Audiobook Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Audio Review

The Book Thief audioTitle: The Book Thief

Author: Markus Zusak

Narrator: Allan Corduner

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers/Listening Library

Release Date: March 14th, 2006/September 26th, 2006

Interest: Printz Honor / Movie

Source: Purchased book & audio (via Audible)

Summary (From Goodreads):

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.

Audio Review: I chose to listen to The Book Thief because I couldn’t get into the book reading it traditionally. Thankfully, Allan Corduner is an excellent narrator and really made Markus Zusak’s book come alive. His voice is easy to listen to and his accent fits the story perfectly. His voices fit the different characters well, which added to my enjoyment of the audio. If you’re like me and are either hesitant to read The Book Thief traditionally, or you’ve tried reading it and couldn’t get into it, I suggest giving the audio a try.

Book Review: I enjoyed The Book Thief, but I didn’t love it to pieces like so many others. I appreciate the story, and I love that Death is the narrator, but something is missing for me. I guess I sort of felt like, “So what?” when I finished listening. Thinking that and writing that makes me feel like a horrible person. I understand that “books feed the soul” but I think I needed something more than that from the story.

Maybe I need to admit to myself that World War II/Holocaust stories don’t work for me anymore. I’m a history minor and understand the importance of the time period. I have a tough time finishing these novels because I know how all of them end–tragically. Yes, that’s a generalization, and yes, The Book Thief ends with a sense of hope. But from this story in particular, which I did finish, I needed something more.

I will say, however, that the writing it beautiful and the character development is wonderful. I can easily see why it received the Printz Honor. Hopefully the movie will affect me more than the book did.

Book Trailer Thursday (122)–The Book Thief by Markus Zusak Movie Trailer

Apparently I’m late to the party on this one because I haven’t read The Book Thief yet.  I started it a couple years ago, wasn’t in the mood for it, set it down, and never picked it back up. I saw the movie trailer courtesy of a few Facebook friends and thought, “Maybe I should give this another try.”  And then I felt nothing but shame when I saw the long list of five-star ratings on Goodreads.  Maybe I’ll listen to the audio during my drive to work once school starts.

The movie definitely looks good, but like I said, I wasn’t thrilled when I started reading this.  Considering the large pile of TBR books I have, what makes The Book Thief a must-read title?

According to IMDB, The Book Thief will be in theaters on November 15th, 2013.

The Book ThiefSummary (From Goodreads):

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.

Book Trailer Thursday (118)–Catching Fire Movie Trailer

I’m sure many of you have already seen this trailer, but for those of you who haven’t, here you go!  Catching Fire is my favorite book in The Hunger Games trilogy, so I’m really excited to see this when it releases on November 22nd.  I haven’t read the book in a long time, and to be honest, I probably won’t reread it because I want to enjoy the movie without criticizing every last detail that’s left out or messed up.  This trailer makes the movie look promising.  I’d love to know what you think of the trailer!

I originally wasn’t planning on including the summary because I think most of us know what this book is about, but it’s never good to assume.

Catching Fire Movie PosterSummary (From Goodreads):

Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before…and surprising readers at every turn.

Book Trailer Thursday (115)–The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

The other day John Green tweeted a link to this movie trailer for The Spectacular Now because Shailene Woodley is starring in it and she is also going to be Hazel Grace in the movie version of The Fault in Our Stars.  While watching the movie trailer I thought “Wow, I *really* want to see this movie” and “This sounds like it would be a great book.”  I looked it up on Goodreads and I was right!  The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp was released in 2008.  I’m adding this to my summer reading list.

Have you read The Spectacular Now?  Do you want to?  What do you think of the trailer?

The Spectacular Now hardcoverThe Spectacular Now movie cover

Summary (From Goodreads):

This National Book Award Finalist is soon to be a major motion picture — one of the most buzzed-about films at Sundance 2013, starring Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller.

SUTTER KEELY. He’s the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

Book Trailer Thursday (107)–Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume Movie Trailer

Is it crazy that I’ve never read Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume?  I’ve read and loved Forever, and I’ve read plenty of her other books, but somehow I missed Tiger Eyes.  I’ll have to correct that ASAP.  I’ve known about the production of this movie for a while now, but only recently did I discover the trailer (thanks to Clear Eyes, Full Shelves!).  The movie looks really good, so I’ll have to read this over the weekend or something.

According to IMDb, the movie releases on June 7th, 2013. I hope it releases everywhere then!

Tiger Eyes PosterSummary (From Goodreads): Davey has never felt so alone in her life. Her father is dead—shot in a holdup—and now her mother is moving the family to New Mexico to try to recover. Climbing in Los Alamos Canyons, Davey meets mysterous Wolf, who seems to understand the rage and fear she feels. Slowly, with Wolf’s help, Davey realizes that she must get on with her life. But when will she be ready to leave the past behind? Will she ever stop hurting?

