Reviewing two great World War II fiction novels

The Girl In the Blue Coat

Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion.

On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman’s frantic plea to find a person – a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action. 


This is quite the page turner, I quickly become invested and ended up flying through this. The mystery was engossing, but there was many other layers to this novel, it’s about Hanneke dealing with the loss of her first love, about the hardship of war , tough decisions and courage. I never knew what to expect, and found that things were rarely as they seemed. Nothing was simple, but thankfully everything mostly made sense. The ending was the only thing that didn’t entirely add up, it was awfully coincidental.

It seemed like the author did a lot of research and worked hard to make this historically accurate. She did a wonderful job of making everything (other than the ending) seem plausible. There was lots of details, about the culture, the city, and the war, that made this an immersive read. This transported me to Amsterdam making me feel like I was there, watching it all play out. The story was very well woven together and beautifully written.

Flygirl

Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.

When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots – and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.


This was exactly what I wanted it to be, I bought it hoping for a engaging and empowering story and that’s what I got. I loved reading and learning about the WASP, and I loved the characters. Ida Mae made for a darling protagonist, her story was compelling, and even though it isn’t a true story the author made it feel like it could have been. I loved the other characters as well, and the friendships Ida forms it has a great depiction of female friendship and girls supporting each other.

This is a immensely underrated novel, I really don’t get why it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It’s thought proving , well written and at just 288 pages it’s easy to fly through. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it’s one of the most satisfying books I’ve read in awhile. If your interested in reading about the roles women played in World War II, or simply enjoy stories about courageous girls you should consider reading this.

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A few of my favorite series from childhood

The American girl series

My sister owned a few of these and I ended up reading most of the books that were out at the time. My favorite girls were Samantha, Molly and Kit. Samantha and Kit were tied as my favorites. I really liked Kit as a character, I loved that she loved to write and was an aspiring journalist. I liked the time period of Samantha’s books, there set in 1904, my favorite era to read about.

I watched all the American Girl films, after reading the books and I remember them being pretty good! I also joined a American Girl book club at school, the first and so far only book club I’ve been a part of. It was really fun, we would read a few chapters discuss them each week, and do a craft inspired by the story.

The American girl books are full of girl power, and there really fantastic books for young girls so grow up on. They taught me about what it was like to grow up in a different time period, and I found characters who I could relate to, even though their story was set decades before mine.

The Little House books

I must’ve reread these at least ten times over the years. Well skimmed through them ten times, I usually just reread my favorite parts from each book. I only completely reread my favorite books in the series, which are The Long Winter, and Little Town on the Prairie. 

These books are great adventures, I like the later ones best when the Ingalls are settled in one place. I really enjoy Those Happy Golden Years for Laura’s adventures in teaching, but The Long Winter is the best book in the series.

The Spiderwick Chronicles

These books were actually bought for my little brother, I don’t remember if he even read them, I ended up reading and adoring this series. I become immersed in the world, the world building for this series is on point and magic is seamlessly woven into our world. These books are packed full of magical creatures.

I read these when I was in huge fairy phases (a phase I’ve never really grown out of) it was the perfect series for me to read at the time. This series is fun and magical, I got swept away by the story. I should read more of Holly Black’s books since I have enjoyed every book I’ve read by her.

What are some of your favorite books from when you were little? Have you read any of these? 

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Maston

Andie had it all planned out. When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future. Important internship? Check. Amazing friends? Check. Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks).

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life. Because here’s the thing—if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected. And where’s the fun in that?


This is a story about mostly typical teenage girl life happenings, that’s told in a relatable, charming way. That features dogs, dogs and even more dogs. Andie becomes a dog walker after her summer plans go astray, she starts out doing it reluctantly then discovers that it’s fulfilling. She also meets a cuts guy, awkward and very nerdy guy, romance obviously follows. Their initial interactions are so awkward that I literally had to put the book down at one point. It was also really amusing and cute, especially when he first met her dad, this book had me laughing our loud a few times, that was one of them.

I definitely don’t love this as much as Since You’re Been Gone, the romance wasn’t as cute to me, and it wasn’t as relatable. Though it does feel for the most part realistic, and the parent relationship was much better. I did enjoy the friendship, I liked all of Andie’s friends, and how authentic the friendships felt. There’s a really good balance between the romance, friendship, and family relationship, nothing is overshadowed. The story is predictable, but that didn’t really lessen my enjoyment of it.

