Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

9780142420591-1-683x1024Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Published by Philomel Books on March 22, 2011
Genres: [Young Adult] Historical Fiction
Pages: 344
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

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5 Stars, Completed January 14, 2017

– SPOILER free –

Between Shades of Gray sets place in early 1940s Europe. A young Lithuanian girl and her family are torn from their comfortable life and sent to a camp in Siberia and later a prison in the Arctics; at both locations and during the passages between they will witness and endure horrifying treatment from the Soviets under the rule of Stalin. This affecting novel recounts a journey that spans over several years and covers 6,500 miles. It displays one of humanity’s unfathomably darkest and most hidden parts of history.

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Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

bloodforblood_coverBlood for Blood by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #2 (2/2)
Published by  Little, Brown Books on November 1, 2016
Genres: [Young Adult] Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Pages: 481
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read With: Lois at My Midnight Musings

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3.5 Stars, Completed November 8, 2016

– read only the bold text to avoid major SPOILERS  –

Blood for Blood is the second and final installment to the Wolf by Wolf duology. It begins with Yael on the run after having just assassinated Adolf Hitler on live television. But it seems like the truth of what happened at the Victors’ ball is much more complicated than what the world saw. The man Yael shot was only another skinshifter, like herself, that took up Hitler’s face as a guise. The consequences for treason and murder is inescapable, and the Resistance is unable to recover after having started Operation Valkyrie too soon. The only way in saving the few people Yael has left in her life is for her to travel across enemy territory in hope of reversing the New Order and completing this last mission without fail.

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

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Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #1 (1/2)
Published by  Little, Brown Books on October 20, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Pages: 382
Format: Paperback, ARC
Source: NOVL

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4.5 Stars, Completed January 7, 2016

– SPOILER free  –

Once upon a different time, there was a girl who lived in a kingdom of death. Wolves howled up her arm. A whole pack of them-made of tattoo ink and pain, memory and loss. It was the only thing about her that ever stayed the same.

Her story begins on a train.

Absolutely stunning. Wolf by Wolf is one of those rare historical fiction novels where we all know how it ends because of history. Yet, Ryan Graudin still manages to weave a story that is ultimately gripping and unpredictable through using creative liberties to answer what-ifs and would-bes all the while adding a dash of some science fiction flavors of her own.

Graudin poses several possible scenarios in which the Second World War could have ended. What if Hitler and the Axis powers won the war instead? What if the unethical, medical experiments tested within the camps actually worked? Or what if a genetic fluke from said experiments backfired but was the prime solution to end this horrific period?

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Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

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Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
Published by Knopf on January 26, 2016
Genres: [Adult/YA] Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
Pages: 232
Format: Paperback, ARC
Source: Publisher

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Rerated: 4 Stars
4.5 Stars, Completed December 31, 2015

– SPOILER free –

“I need a SparkNotes interpretation of this” was the first thought that popped into my head when I finished page 232.

Initially, I thought this was going to be a light historical fiction novel set during the early years of World War II (but then again when is a book about WWII every light?), but I’m quite surprised by how this read more like a fairy tale mixed with some magical realism. And strangely, as I was flipping through each page I had these sudden urges to recognize every rhetorical device and wanted to annotate the entire thing. Anna and the Swallow Man rekindled the literature student in me (in a pleasant way).

In Anna and the Swallow Man, readers meet young, precocious Anna. Her father is a linguistic professor and naturally he knows many languages. In fact, so many that Anna doesn’t know what her father’s native tongue is. She grows up not really knowing how to identify herself. All she has are the many ways to say Anna. Anja. Khannaleh. Anke. Anushka. Anouk. But then one day her father leaves her in the care of an old friend and he never returns. Soon after, with the war wearing down the civilians, the hospitality her father’s friend once has dissipates and she finds herself at a level of despair and fear she’s never anticipated to experience before. All changes when she meets the mysterious Swallow Man. Despite his intimidating looks, Anna grows attached to this tall and peculiar man because he’s just like her and her father, one that is skilled in many tongues. They embark on a seemingly aimless journey and he teaches her his language, Road. A language that uses deceit for the purpose of protection and survival.

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The Midwife’s Revolt by Jodi Daynard

24961498The Midwife’s Revolt by Jodi Daynard
Published by Lake Union Publishing on April 7, 2015
Genres: [Adult] Historical Fiction
Pages: 426
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

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3 Stars, Completed April 9, 2015

– SPOILER free –

I think the main reason why I have the habit of judging books by the covers is because I often do not read the synopses. Or when I do, I skim them briefly. However, I do tend to revisit the blurb after reading the book to judge its accuracy and level of spoilery. This tactic usually makes the plot more enjoyable for me.

The Midwife’s Revolt was no exception to this routine. I wasn’t expecting much since the cover is pretty plain, but this was an absolutely great read. The book is about young Elizabeth “Lizzie” Lee Boylston and her contribution to the American Revolution. Being the dense non-history buff I am, I had no idea some of the main characters were real people until John Adams and John Quincy Adams were introduced in the story. Anyhow, in this Lizzie recounts her life living in Braintree, Massachusetts (now called Quincy I think) as a midwife. The revolt part of the title comes in when she decides to help with the Cause by disguising herself as a man to spy in Loyalist taverns. There’s even some mystery as more events ensue, and Lizzie experiences loss, love, and betrayal.

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