Audiobook Review: The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Silver Linings PlaybookTitle: The Silver Linings Playbook

Author: Matthew Quick

Narrator: Ray Porter

Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books (paperback movie tie-in edition)

Release Date: October 16th, 2012 (paperback movie tie-in edition)

Interest: Author / Adult Fiction / Book-to-movie

Source: Audiobook purchased via Audible

Summary (From Goodreads):


Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G!

In this enchanting novel, Matthew Quick takes us inside Pat’s mind, showing us the world from his distorted yet endearing perspective. As the award-winning novelist Justin Cronin put it: “Tender, soulful, hilarious, and true, The Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful debut.”

Audiobook Review: I’ll be honest, I wasn’t so sure about Ray Porter as a narrator when I first started listening to The Silver Linings Playbook, but I’m glad I gave it a little time because I ended up really enjoying his narration.  He’s a really lively narrator, especially during parts when Pat and his family are chanting the Eagle chant.  Although I will admit that hearing it over and over again was a little annoying. I had to turn down the volume when I was getting ready in the morning so it wouldn’t wake up my husband!  I appreciate it though because it added life to the story.  Ray Porter’s depiction of Nikki could have been better; his female voices sounded a little off.  I was able to tell, however, when he switched from character to character.

Book Review: Matthew Quick’s stories are incredibly enjoyable.  I can’t relate to what Pat has gone through, but I can understand how he feels and empathize with him.  He’s lost and has dealt with a horrible circumstance that he can’t come to grips with, but he wants to be a better person.  Throughout the book I was trying to figure out what happened between him and Nikki.  Parts of this story are really heart-breaking and other parts are laughable and heart-warming.  It’s a very well-rounded story.

The supporting characters are just as well-written as Pat.  Tiffany is just as flawed as Pat, but she means well and is a positive influence on him.  I love their scenes together and how Pat changes as he spends more time with her.  His psychologist is so funny and really good for Pat.  He’s patient and kind and ends up being a good friend.  I even enjoyed Pat’s family and friends.  Matthew Quick really knows how to flesh out a story.

I went to see the movie after finishing this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Quite a few parts of the story were changed, especially the dance sequence between Pat and Tiffany, but it all worked.  I enjoyed the book more, of course, but I wasn’t angry about the changes like I usually am when I watch a movie based on a book.

Even though The Silver Linings Playbook is written for adults, I feel comfortable adding it to my class library.  The language and the themes are the most adult parts of the novel.  Sex is discussed, but there aren’t any actual sex scenes, at least any that I can remember.

Matthew Quick is fast becoming one of my favorite authors.  I definitely recommend reading The Silver Linings Playbook.

Movie Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures movie coverI know movies based on books never (or almost never) live up to the book, but I had high hopes for the Beautiful Creatures movie.  I asked Keith to take me to see it as my Valentine’s Day gift which he did without complaint 🙂  Unfortunately, I left the movie extremely disappointed.


  • I didn’t think I was going to like Alden Ehrenreich as Ethan and Alice Englert as Lena, but they did a great job portraying the characters.  I didn’t imagine Ethan being quite so goofy, but Ehrenreich was entertaining.
  • Jeremy Irons is a great Macon, but there were times when his Southern accent reverted to his British accent which isn’t a big deal, but it was something I noticed.
  • I appreciated the quality of the movie.  When Twilight came out as a movie it was obvious that it wasn’t funded, but that wasn’t the case with Beautiful Creatures.
  • Those who haven’t read the book or aren’t huge fans like I am will probably enjoy the movie.  Keith said he liked it and that it was better than the Twilight movie.  I made him take me to the midnight showing of Twilight and he ended up reading the next three books in the series after watching the movie with me.  I don’t know if he’ll read any of the Beautiful Creatures books, but he did say he would watch the next movie if it’s made.

Dislikes (some spoilers):

  • Why do screenwriters insist on changing even the smallest details when making a book into a movie?!  Was it really necessary to change Lena’s birthday? And why was Ethan’s age changed? He’s entering his sophomore year of high school, not starting junior year and looking up colleges.
  • Amma’s character drove me nuts.  I like Viola Davis, but she was a horrible choice for Amma, especially considering her age.  I really like Amma, but she isn’t portrayed accurately at all.  She’s basically a mixture of Amma and Marion.  Which leads me to my next point…
  • Marion isn’t even in the movie!  I don’t know how they plan on making more movies, or if those plans are in the works, without casting Marion.
  • Emmy Rossum was okay as Ridley, but she would have been better if even the smallest attempt was made to make her look like Ridley.  Plus, it’s been a while since I’ve read Beautiful Creatures and I’m halfway through the audiobook, but I don’t remember her being a man killer. Correct me if I’m wrong.
  • The story of Genevieve and the curse really irked me.
  • Why didn’t they include the Kelting?
  • The ending was horrible. Sob.
  • There’s more, but I don’t want to  include too many spoilers.

