Ryan Graudin's Wolf by Wolf series imagines what the world would be like if Hitler and the Axis Powers had won the war. I really enjoyed Wolf by Wolf. In fact, I liked it so much that I passed the book along to several of my friends and then selected it as my book club pick last June. (Good discussion, by the way. It turned out to be a excellent book club choice.) When I read Wolf by Wolf, I found myself absolutely fascinated by Adele. She's not really in the book, and yet, she is so very present. I wanted to know why Adele would have entered the Axis Tour, disguised as her twin brother, how she got away with it, and what exactly went down between her and Luka. So, I read the e-novella Iron to Iron as I not-so patiently waited for Blood For Blood. I never read e-novellas (seriously, never), so the fact that I made an exception here says a lot about how much I liked the Wolf by Wolf (and how curious I was about Adele)....more
In his Front Lines series, Michael Grant imagines what the war would have been like if women had been eligible for the draft and fought on the front. His series follows three girls serving in the armed forces. Rio is in the army. She is a tough and a very good soldier. Frangie is a medic. She is also African-America and serves in an all-Black unit. Rainy is in intelligence. She knows several languages and goes undercover behind enemy lines. She is also Jewish, which adds an extra layer of danger to her missions.
One thing I love about this series is how Grant confronts the attitudes and prejudices experienced by his soldier girls. The issues of gender, race, and religion are navigated in a way that feels so truthful and really makes the reader consider how all of this would have gone down if it really happened.
In book one the characters spent a lot of time gearing up for war, and now, in book two, they are all seasoned soldiers. Silver Stars is dedicated to war and all its brutality, heroism, fear, and boredom. Personally, I often get a little bogged down by books with battle scene after battle scene, and I did feel that a little in this book. There is a lot of fighting. Also, in some ways this book is hard to read because the characters are put through such traumatic situations. Rainy's story line, especially, was absolutely terrifying both because of the ineptitude of her superiors and the physical danger she was in.
We see a lot of growth in the characters in this book. Rio, especially, is something of a symbol of how war changes a person. It's not necessary for better or for worse, she's just changed, and some characters are less okay with that than others. Rio has also grown up a lot over the last few months. She was underage when she enlisted and didn't really have a sense of who she was. Now she's having to figure that out on the battlefield.
I really like all of the characters, but Frangie just might be my favorite of the three. I'd love to send more time with her. The narration moves between the three main characters, but my favorite parts are when the characters' story lines intersect.
Brittany Cavallaro's debut novel, A Study in Charlotte, was one of my favorite debuts of the 2016. I just loved everything about that book. I loved the boarding school setting, and the literary writing, and the relationship between Charlotte and Jamie complicated as it is with all their family history. I was eagerly anticipating the sequel.
Book two is set during Jamie and Charlotte's Christmas break, and they are back in England spending time with family. Things get icy for the duo when they go to Charlotte's family estate in Sussex. Between weird conversations with Charlotte's parents, Charlotte's mother's poor health, and Charlotte's inaccessibility, Jamie is having a very uncomfortable stay. The only glimmer of light in this weird visit is Charlotte's uncle Leander who is a brilliant detective and Jamie's father's best friend and former roommate. And then Leander goes missing. Charlotte and Jamie jet straightaway to Berlin where Leander was working undercover rooting out a forgery ring. The Moriartys are, of course, the prime suspects.
As much as I hate to say it, this book was a bit of a disappointment for me. And that is so painful to say because I was looking forward to it so much! I think the book suffered from the expanded world. Watson and Holmes made so much sense at boarding school, but gallivanting around Europe? It just didn't feel as authentic. Then there is this worrisome ever-increasing darkness in Charlotte (oh, I suppose it was always there but the consequences are getting more and more serious). I'm afraid this series is turning into a tragedy! In that sense, it reminded me a lot of Heather W. Petty's Lock & Mori series, and I really like the tragedy in that series, but it's like a knife to the heart in this one.
