I had a goal this year to read 100 books by December. And so as I reached book 99, I started to look for a book in my shelves to be number one hundred...moreI had a goal this year to read 100 books by December. And so as I reached book 99, I started to look for a book in my shelves to be number one hundred. You see I wanted my goal to end with a bang. And while some of the books I read this year were mere disappointments, I didn't want book 100 to end up being one of those. So, I picked My Enemy's Cradle from my shelf. It killed two birds with one stone. Being my 100th book and satisfying one of my other goals which was to diminish the pile of books that I have had for more than a year.
My Enemy's Cradle didn't disappoint. I thought it was utterly amazing! I found myself feeling terrified for Cyrla with the danger she was in. This book had me enthralled and kept me turning the pages in record time. I was surprised that I actually liked the romance in the book. Usually I find myself not liking the romance in most adult books because it either comes out as cheesy or terribly contrived, but I thought the romance was intriguing and I found myself rooting for these two characters to make it through.
I actually had no idea about the Lebensborn Organization. And I love it when historical fiction books tell me about some part of history that I didn't know about, so that was a plus with this book. Anyway, if anyone is thinking about picking up this book, don't hesitate and just read it. It's a beautiful book with a fast pace and an intriguing main character that you root for until the end. This is definitely staying on my keeper shelf. No swapping for me. (less)
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel was just one of those books that I had assumed I would love. It's set in World War II and those books intrigue me....moreThe True Story of Hansel and Gretel was just one of those books that I had assumed I would love. It's set in World War II and those books intrigue me. And it's a retelling of one of the creepiest fairy tales ever, Hansel and Gretel. So, it should have been a win-win, right? Well, it sort of wasn't. Don't get me wrong, I liked it enough, but I just didn't love it the way I expected to.
One of the issues that I had with The True Story of Hansel and Gretel was how the parallels between the Grimms' story and this one were few and far between. In fact, if the book hadn't been called The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, I doubt I would have put two and two together (well that and the fact that the kids sort of adopted the names Hansel and Gretel). I'm spoiled in that the retellings I have read have all had a clear connection to the fairy tales they have originated from. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel...not so much.
However, I think the main reason that I didn't love The True Story of Hansel and Gretel was because I didn't feel that emotional tug as much as I usually do when reading books about WWII. That's not to say that the book wasn't sad because it without a doubt was, but I just wasn't bawling my eyes out the way I usually do when reading a book about this war. I also couldn't help comparing my emotional reaction from this book to the emotional reaction I had when reading The Book Thief. While I thought that The Book Thief was teeny bit overhyped, I'd be lying if I didn't say that the book was definitely more heartbreaking than The True Story of Hansel and Gretel, yet the latter was more gruesome.
Besides that, I did like The True Story of Hansel and Gretel. I thought Magda was a great character and I loved the relationship between Hansel and Gretel. It was definitely a sweet yet sad story. It's just not one that I found highly memorable when compared to other WWII books.(less)
My finding of The Book Thief was a bit serendipitous. Not my finding as in actually knowing about the book (since this book was highly talked about wh...moreMy finding of The Book Thief was a bit serendipitous. Not my finding as in actually knowing about the book (since this book was highly talked about when I first joined Goodreads), but my actual finding of it...in the store. I was just entering the thrift store I frequented at the time (is there a better place but a thrift store to find books? I think not.) and I remember thinking "God! If only I could find The Book Thief in this place instead of having to pay full price for it!" (I was a broke college student then, actually I still am). And lo and behold, there it was! On the second shelf hidden behind yet another copy of a James Patterson novel. Oh, you would not believe how fast I snatched that book up (It was only two dollars, after all, for a hardcover in mint condition)!
This happened about two years ago (or at least a year and a half) and I've only now just read it. Why did I wait so long? Because this was one of those books that was hyped up like you wouldn't believe. So many people were talking about the greatness that was The Book Thief. My expectations, which were already quite high, went through the roof. Of course, then comes the inevitable thought "This will never live up to my expectations" and so it kept falling further and further down the Mt. TBR. Finally, after two previous failed attempts at getting into the story (only made it to page 30 both times), I buckled down and said "I WILL READ THIS". And I did. While it didn't exceed my expectations (or reach them, but again I say "Through the roof!"), I will say that The Book Thief was a really great book.
