Cover Image: I'll Tell You No Lies

I'll Tell You No Lies

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Member Reviews

First off, I really enjoyed this book. All the twists and turns. The author really had you guessing and trying to figure out who you could really trust, just like Shelby felt, which is just what I wanted from a novel set during the Cold War with a Soviet defector. Shelby, Maksym, and Mr Jones were very well written. From the beginning when Maksym comes over to Shelby offering her a drink, I couldn’t help but root for these two. I would love to see their reunion post novel.

I was especially surprised about Mr. Jones. McCrina did a really good job at presenting him as the strict and rough handler for Maksym, but then slowly through the course of the novel showing his true character. I do wish we had gotten to see more of his relationship directly with Maksym, but with this being first person from Shelby’s perspective, I understand why that wasn’t really possible. I loved the part near the end between Mr. Jones and Shelby where he says he could give her a recommendation to join the CIA. I would love a sequel with Shelby in the CIA or going through training, of course with Maksym in the story too.

The reason I gave this 4 stars rather than 5 was because it did get a bit too confusing at one point about which version of the “truth” Maksym was giving to Shelby, which was the point, but there’s only so many times I can take a character changing their story even if the reasons make sense in the end.

Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan for the ARC in exchange for an honest review! These are my own opinions.

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This book starts with a solid premise - a girl already on the outside crossing paths with a defector and potential spy trying to find out the truth. It asks solid questions about where our loyalties lie and what things influence us. Not to mention shedding light on life inside of the USSR during the Cold War era. These were the elements that drew me in. The reality was far less compelling, mostly because it was too hard to follow. I can certainly understand how the lies inherent in the world of military intelligence would complicate every interaction. But a single conversation in this book asserts wildly different "truths". We have no time to rest in a story, to accept it and start believing it, before a character tells us that it is all lies. Nothing can be trusted and it changes so quickly that we don't form attachments to anyone or any thing. Without any consistency it's too hard to engage with the plot and characters.

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Oh, I loved this read! It was a very fresh perspective on WWII historical fiction, with them narrative focusing on the aftermath of WWII and the lead into the Cold War. I really appreciated the eastern European elemnts as well. The book moves at a swift pace, which kept me thoroughly invested as a reader. There was never a moment where I felt like I should put the book down. Overall, a great read. Beautifully written.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a e-arc of this book. This review contains my honest thoughts.

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I really enjoyed this book set during the Cold War. The story was fast paced and there were turns and twists to keep your attention. Lies, deceit and traitors were at every turn. I highly recommend reading this story. Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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This is a fast paced, YA historical fiction story surrounding a young woman journey to aid and hide a Russian pilot. It's short and punchy so the face is always quick and reads much like a thriller with a heavy historical theme in a post WW2 era.

When Shelbys mother passes, and her father accepts a new position in the states...she has no idea the amount of lies, deceit and conflicting feelings she will come to face. I loved this felt like a sneaky history lesson hidden amongst the post war politics, and sudden romantic feelings.

I found myself anxiously turning pages wanting to know what would happen next. I found the plot to be exciting and unpredictable, and of course it also included a dash of romance!

AND while this has more of an open ended finish, I felt like it was handed more realistically and felt grounded in reality which I appreciate even if my inner romantic screamed for a little bit more.

Loved the themes of wanting to belong to somewhere, and learning more about Russian defectors who were yearning to seek asylum. She did a great job of creating a main characters who were dealing with A LOT, while also learning more about each other and what each had gone through.

I would definitely read more from this author. Really enjoyed it!

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There were things I absolutely loved about this YA historical thriller. I appreciated the setting during the height of the cold war - this time period is underrepresented in historical fiction, particularly in the YA category. And I thought the setup was excellent in terms of our main character (Shelby), her recent family tragedy, and the need to return to the US. So for early chapters I was all in and eager to see what happened next. However, as the novel developed, I found the twists (that is, the lies) coming one after another got to be a bit too much. Perhaps I should have read more slowly, but I was sometimes confused, and I yearned for a bit more character and relationship development. That said, I think this book is well-suited for someone interested in a fast-paced (and short) book who also is interested in learning more about espionage during this period of history.