There were some things that I really enjoyed about this book. I really liked the whole art forgery aspects (art historian, here) and settled on thinking of Hans Langenberg as a German Edward Hopper. The grand finale at the art auction was also very entertaining and funny. Also, I loved the chapters that Charlotte narrated so, so much. It was good to have a break from angsty Jamie. (Although, I mostly blame Charlotte's head games for poor Jamie's wallowing.) But be warned, the ending is pretty brutal.
After nearly dying at her father's hands, Mori wants nothing more than for her father to rot in jail, but she knows that her James Moriarty is more than capable of hurting his family even from behind bars. Several of the police officers on the case are friends with Mori's father and would love nothing more than to poke several holes in Mori's story. Protestors are camped out in front of the Moriarty home, and Mori starts receiving threatening letters and weird photographs. No, Mori definitely does not feel safe.
There are a few bright spots. Sherlock Holmes continues to be a stolid friend (boyfriend?), even as Mori debates whether or not she should push him away for his own sake, and Mori's mother's friend, Alice, arrives in town complete with a forged custody file that will allow Mori's brothers to stay in their home.
I was not expecting to like this sequel so much. I absolutely flew through this book. I enjoyed the first book in the series, but it was a little dark for me (there was some heavy stuff in the first book), and I remember feeling like I wasn't quite jiving with the writing. I don't know if I was just in the right place this time around or if something changed behind the scenes, but I am now completely sold on this series.
One thing I absolutely love about Heather W. Petty's series is how complicated Mori is. The reader can easily see how Mori could go down path that will lead to the amorality we associate with Sherlock Holmes's nemesis. In fact, Mori clearly identifies and struggles with this aspect of her personality as well. The result is that the relationship between Lock and Mori is so fraught. I just so badly want them to be happy, but I can see the tragedy coming.
The twists at the end of this book kind of killed me. I need the next book in the series.
I follow Stephanie Scott on Instagram, and I was pretty excited to hear about her debut novel. Alterations is a retelling of the movie Sabrina. Both the original version with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart and the 1995 remake with Julia Orman and Harrison Ford are pretty fantastic. I was excited to see how Ms. Scott would adapt the material for a younger audience living in the 21st century.
Stephanie Scott's Sabrina character, Amelia Blanco, is an aspiring fashion designer who lives with her mother and grandmother in the service apartment of the wealthy Laurenti family. Amelia's longtime crush, Ethan Laurenti, doesn't notice Amelia until he sees how much she's changed after a summer internship in New York. By this time Amelia was begun to help Ethan's twin brother, Liam, with a fashion app. Cue lots of confused feelings.
I really enjoyed the Miami setting and all the fashion in this book. Liam was really sweet. The crazy reality TV show was amusing. This is a cute read.
Sana Krasikov's debut, spans multiple generations and several decades. Beginning in the 1930s, we see idealistic Florence Fein leave Brooklyn for the Soviet Union. In 2002, Florence's son, Julian, seeks answers about his mother's life and hopes to convince his own son to leave his job in Russia and return home to the United States.
Sana Krasikov's story is truly epic, and I was deeply engrossed in Florence's tale in particular. However, the book is also long and somewhat episodic, and so, perhaps unsurprisingly, I found some episodes to be much more engaging than others. I especially got bogged down by the Julian's business meetings in Russia. I'm not that interest in business deals to begins with and then the whole Russia corruption, old-boys club atmosphere was a bit of a slog for me. However, I understand completely why this part of the story was necessary, and I think it had to be in the book.
The way Russia kept drawing the Brink men back to Russia was fascinating. I like how there was this sense of inevitability in the story. Ms. Krasikov takes her time with the intricacies of the story and the result is a tale digs deep into the trauma of the Stalinist era for one family.
In this highly anticipated debut, Katherine Arden spins a story that blends Russian fairy tales and folklore with history.
Vaslisa is a girl with old magic in her blood, and she must save her village by honoring the old traditions. I really loved the feel of this story. It has a mysterious quality to it that reminded me a little of The Snow Child. I also loved how the tale is wrapped in the world of Medieval Russia. The fairy tale aspects and the historical are woven together so well.
