Saturday, August 31, 2013

"The Book Thief" Trailer

Hey everyone,

After I wrote my review on The Book Thief, I came across the trailer for the upcoming movie. It looked really good, so I thought I'd share it. Have a great Labor Day weekend!

Hanneli


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review: "The Book Thief"

This book has recently risen in popularity. It was written in 2005, but a movie of it is set to come out toward the end of the year. After reading the book, I am super excited to see it on screen.

This book was also on my Goodreads, but I first heard about it through several different blogs I follow. Apparently all the bloggers are reading it. So I got on the bandwagon, and for once I am so glad I did!

Find it on Amazon here

The Book Thief is about a young German girl named Liesel Meminger, who is coming of age just as the world is being thrown into the second world war. She is sent to live with a family called the Hubermanns, because her own mother is unable to take care of her.

After dealing with the hardship of losing her first family, Liesel becomes strongly attached to her second family, especially to her new "Papa," Hans Hubermann. She meets new friends and learns to read at her new school. She becomes addicted to words and books. She also becomes a serial book thief. 

One reason the story is remarkable is that the narrator is Death. Death, however, does not satisfy our preconceived idea of a grim reaper with a scythe and skeleton's head. Instead, Death is darkly funny, plainly blunt, and even very sorry for the souls he has to take home. Because, he knows how the story ends, sometimes he gives the end of a situation first and then goes back to work up to it, which can be a little confusing. At the beginning, Death lists the three times he "ran into" Liesel Meminger, and then uses the rest of the narrative to fill in the blanks of the story. So at first the three instances are fragmented situations that don't make sense. Then, after we've gotten to know Liesel and her life, the three times she "runs into" Death fit well into the storyline.

This novel is amazing. I love historical fiction, and this book deals with a time I've always been doubly revolted and fascinated by: the World War II and Holocaust era. When we read stories or even non-fiction from that time, we don't usually get a glimpse of what it was like to be a German child in that time. Looking into Liesel's life is fascinating. She attends the Hitler Youth meetings, but at the same time she shows sympathy for the Jews that she meets. This book deals very much with the pull a person feels between a society going one way and convictions going the other.

So in conclusion, please read this book! Read it twice! It is vivid and gripping. You will laugh and you will cry. And hopefully you will come away from it with a great hunger for the power of words... just like the Book Thief.

Hanneli

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Word of the Week: Supercilious!

I had never heard of this word in my life. Then I came across it as I was reading Below Stairs (click for the review). In the book, Margaret refers to a cat as "supercilious". After looking it up, I know why!

Supercilious
adj. (soo-per-SILL-ee-us)

Supercilious means acting haughty and proud as a result of seeing yourself better than others.
This explains why Margaret called the cat supercilious.

All cats are supercilious.
That supercilious woman did not tip her waitress.
Bullies often feel supercilious.

I'm going to have to be very creative to find a way to use this word. If you do use it, be prepared to explain what it means! Honestly, has anyone ever heard this word? I'd be interested to know how! Let me know in the comments below. Tune in Thursday for a review of The Book Thief (finally!).

Have a splendid day! And don't be supercilious!

Hanneli


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Happy End-of-Summer!

Hello everyone!

I wanted to jot something down quick so at least I could feel accomplished... and to wish you a happy end-of-summer! I always get so sentimental at this time of the year; I love the lazy summer days and the summer weather, trips to the beach and walks to the woods. But a wise man once said that "to everything there is a season," (Ecc. 3:1a), and so there can be good things about changing seasons. I do love fall; I'd have to say that summer and fall tie for my affections :o) But I love something about every season. There's a lot of beauty to be joyful about!

So whether your school year begins tomorrow (mine does), or next week, or even if it already has, I congratulate you on your summer and wish you a happy school year/fall/whatever you call it!

Bye-bye Summer 2013; it was good to know you!

Hanneli


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book Review: "Below Stairs"

I found this book on Goodreads and was instantly interested. This book by Margaret Powell is her memoir, chronicling her life as a domestic servant in post - World War I England. According to the subtitle, it is this book that inspired the TV shows Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey, the latter of which I am a fan.


find it on Amazon here

The writing style is different than I expected. I had thought that this would be a standard novel-type story, with a recurring plot, beginning, middle, and end. Instead, because this is a memoir, I found that the story is a bit more intimate. You feel like you're sitting down with the elderly Margaret Powell (she was in her sixties when she wrote the book), sipping tea and listening to her life story. It's a very fascinating first-person look at life as a servant. She offers extremely intricate details of the ins and outs of servant life that we don't often get.

