Monday, July 18, 2011

Review - The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Finally…I’m getting to my review of my latest book club book – Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief. And a warning that there will be spoilers (though you know most of what happens from the beginning of the book), so if you don’t want to know maybe just read the book first and then come back and tell me what you thought of it. Because I would definitely recommend it!

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. . .
Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a young foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she discovers something she can't resist- books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever they are to be found.
With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel 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.

I enjoyed Lisel’s story - though I will admit that I had difficulties with the subject matter of Hitler run Germany. In fact, the thing that we talked about in relation to this book with my book club girls was the inconceivability that something so horrible could have taken place right in front of people’s eyes. It’s not that I put blame on the German people, I truly believe that most didn’t know what was really happening. The one thing that they knew, which is conveyed so well in Lisel’s story is that if you wanted to live, you towed the party line. For Lisel and her foster family, that meant hanging the flag when they were supposed to, going to the right meetings, and saying all the right things…in public.

Zusak does a brilliant job of building the characters around Lisel that we learn to love them and all of their different ways just as she does. When the Hubermanns take Lisel in, I was truly a little scared for her. Rosa was not what I would call warm and Lisel learned some great new swear words quickly from her new foster mother. Watching Hans and Lisel’s relationship grow into one of a true father and daughter was so touching. In the end, you could feel all of the love that they had for one another with everything that they endured together, even if it wasn’t expressed the way most of us would.

One interesting thing was that Zusak created a bit of a love triangle that was beautiful and impossible and somewhat unknown to all the participants involved until it was too late. The question we all had at the end was…”Did she marry Max?” I think she did. I think that in her own way while she was helping care for him in the basement, she grew to love him and he was very much in love with her even though he knew that it would never be possible for them to be together.

Now, don’t panic just yet…I don’t think that she loved him the way she loved Rudy, but she knew that she would never love anyone like she had loved Rudy. So when Max came back into her life, she had feelings for him and his loving her was enough. (Now, this is all my own supposition as we don’t know really who she married…that’s just how it played out in my own silly writer’s mind!)

One thing that I have to admit; This was a hard book for me to get into. I don’t know if it was because I read it on my Kindle and the formatting at the beginning had me scratching my head or if it was the fact that the first thing you’re confronted with is Death talking about taking souls and the colors he experiences at those moments?

Having Death as a narrator was hard to process at first, but in the end, that was my favorite thing about the book. The idea is that Death is actually reading Lisel’s story that she wrote herself. And as I’ve said, I enjoyed Lisel’s story, but my favorite parts were when Death was telling his own little side views and opinions on things that were happening in Lisel’s story.

Here are two of my favorite parts. These are the two small passages that stuck with me long after I finished the last line of the story.

I’ve seen so many young men over the years who think they’re running at other young men.
They are not.
They’re running at me."

Death is talking about war and how the soldiers doing their jobs run out to the enemy, but it’s death that is waiting for them. I think this is so beautifully written and touches me because I do write about men in uniform who sacrifice of themselves.

“As is often the case with humans, when I read about them in the book thief’s words, I pitied them, though not as much as I felt for the ones I scooped up from various camps in that time. The Germans in basements were pitiable, surely, but at least they had a chance. That basement was not a washroom. They were not sent there for a shower. For those people, life was still achievable.”

What an amazing picture Zusak paints with this paragraph! Just from reading it, you can see the German families huddled in the basement as they wait for the signal that they can go back to their homes, thinking how they might die…but for the Jews in the concentration camp down the road it is more of a certainty.

Again, I would recommend this book for the characterization and because the subject itself makes you stop and think how lucky you are to be able to read what you want and that you don’t have to save books from a burning pile to read…

I’m off on yet another vacation for the next couple of weeks, and won’t have internet access so I won’t be updating next week. BUT I am doing a guest blog post on Lisa Sanchez’s Sizzling Summer Author Extravaganza on Wednesday the 20th. I’ll be giving away a signed copy of Indivisible and a little bit of swag including a very pretty notebook and pen! So head over there and help me with my inspiration problem and get in on the chance to win!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Winners and Info and Fun! Oh My!

Okay, so I know that I said I was going to post a review today...but then I realized that I need to do some house cleaning today (and no toilets to clean when I do it here!)

First, I want to congratulate mariexd for winning the Indivisible E-pack from Skyrockets in Flight Blog Hop that ended yesterday! Thank you everyone who followed my blog and who commented. And I hope you like Gideon and Charlie!!

Second, I want to announce another giveaway. Not here, but over at Omnific Publishing's new blog! They are running a contest until August 15th and if you follow them, you will be entered to win ONE OF A KIND singed copies of the Summer Anthologies. Yeah, that's right ALL 13 authors are going to sign the books and that will be the only copy that has all of the author's signatures (unless someone is REALLY industrious and contacts all of them and gets them to sign them?? But trust me, it would take a HUGE effort!) So when you're done here, go follow the Omnific blog and get in on that chance!

Finally, I got some AMAZING news last week about Passion Fish! Book Chick City gave us a 7 out of 10 stars and a "definitely recommend"!! I am sooo excited! One of my favorite parts of the review was this:

And if you're a lover of sizzle in your romance, then Skylar gives you plenty of that!

I LOVED Sky and Gage and the fact that she liked the contrast and thought they sizzled puts a BIG smile on my face. I hope you check out that review.

