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book thief

  • Books, GirlSpring.com

    The Book Thief – Book Review

    Introducing, Bella the Book Fairy, our new contributor to GirlSpring. You can follow her on Instagram, @bellathebookfairy! Here is her book review of The Book Thief!

    The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak,

    is a beautifully written masterpiece, which I believe every human should read at least once in their lifetime. The Book Thief takes place in Molching, a fictional town in Germany during WWII, and it centers around a young girl named Liesel who lives with her foster parents and how she became the book thief.

    One prominent feature of this book is the fact that the narrator is Death himself. However, this is not as creepy as it may seem! Death is in no way the dark, menacing figure that we most often envision him to be, in this book he is droll and quite tender, showing sympathy towards the souls he carries away.

    Something I love about this book is how unique all the characters are and their relationships with each other. One relationship that I particularly love is between our main character, Liesel and her accordion-playing foster father, Hans Huberman. Firstly, Hans is one of my favorite characters in this book, his relationship with Liesel is very pure and sweet. He is extremely loving and patient with her and teaches her many things, but most importantly, he teaches her how to read.

    Other characters in our story include Rudy,

    Liesel’s best friend who has lemon-colored hair and is obsessed with the athlete, Jesse Owens. Rosa Huberman, Liesel’s foster mother, is loud, swearing, and stern. Rosa is a force to be reckoned with but despite her harshness, loves Liesel very much! Also, then there is Max Vandenburg, the Jewish man that the Hubermans are hiding in their basement, it’s wonderful to see how the relationship between him and Liesel grows and becomes quite endearing. Another character we meet is Ilsa Hermann, the mayor’s wife; the loss of her son has left her a mess, and it is something she is still trying to overcome. It is from her private library that Liesel steals many books.

    Zusak is wonderfully descriptive in a brilliant way, skillfully depicting each scene in such a way that you will always feel as if you are living inside the book.

    His writing draws you into the story, erecting intense sadness and joy in all the twists and turns, and attaches you to the lovable characters. The Book Thief is my favorite book, and I hope that you read it and enjoy it just as much as I did!

  • Books

    Les Miserables: An Honest Book Review

    Les Miserables: An Honest Book Review

    Set in the early 1800s of France, Victor Hugo crafts a moving tale about love and redemption, Les Misérables, which translates to “The Miserables.”

    Hugo was a highly influential novelist during the Romantic Movement in France. He published Les Misérables in 1862 to massive popularity and it is still beloved today. Hugo uses an elaborate plot, unexpected chance encounters, and hidden identities to spin a passionate tale. The novel focuses on Jean Valjean, a former convict, who struggles to escape from his past. The story follows the lives and interactions of several characters while weaving in historical events from France.

    The book is filled with dozens of wonderful, and not so wonderful, characters. Les Misérables challenges stereotypes of the rich and the poor, the free and the jailed, and the beautiful and the ugly. It also proves over and over again what the power of love for others can do. The story is used by Hugo to examine and criticize French society and law in the 19th century. He wanted to bring attention to not only the struggles of the poor but also their remarkable potential.

    In modern days, Les Misérables has been popularized through film, television, and stage adaptations. This classic and well-known story is still being told and read about around the world. Les Misérables continues to challenge people’s beliefs and shape their ideas. I highly encourage you to not only read Les Misérables but to understand and appreciate the themes and concepts present in this beautiful story.

    Need a copy? It’s easy to find for free at your public library, try setting up an account at Hoopla — https://www.hoopladigital.com/

    Looking for other great books? Check out this review of The Book Thief, https://www.girlspring.com/tag/book-review/

  • Book Review, Books

    Why You Should Read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

    Really, why should you read it? 

    When I picked up this book to read it, it was completely random and it was so much better than I anticipated it would be. It was incredibly eye-opening to real issues that are going on in people’s lives that we don’t realize. I loved this book because not only was it well-written but the story was so relatable and makes you laugh, which I feel like is hard in a piece of writing. Throughout the novel you see the Eleanor develop and grow into a new person, while overcoming her past.

