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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.

Journey From Skioria

Journey from Skioria - Kandi J Wyatt
Nine-year-old Tania has become shipwrecked in a boating accident. She washes up on a distant shore. Unknown to her, Tania has found the land of Skioria. She is taken in by Trillicus and his mate Holley. They are Skiorians and are the same height as Tania, despite being adults. Skiorians live high in the trees and are experts in the forest. Tania wants to get back home and to her parents, but that is difficult. The Skiorians will have to travel with Tania back to the human world. It is a treacherous hike and the Skiorians are not known to the human populations. With help from a Terran, an Avarian and another friend, Tania will find her way back, but will she want to leave her new friends?

This was an easy to read, exciting middle grad adventure set in a magical world. Tania is desperate to get back to her parents after washing up in Skioria, however she is also captivated by their magical world and the Skiorians themselves! I found myself wanting to explore their world more and how they lived. I was a little dissapointed in the patriarchal society that was reinforced in Skioria, further showing middle grade readers that this is the norm. Tania's adventure home was the best part for me. During her adventure Tania formed deep bonds of friendship and pushed herself to do things that she never thought she could do. As an adult reader there were several times I had to take large suspensions of disbelief, especially at the end when her parents don't seem overly concerned that their daughter who has been missing for more than a month is reunited with them; however, as a middle grade reader I would have found this book to be a fun adventure into and out of a mysterious world hiding under our noses.

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

 

Sick

Sick - Tom Leveen

One more book for Halloween Bingo!  This is obviously for "The Dead Will Walk" square when it is called. 

 

High school is a place where many kids feel like they just don't fit in. That is definitely true for Brian and his friends, a collection of misfits who decided to skip a few classes they day of the school pep rally. They get back to school just in time for stagecraft class, and for a deadly virus to take hold of their school. A strange sickness has rapidly spread, something that gives people a drawn, wasted look and develops crusty scales, oh- and it gives the infected person a taste for human bone. Ground zero is the pep rally, but the theatre building is farther away and able to be protected. It's too bad that Brian's sister and ex-girlfriend decided to go to the pep-rally, now Brian has to find a way to get the girls out of the zombie infested hallways as well as the stagecraft class.

 

This is a very fast-paced young adult zombie outbreak story that does not skip on the gore and held me in suspense. Centered in a high school with high schoolers as the only uninfected people left, I was really interested to see how high school dynamics would go into play. Especially since this high school was overcrowded, had a lot of racial tension and general intolerance of anyone who is different. Luckily, this group of survivors is centered in the theatre, where different is the norm. When any differences are brought up, they manage to be quickly resolved or changed in the minds of the teenagers for the benefit of survival. I was really interested in the virus itself and I got a little bit of information on it through Brian's mom, who was on the first response team. I did want to find out if there was a cure and how it began. The book really just focused on the outbreak itself and how this small group of highschoolers was able to survive. There were some very awesome moments of zombie smackdowns and creative weaponry, but there was no resolve after the teens were rescued from the school.

 

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

 

The Smallest Thing

The Smallest Thing - Lisa Manterfield
Emmott Syddall wants nothing more than to leave her small town and move to London.  She does not want to become another dead Syddall buried in the small Eyam cemetery.   Emmott make plans to move to London with her boyfriend, Roland right before her 18th birthday.  However, before she can get out of Eyam, her neighbors begin dying.  At first, it looks like a weird flu, but no one really knows, and then, Eyam is quarantined.  There is no leaving, the exits are surrounded by military patrol.  Relief workers in yellow haz-mat suits flood the town and begin asking questions.  No one wants to go out and about or interact with anyone else.  Except for Emmott, who just wants to escape and her father, who just wants to help his neighbors.  Emmott's mind begins to change about leaving when a suited up relief worker named Aiden begins visiting.
 
