The Whimsical Mama

<3 Such is the life of a stay at home mommy and Army wife (:

Waiting on Wednesday #28: The One by Kiera Cass April 30, 2014

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Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine. It showcases upcoming releases we’re anticipating!

 

 

My pick of the week is:

The One (The Selection #3)

 

By: Kiera Cass

 

Coming: 6 May 2014

 

Publisher: HarperCollins

 

Summary:
The Selection changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever. And now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.

America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

From the very first page of The Selection, this #1 New York Times bestselling series has captured readers’ hearts and swept them away on a captivating journey… Now, in The One, Kiera Cass delivers a satisfying and unforgettable conclusion that will keep readers sighing over this electrifying fairy-tale long after the final page is turned.

 

Why I’m excited:

I’ve been intrigued by this series for a while, but have been putting off reading it so I could read it all at once. I’m interested to see where it all goes in the finale. I’m a little leery of the love triangle that seems to polarize fans. I’m number one on the waiting list at the library so I’m totally read to binge this series with the audiobooks that have already been requested and added to the ipod in anticipation!

Why I need you to be excited:

It’s a series that’s coming to an end and you know how I love a good series.  Since it’s ending, if you haven’t read it like me, that means you can binge read it without the torture of having to wait for the next book! (: Come read with me and see who America picks!

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Top Ten Tuesday #36: If You Like X, Try These Ten Books April 29, 2014

 

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Each week, the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish think up a fun theme for the week and participating bloggers around the net join in. The theme for this week is:

Top Ten Books to Read if You Like Pearl Harbor/WWII Movies

Night by Elie Wiesel. This is one of the best books to read from a Holocaust survivor. I read it in high school for a class. It’s such a powerful book and I think it should be a required reading.

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman. A great read from inside Hitler’s inner circle. It has fictional characters as well as historical figures in it so tread lightly if you’re looking for a purist portrayal of history.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Another great read. I’d never read (that I recall) from the German perspective before this. It’s also in the view of an unique narrator – Death. It’s a great look in WWII poor Germany.

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank. It’s been ages since I read this, but it was so fantastic that I have to recommend it. I’m sure almost everyone has heard of Anne Frank, but I think more people should read her diary. Such an inspirational young woman who would’ve grown to do great things if her life hadn’t been cut short.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I remember reading this when I did a paper on Lois Lowry in junior high. I should reread it soon because it was a good short read. Annemarie is such a strong young woman who shows great courage in a greatly troubled time.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Um. Wow. This book is great. The first half can be a bit of an info dump, but it’s what the character is supposed to do.The second half is beyond incredible. Both narrators are extremely courageous and it’s beautifully written. I laughed, I cried, I hugged my copy close.


Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. The companion to Code Name Verity, it’s even more powerful than the first. It’s an inside view of the Ravensbruck women’s work camp. It’s hauntingly beautiful. Another one I think should be a required reading! (:

A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Another high school read. I don’t remember much, but it was a good read.

American Girls Molly & Kit by Valerie Tripp. These might appeal to the younger crowd. I read the Molly books as a young girl and have read a few of the Kit books as I got older once they came out. I plan on sharing them with my kiddos!

Dear America there are a couple of good ones in the series. A few that I’ve read are One Eye Laughing, the Other Eye Weeping, My Secret War. Christmas After All, and Early Sunday Morning. These are also good for the younger side.


Those are my top WWII/Pearl Harbor (movie) era books! So some of them are series and the other books aren’t listed.  (: Tell me, what are your favourite WWII era books that you’ve read? What did you pick for your topic this week? Feel free to leave a link to your page and I’ll come visit!

 

*Review* Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein April 28, 2014

Rating:4 stars
Pub date:10 September2013
Publisher:Disney Hyperion
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
Format:e-book via library
Status:Book two of the Code Name Verity companion duology

Summary:

While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women’s concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that’s in store for her?

Elizabeth Wein, author of the critically-acclaimed and best-selling Code Name Verity, delivers another stunning WWII thriller. The unforgettable story of Rose Justice is forged from heart-wrenching courage, resolve, and the slim, bright chance of survival.

