Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Book Review: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wain

Code Name Verity

Written by: Elizabeth Wain

Published: 2012

Synopsis (Goodreads): 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-Hauptsturmf├╝hrer 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.

When I was in my book slump I couldn't find a single book that appealed to me. I didn't feel like horror, or sci fi, or romance or comedy. I didn't want to read a book that would make me cry or that would teach me new things. I wanted to read, but reading is hard when you can't think of a single story that seems tolerable. I was stuck waiting for a bus with nothing to do and no games on my phone, so I ended up flicking through my kindle app. I don't have a tonne of books on there at the moment, but there were two books that I bought last year that I hadn't gotten around to. Graeme Simsion's* The Rosie Project and Code Name Verity. I felt pretty eh about both but I ended up flipping through Verity to pass the time and then I couldn't put it down. 

Not only is Code Name Verity good enough to knock me out of my slump, it's just really good full stop. This is going to be one of those really vague reviews because I knew very little going in ("ladies and world war 2" basically covers what I knew it was about) and I truly feel like that added significantly to my experience.Especially given I've since seen that a lot of synopsis' give a lot of detail about the second half of the book and that seems crazy too me.

So, bare bone details. Code Name Verity is a gorgeous tale of friendship and feminism amidst WWII. Two women, Maddie the mechanic/pilot and Queenie the radio operator/translator, strike up a friendship when they're both working at an airfield**. And while the story is all about their friendship and the paths they took to get to where they are, it's also not. You see, Queenie/Verity was captured by the Germans when she arrived in France to work with the resistance. The story she's telling, the one about a pair of girls who are bright and warm and full of spark, is so that she can collaborate with the Germans and offer them details in exchange for her life. So as you fall in love with these two girls (especially Maddie, god I adored her tenacity) you are also incredibly aware that it's a whole different life. Queenie might be collaborating, but she's still very much a prisoner of war so there's a lot of darkness and pain outside of her tale of friendship. 

And that's all I'm going to tell you because I can already feel my fingers tingling and wanting to type big huge gushy spoilers about the characters and the story. I don't want to do that so I'm going to finish very briefly by saying that I really adored this book. I loved reading a WWII book that was about women and friendship that took place on the front lines (so to speak). In the author's note Elizabeth Wain mentioned that while she tried to keep historical details factual, she stretched the truth at times because this is a fictional book after all. But the stuff about Maddie as a pilot, the risks and roles women took during WWII around piloting and intelligence was all entrenched in fact and I was so fascinated that I bought three non-fiction books on the subject about 5 minutes after I wrapped by reading Code Name Verity. 

*I only just realised that his surname isn't Simpson.  

**There is a very good possibility some of these minor details are off. I read the book awhile ago and my memory is full of holes. But the feels, oh my god, I remember those acutely. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Graphic Novel mini-reviews #32 (Women be kickin' ass)

Ms Marvel: Generation Why (Volume 2)

Written by: G. Willow Wilson; Illustrated by: Jacob Wyatt, Adrian Alphona

Published: 2015

My Thoughts: Ms Marvel is one of the comics I keep on top of month to month, and it is such a treat each and every time. The comic, aside from being freaking fantastic for female and POC representation, is always fun, humorous and fantastically written and drawn. This volume continues with the main mystery about the missing kids and the Inventor, but there are also wider story arcs about the origin of her powers and her life outsider of superhero-ing. It does a fantastic job balancing these aspects of her life and having the lessons from high school/family situations influence her approach to being a hero and vice versa. If you haven't started reading this series yet then I implore you to get on it. You're are really missing out on something great.

X-Men: Primer (Volume 1)

Written by: Brian Wood; Illustrated by: Oliver Coipel, David Lopez

Published: 2013

My Thoughts: I've only read a few X-Men arcs (there are just so freaking many) but as soon as I heard that there was an all-lady arc of X-Men comics I was on board. I mean, OF COURSE I WAS. The comics don't eliminate the male characters (Beast and Wolverine have bit parts) , but it's great to read a kickass story about women banding together to eliminate an alien (and a lady one to boot) that's threatening to destroy the whole world. There's also a lot of female-related issues incorporated, from lady-on-lady rivalries, motherhood, and growing pains (emotional, not physical) which makes it just a really fantastic volume for female comics fans, especially younger ones. There's also a bonus issue from the 80s which is all BIG hair and HIGH fashion and shopping montages and strip clubs, which is absolutely everything I want and need in a comic.

The Lumberjanes (Volume 1)

Written by: Noelle Stevenson; Illustrated by: Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen

Published: 2015

My thoughts: This comic is just the cutest comic around. The story is pretty simple, a bunch of girls are at a summer camp and constantly find themselves up against a bunch of weird ass stuff, monsters and were-bears and feuding Greek gods. But all of that is secondary to this group of 5 girls just having a freaking blast with each other as they deal with these supernatural obstacles. There's something really amazing about media that tells a story of girls just getting along. There's usually a guy in the way or girls hating on other girls and it gets SO tiring. These girls are all so different and unique and yet they support each other through everything and it makes me SO HAPPY. I'm grinning like a loon just thinking about it. Absolute must read.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

March in review


What I Read:
*Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found by Frances Larson
0% male /100% female
0% American / 100% International
100%white/ 0%POC
0% ebook / 100% audiobook / 0% physical
0% fiction / 100% non-fiction
*Deadly Class: Reagan Youth (Volume 1) by Rick Remeder, Wesley Craig, Lee Loughride. 
*Deadpool Killustrated by Cullen Bunn, Matteo Lolli
*X-Men: Primer (volume 1) by Brian Wood, Oliver Coipel, David Lopez
100% male / 0% female
75% American / 25% International
100%white/ 0%POC
100% ebook / 0% audiobook / 0% physical
100% fiction / 0% non-fiction

So. That's a pretty pitiful March. It was a tough month for me, reading wise and in general. I was so busy with so many things and when I finally got time to read I just didn't connect with anything. I picked up so many books, got a few chapters in, and put them down, or gave up a couple of pages in. I considered going back to a book I knew I loved, like Harry Potter, but I was so busy I didn't really feel like rereading books either, haha. In the last week I seem to have finally moved out of my funk though. I'm most of the way through Joyce Carol Oates' Wild Nights, which is a collection of short stories written about the final days of several iconic authors, and Elizabeth Wain's Codename Verity. I'm enjoying them both a great deal, plus they're both ladies, so huzzah for April's diversity stats!!


I don't have much to report on because moving house is taking over my life, as is teaching/finishing my PhD. Oooh, one thing!  I got my Ninja book swap gift in March! Yay for bookish gifts in the mail!

The amazing Emma (Mab is Mab) sent me the most amazing package of Bristol themed goodies! I got a copy of Alice Munro's Dear Life, a pair of sparkly earrings, a Bristol Balloon Fiesta-themed coaster (see below), a Bristol-themed greetings card, some candy and a whole lot of insight into the city of Bristol. Emma also added little post-its to her gifts to give me a little more info about the city or to explain the gift, it's such a sweet touch! So I'm pretty set on visiting Bristol when I eventually make my way across to Europe now. Especially if I can time it to coincide with the Balloon Fiesta!


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