Blood for Blood 4.5 Stars

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Title: Blood for Blood (Wolf by Wolf #2)

Author: Ryan Graudin

Publication Date: November 1, 2016

Genre: Young Adult Alternate History, Fantasy/Science-Fiction

Note: An advanced copy was provided by the publisher (Little, Brown). Opinions are my own.

*This is the review of a sequel. For my review of the first book click here.

Synopsis: In an alternate 1956 where the Axis Powers won World War II Yael, a teenage Jewish concentration camp escapee, entered an ambitious cross-continent motorcycle race. The winner got to meet Hitler.

Her goal was to win the race, kill Hitler, and start a revolution. This book is the aftermath of that plan.

Thoughts: I didn’t know what to expect going into this book. I was worried with the way Wolf by Wolf ended this book would be all filler in an attempt to make a series out of a standalone.

I was wrong.

This book is one of the best dystopian revolution type books I’ve read. (Yes, I’m calling the government in this book “dystopian” even though it is based off of a form of government that once existed because this is alternate history, not actual history.)

What set this book apart from most other novels’ I’ve read centering around a revolution is that the main character, in this case Yael, still has an important message and roll to play in what is to come.

The world-building, something I didn’t feel was well executed in the first book, was better in this one. This is due in part to the fact that in the first book almost all the flashbacks were dedicated to showing Yael at the most devastating moments in her life, whereas these show a variety of circumstances.

This book put greater influence on Yael’s Jewish culture than the first one. Yael spent most of the last book pretending to be other people, and had trouble keeping herself from getting absorbed into the roll of the person she was pretending to be. That was not the case in this book. I enjoyed seeing Yael come into her own and embrace who she was. Though I can’t comment on the accuracy of the depiction as Jewish culture is not something I’m overly familiar with.

Our two leading side characters from the first book, Felix and Luka, play an even greater roll in this book than the first one. They get entire chapters from their point of views. I appreciated how, in spite of this choice, the author didn’t make the book all about romance.

I have a feeling Luka’s character arc in this book is going to be controversial. He accepted things rather quickly. Though the way he learned only part of what was going on at any given time made his actions more plausible.

Something else I noticed that I didn’t in the first one was that I’m not sure how accurately German words are used. I’m not anywhere near fluent in German, but when I read the first book my only exposure to German was spoken.

Between reading the first and second books of this series I decided to learn a little about the German writing system. Keeping in mind that the version I read was an ARC and I have only limited knowledge of German,  I think all of the German nouns in the book should have been capitalized but some weren’t. It seems to me like this is a very basic rule the author should have had a German speaker check for, but maybe I’m wrong since I’m not a fluent German speaker and this was not a finished copy.

Rating: A great sequel overall, though I had a few reservations.

4.5 blue jays

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May 2016 Wrap-up

Monthly Wrap-Up (1)

In the month of May I read a total of eight books. Some of these I really liked, and some I thought were just okay.

Reading

25106755Short Synopsis: When a faerie wakes up from a long slumber it’s up to a teenage girl to save everyone.

Thoughts: My favorite aspect of this book is its atmosphere. The thought of this small town in modern times where they’re the only ones who know faeries exist was such an interesting concept.

What kept me from loving this book is that I had a hard time connecting to the main character, who I felt was too much like many other heroines I’ve read about, and thought the pacing was a little too slow at the beginning.

Rating: 3 blue jays

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Short Synopsis: Sequel to a retelling of 1001 and One Nights.

Thoughts: I have a hard time deciding how I feel about this book.

On one hand, I liked how we were shown more of the magic system, and it departed more from what I know of the original story it’s retelling of. (Though I have not read the book it’s a retelling of, so someone who has read it should feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.)

What makes me so conflicted is that I didn’t care about what was happening as I read it. This distance I felt from the story surprises me because I don’t remember feeling this way about the first book. Maybe it has something to do with when I was reading it?

Rating: 3.5 blue jays

25746699Short Synopsis: A young woman named Hope is unable to be remembered for more than a minute.

Note: Advanced copy provided by the publisher, but opinions are my own.

Thoughts: I’ve written a full review of this one. There were things I really liked and things that fell short.

Rating: 

3.5 blue jays

26252859Short Synopsis: The god Apollo is cast out of Olympus and turned into an ordinary teenage boy.

Thoughts: This book was hilarious! I liked it a lot. I might write a full review, but am having trouble putting my thoughts on this book into words.

Rating: 4 blue jays

26864835Short Synopsis: The sequel to Wolf By Wolf. An alternate history World War II novel.

Note: Advanced copy provided by publisher, but thoughts are my own.

Thoughts: Really liked it. One chapter left me close to tears. Full review to come closer to the release date.

Rating: 

4.5 blue jays

24876258Short Synopsis: In a world where people live in spires and cats are intelligent a group of unlikely heroes must defend their home from invaders.

Thoughts: It took me a long time to read this book. Part of this is that I was traveling, and another part is that the book is over 600 pages long. The main reason, however, is that this book has so many elements it takes a while to understand what is happening.

The book was a lot of fun, but I’m not sure I’ve come to care about the characters enough to read the next one.

Rating: 

3.5 blue jays

227658Short Synopsis: Girl from a frontier town in Indiana must leave to find help to save the children in her town from a diphtheria epidemic.

Thoughts: This was such a fun concept, but I felt it was hard at times to care about the kids dying back at the village because the reader didn’t know them very well.

The main character, Jessie, leaves her town at the beginning of the story and their aren’t any strong side characters accompanying Jessie.

Rating: 3.5 blue jays

16131489Short Synopsis: The third book in the 5th Wave Trilogy.