My thoughts:

The last book in my World War II binge is Rose Under Fire. I couldn’t wait to jump in after finishing Code Name Verity. I knew as a companion novel, it wouldn’t be a true sequel, but I was excited to see the next part.

The ending of Code Name Verity ripped my heart to shreds, but it warmed to see Maddie coping relatively well several months later. Though Maddie returns in Rose Under Fire, our leading lady of the story is American pilot, Rose Justice. Rose and Maddie do become fast friends though! Elizabeth Wein does a fantastic job again, creating such genuine feeling characters.

Rose is a young woman determined to prove female pilots are just as good and just as important to the war effort as male pilots. Though the US is involved with World War II and has been since the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Rose is surprised to find just how different life is in the US vs Europe. The depression is raging in the US as well as in Europe and there are vast shortages, but in the US, Rose didn’t have to worry about being bombed like Maddie has dealt with in the UK.

Rose is courted by Maddie and Jamie’s friend, Nick. Before he’s transferred to the front, he proposes and Rose thinks he’s joking. She remarks that she doesn’t understand why so many people rush into marriage during war. This comment struck a chord with me. As I’ve said before, my hubby and I got married 72 hours before he had to report back for duty before he flew out for Iraq. We had had the marriage before battle talk several times before we got married. Unlike Rose and Nick, , we’d known each other and dated for almost a year and a half. It wasn’t a rushed thing like Rose believed hers would be. In a way, she comes to regret her decision.

During a mission, she’s intercepted by two Nazi war planes which force her to follow them to Germany. They are surprised to see that she is a female pilot, but still turn her over to authorities. She is sent to Ravensbruck, the same camp Julie was sentenced to go to.

Once at Ravensbruck, we meet several other incredible women. First, we meet Elodie who was part of the French Resistance. After this brief encounter, she and Rose never encounter each other face to face again, but Elodie still plays a major role as a supplier.

She later meets the Rabbits and a few other political prisoners. The tales of what these women endure is very difficult to stomach. Even though this is a historical fiction novel, it is based on true evens that did occur at the prison camp.

It is incredibly relieving to know Rose survives Ravensbruck. I don’t think I’m spoiling this the way the book is laid out and if you look at the chapter lists. Still, reading the things that happens in Rose’s six month tenure is heartbreaking. All of this happens after D-Day, which was the turning point in the war, but not the end by any means. The time frame Rose recounts her time in Ravensbruck is the same time the 89th Infantry Division liberated Ohrdruf Concentration Camp. Reading Rose’s story and having researched the things my Grandaddy saw had me in tears off and on the entire latter part of the book. My Grandaddy could never speak of the horrors he saw.

Roza, one of the Rabbits, was operated on five times at Ravensbruck and was almost permanently crippled. The doctors did horrific experiments to “simulate” situations at the front. In reality, it was for the sheer pleasure of torture.

Karolina only endured one operation but spent eight months terribly ill and close to death before she finally recovered. She escaped with only a minor limp.

Lisette was a political prisoner from Poland, but she was originally from France. She was the adopted mother of the group. I absolutely adored Lisette. She reminds me of my Gran with her love of learning and being incredibly loving and caring.

Irina was a Soviet combat pilot who had been shot down and captured. I also admired Irina. Though she was staunchly against the Fascists, she also wasn’t thrilled with the Soviets.

The story comes to a close during the Nuremberg trials. In a way, the conviction of the captured Nazis doesn’t seem like enough justice for the terrible things they did. There never could be large enough Earthly cost for them to pay for their crimes.

I really liked that most of the book was written as a journal recounting. I have never been through anything traumatic and I’ve often kept a journal because like Rose, I find writing therapeutic. I did enjoy her poetry. I would like to know more about what happened to Rose down the road. Did she become a doctor? Did she get married, etc.? Minus that disappointment, I highly recommend Rose Under Fire. A difficult topic to stomach, but a lesson to be remembered so as to not be repeated.

