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100 Pages A Day...Stephanie's Book Reviews

I absolutely love historical fiction and read a lot of it; I love to learn history this way.  I also enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller and non-fiction science.

Currently reading

The Sisters of Versailles: A Novel (The Mistresses of Versailles Trilogy)
Sally Christie
Dying Embers
Betty Adams
Vengeance of the Gods
Obinna Anagwu

Cat O' Nine Tales

Cat O' Nine Tales - Krystal Lawrence

Cat O' Nine Tales is a collection of nine (plus one bonus!) stories in the horror, thriller and suspense genres. The stories cover a wide array of topics in the horror genre. From blood and gore, planning the perfect murder, the supernatural and animal attacks, you will find it in here. Each story was short enough that I could read in one sitting, but absorbing enough that I felt connected while reading.

Some of my favorite stories were those where humans had a deep connection to animals. As the Crow Flies, Let Sleeping Cats Lie and The Dogs of Riverview Estates all used animals as a protector of those that treated them well, but something much different to those that threatened the people they trusted. These stories all had a eerie and gory feeling, but as someone who loves and protects animals, they were also reassuring.

Another story that captured me was The Eternal Sheriff. I have always loved the idea that a book could come alive; but for Grant Hudson, author of the Sidewinder series, that is truly a nightmare. After a good run, he needs to kill of his sheriff character, only the sheriff refuses to be killed. This story, while keeping an apprehensive atmosphere, also showed a bit of humor as the characters played with their creator. I would have loved to see this story as a longer version.

Overall, a good set of horror novels that will appease a wide variety of tastes. With all short story collections, I like some better than others. Some of the stories were very predictable for me, however the characterization was done well.

Daughter of a Thousand Years

Daughter of a Thousand Years - Amalia Carosella

Freydís is the daughter of Erik the Red in 1000 AD Greenland. Much like her father and brothers, she is fiery and passionate. However, Freydís is passionate about the old gods while Christianity is spreading throughout her people and her family. Freydís' devotion to Thor now marks her as different. She is still determined to make her own fate and practice in her own way, regardless of her brother's or husband's wishes. When the opportunity arises to sail away to Vinland with a man who shares her beliefs, Freydís takes the opportunity to follow her own path. A thousand years later, Emma Moretti has found her path within the Heathen religion of her Icelandic ancestors. Although she has kept her faith a secret since it will likely ruin her father's election chances. Congressman Moretti has run on the platform of Christian family values every election cycle and it hasn't failed him yet. Emma has moved back home this election cycle and has taken an adjunct professor job at the college. Through her class, her faith is revealed and threatens to destroy her and her family.


As a lover of dual time stories, I enjoyed reading about the parallels of Freydís' and Emma's lives one thousand years apart. Emma and Freydís are strong women that show immense courage, they are both true to themselves while trying to live up to their family's wishes. Both women are strong in their faith, even in times of turmoil. I did not know much about the time of Erik the Red and Leif Erikson's voyage other than that it happened, so I enjoyed reading about the journey from Freydís' point of view. I was surprised to learn about the switch in religion in Greenland and Iceland in 1000 AD to Christianity and away from the gods and goddesses. I was also curious about the rise of the worship of old Norse gods in present day. From both sides of history, religion and religious freedom are strong themes. Usually in dual time stories, I am pulled further into one story than the other. In this case, I was pulled further into Emma's plight at first and then Freydís' plight later. I felt more for Freydís's struggle with religion as everyone else turned towards the newer Christianity and she was losing her family. At the same time, Freydís had more freedom with her relationships and was even able to have a relationship outside of her marriage. I felt more for Emma's struggle when her hiding her religion was costing her a chance at romance. Emma's story picked up again for me near the end when she became free in her beliefs. Overall, a wonderful mix of historical fiction and contemporary fictions that compares women's struggles and religious persecution through time. While a lot has changed for the better, Emma and Freydís's stories of courage and standing up for their rights still emanate today.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

Fatal Option

Fatal Option - Chris  Beakey

Stephen Porter has just heard some terrible news about the insurance claim concerning his wife's death.  He begins a night a binge drinking knowing that his son, Kenneth is safely in his room nursing a black eye after upsetting the school the school hot-head and his daughter, Sara is supposedly a few houses away in their cul-de-sac sleeping over at her friend Madison's house.  However, when the weather begins to turn and the roads turn to ice, Stephen receives a call from Sara saying she is stranded on Rolling Road at a teacher's house and near the site of her mother's death, Stephen begins to panic.  Eventually, he decides to go save his daughter himself even though he is a little buzzed.  Stephen doesn't know that Aiden, the autistic younger brother of the teacher she was visiting is lost outside in the dark that night.  When the collision inevitably happens, Stephen opens up a can of worms concerning the death of his wife, the death of three other women that died similarly, and the troubled mind of teacher, Kieran O'Shea.


