I received this book for free from ALAAC17 in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz
Published by HarperTeen on October 3rd 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Historical
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World War Two has shattered Valka’s homeland of Russia, and Valka is determined to help the effort. She knows her skills as a pilot rival the best of the men, so when an all-female aviation group forms, Valka is the first to sign up.
Flying has always meant freedom and exhilaration for Valka, but dropping bombs on German soldiers from a fragile canvas biplane is no joyride. The war is taking its toll on everyone, including the boy Valka grew up with, who is fighting for his life on the front lines.
As the war intensifies and those around her fall, Valka must decide how much she is willing to risk to defend the skies she once called home.
Inspired by the true story of the airwomen the Nazis called Night Witches, Gwen C. Katz weaves a tale of strength and sacrifice, learning to fight for yourself, and the perils of a world at war.
Historical fiction isn’t typically a favorite genre of mine, especially ones set during wars. But I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this one because it’s based on a true story and about strong women fighter pilots. I really couldn’t pass this one up. So when I saw it at ALAAC, I was super excited to grab a copy. I didn’t read it right away but when I finally picked it up, I really could not put it down. I was fully drawn into the story of Valka and her cousin, Iskra, and their desire to be fighter pilots for their home country of Russia during WWII. I loved their relationship and how close they were, I loved seeing parts of their home and reading about Russia, and I loved the relationships that developed between all of the women pilots and workers on the front lines. I also really liked reading about Pasha and his part in the war. His POV from the front lines and being so young and losing so many people was definitely emotional. I think I liked the letter writing the least of everything in the book but only because it really slowed down the story at some points. I almost wish it had just been two different POVs rather than writing letters to each other but I appreciated being able to see their relationship develop while being separated by the war. I also actually liked their relationship because it felt real. They had known each other their whole lives and had been close even before the war so it didn’t feel like the war and danger and separation and everything else created a relationship between them, it just brought out their feelings that were already there. I didn’t love how the ending seemed to focus more on the two of them when most of the book was focused on the war and its effects on Valka and those around her and the relationships she developed with the other women. Especially when I loved how close so many of them became and how supportive they were of each other when there seem to be so few books that have women really supporting and caring for other women. But in the end, I really liked this book and it still surprises me that a YA historical fiction story about a war ended up being a book I couldn’t put down.
I received this book for free from ALAAC17 in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Published by HarperTeen on September 5th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Diversity, LGBT
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On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They're going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they're both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There's an app for that. It's called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.
I wanted to love this book and get swept away in a great one day love story but it ended up just being a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”. I just had a really hard time feeling any connection to Mateo or Rufus. Most of the book is very slow. It really is just a story about two teens meeting on their End Days to live out the last moments of their lives and figuring out what’s important to them, how to leave the world without any regrets, and how to change and be the person they want to be. It’s a good story about friendship and life and I can see why so many people love it but it just isn’t my kind of book. It was incredibly slow and for whatever reason, I didn’t feel nearly as many emotions as I expected to. The end was still tough, though, I can’t deny that. I also wasn’t completely on board with the romance. It just felt like it sort of came out of nowhere. I get that emotions are heightened in a situation like this but I almost wish they had just developed a friendship and cared for each other in that way rather than all of a sudden making declarations of love. The idea that relationships always have to turn romantic and aren’t valued as much if they remain friends is outdated and frustrating. But on the other hand, who wouldn’t want to fall in love on their last day on Earth? I don’t know. Also, there was zero explanation for how this whole End Day thing came about. As readers, we’re just suppose to accept it without question, and that’s fine because that’s not exactly what the book is about but I just couldn’t stop wondering about it. I’m very torn about this one but ultimately I liked some parts about it and didn’t like some other parts. I really think you’ll just need to decide for yourself on this one. Do you love character driven books that deal with lots of end of life questions without a lot of action? If you do, you should definitely check this one out.