This week I’m reading…

A book I picked up for FREE! It is a middle school level book, but it’s great despite the low reading level. I acquired a copy of the book The Enemy Above by Michael P. Spradlin at a cute little bookstore in Georgia before it was officially released. I’ll elaborate on that experience further after I tell you how great this book is. I actually just started reading it today and I’m already 3/4ths of the way done on page 167. I literally couldn’t put it down. Actually, the only reason I did was to use the bathroom and write this post.

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Anyway, this book is a historical fiction that takes place during WWII and follows a Ukrainian Jewish boy named Anton. While most of the book is from Anton’s perspective, some of the chapters follow the antagonist, Major Karl Von Deusen of the gestapo. There’s not much else I can say about this novel without spoiling anything but I highly recommend it for anyone who likes historical fiction because it is packed with action.

An excerpt from a letter that Major Von Deusen receives from his brother fighting against the Russians:

“This was a mistake, Karl. We should never have come here. We have lost so many men and now there is talk that we must surrender. … I am afraid it is too late for us.”

This book shows from both sides what the war was like, with historically accurate information about it, like the German defeat at Stalingrad. It makes it seem like the action is happening right then and there, in real time with actual historical events. It’s great!

So, how did you acquire this book for free, you ask. Well, last April, I was just outside Atlanta, in Decatur, for a concert with a friend. Both of us are huge bookworms and I’d been to this bookstore once before so I brought him there and just outside the door was a table covered in books. Taped to the wall just above it was a sign that read: “Free Books: Yes, They Really Are Free!” My friend and I spent probably a half an hour just reading the backs of the books and holding on to ones we’d like to read. Each of us brought home 3-4 of the “Uncorrected Proof” books and bought at least one from the store. That was an adventure for sure and a wonderful trip.

The concert was awesome, by the way. I walked back to the hotel that night having acquired not only extra books but a new tank top with the band’s logo on it and a drumstick, signed by the drummer! Since I’m already being specific, I’ll go ahead and give the bookstore a shout out. Little Shop of Stories is honestly my favorite bookstore I’ve been to. The staff can give you recommendations based on books you like, which is fantastic! Also, thank you, Marty Beller of They Might Be Giants for the drumstick and the autograph. If you haven’t yet listened to their music, I highly recommend “Birdhouse in Your Soul” and “New York City.” Actually, just listen to any of it, you can’t go wrong with TMBG!

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Review of The Crane Wife

This week I’m reviewing a novel by one of my favorite authors, Patrick Ness. The Crane Wife is 305 pages short. Ness was inspired by the story of the crane wife, a Japanese folktale. I actually had two reasons for picking up this novel, one being that I love Patrick Ness‘s novels and the other being the title is also the title of a song by The Decemberists and the epigraph of the novel is a lyric from the song. I had high expectations for this book and I wasn’t disappointed.

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This is a quote that I found particularly interesting:

“This, I will never understand,” Kumiko carried on over her. “The inability of people to see themselves clearly. To see what they are actually like, not what they fear they are like or what they wish to be like, but what they actually are. Why is what you are never enough for you?”

“For who? Me? Or everyone?”

“If you could only see the truth of yourself-”

“Then we wouldn’t be human.”

Kumiko stopped, as if slapped, and then looked strangely delighted. “Is that it? Is that what it is?”

To be human is to yearn, I think,” Amanda said. “To want. To need. What you already have, most of the time. It kind of poisons everything.”

Synopsis:

This is a story of a middle-aged man named George who finds an injured crane in his London backyard and saves its life. Shortly after saving the crane, a peculiar woman walks into his print shop and turns his life upside down. They work together creating art that truly inspires people. I can’t really say much more because it would spoil the novel.

What I liked:

Pretty much everything. The whole book had me wondering what’s going to happen next. There are so many wonderful characters and, while there are some things that are kind of magical, most of the novel is very realistic. Even the parts that couldn’t happen in real life, seem plausible in the world of this book.

SPOILERS, SERIOUSLY DON’T READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK, YOU’LL BE CONFUSED: I loved the way Ness presented the reader with multiple options of how the fire started and lets the reader decide how they think it started. When Kumiko saves Amanda’s life, I genuinely started tearing up and I don’t cry much when I’m reading. All of the foreshadowing to Rachel being possessed by the volcano and then her transformation after he dies just blew my mind. END SPOILERS.

What I didn’t like:

I don’t think there was anything I didn’t like about it, actually. The only thing I can think that I’d have liked to be different is the fact that there aren’t many of George and Kumiko’s art tiles left at the end of the novel. But that’s just because I don’t like art being destroyed.

My overall impression:

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who likes a little romance combined with a slight mystery and folklore. It’s a beautiful story and the end is incredible. You’ll have to read it for yourself.

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