Let me just say right off the bat that I love Blogger. As a person who gags at the thought of programming, I appreciate the service that Blogger affords me. I can have a relatively feature rich, professional looking blog without having to become an html expert. And it's free. So thanks, Blogger! That said, free things are not necessarily problem free things. For several weeks last fall, my ability to edit the text boxes in the sidebar simply disappeared. You may have noticed that I appeared to be "currently reading" the same books endlessly. Now, unlike those of you who can fly through a new title in a day or two, I'm the first to admit that I am a painfully slow reader. I am not, however, as slow as this editing snafu would seem to indicate. I simply was unable to update the information on my blog until recently when Blogger fixed the bug.
So I thought that now, while the media-hyped "polar vortex" is upon us and wind chills are intent on confining me to the indoors with a cup of hot coffee, a cozy blanket, and my laptop--yes, now would be the ideal time to mention a couple of memorable books that I enjoyed while the Blogger editor was out of commission. Both were set during WWII, both had pivotal, strong female characters, and both held me in suspense until the end.
First, five stars go to Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle. A modern-day mystery is inextricably tied to the daring exploits of members of the Italian resistance during WWII when honored resistance fighters begin turning up murdered 60 years later. The past and present are skillfully woven in an emotional roller coaster with plenty of twists and turns. Who even knew there was an Italian resistance? The French get all the usual attention in books and films. I was riveted by the daring exploits of these brave individuals who were surrounded by terror and death during the Nazi occupation, unable to trust even their neighbors and friends.
Speaking of the French resistance, 5 stars also go to Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I came across this gem in the World Book Night list and loved it so much that I selected it as my first choice for the title I would most like to give away. The many twists, turns, and surprises in this book prevent me from giving too much of the plot and spoiling it. In a nutshell, two young British women from disparate backgrounds become best friends when they are thrust together in service (secret service) involving missions behind enemy lines in occupied France, circa 1943. One is captured and held by the Germans, tortured, and forced to write her story for her captors. Things are not always what they seem, and I will simply say that the Nazis get more than they bargained for. Plenty of surprises and plot twists in this one as well. Yet underneath the spy thriller is also the touching story of an unlikely friendship, one which paradoxically would not have happened without the War.
If you are looking for an absorbing read to curl up with during this cold and icy season, I highly recommend both of these books.