“Code name Verity” (Verity #1) Elizabeth Wein

Rated 5 stars ***** 2013. Hyperion. 339 p. (Includes a “Brief Bibliography.”)

CodeNameVerityThe story opens with Verity, a secret agent sent to Occupied France by the British, being held prisoner by the Gestapo during World War II. After being tortured for weeks, Verity struck a deal which allowed her to regain a modicum of civility but which also included having her write all she knew about the Royal Air Force (RAF) and her role with the British.

As Verity’s story unfolds we meet Maddie, a rare female pilot in the RAF who became Verity’s best friend. As their stories of bravery, friendship, and survival in the midst of fear and the unknown are revealed, readers will be hard pressed to keep their tears and emotions in check.

“Code Name Verity” won the Michael L. Printz Honor Award in 2013, given by YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association). It also was listed on the 2013 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Top Ten list, and won numerous other awards. All are well deserved.

Highly recommended for ages 16 and older, including Adults.

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“Midwinter Blood” Marcus Sedgwick

Rated 4 stars **** 2013. Roaring Book Press. 262 pp.

Midwinterblood“Midwinter Blood” won the 2014 Printz Award for the best book written in the U.S. for a teen audience so, naturally, I had to read it.

In 2073 Eric Seven, reporter, arrives on beautiful Blessed Island to investigate strange reports of islanders living forever. Within minutes he falls in love with a woman named Merle who made him feel as if he’d met her before. The next day he begins to experience strange bouts of forgetfulness and soon becomes part of the Island life, forgetting all about his investigation. By the time he finally remembered, it was too late…

From this first peek into the Island, Sedgwick leads readers back in time through the centuries with six more tales which tell the strange and haunting tale of Blessed Island’s dependence on the strange dragon flower, as well as insight into its people and their beliefs, fears and superstitions. With each time travel tale into the past, puzzle pieces are revealed about why Eric and Merle were drawn to each other along with the terrible truth of Blessed Island. Readers will soon learn to run as fast as they can in the opposite direction should they ever get the opportunity to visit this strange and mysterious island.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

Listed on the ALA (American Library Association’s) Best Fiction for Young Adults list (compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) and on YALSA’s 2014 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults list.

ALA Award Winners

What an exciting day!! I am reporting to you “live” from Seattle with the winners. There are tons of awards given out, so I’m just going to report on the ones represented by the books I review = YALSA’s Printz award (best teen book), the Pura Belpré Award (best book written by a Latino for a Latino audience) and the Coretta Scott King Award (best book written for African Americans by an African American. You can see the entire list on the American Library Association’s webpage.

The Michael L. Printz winner was “In Darkness” by Nick Lake.

The Printz Honor winners were: “Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe” by Benjamin Alire Saenz, “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein, “Dodger” by Terry Pratchett, and “The White Bicycle” by Beverley Brenna.

The Pura Belpré  winner was: “Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe” by Benjamin Alire Saenz (do you see a trend here? This book went on to also win the Stonewall Book Award.) It’s on my “to read” list.

The Pura Belpré Honor winner was: “The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano” by Sonia Manzano. (I had predicted back in August that this would win an award, it was THAT good!)

The Coretta Scott King Author Award was “Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men who changed America” by Andrea Davis Pinkney.

The Coretta Scott King Honor winners were: “Each Kindness” by Jacqueline Woodson, and “No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the life and work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller” by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson.

Time to go get these books at your Public Library!