Wednesday 20 April 2016


The Girl In The Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
The Red Messenger by Mari Li
Prisoner Of Night And Fog by Anne Blankman
Conspiracy of Blood And Smoke by Anne Blankman

The first book within my YA, Historical, World War 2 themed post that I want to share with you, is The Girl In The Blue Coat by Monica Hesse. This book has been on my "Want To Read Wishlist" since I first heard about it.

Title: The Girl In The Blue Coat
Author: Monica Hesse
Publisher: Pan Macmillan, Macmillan Children's Books 
Genre: YA, Historical
Expected Release Date: 21st April 2016

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An unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible times

The missing girl is Jewish. I need you to find her before the Nazis do.

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.

Next up in my YA, Historical, World War 2 themed post is a novella/short story within a collection of three stories/novella's called Defiant. I have read and reviewed this novella so I have included my review below too. 

Title: The Red Messenger
Author: Mari Li
Publisher: Storm Publishing
Release Date: 26th March 2015

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The Red Messenger
Some things are better left unsaid – or unquestioned.
When Emma finds a mysterious note in a coat that once belonged to her twin sister Sophia, the words written on it won’t leave her alone: “The Angel has come”. Angels are a part of forbidden folklore, remnants of the old Jewish religion that was banned by the Realm long ago. Sophia had secrets she never shared with Emma, and they demand to be unraveled. Now, Emma’s quest will change her world forever. 

I heard about this collection of stories via Jen Minkman whose books I have read before. I had already read and reviewed The Island but was instantly interested in reading the other two books in this collection. Jen Minkman has actually translated the other two titles in this collection into English. I also love the dystopian genre so reading this collection was a must!

I received a free ecopy of the Defiant collection, and the novella/short story I want to recommend and share with you is The Red Messenger by Mari Li. This story is set in the Germany, around the time the Aryan race were deemed the superior race, and the Jewish people were persecuted. The main character is Emma Petrova, we meet Emma as she is seriously considering throwing herself from an upstairs window so she can be with her sister who died in an accident recently. Sophia was Emma's twin sister, they live with their guardian and Uncle Peter Petrova and his own daughter, their cousin Lorelei. When Emma is going through her sister Sophia's clothes and belongings she holds up the bright red coat that Sophia was wearing when her "accident" happened. Emma discovers a scrap of paper with a name and an address on it, of someone she doesn't know. How did Sophia know this person and not her? Intrigued about who the mysterious person is and why her sister was visiting or planning to visit her? In an attempt to feel closer to her recently departed sister Emma decides to go to the address.
Emma discovers a secret side of Sophia that she herself had not even glimpsed. As Emma becomes embroiled in seeing through her sisters last "mission" she desperately needs someone to confide in. Sadly she chooses to trust someone that doesn't deserve her trust. Emma is devastatingly betrayed by the very person that did the same to her sister. Emma is taken along with her new Jewish friends to a work camp. She undergoes the harsh realities of being Jewish or being a Jewish collaborator. The Red Messenger tells a little of the different stories of the Jewish citizens that have bee incarcerated in the camp at the same time as Emma. Will Emma live or perish in the camp as many around her are doing. How can she survive such harsh conditions when she was brought up in another world, of privilege and plenty. I also want to add that the title of the novella fits it perfectly. The writing style of the book and content reminded me a little of Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman.
So did I enjoy the first book in this collection? I really did, I was immediately pulled right into this book within the very first paragraph. Would I want to read more about the characters in this book? I would love to know more abut the journey that Emma and Uriah undertake near the end of the novella. Having said the story does have a natural end as you finish it so I am doubtful that this story is or may become part of a series.
Would I want to read other titles by this author? I enjoyed the quite fast pace of this book and the descriptions and writing style, so I would take a look at any book written by this author.

The final two books within my YA, Historical, World War 2 themed post that I want to share with you are, Prisoner Of Night And Fog, which I have also read. (see the review below) and the second book in the Prisoner Of Night and Fog which is on my Want To Read Wishlist is Conspiracy Of Blood And Smoke.

Title: Prisoner Of Night And Fog
Series: Prisoner Of Night And Fog
Author: Anne Blankman
Publisher: Headline
Release Date: 22nd April 2014

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In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler.

And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

Goodreads Link
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Not totally sure what to expect, will it be similar to The Book Thief? Will it try to portray Adolph Hitler as a "good but misunderstood man" Will it be a realistic portrayal of one of the most hated men in history?

