Category Archives: 2012-read

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

My RSS feed is full of great book blog posts. I find these posts are a excellent way to discover new reads and authors. When something catches my eye, I add it to my “to-read” list. The next time I unexpectedly find myself with nothing new to read, I’ll check one of these blog discoveries. Last week I saw a book on Steph Su ReadsCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein–that I knew I needed to read right away.

From Goodreads.com

I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.

I have been in a reading rut recently. Most of the books I have picked up have been dystopian trilogies or tales of how the girl gets the boy. I enjoyed these stories but sometimes just need something different. Code Name Verity was the perfect change. Instead of the typical love story–or more common love triangle–this book told of the adventures and friendship between two woman during WWII.

I will admit that it took me a while to get use to the narration style. Once I did I was hooked. I stayed up reading this book way past my bedtime just to know how the book ended. The fact that the plot was so different meant that it was unpredictable. It was impossible to guess what would come next. Sentences that were throwaway lines at first became huge plot points later. I wished that I had purchased a physical copy of this book instead of the E-Reader version so I could have flipped back and forth between the pages. I finished the book knowing that a re-read was in order in an attempt to catch all the small details I missed initially.

The characters of the story were also a refreshing change. It seems common these days to have a protagonist who has a special ability. Generally this skill is something they are born with, or happen to realize they have right in time for a crucial plot point. It is nice to see that this is not the case for the women in this book. You see the hard work and training that it takes for them to get to where they are. Their skill is not something they happen upon by luck or chance. This made the characters believable. It added a certain realism that enabled me to imagine the protagonists on their journey as the story unfolded.

Review: This book is wonderful. It is a refreshing change from the pile of dystopian love triangles on the shelves. Despite its YA categorization, I really believe this book will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good story. The fast pace and unique characters made it impossible to put down. I highly recommend this story.

White Cat by Holly Black

I know I’ve been gone for a while, but I loved this next book SO MUCH that I HAD to write something about it.

From Goodreads.com

Cover of White Cat by Holly BlackCassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn’t fit in at home or at school, so he’s used to feeling like an outsider. He’s also used to feeling guilty–he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas–and a plan to con the conmen.

I first became acquainted with Holly Black’s work in the anthologies Geektastic and Zombies vs Unicorns. I enjoyed her contributions enough that I decided to check out some of her full-length work. I put White Cat–the first book in the Curse Workers series–on my “to-read” list with the intent to check it out soon. Instead, the book occupied a space on my “to-read” shelf for almost two years. My lack of interest in the cover lead me to skip over this book repeatedly when looking for a new read. It did not help that this book was also part of an incomplete trilogy. Luckily, Twitter convinced me it was time to finally purchase this book.

Last week I noticed several tweets on my timeline mentioning that the eBook of White Cat by Holly Black was now $2.99. I remembered previously wanting to read this book, so I followed the link to the Amazon page. I noticed the great new cover right away. That combined with the low price were enough to convince me to finally check out the sample of this story.

I started reading the sample while on an hour-and-a-half car ride. By the time I got to my destination, I had purchased the whole novel and had a serious case of queasy stomach from reading in the car. I was officially hooked.

The major reason I enjoyed White Cat was it was so different from most of the stories I have read recently. For starters, it was an alternate universe “AU” novel. This is a nice change from the dystopian novel trend that YA has recently experienced. As I was familiar with the overall setting of the story, the author did not have to waste time creating it for me. She was able to jump into the narration while still carefully interweaving details of the alternate universe.

Another difference is how the characters were defined in the story. In most stories, it is easy to figure out who is “good” or “bad.” The distinction is not as apparent in this case. Characters have their own intentions which don’t always align with the protagonist, creating a conflict that is representative of relationships. This grabbed my interest and kept me reading.

Review: Black was able to tell a complex story that left me satisfied with the end of the first book, while leaving plenty of questions for the following two stories in the trilogy. Upon completing White Cat I had to resist purchasing the follow-up story–Red Glove–immediately. I highly recommend this book.