    This book is brilliant in the way it brings to light the effect of loneliness. So many people, especially in the age of social media deal with loneliness. The author based Eleanor’s out of the motivation to show people the effects of long-term abuse, loneliness, and social awkwardness. The author helps you see these issues from a personal level, while being entertaining.

    I think everyone should read this book. Eleanor’s character is hilarious, funny, oblivious, and she doesn’t care what anybody thinks. Her character is inspiring. Even though it is fiction, it shows you a new to see and understand people that deal with these issues. It gives you an inside look into what goes on in their brain and may even help you to not judge someone by the way they look or act. You never know what someone has been through.

    Add this to your book list and you won’t be sorry!

    Looking for other good books? Check out this review of The Book Thief, https://www.girlspring.com/?s=book+thief

  • Books

    An Interview with Author Megan McDonald

    Interview with Megan McDonald, author of Judy Moody

    By: Isabella León – Bella the Book Fairy  

    I recently had the honor of interviewing Megan McDonald the author of the Judy Moody book series. Ms. McDonald was a delight to meet and get to know. She was completely down to earth, funny, kind and by the end of the interview it felt like we were old friends. 

    Isabella: When did you first decide you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

    Megan: Wow. Well, I always loved to write, and when I was in 5th grade I got my first story published in my school paper. I thought it was exciting to see my name in print, but my first story was about a pencil sharpener! I didn’t really think that was something (a writer) you could be until I went to college and studied English literature and writing. After college, I worked in libraries and was always around books and always had the idea in the back of my mind that someday I really want to write my own book for children.

    Isabella: If you weren’t an author, what would you be?

    Megan: I would probably still be doing something with books. I would love to be a part of some unusual library. In Minnesota they collect all the original manuscripts and drawings of children’s authors. I often scribble my ideas on a napkin, so they have some of the napkins on display. I just think it would be cool to be part of a collection like that and be able to go through all the boxes and look at all the original things of an author.

    Isabella: Do you ever feel intimated by the blank screen?

    Megan: Well, I don’t start with the title, that’s last! You know those composition notebooks? The ones that are black & white and have those sorts of marble-y covers? I usually have one of those for each book. And I just start by brainstorming and scribbling ideas into the notebook. By the time I get to the computer— it’s so hard just staring at that blank screen, I mean where do I begin!? So, I usually start with sort of the beginning and end and then figure out what else could be in the middle. That’s how I do it so that when I get to the computer it’s not just this blank document staring at me!

    Isabella: What inspires your books?

    Megan: Well with Judy Moody I would say probably most of my books are inspired by family stories. I have four older sisters, and many funny things happened growing up with that many sisters! I did change it from my sisters to a brother— I changed it to Stink— I wanted also to be free to use my imagination and not have to have it be exactly like it was in real life. A lot of the stories in the first book are inspired by real life. Just funny things, like “The Toad Pee Club” was a real club, the fake hand in the toilet was a real joke I played on my sisters! So, it started with wanting to write down all those funny family stories!

    Isabella: What do you like to read?

    Megan: I like to read— wow, well I like to read everything— but I do like reading mysteries! I grew up reading Nancy Drew so that inspired that! I like to read fiction, I like to read poetry. So, I usually have a poetry book around so that when I get up in the morning, I can read a poem while I drink my coffee— but usually, books that my friends or other writers I know tell me about. I like to find out from other people what they are reading so that I know that it’s going to be a really good story that I can kind of disappear into!  But pretty much everything I’m game for! Except maybe science fiction. That’s really the only thing that I’m not into, I don’t know why!

    Isabella: Do you have a favorite book, something that you relate to well?

