Kelly Reviews “Code Name Verity: Friendship is Tragic” by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity - Elizabeth WeinCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Genre:
Young adult, adventure, fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary: (from the back cover) I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.

That’s what you do to enemy agents. It’s what we do to enemy agents. But I look at all the dark and twisted roads ahead and cooperation is the easy way out. Possibly the only way out for a girl caught red-handed doing dirty work like mine — and I will do anything, anything, to avoid SS-Hauptsturmführer von Linden interrogating me again.

He has said that I can have as much paper as I need. All I have to do is cough up everything I can remember about the British War Effort. And I’m going to. But the story of how I came to be here starts with my friend Maddie. She is the pilot who flew me into France — an Allied Invasion of Two.

We are a sensational team.

So I first heard about Code Name Verity at LeakyCon this past summer. During the panel on gender in YA, the authors and agents were talking about the structures that dominate girl-centered novels. There is usually romance or a badass heroine saving the world or supernaturally-toned werevampangels fighting over a sassy lady. Then someone (whose face escapes me 5 months later because I am getting old, y’all) said we needed to read Code Name Verity, because it did not conform to the de facto rules dominating YA. “Bah, a girl YA novel without werewolves abs? I have never heard of such a thing!” I thought to myself.  And because grad school ruined my life for the past 15 months, I finally got around to picking this book up.

Confirmation: You all need to read Code Name Verity. Right now.

But first – I am going to be slightly spoilery in the review, because I can’t really talk about some things without revealing an interesting bit of plot structure. So, if you want the book to be a complete surprise, stop here. All I will say is: be prepared for a heart-stopping wartime adventure, two truly likable and beautifully developed protagonists, and a tightly twisting plot.

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Kelly’s Last Minute Gift Guide for your Literary-Minded Loved Ones

grumpy-cat-christmas-themeIf you celebrate Christmas, I’m sure the constant barrage of emails, 5 pounds of fliers in your newspapers, and incessant commercials promoting the LOWEST PRICES OF THE SEASON FOR REALSIES THIS TIME have alerted you to the fact that you have NINE days to shop for your loved ones. And perhaps you are like me – procrastinator extraordinaire with no stomach for advertisements hawking soda machines.  (Personal soda machines are like fetch, they’re never going to happen). Also, since you are presumably a fan of books and literary fun times, maybe you want some cool gift ideas for the bibliophiles in your life. You are in luck, my friend.

Below, I’ve compiled a pile of presents any book lover would love to see under his or her Christmas tree. And any applicable discount codes if I could find them. Happy procrastinating, friends!

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LeakyCon or Bust! Kelly Talks Fictional Road Trips plus the Journey to Leaky

Road trips are as quintessentially American as apple pie, suburbia, and crazy GOP candidates trying to legislate women’s bodies. The tradition is especially appealing to young adults, who have minimal funds but a (somewhat) functioning set of wheels. The interstate can take you anywhere; well, actually just to other states. And those states aren’t particularly exciting or better or worthy of being your “somewhere.” It’s just the somewhere represents something (shut up, it’s my party and I can be vague if I want to!). Your town, it’s a death trap; a suicide rap. You know what Coach Springsteen says – you have to get out now! Before you marry your high school sweetheart and have babies and get caught in the cycle of owing your Atlantic City bookie money. Okay, sorry. Enough with the Springsteen.

Road trip stories have always appealed to me – the sense of setting out to do something is there, but it’s really the journey taken that matters. Sure – Frodo throws the ring in Mount Doom in the end (uum, spoilers if you’ve lived in Gollum’s lair for the past 50 years?). But it’s the friends and changes made along the way that give road journeys their heart.

So imagine my surprise that for all my romanticizing of the open road, I realized that I had never actually been on a road trip. How do I still have citizenship?? I marveled silently. How did I even get handed my undergrad diploma without at least doing a road trip during Spring Break? It seemed my very being was now incomplete. Luckily, the chance to rectify this grievous oversight came about this summer in a happy confluence of events. Add some underemployed 20 somethings, stir in a love of Harry Potter cons, mix in a city within a reasonable distance, and voilà! A recipe for the perfect roadtrip.

