A beautiful mess…a review of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

QuestionsSometimes when I sit down to write my blog posts, my book reviews, I find it really tricky to begin…to know where it is that I should start – today is one of those days. I’ve spent the last twenty minutes faffing around googling quotations from The Book Thief (which I’m supposed to be reviewing). It’s helped in a way, the spirit of the book which I finished a couple of weeks ago now has returned to me somewhat. It has also hindered, for it has confirmed to me the enormity of the task I’m trying to complete. I think it’s far, far easier to review a book which you dislike, a book which angers you or a book which you consider poor. To review a book you rate and esteem, that’s a weightier task altogether. And so it is that I find myself struggling for an adequate beginning, an opening if you like. Where to begin?

“Even death has a heart.”  cover

As you may have already gleaned, I was very impressed by Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, it’s one of those books that you know will stay with you all your life. Aptly, it will haunt you. I say ‘aptly’ because this book is a story about death, and consequently life. It is narrated by the most omnipotent of all narrators, death himself. It opens,


You are going to die.” and then,

“…does this worry you?” Continue reading


Filed under 21st century, Books, Fiction, Markus Zusak, Novel, Reading

Knowledge and power…a review of The World of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin.

dragonI know, I know it’s been several millennia since I last posted, but I have finally finished a book. Hurrah! I am still making my way through The Book Thief, but in the meantime I’ve finished reading George R. R. Martin’s encyclopaedic book The World of Ice and Fire. It’s a massive book with more detail than I possibly imagined it might contain, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed poring over its pages. Let me state from the outset that if you haven’t read Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series of books then there’d be very little point in your reading this latest offering. The World of Ice and Fire is very much a companion book to the author’s more famous series. Indeed, The World of Ice and Fire is really something of a historical tome detailing the history of Martin’s story world – from the seven Kingdoms in Westeros to the less familiar lands of Essos across the Narrow Sea.

The book itself is giant not only in that it contains a massive volume of information and is 336 pages long, but also in the sense that physically it measures a whopping 30.9cm in height. I ended up reading it either at a table or with my trusty cushioned laptray underneath in order to support its weight. This is not a book you can hold in the air just below your nose, that us, unless you have muscles like Garth. However, that said, the book’s weight and appearance do serve to heighten the perception that you are reading some great history found in the annals of Martin’s Citadel. Continue reading


Filed under 21st century, Books, Fantasy, Fiction, George R. R. Martin

Family, the eternal city and a dollop of Jane Austen for good measure.

roma 2

I’ve read my way to this latest blog post in rather a roundabout way. A few weeks ago now I read Nicky Pellegrino’s When In Rome and have been mulling it over whilst trying to find time to sit down and blog about it. In the meantime, I’ve busied my reading moments with a book that my Dad got out of the library for me, a collection of essays entitled A Truth Universally Acknowledged: 33 Reasons Why We Can’t Stop Reading Jane Austen. I also decided to simultaneously re-read Pride and Prejudice in order to make my perspective on the essays more fresh. So, as you can see, although absent from the blog-o-sphere, I have been busily reading behind the scenes.

PantheonI enjoyed When In Rome, initially I presumed it was going to be the typical boy-meets-girl fodder of your average chick-lit novel, however, this turned out not to be the case. Set in 1950s Rome, the novel is much more about families and the tangled webs that bind them together. Our narrator is a young girl called Serafina who lives in a small apartment with her mother and two younger sisters. Serafina is very much at a crossroads in her life, at nineteen, she cannot continue playing ‘little-mama’ at home bringing up her younger sisters; but must decide upon her place within the world. Does she want to follow in her mother’s footsteps and dress up for an evening’s work, meeting wealthy men in hotel rooms across the city; if not, what course will she take? Continue reading


Filed under 21st century, Books, Fiction, Jane Austen, Nicky Pellegrino, Reading

Refreshingly pithy…a review of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith.

The SilkwormAs more regular readers will know, I reviewed The Cuckoo’s Calling (the first in Galbraith’s Cormoron Strike novels) back in April last year and thoroughly enjoyed it; so, when I heard that a second book was coming out I knew that it had to go on my ‘to read’ list. Sometimes when you read a good book and then hear about a sequel you can feel a little apprehensive – unsure whether the author will be able to work the same magic a second time, or wondering if the premise of the story will stretch to a second novel – not so with Galbraith (or should I say J. K. Rowling as she was unmasked as its author shortly after the publication of the first book).

I never had concerns about The Silkworm, feeling that with Rowling I was undoubtedly in safe hands. I wasn’t disappointed. Just like A Cuckoo’s Calling, I was totally gripped by The Silkworm and tore through its pages at an alarming rate. Rowling’s writing, whatever her subject, has the smoothest flow to it, it’s never clunky or overly wordy. Rather like the strikesmooth pints of ale her hero likes to consume, her prose streams cooly from the page to your brain with very little effort on your part and leaves you feeling refreshed. I think, for me, ‘refreshing’ very much hits the nail on the head for how I would describe Rowling’s writing. It is such an uninterrupted easy read; and I have found this to be true with every book of hers I’ve ever read – from Harry Potter to The Casual Vacancy, each book is imbued with her beautifully flowing, concise style.  Continue reading


Filed under 21st century, Books, Fiction, J.K. Rowling, Novel, Robert Galbraith