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Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Children Publishing group for an ARC copy in exchange for an honest review. New York, 1955. Shelby Blaine and her father, an Air Force intelligence agent, are pulled away from their life in West Germany to return to the States. Her dad has been tapped to lead the interrogation of an escaped Soviet pilot. Though after a chance encounter with the pilot, Maksym, Shelby gets the feeling she’s not being told the whole story. As the pilot’s story gets picked apart, Maksym manages to escape his handlers and puts Shelby directly in the middle of things. As she starts to learn more about Maksym, she is more willing to help him out. She begins to question everything, and trying to figure out who she can trust.

This was a great read. I was on the edge of my seat the entire book and was trying to figure out who was the enemy within the book. I was shocked by who it ended up being. This was a rollercoaster (the best kind) of a book. Highly recommend if you’re looking for a historical fiction with a great story and trying to figure out who the enemy is.

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3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5) After the sudden death of her mother, Shelby and her father are restationed from Germany to New York, all before they could take care of her mother’s ashes. Shelby is left alone to navigate this new life as her father is called away immediately for an emergency.

Shelby soon learns about a defector from Russia and by chance, meets him. The more she learns of this man, Maksym, the more she becomes involved but also confused about his story and what others have told her.

There were quite a few times I wanted to shake Shelby in stupidity but obviously, sometimes that’s what the author is going for. She took outrageous risks to help this man, sometimes at the harm to herself or her father. There were quite a few times I was confused about exactly what was happening but I think that was due to first and/or last names being used regularly. By the end it had all come together and actually felt a little too “out there” for me to completely be on board. I didn’t fully understand their relationship or some events that happened but I was entertained and believe many will love this as a faster-paced YA thriller.

General content summary: little to no language, parental death (car crash, grief), alcohol (some underage), gun threat, prisoner is injured in interrogation (blood, wounds), cigarettes, story of being shot (previous), story of whipping (previous), m/f passionate kissing (few times), story of family deaths (previous, no details).

Thank you to Fierce Reads for the copy!

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"I'LL TELL YOU NO LIES" is a gripping historical fiction novel set in Rome, New York, during the height of the Cold War in 1955. Drawing inspiration from real-life stories of cold war espionage intrigue, such as Alfred Dean Slack, the book delves into the dark world of fear and how it can bring out the worst in us.

The story revolves around a fictional character named Shelby Blaine, whose father is an Air Force Intelligence Officer. Readers are taken on a thrilling journey through her eyes as she becomes entangled in the high-stakes world of espionage and defection. The novel's central plot is inspired by the true stories of MiG pilots, such as Franciszek Jarecki from Poland and No Kum-Sok from North Korea, who defected to the United States during the Cold War.

One of the book's strongest aspects is its ability to educate readers about the history of Russian and Ukrainian relations during that era. The story sheds light on the brutal treatment and imprisonment of individuals by the Russians and Germans after World War II, which has relevance to the current conflict and bitter rivalry between Ukraine and Russia. The author's meticulous research and portrayal of historical events add depth and authenticity to the narrative.

The novel excels in keeping readers on the edge of their seats with its numerous twists and turns. The fast-paced and action-packed plot makes it a thrilling read for young adults and even middle-grade students. However, despite the historical backdrop, the author skillfully weaves in universal themes of loyalty, courage, and sacrifice, making it a compelling story for readers of all ages. There is also a sweet love story between Shelby and Maksym, the refuge pilot, which adds to the thread of secrets and lies.

Moreover, "I'LL TELL YOU NO LIES" is an excellent supplement for World History and English classes in middle and high schools. It seamlessly blends history with fiction, providing a unique opportunity for students to engage with significant events of the Cold War era while enjoying a captivating narrative.
For book clubs, this novel offers a wealth of discussion points, including historical context, character development, and moral dilemmas faced by the protagonists. It allows readers to explore the complexities of human nature and the impact of fear on decision-making in the face of espionage and betrayal.

In conclusion, "I'LL TELL YOU NO LIES" is a great book that masterfully combines historical accuracy, thrilling espionage, and engaging storytelling. It serves not only as an entertaining read but also as a valuable educational tool, making it highly recommended for both classrooms and book clubs. Whether you are interested in history, espionage, or a gripping tale of intrigue, this novel has something to offer every reader.