The Smallest Thing is a creative re-imagining of the self-imposed quarantine of the village of Eyam in the 1660's due to the plague.  At that point in time, the villagers of Eyam were seen as selfless, heroic- allowing the plague to ravage them, saving countless others.  In modern times, with social media and aggressive TV reporters, the town is a spectacle, the victims are no more than statistics. Emmott is very easy to identify with, restless and burgeoning on adulthood, her story is one of growth and finding her place.  I enjoyed watching her change her opinion of her father from a fearful man who is tying her down, to a hero who allowed her to grow.  The virus also interested me, this was not just a resurgence of the plague, but something unknown, brought about possibly by climate change and increased human movement.  The romance in this felt just right, not rushed, not insta-love, but definitely intensified by the situation. If not for the fact that it was a haz-mat suit, the fact that Emmott saw nothing but Aiden's eyes felt almost exotic  their connection was based on something deeper than physical attraction when Emmott wants nothing more than to connect with someone.  Overall, a heartfelt story of devastation and how a community can pull through. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
 

 

Twilight Empress

Twilight Empress: A Novel of Imperial Rome (The Theodosian Women Book 1) - Faith L. Justice

Galla Placida is sister to one of the last Roman Emperors in 400 AD. As a young woman Placida is captured by the Goths. Growing up in their camps, she comes to respect their way of life and skills. Placida especially enjoys the company of Ataulf. She eventually marries Ataulf and becomes Queen of the Goths by his side, helping with decisions and in battle. Placida's brother, however, sees her marriage to Ataulf as a political move by the Goths and orders her home. Unfortunately, Ataulf is killed in a plan to overthrow him. Placida is captured and uses her strength and intelligence to escape and enact revenge. Now, she must return to her brother and the marriage that he has arranged for her; although, she returns with a groups loyal to her until the very end.

Placida is a force to be reckoned with. I am so happy I got the chance to learn about her life. Even though women were not allowed to rule in their own right, Placida managed to keep Rome together in its dying days. I was amazed by her patience and willingness to understand and learn from the Goths when she was originally captured instead of just fight back. She seemed to continually look at decisions long term and for the good of her people and land. The story follows Placida from a young women to her death. I very much enjoyed watching her grow and seeing how she hand a hand in political decisions through her brother, both of her husbands and her son. As conflict rose throughout the territories and Placida aged, Placida's job became more and more difficult. Through the writing, I got a wonderful sense of Placida's character while sticking to the history of the time period. Overall, a breathtaking and immense journey through one inspirational and impactful woman's life in Rome.

A Gift of Ghosts

A Gift of Ghosts - Sarah Wynde

My Second Halloween Bingo Read!  I know that the ghost square has been called, but I'm going to use this for Romantic Suspense since I have a bunch of other ghost stories to read.

 

Akira Malone is a scientist, a researcher, she fully believes in the tenets of her field, physics.  That is why she fully quantifies her ability to see and talk to ghosts as part of her biology, the ability to see energy that others can not. However, when she publishes a mention of this residual energy in a paper, she is thrown out of the academic community.  Luckily, a job opportunity at General Directions in Tassamara, Florida presents itself.  When Akira interviews with Zane Latimer, she doesn't get a good sense of the job, but Zane is good looking at will let her continue her research.  Akira soon learns that all of Tassamara has some kind of gift, but her ability to see and talk to ghosts is one of a kind, and that is what General Directions was looking for.  What General Directions doesn't know is that Akira just doesn't see nice ghosts, but has tangled with dangerous ghosts as well and the most dangerous might be the one in Zane's house. 

This was a fun and sexy read with a great addition of the paranormal.  I loved Akira's character, a scientist who can see and talk to ghosts; however, this is a part of her life that she would rather not have, at least until she can explain it. General Directions and the town of Tassamara is a mystery, I still can't wait to find out more about the rest of the inhabitants of Tassamara.  As soon as Akira meets Zane, I knew there would be chemistry.  Zane is intriguing and has a gift of his own.  The ghosts in this story were entertaining and full of character. I think there is still a lot to learn from them and about them.  Overall, an entertaining and amusing paranormal romance, with ghosts!  I'll definitely be checking out the rest of the series. 