    Megan: Well, when I was a kid my favorite book was Harriet the Spy! I really admire the books of Katherine Patterson! She is one of my favorite writers! She wrote The Bridge to Terabithia (upon the mention of this fantastic book I started internally sobbing), The Great Gilly Hopkins, which is one of my all-time favorite books. So, I really admire her writing. I like to read Louise Penny, I am reading this one mystery book set in a little town in Montreal, so that’s fun! And right now, I’m reading a book called My Brilliant Friend, which is going to become a television series, so I wanted to re-read the book again! It’s about two girls growing up in Italy, who are best friends and about their coming of age. I like stories that sort of start in childhood and take you up into adulthood.

    Isabella: Are you planning on writing any more historical fiction books?

    Megan: I do love historical fiction! I wrote this one book about the liberty bell, during the American Revolution when the British were coming into Philadelphia. They were going to melt down the liberty bell, and a group of farmers went in there at midnight and took down the bell and hid it in the basement of this church to save it! So, I like anything that’s really exciting. I wrote another book that’s in a series called Dear America, and they were diaries from a time in history, mine took place on the Santa Fe trail. Also, I wrote a mystery for American Girl and it was set in James Town.

    I love digging into the research and what’s cool about writing historical fiction— and I’ll probably keep doing it— is that you find so many stories that are true, and with the mystery at James Town I didn’t even have to make some of those things up! So many things happened to them!! But I don’t have anything specific in mind at the moment, but that’s a big love of mine!

    Isabella: I also read that you once chased down a book thief! Could you tell me about that?

    Megan: [laughs] I can’t believe you found that! So, when I first moved to California, I worked at this one bookstore, and teachers would come into the store and buy books for their classroom or school library. So, this teacher, who had ordered a whole bunch of books, was coming to pick up her books, and I had stacked them up into two big piles and put them into the paper bags with the handles. I set them in the back of our book store where the office was, but I opened the back door to get some air, so the bags were sitting right there. And then this guy rode his bicycle past them— it was in this shopping center with all these shops — so he rode past them on the back sidewalk and must have seen these big shopping bags, and he came up and grabbed the bags!

    He put them on his bike to steal them— and I’m sure he thought they were from Target or something— but they were so heavy because they were full of books that he couldn’t steer right because they were weighing him down! I hear all this noise, so I run out there and see him getting away on the bike! And I’m like “Stop!!! Thief!!!! Those are my books!!!!” And he dropped the books and we got them back! I don’t think he ever really got caught, but when the owner of the store came after I called her, she was like “Oh my gosh Megan! Next time just let them have the books! Don’t endanger your life for saving some books!” [laughs]

    Isabella: What’s next for you?

    Megan: Oh, good question! Let’s see— for two years I’ve been working on a new book that’s not Judy Moody. And it’s totally different— it’s fantasy! And for Judy Moody—Judy and Stink are going to be in a book quiz. So, they read a bunch of books and have to answer questions on the books, and face off against another team, and they find out who the other team is. They are in 2nd and 3rd grade and on the opposing team, there’s a 4th grader!

    She reads Harry Potter and her name is Mighty Fantaski! And they’re like, “How are we going to win against a 4th grader named Mighty?!?!” And right now, I’m working on another Stink book, and in that one there’s going to be a brand-new character called Lula. A South American Pink Toed Tarantula! So, Stink has to get over his fear of spiders to make friends with Lula!

    Read more reviews by Bella here.

     

  • Book Review, Celebrities, GirlSpring.com, Shero, Woman's History

    Review: Becoming by Michelle Obama

    Book Review Michelle Obama

    Review: Becoming by Michelle Obama

    Although Becoming was released in November of 2018, it wasn’t until recently that I finally had the opportunity to read it. A memoir by former First Lady Michelle Obama, Becoming is organized into three sections, “Becoming Me,” “Becoming Us,” and “Becoming More,” that bring readers on Mrs. Obama’s journey through several key elements of her life, including her childhood on the South Side of Chicago, her marriage and life with Barack Obama and their daughters, and her experience as the First Lady of the United States of America. I have always loved hearing Michelle Obama speak, and that same strong, intelligent, and elegant voice is portrayed in her writing. I found Becoming to be a very engaging memoir, and there were many important takeaways I had from reading it.

