The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Published: March 14th 2006 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 552
Rating: 5 stars

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.

"Even death has a heart."
-- Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

I had heard a million things of The Book Thief before I started reading it. Almost all of them were so positive it was hard to believe. It almost made it feel like an over-hyped book. Nevertheless, I starting reading and flew through those pages. Before I knew it I was hugging my copy because I finished it. Count this in as one of my new all-time favourites.

Looking at The Book Thief as a whole, I can agree with everyone and say that the impact of the writing style on the novel isn't something to ignore. Markus Zusak's writing style is either something you love or hate. I personally had a love-hate relationship with it, especially in the beginning. I fancied the way he composed his sentences. Each word seemed to be chosen with care. Lots of descriptions and a perfect plot twist, but also many flash-forwards and flashbacks. I've probably read something with a flash-forward or two, yet they weren't so clear as with this book. I just loved the way they were used. I must admit there were times I was confused by both the flash-forwards and flashbacks. Were we still in one, or already back at the present? Did this character actually die right now or is his death still to come? Despite all this, I felt like they didn't matter that much. They're easily overlooked. When I was confused by something, it never lasted long enough to be an issue. I mean, they are the reason why I finished this baby in three days.

Not only was the writing crucial for its pace, the plot on the other hand also had something to do with it. You can look at it as a beautiful combination. They're all so neatly woven together you just can't look at them as separate objectives. Back to the plot; it's actually nothing that special really. This kind of plot can easily be compared to many other war novels. In the end you wouldn't find that many differences. What made The Book Thief special was the narration and the little details. To start off with the narration, it was the thing that got me to read this book. Have you ever read a book told from Death's perspective besides this? No, me neither. It's a risky decision the author made, but it turned out to be beautiful. I don't think it could be told in any other way. It's haunting and beautiful. About the little details, I'm talking about how the plot got together in the end. Sometimes you don't know what kind of importance a chapter has, until you reach another chapter that connects with it. Markus Zusak made all these little connections throughout the book so they all got together in the end. For example, with Liesel stealing books, it all leads up to writing her own. And that element then connects to another which creates the perfect ending. I'm telling you, how all these little things manged to create such a perfect novel is hard to explain. I can just say I absolutely love it.

Going into a small in-depth paragraph about the ending, there is so much I want to say. When I first read the flash-forward, I had to blink a few times to understand its meaning. After the blinking I re-read the sentences. I found it hard to believe. Maybe it wasn't true. I mean, it was only something that seemed random and not in place. However, as I started to make my way to the very end, I was in a huge state of denial. I literally had to contain myself for not yelling and calling Markus Zusak a cruel human being, because I was at a family party. The pages after that were both just sad and heart-warming and my feels were all over the place.

I have a weakness for normal but realistic characters. The Book Thief was full of them. All these wonderful personalities, the friendships made and the not so surprising but still incredibly sweet romance... Every character is there for a reason and has its own contribution to the story. I was attached to all of them. As anyone else who's read the book, I just adored Max. He was the character I melted for. His actions, his choice of words, everything about him was adoring. Moving onto the relationships, I'm currently speechless to express all my feels regarding them. They were all powerful and heart-warming. It's all so adorable, you just can't not care for all of this.

I think it's pretty clear now why The Book Thief is one of my new favourite's of all time. Not only did I immediately fell for the characters, the writing style is what made this book so perfect. I could go on and on and say how much I loved it, but I think I've come to a point where I realise I still have homework to do.

I am going to watch the film and curl up in a ball and cry.
20582740Swordplay by Katharina Gerlach
Published: January 31st by Independent Bookworm
Pages: 289

Despite her obvious lack of magical talent, nineteen year old Moira Bellamie apprentices with the Gendarmerie Magique, the magical police. She puts all her effort into solving a burglary at the National Museum where antique weapons have been stolen, to keep the hard won job. Falling for her partner Duidus wasn't part of the plan. When more and more people are murdered with one of the stolen weapons, Moira must tame uncontrollable magic, or the people she cares for will die, her partner first and foremost.

"Here you've got it black on yellow. I am handicapped. I do not like to be favored, but I will get hired."
Madame de Frees held out her hands defensively. "I will make a copy and add it to my report."
"That's not enough. For all my life, I never wanted anything else but to join the Gendarmerie Magique." 
- Katharina Gerlach, Swordplay

Thanks to Katharina Gerlach for providing me with a copy of this book!

Do you know that feeling, when you receive a book in the mail and have good expectations about it because you read an awesome synopsis? Maybe you didn't, but I certainly did. It sounded so awesome, something like I've never read before. Fantasy combined with a typical murder-mystery. Turns out, Swordplay does not even come close to being a fantasy, and even less to YA.

From characters to the actual plot, I didn't find anything that could hold my interest. There was depth missing in every character, and talking about them: sometimes it felt like some were just thrown in there for no particular reason. It made everything even more confusing. Just like the characters, several storylines seemed to be thrown in and didn't connect in any way, leaving me unsatisfied with the end. Nothing came across as realistic. At times I had to remind myself that Moira was actually nineteen, and that Druidus wasn't a five-year-old. This leads me to the romance, and it isn't something I'd ship. It feels way too forced, and Swordplay could have been a way better novel, if it hadn't been for the unbelievability of everything.

