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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.

The Princess of Baker Street

The Princess of Baker Street - Mia Kerick
The kids of Baker Street grew up playing together to the fanciful games thought up by Joey Kinkaid.  Joey was called the Princess of Baker Street since his games often included Joey in a princess dress being rescued by his best friend, Eric Sinclair.  Now, the kids of Baker Street are in Eighth grade and things have changed, the four friends have found themselves in separate cliques.  Eric has opted for the route of survival, especially since is mom isn't often around.  Eric hangs around with his friends on the soccer team.  Joey doesn't exactly fit in anywhere, he would much rather wear his mother's dresses to school than the button up shirts and slacks that his father insists on.  When Eric and Joey are paired as study buddies, their friendship rekindles.  However, when Joey begins to show up to school in girl's clothing, Eric's allegiance is divided between his friends and his need to fly under the radar.
 
Timely and relevant, The Princess of Baker Street reaches into the awkward, transitional years of middle school for a group of students, including the Joey who is realizing that he has always been a girl.  Told through Eric's point of view, the voices are sincere and realistic for eighth graders.  Everyone seems very self-concerned and are worried about where they will fit in.  Eric's journey is just as important as Joey's.  I felt for Joey as he dealt with an absent mother and the decision to be Joey's friend even if it would cost his popularity.  Eric's struggle with his feelings for Joey as he slowly comprehends that not only is Joey a girl, but that he has always seen Joey as a girl as well- a girl that he likes.  With these understandings comes big changes and responsibilities.  Not all of the changes are handled very well by everyone and reinforces that none of these issues should be handled by the kids by themselves.  Insightful and pertinent, The Princess of Baker Street is an important and heartfelt read that can be enjoyed by middle grade through adult readers. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Citadel

Citadel - Jack Remick
Trisha deTours is a book editor for women's erotic fiction at Pinnacle Books.  Her personal life often reflects the books she edits as Trisha hunts for men on the beach and discards them after sex.  When scientistDaiva Izokaitis moves into Trisha's complex, Trisha finds a new friend and discovers that she has written a manuscript.  The manuscript doesn't exactly fit in with with Pinnacle's normal works, but might be exactly what they are looking for.  As Trisha dives into Daiva's book, Citadel described as a post-lesbian, scientific look at our future, Trisha becomes immersed in the characters and story so much that she begins to mix reality and fiction to become one of the characters herself.  As Citadel blends more into real life, Trisha and Daiva are helping to create the future of Citadel. 
 
Citadel is a very different and surprising work.  Using the technique of a book within a book, we see the editing process as well as the effect that a book can have on the reader.  When Trisha began to read Daiva's manuscript, I think I was just as confused and intrigued as Trisha.  The manuscript is difficult to read at first, however, like Trisha, I could see parts of myself and other women I know in the characters.  The writing is very in your face, not hiding any of the issues that women in every culture may deal with on a daily basis.  There is also a good amount of science involved in the novel as Daiva  works with genetics and bases her book on current research such as creating life without the Y chromosome.  With this addition of science, a lot of important questions arise such as: What is human?  What is desire?  Can we ever live together peacefully?  For me, the most interesting part of the story is that Citadel begins to become reality as more people read Daiva's book.  Overall, a unique and important story that will connect with many readers. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

The Blue

The Blue. A Novel. - Nancy Bilyeau
Genevieve Planché  is a French refugee in England.  Her family are Huguenots, unwanted by the French King Louis XV.  Genevieve's grandfather is an artist and she strives to be an artist as well, however the closest she can come in France is painting flowers on silk dresses.   Opportunity arises after a chance meeting with the mesmerizing Sir Gabriel Courtenay. Courtenay promises Geneiveve a placement as an artist in Venice if she will use her talents in order to spy for him at the porcelain factory.  Courtenay is specifically interested in a new color blue that a hidden chemist is working on perfecting at the factory.  Genevieve takes the risk, but soon learns the cost as she meets the infamous chemist and learns who she is truly spying for.
 