This is the type of thriller where you just have to go along for the ride.  Every time that I thought I had an idea of where the author was going with the story, there was a new twist.  The suspense of the story is layered through carefully guarded secrets of many of the town's inhabitants.  Secrets, the fact that we will do anything for our children and the struggle between good vs. evil were central themes.  I do like that in many of the characters, there was a grey area between good and bad.  Characters that I thought that I had pegged turned out to be someone different.  Sara's teacher, Kieran turned out to be one of the most interesting characters, he was not exactly who I thought, but still harbored evil within.  His relationship with Sara was something I'm still having trouble with, it seems like either Sara or Kieran should be smart enough to stop a romance that is asking for trouble.  I also wish that Kieran's life was explored a little more; there was some back story, but it seemed like his story could have gone further.  I can't say much more without giving things away, but in the end I was thoroughly surprised at how everything came out with a bang.  I do wonder if anyone else in the town is alive afterwards and I truly wondered about the fate of Kieran and Stephen.  Overall, an intense thriller that has a lot going on and will keep you guessing until the end. 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Let's Try This Again

Let's Try This Again - Jordyn Woodtke

Josie's love life is....complicated. She has had an on again, off again relationship with Isaac for the past forever.  Josie and Isaac know every little intricacy of each other and the sex is just wow.  Now, on their third break-up, Isaac wants to meet up with Josie for lunch.  Interestingly, this is right before Josie plans on moving all the way to L.A.  Inevitably, Josie and Isaac agree to be friends with benefits until she moves.  In California, Josie is devastated by her separation from Isaac- and his refusal to contact her.  When she lands a job as a personal assistant to Carter Coleman, things take a turn for the better.  Carter used to be in a popular boy-band, now he is going solo.  He has some amazing music written, and Josie's heartache provides the perfect story for his lyrics.  Eventually Josie and Carter form more than a coworker bond; but, is Isaac truly out of the picture and is Josie really ready to try this whole relationship thing again?

 
We've all either been there or have had a friend who has been there- just stuck in a toxic relationship.  Josie is the definition of today's new adult, confident, adventurous, owning her sexuality but just not clicking in the dating department. Reading about Josie's dating escapades was like reading a friend's diary or reliving some moments from college.  I absolutely loved Josie's inner monologue, it was like she was reading my mind in some situations.  Serious brownie points were also won when Josie not only got to work for, but be in a relationship with a former boy-band member (extra credit was given for mentioning 'N Sync) .  This was my dream, as I'm sure it was with many other women my age.  The decision between Isaac and Carter obviously follows Josie throughout the book (for me it was a no brainer) and we are kept in suspense until the very end.  I was really happy with her decision, even if I would have chosen differently.   Sensuous, sweet and slightly naughty sex scenes were sprinkled in with just enough to keep things spicy, but not so much to take things overboard.  So many things Josie said about relationships and being in love resonated with me, especially from that time in my life especially "...being in love is never the wrong choice because it's not a choice.  Either it's your forever or it gets you to what will come next.  It's always a step in the right direction."  Overall, a fresh, raw and pertinent voice in the new adult genre, perfect for a Valentine's weekend read.
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

The Lost Girl of Astor Street

The Lost Girl of Astor Street (Blink) - Stephanie Morrill

Piper Sail and Lydia DeVine have been best friends since toddlerhood when they moved to the upper class neighborhood of Astor Street in 1920's Chicago.  The two ladies are polar opposites, Lydia is sweet, kind and demure and Piper is inquisitive, tenacious and quick to act.  Now that they are young ladies, Piper and Lydia are supposed to be looking to the future and a potential husband.  However, that all changes when Lydia goes missing. Piper jumps into action to try and find her friend; Piper knows secrets about Lydia that even her parents won't divulge and her persistent nature makes her a natural detective.  WIth the help of the the detective assigned to Lydia's case, Marion Cassano, Piper is determined to find out what happened to her friend.  As Piper delves into Lydia's disappearance, she also must go into the underbelly of 1920's Chicago, bordellos, speakeasies, mafia connections and plenty of secrets will be unearthed during Piper's search. 