The plot does seem to wander at points, but I think the overall atmosphere made up for any pacing problems.
The Books of Imirillia remind me of some of my favorite classic fantasies. This is a high fantasy series without magic about a queen and a country on The Books of Imirillia remind me of some of my favorite classic fantasies. This is a high fantasy series without magic about a queen and a country on the brink of war and the foreigner who promises to help them prepare. But should they trust him?
Unrivaled is a mystery set in Hollywood. A group of teenagers battle to make the nightclubs they represent the most popular by bringing A-listers.
The Unrivaled is a mystery set in Hollywood. A group of teenagers battle to make the nightclubs they represent the most popular by bringing A-listers.
The pace was a bit slow in this book, but I felt compelled to keep reading because I really wanted to know what would happen with the mystery aspects of the story. This is one of those books where all the main characters are slightly awful but intentionally so.
The setting is 1945 Scotland, where Lorna works on her father's farm, goes to school, and waits for her brothers to come home from the war. With farming essential to the war effort and farmhands scarce, German POWs from the nearby camp are assigned to help on the farms. Lorna is horrified by the thought of working alongside the enemy, but it turns out that Paul Vogel, scarred and battered, is not at all what she expected.
Beyond its great setting and forbidden romance, Wait for Me is a book of humanity and healing. I loved this stunning debut by Caroline Leech even more after I read the Author's Note and learned how rooted in fact the story really is.
Krystyna Mihulka tells the story of her childhood in this moving memoir. Krysia was nine when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939. Hitler had made a pact with Stalin and the two powers divided up Poland between themselves. Krysia and her family lived on the Russian side. Krystyna, now in her 80s, tells the story of her family's deportation by the Soviets to Kazakhstan and their struggles to be reunited with their relatives.
The more I read about WWII, the more I am astounded by what the Polish people went through. I'm so glad that Krystyna Muhulka decided to write her story. Her tale is an aspect of the war that is not as well known and should certainly be preserved.
I read several World War II History books written with a young audience in mind for a post I put together for the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and this book was one of the best in the bunch.
Millions of people were displaced during World War II. The Ship to Nowhere tells the story of a Jewish refugee, eleven-year-old Rachel Landesman, who, forced to flee from her home during WWII, set sail with her mother and sister in 1947 on The Exodus. The Exodus attempted to take 45,000 Jewish immigrants into Palestine illegally.
Written for middle-school ages children, Rona Arato, writes the narrative from Rachel's point of view. Rachel and several key players tell the stories of their past and express their hopes for the future. With the refugee crisis today, this is certainly a timely book. However, I didn't actually love the style of this book. I would have preferred to have a more removed narrator, one that followed Rachel's point-of-view and was also able to step back and look at other figures involved in the transport in a more in depth way.
Thousands of Jewish children were rescued from Germany between 1938 and 1940 through humanitarian efforts. Their exodus is known as the Kindertransport. This book, designed for young readers, tells the stories of seven Jewish children who escaped Germany through these means. The book reproduces many of the children's own words--giving voice to these young, displaced children. Reading about the lengths some parents took to get their children out of Germany was heartbreaking. Supplemented with photographs and discussion questions, this book is a great resource.
Noah Keller's parents are acting really weird. When they picked him up from school they told him they were leaving for East Berlin right away so that his mother could do research for her dissertation. Then they proceeded to tell him Noah Keller is not really his name, his birthday isn't what he thought it was either, and that he needs to follow a long list of rules while in Germany. Noah is pretty sure his parents aren't what they seem.
This middle-grade story of a boy behind the Iron Curtain was not exactly what I expected, but I liked it all the same. I could especially appreciate the book because in 1989, I was the same age as Noah. It was interesting to imagine myself in his shoes.
Cloud and Wallfish is out September 2, 2016 from Candlewick.
Aurora Skye is saving her first kiss for someone special. She just has to meet him first. But one thing she knows for certain is that that someone is certainly not her obnoxious neighbor Hayden who is cast opposite her Beatrice in the school's production of Much Ado About Nothing. Aurora has got to make sure that that on-stage kiss never happens.
