Maisy ❤ August 2014

reading time: ca. 3 min

Hello there - 
if you love books and movies, you've come to the right place. If not, well... sorry 'bout it.

The next big book on my TBR stack was The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (560 pages), which was an homage to Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden and childhood tales in general, surpassed only by The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (576 pages). Why haven't i read this before? Because i was saving it "until last", and by last i mean my summer holidays. So i would be able to fully appreciate the beauty of this book.

Read: The Book Thief (Markus Zusak, 2005)

Oh my god, i have waited so long to read this book. And now i've done it, and it has immediately become one of my dearest books of all time (along with the Lord of the Rings, The Thief Lord, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Snow Falling On Cedars and The House at Riverton a.k.a. The Shifting Fog)

The Plot:
When her little brother dies, Liesel Meminger encounters Death for the very first time. And for the first time she steals a book. From that moment on she lives with a foster family in Germany near Munich during World War Two. Torn from everything she's known, her foster father shows her the power of words as the two of them share late night reading sessions of "The Grave Digger's Handbook" (her first theft). Her love of books ties her to others, including the mayor's wife, Max, the Jew the family hides in the basement, and the neighbours sitting terrified in an air raid shelter waiting for the bombs to fall around them.

The Writing:
This is a story told by Death. An interesting point of view perhaps, but as it is set in Germany during WWII, maybe the only appropriate way of telling it. I enjoyed how Zusak treated the German people as human beings, rather than those "nasty Nazis" a la 1940's Hollywood. There are of course "nasty Nazis" because it reflects reality back then, but the majority of the characters are very ambivalent, complex and individual because again this reflects reality, and i'm glad to say the lack of stereotypes in this book is quite refreshing. 
Who new Death could speak such a beautiful language? The imaginative use of language, so poetical at times, is probably what made the most impact on me. At least on me as a writer. Such vivid imagery.
Somehow Zusak found the most appropriate, perfect way to tell this dark chapter in history: Plain, powerful, poetic, precise. And at the same time very abstract, almost fairy-tale-like. This is one of the very few books that actually made me cry and smile, sometimes at the same time, and made me keep reading until the middle of the night. Highly, highly recommended.

The Message:
Well. It's hard to put into words. Ironically. I would say the message of this book is: humanity can be found anywhere - between book pages, in an accordion player with silvery eyes, in a Jewish man with feathery, twig-like hair, in the story of a Word Shaker, in a boy with hair the colour of lemons, in a kiss or the lack of a kiss, in a Saukerl and a Saumensch, and most of all in the heart of a child and the soft arms of Death. 
I read a lot, on a regular basis 1 book per week, but only a handful of books have made me want to go back to the beginning and start over. Those are all stored on a special rack in my bookshelf. One of them is The Book Thief.

Watched: Attack on Titan (2013-present)

source: imdb
I had heard so much about this series when i finally decided to watch it last month, and oh - my - God is this show thrilling, suspense-packed and most of all frickin disturbing! I mean, Jesus christ, there are no words for this...

The Plot:
Giant humanoid mindless, man-eating creatures called Titans walk the earth. A small percentage of humanity survived by walling themselves in a city protected by three extremely high walls, even taller than the biggest of titans: Wall Maria, Rose, and Sina. (i love those names!) One day the city's outermost gate is brought down by a 60-meter "Colossal" Titan. 
This is where the real terror begins. 
When the boy Eren Jaeger loses his mother to one of the Titans (meaning: eaten by them), he vows to revenge her death by becoming part of the military to try and fight the Titans using grappling hook and steam powered jets, which enable them to zip and fly through the air.

The Message:
I think what is so intriguing about his series is that it is in synch with "the hopelessness felt by young people in today's society" as it was voiced by the media. Another core topic is fear, the panic facing an unknown, immeasurable power, and the permanent uncertainty and horror that the pressure of today's achievement-oriented society carries with it.

What i personally also liked is the idea of a futuristic setting (the story is set about 2000 years from now) that breaks with the stereotypical Asian-dominant sterile science fiction world. Instead we are presented with a gritty, grim, but yet idyllic panorama - which seems like a Medieval-looking Germany that starts off in a sort of Bavarian town, i think? And there are actually a lot of German references like first of all the names: Jaeger, Ackermann, Armin, Reiner, Dietrich, Erwin, Krista Lenz, Kirschtein, Springer... (by the way: Jaeger = Jäger = hunter). 
Besides that, the artwork is fantastic, the characters feel real (unlike regular animes) and the soundtrack is top-notch - i love love love the intro of the 1st season! Here are the youtube links to the Official Opening and the Extended Violin Version. So good!

Bottom Line:
It is bloody and epic. Just watch it. Or don't, if you're easily shocked. I was. I definitely was. But i'm a bit sensitive in that regard anyway. There's a lot of emotional and bloody scenes, so you may need to hide behind your hands from time to time. Because this anime will keep you on the edge of your seat. It's intense. And gory. And gruesome. I think i've made that clear by now.
Also, if you get scared easily, these Titans are extremely creepy. Like, Evil-Clown level creepy. In the end, wouldn't recommend it for early teens. Or for anyone really. Because it scared the sh*t out of me. But in an epic way. 

Maisy rates: 9/10 

source: imdb
Last but not least i also re-watched the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005-2008) for the third time!! The only series i ever re-watched were Death Note and The Last Airbender (which both happen to be anime by chance), and this is the first time i've watched a show a whole three times.

Which is why a made a review on The Last Airbender versus The Legend of Korra.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is a series with heart and mind. It is light-hearted, lovable and childish in an innocent-goofy-funny way but still meaningful and profound. Not to be confused with the James Cameron movie Avatar (2009) or - even worse - the movie The Last Airbender (2010) which is a terrible live-action adaptation of the series. 

The reason why i love this series so much is that 
a) it incorporates elements of Asian culture such as martial arts and spirituality - which is the perfect combination for someone like me who is Buddhism-oriented and slightly geeky :)
b) re-watching it doesn't bore me but makes me feel at home. Somehow it feels really soothing and calms me down in nervous times like these (as i am waiting to take the final oral exam on my bachelor thesis in less than a week and moving house a few days after that...)
and c) it just makes me feel happy and good about the world. Watching Aang and his friends (Toph! Zuko...! sigh...) is so heart-warming and funny, it actually makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis! But maybe i should stop babbling now, 'cause i'm getting a little emotional over here...

Maisy rates: 10/10 

Listened toShatter Me (Lindsey Stirling ft. Lzzy Hale, 2014)

And the few other songs that i listened to last month:

Roundtable Rival by Lindsey Stirling
Pirates (Medley) by Peter Hollens & Gardiner Sisters 
Baba Yetu (Civilization IV Theme) by Christopher Tin ft. Peter Hollens & Malukah
The Rains of Castamere by Ramin Djawadi ft. Peter Hollens
I See Fire (The Hobbit) by Ed Sheeran ft. Peter Hollens
Misty Mountains (The Hobbit) by The Dwarf Cast
Pippin's Song (The Lord of the Rings) by Billy Boyd ft. Peter Hollens
Into the West (The Lord of the Rings) by Annie Lennox ft. Peter Hollens
Guren no Yumija (Attack On Titan theme) by Linked Horizon
Guren no Yumija (Violin cover) by Taylor Davis (almost better than the original)
Shihouka (Juuni Kokki) by Kunihiko Ryo


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