 
The Lost Girl of Astor Street is an exciting historical mystery with an awesome female lead.  From the very beginning I knew that I would like Piper, she never gives up, loves with a ferocious heart and encompasses the emerging modern and independent '20's female.  Her determination and grit to find out what happened to her best friend drives the story. As Piper gets deeper into Lydia's mystery, carefully layered secrets begin to reveal themselves.  Another part of the story that I loved was the exploration of 1920's Chicago, with having to investigate all types of people and places, Piper gets to the heart of the time period.  With a sweet romance that doesn't take away from the plot, The Lost Girl of Astor Street provides a riveting historical mystery. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

The Secrets of Montresor (The French Orphan #2)

The Secrets of Montrésor - Michael Stolle

Picking up right after The French Orphan, Pierre- the new Marquis de Beauvoir,  his friend Armand and trusty valet, Jean are off to claim the Beauvoir property of Montresor.  However, their trip has double purpose.  From Montresor, they will begin a quest to unite three rings for the Knights Templar.  When the group arrives at the estate, they begin to find that things have not been kept quite right from when Pierre's cousin Henri ran the estate.  Pierre begins to set things straight and must out some staff.  Meanwhile, Henri is still trying to find a way for Pierre to meet his unfortunate end.  With many players including Henri, Cardinal Richeleiu and King Louis XIII and their different agenda's, Pierre's life is anything but boring.


This is the second book in the French Orphan series and I am so glad that I stuck with it!  The Secrets of Montresor is action packed and includes more historical detail surrounding Louis XIII.  Pierre and Armand can't seem to stay out of trouble as they claim Pierre's estates and Henri is always right on their trail.  Henri's malicious debacles were even greater this time as he came closer and closer to killing Pierre.  I was especially intrigued when he became involved with a gypsy troupe who almost seemed to manipulate him.  Jean was the shining star for me in this installment, his devotedness to Pierre and street smarts help Pierre and Armand out of trouble more than once.  Another new comer is Armand's cousin, François de Toucy who is surprising in a good way.  The female characters play a smaller role in this installment, but they definitely have more to offer in upcoming books, especially Julia.  Like the last book there are several sex scenes and male/male sex scenes, so that is something that the reader will have to be comfortable with.  The writing is less clunky, but there is still inner-monologues that are in the way and a few instances of repeated knowledge to the reader.  I will, however like to continue reading on in the series to see how Pierre and Armand will find the third Templar ring.  

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Chameleon

Chameleon - Zoe Kalo

Paloma has been kicked out of her high school in 1973 school for performing a seance along with a few other things. Her strict Catholic mother is worried about Paloma's obsession with the dead and has arranged for her to attend a convent school hidden within the Puerto Rican forests. Paloma only wanted to try to connect with her deceased father and now she has to finish the last seven months of her senior year hidden away. When Paloma arrives, it is as she expected- strict nuns and strange girls. Paloma is taken in by a group of girls; the ring leader is Rubia, who seems to know everyone's secrets, Maria is sweet and kind, Sylvie is another rule breaker, much like Paloma and Adelita, who seems well-meaning but has episodes of what seems to be histrionics. While trying to muddle through the rest of the year, Paloma is pulled into the mysteries of the convent and the secrets of the other girls. 