How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You has the same flavor as the movie Clueless. Aurora, like Cher, is an organizer, a rich girl, and a serial match-maker and advice-giver, despite the fact that she really has no clue what she's talking about. I found the overall tone of the book and self-conscious ridiculousness very entertaining (much as I find Clueless very entertaining).
I loved the banter between Aurora and Hayden. Hayden really is a great character. Aurora and Hayden's relationship mirrors that of Beatrice and Benedick from Shakespeare's play. So you can bet on lots of sparring and emotional blindness.
This book is intentionally silly and pure fluffy goodness. It made me smile and laugh out loud, but it is not to be taken seriously at all.
When Jonathan Aubrey was eight he narrowly escaped dying in a terrible plane crash that killed the rest of his family. As a very sad and lonely child, Jonathan learned he could create other worlds. Now, ten years later, Jonathan splits his time between the real world and a parallel world where his long time crush, Kylie Simms, is his girlfriend. Jonathan's worlds start to unravel when he mixes the two worlds up, and the Kylies begin to take on the traits of their twin.
In A World Just Right is an incredibly interesting genre-bending debut from Jen Brooks. I felt very compelled to find out how it would all turn out. The book does move a little slowly, but I thought the payoff was well worth the wait.
In Nazi-occupied Poland, Irena Sendler saved 2,500 Jewish children from death and deportation. Hers is an incredible story. She took countless life-thIn Nazi-occupied Poland, Irena Sendler saved 2,500 Jewish children from death and deportation. Hers is an incredible story. She took countless life-threatening risks organizing a network of resistance workers, moving in and out of the Warsaw Ghetto, hiding children across the country, and keeping a list of their locations.
Poland suffered horribly during World War II, and many of their survival stories were suppressed due to Soviet occupation after the war. It is so important that these powerful stories are preserved. I was so impressed by Irena's strength and honor and so appalled by the horrible circumstances the Polish people found themselves in.
This short, illustrated overview of America's military involvement in World War II is something that I can see a lot of kids loving. I know I would haThis short, illustrated overview of America's military involvement in World War II is something that I can see a lot of kids loving. I know I would have liked it as a child.
The beauty of this book really does lie in Mort Kunstler's illustrations. As color photography was very rare in the 1940s, the illustrations give readers the chance to see WWII planes, soldiers, and ships in full color. The illustrations are detailed and many will warrant lengthy examinations. The text itself is concise but informative and explains the illustrations well. ...more
After finishing Poppy, I immediately purchased and downloaded this book and then read it in one day. This is saying a lot because, in terms of books,After finishing Poppy, I immediately purchased and downloaded this book and then read it in one day. This is saying a lot because, in terms of books, delayed gratification is not something that I have a problem with on a regular basis. I honestly can't remember the last time I finished a book and then moved straight to the sequel.
In the first book, Poppy leaves service and becomes a volunteer nurse. I loved reading about all the details of her training and life during The Great War. I loved how this book dealt with the beginnings of the breakdown of the class structure and told the story of an average girl doing her best to help the war effort.
I liked Poppy in the Field even more than the first in the series. I liked moving with Poppy to the front and seeing the war from a closer view. Poppy is a rather delightful character, and this series does such a fantastic job transporting its reader back in time.
This encyclopedia of America's First Ladies is absolutely charming. In the introduction Kathleen Krull grabbed my attention, and she never lost it.
Krull advances chronologically and gives a brief biography of all the First Ladies. I think she handled both the positive and less-positive aspects of each woman's life quite well and in an appropriate way for young readers. The result is that the reader gets a good picture of the various personalities and challenges each woman faced. A timely book, for certain and one that I would have loved when I was young.
Although, I can't help but think that the concluding chapter (left unfinished in my early copy) would have been more exciting if Hillary Clinton had won the election.
Bridget Heos uses historical cases to tell the history of forensic science and criminal investigation.