I think that, due to shows like Downton Abbey, we already have a bit of a glimpse into the vast difference between the social classes in times past. This book, being one-sided and so naturally a little biased, offers a much grittier look. Servants were seen as an almost completely different race than their employers. Margaret comes across as being bitter against her wealthy employers, although she admittedly tries not to be. In fact, she considers them with pity and understanding, saying that if she had their riches, she would most likely be no different than they. And she doesn't blame them for their way of thinking, because that is how they were brought up to think. Because she wrote her memoir at the end of the 1960's, by which time the world had changed drastically, she was able to offer some social commentary that is very interesting.

I must admit I came away from the book a little let down (I gave it three stars on Goodreads) because the book deals with such sobering themes. However, Margaret was definitely a very spirited and feisty woman. It his her feistyness that balances out the somber tones of the book. So if you like history, Downton Abbey, or memoirs in general, I'd definitely recommend Below Stairs. I enjoyed the glimpse into the world of time gone by, and hopefully you will too!

Hanneli

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Word of the Week: Superfluous!

Happy Tuesday!

Today's Word of the Week is one of my favorite words. I use it all the time in my head, but whenever I talk to someone else it's hard to explain what it means, so I end up having to substitute another word. Not that I'm calling other people stupid, mind you. "Superfluous" is just a very uncommon word.

Superfluous
adj. (suh-PER-flew-us)

Superfluous means unnecessary, something extra that can be (or needs to be) taken away.

My diet contains superfluous calories.
The new budget cuts any superfluous spending.
Your essay has many superfluous sentences.

So enjoy this new word! I hope it becomes a favorite of yours. Use it often, because learning and using new words is so fun, and you never have too many of them! There is no such thing as superfluous words!! :o)

...and tune in Thursday for a review of The Book Thief!


Hanneli

UPDATE: I realized that I accidentally promised a review of The Book Thief when I gave you a review of Below Stairs instead. I apologize for the discrepancy. The Book Thief will be reviewed at a later date; not exactly sure when :o)




Saturday, August 17, 2013

Weekend Poem

Since weekends are (supposed to be) more relaxing and reflective than the rest of the week, I thought I'd offer a little poem to chew on. Here's one of my favorites, courtesy of Paul Lawrence Dunbar.

Dawn
An angel, robed in spotless white,
Bent down and kissed the sleeping Night.
Night woke to blush; the sprite was gone.
Men saw the blush and called it Dawn.

I learned this is sixth grade, and it's still one of my favorites. very short, sweet, and beautiful. Enjoy!

Hanneli

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Book Review: The Princess Bride

This past week I read The Princess Bride.

(Click here to look the book up on Amazon)
The book was really good, very edge-of-your-seat exciting. The movie, of course, is a favorite of mine, and I was surprised and delighted to know that the author of the book, William Goldman, actually wrote the script for the movie too, so they are very true to each other.



The book, of course, goes deeper. Goldman writes it as if he's only an abridger; he pops in and out of the narrative with this whole fictitious back-story of how the "real" writer, ("S. Morgenstern") added too many superfluous elements and that Goldman abridged the story to bring out the main story (calling his version the "good parts" version).

Actually, while Goldman's little interruptions can be entertaining, they can also be extremely annoying, especially during tense parts of the story (which, of course, he does on purpose).

Overall the book is a great, sarcastic twist on the stereotypical fairy story, so if you love dashing heroes, fair maidens, dastardly villains, swashbuckling adventures, and true love, this is the story for you. Enjoy!

Hanneli

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Word of the Week!

I'm horrible at not finishing what I start. Notorious, really. That's why this blog has a new name. I'm reinventing it... again. I'd just scrap it and forget about it, but I refuse to not finish something. I'll turn this into a living blog, goshdarnit!

I've realized that in the past my blogging endeavors have failed because I get burnt out. I don't discipline myself enough and I'm not passionate about what I'm blogging about.

So here's what I've decided to do. You see the name change? Description change? They signal a direction change. I'm going to focus this blog more on literature, writing, and the power of words. Because words are my favorite things. Every so often I find a new word that captures my interest. I am intoxicated. Entranced. I say it over and over, rolling it off my tongue. It's like eating cake, only the cake never runs out. You can eat as much as you want.

Every Tuesday I'll post a new, unusual word here. It'll be my word of the week. It's my way of sharing the joy of words with the world, whether the world cares or not. But I hope it does. :o)

Anyhoo, here's the word for this week:

Disingenuous 
(adj.) - "Dis-in-GEN-u-ous" means to not be sincere or completely truthful, mostly by pretending you know less about the situation than you actually do. Disingenuous.

My mother asked me if I had eaten any cookies.
"there were cookies?" I asked.
"don't be so disingenuous," she said.

Because every mother uses "disingenuous" in daily conversation. Oh yes.

So find a reason to use the word "disingenuous" today! Use it even without a reason! You'll feel so smart! (I know I do :o)

And have a splendid day! I'll be posting a book review of The Princess Bride (that's where I found the word "disingenuous") on Thursday.
Until then!
Hanneli