An exciting historical spy thriller that combines art, science and romance for a captivating adventure into the color blue.  Genevieve's spirit immediately captured me as she was willing to fight for a position among the male artists.  Through rich and detailed historical writing I was able to learn about the Huguenots plight in France and their successes in England as well as the growth of the porcelain industry through King Louis XV mistress, Madame Pompadour.  The fight for the development of colors was riveting to me.  There were many reasons why Courtenay seemed to want the specific blue, but I could never imagine the danger that a color would bring as Genevieve's life was turned upside down.  The spy elements and romance between Genevieve and Thomas kept me intrigued, but it was truly the color blue that drove the story.
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Reign Drops

Reign Drops - Chris Patt

Dalia is a member of a Mayan tribe whose members rarely have contact with the outside world.  Her family has been chosen to keep the secrets of the Temple Cave and be the Bloodborne priestess to save her people.  In a prophetic dream, Dalia's mother saw her living in the city, so for the past several years Dalia has lived in the city with the nuns and away from her people; but with the Mayan calendar coming to an end, Dalia is called back home.  When she arrives, Dalia finds that the stories she has heard might just be true, her sister has died of a mysterious illness and now another sister is missing.  It is now up to Dalia to face the dangers and save her tribe.

This story intrigued me since it was set within a modern Mayan tribe and featured some Mayan lore.  Dalia's character grabbed me in her struggle between her two worlds.  I also enjoyed all of the supernatural elements, it was interesting how vampires and dragons were melded into the Mayan stories to fit so well.  I am very interested in the lohil- Carrick as well as the force within Dalia's amulet.  I really want to know what will happen between Dalia and Carrick as well as what Dalia decides to do with her life.  The story ends on quite a cliffhanger, so I will definitely be reading on. 

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

A Murder by Any Name

A Murder by Any Name: An Elizabethan Spy Mystery - Suzanne M. Wolf

One of Queen Elizabeth's ladies-in-waiting has been murdered and set on display.  With the murderer throwing the palace into chaos, Queen Elizabeth brings in one of her famous spies, Nicholas Holt to quickly find the killer.  However, the public feels that the Jews are to blame and when another murder follows, suspicions and fear quickly arise.

As a lover of all things Tudor, I couldn't resist a murder mystery set in Queen Elizabeth's court. I immediately enjoyed the way that Queen Elizabeth is portrayed by Suzanne M. Wolfe.  This Elizabeth is authentic, using salty speech and acute intelligence, glamorous in style, but still very wary of threats surrounding her.  Nicholas Holt and his companion,  Hector the wolfhound are an amazing spy duo.  Nick's skill set allows the reader into the many different sections of England.  Nick is friends with Eli and Rivkah, Jewish doctors, setting the tone for the religious turmoil at the time and interviews many servants in Whitehall, exposing the many people and tasks they do to keep the castle running.  Overall, this mystery kept me on my toes and included in-depth historical detail of the later parts of Queen Elizabeth's reign.

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

BRAT and the Kids of Warriors

BRAT and the Kids of Warriors - Michael Joseph Lyons
Siblings Jack, Queenie and Rabbit McMasters are moving again.  As military Brats, they are used to leaving everything and starting over. This time, however, the family is moving overseas.  With the end of World War II,  their dad has been stationed in Germany to help prevent the outbreak of another war.  Now Jack, Queenie and Rabbit are on a seven day journey on the USS Upshur, with the intent of exploring every nook and cranny.  When the McMasters arrive in Germany, they find a different world in Cooke Barracks and must adapt to being the new kids once again.  Living in West Germany, the siblings quickly realize how far the effects of war have reached.  They learn about the Iron Curtain, the new Communist threat as well as how to speak some German.  While they are busy uncovering imaginary threats in the woods, they might have uncovered a real spy. 
 
