Friday, March 28, 2014

Best Books Of March

Here are the best books that I read this month. The summaries and pictures come from Goodreads, and the reviews are mine.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

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.

My review: The narrator, Death, tells the story of an orphan, Liesel Meminger, and several families living outside of Munich during WWII.

This is by far the best book I've read this year. It's the kind of book that makes you sit in stunned silence for a few seconds after finishing it. The story is a familiar one, but the writing is poetic and beautiful. There were several times where I stopped and reread sentences or whole paragraphs because I liked them so much. This is some of the most interesting writing I've ever seen in a young adult book. The strangeness of the language totally fits Death, the strange, nonhuman narrator.

I do understand the negative reviews that this book gets. It's experimental, the narrator is extremely intrusive, the writing draws attention to itself, the book is hard to read quickly, and the story isn't anything new. However, none of that bothered me. I thought this book was fascinating.


The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & The Olympians Book 1) – Rick Riordan

I read most of the books in this series this month, and I loved the entire series. The first book wasn’t my favorite, but I don’t want to spoil the series if you haven’t read it, so I’m only posting the first book here.

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.

Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

My review: This book is fun. I enjoyed it a lot, and I know that I would have gone nuts over it if I had read it as a ten-year-old instead of as an adult. The author has a wonderful sense of humor. There were several literal laugh-out-loud moments. Percy is a very likable character, and I think a lot of kids can relate to his struggles with school and his conflicts with his obnoxious stepfather.

My favorite element of the story was the fact that the characters' "disabilities" were actually strengths or coverups for something awesome. The wheelchair was actually hiding the fact that the man in the wheelchair was a centaur, ADHD helps kids become great warriors, that type of thing. I thought it was clever, and it sends a good message to young readers.

This book is very similar to Harry Potter, so if you liked those books, you might like this one. For adult readers, a lot of the plot twists are predictable. I was always a few steps ahead of the characters. They kept making the same stupid mistakes over and over (and over). Young readers probably won't notice this as much as adult readers.

If I had to pick something that I didn't like about the book, it would be the editing and printing. There were very obvious typos and errors. The words on some of the pages were blurred or smeared. The ink had bled through the paper in some places. It made me very happy that I'm not dyslexic. C'mon, Disney, if you want to publish books, you'll have to do better.


All The Things = 24 books. (It just keeps growing.)
I’m currently reading: The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson & The Olympians Book 5) – Rick Riordan.

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