Badass Women Bombing Nazi Butt - Night Witches by Kathryn Lasky Blog Tour + Review + Giveaway

Monday, March 27, 2017
Night Witches Review

Night Witches Tour Banner

I grew up on Lasky's books, her's are among the ones that that I've had since childhood, a bit bent and a little tattered from being read over and over again. I haven't picked up a book of her's in a while, I don't reread that much anymore and I've pretty much moved away from middle grade, the genre she predominates. Nevertheless, when the opportunity to review her upcoming novel came along, I immediately jumped at the chance. Reading Night Witches was a bit like revisiting my childhood, so if I start getting terribly nostalgic, oops.

Synopsis & Details:

From bestselling and award-winning author Kathryn Lasky comes an explosive adventure following the teen girl fighter pilots who took on Hitler's army... and won. Fifteen-year-old Valya knows what it feels like to fly. She's a pilot who's always felt more at home soaring through the sky read more... than down on earth. But since the Germans surrounded Stalingrad, Valya's been forced to stay on the ground and watch her city crumble.

When her mother is killed during the siege, Valya is left with one burning desire: to join up with her older sister, a member of the famous and feared Night Witches -- a brigade of young female pilots.

Using all her wits, Valya manages to get past the German blockade and find the Night Witches' base . . . and that's when the REAL danger starts. The women have been assigned a critical mission. If they succeed, they'll inflict serious damage on the Nazis. If they fail, they'll face death... or even worse horrors.

Historical fiction master Lasky sheds light on the war's unsung heroes -- daredevil girls who took to the skies to fight for their country -- in an action-packed thrill ride that'll leave you electrified and breathless.

Title: Night Witches
Series: N/A
Author: Kathryn Lasky
Publication Date: March 28th 2017
Genres: YA, Historical
Pages: ^224
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Source: I received an arc from the publisher for review consideration (thanks Scholastic!) this in no way affected my review, cross my heart.

As I remembered, Kathryn Lasky's writing is clear and precise, a great style for younger readers.

Night Witches is in a bit of a weird spot between MG and YA. I ended up categorizing it as YA because some of the language used (ie. the word shit) and some of the events in the novel, though I'd still say it's aimed at the younger end of the demographic.

I read quite a number of Lasky's historical novels as a kid, specifically her Royal Diaries books. Each one always introduced me to a new, intriguing piece of history, and Night Witches is no exception. We (or at least us Americans) rarely hear about the Soviet side of World War II, so naturally, I knew zlich about the Night Witches, who were formally knowns as the 46th "Taman" Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment. In case you're clueless like me, here's a short paragraph about them:

The regiment flew harassment bombing and precision bombing missions against the German military from 1942 until the end of the war. At its largest, it had 40 two-person crews. The regiment flew over 24,000 missions and dropped 23,000 tons of bombs. It was the most highly decorated all-women unit in the Soviet Air Force, each pilot having flown over 800 missions by the end of the war and twenty-three having been awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union title. Thirty of its members died in combat.

Aren't they so cool??? Speaking of history.... When ever I read historical fiction, I always end up hungrily devouring random articles about obscure topics from time period the book is based upon. In this case, I took an hour detour to look into the lives of Stalin's wives and children. Turns out pretty much all of their lives were terrible, and to my great surprise, Stalin was pretty much the reason behind all of their miseries (oh he was quite the swell guy, I'm sure). Anyways, I'm getting off topic....

Our main character Vayla loves planes and flying,

she excels at it, and it's one of the few things she does better than her talented older sister. By the end of the book, the marvelous descriptions had me loving flying (almost) as much as her. Don't just take my word for it, here's a quote to prove it:

As we walk, the ghost of the rubber pedals brushes the soles of my feet, as if I'm about to initiate a turn. I love that feeling of slipping beautifully into a turn, finding that curve in the geometry of air and speed. One becomes a sculptor, carving the air like a bird, an eagle, an owl, a gull.

The story didn't really have a set purpose, the plot didn't feel connected all the way through, and it meandered at times.

Night Witches reminded me a lot of the Royal Diaries books, which chronicled the day to day life of a certain historical person of royal blood, and often didn't have an overarching plot. There's nothing wrong with this approach, but some people might not like it.

There was a miniscule romantic element in Night Witches, and I really could've done without it.

I mean the sorta love interest was cute and all, but it never went anywhere, and I'm just not a fan of plot lines that never do anything.

The relationship between Vayla and her previously mentioned big sister, Tatyana, could've been developed more.

It later becomes a focal point of the story, and because of it's under development, the end falls a little flat.

If your looking for a quick historical, an interesting new perspective of the second world war, or just wanna see some brave women kick nazi ass, then you might wanna stick Night Witches into your hulking tbr, though if you love books with iron-strong plot backbones, then it's probably not for you.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Are you a history nerd? If so, do you favor a particular time period?
About Kathryn Lasky
Kathryn Lasky is the American author of many critically acclaimed books, including several Dear America books, several Royal Diaries books, 1984 Newbery Honor winning Sugaring Time, The Night Journey, and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.
She was born June 24, 1944, and grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and is married to Christopher Knight, with whom she lives in Massachusetts.

Book 15, The War of the Ember, is currently the last book in the Ga'Hoole series. The Rise of a Legend is the 16th book but is a prequel to the series. Lasky has also written Guide Book To The Great Tree and Lost Tales Of Ga'Hoole which are companion books.