I received this book for free from Library, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
Narrator: Natalia Payne
Length: 9 Hours 42 Minutes
on April 5th 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Historical, Europe, Holocaust, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Thrillers & Suspense, Social Themes, Prejudice & Racism, Death & Dying, Friendship
Format: Audiobook, ARC
Source: Library, Publisher
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An unforgettable story of bravery, grief, and love in impossible times"Girl in the Blue Coat is a powerful, compelling coming-of-age story set against the dark and dangerous backdrop of World War II. It's an important and page-turning look at the choices all of us--including young adults--have to make in wartime. A beautiful combination of heartbreak, loss, young love, and hope." -Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale
"A tapestry of guilt and acceptance, growing responsibility, and reluctant heroism, Hanneke's coming-of-age under heartbreaking circumstances is a jarring reminder of how war consumes and transforms the passions of ordinary life. Every devastating moment of this beautiful novel is both poignant and powerful, and every word feels true." -Elizabeth Wein, New York Times bestselling author of Code Name Verity
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.Beautifully written, intricately plotted, and meticulously researched, Girl in the Blue Coat is an extraordinary, gripping novel from a bright new voice.
I actually genuinely loved Girl In The Blue Coat by Monica Hesse. A quick glance over at goodreads shows that it got mixed reviews. I am the black sheep on this, but it really spoke to me. It also definitely had me craving some more historical fiction in my life. I should mention that I listened to the audiobook and it included an interview with the author at the end and the narration really did shape my view of this book.
The Girl In The Blue Coat is set during the Holocaust in Nazi occupied Amsterdam. It’s narrated by this Danish, Aryan looking girl named Hanneke. Hanneke contributes to her family by ostensibly working as a receptionist at a funeral parlor, but really she works on the black market.
Her main aim is to stay alive during the occupation and keep her family alive. She’s distant from her one good friend. Her boyfriend, Bas died very early on in the war and so, he haunts her memories. Hanneke finds herself drawn into the resistance when she receives a request from a customer to help her find a Jew who was kept hidden – Mirjam or, the girl in the blue coat.
I felt like The Girl In The Blue Coat read as very authentic to me. I felt like this made World War II seem more relatable. People did what they had to, in order to get by. Yet, there were some very extreme acts of bravery. Hanneke basically has to be convinced to be brave, she doesn’t immediately join the resistance. She doesn’t immediately want to help out her customer, Mrs. Janssen. I just think that many ordinary people don’t take risks to help others very often until provoked or until they reach a turning point.
The audiobook is narrated by Natalia Payne. It is 9 hours and 42 minutes long. I listened to it sped up to 1.5x speed, as I always do. I felt like Payne did a wonderful job with accents and with infusing the narration with a sense of urgency and place. Then, the interview at the end really just cemented my enjoyment overall of The Girl In The Blue Coat by Monica Hesse.
Other reviews of Girl In The Blue Coat by Monica Hesse:
- The Bibliomaniac – “The plot gripped me from the start“
- Books & Cleverness – “a truly unforgettable and utterly incredible story“
- Recollections: Reviews By A Book Lover – “It is well researched and thought provoking.“
Support Good Books & Good Wine with your purchase of Girl In The Blue Coat:Mirror in the Sky by Aditi Khorana
Published by Penguin on June 21st 2016
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Social Themes, Friendship, Prejudice & Racism, Science Fiction, General
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Another Earth meets Perks of Being a Wallflower in this thoughtful, mesemerizing debut and subject of an upcoming TedX talk about the discovery of a mirror planet to Earth and how it dramatically changes the course of one Indian-American girl's junior year.
“[O]ne of the most powerful reads of the year. A novel about family, race, and discovering who you are, Mirror in the Sky promises a unique read that blends YA contemporary struggles with imaginative science fiction."—Paste Magazine
For Tara Krishnan, navigating Brierly, the academically rigorous prep school she attends on scholarship, feels overwhelming and impossible. Her junior year begins in the wake of a startling discovery: A message from an alternate Earth, light years away, is intercepted by NASA. This means that on another planet, there is another version of Tara, a Tara who could be living better, burning brighter, because of tiny differences in her choices. The world lights up with the knowledge of Terra Nova, the mirror planet, and Tara’s life on Earth begins to change. At first, small shifts happen, like attention from Nick Osterman, the most popular guy at Brierly, and her mother playing hooky from work to watch the news all day. But eventually those small shifts swell, the discovery of Terra Nova like a black hole, bending all the light around it.
As a new era of scientific history dawns and Tara's life at Brierly continues its orbit, only one thing is clear: Nothing on Earth--or for Tara--will ever be the same again.
