Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Zombies and Angels

I have two more author events to report about.. .both of them at the "other" (Provo) library! The first one included two author appearances as part of the Teen Book Festival.... Susan Beth Pfeffer and Jonathan Mayberry. Everyone (well some anyway) was dressed up as zombies. It was awesome! Both authors had a turn to speak, then they answered questions panel style, then we could get books signed.

Here's Gene, director of the library, in his zombie get up.
 Courtney, who puts on these awesome programs, has her back to us here.

This is what was sitting right in front of me and what I  was privileged to look at the whole time!

Susan Beth Pfeffer and Jonathan Mayberry.
She talked about how she came to write Life As We Knew It ,
how it was her saving grace after she thought she was a total has been.
He talked about his research into supernatural creatures, and the "true" myths behind them.
I found it to be very fascinating.
He also told us the story of getting chopped with a meat cleaver
 while working as Bruce Springsteen's bodyguard.

Getting our book signed.

Getting our book signed.
I told him maybe his book would be the one to once and for all make
 me understand the whole zombie thing. He is certain it will.

Then the next week was another event called Angel's Night Out. It was quite the shindig! (We even had to pay a little bit for this one!) It was a party to celebrate the launch of Finale, the last of the Hush Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick. Everyone dressed up in formal attire (well some) and mingled for a bit while being served mock-tails and hors d’oeuvre by angel boys (local college/high school boys dressed in black with angel wings.) Then the authors joined us!

Becca Fitzpatrick ..... along with
Kresley Cole, Tonya Hurley, and Elizabeth Miles.
(I have no idea which name goes to which author, except Becca on the far left.)

This is what was in front of me this time! 

Ah, and the star of the show was not the author, but the cover model for Patch!
Everyone that wished to could have their picture taken with him.
We got a good giggle out  of that.
Did we have our picture taken? Nope. 
Here's a better picture of Patch/Drew snagged off the internet because,
I just thought you deserved it!

Also that night Emily (from Emily's Reading Room) presented Courtney with a little picture of the library,
signed by all the local bloggers (and others probably) because sadly, Courtney, the one who has made all
these author events happen, has moved and left us!
Strangely, at this event I did not buy (or bring) a book to be signed! That felt quite weird  but I decided I don't have to do that every time, right?

I went to both events with Jenny from Alternate Readality (these events wouldn't be near as fun without a buddy to go with!) We saw Kami (Kami's Library Thoughts) at the first one (and I can't remember who else) and Emily and Diana (from Book Adventures) at the second one. The blogger attendance was meager this time!

And here's a fun video for you that they showed us at the first event... a zombie music video done by the son of the library director. Watch!

You may be wondering... are the recent deluge of author events over yet? If so, I would tell you... NOPE!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: It's a Twofer!

I skipped Top Ten last week, but I wanted to still post about it since it's Halloween themed and Halloween is.. you know... tomorrow and all! So, here's TWO top ten lists... last week and this week! I know you'll be thrilled!

Oh, and be sure to head on over to The Broke and the Bookish for the lists and links and all the fun.

Last week:

Top Ten Books to Get Into the Halloween Spirit

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker
2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
3. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
4. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
5. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
6. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
7. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
8. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
9. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
10. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Oh... I get chills just reading that list!!

This week:

Top Ten Awesome Heroines
(yes, I changed the descriptive term, not a fan of that K word!) 

I'm hoping the definition of this term doesn't necessarily mean one who fights well, though I think that's what usually comes to mind. I guess I'm thinking of it more as a strong survivor type, or one who goes and makes things happen, not waiting for something to happen to them.

1. I'm sure Katniss is one everyone's list, so I'll just join the crowd and put her here on the top!
2. Sacagawea... the book I read and loved was by Anna Lee Waldo. Now there's a book I haven't thought about for awhile!
3. Sulan, from the recent book I read by Camille Picott.
4. Evanjalin from Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
5. Mary Ingles from Follow the River by James Alexander Thom.
6. Kira from Partials by Dan Wells
7. Saba from Blood Red Road by Moira Young
8. Siri from Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson
9. Katsa from Graceling by Kristin Cashore
10. Elayne or Min from the Wheel of Time series, I couldn't decide which one!

Whew, that was harder than I thought it would be! Maybe I was being too picky in my definition?  Also, I was trying to be a little different (with the exception to Katniss.... and Katsa probably too.) Could you tell?

What would your list (s) look like?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Book: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating: ★★★★★
For: Fun

From: Kindle ebook purchase

This is one of those books that I've heard tons about and noticed that lots of people of loved it, but I never really knew why or what it's about. When I saw it on Amazon for cheap, I bought it for the Kindle, started reading it pretty much instantly and couldn't stop. It took over all my other reading, even though that wasn't in the plan at all.  I loved it.

