Book Review: The Book Thief

Inspired Life with Jess || Monday 14

I’m going to start by saying that I loved this book! Right from the start, I was hooked, and I think it was because of the interesting writing style, since this book is narrated by Death.

The Book Thief is based in Germany between 1939-1943 during World War 2. It centers around the life of 9-year-old Liesel Meminger, who is sent to live with a foster family, the Hubermann’s. She makes some great friends while there, and develops a love for books with the help of her foster-father when he teaches her to read. She starts to collect them early on, picking up the first one, The Gravedigger’s Handbook, from the snow just after her brother’s death, and then stealing more as she comes across them on her journeys, and eventually turning to writing her own.

Death narrates the story after encountering her multiple times starting with her brother’s passing, and on the final time, when he picks up her journal, leading to him retelling her story about the political situation in Germany deteriorating and her exposure to the horrors she encounters in a war-torn world.

It is very well written, and jumps between Death’s thought’s and Liesel’s experiences quite seamlessly. Markus Zusak is quite talented to write in such a way and paint such a vivid picture. Right from the start I was captivated with the story, and was only disappointed at the very end since I felt like the book ended a little too early for me and could have had a bit more detail about what happens to Liesel at the end of the story. Overall, I give this a 4.5/5 though.

 

Book Review: Eat Pray Love

Inspired Life with Jess || Book Review: Eat Pray Love

Eat Pray Love is about a woman’s journey to find what she really wants in life after she finds herself panicked and confused over where she was in life. She had what could be considered a perfect life with a successful career, husband and house, but felt like there was something missing. The book talks about how she left her old life behind and followed her heart to learn about pleasure and indulging in Italy, devotion and faith in India and balance in Indonesia, to come out the other side happy and fulfilled.

I don’t usually read memoirs, or all that much about self-discovery, but this one has been on my reading list for quite a while. I finally brought it when my sisters’ and I decided to start a family book club, and this was the first pick. While I found it harder take in during parts of the book compared to the young adult books I usually choose, I did really enjoy this book, and managed to learn from it as well. It took me about 3 weeks to get through, and most of the way though, it reminded me that we are all responsible for our own happiness, even if it is sometimes hard to work out what it is we want, and even harder to let go of society’s expectations about what we should do.

Elizabeth Gilbert is a very likable character in her own book, and with the way she writes, I found her book to be easy to read. Yes, she glossed over a lot of the harder and more personal details of her tale, but that helps to give the book the upbeat feeling that it has. To be quite honest, if she went too deep into the details about depression or loneliness, it would not have been as interesting a read.

What I would have liked would have been more details about the places that she went… The names of the restaurants, little gems about the places she explored, things like that. I understand this is not just a travelogue though, so I can see how those little details that I love about travel could come across as out-of-place in a story like this. One of the things I really like is that it wasn’t preachy and overly religious, even though she did explore the topics of devotion and faith in India. I think she had an interesting way of exploring it, to say the least!

After reading this book, I now really want to watch the movie as well!

Book Review: Wicked Lovely Books

Wicked-LovelyI’m going to start this post by saying the Wicked Lovely books by Melissa Marr will not be for everyone. I love young adult books, but I know not everyone else feels the same. And these books are about faeries, which is a little out there for some. The first book, Wicked Lovely, did however make it up to number 2 on the New York Times bestseller list and stayed there for 11 weeks, which is always a good sign!

Wicked Lovely: The first book in this series focuses on Aislinn, a mortal who has the Sight and can all of the horrible things that faeries do. She managed to attract the attention of Keenan, a powerful faerie king who is looking for his missing queen, and suddenly everything she knew about the faery world is turned upside down. She falls for her best friend, Seth, and together they face the faery world that she is suddenly dragged into.

Ink Exchange: The second book in this series focuses on the power struggle between the faerie courts now that the Summer King has come into full power. The Dark Court has been left vulnerable, and now their ruler, Irial, needs to try to find a way to look after them. Along comes Leslie, a friend of Aislinn’s, who know nothing of faeries existence. Her life is in chaos, and when she sees a tattoo she falls in love with and convinces herself it will change her life. It does change her, but in doing so, it binds her to Irial and draws her into the sinister part of the faery world that she knew nothing about.

