The Whimsical Mama

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

Required Summer Reading & Giveaway July 14, 2016

Honesty moment: I HATE required readings. I despise being told what I have to read. I think the only thing in school that I actually read when I was SUPPOSED to read it was my senior year readings. And I didn’t even read all of them! haha. Most things I knew I would have to read a grade or so ahead of time and would read them early. I was big into fanfiction in junior high and high school. I read one about Lily and James during Hogwarts and they did an international magical acting competition. Hogwarts did The Crucible. Enough of it was thrown into the story that I wanted to read the whole play. Eight grade me begged my dad to take me to Barnes & Noble to go pick it up so I could read the whole thing. I did. Not sure if it was over a break or what and my eighth grade English teacher asked if we’d read anything interesting lately. I said The Crucible. She asked if I understood the historical background and all that. (Not only the Salem Witch Trials, but the communism hunt) I did. She was impressed and said a lot of high school juniors didn’t understand it. My thought? They’re idiots! Anyway. That’s one example of one I read beforehand. Others I knew enough about that I could fake my way through it.

Punk is going into kindergarten. He has a required reading list for the summer. Seriously. I was like….. wut? Anyway. While looking at it, I came up with the thought of wondering if I could match YA/MG/Adult books to his list. His are all topics so you could match children’s books to it. I have to admit, this was much easier than I expected except for one topic! Anyway. The topics are Bears, Friends, ABC, Frogs, Fairytales, Ocean Animals, Pets, and Free Choice (this one had me spazzing for a minute until I realised it was whatever book Punk wanted, not literally about free choice!)

Here’s my required summer reading list based off of Punk’s kindergarten list.

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The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Bears: This was literally the first book that popped into my head. Probably due to me having just finished it when I had this idea. A big theme throughout the book is Sammy’s bear.

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Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Friends: Again, literally the first book I thought of. Reagan and Lilah’s friendship is amazing as is this book. Emery Lord has such an incredible way with words! *sings Emery’s praises for days*

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ABC: This was the one that gave me a the most trouble. I initially thought to leave it at All Fall Down since it’s a children’s rhyme. Then I decided to do books with an A, B, and C in the title. I do have to admit, I haven’t read two of the three of these! I absolutely adore Code Name Verity though. It ripped me to shreds in all the right ways.

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

The Body Electric by Beth Revis

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin

Frogs: Okay, admittedly harder than the others, I finally came up with this one. I remembered the bannerman’s kids who come to join Bran as being from the swamp like area. And I’m pretty sure the boy was good at catching frogs. Or their sigil is a frog. Or something. Anyway. Swamp = froggy in my mind!

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The Hunter’s Moon by OR Melling

Fairytale: Yes, it was incredibly easy to jump to the Cinder conclusion, but I opted to go for a lesser known fairytale series. Woot for Celtic mythology!

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Waterfell by Amalie Howard

Ocean Animals: Obviously I would go for Waterfell! Though it also deals with animals, it talks about the Marianas Trench and various animals in the ocean. Win.

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Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Pets: Pandoras count as pets, right? I mean, they’re pets in a way. At least companions, and let’s face it, cats are not pets. They’re companions at best and definitely supreme overlords.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Free Choice:  Okay, so this one totally fits my initial thought of Free Choice. Feyre is faced with the choice of death or living in Prythian. She’s free to choose. Ha! This also fits free choice as in whatever I want to pick so I went with what I’m currently reading. Double win!

 

Thanks for making it through my post! Also, thank you for three wonderful (crazy) years of blogging. My blogging anniversary was actually on the 9th, but it snuck up on me and I forgot to write up a post. It’s definitely been a rollercoaster ride! Anyway, to celebrate my blogiversary, I have several giveaways I’m going to be hosting in the next few weeks so keep your eyes peeled! Up first is a giveaway for any book I have reviewed in the last three years. But! There’s more! I have a list of upcoming reviews that will be posted and those books will be included too. Check out my Reviews tab for a full list of books! Right now there will be one winner, but I might add more winners, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for that too.

Giveaway!

This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL (and only open to the countries where Book Depository delivers to) Entrants must be at least  13 years old to enter. Those entrants under 18 MUST have parental consent. Giveaway is open July 14th 2016 (12am EST) through August 20th 2016 (12am EST). No giveaway accounts. I reserve the right to disqualify entries in violation of my giveaway policies (Please see my Site Polices for full polices). All entries WILL be verified. Winner(s) have 48 (FORTY-EIGHT) hours to respond to email/tweet. Good luck. May the odds be ever in your favor! (:

 

 

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Hello July, Goodbye June 2014! Plus a giveaway! July 1, 2014

