The Pro’s & Con’s of The Book Thief

I have a feeling there will likely be unpopular opinions for this post. And that’s ok. Diversity is what makes the world go round, ja/yeah?

19063I really wanted to love this book. I wanted to rave about it in this review. I wanted to proclaim my undying love to it. And maybe it’s because I am reading this so late in life. Maybe because I saw the film first my opinion of the book was slightly tainted. (Although truthfully, it wasn’t even that memorable, so I didn’t have too many spoilers that came from the film to the book.) I could probably come up with more reasons/excuses to try and place blame on myself for not LOVING this book, but we would probably be here all day.

We’ll start with the bad & the ugly.

In short, it was long. The protagonist wasn’t all that interesting. Sure, she’s a little girl, and it’s a coming of age story, so I get there is a lot of development & realizations of “this is the world we live in, how terrible and unfair,” but I just didn’t feel a connection to her. Her suffering didn’t move me for the majority of the book. It wasn’t until the end when I felt anything for her, and again, most of my sad feelings were directed at other characters.

Another thing I noticed was that my mind drifted off several times when reading this, and I felt the full 547 pages of this book. It felt really, really long to me. And I get we need more connections with the characters, so perhaps that was why the length was what it was, but I just felt like COME ON, IS ANYTHING EVER GOING TO HAPPEN? too many times.

There were a few moments where I would breeze through chapters, anticipating what was coming next, but those moments were few & far between for me.

Enter the reasons for the if_star-4_47965if_star-4_47965if_star-4_47965if_star-2_47963if_star-0_47961 rating.

Now onto the good things that redeemed this for me & made me want to finish.

The writing was beautiful. It was lyrical and wrought with personification at every opportune moment. Everyday feelings, objects, etc., were given human dispositions that made sense, and added to the quality of writing.

The choice of narrator was unique and made for creative storytelling. I felt like having an ‘impartial,’ or ‘unbiased,’ narrator might have played into my lack of feeling for certain characters. But otherwise, I thought it was a creative aspect of the story. It made the pages go by quicker.

Another thing I liked about this, is something that I often struggle with as far as WW2 books goes. And that is the emotional toll a story takes on you. For me, this one this wasn’t super heavy on the emotions.

Sure, there were parts of it that were sad. And the descriptions of certain things were intended to be heartbreaking, but it wasn’t horrific or super dark like other books set in this era that I’ve previously read. It was just like “meh this is depressing,” but not debilitating where I would need a break from books set during this time period.

I did feel a certain prickling behind my eyes during Part 10. However, the resolution was kind of rushed and glossed over. Which is fine, it served it’s purpose. So there were some redeeming qualities in the final few sections.

I would probably recommend this to people. But I have read other books from this time period that I have enjoyed more, so this one would be just an “if you have the time,” or “if you want to read more experimental type writing,” sort of recommendation from me.

Anyone else not a fan of this one? Or do I stand alone? Any other good recommendations from the WW2 era? Or any other good books in general that you’re reading?

Let me know bookworms!

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Review: Emma in the Night

(Side note: I updated my star rating key, so check the link above for full explanation of what each rating means! :))

Emma in the Night is truly twisted & thrilling read! It’s hard to give this one a long review without giving too much away. Wendy Walker sets up some things pretty early on, but you don’t exactly know when things are going to happen and the full extent to which they occur. She teases the nature of some characters, so you have an idea of what is going to happen, but there were still a couple of twists.

In spite of knowing or being able to anticipate some of the plot twists, I really liked both narrators. Cass & Dr. Winter were great characters, both who kind of understood one another’s psychology without ever having to really talk about it. This bond was fascinating as were the descriptions of narcissistic personality disorder.

A lot of what happens is based on this disorder, and the author does a good job of commenting on it whilst educating the reader more about. As someone who suffers from mental illness, this was kind of fascinating to me.

I think with a psychological thriller like this, it’s important to care about the characters and to also be urged to read on by the author. Walker creates empathetic characters and drives the reader to move forward. I would highly recommend this one.

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Stop by on Thursday, where I will announce my next Throwback Thursday Classic, which you guys will vote for! Check out your choices here, and either DM me via Twitter or cast your vote on my Insta story! I’ll reveal the book with the most votes on Thursday!

Until next time bookworms!

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Bullet Journal Update & Review of The Secret Garden!

Another book finished this week, wow! Who am I, and where is the Lynn who hardly has time for reading & this blog?!

Anyway, I am really excited about this book because it was my first ever Throwback Thursday: Classic Edition, book I finished! So yay!

I am also really excited about this post because I have kind of made some updates to how I’m displaying my books read in my bullet journal. And so I wanted to take a minute to show you all what I’ve done before jumping into my review of The Secret Garden.