This is an interesting take on a dystopian society where two different groups of people have evolved in two totally different ways. You have the group that believes the sun and outside air are contaminated and therefore they've created safe bubbles (and underground even I think) to live in. Theirs is a very high tech society, one where they live their lives in a virtual reality most of the time. (Wow, I've been reading about this a lot lately. I'm thinking this is truly the direction of our future.) They've gotten rid of (supposedly) all bad things and life is just easy peasy.

The other group has adapted to life on the outside, and has in fact regressed technology-wise to the very far past. They live nomadic, tribal, basic survival lives.

This is the story of what happens when a girl from the inside gets kicked out and crosses paths with a boy from the outside. In this book, much of the story happens within the society living on the outside. We learn their customs, their special talents, their way of surviving. As far as the society on the inside, we don't know much. My guess is future books (of course, you know there's more!) will deal more with their story.

Anyway, so I found it all fascinating. I loved the leading dude... he was so different from your normal YA love interest guy. He had so many flaws and problems and he was just not your perfect guy. And yet... and yet.... he was all the cool stuff too. I don't know. I just thought he was great and a blast to get to know. And the relationship that forms was fun to be a part of too, not the normal there either. It took awhile. It was more the slow burn thing we talk about sometimes. With that being said, let me also add that I think this book has one of the most romantic kisses ever! Whoa, that's saying a lot!

And the society and the world created here was so interesting to me. I guess it had elements of many other dystopian stories, but still felt different and unique, if that makes any sense at all. Anyway, all I know is that I was immediately sucked in and couldn't stop thinking about it when I had to work or do whatever else needed doing.

Bottom line: It was a blast to read! I loved it.

Other Reviews:

It was unique, well-crafted, smart and complex. From One Librarian's Book Reviews has it all: adventure, bravery, love, danger, tension, tenderness, betrayal, and loyalty. From Rhapsody in Books Weblog

Under the Never Sky is the ultimate combination of elements in previously successful dystopian novels, twisted in such a way to make each element fresh and exciting. From That's What She Read

The side characters are also compelling. They each play a part, but seem to belong to this story. They don't just conveniently appear when needed -- they are part of the world. From Annett's Book Spot

Sexy hand holding you guys, Sexy. Hand. Holding. From The Allure of Books

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Currently: TV Talk and More!


(as written on Saturday evening)

Listening: oh, well, so I was just browsing Youtube and suddenly found myself listening to a Johnny Depp interview. I have no idea why, but that's what's on while I write this!

Eating:  In and Out Burger this evening. It was good. Tomorrow the college kids are coming for dinner, so I have plans for a nice one. We'll see.

Loving: all the author signings I've been to lately! I will post this week on more! Wow, but it's been crazy around here!

Reading: The Twelve by Justin Cronin. Wow. It's good in parts, and hard in parts. But, it's been my book for a whole week. It's taking me too long!  I need to read a bunch of fast easy books!

Feeling: great that the Halloween costumes are done! I thought I was all done with this phase of life, but the kids wanted to dress up for school and so yes, we did costumes. Both from video games.

Watching: So, I've been watching lots and lots of TV... lots and lots of catching up! Several episodes into Revenge. Loving that. And now I've started Parenthood... what? Oh my goodness, great show so far. I've watched one or two Buffy's and a couple new Merlin's on YouTube and still trying to keep up with the new Downton Abbeys (found on this Facebook page guys, just in case you want to) and all caught up with Once Upon a Time, Amazing Race, Survivor and Vampire Diaries. Whew. I'm telling you, this TV thing... I don't know....

Wanting: time to slow down, as always, so Christmas won't come as fast as it usually does. Sound like a plan?

Needing: a way to motivate myself to get exercising again. Suggestions?

Thinking: that Markus Zusak week was fun, but I'll be glad to get back to normal posting this week. Anyway, I hope you were able to catch some of the awesome guest posts I featured! Thank you to everyone that participated!

Enjoying: a very lazy Saturday today.... and despite that, I even managed to clean out the bird cage!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Getting to Know Markus Zusak

Of course my dream would have been to interview the subject of this week's celebration himself, or to have him list his five favorite books for me, or to have him write a guest post. But I wasn't sure how to go about that, my one attempt went unheeded and I didn't want to publicly bug him on Twitter.

So instead, for this final post of MZ Week, I've decided to browse the internet for interviews other people have done and list some of the most interesting answers and facts here. And let me just say.. there's TONS more out there now than there was a few years ago when I was combing the web for info on him!

I've simplified original questions, but I've left the answers the same. At the bottom, I will list all the sites where this info comes from and so hopefully I won't get in any sort of trouble!