This is a long book it’s five hundred plus pages and it is a slow read, but it’s not often you find a long captivating YA contemporary. You could argue that some of the scenes are unnecessary, but I enjoyed all the conversations between friends, and even them simply hanging out by the pool. It depicted many mundane, happy moments and I really enjoyed that. This is mostly a light happy book about happiness. Finding what makes you happy, who makes you happy, and strengthening relationships.

The Vinyl Trilogy by Sophia Elaine Hansen


Synopsis


All citizens within the soaring black walls of Revinia have metal Singers grafted into their skulls at birth. The parasitic machines issue a form of auditory hypnosis called The Music, which keeps their minds malleable and emotions flat. All artistic expression—especially real music—is strictly prohibited.

On the edge of the city, nineteen year old Ronja struggles to support her cousins and disabled mother. A chance meeting leads to her kidnapping by an underground resistance striving to preserve the human spirit. Violently severed from her Singer by the brash young agent Roark, Ronja revels in her newfound freedom until the consequences of her disappearance begin to unfold. 


Review


This series could be classified into many different genres, so no matter what type of books you like most you can surely find an element of it in this trilogy. With the first book I got what I was expecting, a dystopian with steampunk elements and romance. With this final book it sometimes felt more like a epic fantasy novel. I have never read any dystopian like this one. It’s different from every other book I’ve read in the genre in all the best of ways.

With pretty much every other dystopian the answers you get don’t add up, in this case all the answers to my questions are satisfying. Throughout the entire trilogy everything makes sense, there’s no obvious plot holes, or stupid explanations about why the world is the way it is. The world building is great, layers are added with each book,t there is a whole world that gets explored rather than just one continent like in many other books.

I’m always a fan of books about groups of people, this one has a wonderful diverse cast of characters to root for. I liked literally all of them, and loved the banter between them, if you like books with squads of lovable sassy people you’ll like this. I was impressed by the beautiful writing, Sophia is a wonderful storyteller, she has a lovely, strong and distinctive writing style. This whole trilogy has been a delight to read, more so than I expected, each book is compelling and hard to put down. These books are vastly underrated they deserve a lot more attention

Since You’ve Been Gone // the perfect summer read

It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um…

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane’s list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Since You’ve Been Gone was the perfect first read of Summer! It’s everything you want from a summer contemporary. There’s romance, adventure, lists and ice cream. Now that I’ve read two Morgan Maston books I can safety say that I see what the hypes about, her books deserve tons of love and recognition. I loved everything about this one all of the  shenanigans that take place are charming and amusing.  
There are a few moments that gave me major second hand embarrassment, but I also admittedly found Emily’s awkwardness relatable. Emily has a great character arc she goes from living in the shadows of her best friend, to learning to take chances, and face her fears. She starts out doing Sloane’s list in the hopes that it will bring her back, then she does it more for herself. It becomes less about Slone and more of summer project for her and her friends. I liked all the characters, and really enjoyed how the romance was slow building and first started as a great friendship.
I was inspired by this wonderful story to create my own summer to do list. Many of them are directly inspired by the events of the book, all much easier to accomplish then Emily’s list.
  1. Be a tourist for a day
  2. Watch a movie at the drive in
  3. Treat yo self to the spa
  4. Make a summer playlist
  5. Have a girls night out 
  6. Eat lots of ice cream 
  7. Photograph everything 
  8. Thrift shop
  9. Bake something homemade
  10. Look up more
  11. Take a trip
  12. Read a series in a day
  13. Hug a Zac

What’s on your summer to do list? Are there any books you plan on reading? I definitely want to read the rest of Morgan Maston’s books this summer.

Children of Blood and Bone

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.


There’s so much to say about this book that I don’t know where to begin or how to properly summarize everything I’m feeling. I’m going to do things a bit differently and separate my thoughts on the characters plot etc.

The characters

Usually in fantasy series the characters are my favorite part, that is surprisingly not the case here. That however in no way means the characters aren’t great, they are. Everything about this book is good and it definitely deserves all the hype it’s been receiving. At first I didn’t care much for Zellie the protagonist but now I don’t know why, by the middle of the book I had grown to love her. My favorite character was Amari, I liked her from the beginning and enjoyed her arc and how much she grew throughout the book.