I PROMISE...The Book Thief review next week. Also, I'm taking part in Lisa Sanchez's Sizzling Author Extravaganza and will be doing a guest post and Indivisible package giveaway over there next week! I'm going to be talking about inspiration in my post for Lisa, but here's some that should inspire most women in soooo many ways! Enjoy!

And now on to the Blog Hop!

Here's how it works:

READERS: Follow as many authors as you like. Just follow the Linky list and hop from author to author. The idea is to find as many "new to you" authors as you can, and hopefully some great new reading material as well. Leave a comment! We'd love to chat with you!


•Follow the Meet an author Monday host (Cali Cheer Mom) along with any of the wonderfully talented authors on the list.
•You will need to enter your name and blog url into the Linky tool.
•Grab our super cute button and place it in a post. (THIS IS IMPORTANT!) If you don't create a post for the hop, your readers won't have a place to comment, and the hop will stop with you. So create a post, paste in the Linky code and start hopping!
•The purpose of the hop is to meet "new to you" authors and discover great new reads. Follow as many authors as you can. Leave a comment and introduce yourself!
•If you'd like to share the Linky list in a post on your blog ( Please do!) just follow the link and grab the code.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hundred Follower winner!

YAY!! I made it to 100!! So excited!

I did a random drawing through and the winner was follower #93 Madame D!! Congrats!

She won a signed copy of Indivisible, an Indivisible notebook and pen, keychain and bookmark!

Thank you all for supporting me - I really appreciate all of you!

If you want a chance to win another GREAT prize, head over to Omnific Publishing's new blog and follow them. They are giving away signed copies of their summer anthologies (Summer Breeze and Heat Wave). These are going to be signed by all thirteen authors!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Big Guns on the Fourth!

Happy 4th of July!!!

And guess what...I'm participating in the Skyrocket in Flight Blog Hop, which means - GIVEAWAY!! I'm giving away an ebook copy of Indivisible randomly drawn from anyone who comments on this post. AND as a bonus I have a prize package that I'm giving away (US/Canada only) which includes a beautiful Indivisible notebook and pen along with bookmark, key chain and a signed copy of Indivisible randomly picked from my followers once I reach 100 followers!

Independence Day is kind of the epitome of summer for Americans – beach, ball games, BBQs, and of course, FIREWORKS!! Now, you can add one more thing to that list…Omnific’s Summer Anthologies which are available tomorrow.

Last week I told you all about the two anthologies (sweet and romantic Summer Breeze or hot and steamy Summer Heat) and that all profits are being donated to Save the Tatas Foundation to help fund breast cancer research. I also talked about how breast cancer has directly impacted my own life (Thank you all for the nice words about my grandma!). What I didn’t talk about last week was my own contribution to the books…

We all know how I feel about a man in uniform – nothing sexier for me – and obviously, that is where I’ve found my inspiration, so as you would expect, my story is about men in uniform; a SWAT team. Yeah, hot men who risk their lives everyday keeping us safe…YUM! And you may have also guessed that my story is in the hot and steamy version. Because really if you’ve got sexy protector men, they need to be having some sexy times!

In Big Guns, after a hot day of training, one of LAPD’s SWAT squads tries to cool off at their favorite Santa Monica club. When young, cocky sniper, AJ Moreno, tries to prove his superiority over his team members by snaking in on element leader, Dylan Clark’s girl…he discovers he picked the wrong SWAT team. Leader Brody Flynn finds a renewed zest for life after a year of tragedy when as he and his best friend, Clark, plot to show the young hot shot that experience will trump cockiness every time.

Here’s a little taste -

One man broke from the group. AJ Moreno headed to the bar without argument, his swagger working overtime as he sliced through the pulsing crowd. On his way, he took stock of the female population, trying to decide which of the scantily clad women writhing on the dance floor would be the lucky recipient of his time and efforts tonight. On a normal night, AJ’s dark Latino features and cocky attitude were more than enough for him to have his pick of any woman he wanted, but today he was on a high after his first day as a member of the SWAT Team, and it showed in his even more exaggerated strut.

The whole squad sat down and Sergeant Brody Flynn, the leader of the squad, tipped his chair back as he watched the newbie work the bar. A smile played on Brody’s lips. He remembered his first day on the team almost eight years ago, that feeling of indestructibility. A day training with high powered weapons tended to get the blood pumping – everywhere. Flynn, himself, had met his wife after a long day of training. He shook his head to rid his mind of thoughts of Delaney. This wasn’t the place for those thoughts. Later, when he was home, he would allow those memories in.

“Damn, Flynn,” AJ said, placing an ice cold beer in front of his new boss. “You look like someone pissed in your Metamucil this morning. We’re at a bar with a bevy of beauties. Stop acting like the old man that you are. Tell you what, big guy, you can have one of my cast offs. That should put a smile on your face.”

“Fuck you, Newbie. You might not want to go popping off when your life is in my hands on a daily basis.” A slow smile slid across Flynn’s lips and AJ wasn’t sure if he was joking or not, but he didn’t concern himself too much with it. He knew Flynn was probably on his way out, considering the guy had to be close to thirty-five already, if not past it.

This little story is a peek into my new book that I’m working on right now about Brody Flynn and his SWAT squad. I’m working on Brody and Delaney’s story right now where we find out what Brody doesn’t want to think about…dun, dun, dun.

AND next week I’ll be doing my review of our latest book club read, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Now go check out all of these GREAT blogs!!