So a couple of months ago, I shared how I would be tracking my reading progress for the year with you in this post. But since then, I kind of changed my thought process on how I would keep track of EVERYTHING I was doing. So I ended up enhancing my “Books of 2018,” page a little bit. And voila!

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As you can see I have also included the Amazon logo, to keep track of my Amazon reviews I do. This also helps with points for the BeatTheBacklist Challenge.

And then I took it one step further, and merged my featured quotes page along with my current reads page.

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So I might alternate between providing my favorite quote here in written form, or in some kind of fashion in my BuJo. I haven’t really decided on a set format at this point in time. I think I will just kind of go with the flow with this like I have done so, so far.

And yes, I know these are two very minor things. But I wanted to share them with you, especially those of you who are interested in BuJo related content. 🙂

And now, onto the review. Not really spoilerish, but placing beneath a cut for length sake.

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Review: The Fiery Cross

“When the day shall come, that we do part,” he said softly, and turned to look at me, “if my last words are not ‘I love you’—ye’ll ken it was because I didna have time.”

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For fans of the Outlander series, Jamie & Claire are at it again. Taking our breaths away with the beauty of their words in a poignant manner that doesn’t at all feel cheesy.

Their relationship has literally stood the test of time, even if we always aren’t sure just how much time passes in these books due to the infrequent pacing. And they have not only a love that is one of kind, but a mutual respect and friendship between one another that others for this time period wouldn’t have.

But enough gushing about this crazily strong power couple. Onto the actual content of this book.

So anyone who picks up this book is undoubtedly well invested in this series. At 1,000+ pages a novel, you kind of have to be once you reach the fifth book. Needless to say, this book was more or less filler than anything else to me.

Diana Gabaldon, or DG as I affectionately refer to her, had so much action, suspense & adventure packed into novels 1-4. This one had some elements of action, but the drama was more domestic than anything else.

And I suppose it could be argued that we needed a book like this at this stage in the series. The four main characters really haven’t had an opportunity to live together (that we have seen at least), so it kind of made sense that this one showed the mundane happenings of everyday life.

Even so, did we really need 1443 pages of it? I don’t think so. I know she is big on the details. But come on, there were at least 100 pages where she described Breanna’s love for her child through the way her breasts felt.

Like it’s fine to do it a couple of times to emphasis her bond with him, but this was so excessive to me that it literally became an inside joke between Emma & I. There are other ways to explore feeling and emotion between characters. I mean, she finds new & exciting ways to keep us engaged with Jamie/Claire, and they have been prominently attending to their maternal duties for approximately 5,000 pages. You would think she could do the same with a mother & her child.

That wasn’t the only thing that kind of set my teeth on edge.  Like Fergus and Marsali are Jamie’s adoptive children, and that part of the family were hardly mentioned throughout this narrative. I get that they are more minor characters and we needed the Jamie/Roger scenes in order to establish their importance because up until this point they haven’t interacted a whole lot. But still! Fergus & Marsali have a uniqueness to them that kind of mirrors Jamie & Claire. Whereas, Breanna & Roger’s scenes just feel awkward for me.

I suppose my personal bias and preference of characters really played a role in this review as well.  But you can’t connect with every single character you’re presented with, especially in an epic length series like this one.

In the end, I gave this 3 stars because I felt it was fair. DG clearly put a lot of painstaking details into this novel, and reveals that some seemingly insignificant ones you read earlier and in book four, really are significant. She also leaves a couple of loose ends to keep you guessing where the major conflict in book six will end up.

All in all, you need to approach this series with the mindset that there are going to be books that you enjoy more than others. I am of the belief that if you find a character or two that you love, and want to see where they end up, that you should try to stick to a series until the end. So that is what I think I will be doing with this series.

Also, it’s become a mutual interest for my Belgian bestie & myself. And it’s fun to discuss, and to also vent your frustrations to someone who is reading alongside you. I don’t know that I would have been able to forge ahead as quickly as I did with this book if it wasn’t for me having a buddy to do this with. So for those slow readers out there, I would vote you pair up with a buddy who can help support you through this one.

In terms of ranking the Outlander Books, below is mine, and you can deduce from it where I saw this one. (Side note: I had a bit of a laugh because it is almost in chronological order hah).

  1. Outlander
  2. Voyager
  3. Dragonfly in Amber
  4. Drums of Autumn
  5. The Fiery Cross

How does your ranking of the first 5 books compare? Am I totally off base with my thoughts and feelings? 

Until next time bookworms! Happy reading adventures!

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Coming Up: A review of The Secret Garden 🙂

Review: Angela’s Ashes

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This book held a special meaning to me prior to me even cracking the spine and diving into the first few pages. It was a birthday gift (from last year) from my Belgian bestie, and she was extremely thoughtful in selecting it for me.