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

The Long Way Home

The Long Way Home - Kevin Bannister


Thomas and Murphy are slaves toiling away on a southern farm in the late 1700's.  Both want something more of their lives and itch for freedom.  However, they have vastly different personalities.  Thomas is mature, patient and a long-term thinker.  He was from a ruling family in his former land and held slaves of his own.  Murphy was born in the New World and is quick to act, ferociously strong and lives in the moment.  Together, they try several times to escape their bonds and fail.  That is, until unrest erupts between the colonists and the British.  and the British declare that any slave that can make it to British property is free.  Thomas and Murphy make it to a British ship and join up.  They make a ferocious team and move up through the ranks.  When the war is over, the British promised their soldiers benefits, but the former slaves still seem to get the short end of the stick.

This is an inspiring story of courage, determination and perseverance.  I was immediately intrigued by Thomas and Murphy's characters as well as the setting.  I have not read much at all about slavery before or during the War of Independence and have not read anything about the runaway slaves who fought for the British during the War.  The unique characters shed a different light on slaves for the time period; both men were educated and Thomas came from a family that had owned slaves, which gave him a shifting outlook on life.  I enjoyed learning about the real regiment that Thomas and Murphy originally joined, Lord Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment, I had no idea that so many former slaves fought in the war of independence and had a major impact for the British.  The men's outlook on life was what impressed me the most, the entire story encompasses the struggle for freedom; even when Thomas and Murphy were fighting for the British, they knew that no matter what side won, they might still be slaves in the end, but, they were willing since it meant they were fighting as free men.  This also showed their willingness and inspiration, Thomas and Murphy knew they were fighting for the future; even if they still ended up slaves, their actions now might make things better for future generations. The writing presented an honest, gritty and realistic image and war and what people went through.  These men did not have easy lives, from slavery, to war and even after, when they were promised land in Canada. the realities of Thomas and Murphy's struggles and hopes are presented sensibly.  Overall, an eye-opening read about two amazing men during the War of Independence. 

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

Shine Your Light on Me

Shine Your Light on Me - Lee  Thompson, K. Allen Wood

Book one for Halloween Bingo!  I decided to use this for the "Terror in a Small Town" Square when it gets called.  I am going to stick the cover on there for now, books will get an orange glow around them when the square is called.  

 

Aiden LeDoux would just like to be a normal kid, someone who flies under the radar.  However, that is unlikely after his father is literally crucified by the son of a man who he has wronged.  One night while at his father's bar, Aiden feels overwhelmed and uncomfortable.  In his anxiety a bright light bursts from his face, illuminating the entire bar.  To add to that, anyone who was bathed in the light is now healed of any physical malady, from a scratch or scar to cancer.  Of course the miraculous event spreads like wildfire, and the small town becomes ignited by zealotry by Aiden's miracle.  Aiden is now being held hostage by those who will do anything to have him perform the miracle again.  

This book threw me for a loop; simultaneously diving right into the action and setting the scene, I was thrown into a small town bar that Aiden's father, Jack owns.  Immediately, I had a feel for many of the characters and the varied dynamics between them.  Then, everything changes.  I was amazed at how quickly the town turned.  However, some people remained the same.  Aiden really becomes a side character and the focus turns on how the town reacts to him.  The horror was not in Aiden's incident, but the quick turnaround to chaos, panic and illogical thinking that takes over an overwhelming amount of people. Pine, the brother responsible for Jack's injury was easily the most terrifying character and could probably have an entire book written about his antics.  There were a few plot holes for me, especially the absence of any law enforcement until the end. Overall, a well crafted book that looks into the dynamics of small town incidents with well placed elements of horror and psychological thriller. 

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

Jaybird's Song

Jaybird's Song - Kathy Wilson Florence

Josie Flint, affectionately know as Jaybird to her family, is nearing her 50th birthday when tragedy strikes.  The family matriarch and her namesake, Annie Jo has died.  This change in family structure causes Josie to look back at her childhood and stir up some memories, some which are better forgotten.  With the absence of her grandmother, Josie looks back on coming-of-age, the death of her father, friendships and desegregation in 1960's Atlanta.  

