Review: Prisoner of Night and Fog

17668473Author: Anne Blankman

Age: 13 and up

Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery

Released: 2014

Click here to read summary from Amazon.

Sequel: Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke

First off, the cover is so perfect. Darling girl with a mysterious vibe!! My blood is rushing already with the anticipation…what is she running from??

I love reading books from other perspectives. In this book we read from the perspective of a young girl in Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. Many of her closest friends are Nazis. Of course, this changed through out the course of the novel as she began to realize life is not a simple as it seems. Secrets and hidden agendas lie all around her. She realizes her true friends and love can come from the most unlikely places.

Characters: It was interesting to read about Hitler from an admiring eye. Most definitely a change from normal. The main character is brave and darling. The Jewish reporter, who is the romantic figure, is adorable along with typical reporter gumption.

Why I want to read the sequel: Prisoner of Night and Fog happens before WWII. I want to know what happens during the war. Also, I need to see how the romance ends!

Content Advisory:

Language: 2/3 I honestly do not recall any, so if there was any…it was mild.

Sexual:  2 kissing perhaps. Girls argue about being loved by some psychopath.

Viloence: 4 May contain spoilers, highlight to read: Main character is beat-up badly by a supporting character who has problems. Early on in the book, Nazi boys beat-up a Jew. Lots of fights between political parties and gunfire.

Similar Books to enjoy: Code Name Verity and The Book Thief

Other Books by Author: Traitor Angels comes out May 2016.

*Our reviews do contain affiliate links, meaning we could make a very small commission should you buy something using one of those links.

Science Ch. 4 Week 2 copy


Review: Code Name Verity

code name verity

Title: Code Name Verity

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Age: Young Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction

Released: February 2012

Click here to read summary from Goodreads.

This is one of those books that I just don’t have the words to do it justice. I didn’t even want to read this book, because I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction. But Rachel and Jules made me. I finally read it when I felt left out after they walked off to fangirl without me. So I checked it out from the library.

Code Name Verity is one of the most beautiful friendship stories I’ve ever read. As Verity unfurls the story of how she and Maddie met, it’s impossible to not become absorbed. As they fight against the Nazis, these two best friends learn their strengths and balance out each other’s weaknesses. They experience the good during the bad. As Verity says, “It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.”

The story isn’t always fast-paced. But it’s beautiful. And it sometimes is fast-paced and in those moments you’ll wish it weren’t. And in several moments you’ll cry. You’ll question your friendships and wonder if you are a good enough friend to those you love the most. You’ll probably admit that you aren’t, that no friendship of yours will ever compare to that of Verity and Maddie. But you’ll be inspired to be that good of a friend, because these two fierce girls will convict you.

You’ll want to hug your best friend close and tell her through your tears, “We are a sensational team.”

Content Advisory:

No official content advisory because I lost my notes, but there is quite a bit of cursing and some suggestive comments.


Rose Under Fire is the companion book to Code Name Verity

*Our reviews do contain affiliate links, meaning we could make a very small commission should you buy something using one of those links.

Review: Fair Weather


Author: Richard Peck

Age: Middle School

Genre: Realistic Historical Fiction

Synopsis can be read here.

Confession: I picked this up because the cover was pretty. Good news…I loved the story too! The characters are completely charming. I adored the grandpa, the aunt drew my sympathies, and the children and the dog was endearing.  It even had a plot twist at the end! It was interesting to see the contrast between the country life and the city life while watching the characters adaptations to the new way of life. It was a darling book that I highly recommend.

Side Note: I’m really sad to know that I can’t ride on the Ferris Wheel anymore.

Oh yeah, I found this link for teachers to form Literacy Circles using the book:

Content Advisory:

Language: I think there are few…maybe?
Sexual: There are references about Grandpa wants to go see “those women” at the fair. Aunt is dismayed about a woman being married three times and refers to her as a “fallen woman”.
Violence: A scene from a Buffalo Bill Wild West show is described. Really, there is nothing in this category.

Science Ch. 4 Week 2 copy

Review: Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii

curses and smokeAuthor: Vickey Alvear Shecter

Age: Young Adult

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction

We received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Click here to read summary from Goodreads.

A book about Pompeii? Yes! This was a first for me and I was super excited to be approved on Netgalley for Curses and Smoke: A Novel of Pompeii.

I enjoyed this book and rushed through it in two days. There were some twists I didn’t see coming, even up to the very end of the novel, which, yes, ends up with the volcano erupting. (Not a spoiler… obviously.) The entire time I was wondering, hoping that Lucia and Tag would be able to escape the city before the eruption. I was kept on my toes until the end and still thrown for a loop in the last few pages.

I truly appreciate the research that went into this book. Shecter not only visited Pompeii, but also consulted experts about the time period, staying as true as possible to the cultures and practices of that day. At the end, she includes some of the research behind the book, and I found myself googling Pompeii graffiti for a while. It’s actually quite fascinating and humorous.

Overall, Curses and Smoke was a cute love story and had an unexpected ending despite already knowing the fate of the city of Pompeii. 3 ½ stars.