How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I read some books that were the right books for me. I read them and I didn't even notice turning the pages anymore. I thought, “That’s what I want to do with my life.” There are two magic acts I want to pull off when I write. One is creating a feeling that when you’re inside a book, you believe everything you’re reading even when you know it’s not true. And the second is an extension of that, which is you know it’s not true, you know it’s not real, but you believe it anyway. And it’s that believing of the story that isn't real that attracted me to writing and storytelling in general.

I was sixteen when I tried to write my first book. And it could easily be entered into a competition for the worst book ever written. I only wrote eight pages. That’s what happens every time I write a book now. I write eight pages that aren't very good at all. Then I go through it the next time and the next time, pull the gems out and start again.

Who's your favorite character, and is it based on a real person?

I think Rudy is my favourite character (from The Book Thief). I loved him from the moment he painted himself black and pretended to be Jesse Owens. I cried the most for Rudy as I was writing. He is 80% fiction, with a few splashes of my father. For example, my dad stopped going to Hitler Youth, the same way Rudy did. He was also hand-picked to join a selective school for Nazis and his father was sent to war for refusing to hand him over.

From a more comedic angle, I feel like the best reason for I am the Messenger existing is because of The Doorman. I loved that old dog who wouldn't move from the door.

What were your favorite books as a teenager? 

 My Brother Jack (an Australian classic by George Johnston) and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (Peter Hedges).

What was your inspiration for Liesel and how did you write from a girl's point of view so well?

The first thing I should say is that I still cheated. I still didn't write from Liesel’s point of view…but it was actually a natural thing to have a female lead character. The luckiest part about my childhood was to have two parents with amazing stories who both happened to be great storytellers on top of it. With no disrespect to my dad, it was my mum’s world at the outskirts of Munich that had the greatest influence on me. That’s why I chose Liesel. Of course, the instant I fictionalized something, it wasn't her anymore. Liesel ceased being my mother on page eight or nine and became herself, even when I borrowed from my mother’s life story.

What does Death look like, in your head?

To be honest, when I think of Death, I hear the voice, and then I see the sky, the earth, the trees and all of us. It’s why I wanted Death to talk about those things in terms of “who,” like “the sky who was wide and blue and magnificent.” I wanted Death to talk about all of those things as if they were colleagues—all part of the same thing. Maybe I see Death as the part of us that knows all the time that we’re going to die, reminding us to live properly. Then again, sometimes I do like to see the old Grim Reaper, just for a bit of a laugh…

Are you a reader? What do you read?

It’s insane to be a writer and not be a reader. When I’m writing I’m more likely to be reading four or five books at once, just in bits and pieces rather than subjecting myself to a really brilliant book and thinking, “Well what’s the point of me writing anything?” I’m more likely to read a book through when I take a break from writing.

What was your favourite book as a child?

I loved a strange character called Grug. It was a whole series. Grug and the Big Red Apple, Grug and the Rainbow, Grug and the Green Paint, all by Ted Prior. I could describe him in more detail... Actually, I can't. Grug pretty much defies belief.

Have your parents read The Book Thief?

My parents became insufferable while I was writing the book, because it kept getting longer and longer. They kept asking, “When’s the book going to be finished?” Finally I just had to banish the discussion. Now, my mum’s read the book three times. She’s listened to the audio as well. When my dad read it he swore at me and said, “You made me cry.” I couldn't say anything but thank you.

You said you didn't think anyone would read The Book Thief, now that it's a bestseller, how do you feel?

It still astonishes me. It’s really ridiculous in a sweet way when people line up to get the book signed and they want to get a photo. The fact that there are people who really want to read this book and have loved it is really humbling and makes me want to write a better book next time. People say to me, “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself; you don’t have to write a better book. It just has to be a different book.“ And I say, “Every time I wrote a book previously I thought I had to write a better book so why not this time as well?”

Did you put something of yourself into the main character, Ed, from I Am The Messenger?

It’s unavoidable I guess when you write anything. There’s probably a piece of me in Liesel and a piece of me in Death. If you look at Ed or even at Cameron Wolfe, the protagonist of my first two books, there’s definitely a lot of me in them. I think I was a lot like Ed. I lacked confidence severely for a long time, and that was a fundamental part of Ed’s character. Underneath it all I wanted Ed to be like a superhero, but without superhero powers. I think that’s when you find out who you really are. What if you had to do amazing things and you had to reach into your humanness for that? That’s what Ed is doing in that book.

Do you find writing easy?

I find writing extremely difficult. I usually have to drag myself to my desk, mainly because I doubt myself. And it's getting harder because I want to improve with every book. Sometimes I guess it's best just to forget there's an audience and just write like no one will ever read it at all.

What makes you write now?

To me the question is always this: if a ray of light came out of the sky and said, "Your next book will never be published - would you still write it?" If the answer is yes, the book is worth writing.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Don't be afraid to fail. I fail every day. I failed thousands of times writing The Book Thief, and that book now means everything to me. Of course, I have many doubts and fears about that book, too, but some of what I feel are the best ideas in it came to me when I was working away for apparently no result. Failure has been my best friend as a writer. It tests you, to see if you have what it takes to see it through.