Jaybird's Song is an ode to southern women, their strength and their place within the family.  Josie is an amazing woman to follow as the writing ping-pong's back and forth between her memories from growing up in the 1960's with her amazing grandmother, Annie Jo, to present day where Annie Jo is gone and Josie finally comes to deal with some of her issues.  I was surprised when what seemed to be a series of memories from Josie's childhood turned into something much more, not only does Josie unleash the truth of her father's death, but a memory of a bathrobe and an African-American student who joined Josie's high school class combined with a package found at Annie Jo's house turns into a murder mystery.  Overall, a passionate story that takes place throughout turbulent years in America's south that examines the tenacity of women. 

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

The Daughters of Ireland

The Daughters of Ireland (Deverill Chronicles) - Santa Montefiore

Celia Deverill has bought the ruins of her family's castle after it was burned down in the war.  The year is 1925 and Celia and her husband have plenty of money to rebuild the castle and upgrade everything to Celia's extravagant and opulent demands.  While Celia is busy redecorating, Kitty Deverill and her husband Robert Trench are raising Kitty's half-brother, Little Jack.  Kitty is concerned that Little Jack's real mother, Bridie Doyle will come and steal him away. Kitty is also wrestling with her feelings for her true love Jack O'Leary.  She will have to make a decision to tear apart her family and move to America with Jack or deny her true love and stay with her family and her home in Ireland.  Meanwhile, Bridie Doyle has become a new person in New York.  Now a wealthy widow, she is determined to reclaim the son that was taken from her as well as the Castle where she once worked.

Once again, I was enraptured by the stories of the women of Castle Deverill.  Picking up right after The Girl in the Castle, the stories of Kitty, Bridie and Celia continue to grow and shine.  Now adults, these women are making their own decisions and affecting the lives of those around them as well as the ghosts who still inhabit Castle Deverill.  I was very pleased that Barton Deverill's story was expanded upon and I was able to understand the reasons for the curse.  I love that the supernatural and folklore are a part of the story, bringing out the magic of Ireland in a sophisticated way.  I was completely captivated by all of these women's stories while they  were busy trying to navigate life and come to terms with what has been handed to them their stories went in such different ways then I could have ever imagined. I became so frustrated at points when their decisions seemed immature or senseless, I just wanted to shake them!  However, through masterful storytelling, the saga of the Daughters of Ireland engrossed me all the way through.  I was definitely surprised at the end, but I believe they are one step closer to breaking the curse of Castle Deverill.

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

I got my Halloween Bingo Card!

Yay!  Now I can start planning...

 

The Velvet Prison

The VELVET PRISON - Sheldon Friedman
Travis Kane grew up under the watchful eye and heavy hand of his grandfather, Barclay Kane.  Travis' father was killed fighting in the Great War, meanwhile, his mother continued to grow distant until the birth of his baby sister.  Shortly after giving birth, Hannah Kane gathered up her things and her new baby and disappeared.  Left with his grandfather, Travis continued to practice the art that he loved, but was continually pushed toward a career in law by Barclay. When Travis becomes serious about his art, he decides to show and sell some paintings in a speakeasy.  Through the speakeasy, Travis finds friends that pull him into the underworld of rum running, but also opens him up to the world of professional art. Meanwhile, Lindsay Wayne is entering the world of professional theatre with the help of her mother.  Lindsay and Travis' worlds soon collide through Travis' friend, Gino. 
 
This historical saga took me on a journey from the end of WWI through the beginning of WWII. Through Travis and Barclay I had a very unique view of the politics of World War I, prohibition, the depression and the tensions rising to World War II.  More interesting than the perspective on history however, was the family dynamic of the Kanes.  From the beginning, the family had significant issues. Clearly, Travis' mother felt uncomfortable in Barclay's house, there are several reasons explored throughout the story, but none that we know for sure.  Though, there was something strong enough for Hannah to force herself to abandon her son and leave with her newborn daughter.  Travis is the most affected by his mother's abandonment and his grandfather's pressure to make him into something he is not.  I'm not sure his character ever really comes to terms with his mother's actions or his grandfather's will.  However, I am glad that Travis seems to finally do what makes him happy in the end.  I was really interested in Travis' artwork, his style and the mission he was sent on.  Hopefully I will discover more in book two!
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
 
