Author Encounters and a Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Ever since I joined the Not-So-YA Book Club at the Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA, I have been exposed to a wide variety of novels I might not have otherwise read if left up to my own devices. Most notably, the entire genre of historical fiction. Through book club I have read some amazing historical novels including Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters, Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, and now The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.


The Book Thief is one of those novels I have been seeing in book stores for years (can you believe it came out in 2005?!). Every time I went to pick up the book, I read the back, saw a description containing Nazi Germany and put it back on the shelf . . . Not my favorite subject matter to say the least. But I have learned to place some faith and trust and a little bit of pixie dust in book club!

As if experiencing this wonderful novel wasn’t enough, through Little Shop of Stories I was able to see an advance screening of The Book Thief at Atlantic Station followed by a question and answer session with the director, producer, author, and one of the stars of the show – I’m talking about Brian Percival (is he related to Dumbledore??), Karen Rosenfelt, Markus Zusak himself, and Sophie Nelisse! Unbelievable! I could have listened to Zusak speak all night long. He said he had three main plot points concerning the Book Thief: the use of colors, death as the narrator, and a girl who steals books – quite the brilliant trio. And Sophie was just darling.


And the icing on the cake? I might have casually stalked Zusak after the event to have him sign my book!! What a talented, Australian-accented, adorable author… Yes please 🙂


This is also another book that has some incredible fanart – via pinterest!


Happy Thanksgiving!!


Author Encounters and a Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

It’s no secret that I absolutely adored Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park – I laughed, I cried, I thought about it for days, I stalked E&P fan art on Pinterest, etc. etc. (see previous previous posting). I’ve been singing Rowell’s praises since the moment I finished E&P, in fact, even before I finished her amazing novel, I knew I was in author love., like possibly surpassing my love for John Green (blasphemy??). Following E&P I read Allegiant *yawn* (see previous posting). I knew I needed some more Rowell in my literary life. And upon finishing Fangirl, my heart solidified Rowell as my favorite author of 2013 (and possibly of the entire decade). I read Fangirl in one day, not because I’m a particularly fast reader but because I had Veteran’s Day off from work and I could not put the book down. And though I immediately let one of my friends borrow it, I am already itching to re-read it.


Here is my facebook post following finishing Fangirl: ‘I read fanfiction and I’m only mildly afraid to admit it. And on that note, go read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, my new favorite author (see previous Eleanor and Park posting).’ I know exactly 2 other people who read fanfiction but they will remain nameless to protect their identities. Fangirl made me realize it was mostly ok to say that I read fanfiction, that it doesn’t need to be a dark dirty secret. I like reading non-JKR Harry Potter stories, so what, who cares? I read fanfiction, I support Dramoine (look it up) and I love it.

And I love Fangirl. Fangirl is the story of twin sisters who move away to college in Nebraska. One sister, Cath is introverted and a huge fanfiction writer for the fictional Simon Snow series. Her sister, Wren, is bursting to create her own, separate life at college, away from Cath. It is a funny, touching story of family and fanfiction. Between each chapter, Rowell includes an ‘excerpt’ from the Simon Snow series or from the Simon Snow fanfiction. I need Rowell to write both Simon Snow novels and Cath’s fanfiction. To top it off, there are cute college boys, a kick-ass roommate, an endearingly troubled father, and did I mention fanfiction?


Fangirl fanart – what did you expect??

What could be better than finding a new favorite author? How about meeting your new favorite author?! What What!! Rainbow Rowell (with David Levithan) visited the Little Shop of Stories in Decatur, GA and I got to meet her and have her sign my books and have my own fangirl moment.


Hearing Rainbow and David read from their books was amazing!!

Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

The final book in the dystopian trilogy Divergent by Veronica Roth is, well, not good. I did not reread the two previous books in preparation for the release of the third book – I ran out of time and I let SIL borrow Divergent. I don’t believe a refresher of the plot and characters would have made my feelings about Allegiant more favorable. I was hesitant to read Divergent in the first place mostly because I was insanely jealous someone my own age wrote a best selling book while in college during the years I was making countless biochemistry flashcards. However, I read Divergent at the recommendation of a friend and an NPR post and I enjoyed it! I found Insurgent to be entertaining as well and am looking forward to the movie next year. Allegiant however brought all those feelings to a grinding halt. I’m not even sure where to begin but I will try to make this as coherent as possible.

  1. I didn’t even know ‘allegiant’ wasn’t a word. I think I would have preferred the title nickname of ‘detergent’.
  2. I might have missed the memo but I did not realize Allegiant would be told from alternating character POV (Tris and Four). I may have caved and paid a couple bucks to read Four’s e-book ‘The Transfer’ a few weeks ago and genuinely enjoyed his story. This was not the case during Allegiant. I found myself constantly flipping back to the start of a chapter to orient myself; I continually forgot which character’s POV I was reading. There is no distinction between Tris and Four. I suppose now that I have finished the book, I understand why Roth set the book up like this but it was inconsistent with the earlier novels and it didn’t work.
  3. The plot became unnecessarily convoluted once Tris and Four made it outside the fence. I never really questioned the dystopian world Roth created inside Chicago but once our protagonists left the city and Roth began to expand her dystopian society on a larger scale, I had many unanswered questions, what I perceived to be huge holes, and an overall a general lack of cohesiveness and believability about the society.
  4. As a scientist by trade and education, I can’t even begin to expound upon my dissatisfaction with the genetically pure/damaged plot. Letting ‘pure genes’ manifest through procreation takes years upon decades upon centuries, etc. If the scientists were really so smart and could manipulate genetic material, don’t you think they would do it in a petri dish rather than elaborate, expensive, ridiculously large scale behavioral modification experiments? Makes absolutely no sense to me. And if Roth did any research into genetics to create a plausible storyline, I couldn’t tell.
  5. The constant stream of supporting character deaths seemed forced.
  6. My copy of Allegiant came with extra diary entries written by Tris’ mom. I was much more interested in her storyline!! If Roth was going to switch up her writing style for this book, I would have preferred two narratives flipping between Tris’ POV and her mom’s, past and present, now that would have been interesting!!

All in all, obviously not my favorite book. It was a disappointing ending to a trilogy I otherwise enjoyed. While I suppose I will continue to follow Roth’s writing in the future, Allegiant was just, just blah.