This book is absolutely fascinating. (Although it is a bit macabre at times; we are dealing with criminal investigations after all.) I loved how Heos used actually cases from history to steer the book and show the progression of forensics as well as its limitations.
In many ways, this book is demystifying, in that it takes a profession that has become so popularized through TV and novels and gives us the gritty details and actual facts. Despite the abundance of names and medical details, Heos delivers a very readable, intriguing book.
I've been eager to learn more about Florence Nightingale ever since I did a study abroad in London many years ago.
Many have lauded Florence Nightingale's accomplishments, but I did not know how much resistance toward her life's work she received from her family. It was also fascinating to gain a little more insight into Nightingale's personality. She was not easy to get along with! Catherine Reef does an excellent job establishing historical context in her book. I enjoyed hearing about the other famous historical figures that Nightingale knew personally.
I'm always up for a time travel novel, and I found a lot to like in this one.
Stassi lives in the year 2446. She is part of a crime syndicate that usesI'm always up for a time travel novel, and I found a lot to like in this one.
Stassi lives in the year 2446. She is part of a crime syndicate that uses time travel to steal items from the past for their wealthy patrons. Stassi and her partner Gaige are assigned to a job that takes them to 1925 Paris. They are sent to steal an unpublished manuscript by a famous writer who travels in the circle of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Stein.
Initially, I was hoping for a time travel book that would hop all over history, but once I realized Stassi was going to be in 1920s Paris mingling with famous modernists, I was completely on board. Everything about this book is completely up my alley. Time Travel (check), 1920s Paris (check), famous modernist writers, artists, and critics (double check).
I was incredibly impressed with how the author juggles all the subplots in this book. Stassi and Gaige are attempting to pull off a high-stakes heist, Paris is threatened by a serial killer, a rogue time traveler is on the loose, and Stassi is looking for clues to her parentage. I never once felt like the book was trying to do too much or be too many things. It all fit together so nicely.
My only complaint (besides a couple of minor anachronisms) was that the beginning was a little slow. I would have loved to see that portion of the book tightened up a bit.
Sophie Davis is, in my opinion, one of the best indie authors out there. (Fun fact: Sophie Davis is actually the pen name for a writing duo.) I really enjoyed Talented, and I liked The Syndicate even more. I really want to read the sequel.
I received a free copy from Rachel E. Carter's YA Book Club on Goodreads in exchange for a review....more
It only took two words for me to be hooked on this book: Bone Wars. I don't know what it is about the Bone Wars, but I just find them so fascinating. Maybe because they are kind of a paradox being both nerdy and academic and cutthroat. Setting a Romeo and Juliet love story in the midst of the Bone Wars was a pretty genius move on Kenneth Oppel's part.
Rachel and Samuel are the daughter and son of two famous, dueling paleontologists. Both as driven as their fathers, Rachel and Samuel scheme their way out west hoping to uncover the bones of a gigantic carnivore. Although their fathers (who are based on the Bone Wars scientists, Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh) can't stand each other, Samuel and Rachel are drawn to one another as two young people who share an obscure passion often are.
I really enjoyed Every Hidden Thing. The setting, the characters, the conflicts on the site and with the Sioux were so well drawn. The romance was, at times, a bit heady for me, but, in the end I was fully on board. This book made my nerdy little heart so happy.
Marcus Sedgwick's Blood Red Snow White is set during the years of the Russian Revolution and the early years of the Bolshevik regime. Blood Red Snow White is a smart and beautifully written book that weaves history and the lives of real historical figures with Russian fairy tales.
The Russian fairy tale aspect is probably strongest in the first novella that chronicles the lead-up to the Russian Revolution. The writing, the pacing, and the charging Russian bear all lend a fantastical quality to the historical events, yet they remain tragic and bloody, as Russian fairy tales often are.
The World was changing. Nothing could stop that. There can be no magic by daylight, it is a thing of the dark and shadows and the black and white of nighttime, and just as that is true, it is also true that fairy tales cannot live in the modern world of color. The time for princes and tsars and grand duchesses and especially holy madmen was gone. In its place came a world of war and revolution, of tanks and telephones, or murder and assassination (from Part I: A Russian Fairy Tale).