Content Advisory:
Language: 3
Less than 10 uses of d, h, and a
Sexual: 3
some kissing; talk about being a virgin
Violence: 3
Gladiators have swords, and her dad owns a gladiator school. Hence, some violence.
some mentions of “exposure,” which was leaving an unwanted newborn outside the city walls to die

Review: Flygirl

Review and Content Advisory for Flygirl by Sherri L. SmithAuthor: Sherri L. Smith

Age: YA (14 and up)

Genre: Historical Fiction

2010 ALA Best Books for Young People
2010 Capitol Choices Noteworthy Books for Children
2010 Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices Selection
2010 Kansas State Reading Circle Catalog Selection
2010 Amelia Bloomer Project Selection
2010 Tayshas Reading List
2010-2011 South Carolina Book Award Nominee
2009 Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books
2009 Washington Post Best Kids’ Books of the Year
Spring 2009 Indie Next List Pick for Teen Readers

Goodread’s synopsis

Rachel’s Rambels:

I really enjoyed this story. The main character is from Louisiana, so that made it really engaging to read. One error I found- Louisiana has parishes, not counties. After reading Code Name Verity, It was really interesting to see what was happening with American women in relationship to flying planes during WWII. The twist to this story is that the Main Character is an African American – light skinned enough to pass for white. The issues this novel arises are the questioning of identity, forsaking family, women’s rights, and patriotic duty. It also opens an interesting window into the WWII timeframe that isn’t normally opened.

There is a little romance, but like Code Name Verity, this novel is about the sisterhood. I love Ida’s (Jonesy’s) new best friends, Lily and Patsy, in this book. Lily is so sweet and gentle. Patsy is unforgettable. While Ida is from a southern strawberry farm, Lily is from a rich home and Patsy is use to circus life. They make an interesting trio.

Content Advisory:

Language: 2/3 (I don’t remember how many, but there wasn’t a lot)Mild cussing throughout (h & d words).

Sexual: 1 , couples kiss and unexpectedly get married.

Violence: 3, WWII is going on…


Review: Etiquette & Espionage

etiquette and espionageAuthor: Gail Carriger

Age: Young Adult

Genre: Historical Fiction, Spy, Supernatural

Click here to view synopsis from Goodreads.

Carriger does an excellent job at building a fascinating world that is a mix between the Victorian era with some more advanced technology. Not only is her world-building fantastic, but so is her writing style. I take notes as I read, marking down my favorite lines, and I had a lot for this one, so I simply must include a few of my favorite quotes, which fellow Gallagher Girls (and non-Gallagher Girls, of course) will appreciate and enjoy:

“If we have time, I will move us on how to properly judge a gentleman by the color and knot of his cravat. Believe you me, ladies, the two subjects are far more intimately entangled than you might first suppose.”

“Perhaps, Miss Pelouse, as you know everything so well, you would like to demonstrate fainting in a crowded ballroom in a manner that might attract only the attention of a specific gentleman? Without wrinkling your dress.”

“It’s no good choosing your first husband from a school for evil geniuses. Much too difficult to kill.”

This book didn’t exactly keep me on the edge of my seat, but that’s not a bad thing. I wasn’t rushing to read it to find out what happens next, but I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of getting to know Sophronia and explore Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. The school is such a fascinating thing in and of itself, with lots of interesting teachers and staff and rooms (which Sophronia finds herself in even during non-class hours). Mademoiselle Geraldine’s truly has character, with teachers who care equally about one’s ability to perfect a curtsy as they do one’s knowledge of poisons. It is a finishing school in every sense—of girls, of lives.

There were a lot of lovely characters, but I sometimes had trouble telling them apart, because I kept forgetting their names. (They tend to have really strange names, like Mrs. Barnaclegoose, but they aren’t regarded as strange in this world.) However, the little team that Sophronia winds up with with is an entertaining bunch who find themselves in some very interesting situations. Entertainment abounds. There is also a very classy werewolf who fastens his top hat to his head so when he morphs into his wolf form, he is still impeccably dressed. (Something to note: If he is not extremely well-dressed, he is not a werewolf.)

One thing I liked very much about this book was its lack of romance. Now don’t get me wrong—I love a good romance, but it was quite refreshing to read a book that focused more on friendship. Though there isn’t a romantic relationship, the book is set up so that there could possibly be one in future books. I would very much like to see how that plays out.

Etiquette and Espionage gets five out of five stars! I will absolutely be reading Curtsies and Conspiracies.

I’d recommend this book to fans of The Gallagher Girls and spy books in general and also to those who enjoy historical fiction with a twist.

Content Advisory: None! This book is a clean read!

Educational Review: The Book Thief


Author’s  name: Markus Zusak

Publisher and original publication date: Random House Children’s Books, 2005

Description of format:  Chapter book, with Illustrations and Journal writings

Pages: 550

Recommending Source: Michael L. Printz Honor, Kirkus starred review

Ages:  14-17           

Suggested Grade Level: 9th-12th grade

Summary: Read Goodread’s summary here.

