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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.

Letting Go Of Gravity

Letting Go Of Gravity - Meg Leder

"That's what friends do- they remind you of who you are underneath all the stuff people believe about you, all the stuff you believe about yourself."

Charlie and Parker are twins. During childhood, they always had each other's back. However, they were always two different people; Charlie is extroverted, loud, popular and easily makes friends, Parker is introverted, guarded and needs approval.  One other difference arose when Charlie and Parker were in fourth grade, Charlie got leukemia.  As medical bills rose and their parents lived in fear, Parker vowed to become a doctor and help kids with leukemia.  Now it is coming true, as Parker graduates valedictorian of her class with an internship at a hospital and an acceptance to Harvard, and Charlie is in remission for a second time.  When it's time to begin the internship, Parker feels overwhelmed and panicked at even being in the hospital.  She quits, reconnects with an old friend and finds a job at a pottery shop and the weight lifts.  Now, if she could only tell her parents.

Letting go of gravity is an epic coming of age tale that so many teens will be able to connect with.  It is not only Parker's story either, it is also Charlie's.  For so much of Parker's life she has strived to be what her parents expect that she has lost herself.  For Charlie's life, he has been the boy with cancer that people have given up their lives to help.  They both just want to stop being people's expectations for them and learn to be themselves, but they will need each other to do it.  I could easily relate to Parker and was swept up in her story, eagerly turning the pages to see how she would manage the twists and turns in her life.  Even though I have never had to deal with cancer, Charlie was also intriguing.  His journey in and out of remission while being a teen is very sincere and heart wrenching, even when he is ok.  Charlie and Parker's journey took me through emotional highs and lows that reminded me of the transitional time after high school.  In addition to this, the romances were very sweet and realistic.  Overall, a roller-coaster of a story about self-realization and being able to become who you truly are.

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

Blood and Ink

Blood and Ink - D.K. Marley

Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare were both young men who grew up under the reign of Elizabeth I.  Christopher or Kit was guided by the muse Calliope to have an ingenious wit and create wonderful works of written word.  When still very young, Kit's talent was noticed by Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth's spymaster.  Kit was whisked away from his family in return for schooling.  However, Kit was really being groomed as a spy for Elizabeth herself.  Kit's dream is to be a famous playwright and have his name immortalized.  For this, Kit is willing to do Walsingham's bidding as he works his way into the Queen's favor.  Meanwhile, Will Shakespeare dreams of being an actor on stage.  Will's family still practices the old religion, placing them in danger time and time again. This also unknowingly places Will within Kit's path as a spy for Walsingham.  As the men age, their paths cross again.  When Kit needs to escape for a time, Elizabeth hatches a plan so Kit may continue living, and his words may continue to grace the stage, but at what price?

Everyone knows the writings of William Shakespeare, but how many know the name and works of Christopher Marlowe?  I myself was not very familiar with Marlowe other than recognizing his name as a contemporary of Shakespeare.  Many believe that Marlowe did not truly die at such a young age and the William Shakespeare was simply passing along his works.  DK Marley presents the mystery of the two men from their youth through their deaths in an intriguing alternate narration between the two.  Writing in the voices of two acclaimed writers is no easy task, however the dialogue and narration seemed effortless and accurate for William and Kit at the time.  I loved the device of Calliope as a muse for Kit and a guiding voice; it seems that she might have even more to say.  I also enjoyed learning about Walsingham's spy ring and Elizabeth's relationships with Marlowe and Shakespeare.  Overall, a wonderful and atmospheric historical intrigue for anyone who enjoys Shakespeare, Marlowe or Tudor history.

‚ÄčThis book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

The Romanov Empress

The Romanov Empress - C.W. Gortner

Princess Dagmar of Denmark or Minnie is a daughter to Denmark's King Christian IX and sister to Alexandra, who would marry Edward VII and become Queen of the United Kingdom.  Minnie knows she too must marry and would rather marry for love.  When she meets Nicholas Alexandrovich,  or Nixa, the Tsarevich of Russia, Minnie is taken.  However, as fate would have it, Minnie marries Nixa's brother,  Sasha, Tsesarevich Alexander of Russia, and eventually becomes Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna of Russia.  Minnie must adjust to Russia, a new religion and rules of royalty.  Minnie exceeds in her role and is a driving force within the Russian government.  Although, times are changing in Russia and things become dangerous for Minnie and her family.  Minnie sees that the government also needs to change.  When her beloved Sasha passes, Minnie's son, Nicholas becomes Tsar.  Nicholas' wife, Alexandra is not as diplomatic as Minnie and finds herself in a war of wills with Minnie.  As actual war finds its way to Russia's door, Nicholas heeds his wife's opinion and that of her mystic Rasputin over Minnie's and brings the downfall of the Russian empire with him.


