Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1)

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Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1)

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.”

-Taken from Goodreads

I love historical fiction as a genre, no matter the historical setting, and I have a strong interest in military history, particularly World Wars I and II. That being said, I felt that this book fell a little flat for me. I was expecting more from a book with such a hype.

The way this book was built made it clear that we weren’t seeing the whole scene. The setup for a twist was obvious from the start, and then, when that twist happened, my reaction was ‘Wait, is that it? Is that all of it?’. It was not as momentous as the setup led me to believe, and that frustrated me quite a bit. You see, I only kept reading in the hopes that the twist would be worth my while. It wasn’t.

Verity, our title character, annoyed me. I didn’t see what the point was to what she was doing. All that information that is given just went over my head. While reading, I was going, ‘Okay, but why are you telling me this?’. <spoiler> You see, there are many, many, many things that are quite specific to England. Therefore, if you’re not British, you’ll miss what the character is actually doing. </spoiler>.

At around 60%, there is a change in POV, that is quite an improvement. The reprieve was temporary for me, however. I found myself just skipping the pages to get to the end. And the end, when it finally came, was not as momentous as I thought it would be.

This is not, to sum it up, a WWII book that I would recommend.

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Coin Heist

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Coin Heist

“The last place you’d expect to find a team of criminals is at a prestigious Philadelphia prep school. But on a class trip to the U.S. Mint – which prints a million new coins every 30 minutes – an overlooked security flaw becomes far too tempting for a small group of students to ignore.

United by dire circumstances, these unlikely allies – the slacker, the nerd, the athlete, and the “perfect” student – band together to attempt the impossible: rob the U.S. Mint. The diverse crew is forced to confront their true beliefs about each other and themselves as they do the wrong thing for the right reasons.

Elisa Ludwig’s Coin Heist is a fun, suspenseful, and compelling thriller, told from the revolving perspectives of four teens, each with their own motive for committing a crime that could change all of their lives for the better—if they can pull it off.”

– Taken from Goodreads

’d like to thank NetGalley and Adaptive Books for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

I was immediately attracted by the blurb. A group of teens planning a coin heist? Sign me in!

They had the reason, they had the ways and they had the nerve to go ahead with it. However, somehow, they story fell a little short of expectations. I was expecting the story to contain some scandal of sorts. I mean, it’s the U.S. Mint! It would’ve been interesting to see the outrage caused by the coin heist linked to the other scandal that kickstarts the story. Besides, even if their ends were noble, I don’t feel they justify the means used to achieve such ends.

As for the characters, it was interesting to see not only their roles in the coin heist plotting, but to also get some glimpses into their lives. They were so different from each other, living in different ways, that it was fascinating to see how it all came together.

The ending was a bit disappointing for me. I thought it was too subdued, too easy somehow.

Down London Road (On Dublin Street #2)

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Down London Road (On Dublin Street, #2)

Johanna Walker is used to taking charge. But she’s about to meet someone who will make her lose control…

It has always been up to Johanna to care for her family, particularly her younger brother, Cole. With an absent father and a useless mother, she’s been making decisions based on what’s best for Cole for as long as she can remember. She even determines what men to date by how much they can provide for her brother and her, not on whatever sparks may—or may not—fly.

But with Cameron MacCabe, the attraction is undeniable. The sexy new bartender at work gives her butterflies every time she looks at him. And for once, Jo is tempted to put her needs first. Cam is just as obsessed with getting to know Jo, but her walls are too solid to let him get close enough to even try.

Then Cam moves into the flat below Jo’s, and their blistering connection becomes impossible to ignore. Especially since Cam is determined to uncover all of Jo’s secrets… even if it means taking apart her defenses piece by piece.”

-Taken from Goodreads

This had a strong heroine, as Jo sacrifices so much to take care of her younger brother and raise him properly. It was actually a nice change to have a main couple that is not filthy rich and actually goes through some financial duress.

What did bother me was that Jo was still attracted to a guy that treated her like dirt when they first met. I wouldn’t forgive so easily, though I am known to hold grudges for years. Still, I felt like I could be friends with Jo, as she felt real in her fears and her struggles. I also loved how she was too proud to take her friends’ help.

Cameron was a nice character, but he had to work for me to like him. The way he treated Jo at the beginning was totally uncalled for, though he did redeem himself later on. What bothered me was the, as it’s usually the case, he was drop dead gorgeous, without a single blemish. I do wish someone would write a main couple that is not magazine cover-worthy. A beer belly and a broken nose would suffice (okay, whom am I kidding here)?

Between Shades Of Gray

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Between Shades of Gray

“Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.”

– Taken from Goodreads

Somehow, I was expecting more out of this book. Nearly every review stated that this was a tearjerker. I have to confess that I didn’t cry while reading this. I guess the imagery just wasn’t strong enough for me. This does not mean I’m a cold, heartless person. I cried my eyes out with “Schindler’s List”, especially because of the girl in the red dress.