What do you do when not writing?

I live near the beach, and a great park. If I’m not at either of these places, I’m in the backyard.
Or doing the dishes.
Also I’ll read.
After all, that’s why I wanted to be a writer in the first place.

Tell us about your next book.

My new book is called Bridge of Clay. It’s different again from what I've done before, and I hope it will be better than the last book…

I've changed in just about every way since I started writing. I’m both less patient and more patient, more and less confident…The only thing that hasn't changed is that I still end up at the desk somehow. I have a lot of days where I’m plagued by doubt and have trouble with the work, but I always come back. Maybe that’s just because I’m not qualified to do anything else, but I’m not so sure.

Where do you get your ideas?

I used to lie about this, but now I actually know –
I started writing when I was sixteen. I’m well into my thirties now. I get my ideas from twenty years of thinking about it.

What made you decide to become a writer?

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a house painter like my father, but I was always screwing up when I went to work with him. I had a talent for knocking over paint and painting myself into corners. I also realized fairly quickly that painting bored me. When I was a teenager, I read some books that brought me totally into their worlds. One was The Old Man and the Sea and another was What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. I was also inspired by S.E Hinton’s novels – The Outsiders at the start, but as time went on, more so by Rumble Fish. When I read those books, I thought, That’s what I want to do with my life. After many rejection letters, it took seven years to get published, and there were countless daily failures along they way as well. I’m glad those failures and rejections happened, though, because they made me realize that what I was writing just wasn't good enough – I had to push myself to improve.

Links for the original interviews:

Politics and Prose Bookstore:

Chicago Public Library:

Mother Daughter Book Club:

The Guardian:

Markus Zusak's Tumblr:

Random House:

Links for following Markus Zusak:


I hope you've had fun this week! I know I've had a blast. And I hope, more than anything else, that if you haven't read one of his books, you now have the desire, you'll wait no longer and you'll just do it!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Guest Review by Jayla from LadyBlueJay: I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak


One of the things I hoped to do as part of my Markus Zusak Week celebration was to encourage a "brand new" Markus Zusak reader to go ahead and read one of his books and review their first impressions for us. It seems like everyone in my particular blogging circle is a huge fan already and has read one or more of his books, so I was hoping to find someone who had not, and to see what it would be like for them, reading one of his books for the first time.

Thankfully, Jayla from LadyBlueJay, jumped at the chance. She thought at first she'd go for reading The Book Thief, but decided instead on I am the Messenger. She is a graduate student and is VERY busy but still she managed to fit this in and write a review for me! I thank her for being so willing to participate despite life's craziness.

Here's her review:

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

This is my first Markus Zusak novel. I know. I know. You are probably thinking – what has taken you so long , Jayla? I am not really sure how to answer that question other than the fact that I just heard about this spectacular author when The Book Thief came out. My expectations for Markus Zusak were high. I've heard so many people talk about what an amazing writer he is. You know what – they are all right!

Ed Kennedy is pretty useless, or at least that is what he thinks. He works as an (underage) cab driver and romancing the ladies is not his forte. All this changes after he stops a bank robbery and suddenly becomes the hero of the town. Then he starts getting playing cards (each one is an ace) in the mail that have a list of names. Ed scopes out these people and makes an assumption to help them. There are a couple of cases where he has to make things right through violent means.

My first thoughts of Ed were that he was too hard on himself and that he didn't really seem to have that much going for him. He reminds me of a lot of the awkward guy friends I associated with in high school. Like Ed Kennedy, these guys were really great people but they just needed a shove in the right direction when it came to showing their potential and character. Markus Zusak created some of the most realistic characters I have read.

Markus Zusak is also one amazing writer. The mix of comedy and seriousness were a great blend for I am the Messenger. What I really liked about the writing was the ease in which it seemed to flow on the page. Everything clicked and made sense to the characters, time period, and location of the novel. It’s been a while since I've read a book that falls together so nicely.

And then there is the ending. I am not one of those people who give away the ending, but I will say that I really didn't expect that to come. But the ending is just one of the reasons that this novel is so great! The suspense and, ultimately, the resolution played out very well.

If you are like me and haven’t read a Markus Zusak novel, I think I am the Messenger is a great introduction to an amazing author! The characters, plot, and writing are what make this an exceptional piece of work! Markus Zusak has been added to my Authors To Read list.

What did you think of this novel?

--Jayla (LadyBlueJay)


Sounds like we have a new member of the fan club! Thanks so much Jayla for playing along here. And I'm so glad you liked it!