 Personal reaction: When I picked up the book I was expecting a Middle Grade book akin to The Diary of Anne Frank. Instead I found a complex story filled with both English and German profanity. I found the story slow to read through, but the narrator humorous. When I finished the book, my friend came over and I immediately recommended it to her. It was a good, heart felt book that left me teary-eyed.

Sociological implication: This story takes on a view of World War II from a German’s perspective. It reveals how not all Germans were evil supporters of the Nazi party. They said and did all the right things hoping to not get caught while secretly helping the Jews. It also reveals how the Nazi party used censorship and brings it into question.

Evaluation of potential popularity: It is written by the handsome New York Times best-seller, Markus Zusak, and has recently be turned into a highly anticipated film. The non-traditional narrator and witty framework will make it a gem on young person’s bookshelf.

CCSS Correlations:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.6 Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.

*I would use Anne Frank.

Theme/s: Censorship/propaganda, words, Death vs Life, Loyalty, Family, Thievery, symbolism

 Content Vocabulary: pfenning, Hitler Youth, Fuhrer, Heil, LSR, Luftschutzwart, Mein Kampf, Gestapo, “Colors”

 Academic Vocabulary: Censorship, Communist, Dictatorship, propaganda, aptitude, conglomerate, repertoire

 Text Links:

1. Code Name Verity– Elizabeth Wein

A story of World War II told from the Allies perspective with heavy focus on sisterhood and the female’s role in the war.

2.     The Diary of Anne Frank –Anne Frank

This is a young Jewish girl’s diary that was written while she was in hiding.


I was given this review back, edited by my professor. Supposedly I can not refer to Markus Zusak as “handsome”. It is too subjective for a review. However, I left it in here for you guys!

Review: An Acceptable Time

An Acceptable TimeAuthor: Madeleine L’Engle

Wow.  Yall.   This book.  Very brain bending. One of two older teen fiction novels I picked up on my roadtrip-preparation trip to the library.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect out of it, then I realized L’Engle also wrote A Wrinkle in Time.  Ooooo {insert excited}

A curious mix of quantum physics, mysticism, ancient history, romance, and the strength of friendship.  L’Engle writes with a wonderful sort of emotion, almost like a conviction.  It makes you feel like you believe the story, that you are truly a spectator to the events.

We’ve all read books that send the character into a different world or place or time, but here time travel takes root from long pondered theories of the relativity of time and space.  That times can exist in coexisting circles, or spirals, as they spoken of.  In the story the main character, Polly, encounters two unusual figures, which she later learns have come through a “time gate”, a place where their spiral 3000 years in the past has touched Polly’s present time spiral.

Polly discovers she, too, can pass through the time gate, into the past.  When trouble arises and the time gate closes, Polly must work with, and fight alongside history to save this people history never knew, the present, the future, and herself. Questions are raised about purpose, pure, whole love, sacrifice, the workings of time and existence, and the relationship of truth and science.

Educational Review: Sounder


Author: William H. Armstrong

Recommending Source:  Newberry Medal 

Interest Level:  Upper Elementary (3-5th)

Format/ Artwork:  James Barkley, illustrator.  Black and White pictures that are watercolor or sketches.  Chapter  book.

Summary: This is the tale of a loyal coon dog, an African American boy, and his father who is a sharecropper. It is during the great depression and told from the son’s point of view. The father is thrown is jail after stealing food for his starving family. Sounder, the coon dog, chases after his master and gets badly wounded by the people arresting him. The dog goes missing and the boy goes and looks for him. His mother goes to work trying to make some money and the boy is left to watch his siblings. He visits his father in jail and is told not to return. The family hears the father is sentenced to hard labor, and the boy travels around searching for him in the winter. One time the guard wounds the boy. As the boy is returning home he finds a trashed book and he stops to wash his hands at a school. The teacher hears his story and offers to let the boy live with him in the winter and go to school. Years later the father returns, badly wounded. The dog and father go for a hunt. The boy sets off to find them and finds his father dead under a tree. Sounder dies a few days later.

Evaluation: This book made me cry. It was good book to read to learn about some of the hardships of a Great Depression family.

Curriculum Uses:

1.  Language Arts: Write a paragraph predicting how the boys life will be different in 20 years and how it will be different from his fathers. Will his ability to read affect this?

2. Language Arts/Discussion: The mother references the Biblical story of Joseph several times. How is this story similar to Sounder? Why may the mother and son like this story so much? Make a venn diagram comparing the two stories.

3.  Art/Math: Draw a time line and mark important parts of the story with illustrations. How much time passes when the father is gone?

4.  History: Study sharecroppers – How was it different from slavery. How much did they get paid and how long did they work? What were their living conditions?

5.  Math: The mother shells nuts each night. How many does she shell a night? How many pounds for the whole week? How much could she sell them for? What could she buy for that price?

Related books:  Old Yeller, Fred Gipson (A boy and his loyal hunting dog); Shilo, Frank Asch (A young boy falls in love with an abused dog and sets out to rescue him); Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls (A boy and his two hunting dogs).

-Liz (aka Rachel)