This is a fast-paced paranormal thriller that I was kept glued to through one sitting. I was immediately pulled into the interesting setting of the idyllic but haunting convent where, tucked away and forgotten, things can easily be hidden. The clique of girls also got my attention. Teenage girls can be harsh, but this bunch was especially so. Each of the girl's personalities was written exquisitely. I could imagine them perfectly. I also loved that this was set in Puerto Rico and had a diverse set of girls! The supernatural and unreliable narrator worked well together and made everything more mysterious and dangerous. Immediately, we were introduced to a possible ghost at the school and Paloma, who conducts seances; from there it seemed to be a simple ghost story, but there was so much more. The layered secrets and mystery of the chameleon causing chaos in the school had me rapt in attention. My only wish was that this short book would have been longer and went more in depth into the characters histories and motivations since they were all so complex. Overall, an excellent and quick read for anyone who likes supernatural thrillers.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

The French Orphan

The French Orphan - Michael Stolle

Pierre is an orphan at a monastery in Reims, France, 1640.  For an orphan, he is doing pretty well for himself;  Pierre has food, clothing, shelter and is receiving an education.  However, he has a deep desire to find out where he came from.  Pierre's best friend, Armand and his cousin, Marie hatch a plan to do just that.  Suddenly, Pierre's outlook changes.  With the pilfering of his records, Pierre discovers that he is much more than a penniless orphan, he is related to nobility.  With this information, Pierre and Armand plan an escape from the monastery with the help of Marie and attempt to get Pierre to his family in England where he will be safe.  Meanwhile, Pierre's cousin, Henri has also just learned of Pierre's existence.  With Pierre now in the way, Henri would be bumped from inheritance.  With the meddling of the ferocious Cardinal Richelieu, Henri is sent on a mission to meet his long-lost cousin and make sure that he does not find his way to his inheritance. 


The French Orphan had a bit of everything that I enjoy in historical fiction:  an unlikely hero, a lot of political intrigue, a big adventure, a good sense of place and a touch of romance.  Pierre's escape and further escapades kept me reading.  I enjoyed finding out just how they would get out of each sticky situation.  Marie quickly became my favorite character.  she was often the one with the best ideas and was able to get the boys out of trouble; even though they kept saying she had a 'pretty little head.'  There was also a bit of comedy as the group kept narrowly escaping Pierre's cousin, Henri.  There is definitely a lot going on in this book and it takes some focus to keep everything straight.  I did enjoy getting to know France under Louis XIII a little better.  I would recommend readers who have a comfort level with sex and sodomy as there are many scenes where this will come up.  I also had a hard time deciding on an audience for this book as there are many sex scenes, but simpler language and many instances of non-time period language such as 'cool' meaning good. I guess I would place this in the new-adult genre to match the ages of the characters as well.  However, and this is a big however, the writing style was not for me and needed help, in my opinion.  There was rambling in the narration by characters, a lot of things that did not need to be said or said over, or thoughts that the reader knew or could be inferred were written out. Facts that the reader was already aware of, but other characters may not have been aware of could have been cut out in order to make the reading more fluid. Really, this could have been about 100 pages shorter and had more of an impact.  I kept reading (albeit with some skimming) because I was truly interested in the adventures of Pierre, Armand and Marie and the outcome of  Pierre's rise to power.

 

I will see if the second is any better written...

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

The Fifth Petal

The Fifth Petal: A Novel - Brunonia Barry

Long after the Salem Witch Trials in 1692, another seemingly familiar tragedy has struck the town.  In 1989, three young women were brutally murdered at the alleged site of the original hangings.  The women were attempting to  consecrate the ground in remembrance of their ancestors, the women that were hanged. The murdered women were dubbed the Goddesses and had seemingly bewitched the town, especially the men.  There were two survivors, five year old Callie Cahill, whose mother was among the murdered and historian Rose Whelan who had brought the women together and looked after them.  After the murders, Callie was taken in by a group of nuns in another town and Rose was left mentally unstable, a suspect in a crime she could never commit.  Presently, Salem's police chief John Rafferty would love to solve the 25 year old cold case, but has never had a reason to open it up. However, when the now homeless Rose is wrapped up in another death, John wants to clear her name for good.  Rose ends up on the news and, much to Callie's surprise, she learns Rose is alive.  Callie races back to Salem to help the woman she once called her aunt.  When Callie arrives, the suppressed memories begin floating back and she suspects that there is more than just foul play, and perhaps some magic may be involved.