The first time I read this particular book I wasn't sure what I thought. I know I was concerned that it was being marketed as a teen book when to me it seems a bit too gritty for that group. And I don't think I even "got" the ending! (I'm especially slow sometimes!) But the second time around I was blown away by the deep an profound thoughts this kid has and by the overall powerful message of the book. Love it.

The week is quickly wrapping up! Don't forget to join in the conversations over at Jessica's (The Bluestocking Society) and here for chances to win both The Book Thief and I am the Messenger!

Also, be sure and check out Melissa's (Avid Reader Musings) report on seeing The Book Thief play in Chicago this last week!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Guest Review by Jenny from Alternate Readality: Getting the Girl by Markus Zusak


When I decided to go ahead with the idea of a Markus Zusak week, one thing I knew I wanted for sure was to have my long time friend, Jenny (from Alternate Readality) write a post about Getting the Girl. It's funny because Jenny and I, even though we are the best of bookish buddies, we tend to disagree a lot about so many books. However, when it comes to Markus Zusak and his books, we are SO on the same page! I knew that this particular book meant something quite special to her, so I've asked her to try (and I know it was a hard thing to do!) and articulate why and how it speaks to her.

So while I've called this a review, it's actually more of a response or a reaction.

Take it away Jenny:

Whenever Markus Zusak’s name is mentioned what do you think? Admit it, you think of The Book Thief. Yeah, yeah, it’s his most beloved book. And if you couldn't quite get into, The Book Thief you probably love, I am the Messenger. Now don’t get me wrong. I love those books too. You can’t help but love anything Zusak writes if you give it a chance. It just saddens me that people give The Book Thief so much love and even give I am the Messenger a thumbs up but are hardly even aware that Zusak wrote three other books. Come on, people, you can’t call yourself a true Markus Zusak fan and not have read ALL of his books. Or worse, read them and dared say they weren't as good as his latest books. Why? Because they’re not about something as controversial as a World War 2 or something as fascinating as mysterious playing cards showing up in the mail? For shame!

The Wolfe Brother’s series stands all on its own as an amazing series about human nature, coming of age and conquering our greatest adversary. Self doubt. As much as I love ALL of Markus Zusak’s works I have a soft spot for Getting the Girl. K, I feel so stupid saying this but you know that song, Killing Me Softly by the Fugees? You know how it’s all about this girl that goes and hears this guy sing and he’s totally singing about her? Well, that’s how this book feels to me. I swear Markus studied my soul and then displayed it across the pages of this book. I feel arrogant as sin saying that, though because I’m not nearly as sweet and compassionate as Cameron Wolfe (the hero of the story) is. However I relate so much to him that I sob hysterically every time I read this beautiful book.

Cameron Wolfe just can’t live up to the rest of his family. His brother Ruben is charismatic, can win any fight he sets out to, and always gets the girl. Cameron, on the other hand, can barely even talk to girls and lives his life walking the streets of the city and longing after Octavia, the girl his brother is currently dating. He just wants to amount something and have real love. When Ruben breaks up with Octavia, Cameron is devastated that she’ll no longer be around but he never imagined that she might like him or believe in him.

We all have those books that will probably always mean more to us than to anyone else because of how well we can relate to the MC and for me, that book is Getting The Girl. Just like Cameron, I have a family who often makes me feel like I’ll never measure up to anything. Just like Cameron I’m a bit introverted and, yes, have been known to wander the streets at night. Creepy, I know, but mostly I relate to his longing for love. Ouch! That was hard to say. I’m not some social freak but the truth is I’m not married, not in a relationship and I wish I was. So I get it. Cameron’s words touch me. I think they’re capable of touching anyone who’s ever longed for love.

Another truth is I’m an animal.
A Human Animal….
…..God, how I want the skin of women! I want it on my lips and hands and fingers. How I want to taste her…
Beneath that.
That’s not enough!
Yes, when that’s done, I also want the everything that’s her to fill up so much in front of me that it spills and shivers and gives, just like I’m prepared to do myself. 

For me, Getting the Girl is the story of how belief and love can give a person the courage and strength to begin the journey of becoming the something they've always wanted to be. And THAT is a beautiful idea for story.

“You ever hear a dog cry, Steve? You know, howling so loud, it’s almost unbearable?” He nodded. “I reckon they howl like that because they’re so hungry it hurts, and that’s what I feel in me everyday of my life. I’m so hungry to be somethin’ to be somebody. You hear me?” He did. “I’m not lyin’ down ever. Not for you. Not for anyone.” I ended it. "I’m hungry, Steve.”

So why do I love this one and how does it make me feel? In a sentence, (and I’ll steal it from the book)…….. My thoughts kneeled down.


Ah that's so perfect! Thanks so much, Jenny, for spilling it out there for us! It's awesome to see plain and simple how books and especially these Markus Zusak books, get right down to our emotional core. 

