebrate, I’m hosting an international giveaway through there via the Book Depository, where two winners will each get to pick a book (up to the value of $20USD). It’s gonna be run through rafflecopter.

Feel free to check it out!

 

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How to stay on track with your writing

How to stay on track with your writing

So I don’t know about you guys, but life can get very hectic sometimes. Trying to juggle study, a baby and online profiles is difficult enough, and it gets 10x harder when I try and throw writing in there too. It’s something that takes immense time and concentration, not to mention mental stress!

I wanted to share some personal wisdom with all you writers out there who are fretting you may not meet deadlines, or start subconsciously rejecting writing because of the pressure you feel to scribble some words.

 

#1 Treat Yo Self

This is something I personally struggle with. I have very little restraint, but honestly, if you are under time pressure and need to write, rewarding yourself at frequent intervals is important. For example, I say to myself “If you write for half an hour, you can spend 20mins on a phone app or Facebook.” Then I do it. And after that 20mins, I feel slightly less bogged down. Next ‘reward’ I’ll try and change it up, maybe I’ll allow myself to read a couple chapters of the book I’m currently hooked on. You don’t have to treat yourself with time away from your work, food works well too. Perhaps a cup of tea. Make sure to have a sweets jar on hand!

#2 Find a Writing Buddy

There are always people out there who need motivation just like you do. Go to YouTube, the blog-o-sphere, even people you know personally! Trust me, others will be as keen as you are. Bounce ideas between each other. Schedule times to write together. Challenge each other with who can write the most words that day. If you don’t feel comfortable enough doing this, try opening a new word document and having a conversation with ‘someone else’ about your book and your ideas. It may bring you things you’d never even though of.

#3 (If you aren’t already) Don’t Focus About Being Published

This is a huge one, which people tend to learn over time. Of course, everyone would love to be the next J. K. Rowling! But that’s not going to happen, especially if you’re focusing your energy on writing something you think other people will want to read, other than what you personally want to write about. Readers can tell if you’re writing something just to make it fit into a category, or tailor to the norms. If your only goal is to be published, and you’re not writing for the sake of wanting to write for yourself, you’ll fizzle out. So put this to the back of your mind until you’ve finished your manuscript, and focus instead on enjoying what you’re creating.

4# Stop being over-analytical – just write!

This is something I’ve found most people are guilty of… They stop writing to edit! And then edit again… and again… And before you know it, you’ve spent more time editing than you have writing, and you’ve lost that ‘spark of a brilliant idea’. I for sure am guilty of this. Especially as people always ask if they can read some of what I’ve written. But don’t let that get to you. You don’t have to make everything perfect, you’re still writing! The editing comes after. Your first mission, is to finish.

5# Battling self doubt

Your inner demons will always be out to get you when you write. But what you need to remember is – only you can tell your story, because only you know how it goes. So tell it. There will be days where you want to cry, feeling like your work isn’t good enough, feeling like a fraud. But I’ll tell you, nothing is original anymore. Everyone takes the idea of something from somewhere. Even the people who ‘invented a genre’ had inspiration from past works, whether that fictional or text. People write from experience. But the way each idea is morphed is an amazing and underrated miracle. Creativity has to stem from somewhere, and that’s why we keep picking up new books to read; we want to see what each writer or author can do with it.

Everyone, myself included, needs to stop and take a minute to realise how fantastic it is that you have stories forming inside your own brain, and even more fantastic that you have an itch to tell it. Encourage yourself and your writing peers. And please, never give up and tell yourself you’re not good enough.

YOU CAN DO IT.

If anyone needs a writing buddy let me know and I’ll happily help out!

End

Harry Potter Annual Readathon

Harry Potter Annual Readathon

Bit of a last minute decision, but I’m very excited to be participating in the Harry Potter annual readathon! This takes place from May 15 – August 6. It’s been about two and half years since my last full re-read of the series (I’m horrified) so this felt perfect. Lately I’ve been procrastinating reading by writing instead, so let’s hope this brings more of a balance.

The Reading Schedule

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This has all Potter material included, not just strictly the seven books. The video section for the last week has me SUPER ecstatic. Anyone else seen the Very Potter musicals? Team StarKid is life.

The readathon is being hosted through the twitter account @HPReadathon and the hashtag #HPReadathon2017. There are a bunch of photo challenges per week that have been posted, which most people will be sharing mostly on instagram I believe. These and the quizzes held at the end of each week will earn you house points. Go and check out that twitter link or their tumblr if you’d like more information, and they have further break-downs of the weeks to make the reading stack manageable.

Competing against each other for house pride, taking beautiful photos and reading the best series of all time. What more could you wish for! 

None of these are requirements, it’s simply a fun readathon which encourages Harry Potter fans to come together and discuss the beautiful series.

And no, it’s not too late to start! I’ll be donning my Slytherin merch and starting with the Fantastic Beasts library as soon as I can. I will attempt to post weekly updates on my progress! I will have a busy schedule involving my daughter and study, but hopefully I should be able to stay on top of it.