I loved that this book was narrated by Death (or The Angel of/Grim Reaper, whatever you want to call him or it--whatever!). The author could've taken the easy way out and had Liesel narrate the book. I'm certain that the flow of the events would've been done in a "normal" way had that been the case. What do I mean by normal? Well, a lot of the time, Death tells us the events that are about to come. He just spoils it for you (not really)! He'll just come right out and tell you what's going to happen in the next part because he's just not into building suspense or curiosity. That's kind of what I liked about him. For the most part, he was dispassionate. The events just were what they were. And then something would happen, which would make Death be in awe of humans; whether it be at their extreme capacity for evil or their extreme capacity for goodness.
As a reader, I have much love for the written word (as I'm sure everyone on GoodReads does), so I could understand how Liesel found words to be completely beautiful, yet heartbreaking, especially since that's how I was feeling when The Book Thief ended. I was sobbing my eyes out through the last 150 pages. In fact, those last 150 pages were five-star caliber. It was the rest of the book that ultimately led me to give this four stars instead of the five that most people are giving it. I just kept thinking "Okay, this is pretty damn good, but am I missing something? Why am I not just automatically loving this?" In fact, I spent a majority of the novel in like. Again, it was the last 150 pages that made me fall in love. So, I took the majority of like and the rest of love, put it together and ultimately decided on the four star rating.
So, pretty great novel. I personally think that it was a tad (just a teeny, tiny, tad) overhyped. But if you take out all the hype, you still have a tremendous novel that will touch and simultaneously break your heart. And really as readers what more can we ask for? After all, The Book Thief makes me value the written word that much more.(less)
For me, The Storyteller went through pretty much the whole gamut of stars. At the beginning, I felt it was pretty good and therefore, a somewhat 4 sta...moreFor me, The Storyteller went through pretty much the whole gamut of stars. At the beginning, I felt it was pretty good and therefore, a somewhat 4 star book. When Leo was introduced it became a 3 star book. When Minka's story was narrated, it pushed The Storyteller into 5 star territory. However, once I actually finished it, I started realizing that the only reason I would be giving it a higher rating than I felt it deserved would be because it was so utterly compelling. And that didn't sit right with me. So, 2 stars it is.
Where do I begin? Okay let's start with what I liked. Again, I really liked Minka's story. I didn't realize how disappointed I was in the other aspects of the story until we really got into the nitty gritty of Minka's life and her time in the concentration camps. In fact, I was so absorbed into Minka's narration that once I was thrust back into Sage's world, I was sort of put off (in fact during the Minka chapters, I was doing that really unattractive mouth-open-while-reading thing, and when I went back to Sage's chapters I was doing that equally unattractive excessive-blinking thing as I tried to get re-accustomed to my familiar surroundings) and wanted to get back to Minka's life.
Another good thing was that The Storyteller was incredibly compelling. In fact, that can pretty much be said about every Jodi Picoult book. She really knows how to hook a reader in. You could completely hate the novel you're reading, but she writes it in a way that would make you berate yourself if you put it down. At least she does if you're me.
However, those two things couldn't save The Storyteller for me. When I finished, I realized that in the grand scheme of things, Sage wasn't really all that interesting. Once you factor in Leo and his completely unnecessary angst, she becomes even less so. I thought she was bad while she was pining for Adam. Leo pining for her was so much worse. And it was worse because I hate insta-love with a blinding passion. I hate it when it's in a YA novel. I now realize that I hate it doubly when it's in an "adult" novel. I'm sorry, but you've known each other for how many days and you're desperately in love? First of all, grow the hell up and second of all, I don't buy it. The romance aspect really killed this book for me.
Having a few Picoult books in my belt, she's known for having this huge twist at the end of her novels that make me feel manipulated and annoyed because most of the times her twists don't make any sense at all. However, that didn't happen with The Storyteller. This is because you can see this so-called "twist" from a mile away. Seriously, I knew how this book was going to end the minute Josef starts recounting his childhood. So, I didn't feel manipulated, but I did roll my eyes at the predictability of The Storyteller.
Overall, I found The Storyteller to be just okay. It would've made a decent historical fiction novel if Picoult wasn't so damned determined to cram a cliched romance into every single novel of hers. If she kept the focus on Minka and her past instead of Sage and her I-love-you-even-though-I've-only-known-you-for-two-minutes, waste of a detective boyfriend, this book would've been quite good. But she didn't...so I feel like it's not. Read another book instead.(less)