This adventurous Young Adult novel will resonate best with those who have been military Brats themselves.  Each of the siblings has a very distinct personality, yet each is determined to explore as much as they can.  Their adaptability and sense of duty shone through.  For me, the book felt split in two between their time on the Upshur and their time in Cooke Barracks.  The time exploring the Upshur was fun and gave background for the siblings and parents, but took up a large portion of the book for not having that much plot.  For me, the excitement began in Germany when the siblings met their nanny who told them of her time on the other side of the Iron Curtain.  From here, we are catapulted into the time period and the very real dangers it presents.  Near the end, the suspense intensifies and the siblings and their friends believe they have uncovered a suspicious person in the Barracks and we are left with a cliffhanger ending. Overall, an amusing and adventurous young adult historical fiction that looks into the lives of children living as military Brats.
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

What Girls Are Good For

What Girls Are Good For A Novel of Nellie Bly - David Blixt

Elizabeth Cochrane has always been seen as a troublemaker, questioning why things are the way they are and standing up for what she believed was right.  As an adult, Lizzie takes a stand after a newspaper column by the Quiet Observer defames women.  After writing a reply to the column, Elizabeth is hired by the Pittsburgh Dispatch for her unique point of view.  Given the pseudonym Nellie Bly, she quickly used her new found skills to tell the stories of women's issues that were not often discussed including poverty, divorce and the stories of factory girls.  Nellie eventually finds herself in Mexico then New York to write the story of a lifetime after committing herself to an asylum.

I have of course heard the name Nellie Bly and her legacy, but never knew her whole story.  Written with historical accuracy and the ability to dive into Nellie's head, Nellie's story is heartfelt, intriguing and raw.  Learning about how Nellie grew up, I was able to see what drove her  to be impassioned to fight for women's rights and those who are underserved.  Throughout the story Nellie's passion and spirited personality shown through.  Going undercover  with Nellie  was a treat as I saw snippets of factory life, Mexico City and the asylum through her eyes.  I enjoyed being able to read her articles as well as how they came to be.  I also was impressed by how many times Nellie was met by failure and still persisted, a lesson that still endures for many women today.  Nellie Bly not only persisted, she learned, grew and honed her talent in order to become a better reporter.  Overall, an intense story of one of the groundbreaking women in journalism. 

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

From Across the Room

From Across the Room - Gina L. Mulligan

Author Thomas Galdwell takes a working vacation to the all new Hotel New Coronado in San Diego to find inspiration for his newest novel.  While there, he bumps into a young woman, Mary Harting.  Mary intrigues Thomas with her spirit and kind nature.   However, Mary's father is the railroad tycoon Charles Harting and has other plans for Mary that do not involve Thomas.  Thomas and Mary try their best to continue their relationship behind her father's back while Thomas attempts to finish two more novels on a tight deadline and unravel the mystery of the man Mr. Harting has chosen for Mary.  

Told in epistolary form, Thomas Galdwell's letters tell the story of a writer, a romance and a mystery in the late 19th Century.  All of the letters are written from by Thomas and are sent to his agent, his family, his friends and Mary.  At first, this fact threw me since I am used to seeing both sides of a correspondence.  Since there was only one side of the story being presented, I filled in a lot in my head, especially about Mary.  We are given glimpses into her personality when Thomas uses quotes or relays a story, but I would have liked to know a little more about her.  Through his letters, Thomas' character shines and I was taken on an emotional roller coaster as he dealt with deadlines, love, villains and interesting neighbors.  The ending through me for a loop but also made everything make sense. 

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

The War Between Us

The War Between Us - Sarah Creviston Lee

Six months ago the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and life changed for many people. Alex Moon, a California native with Korean Ancestry is encouraged by his father to join up immediately to fight the Japanese. But Alex has seen what the American people have done to the Japanese-American citizens and refuses his father's request. Because of this, Alex's father sends him on a train to his uncle in Washington, DC. Alex gets off on a train stop in the small town of River Bluff, Indiana only to be accosted and beaten up by locals who see the enemy in Alex's skin color. After being shipped to the police station, Reverend Hicks and his niece, Lonnie Hamilton come to check on Alex and offer him some kindness. Alex finds himself stuck in River Bluff and seeks out a friendship Lonnie. However, the rest of the town is determined to see Alex as one of the men that is fighting their sons overseas. Tensions mount in the small town as Alex and Lonnie's friendship grows into something more. Alex must face his identity as a Korean and American as well as his family's wishes for him. 