Like most American’s, my family was one of immigrants. Although in most cases, I am three generations removed from wherever “the homeland,” was. Even with this in mind, my family is often prouder of our Irish heritage than of any other. Probably because our name has survived, and that part of my family is the most vibrant and exciting. No offense, to my Mom’s family.

Anyway, she chose this book knowing of my interest in learning more about “my people,” and the struggles they might have faced. Unlike Frank McCourt’s family, my great-grandparents remained in America during The Great Depression, and after reading this I’ve started to wonder what would have happened if they went back to Ireland? It was apparent McCourt wondered something similar as far as if his family would have stayed in America.

I’m not trying to pretend to have a similar experience to him at all. My childhood was uneventful, sheltered, and happy. Whereas McCourt’s was chaotic, harsh, and even at times tragic. But I couldn’t help but feel a sense of kinship with him on some level as I read this story.

The aspects of growing up in poverty I cannot relate to. Thankfully I never experienced a parent with a substance abuse problem that thrust us into poverty. We are historically a family of drinkers, and I am always diligent in monitoring just how much we imbibe for the above reason. While my experiences with this are on an infinitesimal scale, my heart went out to Frank’s family whenever his father was on one of his binges.

And then there was the harshness of being Catholic and coming from an Irish Catholic family. Yes, even seventy or eighty years later, I still feel the weight of Catholic guilt and teachings that are kept alive in my part of the world today. Going to a Catholic school, being mentally ridiculed (I think they banned the physical ridiculing after McCourt’s time), and basically always believing you were destined for hell, along with having a larger family and constantly being involved in their business.

McCourt makes the gravity of these situations almost comical. Because well, they are. Anyone who has been belittled or punished at the hands of church officials can relate to the ridiculousness of their teachings at times. If you’re looking for opportunities to be amused by Catholic-ism’s, you surely won’t be disappointed by what you find here.

I also really enjoyed McCourt’s writing style. He begins telling it with the innocence and curiosity of a young child, and his voice matures as he grows up in the novel. He has a way of seamlessly blending external actions and dialogue into internalizations of his personal experiences. 

He questions a lot of what takes place in his life, posing simple solutions to grave issues. And I suspect that is a coping method, given the circumstances in which he was brought up.

All in all, this was a great read. I’m not usually one for memoirs, but I felt this one was special. I gave it four stars, and would highly recommend to anyone looking for a real life story of triumph in the face of adversity.  

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Review: The Whiskey Sea

The Whiskey Sea Cover

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Motherless and destitute, Frieda Hope is determined to make a better life for herself and her sister, Bea. The girls are taken in by a kindly fisherman named Silver, and Frieda begins to feel at home on the water. When Silver sells his fishing boat to WWI veteran Sam Hicks, thinking Sam would be a fine husband for Frieda, she’s outraged. But Frieda manages to talk Sam into teaching her to repair boat engines instead, so she has a trade of her own and won’t have to marry.

Frieda quickly discovers that a mechanic’s wages won’t support Bea and Silver, and is lured into a money-making team of rumrunners supplying alcohol to New York City speakeasies. Speeding into dangerous waters to transport illegal liquor, Frieda gets swept up in the lucrative, risky work—and swept off her feet by a handsome Ivy Leaguer who’s in it just for fun.

Just finished my third read of 2018, and decided that I need to write my first post since move in day approximately two weeks ago! I’m thrilled that I can count this as my 2/30 read of the year on my Goodreads Challenge & that it also classifies as my first #BeatTheBacklist read of the year! Yay for progress being made!

Now onto my thoughts on The Whiskey Sea by Ann Howard Creel.

I was surprised by how much I liked this one! I got it as a freebie for my Kindle, but honestly, I probably would have paid money for this one based on the synopsis alone. This is one of those stories that constantly catches you by surprise in some ways, but is utterly predictable in others.

The beginning frames Frieda and Bea’s life with Silver as ones of those “David and Goliath,” or “underdog upset,” stories. You genuinely care about them, know the whole world is against them and everything that is their existence, but you want them to win it all in the end. Read More »

Book Review: The Chalk Man

The Chalk Man

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In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown and thinks he’s put his past behind him, but then he gets a letter in the mail containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank–until one of them turns up dead. That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Based on the synopsis, this sounds like a promising read. Maybe even slightly suggestive of the Netflix series, Stranger Things. Minus, the aliens and super powers, of course. But still, I had such a good feeling about this one. And it started out mildly intriguing.

It was a bit slow to get into. It wasn’t until I hit page 83 when I had a response of, “Ok, now you have my full attention.” But the feeling didn’t last long. I felt my mind wandering at certain points (particularly in the adult Ed sections), and having to reread a sentence here, or a paragraph there a couple of times. Granted, I do have personal problems with focusing, but I have also read books where I’ve forgotten reality and my surroundings. For me, this book wasn’t that engrossing.Read More »