Thursday, January 31, 2013

Review - Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Size: 352 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH
Release Date: May 15, 2012
ISBN: 978-1423152194
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 5/5 stars

This was an absolutely wonderful book that gives an interesting viewpoint of World War II in a way that is engaging and absolutely engrossing.

The first part of the book is written as a confession/journal from a girl named Queenie’s point of view. She is being held hostage by Nazis as a British spy. As part of her “confession” she is relating the tale of her friendship with a female British pilot named Maddie.

The second part of the book is written as a journal from Maddie’s POV. I won’t say much more about that because it would spoil the story.

Both characters have very distinct voices. Queenie laughs in the face of danger and has an excellent sense of humor even in the face of torture. Maddie is more tentative but no less fierce.

I really enjoyed both perspectives. Queenie is fearless and can’t resist having a sense of humor about the strangest things. She occasionally plays pranks on the Nazis even knowing that they will punish her for it...just because she needs a good laugh. Despite the absolutely bleak setting of her story, she makes you laugh and as a reader I completely admired her.

Maddie is more timid. She admits to breaking into tears every time she hears gunfire, she admits to being terrified and at times hiding...but she is no less fierce. Despite her fears, she does what she has to. She is incredibly loyal and absolutely resolute. Her section of the book wasn’t as...dare I say given the subject matter...funny but it was still incredibly engaging.

You can tell Wein did a lot of research to write this book. It is a very interesting accounting of the roles of both female spies and female pilots in World War II. There are a lot of interesting facts in here and Wein states what is true and what is fiction in the Afterward. I really enjoyed learning about this aspect of World War II through the eyes of these two wonderful friends.

This book is also about friendship. It’s about how two women with completely different personalities can be best friends, about the loyalty of friendship, and the sacrifices that sometimes have to be made if you love your friend enough. It’s also about women first stepping into careers dominated by men and being darn good at what they do.

This book was impossible to put down. It had me laughing out loud at points. It also had me in tears at points, there are parts of the story that are absolutely heartbreaking... The story is uplifting in some ways, but I have yet to read a book about the Nazis that ends in a truly happy way. Honestly just thinking about what the women in this book go through upsets me even still.

So while not a comfortable read, it definitely makes an impact. It is targeted toward young adult audience. This is about war though; there is torture and there are horrible things described in this book. So just a warning to those who are sensitive to those things...but should you let that stop you from reading this book...absolutely not. These things really happened in Nazi occupied France and people should read about them.

Overall an absolutely wonderful read. I enjoyed that this book gives a different look at the history behind World War II. I loved learning more about women spies and pilots of that era. The two women who feature in this book are absolutely stunning and engaging to read about. I could not put this book down. Seriously everyone needs to read this. If you are particularly interested in World War II, another great book about the Nazis and how they affected the general non-Jewish German population is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Reading Challenge
- Young Adult Reading Challenge

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review - Reached (Matched, Book 3) by Ally Condie (3/5 stars)

Reading Level: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopia
Size: 384 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: November 13, 2012
ISBN: 978-0525423669
Stand Alone or Series: 3rd book in the Matched Trilogy
Source: Gift
Rating: 3/5 stars

This is the third and final book in the Matched trilogy. It was a decent end to the series and wrapped things up nicely. The book is beautifully written, but moves slowly.

After reaching the Rising Cassia, Ky, and Xander have been given their assignments. Cassia is sent back to Central to sort. Ky is assigned as a pilot. Xander is sent to a city to serve as a medic. They are all struggling to figure out how their roles support the Rising. That is until the Plague breaks out and only the Rising seems to have the cure.

The story is told from Cassia, Ky, and Xander’s viewpoints. The chapters are clearly labeled at the beginning as to which viewpoint you are reading from which is helpful.

Most of the book revolves around the three characters trying to figure out exactly what the Rising is and how it came about. The other big plot topic is the Plague. When the Plague mutates, things become even more desperate.

Our favorite characters don’t actually interact much in this story. They spend vast amounts of the book in different places. This resulted in the characters doing a lot of thinking and speculation in their parts of the story.

