City of Thieves: A Novel - David Benioff I finished it two minutes ago. WOW!!! Treat yourself to this book. There is no way any reader could not love this book. It is for the girls and it's for the guys. It is riveting. It is humorous. It is philosophical. It is a coming of age story. It is about the reality of war and specifically about the Siege of Leningrad. You will never forget the hunger, the cold and the misery of the Siege of Leningrad! Historical fiction at its best, and it shows why contemporary fiction should be valued just as much as the tried and true classics, noteworthy documentary non-fiction and memoirs.

Through page 277: Do you like suspense? Reading this you will hold your breath, too scared to breathe!

Through page 230: Chapter 12 was very gruesome. Then it got worse. When you think you cannot take it any more the author throws in some lighter bits so you can breathe again. Now its banter between young males and enticing females. Sure, everyone is dirty and in a normal situation far from being flirtatious or enticing, but here the norms are all changed. It feels so good and sexy and right after the other brutality. Just what you need at this point.

Through page 165: The juxtaposition of the humor and the horror is magnificent. I adore the freshness of youth. The reader tastes the sweetness of snow and feels how terribly cold it is.

Through page 141: This book says one thing loud and clear. Even in horrible times, when library candy is the melted down glue from book bindings between a few paper pages, one can still find things to enjoy, smile at and yes even occasionally laugh at. Be happy you didn't get killed yesterday..... Kolya, one of the two main characters, is just marvelous; 20 years - old so sure of himself, so calm in danger, expert of litterature, chess, women and dancing but still a real human being. The author pulls this off beautifully. In addition, through the relationship between the two main characters, the 17 year old and his "knowledgeable" 20 year old friend, the reader gets a very intimate and clear idea of the conditions existing during the siege of Leningrad. Many of the other characters are poignantly depicted - Sonja, so thin under the layers of wool, but still offering food or a cup of tea to others or the little boy, bundled in a woman's rabbit fur coat, dieing of starvation but not willing to give up his chicken more as a means to holding on to his memories of his grandfather than anything else. Others too, who have cracked under the pressure, and have resorted to cannabalism.

Through page 8: The writting grabs you immediately. I feel as one with the grandmother who "doesn't cook; she is famous in our family for her refusal to prepare anything more complicated than a bowl of cereal." She is just my type! Also a conversation between David(the author) and his grandfather concerning the basis for this book:

David says, "I want to make sure I got everything right."
Grandfather says, "You won't."
David: "This is your story. I don't want to fuck with it."
Grandfather: "David-"
David: "A couple of things still don't make sense to me-"
"David," the grandfather said. "You're a writer, make it up."

Before starting: Another book about the siege of Leningrad during WW2. Book Depository said, "We love this book so much we'll give you TWO other great books for FREE if you don't love it too." This was NOT a promotional deal - it was written on a slip of paper inserted into the book AFTER I had purchased it: The Madonnas of Leningrad by Dean was very good too. I feel like I am a kid at Christmas - I have so many great books actually sitting here on my wooden bookshelf waiting to be read. I went hog wild at Book Depository. There is nothing better than when you start a new book!