The Whimsical Mama

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

Please Be Kind, Rewind: 17 – 30 May 2015 May 30, 2015

Filed under: Books — Maura @ 11:45 pm
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More good reading weeks! We also got to spend some time with hubby’s family Memorial Day weekend. One of his cousins got married and we traveled to Knoxville to celebrate. It was an absolute blast and we wish them many years of happiness! ❤ I’m buckling down and getting caught up on blog work. I would like to get far enough ahead that I only have to sit down maybe once a week or so to work on the blog. I’m going to take it slow again this summer, but I’m also sticking to my schedule. Hoping if I can get enough work done in the next two weeks, I’ll be ready! Hubby’s military schedule is all shades of crazy this summer, so it’ll mostly be me and the kiddos on our own. Sucks, but it is what it is.

 affiliate links used below

Completed:

The Goddess Inheritance by Aimee Carter

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Goddess Legacy by Aimee Carter

The Heir by Kiera Cass

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

Nothing but Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Currently Reading:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

New to My Shelf:
The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
Twerp by Mark Goldblatt
Finding the Worm by Mark Goldblatt(Both Goldblatt books were sent by Cassie McGinty for a review! I haven’t decided if the reviews will go up here or on Voyages of the Backyard Explorers yet! Maybe BOTH! haha)

From Mary: (She’s the bestest best friend ever)

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefanoARC (My TBR may just fly out the window for this one! <3)
Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth WeinARC
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski(She surprised me with a finished copy! Also got my ARC signed <3)
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell(Take THAT USPS! I STILL HAVE IT!)

Trades: (Thanks, SO MUCH!)

Brazen by Katherine Longshore
Mortal Heart by Robin LaFeversARC
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne BlankmanARC
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine KuderickARC
The Fall by Bethany GriffinARC
Doll Bones by Holly BlackARC
The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
All Fall Down by Ally CarterARC
The Demigod Diaries by Rick Riordan
A Cold Legacy by Megan ShepherdARC (My collection is complete now!)
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
These Broken Stars by Aime Kaufman & Megan SpoonerARC
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Clariel by Garth NixARC

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End of the Year Survey 2014 January 3, 2015

Filed under: Books,End of Year Survey — Maura @ 12:00 am
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2014 End Of Year Book Survey

Last year was my first full year (partially) of blogging. I hit my one year of blogging in July. I didn’t post as much in the summer because I was enjoying as much time with my kiddos as possible. When I was ready to jump back in, the KH incident happened and honestly, it scared me a bit. So, I continued my step back from blogging. The safety of my family comes first and it always will. I’m ready to start blogging again though. I’ve missed it more than I thought I would. It was great to look back on my 2013 End of the Year Survey and then reflect on 2014. Once again, all the graphics are from Jamie.

***Affiliate links used below***

reading-stats-2014

Number Of Books You Read: 210 total, 122 personal reads
Number of Re-Reads: 20 (I really thought it was more!)
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy (duh)

 best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

Contemporary:
Find Me


This book. Oh. Wow.

Dystopian:
Defiance (Defiance Trilogy)

I didn’t spend the time on this that it deserved, but it is a beautiful dystopian/fantasy that I can’t wait to re-read and finish the trilogy!

Historical Fiction:
The Ring and the Crown

I’m a glutton for historical fiction AND Melissa de la Cruz books. This book was superb. I absolutely adored the alternate historical timeline that Melissa created. I am DYING for book two. *crosses fingers and toes for an ARC*

Paranormal:
Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)

Once again, I owe another great new book discovery to Mary. She’s been on my case to read these forever. I still have to finish book three, but these are such a great read!

Science Fiction:
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles)

Not my favourite of the series, but it was still great! I’m looking forward to Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana’s Story
and Winter this year.

Fantasy:
Illusions of Fate

I have a love-hate relationship with this one. Holy wow that Kiersten created this to be a standalone. Fantasy is not an easy thing to do that way. And GRRRR for this being a standalone! I would love to explore this world more! And look at that cover. BAM!

 

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

After the End


*RAGES FOR DAYS*

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 

17 First Kisses


If you know me at all, you know contemporary is NOT my thing. That’s why I was completely shocked by how much I adored this standalone debut!

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

Oceanborn (The Aquarathi) (English Edition)


I LOVE Amalie and her books. I will push Waterfell (The Aquarathi) and Oceanborn forever! PLEASE HarlequinTeen, I NEED MORE!!!! I definitely pushed it the most, not sure how many people read what I suggest!

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

These Broken Stars (Starbound)


Though this is technically a standalone, it’s also part of a trilogy and it’s INCREDIBLE. Oh wow. This audiobook. *swoons*

Frozen (Taken)


This definitely does NOT suffer a sophomore slump. So man feels. So much love. Book three noooooooow.

