Books and More

Childress Ink

The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak

Knopf, $16.95 HC, $12.99 SC $12.99 ebook

YA, historical fiction with touch of paranormal, ages 14+

(Lots of swearing)

One of the all-time, best books that I have ever read. I finished at 4 a.m., balling my eyes out I might add (though I've always been a bit emotional). And the book pierced my thoughts for weeks after I finished. 

This is the story of 10-year-old Liza. While traveling to live with distant relatives in Germany, Liza's six-year-old brother dies and is buried en route during a brief train stop. During the "funeral," Liza steals her first book from one of the gravediggers. And so the book thief is born. As the story unfolds, we come to love Liza and the eccentric cast of characters surrounding her, especially her gentle and patient uncle and her curse-spewing aunt. Meanwhile, as we get to know these characters, WWII unfolds around them, and readers see an utterly unique perspective of this tragic time from these caring and very real Germans. As Hitler gains power, Liza manages to steal books and save them from the Nazi book burnings. So many plots and subplots exist it's hard to give this book full credit, but just to say, I finished this and thought to myself: How could I ever hope to write so well? How in the world did this author come up with the story? Oh and by the way, the entire story is told from the point of view of Death, an angel in this depiction, and Liza's story reminds him that the human existence remains worthy. A National Book Award finalist, this will always remain in my top ten rankings of all-time favorite reads.

I think The Mysterious Benedict Society is a great book. If you like adventure, excitement, and action, this is the book for you. Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance will go on a trip to the Institute for the very Enlightened. With the help of their mentor, Nicholas Benedict, they will defeat the "whisperer," controlled by the evil Mr. Curtain, who runs the institute. But when they're in Mr. Curtain's secret lair, and he is using the whisperer to erase their memory, what will they do? Read The Mysterious Benedict Society to find out!                                                              ~Laurel C.

The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart, Little, Brown, and Co., $8.00 (PA), $6.99 ebook

​Middle-grade fiction, contemporary, mystery, ages 8+