Tag Archives: Germany

Books to Movies: The Book Thief

20 Aug

Beautiful.

That’s the first world that comes to mind when I try to explain my reaction to this film. The Book Thief is a novel known and loved by so many; I knew that it would be hard to capture in film something so adored in the written word. I’ve realized that the longer it’s been since I’ve read a book (and I nearly always read the book before the movie) the better chance there is that I’ll enjoy and appreciate the film for what it is because I won’t be constantly reminded of what has been left out. So instead of re-reading The Book Thief before I finally had the chance to see the movie, I reflected on which parts of it I remembered and loved most.  I tried to think of what had made such a tragic, captivating, at times overwhelming story become such a fixture in my literary life. I think that the movie managed to capture the essence of the book.

The casting and acting were great. Even though no one was quite the way I’d visualized them while reading, each actor managed to capture their character so well that it wasn’t hard to realize that the parts that made up these characters were so much more important than little issues I had with appearance. The children were great, lifelike and full of energy one moment and staggering under the weight of war the next. Sometimes the accents were a little distracting or I wondered if some scenes could have been cut shorter to allow more to be fit into the film. But whatever issues I had with the movie were easily swayed because I was captured by the story all over again.

The only really distracting component, I suppose, was the voice of Death. I’d never imagined the narrator’s voice to be like that; it sounds like any other movie voiceover or more like one they’d use in a trailer for a comedy. I thought that the narrator would sound more common, not so out of place among people. Softer spoken, perhaps. Every time Death spoke up again was the only time I was jolted out of the movie world because I wished that it’d been done differently.

If you loved the book like I did, I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed in this adaptation. I feel like many others see themselves in Liesel like I do, and not simply because she and I share a passion for books. She’s curious but fiercely loyal. We also see parts of her that we want to take for ourselves. We want to be as brave as she is. We want to be able to carry on, even in the face of immense tragedy.

I’d forgotten how this book ended and all that Liesel experienced. I cried for her. I think that if you have put off seeing this movie like I did, you won’t be disappointed by it. Instead, you’ll be welcomed into Liesel’s world once more.

Going Over by Beth Kephart

30 May

 

Going Over

author : beth kephart

pages : [hardcover] 264

summary :

In the early 1980s Ada and Stefan are young, would-be lovers living on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall–Ada lives with her mother and grandmother and paints graffiti on the Wall, and Stefan lives with his grandmother in the East and dreams of escaping to the West.

review :

This book was an interesting concept that didn’t end up working well for me. I don’t think that the writing style is one that I prefer to read. Honestly, the way that some of the sentences were worded and how the scenes were described confused me. I ended up with a disconnect to the characters and because this novel was rather short, I think that only made that feeling worse.

 I liked reading about Ada and the wonderful graffiti she made. Yet I was confused about why she would risk endangering her family-and risking her life-by making these works of art. I understood that it was a kind of catharsis for her, creating the graffiti, but to me it didn’t add to the dramatic background of the book.

I have to admit that I don’t know much about the Berlin Wall so I was eager to see if this novel would give a great historical representation of this time period and teach me something new. Instead, it turned into an odd romance novel where Ada continuously pushed Stefan to escape the East and didn’t seem to respect the fact that he might not want to endanger himself or leave everything behind for her. It was also an interesting stylistic choice having Stefan’s portion of the narrative told in second person. Instead of drawing me closer to the character, I think it disappointed me because I wanted larger, powerful descriptions of his daily life and the oppression he faced.

Overall, it was a quick read that was okay for me. It was an interesting concept that didn’t entirely fill my interest but I feel like this is a novel others may enjoy.

2/5 stars

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

17 Feb

Behemoth

Author: Scott Westerfeld [also wrote also wrote the Uglies trilogy [Extras], and the Midnighters trilogy [The Secret Hour, Touching Darkness, and Blue Noon]]

Pages [hardcover]: 485

Favorite Characters: Deryn and Alek

Book 2 in the Leviathan Trilogy
Book 1: Leviathan

Summary:

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.

Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan‘s peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.

Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what’s ahead.

Review:

This series is one of my favorites at the moment. I haven’t read much steampunk, and so anything in that genre is new to me. I think everything is so creative-the Clankers, the Darwinists, how everything blends into the historical setting. I also love Deryn’s girls-are-as-good-as-boys attitude, Alek’s stuck-up princeliness, and the funny little creatures the Darwinists come up with.

There are pictures scattered throughout this book, and they’re beautiful as well as helpful. At some points I’d hear a description, attempt to picture it, and fail. Turning the page, I would usually see what it was imagined to look like. And when it comes to huge machines resembling pagan godesses and monsters that can swallow a ship whole, I need a lot of help.

The point of view alternates between Deryn and Alek. I like how one person from each side of the war is selected. Each tells the story in their own biased way, and then the reader is left to decide-which is better, Darwinists or Clankers?

I personally prefer the Darwinists. I’d take wee little beasties over smelly old machines any day. ;)

Behemoth, the second installment in the Leviathan trilogy, gets 5/5 stars. I can’t wait for the third book, Goliath! I think it comes out in September…

The Thyssen Affair-Mozelle Richardson

20 Aug

 the thyssen affair 

The Thyssen Affair

Author: Mozelle Richardson

Pages [paperback]: 460

Opening Lines: Cane Eliot knew he was being followed before he reached the shuttle to Lufthansa for his overnight flight to Germany.

Favorite Character: Anya

Summary:

Cane Eliot, Colorado rancher and ex-OSS WWII agent is brought back into action by a CIA friend to do a simple investigation in Munich. As Canyon says, “nothing the CIA does is simple”. He finds himself entangled in a web of twisted, convuluted intrigue with both the Israeli Mossad and the Russian KBG that requires him to use every bit of cunning and improvisation, physical and mental, he learned in the war.

Review:

 I wanted to like this novel a lot more than I did. Filled with spies, secrets, and chases that span continents, this book is filled with action. There was something that just did not click with me. The characters seemed stiff and awkward. Many people have a predetermined thought of how spies are supposed to act, and Canyon did not fill this role at all. Some of this may have to do with the fact that Cane is an older spy, which is mentioned several times throughout the book.

One thing in particular that I did not like occured mostly when Cane was in Germany. He mentioned so many specific towns, cities, other places, that it was hard to concentrate on the actual plot. I can probably name not even three cities in Germany, so this information was entirely useless for me. It gave me no picture for the setting and left me more confused than ever.

Overall, I’d give The Thyssen Affair 2.5/5 stars.

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