Evertrue: An Everneath Novel


*iz dead* So incredible. So happy I got to meet Brodi and gush over this beautiful series.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Dirty Little Secret


Again, still not a contemporary fan, but (thanks to Mary, duh) I am a HUGE Jennifer Echols fan now!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Open Road Summer

I seem to owe, Mary a lot for book recommendations! She asked me if I would be interested in reading and reviewing this for Bloomsbury. I said yes! She’s usually good on recommending books I’ll love, so I try to give them a shot. Emery’s debut is spectacular!

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The One (The Selection)

I don’t know what it was about this trilogy. I could NOT put it down! It was like crack!

 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Jewel

 This debut was fantabulous and I can’t wait for book two!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

Her Dark Curiosity (Madman’s Daughter)

 

I can’t wait til A Cold Legacy is out and I can have the pretties on my shelf! These covers are gorgeous!

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

Rose Under Fire

 Code Name Verity was rough, but oh, man, Rose Under Fire ripped my heart out and stomped all over it. Rose is just a powerful character!

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

Kiss of Broken Glass

Being written in verse was a huge switch up for the year and I loved how this flowed. It spoke to me on a deep level and I finished it super quickly.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Army wife. PTSD. Who I am and what I fear most. Laurie Halse Anderson took a topic supremely close to my heart and showcased it beautifully. I bawled, I laughed, I loved it wholeheartedly. Read it.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

Throne of Glass

I know, I know! Honestly, if I hadn’t had the chance to meet Sarah J Maas at YALLFest, I probably would still be waiting to read it! The wait between Harry Potter books was excruciating. Committing to another long series was just a tough decision. I definitely will love rereading them though!

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

“You get your energy from being by yourself,” I guessed. This was Harper’s description of the strange phenomenon I did not understand. “Having to talk to a bunch of people at once, especially people you don’t know, makes you feel drained.” Biggest Flirts
Biggest Flirts (The Superlatives)

1. Um. Hello description of me! I swear, Jenn followed me in HS to create her characters in The Superlatives! I see so much of HS me in all of them! ❤

“We don’t choose who we love, her mother had once said. Love sweeps you off your feet like a riptide, and leaves you blind by the time you find your footing on the shore.” Stolen
Stolen: A Novella (Taken)

2. This is so me falling in love with the hubby! I wasn’t expecting it, and I was swept up quickly. So beautiful.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Little Knife: A Tor.Com Original (THE GRISHA)

Shortest! Oh, this trilogy and its novellas.

What to Expect the First Year

Actual longest, but I didn’t read all of it (again) in 2014.

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments)

Actual longest completed. Bittersweet feeling.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Frozen: Heart of Dread, Book One

I so did NOT think it was possible for MDLC to write something I disliked so much. Guess there always has to be something, right? I was just SO let down with this. UGH!

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Night of Cake & Puppets (Kindle Single) (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy)

Zuzana and Mik FOREVS! ❤

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Blue Bloods 3-Book Boxed Set

So, they’re from a re-read like last year’s favourite pair, but OH MAN do I love Oliver & Schuyler’s relationship!

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

The Orphan Queen

Hands down my favourite from a previously read author. HOLY WOW. I’m dying for the Black Knife novellas!

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy)

Mary, stop glaring at me through the computer for taking so long to read this! I am so in love with this series! I plan to read it over and over through the years!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy)

Oh, Ronan. I loved you so much in The Winner’s Curse. Then reasons.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

Rites of Passage

This. Book. Read it. Now. Do it. Love it. Tell Joy how much you love it. Kthnxbai

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Snow Like Ashes

Holy wow. This world building. I was THERE. Sara is INCREDIBLE. I can haz book two?

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Selection

Stupid grinned through this. The Selection = Twilight for me. I don’t know WHY I love them so much, but I just DO. #TeamMaxon

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

The Book Thief

Bawled like a freaking baby through physical copy/audiobook and then bawled even harder watching the movie.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Falconer: Book 1

So much love for this gem! I’m impatiently waiting to see if the UK will be out in print before ARCs are out here for book 2 to see how I get my hands on it! I need to know THINGS.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

If I Stay

My feels. Dead. Dead, dead, dead. Sobbed so hard.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Dark Metropolis

Definitely some unexpected twists in this gem that made it so much better! Definitely an underdog that needs more love!

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Allegiant (Divergent Series)


REASONS. *RAGES FOR YEARS* This is a duology, man. Allegiant does not exist. >.< DEAD TO ME.

.

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 

I made friends with a lot of new bloggers on Twitter, but I dropped the ball on checking out their blogs. /: I plan to remedy that in 2015!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? 

EESH! I can’t pick just one!

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

My Tot Time Thursday feature I started seemed to be getting a lot of hits! I’m excited to see if it will still do well when I start it up again! (:

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

See below! But also, the Brodi/Jodi signing at the beginning of 2014! I love their books so much and it was great to get to meet Brodi Ashton, CJ Redwine, and Myra McEntire in person. And of course, it’s always awesome to get to see Jodi!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?

YALLFEST. Hands down, going to YALLFest. Because THESE happened

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Me with Leigh Bardugo *fangirls for days*

IMG_4319

Brendan Reichs!