The War Between Us is a wartime romance that will sweep you off your feet. This is a sweet and clean romance that develops into something much more as the prejudices of an entire town are brought to light. Alex and Lonnie's characters are what brought me into the story and kept me interested. On the surface, this is a simple love story. However, both Lonnie and Alex are complex characters with intriguing stories. From Alex I learned about the feelings and prejudices that Korean and Chinese Americans went through after the Pearl Harbor as well as the complexity of emotions he faced when dealing with people who despised him for what they believed him to be. I did enjoy learning about some Korean customs and food as Alex introduced his culture to Lonnie. Lonnie was also an amazing character who faced a different adversity of not living up to what others had planned for her. Lonnie's grows a lot during the story as her mind shifts and realizes that you can not choose who you love. 

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

Temptation Rag

Temptation Rag - Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard

May Convery is a young woman living in New York City's upper class neighborhood in 1895. More than anything, May wants to make decisions of her own, including her love life and pursuit of poetry. May plans on going after her dreams beginning by sharing her romantic poetry with her piano teacher and love interest, Mike Bernard. Mike is faking it in the world in order to become a renowned musician. Mike and May's romance comes crashing down quickly as May's parents have other plans for May as Mrs. Theodore Livingstone. Meanwhile, the world is being overtaken by ragtime music. Mike quickly picks up the style and makes a name for himself as the Ragtime King of the World. Mike and May go their different ways, but will never forget what they once had.

Temptation Rag is a look into the lives of some of the real-life stars of the ragtime era and is written by the wife of Mike Bernard's grandson. While the story takes us from 1895 through 1920, the writing gives a good sense of the feeling of the ragtime era. One of the most interesting themes of the book was the cultural appropriation of ragtime music and how it persisted through time. Mike Bernard, crowned the Ragtime King of the World and his competitor Ben Harney, dubbed the creator or Ragtime were both white men. The African-American pianists, such as Scott Joplin, Strap Hill and Otis Saunders had to fight for their recognition. May's story, though fictionalized showed another side of the time period, though part of the upper class, May had no rights. Through time, May participates in the Women's Suffrage Movement, embraced her poetry and befriended African American artists. With this, she was finally able to take control of her life and forgive events of the past. Overall, a sweeping historical novel of the Ragtime era. 

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

A Light of Her Own

A Light of Her Own - Carrie Callaghan

Haarlem, Holland 1633, Judith Leyster is an apprentice painter to Frans de Grebber.  Judith is one of the only female painters along with Frans' daughter, Maria.  Judith will do anything to be admitted to the Guild so she can sell her work.  However, no female has ever been admitted.   Maria is working on a secret painting, although art is not her passion, religion and atoning for her own perceived sins comes first.  Judith is set on clawing her way to the top, and having independence.  Maria finds herself when she sets off on her own and discovers the art of healing and helping others.  The two women will need to find one another again as the men of the city decide to plot against the young, up and coming painters.


A Light of Her Own explores the lives of two little known female painters of the Dutch Golden Age.  I love learning about new and important female historical figures, Judith Leyster and Maria de Grebber were real painters.  History would obscure Judith's work and sell it under a man's name.  In the book, I enjoyed that the plot focused on the strained friendship of the two women and their faults.  The writing through Judith's eyes engaged me, the way Judith saw color, light and other features in the world around her transformed scenes that would typically be dull or boring into something magical.  Judith's ambition was also refreshing.  Though what she did was sometimes illegal or immoral, it was nothing that other male painters at the time weren't doing as well.  Maria's point of view shed light on the religious tones of the time in Holland as well as the social system.  The mystery of the disappearing linseed oil did help move the plot along, but was a little weak for me.  However, I did enjoy how Judith brought the truth out in the end. Overall, an engaging story that helps bring to light the lives of female Dutch Golden Age painters. 

