Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Rose Under Fire (Code Name Verity #2) by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire (Code Name Verity #2) by Elizabeth Wein-368* pages

I read Code Name Verity in Summer 2015 for the Teen Services class I was taking during Library school and it was a good read. I decided I wanted to read this for historical fiction month. It is an even better read. Rose Justice is an American Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) pilot in Britain during WWII and works with Maddie (one of the protagonists from Code Name Verity). On her way back to Britain from one of her transport flights, Rose is captured by Nazis/Germans and eventually sent to Ravensbruck. The atrocities that took place at the hands of the Nazis there (and at all of the concentration camps) are appalling. Many things that we take for granted today were barely considerations for them (freely going to the bathroom/working toilets is one thing). "Prisoners" were experimented on (infected with disease, operated on, had bones and/or muscles removed, etc.), beaten with whips, shot on a whim, gassed, forced to stand for hours or days at a time, and given very little to eat. Many of the women (and men) at Ravensbruck and all of the camps who survived were skeletons of their former selves (in many cases both physically and emotionally). Wein's story about Rose is good because it tells a story that needs told (continually so that no one forgets) and it is well-written and told well. Although it is a work of fiction, I felt as if I were there with Rose and the other women at Ravensbruck and that is the mark of a good work. Overall, it was a good read, though not easy at times. I would recommend it to anyone (though be prepared for sad moments).

Kamisama Kiss, v. 24 by Julietta Suzuki

Kamisama Kiss, v. 24 by Julietta Suzuki - 200 pages

Nanami and Tomoe go after Yatori who has taken Akura-Oh's body.  Will Tomoe give up on his chance for humanity to stop Yatori?  Another great entry in the series.

Assassination Classroom, v. 16 by Yusei Matsui

Assassination Classroom, v. 16 by Yusei Matsui - 200 pages

In this volume, we discover the history of Koro Sensei.  This was a great volume.  We've been waiting for the back story of Koro Sensei and his motivations.  This is a turning point in the series.

Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick

Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick - 342 pages

Amity and Benedict have two big problems.  First, they are trying to discover a spy that shot Benedict and stole a valuable notebook.  Second, they must find the crazed serial killer that has targeted Amity before he can try to kill her again.

This was an enjoyable historical romance by Amanda Quick (pen name for Jayne Ann Krentz).  I enjoyed the audio version of this book.  The narrator did a good job of distinguishing between the characters with accents and dialects.  The mystery aspects were well done and kept you guessing until the reveal at the end.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Caraval by Stephanie Garber
416 pages

"Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
"But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner."  --from the publisher
Caraval is more a game than a show.  The players have to decipher the clues and discern between fantasy and reality in order to maintain their sanity, let alone win.  The first half of the book dragged for me--spending too much time on the indecisiveness and self-doubt of the main character.  However it is a young adult book so if I was a teen those traits may have been connecting points.  The last half was engaging and entertaining.  I gave it 3 stars out of 5.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
320 pages / 9 hrs, 57 mins

"Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn't seen or heard from in 20 years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.
"Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce's remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk 600 miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.
"Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise...
"A novel of unsentimental charm, humor, and profound insight into the thoughts and feelings we all bury deep within our hearts, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry introduces Rachel Joyce as a wise - and utterly irresistible - storyteller."  --from the publisher
It is hard to find words to describe this emotional and thought-provoking tale.  It is intriguing, beautiful, and devastating all at the same time.  If you read it, you'll be glad you did.

Monday, June 26, 2017

NECESSARY LIES by Diane Chamerlain

Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain -597 pages

In the early sixties, paternalistic doctors refuse to prescribe The Pill for women. One even tells our heroine she doesn't want to go into social work, that she should stay home and raise kids. Luckily, our heroine is made of stouter stuff and doesn't listen to her doctor. Or even to her new husband, also a doctor who's trying to fit in with the country club set.

Otherwise, she'd never have met the other heroines of the story: two poor young girls whose future looks hopeless. The eldest has had an illegitimate child, the younger is close on her heels.

This was an interesting story about someone who wanted to go into social work but her new husband didn't want her to.  The marriage was in trouble.  Meanwhile the wife finds poor people with a bleak future but two young girls really touch her and she intervenes in their lives....losing her job and even facing jail time.