Thoughts: Around half-way through I stopped reading and started skimming this book. Normally, I wouldn’t bother finishing, but since I’d already gotten so far in this trilogy I decided to see it through.

There were a lot of gaps in logic, I stopped caring about most of the characters, and the writing, particularly from Cassie’s perspective, sometimes made me cringe.

I will give it this though: the book is very addictive, and I finished it very quickly.

Rating: 

2.5 blue jays

Writing

I didn’t meet my goal of finishing my rewrite of my epic fantasy work in progress this month, but wrote around 10,000 words. I have around 20,000 words left before it is complete making it so that I estimate it is going to be around 10,000 words longer than I thought. Meaning it will be about 90,000 words in total. It’s currently 73,000 words long.

Traveling

In May I attended Bookexpo America in Chicago. You can read about my experiences in parts one and two of my blog posts.

BEA 2016 Experiences Part 1: I fail at traveling

This post will be detailing my experiences at Bookexpo America 2016 held at McCormick Place in Chicago from May 11 to May 13th. This post will cover the day I was in Chicago before the event, and the first day of BEA.

The decision for me to go to BEA was a last minute one, or as last minute as a decision can be when someone decides to go on a trip to a place no where near where they live. I am a university student, and my exams started not long after I decided to go on this trip and did not end until just before I was about to leave. This left me with little time to plan.

I figured this would be okay because my traveling companion was someone who had grown up in Chicago and had attended BEA in a previous year. This was a mistake.

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The view of Chicago from above at night.

I arrived in Chicago by plane late at night. The first thing that struck me was that it was not nearly as cold as I’d expected. I had visited Chicago before in the winter, but not in spring.

I packed just about all the cold weather clothes I own which, while admittedly is not very many, made my suitcase significantly more full than I would have liked. It also resulted in me removing an umbrella to fit in more winter clothes. Should have kept the umbrella, left the clothes.

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Picture of McCormick Place the day I arrived in Chicago.

My traveling companion and I awoke the next morning convinced we were late. We found our way to the convention center only to discover there was hardly anyone there. We knew we were in the right place because of all the book related signs and people setting up, but couldn’t figure out why so few people would be there until we realized the event didn’t start until tomorrow.

We’d arrived in Chicago a day early.

Admittedly, this was as much my fault as it was her fault. I never should have left all the planning to her even if I was busy with exams. Besides, the extra day gave us time to explore Chicago.

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Picture taken outside the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

The two of us opted to spend the day at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. It’s so big we didn’t have the chance to see much of the museum though it was still fairly early when we got there and we stayed until closing.

It was here that I came to the realization that the vague memories I have of running through and gaping at what I thought to be a giant toy submarine as a small child, was not a toy at all.

What I was actually remembering was the museum’s authentic WWII submarine.

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Leaving the museum.

After leaving the museum my companion wanted to take me to one of her favorite restaurants in Chicago. As we were on our way there, our driver informed us that the restaurant had closed down a few months before. We ate at a pizza chain we’d heard good things about, but that they don’t have in our city instead.

This left us in the middle of downtown Chicago. By the time we finished eating the rain had finally let up, so we walked around the city and took some pictures.

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Site seeing in downtown Chicago.

The next morning we woke up and were on time for the BEA blogger conference we’d signed up for. I only stayed for two panels because I was too excited for the event itself, which overlapped with the conference, but the two I did go to were interesting.

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The “Making the Right Connections: Publishers and Bloggers” Panel. Moderated by Stephanie Brown of nobsbookreviews.com with panelists Molly Brouillette, the Associate Director of Publicity for Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Stephanie Sinclair of cuddlebuggery.com, Lizzy Mason, the Director of Publicity for Bloomsbury Children’s Books, and Kristin Hackett of superspacechick.com.

The fist panel I went to talked about the logistics of requesting advanced copies from publishers. I learned a lot about when it’s okay to not review a book a blogger has accepted an ARC of, and how to turn people down easily when a blogger is not interested.

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The “Creative Content: From Ideas to Tools” panel. Moderated by Meg Morley of Cuddlebuggery.com with panelists Gillian Berry of The Art of Young Adult, and Writer of Wrongs, Ashley Evans of www.nosegraze.com, Samantha from Thoughts on Tomes, and Amanda of The Bookcraft.

The second panel I attended discussed how different platforms allow for bloggers to be creative in different ways, and how bloggers should chose the platforms that best allow them to express their creativity and brand. It was interesting to hear from individuals who use such different platforms (from Instagram, to YouTube, to WordPress) to discuss the same topic: books.

For the rest of the day I was too excited to take many pictures to document what I was doing, but suffice to say I was waiting in a lot of lines and talked to the people in those lines who (not so coincidentally) often happened to be a fan of whatever book we were waiting in line for.

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Me flipping through Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin. The background is the outside of McCormick Place. Note: Book provided by the publisher. 

The book I wanted most being given out on day one was Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin. It was being given out in the form of a dice game where people role a dice to win an ARC. The person in front of me in line saw that I wanted it so badly she agreed to give me her copy if she won it. It worked out rather nicely because she won the book I wanted and I won the book she wanted.

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Picture I took of my new acquisitions at the end of day one. Note: Books provided by their publishers. 

One thing I learned about myself from this event is that I am supper picky when it comes to books. Many of the people there probably ended up with around three times the amount of books as I did, but I was trying to be honest with myself and knew that if I randomly grabbing copies of everything I saw I wouldn’t read most of what I got. Also, I didn’t want to have to pay to ship a bunch of books home I would never read.

Even still, several of the books I acquired were ones that I took because they were presented to me in such a way that to turn them down would have been extremely rude. People who are more enthusiastic about ARCs would get more out of this event than I did, but in spite of this and the mistakes I made, I still had a lot of fun.

To be continued . . .