Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

book thiefThis is another borderline YA/Adult fiction book, and one that I believe truly has something for all. The story is narrated by death, and the encounters that he has with Liesel, a young girl adopted by a German family in a small town.

On the superficial level of the book, it is a story about Liesel’s love of books, and the friends that she makes through this passion, and the stories of her book thievery. This on it’s own is enough to keep a reader hooked. Yet, when you get deeper into the book and focus on the historical and political factors, you can see it is much more than this.

The Book Thief is at least in some way a protest of the fear of open mindedness and culture in Nazi Germany, it is a protest about the treatment of Jews (as I expect most things set within this time period would be – nobody agrees with the Holocaust, right?), it is a protest of hypocrisy and barbarism.

Above all, it is a well written and powerful novel that manages to evoke strong emotions, and forces a connection with the reader and the main character. I love the boldness of having death narrate the book, and I think it is a device that really does work.

I would recommend this to all.



On Music

Music is an inspiration, a basic pleasure that without leads to a less colourful life. Without music I find life black and white, mono-chromed and monotoned.

I’m not a particularly musically gifted person, but music plays such a huge part in my life, gives highlights to my ups and downs, and I am striving to understand the role that music plays for me.

Over years and years of hard work, I taught myself how to play the clarinet and the piano, and am now attempting to learn to play guitar, so that I may have a better understanding of this amazing art that gives me so much to live for.

I’m starting by learning how to play ‘Feelin’ Alright’ by Rebelution, which is basically the soundtrack to my life.

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

the-fault-in-our-stars-coverI was given this book by a friend a while ago but only got around to reading it a couple of months ago for two reasons: 1. I hadn’t heard much about John Green previously (I know – I was living under a rock) so I wasn’t in a particular hurry to read it and 2. I didn’t think it was the kind of book that I would enjoy, what with me being slightly past the ‘young adult’ phase (or so I thought).

However, I am incredibly glad that I did get around to reading it. I have recently started reading young adult books, as I have begun tutoring teenagers in English and thought this would be a good way to get them involved in reading – and I have to say that this is one of the best YA books that I have read.

This book is very well written, with a narrator so innocent and humble that you cannot help but feel for. The characters in this novel have such believable personalities, even if their situations may not always seem realistic. And the content of this story is so inspiring that I hope young people will read it and cherish the lives they have.

This is a modern tragic comedy which at points will have you laughing and crying simultaneously. I will be recommending this to future students and to adults alike. This is not typical young adult fiction (starring vampires and werewolves, etc), it is more of a bridge between teenage and adult.

Thank you John Green, it was a fantastic read and I will certainly be reading more of your work in the future.


Book Review: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

americanpsycho1I have read American Psycho before, but recently reread it after having to buy a new copy (my copy was destroyed after my brother took it along on his 3 year journey around Australia and Asia).

The first thing that strikes me about American Psycho, as it should anyone with a normal functioning brain, is that it is sickening. It is stomach churning, vomit inducing and generally sickening.

American Psycho gets deep into the mind of the narrator, Patrick Bateman – professional serial killer and part time businessman. Sorry, I shouldn’t confuse you by saying that he is a professional serial killer. No one is employing him, he does it for fun, it’s just that he is so good at it.

I find myself biting my lip when reading American Psycho, consciously telling myself that it is not real, it is definitely not real, but there are parts of the book that I cannot even read. The part about the boy in the zoo for example – if you are particularly sensitive and attempt to read this book, just skim over that bit.

Nonetheless, I have to say that Ellis’s writing is outstanding. The ability to make something feel so real that you fear for a moment that it is actually happening. The fact that you get so immersed in Patrick Bateman’s mind that you somehow feel responsible for his actions. I will read this again in the future, and feel just as disgusted as I did the first time reading it, but I will keep coming back because the writing style is just unbeatable.

Also, as a side note, the film with Christian Bale is a really good adaptation. Bale captures the character well, and American Psycho is the first film in which I really appreciated his acting abilities. I was sad not to get tickets to the musical as they were all sold out, but I would love to see how they captured the story on stage.


Studying with the OU and other life

A little while ago I wrote that I do not believe whole heartedly in University. Unless you decide to do something with your university education, it just seems a moot point. I recently, however, discovered that I would like to do something with education, or rather in education. For about 2 years now I have been stuck in administrative jobs, and although I have worked in great places and met amazing people, my job roles have just left me unfulfilled. I miss the days of working with children, the interactivity, the enjoyment.

I used to work with children with special needs, mostly with autism. And I have decided to return to this, and will be starting a new job in just over a week. Alongside my new career, I am studying with the Open University for my Ba in English Literature. I hope that when I finish my degree, I will be in a position where I can go into teaching, specifically special needs teaching. Also, rather hypocritically of me, I missed studying. I missed the pressure, the deadlines, the responsibility and the fun of it.

As well as all of this, I am moving from London to Yorkshire in 7 days, with my much better half, and we are starting a life their. (Very strange feeling for two born and raised Londoners). So right now my life is full of balls in the air that I am trying to juggle without letting any drop.

Currently I am studying my first ever module with the OU, AA100 The Arts Past and Present, and am so far loving it.

And please, do not despair…there will be reviews and more to come.

I have returned

Like Sherlock Holmes making a surprise re entry after the Reichenbach Falls, I have returned. I have had great fun making cakes, which I am still doing, although not as intensely. I have recently returned to University, studying English Literature with the OU, and thought it was about time I returned to my great love of all things literary.

I’m glad to be back.

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