 
 

 

Concentration Camps of Canada

Concentration Camps of Canada: Based on a True Story - Baron Alexander Deschauer, Lucky Deschauer
Migizi is an Indigenous Canadian who is pulled away from his family and sent to a residential school with other Indians as the government attempt to strip away everything 'Indian' about him.  Migizi is now called David, he is not allowed to speak his own language, practice any customs or traditions or talk about his old life.  All of the children must work and if they fall ill, they are sequestered away until they die.  No doctors are called.  The children that survive are often abused by the Brothers and Sisters that run the school.  After school, Migizi is still required to get a permit whenever he would like to leave the reservation.  Migizi works for a living but soon falls into a cycle of alcohol abuse and spousal abuse.  Trying to set himself right, Migizi joins the army and returns a war hero.  Even with this status, in Canada, he is still considered an Indian and has limited rights.
 
This was a very eye-opening read.  I had no idea that indigenous Canadians were put through injustices for so long.  Through following Migizi from third grade through adulthood I had a good picture of the abuse of the Indigenous Canadians throughout time and how the government practices perpetuated the cycles of addiction and abuse.  I was appalled at the school that Migizi was sent to; how the Brothers and Sisters felt they could beat the Indian culture out of the students and that they received no medical care.  I was even more upset at the fact that this practice continued to happen as Migizi's grandchildren went through the schools.  Migizi's time in the Service seemed to be the only time that he was treated as an equal.  I was impressed with Migizi's skill and dedication to the army and how his missions helped to win WWII.  However, the racism that prevailed when he returned as a war hero quickly erased all of his accomplishments. Overall, this is an overwhelming story that increased my understanding of the struggles and injustices that the Native Canadians have faced and continue to face today.
 
 
 
 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
 
 
 
 

 

The Sworn Virgin

The Sworn Virgin: A Novel - Kristopher Dukes

During the early 20th century in Albania, the Law of Lekë ruled.  Women were under the strict authority of men and men could shoot each other for honor with no consequence.  However, if a woman wanted to swear to live as a virgin for the rest of her life, she could live with the freedoms of a man including the style of dress, carrying a gun, and killing another man for honor.  Eleanora has lived a privileged life for a young woman in a small mountain Village of Albania.  She has spent most of her life traveling with her father who works as  a healer.  This life has given Eleanora extended freedom, a different skill set than most other women and a passion and talent for art.  Eleanora's father, Francis believes he can secure a place for his daughter at an art school in Venice.  While traveling, Francis is recognized and killed in the street as an honor killing.  With no other choice, Eleanora makes the trip back to her village with her step-mother, Meria. Believing she is doing what's best, Meria arranges a marriage for Eleanora with Edi, a cruel man from a neighboring clan.  Rather than become a subservient wife, Eleanora declares herself a sworn virgin. When an injured stranger enters their life, Eleanora fears breaking her vow.

This is an amazing story that introduced me to a culture that I knew nothing about. The writing transported me to the mountainous villages of Albania. The rich culture, vibrant landscapes, houses, food and clothing came to life for me.  Eleanora's character was captivating, I loved her passion for art, her unwavering spirit and following her on her journey to find out how she can fit in. The gender roles and Eleanora's place within them was an intriguing journey that carried throughout the story.  I was very interested to see if she would thrive in her role as a man when she was a sworn virgin or enjoy her role as a traditional woman.  I was not surprised at the outcome.  The suspense created by the many different feuds and the effects they caused on the families was very direct and created a dangerous web that Eleanora fell into which led to a very different ending than I suspected.  Overall, a unique and vibrant tale about a woman's life in early 20th century Albania.  