I liked the Prince at first but by the end I didn’t know how to feel about him and I still don’t. He made some choices I didn’t entirely understand that made his storyline go in a direction I didn’t expect. I’m curious to see what the author will do with him in the next book, it was interesting to read from the antagonists point of view and that made me really enjoy his chapters.

The story

At first glance the story seams simple, a familiar battle against good and evil and a quest to restore magic. This book features many classics fantasy elements, there’s a chosen one, a rebellious princess, hate to love romance. This book has all these things I love to see in a fantasy novel, and it has things I’ve never seen done before. It feels refreshing and new in many ways. This book is a nonstop adventure, you will not want to stop reading, you also won’t want the book to end. It ends with a bang, that has me eager to read the next one.

The magic and world

The magic system and world building is absolutely spectacular. Normally I don’t care about how complicated or cool the magic system is, I just care that it works within the story without being too confusing. In this case magic plays such a key role in the story that’s it’s something I paid attention to and, was impressed by. It first I thought I was never going to remember what all the different types of Maji are called, but I caught on easily. The magic is truly very awesome and made for some fantastic fight scenes.

The writing

I could tell from just a few chapters in that this was a solid fantasy novel, that deserves to become the next big thing in YA. I am impressed by everything in this novel including the writing. Despite being huge and a little daunting, I found it extremely easy to read. The chapters are short, which I always like, and the end of each one makes you want to read the next one. This is one of those books where reading just one more chapter before bed quickly turns into five. I am so satisfied by this and exited to see where the story will go after that epic ending.

The Changeling’s Journey

Ailsa is dead. Leaving Morven the last surviving changeling in the village. Everyone knows it is only a matter of time before she too is dead. Desperate to find out why the fairies steal human babies, and to save her own life, she leaves her family behind, travelling north into the fairy kingdoms with her best friend. 

They soon find that making their way through vast magical forests, across kelpie-ridden lochs and over seemingly endless mountain ranges is more than they were prepared for. Despite the countless evenings spent listening to stories about adventures, fairies and magic, they find themselves out of their depth. Fighting to stay alive. 

Meanwhile in the fairy kingdoms, Princess Freya of Culhuinn struggles to cope with life now that her love has been taken from her. Whilst Queen Euna of Norbroch spends more time lost in her memories than she does ruling her kingdom. 

One changeling’s journey to save her life will alter their world forever


This book took a while to get into, but I’m glad I kept reading because it dose have many good qualities. It’s told in three points of view and that element was done well. You follow Morven and Glen on their adventure to the fairy realm, to get answers about changelings. Then you have Princess Freya who is separated from her lover by her cruel father, and finally Queen Euna whose chapters are mostly flashbacks. They each have individual stories that connect in the end. Their all interesting characters, but they could have been flushed out more and been even better.

This book is about a long Journey and it felt long, there isn’t much dialogue, and it was slowly paced. The story is character driven normally I’m all for that, unfortunately, I didn’t like the characters enough. The side characters especially needed more development, I felt like many of them hardly had a personality. Even Glen who is Morven’s best friend wasn’t developed enough for me to care about. I think Fraya was the most interesting and likable, but her love interest was boring, and that detracted from Fraya’s arc.

I’ve never been to Scotland, and I don’t know much about Scotland, but I could tell that everything about this book is very Scottish. The descriptions of the landscapes they traveled through are beautiful and detailed, it was easy to visualize them, and to wish I was there. I adore how many different fairies are featured, there’s Changelings, Will-oh-the-wisps, fea and more. All the folklore was integrated into the book so wonderfully, the world is fantastical and charming. The writing is lovely as well, however the story sadly wasn’t as compelling as the word.

Sky in the Deep

I am always exited when I find a standalone fantasy novel there is something so satisfying about a well done standalone novel. I am very impressed and satisfied by this strong debut. The writing is lovely I was enticed by every page, somehow Adrianne even made doing chores interesting to read about. There wasn’t as much fighting as I expected from a book about rival viking clans. But I’m not complaining because I think there’s enough and each battle epic, besides the story is really about the relationships.

Each relationship was beautiful, even though the book is only a little over 300 pages, the relationships all developed naturally and slowly. I really liked the main character Eelyn she’s tough and compassionate. Throughout the book she questions everything she believes in and the journey she goes on is heart wrenching. I sympathized greatly with her and there was quite a lot of unexpected emotional moments.

I strongly suggest going into this knowing as little as possible. I had forgotten most of the synopsis before starting it and I’m glad I feel like knowing nothing added to my enjoyment. That’s why I haven’t included a synopsis, all you really need to know is that this is a standalone viking YA novel. In a nutshell it’s about fighting for what’s right, letting go off prejudice and finding love in unexpected places.

I was given this title from the publisher through Netgally in exchange for a review.

The Radical Element

I was kindly given this title from the publisher through Netgally in exchange for a review.

To respect yourself, to love yourself, should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It’s a decision that must be faced when you’re balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it’s the only decision when you’ve weighed society’s expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs.

Original stories by:

  • Dahlia Adler
  • Erin Bowman
  • Dhonielle Clayton
  • Sara Farizan
  • Mackenzi Lee
  • Stacey Lee
  • Anna-Marie McLemore
  • Meg Medina
  • Marieke Nijkamp
  • Megan Shepherd
  • Jessica Spotswood
  • Sarvenaz Tash

I’m determined to start reading more historical fiction and more books with feminist themes. This book fits into both those categories and is why I want to read historical fiction particularly ones inspired by real women. Many of these stories are inspired by real events and real women. There have been many wonderful radical women who helped pave the way for equality, you don’t get to hear about many of those ladies in history class. This book makes me want to make an effort to learn about them.

I hope this collection will provide an impetus for you to be the radical element in your own community, dreaming big, loving yourself fiercely, and writing the next chapter of history – Jessica Spotswood.

I’m fascinated by short stories I love how a whole and lovely story can get told in so little pages. All the stories are about different things and different girls but at there heart there all about the same thing, girls taking charge of their lives. Girls who stand up for what they believe in fight for the life they want, and in some cases learn to accept and love themselves. Most of the stories left me feeling inspired to continue to make my life into the one I’ve been dreaming of, they made me want to be the radical element in my own story.

My favorite story is definitely Better for All the World by Marieke Niikamp, it has an autistic #ownvoices protagonist who wants to be a lawyer. I was blown away by this story and now I must read Marieke’s books. I also greatly enjoyed Daughter of the Book by Dahilia Adller it’s about a jewish girl who rightly believes she deserves the same education as her brother.

Some of the stories didn’t impress but I enjoyed most of them and would give the majority of them a four star rating. Overall I’m in love with this book, with the lovely stories in contains, and the brave, inspiring and radical protagonists that are featured in each of them.

“Respect, and perhaps, one day, even love yourself. It’s the most radical decision you can make.” – Marieke Nijkamp

Book review: The Color Project

Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing she doesn’t want anyone to know: her name. That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project.

Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giving up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her.

When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee’s summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project—a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds—is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely, or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

For fans of Stephanie Perkins and Morgan Matson, THE COLOR PROJECT is a story about the three great loves of life—family, friendship, and romance—and the bonds that withstand tragedy.

I fell in love with this within the first few chapters and couldn’t put it down or stop smiling. There was so many great things going on. Bee works in a flower shop and all the scenes of her arranging flowers are lovely. The love interest Levi is the sweetest, he’s and Bee’s first conversations are awkward and adorable. I soon found myself screaming at them to hurry up and get together. I liked all the characters my favorite is Albert who goes around throwing glitter at people he finds rude.

At first this was the perfect fluffy contemporary but you can tell that something bad is going to happen in the beginning. However you forgot about it las you get entranced by The Color Project and the romance. Then the book goes from happy to sad to aggravating real fast. The last quarter of the book is where I started to not love it quite so much. The sad thing is handled fine but there’s an overlapping storyline that isn’t. I felt for what Bee was going through but I also couldn’t help but be frustrated by her refusal to tell Levi her name.

There’s a few chapters towards the end that that felt repetitive and the characters actions, mostly Bee’s, frustrated me. Throughout those chapters the characters don’t grow, nothing really happens, all it seemed to do was draw out the book. The ending however is good and all in all I adore this book, the writing is lovely and witty, Bee has a strong voice that I found instantly compelling. This was everything I wanted it to be, it made me feel all the emotions, mostly it made me happy.