About the author


Elizabeth Wein has lived in Scotland for over ten years and wrote nearly all her novels there.  Her first five books for young adults are set in Arthurian Britain and sixth century Ethiopia.  The most recent of these form the sequence The Mark of Solomon, published in two parts as The Lion Hunter (2007) and The Empty Kingdom (2008).  The Lion Hunter was short-listed for the Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2008.  Elizabeth also writes short stories.


Elizabeth’s latest novel for teens is a departure in a totally new direction.  Code Name Verity, published by Egmont UK, Disney-Hyperion and Doubleday Canada in 2012, is a World War II thriller in which two young girls, one a Resistance spy and the other a transport pilot, become unlikely best friends.  Code Name Verity has received widespread critical acclaim. Among its many laurels it is shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal; it is a Michael Printz Award Honor Book, a Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards Honor Book, and an SCBWI Golden Kite Honor Book. It is also a New York Times Bestseller in young adult fiction.

 

*Review* Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein April 27, 2014

Rating:5 stars
Pub date:7 May 2013
Publisher:Disney Hyperion
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction
Format:paperback, personal copy
Status:Book one of the Code Name Verity companion duology

Summary:

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.

My thoughts:

The next book in my World War II binge is back in the Allied perspective. In a way, it was comforting to return to it. Code Name Verity is the harrowing tale of British (not English, mind you) best friends, Julie and Maddie. One is a pilot, the other is a spy and this two part book covers the beginning of their friendship through an operation in France in 1943. Remember, this is classified. Careless talk costs lives. (World War II OPSEC – operation security – for Britain) This MilSo LOVED that reference throughout. I think I’ll encourage anyone who asks details about hubby’s future deployments to look up World War II propaganda.

The first narrator of Code Name Verity refers to herself as ‘Queenie’ through her tale. She has been captured by the Gestapo in France. She agrees to tell them information about the British airfields in exchange of ending torture. In the way she gives the information is through the story of how she and Maddie became best friends.

You can tell through her mannerisms and speech that ‘Queenie’ comes from a privileged background. At times she seems flippant, which may be how she protects and isolates herself from her situation, but it was a bit grating. Not enough to deter me from finishing. I was far to interested to see the outcome to let a bit of snarkiness get me down! I can be quite snarky myself.

Queenie’s tale is also very heavy with technical details. It can be a bit overwhelming, but you have to remember she is doing her job. She agreed to give details on Britain’s air front war movements and that’s what she does.

There are some very tedious parts through her tale as well as some heartbreaking ones. She has little interaction with the other prisoners, but what she does is hard to stomach. She has to witness torture and an execution. She also has to deal with them hurling insults at her because she has agreed to work with and help the Germans in order to save her own skin – if only temporarily. Spies don’t survive capture and she understands that. She doesn’t sit and dwell on rescue. She remains realistic and determined to carryout her mission.

“It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.”

The second half is narrated by ATA pilot, Maddie Brodatt. You already feel a connection with Maddie because you watched how her friendship with Julie unfolded in the first half.

Maddie survives the crash in France, but is in more danger than ever because she is a Jew. Obviously, German occupied France is not the best place to be a Jew. From Maddie, we get some missing pieces of time that Julie didn’t know what happened. She visits Julie’s home and sparks start smouldering between Maddie and Jamie, Julie’s beloved brother who survived an aeroplane crash in the North Sea.

Once Maddie knows Julie has been captured, she wants to do something to help free her. While she’s stuck underground, waiting to be extracted from France, she gets to experience life with a French Resistance family. (So, now I’ve had poor German, Hitler’s inner circle German, German Jews, British pilot, British spy, and now French Resistance family – just making my rounds through all involved parties!)

I enjoyed Maddie’s part a lot more than I enjoyed Julie’s. Despite Julie’s situation which should’ve been rife with emotion, it keeps you a bit at arm’s length. It wasn’t a bad thing by any means. I’m a very emotional reader, so I connected to the emotion driven Maddie more than I did with the cool and calculating, Julie. I loved both characters dearly, I just happened to connect with Maddie more.