No way is it already July. No. Way. June was a hectic month in our household. Hubby was gone to school 90% of the month. That left me juggling all the household things plus the blog. I thought I’d gotten far enough ahead that I was okay, but it ended up being not quite far enough. No worries. I am working hard to get a good amount ahead. I have reviews scheduled through the middle of September. Of those books, I’ve read through the middle of August. There are a few release week reviews I have scheduled. Now to transition that from paper to computer! July. I still can’t believe it. Wow. I’ve hit it. Well, in a week, but I’ve done it. I’ve been blogging for a solid year now! (Bookwise, this blog is actually about 3 1/2 years old!) This has been an incredible year. Full of ups and downs for sure, but I’ve had a blast on this journey. I’ve made some great friends and met a lot of awesome authors! Here’s to another year of blogging! Cheers! Make sure you check out the giveaway at the end and keep an eye out for LOTS of upcoming giveaways! (:

 

Books I read in June (in order of completion)

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

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton

Mind GamesPerfect Lie by Kiersten White

Taken & Stolen by Erin Bowman

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (audiobook & paperback)

Frozen by Erin Bowman

Shadow and Bone, The Tailor, & The Witch of Duza by Leigh Bardugo

 

Books with the kiddos: (I mostly kept track!)

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

Pete the Cat a Pet for Pete

Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes

Pete the Cat Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Pete the Cat Old MacDonald Had a Farm

Pete the Cat and His Four Buttons

 

Coming up in June

17 First Kisses Blog Tour

Punk’s birthday party

Trip to VA

BLOGOVERSARY!

 

Reviews posted

Love Story by Jennifer Echols

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore

My Not So Super Sweet Life by Rachel Harris

The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Elite by Kiera Cass

 

Most visited

Top Ten Tuesday: Beach Bag Reads

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer TBR

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

 

Goals for July
Work on commenting and visiting other blogs

Read more with the kiddos

Stay ahead of schedule

post everyday this month

 

 

July releases I’m excited for:

Oceanborn by Amalie Howard (Oh hells yeah! I need MOAR Lo!)

On the Fence by Kasie West

Accidentally Married on Purpose by Rachel Harris

July TBR:
Oceanborn by Amalie Howard 

Accidentally Married on Purpose by Rachel Harris 

Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo

 

Challenge Update:

I’m involved with four challenges officially.

Edelweiss & Netgalley challenge: 15/25 (Perfect Lies, Cinderella’s Dress, Frozen)

TBR Pile challenge: 45/11-20 {I can and most likely WILL be increasing my level on this. I’m also not including ARCs in this unless I complete them after the book is released} (City of Heavenly Fire, Mind Games, Perfect Lies, Taken, Stolen, Frozen, Shadow & Bone, Clockwork Angel)

Series challenge: 13/4-6 {I can and most likely will increase my level on this as well} (The Mortal Instruments, Taken)

Real” Book challenge: 33/21-30 (City of Heavenly Fire, Mind Games, Perfect Lies, Taken, Frozen, Shadow & Bone, Clockwork Angel)

How was your June? What’s up for July?

 

GIVEAWAY NEWS!!!

I’m kicking off my blogoversary celebration now. I’ll have giveaways going up constantly on the blog and on Twitter so make sure you keep your eye out! (:

GIVEAWAY!!

Up for grabs in this first giveaway is an ARC of Infinite by the lovely Jodi Meadows.

This giveaway is open to US only (Sorry international readers! I promise I will one day have giveaways for you too!) Entrants must be 13 years old to enter. Those entrants under 18 MUST have parental consent. Giveaway is open July 1st 2014 (12am EST) through July 31st 2014 (12am EST). I reserve the right to disqualify entries in violation of my giveaway policies. All entries WILL be verified. Good luck. May the odds be ever in your favor! (:

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Top Ten Tuesday #43: Summer TBR June 17, 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 on My Summer TBR

I’m starting to do better about my TBR lists (Winter 6/10Fall3/10)! I read 6/11 books from my Spring TBR. I’m such a mood driven reader that it sometimes proves difficult to stick to a reading plan. I think I have a good mix of books for this summer so hopefully I can get closer to actually finishing this time! (:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I think it’s time to read it. I stumbled across a spoiler, but I think I’m in a mindset to handle it.

Frozen by Erin Bowman (I actually started this yesterday so GO ME!) I received an ARC of this and a finished set of Taken and Frozen from HarperCollins. I HATE that I put it off until now. LOVE.

Panic by Lauren Oliver. Another season TBR for this… hopefully summer is the time! 

As You Turn Away by Molli Moran. Ugh. It keeps slipping through the cracks. MUST READ.

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. I’ve been sorta in a mood for contemporaries so Katie and Jennifer Echols are on the radar.

On the Fence by Kasie West. I have an ARC and like I said above, kinda in a contemporary mood.

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings. I KNOW. This should’ve been read age go, but ya know. 

Oceanborn by Amalie Howard. Amalie told me to check the acknowledgements, so I’m super intrigued. Plus, Lo. I neeeeeeds him.