Happy reading y’all! And let me know if any of you are participating/considering doing it.

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Top 5 Books of All Time

Top 5 Books of All Time

So I was thinking about writing something more serious and deeper in regards to reading/writing, then it occurred to me that you guys don’t know me all that well yet! And what better way is there to get to know someone than through their favourite books. Always tells you a lot about a person.

My top 5 books (will be sneaking some series into an entry here) I all love for different reasons. And there are a million other books I feel very attached to, but these are the ones I loved most for the content.

Without further ado… In no particular order.

#1 – The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

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With a unique magic system involving metals, an orphaned girl and a band of thieves about to pull off a huge heist, I left this book feeling wholly impressed, and re-excited about the fantasy genre. It was slow, but it felt very fast, and there was never a dull moment. One of those books where you’d read 100 pages and felt like a ridiculous amount had happened, then looked at how much of the book was left and just thought ‘wow this is amazing I’m so excited that there’s still so much story to go!’ It was a very complete world, filled with the intrigue and excitement needed for a great story.

 

#2 – Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

HARRY POTTER

This one is probably obvious to many. I love these books as I feel I grew up the trio, and they completed my childhood. I was one of the crazy ones to dress up for premieres, hanging on for the next book. In every English essay I’ve ever written I’ve managed to squeeze in a Harry Potter quote or reference. These magical *wink wink* *I know, I’m hilarious* books make me feel complete, and I feel welcomed with open arms whenever I open their pages. I’ve laughed, cried, and learned with Harry, and these books will always be a large part of my life. As JKR famously said at the Deathly Hallows Part 2 premiere,

Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home

Never has a truer statement been made.

 

#3 – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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This book was a recent read of mine, one of those where you can’t help but think, why the hell did I put if off for so long??

This book is on this list not because the story was an A+ for me (though don’t get me wrong, it was a very well thought out book and will give any reader many feels), but because it was so wonderfully written. Never have I read such beautiful and distinctive language in a singular book. It’s something that could have been very risky, being so different, in regards to language and how the story was set out, but it just plain worked. If anyone is looking for a new book, I highly recommend you pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed.

 

#4 – A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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This was a stunning book, based on a young boy who has a monster visit him every night. It’s on my list because it is powerful, very moving, and full of mystery. I thought that the protagonist’s age would put me off, but by the end of this rather short book, you feel like they aren’t just characters; you know all of them down to the core. They leap out of the page and grab you. It takes a very skilled writer to be able to do this. And the illustrations are extraordinary additions, which help make it all that more compelling. They reminded me slightly of the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick.

 

#5 – Witches of Eileanan series by Kate Forsyth

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Urgh. Still can’t get over how stunning these covers are. And these ones aren’t available anymore! :'(

These books are not well known, but I can’t recommend them highly enough as they began my true passion for fantasy books. They were the second adult fantasy series I read, and they’re just everything you want in the genre. Based on twin teenagers who have never met, one a witch and the other a fighter, they’re both for their own purposes striving to free their land’s leader from the trance he’s been placed in by his wife, and restore the legality of magic. Filled with dragons, strong heroines, magic, Princes, curses, enemies and no characters being black or white, you won’t be disappointed. Some people are thrown off by the language, some old Scottish Gaelic terms are used, such as ‘Righ’ instead of ‘King’, but you’ll slip into it easily if you give it a go. For me, it just gave the land of Eileanan further authenticity.

˜So I hope you guys have enjoyed getting to know a little more about me through these books! (I’m sure you can guess what my favourite genre is by now). I read a wide range of genres, it always depends on my mood as to which one I pick, but after thought these are the books which will always have a place in my heart and my mind.˜

If you have any questions feel free to ask, and let me know if these are some of your favourite books too!

End

A New Thought

A New Thought

Wow. This is new. Welcome everyone!

Blogging is always something I’ve been interested in, and I am completely in awe of those who have the courage and the willpower to put themselves and their thoughts out there.

Just Keep Reading’s content is pretty self explanatory; books! I’m an avid reader, one that has definitely had some rough and slower literary periods, but as always, back on the horse. So here’s hoping that we have a little fun along the way… *wink wink*

My bookshelves (which are very limited as to what they should be), currently look a little something like this:

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I miss organisation by colour, so am hoping to get round to doing this once a few more books that I’ve recently ordered have arrived.

Something I’m also very passionate about is writing, which I believe to be one of the hardest jobs someone can have.  It’s half based off an individual’s creativity capability, and half self motivation and dedication. Sometimes it’s easy to have an idea, but sticking with it long enough for it to become a reality is often a difficult task.

So in regards to reading and writing, hopefully there will be a bit of everything for anyone! Whether that’s help with inspiration, tips for staying on track, recommendations, or reviews, you’ll see it all here as this blog continues to progress.

Any questions, queries or developments, please feel free to Contact me.

With love,
Isi

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