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3 Stars

There were parts I really loved about this book and others that left me confused, but overall, it really just left me wanting more.

This historical fiction YA book takes place at the height of the Cold War post WWII as we have a Russian (actually Ukrainian) pilot who defected and is now on the run from a KGB operative working for the CIA.

He meets and falls for daughter of an Air Force Captain, Shelby Blaine. She tries to unravel his story and assist him while also grappling with the very recent death of her mother and subsequent move back to the US from Germany.

The romance felt like a bit of an after thought and I hoped for a bit more. And then the twists on twists in twist (while I’m sure accurate for covert operatives during the Cold War) often left me confused and the end of the story was one where I was like “I guess I’ll just believe the most recent thing told to me and forget about all the details that came before”.

I did. find this incredibly bingeable and easy to read and am willing to give the author’s other books a shot! I just wish this one gave me a bit more.

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Shelby Blaine is the daughter of an intelligence officer that moved her overseas to America immediately following the sudden death of her mother. Mostly alone in a new country she quickly finds friends - and trouble. The plot thickens with adventure and deception keeping readers hanging on for the many twists and turns in this wild ride.

I would not consider myself a big fan of historical fiction, however, this book is an exceptional tale inspired by MIG pilots from the Cold War. The pace of the story was so fast that the details of the war and the previous war (WWII) fit in seamlessly. I liked the chemistry between Shelby and Maksym with there not being any doubt that Shelby could help Maksym despite her age. They both struggled with their respective grief at a young age yet found strength and persisted. I thought their romance added to their innocence and humanity.

I would recommend this book for fans of historical fiction. The YA label is appropriate as the romance only goes so far as kissing. At the time of this review, this book is set to be published on August 1, 2023.

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I picked this book up and did not put it down until I finished it.

There are so many things to address, so I’ll start with this: McCrina brings a much needed voice/perspective to YA. WWII YA historical fiction exists, but there’s not a lot outside of that give or take a few books. Those narratives are also very limited to the western front, leaving a gaping hole of stories from the eastern front. McCrina highlights these stories throughout her works, this one included. However, the focus isn’t on WWII, but the aftermath of it and the Cold War. Again, another area that’s been overlooked in YA Historical fiction. With that being said, McCrina’s work is enlightening and invigorating. I think her storytelling is fantastic—she has a way of really making the historical aspects come to life.

Next, this book does not have a single slow moment in it. It starts off with a bang and keeps going. Because of that, it’s VERY engaging. Plus, as a reader, I was trying to figure everything out as Shelby (the MC) received information. Just as she was trying to connect the dots, I was trying to connect the dots. There is so much tension throughout the book as Shelby races to figure out what to believe and who to trust. I felt anxious for her! I had no idea what twists were awaiting me. Nothing about this book was predictable to me. She kept me guessing until the very last page.

In addition, I was highly intrigued by Maksym’s story. The one thing I wish about this book is that it had been longer. I would read a book about Maksym and his journey that led him to Rome, NY. Overall though, I enjoyed him as a character. He was in a similar situation as Shelby with trying to figure out who to trust and what to believe. I think what really spoke to his character was that he could’ve easily overpowered Shelby and killed her, but didn’t. Speaking of Shelby, I liked her too. She defied authorities to protect somebody that she believed was innocent. She is compassionate and courageous in her own right.

This isn’t a romance book, but does have a little bit of romance. Obviously, the tension is there and it’s very much an enemies-to-lovers situation. I thought that it was perfect for the story—not so much to be distracting, but just enough to add to it. This book is NOT a romance driven plot, so keep that in mind.

All in all, I’m a huge fan. One of the best books I’ve read this year. A solid 5/5 for me without a doubt. I look forward to reading more of McCrina’s works!

Thank you to the author, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, and NetGalley for this eARC!

My review is live on Goodreads and will be posted to Amazon, Facebook, and Bookstagram on publication day 08/01.

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Page turning suspense and intrigue from start to finish, this well researched YA historical fiction novel set during the Cold War era will appeal to so many readers young and old. Whether you’re an avid reader of historical fiction, or you enjoy a good mystery with plenty of twists and turns, or maybe it’s forbidden love that pulls you in; there’s something in this book for everyone and it’s a must add to middle and high school classrooms and libraries.