Cassia, Ky, and Xander do grow and change a lot in this book. Cassia has come a long way from the ignorant girl she was in Matched. Ky is slowly learning to trust people, which is great to see. Xander’s transformation is the hardest to read about, he goes through a lot of pain in this book.

The book moves slowly and there are large parts of the story that seem a bit clunky and unnecessary. Condie tries to bring the whole theme of colors and threes full circle and she does an okay job...still it all felt a bit forced to me. At the end of it all I kind just felt like...huh...well I guess that series is over.

The writing is beautifully done and there is excellent imagery throughout, at times though the story just moves too slowly. Following what is going on with the Rising, the Society, and the people outside of either was a bit confusing at points too.

Overall a decent wrap up to this series. Everything is nicely tied up, although the story moves very slowly at points. This is a very long book and it feels like it. Our favorite characters spend the vast majority of the book in different places meaning that there isn’t a lot of interaction between them until the last third or so of the book. Recommended if you are a fan of this series. If you want a good YA dystopian read I would go elsewhere though. I would recommend The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or The Divergent series by Veronica Roth.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Reading Challenge
- Young Adult Reading Challenge

Waiting on Wednesday - 1/30/13

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

This week my Waiting on Wednesday book is
Click on the image to go to Amazon and read more about this book.

Fragments by Dan Wells
Release Date: February 26th, 2013
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Length: 576 pages
ISBN: 978-0062071071

Synopsis from
Kira Walker has found the cure for RM, but the battle for the survival of humans and Partials is only just beginning. Kira has left East Meadow in a desperate search for clues as to who she is. That the Partials themselves hold the cure for RM in their blood cannot be a coincidence—it must be part of a larger plan, a plan that Kira knows she is a part of, a plan that could save both races. Her allies are Afa Demoux, an unhinged drifter and former employee of ParaGen, and Samm and Heron, the Partials who betrayed her and saved her life, the only ones who know her secret. But can she trust them?

Meanwhile, back on Long Island, what’s left of humanity is gearing up for war with the Partials, and Marcus knows his only hope is to delay them until Kira returns. But Kira’s journey will take her deep into the overgrown wasteland of postapocalyptic America, and they will both discover that their greatest enemy may be one they didn’t even know existed.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Review - On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves (4/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Comptemporary Fiction
Size: 336 pages
Publisher: Plume
Release Date: July 10, 2012
ISBN: 978-0142196724
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: Borrowed from Library
Rating: 4/5 stars

I had seen this book on a number of “Best of 2012” lists and decided it looked like an interesting read. So I picked up a copy from the library. It ended up being an interesting and engaging read. It would have been an exceptional book, except at times the dialogue between characters sounded a bit awkward to me.

This was an engaging read about a woman named Anna who is tutoring a teenage boy named T.J. T.J. is in remission from cancer and is supposed to be catching up on school work over the summer with Anna’s help. On the way to meet up with the boy's parents their plane crashes on a deserted island. They learn to survive on the island dealing with storms, general survival, sharks, disease, and malnutrition.

Anna and T.J. are both excellent characters. They both really keep their cool when they crash on this deserted island. Because of this they figure out ways to cope with the obstacles in their path to survival. I found them both to be very engaging and very realistically done.

There were a couple of things that bothered me about this book. At times the language and talking sounded a bit awkward to me. Also I thought that the fact that these two very attractive people were on this island by themselves so long and kept their relationship platonic was a bit unrealistic. Especially since they were so obviously attracted to each other and pretty much had nothing else to do.

-------SPOLIER START---------
Graves makes a big deal about pointing out how Anna and T.J. wait until T.J. is nineteen before doing anything sexual. It was a bit odd and forced feeling.
-------SPOLIER END---------

Still this ends up being a very engaging and quick read. You are constantly wondering if they will be rescued, if their relationship will go past friends, and if they are rescued how they will deal with the fall-out.

It's a quick fun read. It does go into some issues; like what society thinks about people who fall in love who are vastly different in age. It also delves into the issue of trying to balance happiness with society's demands.