With historically accurate detail,  The Romanov Empress gives an  in-depth and entertaining look at the amazing woman behind the storied last Tsar of Russia.  Told from Minnie's point of view from the time she was a teenager through her son's death, we get a full view of her life.  I went into this book not knowing much at all about this time in Russia's history and I was very pleased that I was able to learn about Russia through her eyes.  As Minnie came to love Russia, she saw the faults as well as its amazing features.  Minnie wanted Russia to grow, change and survive, but as a woman she could only offer so much guidance to the men in her life.  I enjoyed seeing how Minnie was able to affect change in the government, even if the men did not always listen.  I also took to heart her and her sister, Alix's motto of living to the next day: "You will live,...You can do nothing else." It was  very insightful to see Minnie's relationship with her son Nicholas and his wife Alexandra especially when Rasputin came into the picture.  I did not know the breadth of Rasputin's influence on Russia at the time and his relationship with Alexandra and her children.  Maria's story brings us through the fabled deaths of her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.  While I knew of this story, I was unaware of the reasons behind it and the political climate of Russia at the time.  Overall, an astounding and epic tale of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna.

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

What Blooms From Dust

What Blooms From Dust - James Markert

Jeremiah Goodbye is known as the Coin-Flip Killer in Oklahoma's Panhandle in 1935.  Just as he was about to be executed by electric chair, a twister developed from a dust storm that knocked down the prison walls.  Escaping with only a slight shock, Jeremiah makes his way back home to Nowhere, Oklahoma by the flip of a coin.  The shock did something to Jeremiah, something for the better.  Jeremiah no longer has such bad nightmares, nor can he see the darkness in men's souls so clearly as he did before.  On his way to Nowhere, Jeremiah inadvertently picks up a boy, Peter, who has limited speech but understands everything happening around him.  In Nowhere, barely anyone wants Jeremiah back, especially his twin brother, Josiah who turned him into the police to begin with.  Nowhere has been ravaged by the dust bowl, turning the once prosperous town to dust.  The people of Nowhere have been beaten down by the constant dust storms when a particularly bad duster rolls through, the town finds that Jeremiah and Peter may be just what they need in order to survive.

An amazing story of the Dust Bowl infused with magic and mystery.  The town of Nowhere, Oklahoma grabbed me and was a character itself. Sold to people as Majestic, Oklahoma the town transformed, fought back and reemerged throughout the story. Jeremiah's characters is an enigma, but one that I really liked.  Without learning his full story until near the end, I was continuously pulled into the many mysteries that surrounded his strange life.  Jeremiah feels guilt for the death of the four men he was accused of killing, but swears he didn't actually kill them, he is able to see the bad and good in people and know their fate in life as well as being able to shield people from some of the bad that comes along.  Peter was another favorite of mine, insightful and caring, bringing kindness even though he has not been shown much during his life.  Even though the characters and the touches of magic engaged me the most, I did learn a lot about the dust bowl era.  I had never heard of the Black Sunday dust storm and the devastation that it brought to an already ravaged area.  I imagine that it would have had similar effects on the people attempting to live in the area as it did to the people of Nowhere as the residents became upset, mean and slowly lost their willpower.  In Nowhere, several miracles occur after the Black Sunday dust storm that help breathe life back into a dying town.  Overall, a unique historical fiction book incorporating magical realism and distinctive characters.  


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

Camp Crush

Camp Crush - Tammy Andresen

Chloe is fun, effervescent and energetic. She is super excited that she is finally old enough to be a counselor at Camp Winnipeg with her best friend, Millie. She is also enthusiastic that she might catch the eye of equally fun and sociable second year counselor, Alex. The only down-side is Alex's best friend, Drew, who made fun of Chloe's perky attitude all of last year giving her the nick-name of Alka-Seltzer. However, when Chloe arrives at camp it is Drew who greets her warmly and helps her with her bags. Chloe learns that she and Drew will be going to college next to each other this coming fall. Chloe and Drew spend more and more time together, but Chloe may still be hung up on Alex. Chloe sorts out her true feelings for Alex and Drew when she is kissed in the dark, but by the wrong guy! Now Chloe has to start all over again after making things weird with both Alex and Drew.