This was a very intriguing murder mystery with just enough elements of the paranormal woven through to keep me guessing and enough history brought in to keep my interest.  I do really wish I had known that this was the second book in a series, but I didn't feel like I was missing anything.  One of the really interesting aspects for me was Rose's banshee.  I enjoyed learning about the different stories of banshee mythology as well as having the belief that the banshee could actually be responsible for the crimes.  The author did a wonderful job of playing the natural and supernatural and bringing them together.  There were several mysteries at play in  the story: who murdered the Goddesses? How were the Goddesses connected to the hanged women? and where was the missing Goddess?  The mysteries were all woven together well and I did not feel overwhelmed.  I really had no idea which element was responsible for what and I truly had no idea who was responsible for the murders till very near the end.  Callie and Rose were amazing characters.  Although Rose has a mental illness, I never felt like her character was belittled or demeaned, and Callie's faith in Rose was heartwarming.  Callie, who could have been easily taken advantage of was continuously strong and confident in herself and grew in her abilities. Overall, this is a complex modern-day murder mystery that artfully weaves in history and aspects of the paranormal that makes this book hard to put down.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.  

Orphan Train

Orphan Train - Christina Baker Kline

Molly Ayer is seventeen and has been kicked around the foster system in Maine for a good part of her life.  With her current family, she doesn't quite fit in; her foster mom isn't too sure of Molly and is convinced that she is a bad kid.  When Molly is caught stealing a copy of Jane Eyre from the library, she either has to do time in juvie or 50 hours of  community service.  Luckily, Molly's boyfriend hooks her up with 91 year-old Vivian, whom his mother works for.  Vivian needs her attic cleaned out from an entire lifetime of memories.  Molly agrees to the project and quickly finds out the she and Vivian share many experiences.  As boxes are unpacked, Vivian's memory unfolds and she shares her experiences as a rider on a orphan train, her troubled placements and how they have shaped her life. 



I love stories that parallel two time periods, so this book immediately appealed to me. I was also very interested in finding out about the orphan trains, a piece of American history that I didn't know much about.  With many dual time stories, I am drawn into one story much more than the other; however, I was very much drawn into Molly's story in the present as well as Vivian's in 1929-1943. More than anything, Orphan Train reminds us that family is more than blood and while the past may help shape us, it does not define us.  The history of the orphan train was intriguing to me, especially how the children seemed to be used more as a free employee to midwest families rather than a child.  I'm sure this was not the case with all, but it seemed to happen to plenty.  Vivian's story was surprising, moving, heartbreaking and showed the tremendous amount of strength and character that she needed to survive from being an immigrant to an orphan to an unwanted child.  Molly's story parallels some of Vivian's, although Molly did not have nearly as rough a time as a child floating through the foster care system as Vivian did at any point in her life.  Molly, however did tend to make everything more dramatic as teenagers tend to do and I would not say that Molly having to deal with her foster mom not respecting her choice to be a vegetarian was at all comparable to Vivian not having food or having to make squirrel stew to survive through the Depression.  I would say that some of the characters in the present needed a little more depth to them, I really wanted to know what foster mom Dina deal was. I also really wanted to know what happened to everyone after the ending.  While most things were happily resolved, I felt that there Molly and Vivian might have had more to say.  

 

This book was received for free from Harper Collins through TLC book tours. 

The Finish: The Progress of A Murder Uncovered

The Finish: The Progress of a Murder Uncovered (Venus Squared Book 1) - Angela Elliott

Kitty Ives has fallen on hard times; from a respectable family to a whore in London’s Convent Garden in 1769. Due to Kitty’s breeding and education, she is well sought out and has climbed the ranks within her house. One particular night, her company is sought by a man who has given the name of Sir William Westman. In the morning, Kitty wakes up to her client dead beside her. With no suspect but herself, Kitty begins a detective mission to clear her name and keep her place in the house that will take her from London’s underbelly to its aristocracy to see how it is all connected to the poor man who was unfortunate enough to be murdered in her bed.


