Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Another WWII book, and one I’m really glad I picked up. This one is unique in that it follows a man and a girl wandering through the wilderness, avoiding the Nazis and trying to stay alive through the seasons.

Anna loses her father when he is taken by the Nazis, and at seven years old was left without anyone to help her. Until the swallow man. He happens to be around when she is sat around and takes a liking to Anna, letting her tag along with him.

This book elicited lots of different emotions from me, with some sections being incredibly sad, disturbing, and once Anna was older there were also some creepy and uncomfortable moments that I hadn’t been expecting when I started this book.

The ending of this book may seem unsatisfactory to some, as it is left very open. However, I surprisingly liked this as we are as knowledgeable as Anna is and what with our understanding of the past we can infer some of what will happen in the future.

Overall this was a very unique little book that I’m very glad I read, and I obviously gave it 5*. There are so many little nuances that I would’ve loved to mention but I didn’t want to spoil anything! So you’ll just have to go read this little gem for yourself to find out what they are 😉

Battle of Britain by Chris Priestly, a review

I hadn’t been expecting to re-read this any time soon, I originally read some of the “My Story” books when I was around 7/8 years old and really enjoyed them at the time but had no desire to re-read them again as an adult. However, the BookTubeAThon changed that! I was panicking and needed something quick and easy to read, so I picked this one up.

This series is all about teaching children about history, making it more personal to them by having our main character expressing themselves in the form of diary entries. This specific book follows a Spitfire pilot during the second world war and the trials, risks to life and grief that he goes through during this time. I feel like these topics are handled very well, in terms of making them appropriate for younger children. I remember feeling sad when reading this originally as a child, but I never felt like the information was too much for me and I was very glad to know more about the time period and felt a connection to our main character. When re-reading it, I was surprised that this was how I felt as a child as I had almost the same reaction as a 21 year old. It did make me realise that children can handle a lot more than I previously thought, which was an interesting conclusion to come to.

If you were thinking about getting this book, or others from this ‘series’, for your child then I definitely think you should give it a go. They have a good level of detail without going too far into the topics and can harbour an interest in history in your child!

The Girl in the Blue Coat – a review

Yet another WWII book, nobody who follows me is surprised. But let’s be real I’m not going to stop, so let’s get into my review.

I listened to this book, as an audiobook, thanks to my libraries online app. Although this let me read the book when I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to due to time constraints, I feel like it also distanced me from the characters and what happens to them. This could be Monica Hesse’s writing style, but it seems to happen more frequently to me with audiobooks so I’ll have to read a physical copy of this book in order to find out. This distancing meant that I wasn’t massively impacted by the events as they happen to the characters, however, this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the book. I gave it 4/5*s! I just didn’t cry at any of the plot twists, which is why it didn’t hit the 5* mark.

We follow Hanneke as she is working within the black market during WWII in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. We see her making deliveries during the day, hiding what she does from her parents at night, and morning her boyfriend Bass in every moment as he was killed on the Dutch front lines. During a standard delivery, one of the women wants help from Hanneke, it turns out that she wants her to try and find a Jewish teenager that she was hiding in a secret room. She has vanished and the woman is incredibly concerned for her safety. Eventually Hanneke is convinced into helping find her, and the web of the Dutch resistance closes in around her and opens her eyes to the horrors of the Nazis.

I really enjoyed watching the various characters develop, come to trust each other and work to help those worse off than them. This is also, unless I am remembering incorrectly, the first WWII book I have read which was set in the Netherlands and followed Dutch characters. It was very interesting to me to see how this country was impacted by the Nazis regime and how the Dutch people resisted in little and large ways.

This is a beautifully written book and personally I think it is a very important topic. Books set in WWII, in all different areas, all have something that can be taken away from them and applied to the modern day. This book tells us that we should help those who are being treated inhumanely, and to use our privilege to help as many people as we can. Don’t let horrendous acts happen under your nose in your own country, and not take action against them. Even if no one else knows that you’re doing it.

I definitely recommend this book and I aim to try out anything else Monica Hesse releases.

In the Shadow of Hitler

Firstly I would like to say thank you to NetGalley for an eARC of this book in return for an unbiased review.

I love reading any literature based in and around WWII, as anyone who follows me will know! So when I saw this on NetGalley it was an instant request (and is why I don’t look on the “Find” page on NetGalley anymore! There are so many good books waiting and I have limited time!).

This book for me had an interesting start and middle, but a disappointing end. We follow an English lawyer named Adam who is speaking to Nazis who have committed atrocious crimes during the war. While he is doing this draining job he meets Rose, a high-born German girl who has resorted to prostitution in order to survive in the wreckage and rubble left of her town, and he proceeds to fall in love with her.

This book shows us a few different time frames around the war, showing us briefly Adam’s time at Normandy as a Lieutenant and his part in the war, Adam’s ‘present day’ after the war has ended and trying to find justice for the crimes committed, and also we look back through Dr Ernst Mann’s life and the times which he met Hitler and felt that it was his fault the man came to power. The times that he failed to stop him, despite not knowing what he would become.

I really enjoyed the various different plot lines running through this book and enjoyed seeing different perspectives around this war, especially seeing what happened within Germany after the war was over. Sadly the end of the book seemed to wander and not know where it was going, the conclusion felt short and not fully thought out. If this had been done better I would’ve given the book 4* instead of 3. However, I still recommend this book and will be looking out for more from Richard Vaughan-Davies in the future.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This is an amazing heartbreaking story of two best friends in War time. The girls attempt to infiltrate France comes to a halt when their plane is hit by opposing fire and they cannot land. This book is split into two halves, one which focuses on “Verity”, who is captured by the Nazis, the other half focuses on the pilot of the plane – Maddie.

This book will draw you in and not let go until the very end, with one of the best plot twists I have read in a long time. This plot twist is unexpected and unpredictable, right until the moment it happens.

This book has so much detail crammed in that it is very hard to describe it without giving away the whole story! This is shown by the synopsis only being 4 lines long. This book is so good that I’m having to resist the urge to go back and re-read it all again!

Recommended for:

Those who like books based in WW2, action, drama and spies.

This book really captures the time period with Wein using many sources, which she references in the back of the book, to make the story-line as realistic as possible. This means that those who love this period in history (like me!) will thoroughly enjoy the book. There is a lot of action, drama and suspense within the story as well as an unexpected theme of spies which is integrated throughout.

Age recommendation:

Teens and up.

This book does have violent elements which are probably not appropriate for younger readers, however the style is suitable for both teens and adults alike who should vastly enjoy this book. As usual, if you are thinking about giving this to a younger child I would recommend reading it first so you can make your own judgments on whether the book is suitable for them. You may even find that you love the book yourself!

Comment what books you would like me to review next 🙂