IMG_4320

SO FLIPPING AWESTRUCK. KATHY FREAKING REICHS.

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Scott Westerfeld!

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LOVED meeting this fantabulous husband-wife duo! ❤

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SUCH a trooper! Her line was ridiculous AND she was sick.

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So happy I got to meet half of the lovely TeaTime ladies! ❤ Aubry!

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*iz dead* So my book didn’t get personalised for timing reasons, BUT I still got to meet her and talk to her! She is SUCH a sweetheart! ❤

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My Blogoversary post!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

A lot of them, but I am so thankful for the views of people who have been checking in every day to see if I’ve come back to blogging yet. You guys are AWESOME and I AM BACK because of YOU! ❤

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Bookoutlet and Book Depository!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I did, I did! I wanted to read 100 for me books and I surpassed it! I also set a Goodreads goal of 200 and I passed it as well. I was involved with a few challenges, but I stopped keeping track of them about halfway through the year. I think I completed most of them though!

 

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion)

I am so excited to see where the action goes next!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

The Cage

I have adored Megan’s Madman’s Daughter trilogy and I can’t wait to see where her new series goes!

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Red Queen

This cover. I am so excited! I’ve been seeing some mixed things on it, so I hope I come out loving it!

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

A Cold Legacy (Madman’s Daughter)

I’m so not ready to say goodbye yet!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

I hope to make sure I read to my children every single day. Doesn’t matter if it’s just a passage from what I’m reading and Punk asks or a children’s book. Just make time for them and read to them.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Burning Kingdoms (The Internment Chronicles)

Pre-order this and read it and Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles)
. Do it. Do it for the kitties. (;

 

Top Ten Tuesday #51 Hard to Read Books September 30, 2014

 

b301e-toptentuesday

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 That Were Hard to Read

affiliate links used – covers; titles lead to Goodreads

1. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

2. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

3. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

4. Where She Went by Gayle Forman

5. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

7. A Song of Ice and Fire George RR Martin

8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

9. Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston

10. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

 

Top Ten Tuesday #39: Books About Friendship May 20, 2014

b301e-toptentuesday

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 About Friendship

Punk & Ladybug wanted to include two of their favourites about friends. Of course they’re Pete books!

What books made your list this week? These aren’t strictly about friendships, but the friendships in them are some of my favourites.

 

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

 

b301e-toptentuesday

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.

 

 

*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.

 

Top Ten Tuesday #34: Most Unique Books I’ve Read April 8, 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 Most Unique Books I’ve Read

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz. This is one of the most unique books I’ve read as far as historical fiction goes. It was an alternate reality changing during the 100 Years War between England and France. It also has magic as a common place occurrence. It was really interesting!

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman. I’ve never read a book from someone inside of Hitler’s circle during his rise to power in Germany. It was really interesting to see the beginning of his rise. I enjoyed watching Gretchen (the main character) question everything that Hitler said was true to figure out things herself about what was starting to happen in Germany.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I thought it was extremely interesting to read a book narrated by Death. It’s a perspective I’ve never read before and I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t always nice when he spoiled something that was upcoming, but I learned to take it in stride. Plus Roger Allam as Death in the audiobook was SUPERB! It was also the first book (that I recall) reading from the German perspective of World War II.

The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory. I’ve always been interested in King Richard III, but have never researched him as much as I would like. I was really intrigued by Philippa Gregory focusing on Anne Neville, who became Richard’s queen. I knew virtually nothing about her before I read it and then did a bit of research on her after I finished. I loved Aneurin Barnard and Faye Marsay’s portrayals of Richard and Anne in The White Queen.

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows. (You should’ve KNOWN Jodi would make the list!) Reincarnation. Wow. As far as immortality goes, I’ve always been drawn to vampire stories. I’ve never really thought about reincarnation as an option for immortality in a story, but Jodi does an incredible job with it! Plus her characters are top notch. *swoons for Cris*

Hourglass by Myra McEntire. Time rips and time travel? Yes, please! Myra also has a killer cast of incredible characters. I absolutely loved what she did with the idea of time bleeding together.

The Shadow Children series by Margaret Petersen Haddox. A dystopian without the post-apocalyptic events. Definitely a Big Brother type of government. Population control. In a world where it’s HIGHLY illegal to have more than two children, there’s a whole underground world of Shadow Children (illegal “extra” children). I never finished the series, but thinking about it for this list makes me want to go back and see what happened!

Cirque du Freak series by Darren Shan. I love a good vampire book. Darren Shan takes a different approach to vampires and how vampires are turned. (No sparkly vampires here!) Another series I’ve only read part way through. That’s the thing that sucks about “outgrowing” a reading level before a series is finished!

Robert Langdon series by Dan Brown. Oh, conspiracies. Things you thought couldn’t possible exist really do. They are so ridiculous formulaic, but I can’t help but love every story. Angels & Demons is my favourite!

Those are my top unique books! So some of them are series, but it works! (: Tell me, what unique books have you read? Feel free to leave a link to your page and I’ll come visit!

 

 
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