This is a historical murder mystery set in 18th century London with an educated prostitute for a sleuth. At the beginning I was taken in by the mystery of who could have killed the man in Kitty’s bed while she was there sleeping. Kitty’s detective skills began in earnest as she tried to keep her place in the house. The setting was also done well and I enjoyed being taken to different places within Convent Garden and seeing how things worked at the time. The book is written as Kitty’s memoir in telling the strange tale and its outcome. However, the writing seemed to be a little too detailed, I think that Kitty’s inner monologue got in the way at points and muddled some of the clues and plot points to the point that I forgot what was really going on. Also, while I was truly interested in the mystery at first, it seemed to devolve for me with a few too many twists and turns and Kitty believing one minute that William Westman himself is the murderer and then having sex with him the next. Of course, being a book with a prostitute as the main character, there are several sex scenes, which is fine with me, but might bother some. The conclusion of the whole mess brought a little more excitement back and re-sparked my interest a bit. Overall, for me this one was just ok.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

Illusions of Magic

Illusions of Magic: Love and Intrigue in 1933 Chicago - J.B. Rivard

Nick Zetner is "The Amazing Mr. Z," a magician in 1933 Chicago; however with the depression and prohibition, not many venues are booking a magic act.  So, when Nick's brother-in-law offers him a different kind a job, Nick takes his chances and agrees to find and return stolen merchandise to a wealthy client. A bank has been broken into and all of the contents of the safety deposit boxes stolen, Nick will be paid a generous sum if he can return a specific envelope with scandalous pictures.  When Nick is hot on the trail of the photos, he finds that he may be in over his head in the world of thieves and gangsters especially when he discovers that his long-lost love, Iris may be mixed up in the whole mess. 

 

A quick historical fiction read about 1930's mayhem that brings the time period alive.  There was a great feel for the time period from jazz clubs, to bank robberies and strange guys in back offices cooking the books.  I loved the inclusion of the illustrations, they did a great job of helping me to envision the dress, atmosphere and people in the story, I wish there were more!  I was very interested in the historical backdrop where all of the events took place and was covertly influencing some of the characters- the attempted assassination of President-elect Roosevelt that ended up actually killing Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak.  This event ended up causing a lot of strife for Nick's character.  There wasn't a lot of characterization here, but it was more about the action.  From the title, I had envisioned Nick using ingenious sleight of hand to retrieve what he needed from the robbers, while it was attempted, it was not quite what I had thought.  Overall, an exciting adventure with robbers, cops, good vs. evil and a touch of romance in 1933 Chicago. 

 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

The Silent Children

The Silent Children - Amna K. Boheim

Max Albrecht does not have a close relationship with his mother, in fact, his mother's friend Vivienne raised him most of his childhood.  So, when Max receives a letter from his mother telling him that she is dying along with the hope that Max will help her uncover the mysteries behind a chilling picture, he is surprised.  The picture is of his mother, Annabell and a childhood friend, Oskar.  On the back, the words you knew. Max doesn't make it to his mother before her death; however, having spent an unsettling night in his childhood home in Vienna, Max decides that the picture must be looked into.  The deeper Max goes, the more disturbing secrets he uncovers and the more the house seems to rebel.


This was a really interesting blend of historical fiction, mystery, thriller and a  ghost story.  More importantly, the fantasy aspect, while chilling and intriguing, does not detract from the rest of the story, but expertly adds depth and mystique to Max's plight.  I do love a good duel time story, so this was right up my alley.  The story hops back and forth from 2004 in London and Vienna to 1938 Vienna.  The snippets in the past are quick and give just a glance at Annabell's life with  hints of clues of what is going on so we never know much more than Max.  At first, Max seems like an ungrateful son, but as he figures out his mother's past his character as well as Annabel's is explained.  Oskar was the most surprising character for me, another mystery to unravel, but I loved his gentle and easygoing demeanor.  Overall, the mystery building was well done continually throwing me in different directions and the suspense is tightly woven all the way through.  The ending threw me for a huge curveball, also.  This is not a story where everything is tied up all nicely, the chilling ending definitely places this book squarely in the thriller category.


This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Apocalypse All The Time

Apocalypse All the Time - David S Atkinson

Marshall lives in a world where there is a new apocalyptic event every week or so, a zombie apocalypse, a flood apocalypse, a giant lizard apocalypse, the red plague, the blue plague and so on and so on. Marshall is fed up with the ridiculousness of it all, sure the world changes, but never ends and not many people die since the Apocalypse Amelioration Agency takes care of everything so quickly. Marshall is especially fed up with how the rest of humanity seems to act when each new apocalypse is announced- fornicating in the streets, looting, running around like the world will actually end. Marshall just wants a normal day, go to work, grocery shop, take a drive. He finally finds some sense of normalcy when he meets Bonnie. Bonnie is as fed up as Marshall and has plans on just what to do about all these apocalypses.