The writing style is in my opinion the best thing out of the entire book, only there has to be another issue. While reading, I constantly asked myself why in the world was this written in the third-person view, when some of her thoughts were written in first-person in Italic? This didn't make any sense, especially when her other thoughts were just in third-view again.

The pace usually does wonders to book, if there was a pace to be found. In the end, I had to put all of my effort into finishing this book. Despite its short length, Swordplay definitely wasn't a book I enjoyed, and I'm really sad to have written such a negative review on a book I thought I'd love.

13362536Opal (Lux, #3) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published: December 11th 2012 by Entangled Teen
Pages: 452

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn't fooling around. Doubting him isn't something I'll do again, and now that we've made it through the rough patches, well... There's a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can't protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I'm no longer the same Katy. I'm different... And I'm not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I'm capable of. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won't turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we're stronger... and they know it.

A slow, wry smile teased Daemon's lips. "Simmer down, Kitten, before I have to get you a ball of yarn to play with."
Annoyance flared deep inside me. "Don't start with me, jerk-face."
-- Jennifer L. Armentrout, Opal

Warning: slight spoilers ahead for Obsidian, Onyx and Opal (Lux #1, #2 and #3)

Since I've finished Onyx, the second book in the Lux series, it took a while for me to start the third book. It was not like I expected it to be, and that's what made me curious about what this one had to offer. Everything was left on a rather hectic point in the story. This one, however, was so much better! Though I did have little issues, Opal surprised me in a very good way.

The romance has to be one of the best things out of the entire book. The relationship between Katy and Daemon first started off in a unusual way, you can't not admit that. Yet with each book you feel their connection growing, and it has reached perfection. They're finally accepted their love for each other and their passion is there.Their dates and sweet moments are to die for, everyone wants a relationship like that. At least, I do. Oh, I just loved how their relationship developed and all their sweet moments. They're both so caring for each other. The romance showed Daemon's soft side, and I loved it. I love it. I absolutely love it.

What I also loved about Onyx was what it did to the characters. Some disappear for a while, as others come back as a whole new addition to the story. This definitely made the plot very interesting. I loved how the book built up to their big mission. It was something that kept me excited and at the edge of my chair, especially when I got closer to the end. I loved how their first attempt falls apart, and even the second one. It proves in what of a situation they're actually in. It's dangerous and full of suspense and mystery. However, talking about their big mission, I feel like something was off about that story line. One moment they're there to fix everything, and a few chapters later they're training again. The training and first try in general fell flat and were a little bit too easy too look over. I can't put my finger on it, I just, I feel like there's something missing with that story line. Talking about other crucial parts of the plot, I don't think there's anything that feels less well done. There's a really good balance between deeper scenes and other, more light-hearted ones. This book always had an amount of suspense, and I loved that.

Despite what everyone else thought, I didn't feel like I was missing pages at the end. I don't have mixed feelings, because I thought it was so well done. It left on a perfect climax that doesn't make it impossible to not start Origin, the fourth book in the series, although she left it at a pretty difficult situation. It feels like I can jump right into it, without having that stupid pressure after a book with a cliffhanger. That is something I loved about this book. It opened up a whole new plot for the next book, and I can't wait what Armentrout has in store for her readers. Right now I'm in need to start typing like a crazy fangirl, but I'm just going to keep those feelings to myself and say that the ending was just heart-pounding and crazy. Be warned.

Another issue that was noticeable while reading, was the pace. It has always been a little issue I had with this series, and after Onyx I must admit: I was scared for this in Opal. It seems like a pattern throughout the series: first the book starts off at a rather slow pace, but as it progresses it gets better and better until the end where it crushes your heart. This was the case with the previous two, and I'm kind of sad to admit that it was the same with this book. The only difference here was that the pace built up to the so-called climax, to completely fall and to start slow once again. It has always bothered me, and right now I'm crossing my fingers in the hope of a difference with Origin.

There are quite a few new characters introduced in this book. An as I said earlier, every character brought along a story line. Looking at the overall crew of new characters, I like them all. They're all unique and have something to add to the story. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of them in the future. The changes in the regular cast, however, are palpable. While Daemon was the most likeable character in Opal, Katy managed to annoy me at times. I'm not all too crazy for her new I don't care, I love it-attitude, because it brings along recklessness, and look at where she is now.
 I adored a certain death, but was sad about others. With others, I just mean the relationship between Katy and Dee. What happened? I really don't like where this is heading. I didn't like it because the sweet moments between the two just weren't there. At times I was in need of one of their moments, and instead I got a fight with arguments that made no sense. I don't understand why Dee is acting like this. Sure, blame it all on the grieving process, but I needed that girl.

Opal was definitely a surprise for me in a really good way. Although my stupid little issues, I did love where it ended, I certainly loved the romance. and I can't wait to pick up the sequel!
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