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review 2013-10-13 19:11
Review- Berlin Wolf by Mark Florida-James
Berlin Wolf - Mark Florida-James
 

Synopsis:  (from Amazon)

 The bond between a man and his dog is unique. For Peter, a boy of 15, it is so strong that he risks his own life to save that of his dog, Wolfi. It is 1942. Peter is Jewish, and with his parents he is escaping the Nazis. A decision to jump into the icy waters of the River Spree to rescue Wolfi ultimately saves his own life as well, for they have been betrayed and his parents are taken. Left to fend for himself, Peter hides out in the woods, foraging and hunting. Life is tough, but he and Wolfi are together. One day, a visitor stumbles into their den. Franz, also 15, has escaped from a labour camp. The three become close friends and have many adventures together. When they can no longer cope in the wild, they turn to a family friend, Aunt Berta. The wife of a wealthy industrialist, she takes them in. But their peace is short-lived; Kurt, Aunt Berta's adopted son and a fanatical Nazi, betrays them. With the help of new friends, the two boys not only save themselves from capture but are able to rescue others in hiding. Berlin Wolf is a story of friendship overcoming all the odds in a time of hatred for 9-15 year old children. Meticulously researched and written by a former academic with personal experience of Berlin, who has studied original documents from the period, the storylines in the book are based on different survivor accounts.

I thoroughly enjoyed this YA historical fiction romp through war-torn Berlin (complete with dangerous excursions to Switzerland).  Young Peter Stern was escaping the Nazis in the early days of the war, when his family on the run were sold out.  Peter and his dog, Wolfi, escaped and while his parents were sent to a concentration camp, Peter hid in the woods outside of Berlin.  During his time in hiding, he met up with a young man named Franz, an escapee from a camp and the tale follows Peter, Franz, Wolfi, and several other characters and their escapades in assisting other 'u-boats'- Jews hiding in Berlin, through the end of the war.

There were a few problems I encountered in the book.  It was marvelously researched, but there were times when I felt I was reading a history text rather than a YA historical fiction novel- while I enjoyed it, I am not sure that younger readers would.  There was also some repetitive phrasing, but it didn't detract too much from my enjoyment and would possibly not be noticed by younger readers.  The ending however, was a bit of a let down... not in the conclusion of Peter and Wolfi's experience, that was touching and I enjoyed, it was just too quick.  I felt let down.  Great build up and then *bam*, in two pages, it was done and no glimpse of what happened to Peter and Wolfi after. Perhaps this was done to leave way for a sequel.

I received a copy of Berlin Wolf through NetGalley.  I am not being payed for a review.

Rating:

I give Berlin Wolf by Mark Florida-James:

 
 
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review 2013-10-10 18:06
The Caged Graves by Dianne Salierni
The Caged Graves - Dianne K. Salerni

Review:

 

I absolutely loved this book.

 

It is a small story, one that doesn't take on the end of the world, or some monumentally epic adventure, or anything of the sort. It is about a girl - Verity Boone - who returns to her hometown of Catawissa, PA fifteen years after the death of her mother, Sarah Ann, in the late 1800's. Verity was raised by her aunt, and has been corresponding with a young man named Nathaniel, and they have fallen in love via their letters and agreed to marry after her return to Catawissa.

 

This is my third wonderful YA historical fiction book this year - the other two are Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys and In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. In the deluge of YA paranormals/dystopians these three books have really stood out to me as being something special. Well-written, small in scope, but absorbing, well-written and very compelling.

 

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review 2013-07-10 21:45
The Sweetest Dark
The Sweetest Dark -

On a scale of one to five, The Sweetest Dark falls smack dab in the middle for me. I liked the historical aspects of the book, but wasn't as excited about the fantasy portion of the read. I have nothing against dragons, but the shifting in this book just didn't grab me. This one leans more towards the Disney-rated teen read. If you're hoping for something darker, this won't fulfill your hopes - but, it is a good book for younger readers interested in the genre. Those who like the dragon-fantasy realm will probably favor this one more than historical fiction fans. 

 

The Sweetest Dark is different because it combines historical fiction, airships, dukes, boarding schools, orphans, alchemy, magic and dragons all rolled into a single plot line. Seems impossible, but Abe does just that. What is ordinary is the obvious love triangle, poor-orphan characterization and snobby elite. It's one half Jane Eyre with equal parts alchemist meets dragon. 

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