Student Book Review: That Summer by Sarah Dessen

I realize That Summer by Sarah Dessen has been around for a while, but for some reason it isn’t the most popular Sarah Dessen title I have in my class library, so I decided to feature it on my blog today.  And what better way to feature it than with a student review?

My student reviewer today is Trista, who was in my YA Lit class last tri and also has me all year for Honors Sophomore Seminar.  She chose the books to movie project in YA Lit and took my recommendation to read That Summer and Someone Like You to go along with the movie rendition of both books, How to Deal.  She liked both books, so hopefully she’ll read more Dessen titles in the future 🙂

Title: That Summer

Author: Sarah Dessen

Student Reviewer: Trista

Summary (From Goodreads): For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She’s nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister—the always perfect Ashley—is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley’s reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.

That Summer is about an insecure 15 year old girl named Haven who is having a hard time dealing with her dad’s remarriage and her sisters marriage. She has learn how to let go and move on or she will never be happy. She realizes that life goes on and although thing may never be the same that doesn’t mean they will never get better.

Haven is the one character I can really relate to. She’s insecure about her height and the way she looks. She would rather live in the past when things were perfect than in the present and deal with her problems. Haven is very close to her mom and feels the need to protect her and keep her safe even though that’s the parents’ job. She’s there for her friend when she’s needed even though she has her own problems to deal with. Also I can relate to Haven because she doesn’t like to talk about her issues or anything she’s dealing with, she bottles up her feelings and takes them out on the people she loves.

I liked how realistic the book is about the divorce and remarriage of her parents. The thoughts going through Haven’s mind were very believable. She wasn’t dramatic or obnoxious about it. Her feelings were real and understandable. She felt betrayed by her dad for leaving her mom for that girl at his work. She also felt hurt because she wanted to believe that he would never do something like that.

I didn’t like how towards the end of the book she had a break down out of nowhere. Maybe she did have a good reason but it was not clear to me why she freaked out and ran away for the day. I’ve been through hard times too but I’ve never had a break down like she had at the mall. I did however laugh when she chased after the rude woman and threw the shoe back at her.

In the end I enjoyed reading this book. It’s not a book I would have picked on my own, but I’m glad I read it. That Summer is a good read.

Book Trailer Thursday (67)–The Perks of Being a Wallflower Official Movie Trailer

I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky a couple years ago and really enjoyed it.  It’s become a favorite of many students who have taken my Young Adult Lit class or who have picked it up for SSR.  Movie studios have really taken to making movies out of Y.A. novels, but a majority of them have been paranormal and dystopian novels.  For this reason I’m really excited that a contemporary novel has been transformed into a movie, and with Emma Watson no less!  The Perks of Being a Wallflower is set to release September 14th, 2012.

Summary (From Goodreads): Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower. This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Sara Gruen Water for Elephants

331 pp.  Algonquin Books  2006

Summary (From Goodreads): Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski’s ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Jacob was there because his luck had run out – orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive ‘ship of fools’. It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn’t have an act – in fact, she couldn’t even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

This is a beautiful book.  I don’t usually read adult best sellers because I’m too busy reading YA.  But I read Water for Elephants for a couple of reasons.  First, one of my avid readers read it and recommended that I do the same and let me borrow her copy.  Second, a couple of my YA students chose to read it for the Books to Movies project.  I also plan on going to see the movie!  (I love Reese Witherspoon!)

What I’m used to reading in best sellers is a lot of lengthy, flowery descriptions.  Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, however, has this balanced perfectly.  I could tell this wasn’t published as YA, but it read so easily.  The details she uses are excellent and never over-done.  Sara Gruen’s writing in this book left me yearning for more, even after I finished reading it.  She’s incredibly gifted and I’d be happy to read more of her books.

The story itself was completely addicting.  Jacob is a well-developed character that I enjoyed as both a young and old man.  It was fun reading him as a grumpy, forgetful old man, and as a caring, tough, and thoughtful young man.  And as much as I loved Jacob, I couldn’t get enough of minor characters like Walter and even Rosie.

Water for Elephants is a book I know I’ll read more than once because it’s timeless.  Its themes of love and overcoming obstacles will resonate with many readers–old and young, male and female.  I strongly recommend reading this gorgeous, timeless novel.

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