A Book Review: The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

A book review from Ink-Stained Wretch Renee Kimball

Ink-Stained Wretches

Marcus Zusak published The Book Thief in 2005, and despite his initial personal misgivings, it was an instant success.  It is a story of ordinary people trying to survive under extraordinary conditions, and a girl who loved books.

It is also a mournful story, and not one that you can simply close the cover and walk away from, it follows you.  It seeks answers to thorny questions – it forces uncomfortable responses.

What is immediately clear is Marcus Zusak is a sensitive writer.  His idea for the book began in Zusak’s childhood – his parents of Austrian-German descent grew up under Nazi rule.  After having a family, they told their stories to their children around the kitchen table.  Zusak remembered those stories, and they became the soil in which The Book Thief grew.  (Random House, 2009) (Book photo, Amazon.com)

Zusak provides a surprise on the first page –we meet the…

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Learning to Write My Way: A Cautionary Tale

Excellent advice for anyone who wants to write a novel–from Noreen Cedeno at Ink-Stained Wretches

Ink-Stained Wretches

Don’t do what I did.

First, I learned how to write. Then, I learned how not to write. Then, I had to relearn how to write again.

woman-thinking writingWhen I first started writing, each story was a new adventure with new characters and settings. Stories ideas would come into my brain, marinate for a few days, and then I’d start working. I didn’t make a conscious plan to create stories in any particular genre. I wrote stories for me, telling the stories I wanted to tell as the ideas came to me. Having analyzed and written short stories during my education, the process came naturally to me. I simply sat down and began working, knowing the story needed a strong opening, rising action, a climax, and a dénouement.

As I grew more confident in my work and began submitting my short stories to magazines, I thought I’d figured out how to…

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Comicpalooza Day 2: Moppets & More

Official business completed, we spent several hours wandering through the Comicpalooza exhibit hall. Passing by a panel in discussion mode, I heard a young woman say that when she first became involved in cosplay,  she was shocked that strangers came up and touched her. She wasn't prepared for that. I wasn't prepared to hear they … Continue reading Comicpalooza Day 2: Moppets & More

Comicpalooza Day 1: Men’s Rooms, Thor, & Lumbar Support

We're in Houston for the screening of David's short-short animated video, "Blood Bank." Before most trips, I stay up half the night doing laundry, but last night I stayed up cooking pot roast. The fixings had been around for several days--I'd told David to buy them and I would cook, but then life got in … Continue reading Comicpalooza Day 1: Men’s Rooms, Thor, & Lumbar Support

Author, Author: Josephine Tey–Occupying the Hinterland

About the inimitable mystery writer Josephine Tey

Ink-Stained Wretches

by M. K. Waller

On his twenty-first birthday, Simon Ashby will become a rich man. He’ll inherit both his mother’s fortune and Latchetts, the estate left by his parents on their accidental death eight years ago. In the interim, his aunt Bee has, by skillful management, built Latchetts into a profitable farm and riding stable.

The other Ashby children—Simon’s sisters, nineteen-year-old Eleanor and nine-year-old twins Jane and Ruth—look forward to his  becoming master of Latchetts. Bee’s pleasure is marred only by the memory of Patrick, Simon’s twin, who shortly after their parents’ death disappeared, a presumed suicide.

Six weeks before Simon’s birthday, however, a stranger calling himself Brat Farrar appears and claims to be the long-lost Patrick. He looks like Simon, remembers everything Patrick should, has a reasonable explanation for his long absence, and—a striking distinction—knows and loves horses. Initially skeptical, Bee is yet open to the possibility of Brat’s…

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Weird Again in Houston

  The Davises are off to Houston next weekend for Comicpalooza and the screening of David's short-short animated video, "Blood Bank." Whatever you're thinking "Blood Bank" is about, it's probably not. David's films are weird. That's guaranteed. Otherwise, they're unpredictable. Totally. According to publicity, Animation Shorts comprises "Short film finalists in the Comicpalooza Film Festival … Continue reading Weird Again in Houston

Z Is for Zoo & Zither: #atozchallenge

The Tale of Mervin and Leroy A Nap Time Story by Crystal Barrow Waller as recalled and recorded by her daughter   Once upon a time, there were two little moose named Mervin and Leroy. They lived high up in the Teton Mountains. One day, Mervin called out, "Merrrrrrrrrrrr-vinnnnnnnnnnnnn." Leroy heard and called out his … Continue reading Z Is for Zoo & Zither: #atozchallenge

Y Is for Y’all–Dictionary +: #atozchallenge

    Note: I wrote the following early on Saturday, April 27, Y-Day, but left posting until I returned from hearing La Boheme at Austin Opera. I got home later than expected, however, and forgot to post. When I remembered, it was already the 28th. I could have beaten myself up for fouling out of … Continue reading Y Is for Y’all–Dictionary +: #atozchallenge

X Is for Xerxes: #atozchallenge

  Lying in bed this morning, I came up with the perfect Y word. I began gathering information and working on an introduction. Then something in my brain clicked and I realized today is X. I figured I might as well go back to sleep. But then one of my characters, the sweet and very young … Continue reading X Is for Xerxes: #atozchallenge

W Is for the W-Words: #atozchallenge

    Buyer's remorse. And not even five hours have elapsed since the purchase. It happens every time. Why do I do this to myself? (W-Word: Why) News of the Writers' League of Texas' annual summer retreat arrived via email this afternoon, and I pounced--checked the calendar to confirm it doesn't fall on an infusion … Continue reading W Is for the W-Words: #atozchallenge

V Is for Vitality, Lack of: #atozchallenge

I thought I would write all twenty-six posts without them--I refrained from using them for Day C--but today I lack the vitality necessary to think of anything new. So on Day V I fall back on Cats. William and Ernest. As I recently posted, Ernest and I are having a disagreement over seating positions. My … Continue reading V Is for Vitality, Lack of: #atozchallenge

UnSubject: #atozchallenge

  I'm watching an old production of The Woman in White and pondering the place of the woman in Victorian fiction. There are two half-sisters, one who has inherited, or will inherit, great wealth; the other is relatively poor. The wealthy one is beautiful; she is delicate and wears pastels. Occasionally she faints. The poor … Continue reading UnSubject: #atozchallenge