    1.Be aware of your surroundings and any changes that may be occurring: Michelle Obama discusses how she was always a very observant and opinionated individual. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, Mrs. Obama discusses that the area wasn’t always as Black-populated as it is now. When she was in elementary school, her class at Bryn Mawr Elementary School had a fair number of white students as well, but the number of non-black students dwindled significantly as the years passed because more and more white families were moving to the suburbs. Through her observations and awareness of the concept of race from a young age, Mrs. Obama was able to become a more thoughtful and societally-competent individual. She would take these experiences and ideas into the future as a law student and woman of great power.

    2. People with authority may not always be correct: When Michelle Obama was in her senior year of high school and applying to colleges, her school guidance counselor told her that she wasn’t “Princeton material.” Instead of taking this as a set-back, Mrs. Obama stayed confident and reached out to other individuals in her school and community to help support her through the process. She successfully gained admission to Princeton University, the school of her choice, proving to herself (and to her guidance counselor) that she was, in fact, Princeton material. Big takeaway: it’s important to always believe in yourself and not let one’s title intimidate you.

    3. Don’t underestimate yourself just because the people around you seem smarter. At Princeton, Michelle Obama found herself to be a definite minority, both as an African American student and as a woman. Princeton, primarily white and male, was intimidating at first and Mrs. Obama felt that she may not belong. However, as she immersed herself in her classes and participated in the discussions, she realized that although the other students may have had a stronger educational foundation than she did, that didn’t make them smarter than her. Michelle Obama realized that she was a valuable member of the classroom, and this helped her succeed as a student at Princeton.

    4. Do what makes you happy. Life may be shorter than you think. One of Michelle Obama’s closest friends at Princeton was a woman named Suzanne Alele. Joining college as a pre-med student to satisfy her parents’ wishes, Suzanne soon realized that it wasn’t the path for her. She was lighthearted and loved parties, and she did what made her happy. Suzanne decided to travel after her years at Princeton, and Michelle Obama initially thought Suzanne wasn’t making the best use of her Princeton education. However, when Suzanne lost her fight to cancer and died at a very young age, Mrs. Obama felt that it was good that Suzanne had spent her life being free-spirited and doing the things she loved. Life may be shorter than we think, so we should always work to live each day the way we want.

    5. It’s okay to not always have a plan: Michelle Obama discusses how she was always very keen on organization and having a plan. Describing her journey from Princeton to Harvard Law School to her job as a lawyer at the firm Sidley Austin, she tells readers that she compared her accomplishments to checking off boxes on big list of plans for her life. However, this changed after she met Barack Obama, who was spontaneous and chose to pursue his interests and take life as it came. Mrs. Obama realized that life didn’t always have to be so planned out, and sometimes success could be achieved by taking advantage of opportunities that came one’s way and through hard work.

    6. It’s okay to ask for help. The transition to the White House was understandably difficult. Through words of encouragement and support from her brother Craig, Michelle Obama made the decision to move to the White House with her husband and family. She requested her mother to help her take care of Malia and Sasha during this process, allowing her to ultimately take control of and adjust to the situation without feeling extremely overwhelmed and burned out. Receiving help can allow an individual sort out their life and can actually help them be more productive.

    Both an interesting and informative read, I learned many important life lessons from Becoming. This is a very empowering book, especially for young women. Becoming is definitely a must-read, and is a great book for the summer if you haven’t already read it!

    Find it here, https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Michelle-Obama/dp/1524763136

    Looking for more good books? Check out our other book reviews, like this one by @bella_the_book_fairy, https://www.girlspring.com/?s=book+thief

    Or, check out your local library where everything is free!