For me I am always interested in learning more about my grandpa’s experience as a Ukrainian child taken during the war, surviving his was to Canada and his fears of returning to Ukraine once he learned his family was still alive. In this book I learn more about Soviet era Ukraine post WWII, the treatment of those who the Soviets considered “traitors” and why they couldn’t return to their families. I will definitely be sharing this book with my grandma and family.

I would recommend this book to anyone aged 12 and up. For teachers, it would make a great novel study or read aloud when learning about the Cold War, immigration and refugees, Eastern Europe and the consequences of WWII, and of course to bring context and understanding to the current war and genocide in Ukraine.

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I really enjoyed this book! It definitely read like a thriller, which I liked a lot. The writing was concise and clear, and while it was short, I still think I got a full story out of this.

I wish I knew more about this time period, because I think I could’ve gotten more out of it if I was more familiar with this point in history. Additionally, I wanted a little more out of the ending. I felt like I didn’t get a complete resolution; it was like I hit a brick wall at the end.

Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I read McCrina's debut (TRAITOR), and wanted to try out this one since it was billed as a Cold War YA fiction, and I want to broaden my horizons. I will say, that though my knowledge of the period was limited, I could tell the book had a lot of thought and research pumped into it from the beginning. It's always nice to have a histfic author who knows what they're talking about! It almost felt like a thriller at times, and the pace was quick and always keeping me on my toes, which is what I look for in books akin to the mystery/thriler genre, and picked up on here. I enjoyed, as the title suggests, the element of lies and not being able to trust freely. The characters were distinct and well written, and I enjoyed Shelby as the heroine. It was easy to keep track of everyone when the plot was already so complex. Overall, I had a good time with this read, and the history lesson it gave me!

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I loved this book. I love all of Amanda McCrina’s historical fiction books but this was definitely my favorite so far. I loved the nods to her other books without making this an obvious sequel. I would definitely recommend reading her books in publication order to completely avoid spoilers but the connections are subtle enough that you could easily enjoy these as stand alone titles.

I liked that this story had thriller / mystery vibes as well as a sweet romance. The romance plot didn’t overwhelm the story and I loved the history woven into the plot.


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Thank you net galley for the advance reader copy of this novel. This was a Ya historical fiction set in the cold war. This was a Fantastic read and I loved it! It was a quick read about a Russian defector pilot, Max, and an air force colonels daughter, Shelby and a web of lies. The action was non stop and I loved trying to figure out what was going to happen next. I wished for a bit more on the resolution/ending as it seemed to wrap very quickly. Can't wait to read more by this author!

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3.5ish! I love that this is a time period and a subject that we don't hear much about in literature, especially historical fiction for young people. There are a TON of lies and a TON of stories in here that, although it keeps you on your toes, does make figuring out what happened, exactly, a little confusing.

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3.5-4 stars! This was an easy but enjoyable read! I read this book on a beach vacation and finished it super quickly, but I found myself really looking forward to reading it every time I had to stop. The mystery and thriller aspect kept you on your toes trying to figure out what comes next, although I will admit, sometimes I got a bit confused with the number of twists or lies that occurred from characters. I liked learning a bit about this time in history since this isn't a historical period I have engaged with often, and I could tell the author clearly did a lot of research on similar stories like this. My one critique is that I kept waiting for a bigger "climax" or something more substantial to happen, it felt like the book was building up to something but when it ultimately reached the end I felt slightly disappointed, but I did overall enjoy the book especially since it was such a quick read. The romance was cute and sweet and not a huge focus of the story, it felt a bit quick at times but it was light enough that it didn't bother me. I would recommend this book to people looking for something easy but fun to read!

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I didn’t expect to like this as much as I did. Shelby Blaine is tough, brave, and sweet, in a time and place when it was hard to be those things. Maks is complex yet lovely. I want to see what comes next for these two. While the characters are the best part of this story, I love the attention to details of the era- cars and clothes especially. And who can resist a KGB agent…but who is it? You’ll find no spoilers here. I loved this adventure. What a great way to teach about the Cold War!

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