I received this book from the publishers in exchange for my honest review.
I felt drawn to the cover of this one. The young girl hurrying down a deserted road. The cover could fit as an image from the book when Gretchen is running to find Daniel. I immediately compared this book to The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, though this book is set slightly before in era than The Book Thief. This book is before Hitler actually cam into his true horrendous power. Although like The Book thief this book deals with the real "normal" Germans and how they were affected by Hitler.So at the beginning of the book Gretchen is still grieving her fathers death. Even though he is hailed as a hero, him being shot whilst shielding Hitler from bullets. In fact her father and Adolf Hitler were at one time close friends,brought together by the war. They served together and fought in the trenches together. They were separated from the other troops when the were attacked by gas. Hitler and Gretchen's father were sent to a special hospital, where a diagnosis was given that becomes an important part of this story.
So Gretchen has grown up as a niece figure to Adolf Hitler. Hitler has love only for his country, yet loves to surround himself with pretty young girls such as Gretchen, his own half cousin Geli and his favourite photographers assistant Eva...
The story tells how Gretchen becomes aware that her fathers death was not one of a martyr. Her father was shot both fro the front during the march and also in the back by someone in his own political party too, bit who? Gretchen also has an "odd" brother in fact like Hitler, her brother Reinhardt was also labelled a psychopath.  So by now in the book we have met Adolf's niece (Gretchen) and nephew (Reinhardt). The nephew sounds like he strongly believes as Hitler does in persecuting the Jewish etc. Reinhardt seems to have no emotions at all he is so sadistic to his family. Gretchen seems to know it is wrong for the Jews to be persecuted but is scared to upset her uncle. As "Uncle Dolf" "protects" and has helped the family financially.
The first pivotal moment  we see Gretchen with doubts about "Uncle Dolf's" political ways is when Reinhardt, his friend Kurt and Gretchen and her friend Eva are all in a car going to a local cafe to meet Hitler or Uncle Dolf as affectionately called at this point in the book.  A dark figure runs across the road in front of the car. When Kurt & Reinhardt miss the man they slam their brakes on and chase the man who is a Jew down into an alley where they begin to beat him up. It is at that moment that Gretchen truly realises that the Jews Hitler wishes to remove from Germany are real living breathing people who like her family are just trying to survive. It seems like the scales or rose tinted glasses have fallen away from Gretchen's eyes and she is seeing Hitler for what he truly is and all that he stands for. She is herself flirting with danger trying to find out who killed her father and why which puts her in close contact with a jewish reporter." Gretchen becomes quite determined regardless of the risks to get to the bottom of how her father died and enlists the help of a local jewish reporter.  Gretchen turns out to be a really good detective but gets herself in some life threatening situations but with Daniels help uncovers a lot of things too. So there is a little romance within the book, as well as betrayal, secrecy, with plenty of drama and suspense too.
The characters are well written and you end up feeling sorry for Hitlers half-niece Geli,  seems to have it all, she lives in luxury in Hitlers apartments in a wealthy part of town and can go shopping and spending money without having to earn it. Geli, Gretchen & Eva are the young girls whom Hitler likes to be seen dining. Hitlers moods do change from one minute to the next. It's like he acts like an Uncle to Gretchen as if he truly cares about her yet when Reinhardt beats his sister Hitler instantly takes the Reinhardt's side. He say's something like Reinhardt is the man of the house you must learn to do as he wishes! So the man is not just racist but sexist too. Uncle Adolf is only happy playing Uncle when everything is going to plan.
So did I enjoy the book? Yes, I really did enjoy it and would make it comparable to The Book Thief.  Would I recommend the book? Yes, it is YA aimed, more so than The Book thief I would say. Would I read another if this was the first in a series? If there was more to come about Gretchen and Daniel, yes I would want to read it. Having said that I think that this book also works really well as a standalone novel. Would I read other books by Anne Blankman? Yes, I would take a close look at anything written by this author as I really did enjoy her writing style and pace as well as the book content.

Title: Conspiracy Of Blood And Smoke
Series: Prisoner Of Night And Fog
Author: Anne Blankman
Publisher: Headline
Release Date: 21st April 2015

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The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: she used to be part of Adolf Hitler's inner circle. More than a year ago, she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich to live in Oxford, posing as an ordinary German immigrant. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town, and Gretchen is content. Then a telegram sends Daniel back to Germany, and her world turns upside-down when she learns that Daniel is wanted for murder. To save him, she must return to her homeland and somehow avoid capture and recognition by her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as she and Daniel work to clear his name, they discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and escape in time - or will Hitler discover them first?

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Amazon US
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