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Philosophical Musings: Kelly Reviews “A New Myth for America” by James Hilgendorf

A New Myth for America by James Hilgendorf (Submission)
Genre: Philosophy, New Age, Non-Fiction, Religion
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Summary (from back cover): Every great civilization has had its own myth, a cosmic story of how we fit into the universe, a divine story of who we are and where we came from.

Now all the old myths have crumbled to dust.

What we crave is a new consciousness, a new time, new stories, new heroes and heroines, dragons and great knights upon black steeds, the battle, the quest – a story that encompasses the heavens and suns and stars and galaxies and black holes and universes beyond number, yet is bolted down to rocks and rivers and flowers and thunder and rain, finding its tale reverberating through the bones and marrow and hearts of the blacksmith, the nanny, the insurance salesman, the ice cream vendor, the teacher, banker, garbage collector, shoe repairman, mechanic, musician…

This story unfolds here and now.

The real, true dream of America.

There are some bold statements in this author provided summary, so I was really intrigued by this text. I didn’t really know if it was supposed to be fiction, nonfiction, preparation for the apocalypse (that thought may have been planted from our last bookclub!), so I went in with an open mind. If you’re ready to do the same – let’s talk America, philosophy, and Springsteen (always Springsteen).

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Kelly’s Literary Adventures in London

Oh hey there. So it’s been a few months since I’ve posted – grad school kicked my butt for 16 weeks straight. After which I went almost immediately to London for a summer class on libraries and archives in the United Kingdom. I spent two glorious weeks in “class,” if one can call attending tours of libraries, museums, and archives (with supplementary lectures and biscuits!) class. Yet the library gods have deemed it credit-worthy, and I am certainly not complaining.

Besides getting credit for drinking cider and visiting awesome libraries, I was of course thrilled to be in England for literary reasons. It’s the land of Shakespeare and Austen, Phillip Pullman and JK Rowling. London permeates the texts I’ve read throughout my life, and even the streets are filled with constant reminders of literature. Metal placards are placed casually on the sides of buildings, proclaiming my favorite authors lived and worked around me. Yeats worked in a house around the corner from my hotel, which is now a shop of some kind. Freaking Yeats! Walking around London was this weird collision of fiction, history, and the present, and I’ve tried to articulate some of my favorite/nerdiest moments below.Read More »

A Young Adult “Ulysses”: Kelly Talks about Literature and “The Fault in Our Stars”

This is not a review! The Bibliomantics reviewed this in our book club on Feb 4th. This is in fact a poorly formed essay on the wonderful references and challenges to literature that is the backbone of The Fault in Our Stars. I didn’t want to hijack the aforementioned review, and have decided to write a separate entry. So, obviously, this is going to contain MASSIVE SPOILERS. And me blathering about capital “L” Literature in an overly-excited fashion.

You’ve been warned.

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Kelly Reviews the 2012 Printz Winner “Where Things Come Back” by John Corey Whaley

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars

Summary: Lily, Arkansas is not an exciting place. Having grown up there, seventeen year old Cullen Witter is painfully aware of its limitations. The burger joint, drive-in movie theater, and river are the highlights of Lily’s social scene. In a town defined by its stasis, the huge events which occur before Cullen’s senior year are especially shocking. His only cousin dies from a drug overdose, a supposedly extinct bird is sighted nearby which brings strangers to the town in droves, and his younger brother Gabriel goes missing. In the months that follow, Cullen faces the changes in the best way he knows how: through dry humor, the help of his best friend Lucas, and escapes into a fantasy world of zombies and heroes.  

I had no idea what this book was about upon picking up my copy. It was an assignment for my Young Adult materials course, so I had to read it. Naturally, I read the blurb on the flap of the book jacket (god, that’s such an ungainly description) before anything else. It immediately calls into question your expectations, and tells you to drop them then and there. It then poses questions that you might have upon finishing the book, a rather saucy assumption on the book jacket’s part. Essentially, it promised me an exploration of what things mean.

Y’all know I’m a sucker for meaning.

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