My readers, what books have especially spoken to your emotions? Or what book felt like it was written just for you?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Remember That One Time When Markus Zusak Came?


I'm teased a little (okay, a lot) about  my love and infatuation for all things Markus Zusak. Even my husband has jumped on that particular band wagon! But let me just say right here, there are many many people who feel the same way about him. There is no way AT ALL that I have any sort of corner on the Markus Zusak frenzied fan market. 

To prove that, I've gone back in time to late March 2011, back when the man himself came to our humble corner of the world. I've found as many blog posts as I could where other fans like me raved about the experience. Here's what they had to say:

There is no way I can put into words how fabulous the evening was. From Eve's Fan Garden

Markus immediately drew us as an audience in with his humility and personality..... I am full of respect for this author, who was so giving to his fans and so humble despite his success. From The Story Girl

What a gracious man. From Once Upon a Time

[He says] he’s a writer because he tries to do the simple things well. From Chersti Nieveen

The man himself arrived and the room, which was mostly women, went wild. From The Adventures of Karl and Allie

He was funny, charming, personable, quick-witted, smart, and articulate in both his talk and the Q&A session afterward. Seriously, listening to him was pure entertainment. From Book Harbinger

Even though he must have been exhausted he talked to everyone, and didn't just sign his name. He wrote inscriptions and even added little doodles From Amelia

Here is the guy who wrote a book that made me cry the entire last 50 pages. Here is the guy who inspired me to keep my chin up when things were really depressing this summer. Here is the guy who wrote, honestly, one of the best books I have read in a long time. I couldn't stop smiling....Sometimes, they meet your expectations. Sometimes, they surpass. From Emma Sue Alice

I know it sounds cheesy, but the room was just filled with this feel good vibe because we were all so happy to be there and he was so happy to be there and there was just this huge amount of love going back and forth between him and the audience that night. From Richey Family

And did I mention that he is young? And Australian? And kind of cute? Not that I'm saying that here, just, you know. Some might. From Voice of Reason

He said that he felt so comfortable with this audience. He told us things that he doesn't normally tell. How special! From Book Adventures

He thought that The Book Thief would be the most unsuccessful of all his books. He wasn’t writing it for fame. He wrote it because he really felt it. It was something that was close to him. From Karen M. Krueger

....and then he read from The Book Thief, which was stunning to me. The audience nearly forgot to clap afterwards we were all so... so... floored really. It was so cool. From It's All About Books

My very favorite thing he said was telling us about a beginning to The Book Thief that did not work. It was far too creepy-stalkerish. It began with Death saying: "This is the story of a young girl. Do you like young girls? I do. Then again, I like everyone." From J.L. Collings

As it turns out, he is delightful, insightful, modest, entertaining, charming, obliging, appreciative, interesting, and unpretentious. From Every Day I Write the Book

This was the best signing event I've ever been to. Markus’s presentation was hilarious, entertaining, enlightening, moving, and just overall fantastic. From Jenni Elyse

Wow! What fun it's been for me to re-live that event through everyone else's eyes! I'm so curious now to know if the people who met him this week in Chicago are feeling the same way. My guess? Without a doubt, yes.

Here's a montage video I made back then of the experience. Enjoy!

Have you met a favorite author? Did the experience live up to your expectations?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Guest Review by Melissa from Avid Reader's Musings: The Underdog and Fighting Ruben Wolfe


One of my favorite bloggers and fellow Markus Zusak fan, Melissa from Avid Reader's Musings,  has agreed to be a part of this week by being guest reviewer posting her reviews of his first two books, The Underdog and Fighting Ruben Wolfe.

Melissa has some fun things going on over at her blog, including a regular feature where she lists books and authors and other bookish things associated with each state on the U.S. Check out this list! She is participating in The Classics Club (is helping to run it too I believe) and check out this list! She's crossing things off like crazy! To learn more about her, click on over to her about page here.

But what did she think about Markus Zusak's first two books? Let's read her reviews now:

The Underdog
by Markus Zusak

Before Zusak gained fame for writing the beloved novel The Book Thief, he wrote a trilogy of books about a young man named Cameron Wolfe: The Underdog, Fighting Ruben Wolfe, and Getting the Girl.

The Underdog is his first book and the beginning of that trilogy. It tells the story of the Wolfe brothers from Cameron’s point-of-view. He and his older brother Ruben live in Australia and spend their time getting in trouble and annoying their family members.

The novel feels immature in some ways. The style flips back and forth between bits that are stream-of-consciousness, dreams, reflections on the action as it happens, etc. But regardless of that, you can still recognize Zusak’s style even in this early work. He has the ability to turn the simplest feelings into beautiful phrases and that is such a gift.