Deception by CJ Redwine. CJ sent me a signed copy, and I’m so excited to read it and my ARC of Deliverance in one go. Mmmm Logan.

Rites of Passage by Joy Hensley. I sent this to my kindle THE DAY it went up and then haven’t read it yet. *sigh* Now would be the perfect time to read it while hubby’s at a military school himself haha! (: LOVE Joy!

Tell me, what’s on your Summer TBR? In case you’re interested, these are the reviews to the books I completed from my Spring TBR: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman, After the End by Amy Plum, Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston, and The Falconer by Elizabeth May

 

Top Ten Tuesday #42: Books I’ve Read So Far in 2014 June 10, 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-ish Books I’ve Read So Far in 2014 

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson 

The Falconer by Elizabeth May 

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen 

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare 

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch 

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein 

Evertrue by Brodi Ashton 

Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

 

*ARC Review* Cinderella’s Dress by Shonna Slayton June 8, 2014

***I was granted permission to read this by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Entangled Teen!*** 

***As always mild spoilers may follow***

Rating: 3stars
Pub date: 3 June 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale
Format: e-ARC provided by the publisher
Status: standalone

Summary:

Being seventeen during World War II is tough. Finding out you’re the next keeper of the real Cinderella’s dresses is even tougher.
Kate simply wants to create window displays at the department store where she’s working, trying to help out with the war effort. But when long-lost relatives from Poland arrive with a steamer trunk they claim holds the Cinderella’s dresses, life gets complicated.
Now, with a father missing in action, her new sweetheart, Johnny, stuck in the middle of battle, and her great aunt losing her wits, Kate has to unravel the mystery before it’s too late.

After all, the descendants of the wicked stepsisters will stop at nothing to get what they think they deserve

 

My thoughts:

I wasn’t terribly pleased with Cinderella’s Dress. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it most certainly wasn’t how things turned out. Again, if I was the DNF type, this would’ve most likely been abandoned.

The cover is gorgeous and the summary promised such potential. It could have been an incredibly done retelling. Sadly, it fell short by miles.

The broken English was horrendous. It was so hard to understand. I had to reread dozens of passages trying to piece together what was trying to be conveyed.

The Cinderellalegend flip flopped between cousins and step-sisters a time or two and it bothered me. If a legend is going to be used, please use the same version consistently! And stick with the Polish name or the English one after the legend is revealed. Flipping between the two was tiresome.

For a YA novel, this had a more MG feel. It had a complex story idea, but was too simply portrayed. I also felt like it was full of filler scenes. I was far more interested in the young wartime love than the protection of the dress. It felt like more time was spent developing the romance than anything else. Even that wasn’t completely redeeming. All of the characters fell flat and failed to perform. 

I loved the idea of presenting part of the story through war correspondence. I actually have a WIP iidea mulling around about that and hve for ages. However, I feel like there were letters missing. I flipped back a few times thinking I might have accidentally skipped a letter or two thanks to mischievous toddlers. I never did. There were just story gaps and quite a few.The letters were still my favourite part. Especially the letters between Johnny and Kate. I’m happy that hubby and I have our own wartime letters that we wrote while he was deployed. 

I liked that the women had to give up jobs because the GIs returend home was included, but I feel it could’ve been presented in a better way. Creating that drama between Kate and Johnny wasn’t needed.

The one thing that really bothered me was the dropping of Kate’s father and brother. One is a massive spoiler, so I won’t delve into it too dar other than it was completely unnecessary. It did nothing for the story. Her brother? Just gone from the story. No more letters or mentions. It. Bothered. Me. Like. Crazy.

I will say that it was just interesting enough to keep me reading. More for finding out what happened between Kate and Johnny than anything else. The dresses were just blah. Despite being major players in the story, I feel like they didn’t bring much to the table. Kate was also rather careless with their protection. I get that a 17 year old may not be the most responsible person in the world, but still. 

The second half of the book was immensely better. It wasn’t completely enough to be rewarding for sticking it out but it did redeem it a bit. The ending did feel a little disappointing. Things didn’t feel wrapped up. The mystery of the magic behind the dresses was never fully explained. I still want to know how they got their power if a friend – not a fairy godmother was responsible for them. Ah, well. An okay read. Can’t say that I would recommend it. I am definitely not investing in a copy.

About the author:

SHONNA SLAYTON is the author of the YA novel Cinderella’s Dress, out June 3, 2014 with Entangled Teen. She finds inspiration in reading vintage diaries written by teens, who despite using different slang, sound a lot like teenagers today. While writing Cinderella’s Dress she reflected on her days as a high-school senior in British Columbia when she convinced her supervisors at a sportswear store to let her design a few windows—it was glorious fun while it lasted. When not writing, Shonna enjoys amaretto lattes and spending time with her husband and children in Arizona.

 

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

 

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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.

 

 

*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.

 

 
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