In reading a few blurbs, I saw one mentioned that mentioned a ‘tear stained copy.’ I was concerned that Code Name Verity wasn’t striking me as deeply as it had others until the end. I was very glad that I was outside alone and the kiddos were down for naps so I could week in peace. Elizabeth Wein did such an incredible job creating two incredibly inspiring heroines. She did an amazing job of thrusting me smack dab in the middle of war torn Britain and France. I will say that ever since I saw Pearl Harbor, I’ve wanted to read more about the RAF/Allied pilots and just never have. I’m glad I went on impulse to order this after hearing great things about it. I’m always on the lookout for strong female leads and Elizabeth Wein delivers two in Code Name Verity. This is a book I gladly recommend to historical fiction fans, those looking for a good copy tale, and those who are plane enthusiasts. Looking down the road to when my kiddos are older, I plan on encouraging them to read Code Name Verity. It’s THAT good! Now, “Kiss me Hardy! Kiss me quick!”

About the author


Elizabeth Wein has lived in Scotland for over ten years and wrote nearly all her novels there.  Her first five books for young adults are set in Arthurian Britain and sixth century Ethiopia.  The most recent of these form the sequence The Mark of Solomon, published in two parts as The Lion Hunter (2007) and The Empty Kingdom (2008).  The Lion Hunter was short-listed for the Andre Norton Award for Best Young Adult Fantasy and Science Fiction in 2008.  Elizabeth also writes short stories.


Elizabeth’s latest novel for teens is a departure in a totally new direction.  Code Name Verity, published by Egmont UK, Disney-Hyperion and Doubleday Canada in 2012, is a World War II thriller in which two young girls, one a Resistance spy and the other a transport pilot, become unlikely best friends.  Code Name Verity has received widespread critical acclaim. Among its many laurels it is shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal; it is a Michael Printz Award Honor Book, a Boston Globe/Horn Book Awards Honor Book, and an SCBWI Golden Kite Honor Book. It is also a New York Times Bestseller in young adult fiction.

 

 

Please Be Kind, Rewind: 20-26 April 2014 April 26, 2014

I’m a killing it with reading lately! (: I have reviews scheduled all the way through the middle of June now. I’m starting to work on plans for my 1 year blogoversary. It’s so nice to be ahead of the game right now. It gives me time to work on the blog as needed and to spend quality time with my kiddos. My family still is and always will be my number one priority. I’m just glad that I’m able to share my love of books with them and it not be a detriment to our relationship. It’s great when we get in the car that Punk asks for books. He’ll listen to just about anything, but Pete the Cat is his favourite. (: 

Completed:

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols. 5 stars.

Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier (audiobook) 1 star.

My Not So Super Sweet Life by Rachel Harris. 4 stars.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver (paperback & audiobook) 4 stars




Currently Reading:

The Everything Mother Goose Book by June Rifkin (yes, we’re still working on it!)

Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone by JK Rowling (audiobook)

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (audiobook)

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

 

 


Read to the Kiddos:

Even Fire Fighters Go to thePotty  by Wendy Wax

Pete the Cat Big Easter Adventureby James Dean

Pete the Cat Play Ball by James Dean

Pete the Cat Pete’s Big Lunch by James Dean

Pete the Cat Pete at the Beach by James Dean

Pete the Cat Too Cool For School by James Dean

Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean



New to my shelf:

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols (Thanks, Jennifer!) 

My Not So Super Sweet Life by Rachel Harris (Thanks, Rachel!)


From the library:
audiobooks, lots of them! (:

 

Waiting on Wednesday #27: The Falconer by Elizabeth May April 23, 2014

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Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Jill at the Breaking The Spine. It showcases upcoming releases we’re anticipating!

 

 

My pick of the week is:

The Falconer (The Falconer #1)

 

By: Elizabeth May

 

Coming: 6 May 2014

 

Publisher: Chronicle Books

 

Summary:
Heiress. Debutant. Murderer. A new generation of heroines has arrived.

Edinburgh, Scotland, 1844

Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, was destined for a life carefully planned around Edinburgh’s social events – right up until a faery killed her mother.