Cameron is emotional, just like any teenage boy; his feelings are so raw and intense. Even if the plot of the book isn’t that surprising, it’s still a relatable coming of age story that I think rings true with teens.

The work isn’t perfect. There isn’t much of a story, but even in his earliest work you can see the gems of what’s to come. He’s such a talented author and it’s incredible to see how far he’s come in only a decade.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s certainly not Zusak’s best work and it’s not the best place to start with him. But if you already love his writing then the completists out there will want to read it.

“Had years defeated us? Had they worn us down? Had they passed like big white clouds, disintegrating very slowly so that we couldn’t notice?”
Fighting Ruben Wolfe
by Markus Zusak

The Wolfe family is struggling. Cameron’s father is unemployed, his mother is working overtime to keep the family afloat, his sister is recovering from a broken heart by partying all night and his eldest brother Steve has decided to get a place of his own. Meanwhile Cameron and his brother Ruben join a local boxing league and are duking it out to make some extra money.

There’s so much more to this story than boxing or teenage angst. At its core it’s a poignant story of the bond between brothers. There are crushes on girls and dog racing in between those moments, but the most important story is that of Ruben Wolfe; a boy who can’t seem to find happiness despite winning his fights. His brother Cameron is the one who tells us the story and he is the antithesis to Ruben. When Ruben wins, Cam loses, when he gets a girl Cam inevitable loses one, yet the two provide a balance in each other’s lives. They both have an immense love and respect for the other and when one is in pain, the other can’t help but feel it.

BOTTOM LINE: You can almost watch Zusak’s talent grow as you read this trilogy. It starts with a relatively simple story and transforms into a powerful one somewhere along the way. The seeds of his brilliant writing are there in each book. I can’t wait to read the final book in the trilogy and see what happens next for Cameron Wolfe.

“It’s funny, don’t you think, how time seems to do a lot of things? It flies, it tells, and worst of all, it runs out.”

SIDE NOTE: The original books are incredibly hard to find (at least for me) in the states. Last year all three books were published as a single omnibus called “Underdogs” and now it’s everywhere.


Thanks Melissa! Awesome reviews!

Melissa gets to see The Book Thief in play form this week (or last weekend perhaps it is?) so be sure to keep watch out on her blog for her review of that! I'll post a link when it becomes available.

If you've read these first two books, let us know what your impressions were. We'd love to discuss.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Reviewing Markus Zusak's Books


To get this Markus Zusak week going, I've asked Melissa, from One Librarian's Book Reviews to gather lots of quotes from reviews about his books and compile them into a post. You can find that post over at her blog today! Please be sure to go and check it out and see all the different ways these books touch all sorts of different readers in all sorts of different ways.

Here's a list of the books that he's written to date, just to get them straight in your mind:

The Underdog, published 1999

Fighting Ruben Wolfe, published 2000

Getting the Girl, published 2001
(published as When Dogs Cry in Australia)

I Am the Messenger, published 2002
(published as The Messenger in Australia)
(Printz Honor 2006)

The Book Thief, published 2005
(Printz Honor 2007)

Underdogs, published 2011
(a compilation of the first three books, The Wolfe Brothers series)

Bridge of Clay, to be published soon hopefully!

Have you read them all? If not, what are you waiting for?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Welcome to Markus Zusak Week!


I decided I wanted to be part of the latest blogging trend and have a week! My week of choice?

Markus Zusak Week!

I'm timing this week to coincide with his latest trip to the U.S. Yes, tomorrow he will be appearing in Chicago as part of their One Book One Chicago celebration. I hope you people in that area get to go. Sadness if you miss it. That area of the country is also lucky enough to be able to go to a play adaptation this month of The Book Thief. Melissa from Avid Reader is part of that lucky group and she will be telling us all about it on her blog later this week. I can't wait to hear how it was!

The Story

So once upon a time I heard about this book called The Book Thief. I can't remember where exactly, but I think it was at book club (the other one, not the one I host every month.) And now I can't remember what they said, but I remember thinking... "sounds like a book I'd like." So I got my hands on it (did I buy it? I can't even remember!) and read it back in late 2006 or early 2007. That was before I started book blogging so I have no review to link to then. I remember thinking, wow, that was such a different and powerful book. Wow.. that book was so... amazing! And the more I thought about it the more impressed I was.

That year, I convinced the book club, the one that meets at my house, to read it, which is why I re-read it only one year later. The second go around was even better.

Sometime during that year, I researched and looked up the author to see what else he'd written. I came across this video on Good Morning America's site (done in 2006 I think) and literally melted.

From there, I had to read everything he'd written and learn everything I could about this author. Sadly, at that time there wasn't much out there to learn. He seemed very reclusive and mysterious!

I found myself talking about him at every bookish opportunity I had. Once I started blogging, I finally had an outlet where I could be a little fanatic and not worry about the crazy looks. Mostly.

