YA for Wine Lovers – City of Thieves

SM: I have to admit that I actually tried to write a post about City of Thieves
over a year ago when I first read the book and found myself lacking words. It was actually not the type of book that I ever would have picked up myself, except that the ladies at Blue Elephant Bookshop (R.I.P. I still miss that store! *sniff*) insisted that it was amazing book that I could not miss.

I was flying standby to Seattle to spend the weekend with a friend when I started it. I knew I would have plenty of time sitting in airports to enjoy it. It was in the Cincinnati Airport that I totally lost it. I was trying to eat my lunch and couldn’t stop laughing and crying. I wish that this was my only story where I am the crazy person crying in public over a book, but it happens pretty regularly.

I finished it on the plane just before reaching Seattle and from that moment have insisted that everyone read it. It is a good candidate for the Books We Force on Our Friends series we do here on the blog, so when I had the opportunity to force it on my book club (even though it is not YA), I totally did.

The basic premise of the story is that 17 year old Lev and a Red Army deserter, Kolya, are given two options, die, or find a dozen eggs for the Colonel’s daughters wedding. A seemingly simple request, until you take into account that this is all happening in 1942 in the middle of the Siege of Leningrad and there is no food anywhere (unless you’re a cannibal)

For me this book was an amazing coming of age story, that somehow managed to balance humor with darkness (and in some cases, just pure evil). We had one of our best discussions thus far, I think, so I am looking forward to what the rest of you think about it.

RS: I will absolutely agree that this book generated one of our best discussions to date in YA for Wine Lovers. I adored the book, but at the same time had a very hard time reading it. The subject matter was so dark that I literally had to put it down for several days on two different occasions. I went into the story totally unprepared, which I think may have been to my benefit. The things that the characters went through in this book shocked me and broke my heart, and yet there was still a sense of hope throughout their journey. It’s a story that I think will stay with me for a long time. I highly recommend it.

SM: This month’s drink is the Kolya-Lev, made with, of course, Vodka and egg whites. The recipe is below along with a video! (I had to use my phone to take the video this month, so it is kind of hard to hear! Sorry!)



  • 1/2 egg white
  • 1.5 oz infused Vodka (we went with a coriander, cherry, fennel infusion)
  • 1 oz St. Germain
  • 2 drops of Bitter Truth bitters (David said this is because the book is full of bitter truths)
  • .5 oz Lemon Sour
  • Nutmeg


  • Shake the egg white on its own until is it foamy.
  • Add all of the wet ingredients and shake.
  • Once everything is mixed, add ice to chill and shake some more.
  • Pour into a martini glass and sprinkle with nutmeg

About Robin Sparkles

Robin Sparkles spent her formative years as a teen popstar in the great country of Canada. She went on to a successful career solving mysteries in space using her mad math skillz. Now retired, Robin can often be found at her favorite bar, Hoser Hut, with her good friend and Canadian treasure, Alan Thicke. She still dons her bedazzled jacket on special occasions. View all posts by Robin Sparkles

One response to “YA for Wine Lovers – City of Thieves

  • Zombies, Zombies, Everywhere, and Not a Machete in Sight « Rampant Reads

    […] Max Brooks was very smart in the stories he chose to tell, with politicians, soldiers, and regular folks all getting to tell their side of events. You get a pretty complete picture of what it was like to live through something so bizarre and terrible. The distance you get from someone telling your their story instead of living it with them should have made some of the more horrific aspects of the story easier to read, but it’s hard to read about cannibalism no matter how the story is being told (see The City of Thieves from our book club a couple months ago). […]

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