In Parts Two and Three, Sedgwick tells the story of Arthur Ransome, a British journalist working in Russian. A real historical figure and well-known writer, Arthur Ransome published, among other things, a book of Russian fairy tales entitled Old Peter's Russian Tales.
Russian fairyland is quite different... Somewhere in that great forest of trees--a forest so big that the forests of England are little woods beside it--is the hut where old Peter sits at night and tells these stories to his grandchildren (from the epigraph).
Other than his name, I did not know anything about Arthur Ransome before reading this book, and I found his life fascinating. Ransome had to navigate through a very dangerous time in Russia. He knew many important political figures of the day, including Lenin and Trotsky. He fell in love with Trotsky's secretary and risked his life for her. As a man trapped between two worlds, Ransome was never safe.
I thought I knew what I was doing, and why. Or should I say, who I was doing it for, but life is never that simple, and with hindsight we see our lives laid out behind us and we think; God damn me to Hell, I was a fool (from Part 3: A Fairy Tale, Ending).
Sedgwick's story is just intricate enough to be very interesting and so readable. I really liked the tone of the book and the mood established by the fairy tale structure.
I can never resist a ballet book. Una LaMarche sets her story at a prestigious arts school in New York City. You in Five Acts follows five of its stI can never resist a ballet book. Una LaMarche sets her story at a prestigious arts school in New York City. You in Five Acts follows five of its students: two ballet dancers, Joy and Diego, and three drama students, Ethan, Liv, and Dave.
The way this story is structured is interesting but not entirely satisfying for me. Each character writes an act to one of the other four. The stories move chronologically but offer different perspectives on the events that occur throughout the school year. I found the use of the second person to be a little disorienting at first, and, although I ultimately got used it to, I never really liked it. I did think it was interesting to see how the characters' stories were woven together and how the decisions they made impacted the others.
My major problem with this book is that I hated the ending. It was obvious from the beginning that something tragic was going to occur, but it was just so awful. I mean, I get it, the abruptness of what happens sheds a light on the unfairness and senselessness of these kind of situations, but, to me, it kind of felt like the story devolved into a statement. It's hard to get a statement book right, and the way this one was done didn't entirely work for me.
Seventeen-year old Anna Morgan has more than her fair share of problems. A foster kid for as long a Blog Tour and Giveaway at Intellectual Recreation.
Seventeen-year old Anna Morgan has more than her fair share of problems. A foster kid for as long as she can remember, all she wants is to bide her time until she's released from the system and make sure her foster brother, Deo, stays out of trouble too. If only life could be that simple.
You see, Anna has this other little problem: she picks up ghosts. When Anna touches something that a ghost loved, she opens herself up to sharing her mind with an incorporeal visitor.
Her current hitchhiker, Molly, is a particularly insistent companion. She wants Anna to contact her grandfather, a former policeman, and give him the information he needs to find her killer.
Convincing someone that you are carrying a ghost around inside your head is no easy task, and it lands Anna in quite a bit of trouble. The silver lining to all of this is that she meets some other kids who have some pretty fascinating talents themselves. Aaron and Taylor were definitely bright spots in this spooky tale.
Rysa Walker tells a good story. This one is action packed from the very beginning, and I really liked the whole conspiracy angle. Anna is a fantastic narrator. She's has a maturity that I think fits nicely with all that she's been through. I loved her relationship with Deo, and I think the developing friendships with Aaron and Taylor are also handled well.
Every October I like to find myself some spooky books for the Halloween season, and The Delphi Effect would be a perfect addition to a Halloween reading list. As if picking up ghosts wasn't creepy enough, things get even weirder as Anna discovers more about her abilities and the covert organization that seeks to exploit people like her.
Another thing that was an added bonus for me as I was reading this book is that it is set in Maryland, and I live in Maryland. I love it when I get to read a book that is set close to home. In The Delphi Effect, the characters spend a good amount of time driving around Maryland, and it just made my nerdy little heart so happy because I knew where they were.