Several years went by, and meanwhile I read all his books, then read them again. I was so disappointed to realize that his very first book, The Underdog, was no longer in print and completely unavailable  I wondered if I'd ever be able to read it. Happily, last year, it was reprinted along with its two companion books, all about the Wolfe brothers, in a single volume called Underdogs. Sweet. I was so excited!

And then, at the end of 2010, the word started going around that he was coming to this area, that the library would be hosting him the next year. I thought it was a joke at first, and just couldn't believe that this sort of reclusive, probably shy, author all the way from Australia would come to Utah of all places. It really was hard to fathom.

But come he did, and let's just say, he exceeded all expectations.... and expectations where high after all the years of promoting, reading and wondering about him.  And now, more than ever, I love it when I have the chance to talk about him and his books and his writing.

This week, I'll be having several guest posts on my blog written by other Markus Zusak fans... including some reviews of his books, especially the more obscure ones, some thoughts from across the blogosphere about what people are saying about his books, and thoughts from a first time reader.

I hope you'll come have some fun with us!


To get things started there's a couple of giveaways lasting all week long.

To have a chance to win The Book Thief, head on over to Jessica's, from The Bluestocking Society.

To have a chance to win I Am the Messenger, stay here and comment!

Yes, once again, instead of having you enter Rafflecopter doodads or fill out a form, I'm making you comment. I know, it's a pain (hopefully less of a pain than making you follow me, or tweet, etc. Oops, my giveaway issues are showing!)

 BUT, the whole idea of this week is to get us talking, and so, I have questions to help!

In order to enter the giveaway for I Am the Messenger:

** please answer any of the questions (found below) in comments.
** you will get extra entries for replying to other people's comments... in other words, I will count every comment as another entry (excluding my own comments of course.)
** I will be sending the winner this book direct from Amazon, so you must have an address they will ship to in order to be eligible. Ugh, sorry.
** At the end of this week's celebration, I'll pick a winner using and let you know by email and get your mailing address then.
** Please include your email address in your comment. Thanks!
** And, if you'd like to play along, but already have I Am the Messenger, I'll send you another one of his books instead! :)

Now, the questions:

-- Have you had an experience with a Markus Zusak book? If so, tell us about it.
-- If you've read more than one, which one is your favorite?
-- If you haven't read one yet, why not? What's stopping you?
-- Have you read one of his books and NOT liked it? If this is the case, I'd love to know why.
-- Have you meet Markus Zusak? What was your experience like?
-- What author would you like to meet, but think it will never in a million years happen?

Thanks for playing! I hope you have fun this week celebrating with me!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Review: Feedback by Robison Wells

Book: Feedback by Robison Wells
Genre: YA Dystopian-ish
Rating:★ ★ ★ ☆☆
From: bought at the launch party the other week
For: fun and supporting local authors

I was so excited for this book! What a cliffhanger Variant left us on! I mean, he walked in and there was... and we thought... and then we wondered... what? And then.... bam ... it ended!

So it was with much anticipation that I picked up this next book, which by the way, is the last. It's just the two of them, no trilogy. Weird, I know.

Now, how to review this book without spoilers for Variant? I think there is no way, so BEWARE, SPOILERS AHEAD... for Variant anyway. I'll try to keep from spoiling Feedback.

Variant ends when we think that Benson and some of his friends have escaped this weird school they've been housed in all throughout the first book. But we come to learn that instead of escaping, he has just found a sort of  "behind the scenes" place were there are more kids living a rough sort of working life, much different from the school life, and in fact even worse and more hard.

So they hideout there for awhile, hoping that they can still somehow escape for real this time and get help and rescue all the kids. During this time, they learn more and more about what's going on at the school and how everything works.

Still though, nothing makes sense. And before he knows it, he finds himself.... well... sort of back where he started!

While I totally enjoyed the book, I didn't feel completely taken with it like I did the first one. Gah, I hate how that happens sometimes with second books! It was a frustrating story, you know the kind, where you are hoping and hoping that the characters get a break at some point, but they never do, and it's exhausting!

But I enjoyed the twists and the turns and the fact that you still never really know who is what and what is who. It keeps you guessing and hopping and trying to figuring things out. Very fun.

And the end? Wow.. weird!!! Someone who's read it, let's discuss in comments!!

Bottom line: I enjoyed it a lot. Fun story all around.

Other Reviews:

Feedback is amazing, fast paced, suspenseful, full of thrills and unexpecteds. From Book Adventures

This book hits the ground running and doesn't stop. From One Librarian's Book Reviews

FEEDBACK has the action of VARIANT, perhaps more so (and the stakes are certainly raised), but the twists aren't as compelling... From Presenting Lenore

Feedback does answer many questions that were raised in Variant, and there are many twists, turns, and surprises! From Read Many Books!


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