Crochet Bear

BearAs promised, here is a picture of the bear I crocheted. I didn’t use a pattern which resulted in one of the bear’s arms to be slightly bigger than the other, but overall I am happy with the result. If anyone wants me to write out the pattern, just leave me a comment and I will try to come up with something (I am pretty sure I still remember what I did).

Book review – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Another YA novel! It didn’t really register with me that this was Young Adult, but since the main character is only 10, it stands to reason.

Book Thief

Narrated by Death, the story follows 10 year old Liesel from when her mother brings her to live with Hans and Rose Hubermann to the end of World War II.

The story takes place in Germany. On the way to her foster parents, Liesel’s brother dies. Liesel is then left with her foster parents, the foul-mouthed Rosa and gentle, caring Hans. She keeps having nightmares about her brother and Hans sits with her through the night and comforts her. Later, when it becomes apparent that Liesel is struggling with reading and writing, they use the time at night for studying, with Liesel trying to read and writing out the difficult words in paint on the walls in the basement.

Liesel starts to love reading and from time to time she steals books. Important events in her life are marked by books and reading, such as her reading to calm the people in the bomb shelter during air raids and the stories Max, the Jew hidden in the Hubermann’s basement, wrote for her.

Naturally the book touches upon the horrors of World War II, and considering it is a YA book, it does not get sugar-coated too much. There is plenty of death and pain and fear and suffering in the book, which I think is good. I also think it is a good change to see how the ordinary German people fared during the war. Not much attention is given to that side of the story when there were plenty of Germans who didn’t agree with what Hitler did and either openly rebelled or only participated in things like Hitler Youth because of the trouble you would get into if you didn’t.

So…what did I think about this book? I couldn’t put the book down, I thought it was very good. Very well-written and the fact that it is narrated by Death is a nice twist. It definitely made me cry, especially at the end. I thought that the author was successful at avoiding black and white characters: sure, Hans Hubermann is the ultimate good-guy, but there are other more “grey” characters in the book. The only part I thought was very unbelievable *SPOILER ALERT* was when Liesel meets Max after the war. With his poor health there was no way he would have been able to survive the concentration camp. He would have died there within the week. I understand the author wanted to end the book on a bit of a positive note – if everyone had died it would have been a very bleak book – but Max was the least likely to have survived.

Overall quite a good book. I was excited to hear that there is also a movie based on the book now, but the reviews sound absolutely awful, so I doubt I am going to watch it.

Book review – The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This is going to be a fairly short review, as I read this quite a while ago, so I don’t have an in-depth analysis. I didn’t really think of reviewing the book as I was reading it, but it was such a good book that I wanted to at least bring it to your attention.

fault in our starsThe Fault in Our Stars is narrated by Hazel, a sixteen year old cancer patient whose parents send her to a support group. At the group she meets Augustus Waters with whom she forms a friendship which grows into something more significant. The story then follows the two of them through their struggle to lead as normal a life as possible while facing a terrible illness.

There is also a subplot where Hazel and Augustus go to the Netherlands to seek out their favourite author Peter van Houten who write the book An Imperial Affliction, as they want to find out what happened to the characters in the book after the book ended.

This book is classified as Young Adult, although I have to say I never really pay attention to those kinds of classifications. I guess as soon as a narrator or main character is a teenager the book is classified YA, but that should not deter any adult from reading it (not that it often does, in my opinion).

It is definitely a read I can heartily recommend. I was quite annoyed by the Peter van Houten sub plot, but it does end up fitting very well into the story, not the least because of what happened with Augustus and Hazel when they are in the Netherlands.

Of course this is a heart-wrenching story that will make you ugly-cry. I read it in one sitting when we were on a mini-break in London and I finished it in the middle of the night in the hotel room. As my husband and kids were in the room too I had to move into the bathroom to have a good cry about it. But it is a very topical book; there are so many people, including children, with cancer and there are very few books that deal with the issue in such a direct way. Or maybe I have just not read any of them, but I thought it was very enlightening to crawl into the mind of a sixteen year old girl with cancer and see the struggles she faces. Not only the obvious ones, but especially ones you wouldn’t really think of.

So whether you are into YA books or not, you can’t go wrong with reading this one.

Just checking…

Hello everyone, is anyone still out there?

It has been ages since I have posted anything, as I have had to concentrate on my studies (as explained in my last blog post). I have studied really hard and this morning I wrote my exam which went surprisingly well. I only have to get 50% for a pass and I feel like I did answer 50% of the questions correctly, so it seems that all my hard studying paid off. I have to wait until mid July before I get the results and in the meantime I have to continue studying as I have another two exams coming up in November.

relaxBut I can still take a little breather and not study absolutely every day, so I may have some time for blogging again. As I went through my studies I did manage to find some time to read, so I will have a book review coming later this evening and possible another few over the next couple of days. I am also hoping to reinstate the weekly quote as I quite enjoyed that one.

I haven’t just been studying the last few months,  but because my brain has been taken over by tax information, I have not felt the least bit creative enough to write. I have barely even written in my diary since Christmas. However, I have not entirely been uncreative, I have really ramped up my crocheting skills. I have started crocheting amigurumis as they are quite quick to do and they always look so cute. The kids of course love this development and have put in several requests (mostly an enderman from Minecraft for my eldest and a “fluffy unicorn, but not pink” for my youngest son).

On the weekend I have started crocheting a teddy bear from scratch, so without a pattern. I have just finished the feet tonight and have to do the face and the ears before it’s all finished, but once I am done I will post a picture. I am rather proud of the effort as I didn’t really think I was that creative. I usually like following patterns (or recipes for cooking and baking), but most patterns online are ridiculously expensive, so rather than spending money on one, I decided to come up with one myself. Maybe I will write this one out and sell it myself (just kidding, if I do write it out I will post it on my blog for free).

Anyhow, it’s good to be back, even though it’s temporarily. Stay tuned for blog posts and I will keep you updated on when I need to disappear again.