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

Dunkirk: A Miracle of Deliverance

Dunkirk: A Miracle of Deliverance - David Boyle

With historical accuracy, Dunkirk: A Miracle of Deliverance describes the evacuation of the British forces from the beaches of Dunkirk.  I have always enjoyed reading about historical events, especially when they are brought back into the spotlight by pop culture; I like knowing the facts from the fiction.  This was a concise overview of the events leading up to the evacuation and the evacuation itself. I learned about Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsey along with the difficult decisions and unique calls that he had to make. I was very interested in the planning and decisions made on Ramsey's end and Hitler's end and the eventual outcome, since this book provided a general overview, I'm sure there is much more to learn and discover when delving into those specifics.  I was also amazed at how many people were willing to use their boats to deliver the soldiers from Dunkirk and I would definitely like to delve more into their stories.  Overall, I was amazed simply by the facts of how many people were able to escape.  I would have loved to have seen pictures, maps and any other historical artifacts included in the book; however, this was a wonderful primer of the overall event.

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

The Beat on Ruby's Street

The Beat on Ruby's Street - Jenna Zark
Eleven-year old Ruby Tabeata is growing up in Greenwich Village in 1958.  She is part of the Beat generation and lives a slightly different kind of life than those around her.  Ruby loves poetry and writes some herself, her biggest dream is to hear Jack Kerouac perform.  However, her parents aren't exactly married, her house isn't the cleanest and she doesn't attend a normal school.  All of this plus being mistaken for stealing from a market stall gets Ruby in trouble and gets the attention of a social worker.  The social worker does not approve of Ruby's home life and takes her to a children's home.  While there, Ruby does whatever she needs in order to return to her mom and home.
 
The Beat on Ruby's Street was a very interesting look into the life of a child of the Beat generation.  I really don't know much about people who did consider themselves Beatniks, and never thought about the children that they raised.  I was very interested in Ruby's way of life and I adored her poetry.  I thought it was very interesting that they were treated without respect because of their different way of life.  However, I didn't like that the social worker was portrayed as a villain rather than someone who came to understand a different way of living.  I was very happy that Ruby did finally get to meet her poet and perform her poetry.  Overall, an inspiring piece of historical fiction for middle grade readers. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

The Cottingley Secret

The Cottingley Secret - Hazel Gaynor

Do you believe in fairies?  In 1917, in the midst of World War I, two girls from Cottingley, England believed in fairies and had the whole world believing with them.  Cousins Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright loved to play in the beck at the bottom of their garden and Frances began to see the magical creatures that have been rumored to live there.  Fueled by the need for her family to believe, Elsie takes a staged picture with Frances and the fairies.  The picture soon spreads and grabs the interest of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, making the girls and their fairies an international sensation. The two girl stuck to their stories of the pictures being real for decades. When the truth finally comes out, Frances shares her side of the story in a manuscript.  One hundred years later, Olivia Kavanaugh finds Frances' manuscript at a turning point in her life. Olivia's grandfather has died, leaving her his antique bookstore, Something Old.  When Olivia goes to the bookstore to get everything in order, she discovers the manuscript and begins reading Frances's story.  Olivia also finds an interesting connection to Frances and her fairies in the manuscript along with the courage to make an important change in her life.

 
I have always loved a good fairy tale, and The Cottingley Secret provides one that very well might be real!  This was a perfect mix of history with a dash of magic.  I loved the dual story line and that as Olivia read Frances' tale of discovery.  Olivia not only discovered strength within herself through Frances, but she was able to connect further with her grandmother and past generations of her family. I enjoyed that Frances and Olivia shared a connection, but not in an obvious way.  The writing captured me and transported me back to Cottingley in 1917 in order to relive Frances' fairy tale, I had no trouble picturing the idyllic beck that Frances and Elsie played in or the glimpses of fairies that visited.  I also had no trouble picturing the Something Old bookshop filled with stories waiting to be read or its mysterious fairy window.  Most of all, I loved that this book was filled with women who changed people's minds and beliefs with their sense of wonder.  Frances and Elsie managed to give the world hope at a time of despair while Olivia made strides for herself and began to revitalize her community.  Overall, a wonderful story of hope, secrets and magic.  
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.