Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Books I've Loved: Orphan, Monster, Spy

I know...  This really doesn't look like the kind of book I'd usually enjoy, but I loved it.  It's fast-paced, has a kick-ass heroine and, even better, it's based on a true story.  I whipped through it and was highly disappointed when I finished because it was so much fun to read.

Sarah is a Jew in Germany during the war.  She's blonde, blue-eyed and looks much younger than her fifteen years.  In a daring yet misguided escape attempt, Sarah's mother is shot at a checkpoint, leaving Sarah alone and on the run.   When she meets a mysterious stranger and saves his life, her own life takes a startling new turn.

The man is a spy and he's frustrated because he can't pull off the mission he's supposed to.  But after seeing Sarah in action, he realizes she might just be his ticket into the highly-secure compound.  So he sets Sarah up in a Nazi boarding school under the guise of being his abandoned niece, and lets Sarah go to work on befriending the scientist's daughter.

I think what I loved the most about this book was how quirky and interesting Sarah is.  She's been brought up by an eccetric mother who worked in the theatre and taught a range of skills that may not be terribly useful in everyday life, but are fantastic for a spy.  She's also strangely unemotional at times, able to pack the horrors she's seen and experienced away deep down until she has time to deal with them.  This makes her unusually clear-headed and quick-thinking, even at times of great stress.

The other thing I loved was how exciting the adventure became, how perilous and dangerous Sarah's situation became the closer she got to her prey.  There were also some unexpected twists that just made the story even better, even if they were disturbing.

I've been recommending this one to everyone this week because I enjoyed it so much.  So if you like your heroines tough, brave and definitely unlike a typical 15-year-old, this one is for you.

But don't just listen to me.  Here's the blurb:

A Jewish girl-turned-spy must infiltrate an elite Nazi boarding school in this highly commercial, relentlessly nail-biting World War II drama!

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah--blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish--finds herself on the run from a government that wants to see every person like her dead. Then Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He's a spy, and he needs Sarah to become one, too, to pull off a mission he can't attempt on his own: infiltrate a boarding school attended by the daughters of top Nazi brass, befriend the daughter of a key scientist, and steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. With years of training from her actress mother in the art of impersonation, Sarah thinks she's ready. But nothing prepares her for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she'd ever imagined.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Weekly Goals 18-6-18

Not sure how it happened, but I completely blanked on writing my weekly goals post yesterday.  But better late than never, eh?

Anyway, it's the same story.  Revision.

I have about ten chapters left to edit, and they are the ones that need the most work, so I'm only aiming to get through four this week.  I hope I can manage it.  It's already proving to be a very busy week.

My pub quiz team has won the last two weeks, so I'm hoping we can make that three in a row this week.  Not sure if we'll manage though, because one of our regular team members is taking a few weeks off for the World Cup.

My son turns eleven on Thursday.  My younger son.  Can't quite figure out how that happened....

What are your goals this week?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things 15-6-18

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

What am I celebrating this week?

It's the weekend!

Yes, I know I celebrate that every week, but I think days off work need to be celebrated.  Especially when it's been a busy and challenging week.

I have very little planned for this weekend other than my usual chores, so I hope I can get a few more chapters of my book edited.  I've done seven this week already, so I'm not behind, but it would be great to get another one or two done before Monday.

I have my parents coming for dinner tomorrow night, so I have to figure out what I want to cook.  And cook it.  So I'd like to get all the other chores out of the way today so I can spend some time in the kitchen tomorrow.  I really enjoy cooking, but the day-to-day kind of meals I have to try and throw together after a busy day at work begin to become a drag.  Cooking something new and delicious will be fun.

What are you celebrating this week?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Books I've Loved: Starry Eyes

This was a fun, quick and charming read, just like Jenn Bennett's other books, and has just as many complex characters and story twists as Alex Approximately.

Zorrie is one of those people who has to plan everything to the nth degree.  She hates surprises and the unknown.  So it is only reluctantly that she agrees to go on a glamorous camping (glamping) holiday with her replacement best friend, Reagan and a few others.

What she doesn't know is that one of the others is Lennon, her former best friend and the guy she once thought she was falling for.

When Reagan's obnoxious boyfriend gets the entire group kicked out of the glamping compound on the first night, the group decide to hike into the woods to continue their vacation there.  But an argument tears the group apart and Zorrie and Lennon find themselves alone in the woods after the others storm off.

Zorrie's hobby is astronomy and her plan was to leave the group anyway after a couple of days, to meet up with a group of astronomy friends to watch a meteor shower.  With no way to reach civilization or transport to the meet-up place, Lennon, who has more experience with camping and hiking, offers himself as a guide to the star party meet-up.  With no other real choices, Zorrie agrees.

Much of the rest of the book follows Zorrie and Lennon as they make the three-day hike to the star party.  And as they hike, they talk, argue, banter and jab at each other.  Secrets are revealed and truths blurted out.  Maybe the friendship they once had isn't dead and buried after all...

I enjoyed this one very much.  The hiking and camping side of it was a refreshing change of scene after reading so many contmporary YA books set in schools and suburbia, and both the MCs had interesting side problems as well as their relationship.  It would have been nice if it had been Zorrie who knew the bushcraft and saved Lennon from nature's perils instead of the other way around, but I guess you can't have everything right?

But don't just take my recommendation.  Here's the blurb:

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.

But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.

What could go wrong?

With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.

And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Weekly Goals 11-6-18

Editing...  Still editing...

So this week I'll keep going with that.  I've only found a few quite small things I needed to change so far, but I know there are some big ones coming up, especially around the ending.

I'm 25 chapters in, so I have another 15 plus an epilogue to go.  My aim this week is to get through another six chapters if possible.

What are your goals this week?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things 8-6-18

This post is part of Lexa Cain's bloghop, Celebrate the Small Things. Head on over there to join up!

What am I celebrating this week?


Yes, I know it's been a short week for me with a holiday on Monday, but I'm still celebrating the weekend.  Even more so now because I was going to have to go into work for a few hours on Saturday and now I don't.  So I have more time to edit my book.

The weather has been hideous this week - wet and cold and windy and just generally miserable - so I'm looking forward to spending time curled up in bed, keeping warm with a good book.

And while you're here at Fiction and Film, why not enter my Pride Months giveaway?  You could win a copy of An Unstill Life...  Tell your friends!

What are you celebrating this week?