Fragile Eternity: Book 3 focuses on Seth. He’s fallen for Aislinn, and now that she’s an immortal faery queen, he wants to find a way to be with her forever. Keenan is not too thrilled with that, since he stole Aislinn’s mortality to make her his queen, so he spends his time trying to win her affections. Seth seeks a way to make himself immortal, and in seeking out the High Queen, he disappears into the world of Faerie for way too long, which only draws the Summer King and Queen closer. All the while, the Faery world is in chaos, teetering on the brink of war.

Radiant Shadows: The fourth book focuses on Ani, the half-human, half-faery, and Devlin, who is the brother of the High Queen and her twin, War, along with being the High Queen’s assassin. Devlin was tasked to kill Ani, and instead ends up trying to keep her safe from his sisters, who both want her dead. Ani, however, likes to fight battles of her own, since she is part of the Dark Court, and has the courage to protect herself. They are drawn together as they fight keep Ani alive, but with all the threats surrounding them and the fate of Faerie, their odds do not look too good.

Darkest Mercy: The faery world goes to war in the final book of the series. The Summer King is missing, and a new faery comes to town, who signifies the death of other powerful faeries. Aslinn has to look after the Summer Court on her own while searching for her king. Seth, who is sworn brother to the Dark King, and heir to the Winter Queen, ends up making a mistake that could kill him. The Winter Queen, Donia, readies her court for battle, and Keenan is off searching for allies. Throughout the book, War weaves her magic to create chaos and discord until she gets what she is after, and this ends with some losing everything.

These books had me in suspense, especially towards the end. I could not wait to find out what happens next as I moved on to the next book in the series! They were different to what I usually read… Up until this point, I’ve never read any books about faeries, but these kept me hooked.

The thing I loved the most about these books is the perspective used throughout the series… Each book only focuses on a couple of the characters and how they are intertwined, and each chapter changes between the perspective of one of these characters. It’s a really different style of writing I’ve not come across before. And the best part is, tonight I realised there are some side stories that were put out as eBooks, so over the next couple of weeks, I will have some more reading to do!

 

 

 

 

 

A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book

A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea BookI’ve been hooked on the blog, A Beautiful Mess, for quite a while now. The writers, sisters Elsie and Emma, come up with so many fun projects and great recipes, and always have such awesome photos. When I saw them announce that they were release a photo idea book, I had to get in and preorder it right away!

I had to wait quite a while for my preorder to arrive, since it shipped from the US. When it finally got here, I had to wait even longer to be able to pick it up from Mum’s and even when I finally had it in my hands, I didn’t have time to open it for about 2 weeks… So lame! It was so nice to have some time to sit down over the weekend and finally start looking through it!

Here is the books official description:

Whether it’s of your sister’s smile, your morning coffee, or your new puppy, photos are a way to connect on Facebook and Instagram, keep a visual diary of our lives, and create momentos for future generations. Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman, creators of the mega-popular DIY style blog A Beautiful Mess, are in love with photographing everyday life. Here, they share that love with 95 all-new tips and photo challenges that will inspire you to style and snap better photos and then transform them into simple yet stunning projects and gifts. You’ll learn how to:

   • Take the most flattering self-portraits 
• Be your own stylist to turn dull, cluttered photos into pretty lifestyle photography
• Capture adorable couple portraits
• Turn everyday moments, hobbies, and rituals into amazing photos
• Show off your favorite photos by turning them into handmade jewelry, home décor, and gifts

Packed with Elsie and Emma’s happy spirit and unique style, A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book will inspire you to capture your days, your friends, and your dreams in beautiful photos!

From what I have seen so far, the book had done all this and so much more! This book is in no way about the technical aspect of photography. Instead, it goes through a whole lot of creative ideas to try out and challenge yourself. The book would be fun for photographers of any level, using any type of camera, from a phone right up to an SLR. There is something for everyone here, and even a pro photographer would likely walk away with a whole bunch of new ideas to try!

I now have a whole list of ideas I want to try, and even brought myself a little notebook to keep with my DSLR as my own photo idea book! Some of my favourites include getting awesome couple and family photos, using props and backgrounds for photos, playing with light in different ways, photographing motion and photographing in macro, making custom filters, photographing everyday life, ideas for self portraits, plenty of photography challenges, and of course, ideas on how to display photos (I’m so looking forward to using some of these ideas once we get into the new place and I can have more on display!).

