Cover Image: I'll Tell You No Lies

I'll Tell You No Lies

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Member Reviews

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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An inventive, propulsive historical fiction novel with the pace of a thriller. Two things I look for in a book are a strong voice and surprises, and this book was chock-full of both. As a book about not being able to trust anyone, this one did an excellent job of keeping me guessing everyone’s motives and desperate to find out the truth. You’re going to want to read this in one sitting. 

I also appreciated that this was about a time in history I didn’t know much about, and how it focused on a military kid, which I don’t see much in fiction. 

Looking forward to reading McCrina’s other books. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Macmillan for sending me an eARC in exchange for an honest review!
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This book sunk its claws into me from the first page. I devoured it in a single day! I’ll Tell You No Lies offered a compelling, high stakes story that maintained historical accuracy while keeping with the appropriate tones of a YA novel. I loved how the author cherry-picked parts of the story from real life events that sound so bizarre that they make you question what is real and what is a lie, just as her book did. The characters were authentic and flawed which made your heart ache for them and every betrayal hit a little harder. 

The only negative I have to say is that I wish the book was a bit longer in order to fully explain everything in the end. I felt a bit confused because so many lies were told by every single character that when the truth came out it was hard to fully comprehend. The ending felt rushed and I wish that we would’ve gotten a more comprehensive conclusion. 

Overall, I’ll Tell You No Lies was a great introduction to the Cold War era for young adult readers. Entertaining and informative, I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants a quick & twisty historical fiction.
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What an exquisite story! I loved the characters, the writing, the secrets, and the setting! The book made me feel like I was there and I want to read more from this author!
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Amanda McCrina is a phenomenal writer. This book was short, but I was hooked on every page. I love her concise but descriptive writing style. Her characters are real, flawed, dynamic, relatable. She is a master at creating a suspenseful and intricate plot. My only complaint, as always, is that it ended too quickly and I need more. 10/10 would recommend, 5 gold stars, & every other accolade in existence is deserved for I'll Tell You No Lies.

I would like to sincerely thank the publisher & Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I was not required to post a review and all opinions are my own.
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Amanda McCrina's I'll Tell You No Lies introduces the Cold War to young adults who like to get their history via fiction that could lead to nonfiction reading about the period. I was drawn to the book because stories set in the Cold War era aren't typical Young Adult fare. For me, the novel is a hit and a miss: a hit for barebones setting and plot (1950's, Russian/American antagonism & rivalry, political defection & spies), but  a miss for plausibility and character development. Iin addition to a convoluted story line, I find it hard to believe a would-be defector could evade his highly trained "hosts" and successfully get support from an angsty teenaged girl; the protagonists and their love story are also pretty thin. Still, given its novel subject for YA, I'll Tell You No Lies may captivate some teens and get them interested in knowing more about the Cold War.
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I devoured this story in half a day. This was a tightly plotted historical thriller that kept me on my toes. I guess I have a thing for Cold War thrillers!

McCrina has an excellent sense of voice; I immediately loved our leading lady, Shelby Blaine, and empathized with her. The pacing was great, the dialogue was snappy, and the premise never got too far-fetched. I want a whole series about Shelby!

Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan for the ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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Super interesting spy thriller for young adults.  Had me guessing the whole time.  Great read about a time period and topic I didn’t know much about.
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I had really high hopes for this novel, but I found myself underwhelmed. It if was longer (because it felt very short), I probably would've even been bored. There are three main issues with this book.

1. The main character has zero personality and just flits all over with no direction of her own (just going where people point her and figuring out nothing). The main plot of this story is Shelby trying to figure out the truth. 

The author seems to think it's about Shelby helping Maksym, but that really doesn't happen much. Rather, she spends the whole book trying to figure out what the truth is about Maksym and the people around them, but she doesn't do any investigating on her own. She simply listens to all the lies and believes every new one....

Another character, who she knows she can't trust, points her in a direction that could be dangerous, and she just goes anyway, because the character wanted her to. And nothing happens, because there's no tension in this book.

2. That brings me to my second point: there is zero tension and the entire plot is just people talking. And despite the title, the book is just characters continuously lying to each other until the end. 