This was a very surprising book that I ended up loving. It is written quite matter-of-factly and sarcastically at points from Marshall's point of view after everything has happened. The absurdity of everything is what really got me, even though Marshall's world is filled with horrific events on a weekly basis, there is a higher power- literally a figure in the sky- telling everyone that everything will be all right and fixing things. This reminded me of the world we live in today, horrific events might not be happening to the same group of people, but every day we hear of something new and terrible happening somewhere. I loved the way in which Marshall and Bonnie finally come to grips with the world they must live in with humor and ingenuity. I did wonder how exactly the world got the way it was, but that wasn't really the point. The ending was a surprise and definitely makes a point about the human condition in today's world.

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

A Thousand Salt Kisses Later

A Thousand Salt Kisses Later (Volume 2) - Josie Demuth Four years after her intense summer romance on Starfish Island with merman Llyr, Crystal White has graduated university in London and is left jobless, homeless and boyfriend-less after her break-up with university boyfriend, Sam. With nowhere else to go, Crystal heads back to Starfish Island. Immediately, her feelings for Llyr resurface, even though she knows that their love is impossible. When an opportunity arises to meet with Llyr, Crystal jumps at the chance. However, when she goes to meet him Crystal not only finds that Llyr is engaged to Princess Kara of the Timsah Kingdom, but that she has found some magic of her own that might upset all of the mer-kingdoms. After finishing the first book, A Thousand Salt Kisses, I was really left wondering what will happen with Crystal and Llyr in A Thousand Salt Kisses Later. Well, I was not let down. First, I was very happy that this is set four years after the first book; this let Crystal mature a bit and have a relationship that was not with a merman. Also, after four years away, if Crystal and Llyr still have feelings for one another, it is definitely more than a summer romance. I also liked the elements of magic that were introduced, the title is explained, though Crystal’s magic spell is quite a surprise! I also wasn’t quite sure if I liked the way that she had to reverse it. Anyway, I’m very glad that more of the mermaid kingdoms were explored; they all seemed beautiful, as well as mermaid customs and how exactly they clothed themselves, drank, ate and danced. The conflict that was introduced with the Timsah Kingdom was interesting, a little bit a dark magic that still needs to be explored more. Also, it seems that it was resolved a little too easily for now. There was not as much focus on romance in this book, which was alright with me, and there was almost a love triangle, which hopefully is resolved as well. Overall, a nice follow up for this fantasy mermance. This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

The Bishop's Girl

The Bishop's Girl - Rebecca Burns

During World War I, an English Bishop, Anthony Shacklock is buried near the field hospital in France where he helped to comfort soldiers.  The beloved Bishop is soon exhumed to be brought back home to England.  However, when the Bishop is dug up another body is found with him.  The bones of a young woman remain a mystery through present day.  Professor Waller has made finding out the identity of the young women his life’s work; however, he gives most of the actual research work to archivist Jess Morris who must toil away in dark libraries and go chasing leads all over England on weekends.  Doing all of Waller’s work has placed a strain on Jess’ husband and children.  Just when Jess seems to find a significant and exciting lead on her mystery woman, she begins to make some risky decisions with her personal life.

 

This was a very intriguing historical mystery.  I was thrown into the story from the very beginning when the unexpected bones were found.  First of all, I love dual-time stories and this story went back and forth between the present and 1899-1918.  I also like giving a story to those who were forgotten and nameless, even though this story is completely fictional it gives a small taste of the work that researchers do in order to solve mysteries of the past.  This story did have a bit of a slow start for me, while I do find research interesting; there was perhaps a bit too much in the beginning.  However, as the clues began to come forward and we got a look back into Shacklock’s time period, the story became better paced.  There was definitely a lot going on with Bishop Shacklock and the story of his time in Greece and in the French Hospital were very involved and intriguing. The conditions of the field hospital were particularly well done and I could imagine it very well. Jess’ story slightly mirrored what the Bishop was going through, however some of her issues paled in comparison to the Bishop and the mystery woman. When the identity of the mystery woman is revealed, I felt relief of her identity and sadness over her story.   Overall, an absorbing historical mystery and a wonderful look into historical research.

 

This book was received for free in return for an honest review.