Prior to reading, I was actually really looking forward to Mirror In The Sky by Aditi Khorana. First, I am trying to read more #ownvoices. Second, I do enjoy science fiction themed books from time to time. Third, the blurbs on the book especially via Nina Lacour really caught my attention. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy Mirror In The Sky as much as I had anticipated.
Mirror In The Sky by Aditi Khorana is about what happens when we receive knowledge that there is a parallel Earth and we happen to get just a few glimpses of that parallel Earth. Would you be overwhelmed knowing that there’s a possibility that based on your choices and the choices you didn’t make, everything would be different on the parallel Earth. Mirror In The Sky features Tara Krishnan.
Tara is the only brown person at her posh private school in her hometown in Connecticut. Her dad owns the local Indian restaurant, but he went to Columbia for physics. Her mom is white and was a ballerina. Tara’s best friend is leaving for a semester abroad. She thinks it’s going to be an awful year, but then somehow she ends up getting close with the popular kids.
The parallel universe does play a role in Mirror In The Sky, but not as huge of a role as I had expected. Really this book is about minute things. Sure, there’s some moments where Tara wonders about what Parallel Tara’s life is like. There’s also a part that affects her parents. Otherwise, it’s all life with the cool kids and what that is like, plus some very minor hooking up. Like, one scene, that’s it.
I’ll admit, I came very close to DNFing Mirror In The Sky. However, I wanted to give it a chance. The chapters were short and I was kind of close to halfway through. So, I pushed on and read in three chapter increments per day. Ultimately, I was bored by Mirror In The Sky. I thought the concept was so cool. I just had a very hard time actually caring. There’s definitely an audience for this book, but it is not me.
Other reviews of Mirror In The Sky by Aditi Khorana:
- The Reading Wolf – “The story unfolds beautifully“
- Hello Jenny Reviews – “I loved it, I really did“
- Brittany’s Book Rambles – “How I wish I DNFed this book“
Support Good Books & Good Wine with your purchase of Mirror In The Sky:
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
Narrator: Frankie Corzo
Length: 9 Hours 17 Minutes
Published by Scholastic Inc. on January 26th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Social Themes, Depression & Mental Illness, Death & Dying, General
Format: Audiobook, ARC
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"When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn't be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she's never had. But Vicky's newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vicky back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage and strength. She may not have them. She doesn't know. Inspired in part by the author's own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one -- about living when life doesn't seem worth it, and how we go on anyway."
The Memory Of Light by Francisco X. Stork actually is about a subject that I have been wanting to read more YA about for awhile. It’s about adolescent mental health and chronicles what happens when a teenager goes inpatient for longer than observation hours. Of course, I listened to the audiobook and again, really gelled with what I had listened to.
The Memory Of Light is a book about a girl named Vicky Cruz who lives in Texas. She tries to kill herself and so, she goes inpatient for recovery. Now, if you aren’t working in the mental health field, you might not know what this is. Going inpatient means that she’s staying at either a hospital or a treatment center for more than just a quick in and out procedure. She receives medication and therapy and just really works toward recovery.
Now, this book follows Vicky’s journey toward recovery. She leads a pretty privileged life, at least from the outside looking in. However, there’s immense pressure from her father. Her mother died of cancer. Vicky holds a lot of blame due to something that involves her mother. Vicky felt so distant from others after her mom died. However, when she goes inpatient and becomes friendly with Mona and receives treatment from Dr. Desai, she really feels acceptance and begins her healing.
I think that I genuinely liked this book because it did not stigmatize therapy. It didn’t stigmatize medication. The book didn’t make mental illness out to be this alluring, sexy thing. It also puts a very realistic face on what mental health treatment for teens looks like. I mean, it did not get to the point of case managers or waiver wrap around services post inpatient treatment, but it’s still very realistic. I say that as someone who currently is working in the field both in my current job and the one I am about to take on. Stork just brings this to life without feeling preachy or overwrought. I cannot praise The Memory Of Light’s portrayal highly enough.
As for the audiobook, of course I borrowed it from the library. The book is narrated by Frankie Corzo. The audiobook is a little over 9 hours long. As always, I listened to it at 1.5x speed. It was my first time listening to an audiobook narrated by Corzo. She’s a decent narrator with good character variations and accents as well. I would definitely recommend this via audiobook as well as just reading a physical or ebook edition. The Memory Of Light by Francisco X. Stork is a good book in general.
Other reviews of The Memory Of Light by Francisco X. Stork:
- Read Diverse Books – “a shining example of intelligent and insightful Young Adult literature“
- Helen’s Book Blog – “Wow. This one is so good.“
- Here’s To Happy Endings – “a beautiful, original novel“