Hi all, today I'm thrilled to take part in the Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke blog tour hosted by The Fantastic Flying Book Club. I loved Blankman's first book in this series The Prisoner of Night and Fog, so couldn't wait to see what she had in store for us this time around for Daniel and Gretchen, let me just say once again Blankman did not disappoint. Before I share my review with you here's a bit about the book.
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 21st 2015.
My rating: 5 stars
The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content. But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland. Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?
I was in awe of Blankman’s work with Prisoner of Night and Fog, the way she was able to weave a story of everything that had taken place in Germany back in the 1930’s and at the same time make a wonderful story of Daniel and Gretchen fit into it was amazing. I fell in love with Gretchen and Daniel’s story; I wanted them to finally live their own lives and not constantly checking over their shoulder. So with the way things ended in Prisoner of Night and Fog, I was left with the hope that things would end better for them. But I guess I always knew deep in my bones that there would always be something or somebody that would lure Daniel and Gretchen back home to Germany, but all I wanted to do was keep them safe any way possible.
So of course when nothing could stop Gretchen and Daniel from going back I found myself even more overwrought with nerves, the consequences for them going back were even worse than last time I don’t know what I’d do if anything happened to either of them after everything that they had been through. Also who did they have left to turn to? Hitler’s strength and force was spreading rapidly through Germany, before they knew it he could possibly have full control. But I adored the strength and determination of Gretchen and Daniel, they really did go above and beyond to try and be free, risking their lives by trying to find answers and even coming face to face with old friends. But what I loved more about Gretchen and Daniel were the sacrifices they were willing to make for one another, I was aware of their love for each other before, but in this book they just went further onto show why they deserved to be free of everything in Germany and with each other. Despite everyone and me knowing that the love between Daniel and Gretchen was strong, I hated how with this book there were all these different things being thrown their way that just managed to create an uncomfortable distance at times. It really broke my heart at times as all Daniel and Gretchen had were each other, but even then at times several things were holding them back that gaining comfort from each wasn’t as easy and natural as it was used to be. I hated this, as all I wanted to shout was that life was too short as it is to think about everything that could get in the way. Daniel once again came through for me in this story he was the perfect gentleman, always willing to put his life on the line if necessary, or take a step back to keep Gretchen safe. This poor guy went through it all, I adored though how despite things being awkward at times for him and Gretchen as they didn’t know how things would go, he was the constant anchor that Gretchen needed, his small smiles of encouragement really were the only things that really helped Gretchen and me at times not to lose hope.
Blankman once again was the master of upping the tension with this book, with the stakes so high, the danger of either Daniel or Gretchen getting caught had tripled with either of them knowing what the consequences could be. Also with Hitler not being around as much as he had been in The Prisoner of Night and Fog, his lack of appearance makes him that much more formidable. As there’s always, the constant whispers of what he’s plotting next, there’s the control he has on the streets without him being around. So it made the build up of his path crossing with Gretchen’s that much scarier as you didn’t know which Hitler you would be getting when it finally happened.
Of course my poor little heart just about got through all the hurdles that they had to encounter, so many times I’d lost hope that everything would end in the way I was dreading. But I’m glad there were some fantastic characters along the way that ended up providing friendships in the most unexpected of places. Three characters that Blankman introduced really stood out for me in this book, and for them I’m highly grateful, unlike the bunch of characters who were quick to make assumptions, they were willing to aid, fight and discover the justice that everyone needed to know about. I know it wouldn’t be possible for every character that I became attached to, to survive what with the way Hitler was calling the shots, but it was awful when bright lives such as these could just blink out in an instant.
Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke really bought up my anxiety levels, but strangely in the best possible way, as books which tend to evoke all my emotions and really bring a story come alive for me are ones that end up as my favourites and are ones that I know I will remember for a long time to come. And by all the emotions I do mean exactly that, there was certainly an underlying form of anxiety throughout this entire story as you didn’t know what could be lurking around the corner. Then there were moments of bliss of just seeing Gretchen and Daniel be together and moments of giddiness, when things were actually going well for once under the dire situations they found themselves in. But most of all I warn you to keep some tissues with you as part way through I was a sobbing mess. Let me just say though these feelings were all worth it and if I had to experience them all over again over a poignant story as this I would do it in an instant. Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke was a beautifully written story, of two characters finding any means necessary to survive. They were characters who will leave such a big imprint on you that you never want to let them and their gorgeous story go.
Anne Blankman may have been meant to be a writer because her parents named her for Anne of Green Gables. She grew up in an old house with gables (gray, unfortunately) in upstate New York. When she wasn't writing or reading, she was rowing on the crew team, taking ballet lessons, fencing and swimming. She graduated from Union College with degrees in English and history, which comes in handy when she writes historical fiction. After earning a master's degree in information science, Anne began working as a youth services librarian. Currently, she lives in southeastern Virginia with her family. When she's not writing young adult fiction, she's playing with her daughter, training for races with her husband, working at her amazing library branch, learning to knit (badly), and reading. Anne Blankman is the author of PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG, the first in a three-book deal slated for publication in spring 2014 from Balzer + Bray | HarperCollins. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.