NOTHING HAPPENS. And Shelby has nothing to do with the minor things that do happen. The two incidents that could drive tension happen off page, and Shelby only learns about them after the fact when there are no stakes anymore. 

If this went on any longer, AKA if the book wasn't so short, I would've been really frustrated and bored. All the "twists" are just being told a new lie. It goes back and forth so many times with Shelby being told something new and believing what she's told without doing any leg-work. There's nothing happening. It's a boring three days.

3. Lastly, the relationships have no substance. This is true of Shelby's "relationship" with Maksym, but also Shelby's interactions with her own father and others around her. Everything is really shallow, and there are moments that just make no sense. For example, Shelby's father is really absent, but that's realistic because of his job and responsibilities. But when it comes down to the moment that he can show some concern and depth toward his daughter, he doesn't. He learns the truth of what she's been up to... and he leaves... that was incredibly underwhelming and unrealistic.

Shelby's relationship with Maksym is so shallow. It's only over three days, but it happens so quick, even within those three days. She has this defector Russian soldier who's on the run... and she just... kisses him with no build-up. I'm all for "he might murder me but he has a cute dimple," but there needs to be some actual struggle over that. She doesn't seem concerned either way.

To add another point, she's a 1950s single eighteen year and she does doesn't really even think about how taboo it is to have a man alone in her house, let alone a Russian spy who threatens to kill her.

Even when it comes to this relationship, Shelby is the one who is TOLD why Maksym might've trusted her in the first place. She doesn't connect the dots as to why he might've gone to her. Worse than that, she doesn't even see the dots. Everything is so shallow and boring. There's nothing about either character that excites me, and they're certainly not interesting together.

I know that there's a belief that YA books (and romance) are a muted version of adult romance. Of course that's typically true when it comes to sexual aspects (SIDE EYE at whoever decided to market SJM as YA), but the relationships and feelings should be just as visceral. There needs to be a build-up in the plot and romance that leaves the reader on-edge, but that doesn't happen here. 

Shelby has no autonomy and doesn't lead the novel. She doesn't do anything concrete for Maksym or the plot. In fact, she makes really dumb choices that end up having zero impact on the book at all. Which is the book's fatal flaw.
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I had enjoyed Traitor by the same author, so I was excited to read more from Amanda McCrina. It had a great historical novel that worked well overall in the Cold War era. The story worked well overall and I was invested in what was happening to the characters and their world. I enjoyed what I read and can't wait to read more.

"This time, she must have caught the edge in my voice; she gave me a quick, incisive look. “Before you get all hot and bothered, want to know how I spent my night? I was driving around buying up every bag of ice I could find between here and Boonville. Somebody tripped the breakers in the Club kitchen. The freezers had been off all day. You try putting on a dinner dance with a full bar and no ice. I don’t want to hear it.” She jabbed her brush at her paper with a vengeance. “But I do want to hear about the Russian, because I didn’t get to meet him.”
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Set in the 1950's, the daughter of an intelligence officer travels back to United States from Germany after her mother's death to find herself embroiled in a conspiracy involving a soviet defecter.

I really enjoyed this story, especially as someone who hasn't read a spy/cold War Era novel before. I couldn't really even tell it was targeted to a YA audience given the well drafted plot and complex characterization.
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Shelbi Blaine is mourning the very recent death of her mother in a car accident when she and her father, an Air Force officer, move from Germany, their home of seven years, to Rome, New York (where her father has been transferred). Shelbi hasn't even unpacked her bags when she founds herself involved in international espionage. She meets a young Soviet pilot who has recently defected to the U.S. In fact, her father has been transferred back to the U.S. to interrogate the young man. When the government becomes suspicious of the pilot's story, he makes a run for it, and Shelbi is unexpectedly in the middle. Whom should she trust? How many secrets can she keep from her father? How much danger is she willing to put herself in for a man she barely knows?