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

The Journal of Angela Ashby

The Journal of Angela Ashby - Liana Gardner

Twelve Year Old Angela Ashby is dealing with a lot at the moment. Her parents are divorced and neither her mom or her dad seem to have time for her anymore. At school, there is a bully that loves to pick on Angela and her best friend, Mallory. Things begin to change, however when Angela and Mallory attend their school's carnival. A mysterious fortune teller gives each of the girls a gift, a necklace for Mallory and a journal for Angela. The journal comes with a warning though, "With great power comes great responsibility." It takes Angela a while to figure out what the warning means as the hopes and dreams that she writes down in her journal begin to come true in her life.

The Journal of Angela Ashby is an exciting and magical middle grade drama. Angela and Mallory were wonderful main characters and the inclusion of fairies, gnomes and unicorns helps to keep the book entertaining. The characters were realistic as pre-teens in their actions and motives. I enjoyed that the journal was not only a source of fun, but also responsibility that helped Angela to realize the impacts of her actions on those around her as well as help her grow into a caring person. There are also many good lessons on friendship, family and bullying. As an adult reader, the middle of the book got a little boring for me as Angela continued to test out journal entries to see what would happen, although this is also where many of the fun characters come in, so middle grade readers may be more entertained. Overall, an entertaining, supernatural adventure for middle grade readers.

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

When Women Ruled the World

When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt - Kara Cooney

When Women Ruled the World provides an in-depth examination of six female Egyptian rulers who were able to take hold and keep power within Ancient Egypt. The reigns of Merneith, Neferusobek, Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, Tawosret and Cleopatra are investigated combining strong research and intricate story telling.  Author Kara Cooney combines facts along with what was known about the political environment, climate and world affairs at the time to weave a plausible life story of each of these amazing women. With very little sources available, the conditions under which the six women were able to take hold and continue their rule are investigated and connected in many ways to our current political scene in the United States and the realities that women in politics face today.  There were also many other comparisons to current life that made the world of the Ancient Egyptians easy to understand.  I was very interested in the ways that these women were able to come to power, often at the end of a Dynasty when there was no other choice and when everything seemed to be falling apart, the women were there to pick the pieces up and put things back together.  I am by no means an Egypt specialist, but I have always been intrigued by their way of life.  The writing style and information was presented in an entertaining way and was easy to understand.  Looking at Egypt through the eyes of these six extraordinary women gave a very different view to an often misunderstood and glamorized time of history as well as much insight into how women behave in roles that are still seen as masculine to this day.

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

Miami Days, Havana Nights

Miami Days, Havana Nights - Linda Benntt Pennell

Sam Ackerman is a 17 year old Jewish boy trying to help his family with money in New York, 1926. Sam finds out he can make an extra two dollars working for a gangster in a speakeasy. Usually Sam is only tasked with cleaning up, however when Sam witnesses a hit and is tasked with dumping the body, he is seen by the police. Sam is hurried out of New York and sent to a contact in Miami, Moshe Toblinsky, the mob's bookkeeper. Indebted to the mob and Moshe, Sam continues working for the mob, now running alcohol back to the mainland. Sam is housed with the Scheinberg family and can't help but take notice of their daughter, Rebecca. Sam wants out of the mob in order to marry Rebecca, but is too far in. It seems that he will always owe someone a favor.

Presently, Liz Reams is trying to fish out the next big discovery in American Crime. She is desperately trying to keep up to her early career success from her last discovery about Al Capone, but keeps coming up empty. Liz finally gets a break when she finds a news article with pictures, but she still needs to identify the man with the scar on his face and his connection to Moshe Toblisnsky. However, now she is indebted to the man who lined up all of her contacts.