Now it’s the 1844 winter season and Aileana slaughters faeries in secret, in between the endless round of parties, tea and balls. Armed with modified percussion pistols and explosives, she sheds her aristocratic facade every night to go hunting. She’s determined to track down the faery who murdered her mother, and to destroy any who prey on humans in the city’s many dark alleyways.

But the balance between high society and her private war is a delicate one, and as the fae infiltrate the ballroom and Aileana’s father returns home, she has decisions to make. How much is she willing to lose – and just how far will Aileana go for revenge?

 

 

Why I’m excited:

Oh. Man. When I first came across Elizabeth May on Twitter, I really contemplated ordering The Falconer in the British edition. I decided to wait until the US edition came closer to releasing and hoped to score an ARC. I did. I’ve actually already finished it, but I still wanted to showcase it on WoW. I must confess, I like the UK cover better and will probably order the UK version over the US. I am also planning on ordering the UK version of the second book. Not making the same mistake twice!

Why I need you to be excited:

It’s such a great book. It sucks you in and doesn’t let you go until the end. It only lets you go because there aren’t anymore pages to be read. Swoon worthy guys. A kickass heroine. Murder. Mystery. It’s amazing. It’s a fast read. It will leave you wanting more. There are faeries and steampunk Edinburgh. It’s fascinating. It’s screaming to be read. Do yourself a favour and check it out! 

 

Top Ten Tuesday #35: Characters Who X April 22, 2014

 

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Each week, the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish think up a fun theme for the week and participating bloggers around the net join in. The theme for this week is:

Top Ten Characters Who Inspire

Maddie Brodatt from Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. Maddie was absolutely incredible. Such courage and determination. Kiss me, Hardy!

Gretchen Mueller from Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman. It was inspiring to watch her learn to think for herself.

Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. I saw a lot of myself in Hermione growing up and reading the series. Fiercely intelligent and loyal. I loved watching her grow into all of her abilities and always being true to herself.

Annemarie Johansen from Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I loved Number the Stars and Annemarie when I was younger. She was such a strong young girl in the face of danger in World War II.

Ana from Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. Oh, Ana. Born into a world that hates her because they do not remember their past or understand her. She’s determined to protect other newsouls. She comes into her own strength.

Anne Neville from The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory. I loved learning about this little known queen. In this historical fiction portrayal, she goes from scared child to strong, determined Queen of England. The road wasn’t an easy one, but she rises to the occasion every step of the way.

Katniss from The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Immature and naive in many ways, she also is strong and determined to protect her family.

June Iparis from the Legend trilogy by Marie Lu. She goes from naive unquestioning soldier to strong young woman. Her journey is a difficult but rewarding one.

Davina Hamilton from the Uninvited duology by Sophie Jordan. Her entire world is torn apart and flipped upside down, but she refuses to abandon her true self and that speaks volumes to me.

The Little Prince from Le Petite Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Oh, the Prince. He really makes an adult stop and thinking about some of the ridiculous things we do. Children have an innocence that often gets stripped from them unnecessarily.

Those are my top inspirational characters! I could write volumes about each one. I really could. I love all of them. Who are your most inspirational characters? What did you pick for this week’s topic? Feel free to leave a link to your page and I’ll come visit!

 

*Book Blast* Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell

 

Today, I’m happy to be a part of the book blast for Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell! Feel free to take a look around or head back to the main post on Book Nerd Tours (just click the book blast image) to check out the other tour stops. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end! (: Thanks for stopping by!

 


Synopsis 
SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Running Press Kids
 


Spoiled, Versace-clad Cricket Montgomery has seventeen years of pampering under her belt. So when her father decides to ship her off to a summer camp for disabled teens to help her learn some accountability, Cricket resigns herself to three weeks of handicapped hell. 

Her sentence takes a bearable turn as she discovers the humor and likeability of the campers and grows close to fellow counselors. Now, if she can just convince a certain Zac Efron look-alike with amazing blue eyes that she finally realizes there’s life after Gucci, this summer could turn out to be the best she’s ever had.