My first challenge that I’m going to try from this book is working on self portraits. I’m going to reread this section of the book again over the next few days, and then I’ll start the 30 day self-portrait challenge. I’m even going to make it more interesting and aim to take most of the photos on my DSLR, since I’ve been getting in as much practice as I can!

This book is one of the best books I’ve read lately, especially since I love taking beautiful and creative photos of everyday life. Even my sister loves the book just from flipping through it for half an hour or so! With is well worth the dollars spent, that’s for sure!

 

Book Review: Inferno by Dan Brown

I love Dan Brown books. I’ve read every one of them, and I think he is an amazing writer. I also believe that he must put a huge amount of research into writing his books, since there is so much historical background and factual information used within each one. When I saw that he had released a new book a couple of months back, to say I had very high expectations of it is an understatement! Happily, the book did not disappoint!

Inferno

This is Dan Brown’s 4th book starring Robert Langdon, a professor of Symbology at Harvard. As always, Robert is in a foreign country racing against time to solve a mystery that could lead to a very gruesome end to the world. His had been enlisted to help the World Health Organisation to solve a series of mysteries presented to them by a mysterious person, in the hopes that they can stop the release of a plague. His task is to work through the history and symbology surrounding the great literary work, Dante’s Inferno, written in the 14th century by Dante Alighieri, a challenge created by the mystery man.

To make it even more suspense filled, he only has a day to solve the mystery. That and he wakes up in a hospital not knowing how he even got to be overseas or anything else that had happened in the last 2 days, and then finds out that he’s been shot in the head and has a mysterious organisation, that may be part of the US government, trying to kill him while he seeks the answers needed to save the world.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I have to say this book is well worth the read! It has also piqued my interest in Italy again, and I now have an urge to start a scrapbook of our time there in 2010. On a side note, I also have an urge to read Dante’s Inferno now to see what all the fuss is about, since its used as the inspiration behind so many works of art, books, movies and such.

 

Book Review: Makedde Vanderwall Series

Tara Moss Books

Since January, I have read all 6 of the books in the Makedde Vanderwall series by Tara Moss. I have to say, I’ve been well hooked!

Makedde, the main character, is a Canadian model and student (studying forensic psychology), who came to Australia to see her best friend, only to find her friend’s body after she’s been killed by the serial killer who becomes known as the Stiletto Killer, based on his obsession with feet and stilettos. The first book goes through the investigation to find her friend’s killer, while falling in love with the lead detective.

As it turns out, Makedde is a psycho magnet  and attracts the attention of numerous serial killers throughout the books. In book two, she’s back home living in Canada, only to get tangled up in another serial killer case, where her ex-Australian lover ends up coming in to consult on the case after studying with the FBI. Book three has her back in Australia for the trial of the Stiletto killer, and things pick up again between her and her Australia detective, yet she ends up tangled up in another drama with the Stiletto Killer when he escapes, so she flees the country. In the fourth book, her and the lead detective get serious about their relationship, and she moves in with him in Australia. She ends up working as a private investigator, where she’s hired to look into the death of 21-year-old girl. While she discovers what happened to the girl, she ends up in the line of fire of one of Australia’s riches families. The fifth book, sees hired by the mother of a 19-year-old boy, to track him down when he goes missing. This case leads her half way around the globe before drama unfolds and she ends up going missing herself. Book six has all of her family and friend’s grieving, believing her to be dead, only for her to end up back in Australia and tangled up with the rich Australian family who still want her dead.

I loved these books! They are a lot more detailed and graphic that I expected coming from a female writer, but she sets the scene and develops the characters well. You can see and understand the changes the main character goes through, and it’s great to see such a strong female main character, even when her vulnerable side is shown. As an indication of how good these books are, I finished the first book at about 4am the same night I started reading it! I paced the rest out though.

I can’t believe I’ve had the first 5 of these sitting on my bookshelf for about 4 years now! I chose a good time to read them though, with book six only having been released in September last year though… I can’t stand having to wait months or years to read the next book in a series if it’s a great book! I reread every Harry Potter book when a new one was released just because I can’t just pick up the last book and read! I was a bit frustrated that I couldn’t get a copy with a matching cover though… And I paid $30 for the last one, whereas the other 5 only cost me $10 each, which stung a little, but I’m glad I got it!