I always love a good dual time story and Miami Days Havana Nights is no exception. The chapters alternated between Sam and Liz's points of views and each chapter always seemed to end on a small cliffhanger making me devour the next chapter so I could see what would happen next. Both Sam and Liz had equally compelling stories and I'm glad that their relationship was only historical figure and researcher, what tied their stories together was simply their sense of obligation to those who have helped them. Sam's story showed how kids were pulled into the mob and kept there. Sam never had any intention of joining, he just wanted extra money to support his family, because of his ideals and work ethic, he was the perfect person to fulfill mob tasks. From Sam's story, I also learned of the extent of the Jewish people within the mob. Moshe Toblinsky's character is loosely based on Meyer Lansky. LIz's story dives into the high pressure in the world of academia and research, especially as a female researcher looking into American Crime. I appreciated how Liz grew more aware of her actions and how she felt as she was digging deeper into Sam's life. Overall, a fast-paced dual-time story exploring Florida's Jewish mob connections.

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

Love Notes

Love Notes - Tammy Andresen

Derek is the lead singer of the band, Echo Station. Tattooed and burly, Derek fits the look of the bad boy to a tee, and usually has a short term girlfriend to match. Derek has just had a crazy breakup with now ex-girlfriend Nicole and decides to swear off women for a while. Band mate Drew brings in marketing major, Melissa to watch the band perform and see if she can help them get bigger crowds. Melissa is career focused and has a plan for love and boyfriends. While trying get some promo shots, Melissa instantly notices Derek's presence; however this bad boy is not the Harvard guy she imagined herself with and Derek seems to think she an annoyance. At some point these two realize that love doesn't always look like they think it should. 

The third installment in the Accidental Kisses series does not disappoint. In Love Notes the sweet and sassy romance continues with the friends of characters met in the first two books. This being said, you do not have to read the first two books to understand this one, but it was nice to see the other relationships from the outside. Melissa and Derek are complete opposites. Melissa has life planned out in her head, with a man exactly like her. Derek thinks he can only have girls that fit into his rock lifestyle, but those girls are always caustic. When the two meet, sparks fly, but not in a good way. Like the other books in the series, the point of view alternates between the the two so we get an inside look into Melissa and Derek's thoughts. I enjoyed seeing the uncertainty and leaps of faith as the romance blossomed. I liked that Derek didn't fit his outward stereotype in the end and that both Melissa and Derek both could see that there is more to a person than their outward appearance. An intense and fast-paced sweet romance that I read in one sitting, I can't wait to see who falls in love next.

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

She Did It! 21 Women Who Changed the Way We Think

She Did It! 21 Women Who Changed the Way We Think - Emily Arnold McCully

Women are often the driving force behind positive changes we see in the world, however, their accomplishments are often overshadowed by their male counterparts or simply swept under the rug of history.  She Did It!  profiles 21 women who have inspired positive change in US history.  Each profile includes a mini-biography of the woman's life from birth to death or present time.  Their inspirations, failures, hardships and successes are all included.  Their journeys were rarely easy.  The writing is done so that middle grade readers can clearly understand, complete with definitions and vocabulary; although it is still informative for an adult reader.   Many of women who are profiled are women that I have heard of, some were not.  I was impressed with the variety of women throughout time, women from different backgrounds, ethnic groups and who led change in areas from human rights, civil rights, equality, the arts, media and the sciences.  

I was very happy that the book included some of my personal heroines including Rachel Carson, Isadora Duncan, Grace Hopper and Temple Grandin.  Many of these women are not well known outside of their own spheres of influence; however changes that were affected by their advancements are still in use today.  I was glad to read about the difficult parts of their lives, their struggles and perseverance for what they wanted to accomplish.  It is important to know that creating change is not usually easy, but still very possible.  I was also happy to learn about women who I was unaware of including Gladys Tataquidgeon, a leader for Native American rights and culture, Ella Baker, who was integral in the civil rights movement alongside Martin Luther King and Alice Waters, whose work with food accessibility is still being accomplished today.  As I read through these women's stories, I began to see that even as they lived at different times and were champions of different causes, that each victory they had connected to and helped fuel the next, fully revealing the meaning of sisterhood.

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