Did I know that Stalin’s rule killed millions of people in forced labor camps? Yes. But, for some reason, the Western front of World War II gets more attention than the Eastern front. Both instances were horrifying crimes against humanity, and both instances deserve to be remembered through books and movies and memorials in the hopes it doesn’t ever happen again.

While I could see that Lina’s situation was awful, I couldn’t feel it. Most of the narrative was too detached, as if she had retreated into herself to avoid dealing with the horror of her situation. There were some strong turns of phrase here and there, but they were too few and far between.

Lina’s mother annoyed me at times. I understand she was trying to shelter her children, but her optimism was a bit too much for me. Again, maybe she had to cling to that hope that everything would be okay in the end, but I, as a person, don’t relate to that. However, I don’t think I’d have made it as far as she did. It’s more likely that I’d kill myself at some point. Different people, different reactions.

My biggest issue with this book was the ending. After hundreds of pages of one bad thing after the other, I was hoping for a glimpse of happiness, and I didn’t get it. A longer epilogue, with more information about what happened to the survivors after they were liberated would have been nice. I do think the author could have afforded to write ten or twenty pages about what happened afterwards.

Rating: 3 out of 5

The Geography Of You And Me

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The Geography of You and Me

“Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.”

– Taken from Goodreads.

This was a pretty unremarkable book for me overall. It wasn’t exactly boring, but it was dull. While I was reading this, I had the feeling that nothing was really happening, other than a lot of moping around.

I don’t think I could be friends with either of the main characters. They were both too hesitant for me. They were unable to ask even the simplest questions, and that is made very evident in a scene between Lucy and her mother at the end of the book. It started out quite well, but after they leave, it was just a lot of nothingness and shuffling back and forth. Plotwise, there is not much going on either. That was just the thing, it felt too much like a real life, if that makes any sense. And that made it uninteresting for me.

After reading this and one other work from her, I’d say that her books are not for me. Again, this wasn’t boring and it was well written. But it’s not I want out of my books.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Be With Me (Wait For You #2)

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Be with Me (Wait for You, #2)

“Teresa Hamilton is having a rough year—she’s in love with her big brother’s best friend, but he hasn’t spoken to her since they shared a truly amazing, mind-blowing, change-your-life kiss. She got out of a terrible relationship. And now an injury is threatening to end her dance career for good. It’s time for Plan B – college. And maybe a chance to convince Jase that what they have together is real.

Jase Winstead has a huge secret that he’s not telling anyone. Especially not his best friend’s incredibly beautiful sister. Even though he and Teresa shared the hottest kiss of his life, he knows that his responsibilities must take priority. He certainly doesn’t have time for a relationship. But it doesn’t help that all he can think about kissing the one girl who could ruin everything for him.

As they’re thrown together more and more, Jase and Tess can’t keep denying their feelings for each other. But a familiar danger looms and tragedy strikes. As the campus recovers, the star-crossed couple must decide what they’re willing to risk to be together, and what they’re willing to lose if they’re not…”

– Taken from Goodreads

In typical NA fashion, this book has quite a few clichés. Both Teresa and Jase, the main characters, have some issues to deal with. However, what I liked about this story was that it somehow felt more realistic in its characters’ issues than some books out there. You see, by reading those books, one would think that at least half of the college population in the US has been sexually, physically or emotionally abused. Let me emphasize that I do not deny that those abuses are real or that they leave deep scars in the victims. However, abused characters have become too commonplace, in my opinion.

It was, therefore, quite refreshing to have a character whose main issue is dealing with an injury that puts her dream of becoming a dancer in jeopardy. Oh, she has darkness in her past, but it’s not the central issue here, as opposed to the injury. Jase also has issues, but they don’t revolve around any kind of abuse.

It was unnerving to read about those characters, particularly Jase, and their romantic coming and goings. I came really close to throwing my Kindle out of the window at several points. The supporting cast was also really well done. As for the end, it was bittersweet. It was both happy and sad, and my heart really broke for Teresa, but it also filled me with hope for Avery (the main character from the first book).

Rating: 4 out of 5

Slammed (Slammed #1)

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Slammed (Slammed, #1)

“Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she’s losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.

Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.”

– Taken from Goodreads

This book has been shelved several times as DNF here on Goodreads. After starting this, I realized why that was. It was just too cliché, boring and all that. However, this changed a bit around 20% (getting there was nearly impossible, though), thanks to an unexpected twist.

After the twist, however, it went back to its typical NA plot. I don’t mind an obvious plot. I do mind it when I can’t wait for the book to be finished, and that usually happens when the characters and the writing style don’t really convince me.

Layken (what kind of name is that?) was a typical teenager, throwing tantrums and being moody. I didn’t really like her. In fact, I liked Eddie, her friend, far better. Will was another *meh* character. Of course, he is physically perfect, and psychologically messed up.

I have read other books by Colleen Hoover (Hopeless and Maybe Someday come to mind), and, for me, this was the worst. It was all too obvious, and the characters came across as too soft, mellow. That is why I liked Eddie better. Her darker past made for a more interesting character that Layken.

Rating: 2 out of 5