Summer on the Short Bus is a very non-P.C., contemporary YA with a lot of attitude, tons of laughs, and a little life lesson along the way.

 

 
PRAISE:

 

“Crandell creates a wonderful and relatable protagonist with Cricket but even better than that, she surrounds her with equally relatable, flawed, and real characters…This book is an absolute winner!” – Feathered Quill Book Reviews

 

“A novel oozing with heart and humanity.” – Ken Baker, E! News correspondent and author of Fangirl and How I Got Skinny, Famous and Fell Madly in Love

 

“A hilarious and heartwarming ride.” – Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, author of How My Summer Went Up in Flames and Famous Last Words

Barnes and Noble        Amazon            Indiebound        Goodreads

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Bethany lives in San Diego with her husband, two kiddos (one of whom is differently-abled), and a chocolate lab who has no regard for personal space. She believes that prayer solves problems and that Jake Ryan is going to show up at her door any minute now…. She is represented by Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary Services.

Facebook                  Twitter                     Website

         Giveaway is open Internationally for Gift Card, US Only for Book. | Must be 13+ to Enter

 

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*ARC Review* Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman April 21, 2014

Rating:4 stars
Pub date:22 April 2014
Publisher:HarperCollins, Balzer+Bray
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance
Format:eARC provided by the publisher
Status:Book one of the Prisoner of Night and Fog series

Summary:

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her “uncle” Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf’s, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can’t stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can’t help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she’s been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she’s always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From debut author Anne Blankman comes this harrowing and evocative story about an ordinary girl faced with the extraordinary decision to give up everything she’s ever believed . . . and to trust her own heart instead.

My thoughts:

Continuing my World War II reading kick, I selected an ARC I’ve been looking forward to for several months. When I first saw the cover, I was intrigued and then I read the summary. I immediately added it to my TBR. I was super excited when I got autoapproval with Harper. Prisoner of Night and Fog was one of the first books I downloaded.

After I finished The Book Thief, I knew I wanted to continue my World War II binge and start knocking out some more ARCs. Fantastic luck that Prisoner of Night and Fog fit that bill perfectly!

Again, I was back in World War II era Germany. The events of Prisoner of Night and Fog take place at the beginning of Hitler’s rise to power. Where The Book Thief is about poor Germany, Prisoner of Night and Fog is about a young girl on the fringe of Hitler’s inner circle. It was a very difficult in the beginning, being in the mind of a National Socialist party supporter. Like I said in my review of The Book Thief, my great-grandfather (and also one of my grandfathers) fought for the Allies, so it’s hard to swallow Hitler’s propaganda through Gretchen’s eyes.

Gretchen was well done. She’s smart and driven. She’s very observant and thoughtful about what she sees/hears. As she learns the truth about Hitler and her world falls apart, my heart broke for her. The things she goes through and deals with are enough to shatter anyone, but she remains strong. It’s easy to root for her and hope she continues to succeed.

Her adversary turned romantic interest, Daniel Cohen, is a Jew. I loved him from their first encounters. It was obvious he came from a different background than Gretchen, but it helps make his character. He challenges Gretchen to really look at the things Hitler has taught her to believe. He tells her to look between the lies of the things Hitler is trying to get the people of Munich, and eventually all of Germany, to do. He serves as a wonderful friend and guide as Gretchen’s world crumbles. I can’t wait to see where things take them in the next installment.

The character that really struck me the most was Reinhard. For me, he was what you can’t help but assume all enemy combatants are – especially Nazis. To follow Hitler, you would assume they were all unhinged. Obviously, that’s not true for all Germans or even all members of the Nazi party, but for Reinhard, it is completely true. He is a complete psychopath. He made my skin crawl. He was definitely a perfect villain.

The biggest surprise for me was how Hitler was portrayed. I’ve always thought he was a complete psychopath with absolutely no redeeming qualities. Anne did an impressive job weaving in moments that made him seem vulnerable and human. There were even moments I felt sorry for him. But when he showed his insanity, it was all out. Anne did a great job again and again. I can’t wait to see the next evolution of Hitler in the next phase of Nazi Germany. She created a great view inside prewar Germany.