Overall I enjoyed reading this book. The story and writing wasn't anything spectacular but it was entertaining. There are parts of the book that are a bit awkward, but it is still a very engaging read. I would recommend to those who like contemporary romance and enjoy survival stories.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Reading Challenge

Monday, January 28, 2013

Young Adult Giveaway Hop

Hi Guys!  Welcome to the Young Adult Giveaway hop.  This hop is being hosted by I am a Reader Not a Writer and BookLove101.

For this hop I am giving away the below books.
Fury of the Phoenix By Cindy Pon (Hardback)
A World Without Heros (The Beyonders, Book 1) by Brandon Mull (THIS IS A SIGNED COPY)

Please fill out the form below to enter and make sure to check out all of the other great blogs participating this hop in the linky below.

Winner of Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop

Hi guys!  Thanks to everyone who participated in the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop :-)

The winner of this hop was:


Thanks again to everyone who participated.  There were 98 entries into this Giveaway Hop and the winners were chose using

Early Review - Deadly Sting (Elemental Assassin, Book 8) by Jennifer Estep (3.5/5 stars)

Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Size: 384 pages
Publisher: Pocket Books
Release Date: March 26, 2013
ISBN: 978-1451688993
Stand Alone or Series: 8th book in the Elemental Assassins series
Source: ARC through Edelweiss
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

This is the 8th book in the Elemental Assassin series. It was a decent book in this series, but again was a contained mystery of sorts rather than the start to a new story arc. It was a good enough read, but at times felt more like a novella than a book. The ninth book in the series is scheduled for a September 2013 release and will be titled Heart of Venom. Last I read Estep is contracted for 10 books in this series.

Gin is still on the outs with Owen following the events of the last book. Gin and Finn go to attend an auction of Mab’s treasures, when they arrive Gin finds out that a giant by the name of Clementine is trying to steal the whole lot. Somehow all of this ties back to Mab. Gin has to stop Clementine if she is going to save her friends and the city.

I was surprised that the whole plot revolved around the art/jewels being stolen at this auction of Mab’s. The story was so concise and straightforward it seemed almost more suitable to a novella. Initially I was thinking that this would be an introduction to a larger story and I was surprised when it wasn’t.

Gin has grown a lot as a character. She is learning to accept having people in her life that she cares about and who care about her. She doesn’t really gain any new powers in this book, but it focused on learning to exercise her current powers with more intricacy and finesse.

I enjoyed reading about all of the other characters as well. I continue to be annoyed at Owen for his childishness; he has really taken a step back as a character for me. Finn and Bria continue to be wonderful characters in this series.

There really isn’t anything new in this book that we haven’t seen in previous Elemental Assassin books. While it is a decent read I was surprised that there wasn’t a bit more to the story.

So while I enjoyed reading this book, there wasn’t a lot here that really excited me. It was very similar to previous books...except with less story. Additionally Estep continues to do a bit too much recapping in this book, this is something that she has done in previous Elemental Assassin books as well.

Overall this was a decent read, but in my opinion the weakest book in this series so far. There isn’t much to this story and it is more of a contained mystery than the start of something new and wonderful. I was left feeling like maybe this series is running out of steam. Gin is a great character and I enjoyed reading about her, but Owen remains pretty obnoxious. I guess I would recommend to fans of the series, but just don’t expect too much from this book. This series as a whole is highly recommended to fans of action packed urban fantasy.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Reading Challenge
- Paranormal Reading Challenge

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Showcase Sunday and Mailbox Monday - 1/28/12

Hello and welcome to Showcase Sunday. Inspired by Pop Culture Junkie and the Story Siren, the aim of Showcase Sunday is to highlight our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders each week. For more information about how this feature works and how to join in, click here.
Mailbox Monday can be found at: The Printed Page

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

I got way too many books this week.  But there were a few I just had to buy!  Then I got quite a few for review through the Amazon Vine program as well.  You can see them all below.  So much for cutting down my TBR pile....

Watch the video below for more info or clicks on the pictures to go read the synopsis.

Hope you all got some good books and have a good week of reading ahead of you!


For Review: