Tag: WWII

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

Author: Matt Killeen
Published:  March 20, 2018
423 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 3 stars

Book Description:

A Jewish girl-turned-spy must infiltrate an elite Nazi boarding school in this highly commercial, relentlessly nail-biting World War II drama!

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah–blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish–finds herself on the run from a government that wants to see every person like her dead. Then Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s a spy, and he needs Sarah to become one, too, to pull off a mission he can’t attempt on his own: infiltrate a boarding school attended by the daughters of top Nazi brass, befriend the daughter of a key scientist, and steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. With years of training from her actress mother in the art of impersonation, Sarah thinks she’s ready. But nothing prepares her for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined.

Kim’s Review:

This book was slightly disappointing to me. I had just finished the exhilarating Resistance by Nielsen; I got this book brand new off the shelf at Barnes and Noble, and the cover is so beautiful, so I picked it up right away. I know it’s not fair to compare books, so I’m going to try not to. Orphan Monster Spy just felt shallow to me. I didn’t feel any real connection to Sarah.

The story itself was good, but often times it felt inconsequential. By the time I finished it, it was empty, I felt very little. I really didn’t like the way Sarah was constantly comparing herself to the Nazis. It annoyed me that someone who was standing up against a regime that was so obviously evil, could then put herself into the same category as the “monsters” she was trying to fight. Killing someone who is about to kill an innocent person does not put you on the same level as the killer. I like having clearer distinctions of morality and this book suffered because it didn’t have those distinctions. It kept my attention well enough and I did like certain things about the story. Certain circumstances came to light to show just how evil individual Nazis were, and I liked the perspective of condemning not just the Nazi organization, but individuals as well. Seeing the brutal standards that the Nazi held not just for themselves but for their children was interesting.

I think my favorite part of the book was when Sarah participated in the River Run. She showed courage and cleverness and it was the one time in the book where I actually found myself rooting for her. I am glad I read this book, I did learn a little from it, but I don’t plan on reading it again and I can’t really bring myself to recommend it.

 Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Published: July 29, 2008
277 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.”

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

Kim’s Review:

There’s been a buzz around this book since Netflix announced that they would be turning it into a movie. I definitely wanted to read it before I watched. I really liked this book! It’s an easy read with a simple story and likable characters. I was a little hesitant with the letter format and it definitely isn’t my favorite, but by end, I had gotten used to it. The small issue of homosexuality was introduced and handled maturely but not historically.  No one during that time would have been so open to a stranger about homosexuality when it was literally against the law. Thankfully, it wasn’t a major part of the story.

Juliet is a funny, passionate protagonist and I couldn’t wait to turn the page to find out what happened to her. Interestingly, one of the most potent characters didn’t even make an appearance! Most of the people on the island of Guernsey are spunky and fun. I had such a great time getting to know them! Even the nasty people on the island made me laugh! While there is a set story-line that was entertaining, this is definitely a character-centric book! If you don’t want to visit Guernsey to meet the people there, then you read the book wrong! A great one for lovers of historical fiction! A great book!!!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen

 

Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Published: August 28, 2018
400 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5  stars

Book Description:

Chaya Lindner is a teenager living in Nazi-occupied Poland. Simply being Jewish places her in danger of being killed or sent to the camps. After her little sister is taken away, her younger brother disappears, and her parents all but give up hope, Chaya is determined to make a difference. Using forged papers and her fair features, Chaya becomes a courier and travels between the Jewish ghettos of Poland, smuggling food, papers, and even people.

Soon Chaya joins a resistance cell that runs raids on the Nazis’ supplies. But after a mission goes terribly wrong, Chaya’s network shatters. She is alone and unsure of where to go, until Esther, a member of her cell, finds her and delivers a message that chills Chaya to her core, and sends her on a journey toward an even larger uprising in the works — in the Warsaw Ghetto.

Though the Jewish resistance never had much of a chance against the Nazis, they were determined to save as many lives as possible, and to live — or die — with honor.

Kim’s Review:

This book blew my socks off! I’ve read Nielsen before and enjoyed her books, but this one takes the cake and the icing and the candles and all the presents too! I’ve been reading a lot of Holocaust fiction lately and I had my eye on this book for a while. It was released just last month and I picked it up almost as soon as Amazon delivered it.

At first, I was nervous that I wasn’t going to like Chaya. She seemed to have an air of superiority about her that didn’t suit her. She was quick to acknowledge her own service and sacrifice. That did get much better the further into the book I got. She became believable and realistic with her fear and courage. Esther was more pitiful than anything but it was nice to see her grow and mature throughout the story. The resistance network in Poland was impressive and even though I knew the history and what happened, I found myself hoping that just this once, things would turn out differently. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Jews and other victims of the Holocaust, that something like that would never happen in America because our mindset is completely different from Europeans. I am by no means victim-shaming, I’m simply pointing out that Americans, with our guns and natural rebelliousness, would have put up far more of a fight. This book showed that there were many people who showed that “not all sheep go like lambs to the slaughter.” I loved seeing how people refused to be cowed and exterminated without resisting.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, though technically a failure, is shown to be such a heroic effort in this book. I’ve never studied it in detail, but the people involved in the Uprising were people of courage and hope and I was so inspired by their sacrifices. I also appreciated how Nielsen showed the impact of young people in the resistance. In the face of such evil and the slaughter of their people, even teens took up arms and were willing to sacrifice themselves to save the lives of people they didn’t know. This is another book that every single middle and high school history teacher should have on his or her shelf as required reading. I found myself tearing up at the end and then wanting reread it all over again! I cannot say enough good about this book and I recommend it to everyone, especially any teen!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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