Prisoner of Night and Fog was a beautifully done historical fiction. Anne did a great job taking real people and weaving them in a fictional murder mystery. She created relatable characters to interact with real historical figures. I recommend Prisoner of Night and Fog for those who enjoy World War II historical fiction, especially for a look into Hitler’s inner circle at the beginning of his rise to power. The best thing? Prisoner of Night and Fog releases TOMORROW! (: 

 

 

About the author

Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn’t writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction.

After earning a master’s degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she’s not writing young adult fiction, she’s playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading.

Anne Blankman is the author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, the first in a three-book deal slated for publication in spring 2014 from Balzer + Bray | HarperCollins. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.

 

*Review* The Book Thief by Markus Zusak April 20, 2014

Rating:4 stars
Pub date:14 May 2006
Publisher:Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction,
Format:paperback, personal copy, won in giveaway, signed; audiobook borrowed via library
Status:standalone

Summary:

It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.

My thoughts:

My Grandaddy fought in the Army in World War II. Reading books about World War II has always been a passion of mine. I will say that I have always read from the Allied perspective. In the last year, I lost count of how many times The Book Thief has been recommended to me. I was also interested because it was coming to theatres. I’m very insistent on reading the book before I see the movie. Luck would have it that Markus was coming to Dallas on tour. Luck would not be with me to remember to order a copy to get to Mary for her to get signed for me. Luck and hard work would have it that I won her giveaway! And then it sat in the TBR pile and sat and sat. It took commercials for the DVD to finally get the mood started. After I finished Allegiant, I was in a massive funk and decided to go with something older on the TBR to help kick it.

My favourite thing about The Book Thief was that it was narrated by Death. It’s a perspective I’ve never read before. It’s also a perspective that is perfect for a World War II setting. Millions of people died. Death was a constant.

I will admit, I wasn’t as blown away as I was expecting. Liesel’s younger years were a bit tedious to read. It started out slowly, but continued to get better the older Liesel became. It was very interesting to see how the Depression hit Germany. HIstory told by the victors always down plays the loser’s plight.

It never became a dash to the finish kind of book, but you could tell the action in the war was picking up and made the reading more intense. The details were down to the nitty gritty. It wasn’t Tolkien detail, but it was enough for a vivid picture of poor World War II Germany.

The characters are incredible. Though I wasn’t a fan of Liesel in the beginning. Not her personally, just the flow of the story in the beginning. Every character was real on the page. It felt like you could walk down the street and talk to them. I did really enjoy watching Liesel grow. She refused to let her initial ignorance remain a hindrance. She fought for every ounce of intelligence she gained. She was feisty and brave. Rudy was a great friend and fiercely loyal. I greatly admired how he immediately drew to Liesel and remained a great friend through thick and thin. I absolutely adored her foster parents. Her mama kept everyone at arms length, but loved wholeheartedly. Her papa was an incredibly loving and caring mad. Her reminded me a lot of my Grandaddy’s temperament. Max, the Jew that the family hides is a real and raw character. Death describes his regrets beautifully. The friendship between Liesel and Max is lovely.

The ending. Oh, the ending. It was just, wow. Even though Death tells you what’s coming ahead of time, it is still heart shattering. Roger Allam as Death was perfection. I listened to the ending on the audiobook and the sound of his voice as he told what happened had me in tears. It was a good thing I read the ending while the kiddos were napping because I was a sobbing mess!

Though I didn’t find it as spectacular as a lot of my blogging peers have, I did enjoy the story. I do recommend it for those who enjoy World War II historical fiction. Reading from the German point of view was very interesting and a learning experience for this this Allied soldier’s great-granddaughter.  

 

About the author

Markus Zusak was born in 1975 and is the author of five books, including the international bestseller, The Book Thief , which is translated into more than forty languages. First released in 2005, The Book Thief has spent a total of 375 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and still remains there eight years after it first came out. Markus Zusak grew up in Sydney, Australia, and still lives there with his wife and two children.

 

 
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