I'm definitely going to continue on with this series. That ending is not one that you are going to want to leave sitting. In fact, I already have plans to audiobook the next in the series because the narrator is Kate Rudd (you might know her voice from a little audiobook called The Fault in Our Stars), and she did such a fantastic job with The Chronos Files.
The Delphi Trilogy has so much potential, and I'm thrilled (but not at all surprised) that Rysa Walker has delivered another fantastic book....more
After fleeing the invading Germans and working as a nurse for the British, Manon Wouters is recruited to spy for La Dame Blanche. She returns to her hometown in Belgium and begins gathering information. It's a delicate balancing act. Manon is always one misstep away from imprisonment or death.
What I loved most about A Dangerous Game is that it is set in Belgium. I really enjoyed situating myself in this area of the world and thinking about how the war affected Manon's family and fellow countrymen. Belgium was pretty devastated during World War I, so it really is the ideal setting for a WWI spy novel.
John Wilson's story is a quick read with a little bit of family drama, a little bit of nursing, and some dangerous espionage.
This is definitely a book for a younger audience, and so doesn't necessarily carry the depth or breadth that one would expect from an adult novel. With that in mind, I thought the execution was great for what this book is.
Mary Hooper evokes the early 20th-century atmosphere so well. I was so engaged with Poppy's story. I loved reading about all the details of her training and life during The Great War. I loved how this book dealt with the beginnings of the breakdown of the class structure in a very realistic way. I also really appreciated that Poppy is the story of an average girl doing her best to help the war effort.
I absolutely flew through this book, and then (and this is rather uncharacteristic) I immediately purchased the sequel and read that book in one day too.
This is definitely a book for a younger audience, and so doesn't necessarily carry the depth or breadth that one would expect from an adult novel. With that in mind, I thought the execution was great for what this book is.
Ryan Graudin's Wolf by Wolf series imagines what the world would be like if Hitler and the Axis Powers had won the war. I really enjoyed Wolf by Wolf. In fact, I liked it so much that I passed the book along to several of my friends and then selected it as my book club pick last June. (Good discussion, by the way. It turned out to be a excellent book club choice.) When I read Wolf by Wolf, I found myself absolutely fascinated by Adele. She's not really in the book, and yet, she is so very present. I wanted to know why Adele would have entered the Axis Tour, disguised as her twin brother, how she got away with it, and what exactly went down between her and Luka. So, I read the e-novella Iron to Iron as I not-so patiently waited for Blood For Blood. I never read e-novella (seriously, never), so the fact that I made an exception here says a lot about how much I liked the Wolf by Wolf (and how curious I was about Adele).
With Wolf by Wolf and Iron to Iron under my belt, I was all geared up for Blood For Blood. The second in the series opens just seconds after the final moments in Wolf by Wolf. Yael has successfully killed the faux-Hitler and in the process discovered that he is, in fact, a faux-Hitler. When Yael flees the scene, Luka follows her, and because of him the two get captured. Meanwhile, Felix has been dragged into the investigation and agrees to cooperate if the SS will spare his family.
So... my feelings about this sequel were kind of mixed. On the one hand, I was really impressed with how Ryan Graudin worked things so that she could keep the three main characters together. I also liked the reintroduction of a figure from Yael's past. For the most part, the way that the plot proceeded and the twists and turns, and the way that Project 85 had become central to the Reich's plan all really worked for me. I especially liked the climax where Luka puts all the pieces together.
However, I felt that this book suffered from a growing pain that I see a lot in dystopia and fantasy series. Many of those books start out with a first book that is focused on a single character and a singular mission. Consider The Hunger Games. Book One is all about Katniss getting through those games. In this series, book one was centered on Yael and the Axis Tour. In many of these series, once that first mission is accomplished, the focus of the next book (or two) is overthrowing the whole empire. (Consider Mockingjay as an example.) And, it seems to me, that such a large jump is really hard to do. I could really feel the big jump in this sequel....more