Due to the author's excellent pacing and numerous plot twists, the story is full of suspense and intrigue. The author's attention to detail helps create the feel of the 1950s Cold War, complete with mistrust and fear. While some high school students may not fully grasp the historical context, the will enjoy the fast pace and the suspense.
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Amanda McCrina is one of the most exciting American authors of historical fiction for young readers. Her latest novel, "I'll Tell You No Lies," is as meticulously researched as "Traitor" and "The Silent Unseen." However, unlike McCrina's last two WWII-themed books, "I'll Tell You No Lies" is focalized by a teenage American and set in the USA in the mid-1950s. What I particularly appreciate about this gripping and VERY readable novel is how McCrina challenges numerous cliches associated with both WWII and the Cold War, as well as the stereotypical depiction of Eastern European history. While in most YA novels characters fall into two categories - victims or oppressors - McCrina demonstrates that history is way more complex. "I'll Tell You No Lies" is a must-read not only for those interested in US history, the Cold War, and WWII but also for those who want to understand the ongoing war in Ukraine better.
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I really wanted to like this one! It started out so promising and I was looking forward to gaining insight on base life in the 50’s, intrigued by the premise of an escaped Soviet pilot, and ready for some dangerous stakes. However the actual story ended up being pretty soapy without much depth and any serious moments or progressions felt forced and unbelievable. I hate to give a negative review, but I was sadly disappointed with this one.
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Well researched historical fiction.  Reasonably clean content for a YA.  I plan to go back and read the authors previously two titles now! 

Thank you to NetGalley and publisher for a chance to read this title ahead of its publication date!
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Living in 1955 with a father in Air Force intelligence, Shelby Blaine is used to the world quickly changing and not always knowing the full story.  Following the death of her mother and the sudden upheaval of a move from a base in West Germany to upstate New York Shelby is feeling more at lose ends than usual and that's before she meets Maksym, a young, would-be defector of the Soviet Army.  It turns out Shelby's father has been brought to New York to interrogate Maksym, but when the two meet at an Air Force event Maksym seems more inclined to talk to Shelby.  When suspicions arise about Maksym's back story and intent, Shelby is caught in the middle, unsure who is telling the truth, but knowing there is more complexity to this Soviet pilot than the propaganda or her father would have her believe.

I am a fan of Amanda McCrina's novels.  I think she finds and crafts fascinating stories for those who have gotten overlooked in history.  While I am always fascinated by the history she shares, this is by far her most well-crafted story as as well.  From the get go readers are sucked into Shelby's story and taken on a ride through the Cold War they won't find in many history books.  One that shows the complexity of a young Ukrainian man caught up in country and world politics beyond his control and looking for an ally in the most unlikely of places.  Maksym's story is complex, especially as the reader receives it only through Shelby.  This is a thrilling read I would recommend for fans of historical fiction (and romance).  My one critique would be things got wrapped up a little too quickly at the end, I would have liked to know more about what ultimately happens to Maksym and where Shelby goes in the next year.
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Engaging from the first page, I’ll Tell You No Lies is the perfect addition to the world of fast-paced historical thrillers. Shelby Blaine, the daughter of an intelligence officer after World War II, has just moved back to the United States following the traffic loss of her mother while her family was stationed in Germany. She wants nothing more than to go to her aunt and uncle’s farm and spread her mother’s ashes, but the military has other plans.
Once in Rome, New York home to the Griffiss Air Force Base, she meets a boy and unwittingly stumbles into a tangled web of secrets and lies involving multiple countries and intelligence agencies. Even worse? There are spies around her and she doesn’t know who to trust. 
To say I loved this book is honestly an understatement. I loved every single aspect of this book; I cannot point out anything I wasn’t a fan of. The cast of characters was small enabling each one to serve a specific purpose and feel fleshed out. The book is quite short, but every page is filled with action and mystery. The romance was slow and sweet, and I loved the ending! 
One thing I love about Amanda McCrina’s works is how they all fit together. Characters from Traitor spill into The Silent Unseen, and characters from The Silent Unseen spilled onto the pages of I’ll Tell You No Lies. There’s nothing sweeter than reading a book and seeing hints of familiar people. I actually had to run and grab The Silent Unseen as soon as I was finished with I’ll Tell You No Lies to make sure I wasn’t making up the connection. I highly recommend this book!
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Amanda McCrina has hit it out of the ballpark with this tense and lean Cold War thriller. Meticulously researched and tightly written, what I loved most about this novel is that it relied on no tropes nor stereotypes, but instead plunged the reader into a breathless time and place with authenticity and nuance. Brava.
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