A cute, sweet and easy young adult romance that is perfect for the summer. The point of view switched between Chloe and Drew giving a great sense of both sides of a budding romance that I often miss. Chloe's character was infectious and I'm sure we all know someone just like her. I enjoyed watching Chloe realize that her initial summer crush may not be the best choice for a relationship and watching her go through the confusion of a first love. Drew's point of view was great to read, since he was equally as confused in romance as Chloe. Through their awkwardness and uncertainty, both Chloe and Drew grow and are able to begin a super sweet romance. I can't wait to read book two, which will be centered around Millie. Overall, an adorable and entertaining young adult romance.

The Woman Behind the Waterfall

The Woman Behind the Waterfall - Leonora Meriel

For the seven years of Angela's life, her mother has seemed sad. When mother Lyuda's sadness reaches its peak, Angela uses her intense imagination and her Nightguide to transform and seek out help from her deceased grandmother who now resides in the willow across the stream. Angela doesn't know if it her absent father, the deaths of her grandparents or some other lost dream in her mother's life that causes the sadness. It seems like too much for a seven year old to handle. With the help of the spiritual world, Angela will go on a quest to help her mother find happiness, even if she is not a part of it.

A story of heartbreak and depression told through the eyes of a child who shouldn't have to experience that pain. This story took me a while to get into; the writing is lyrical and poetic with a lot of language and metaphor. It was difficult for me to find the story through the words in the beginning. The writing is beautiful, but I didn't have any context for what it meant. For example, a passage that stuck out to me:

"I am an intricate construction of fibres held together by the pull of beauty, a strange gravity suspending colours and filaments and cambia through long, sunshine moments."

This didn't make any sense till much later in the book. There were also lush description of the Ukrainian countryside, a setting that I found very interesting to explore within Angela and Lyuda's spirituality, cooking, environment and lifestyle. Once I was able to get into the story, I found Angela's character enchanting with her transformation into birds in order to escape and her conversations with her deceased grandmother in the willow tree in order to understand what is happening around her. Then I was able to realize that this is a story of sadness, grief and regret. For at least two generations, the women in Angela's family have passed down the sadness for their role in settling into lives they believed were unfulfilling. Angela takes on a unique role through magical realism in bringing her mother through depression and helping her realize that her childhood dreams can grow and change as life moves on. Overall, this is a distinctive book that deals with many difficult issues while blending contemporary fiction and magical realism. The writing style may not be best for every reader, but if you stick with it, the writing take you on a journey.

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

Secrets of the Island

Secrets of the Island - Linda Hughes

Twins Harriet and Harry Sullivan both served during WWII.  Harriet as a Red Cross nurse, Harry as a soldier.  Fate brought the siblings to the same place at the right time.  Harry had been missing in action and Harriet received information about where he was.  Harriet rescues Harry in a dangerous mission that took a mental toll on both siblings.  When the twins return home to their parents and eight siblings, nothing feels the same.  The twins are shell-shocked.  They decide to instead head to their grandfather Herbert's summer home on Mackinac Island.  While staying in the old estate on the quiet island, Herbert shows them an old letter addressed to their great-grandfather from a woman, Fiona.  With the letter in hand, the twins go on an 'ancestry quest' that uncovers secret after secret for three generations.  

Secrets of the Island began very slowly for me and took a while to get into as multiple characters were introduced and set up in order to understand three generations of family members.  I was pulled into the story as Harriet goes on her mission to rescue Harry and they returned home.  The signs of shell shock were all very true to life and this is when I could finally hone in on characters and get to know the twins.  Once they traveled to Mackinac Island, I was not only enchanted by the people, the lifestyle and the beauty of the island, but taken in by the many mysteries that one family managed to keep under wraps.  The many mysteries could have easily become tedious to manage, however they were carefully written and layered so everything seemed possible.  In addition to the mysteries, the transformation and healing process that the search allowed for Harry and Harriet was heartwarming.  Overall, a wonderful historical mystery that will make you wonder what could be hiding in your family tree.

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

The Lost Vintage

The Lost Vintage - Ann Mah

"And suddenly I knew- as sure as the laws of chemistry- that remaining passive is no longer prudence.  It has become cowardice."


Kate is attempting to pass the demanding Master of Wine examination in order to move up in her career in California.  When the restaurant she works for closes suddenly, she takes her mentor's advice to return to the land of her roots- and her family's vineyard in Burgundy to brush up on her French wines. While staying with her brother and sister-in-law, Kate once again comes in contact with neighbor and once fiancee, Jean-Luc.  To clear her mind, Kate agrees to help clean out the family cave or basement.  While sifting through a hefty amount of junk Kate finds many items from an unknown family member, Helene Marie Charpin. Kate is rebuffed by her Uncle when she asks about Helene.  However, a trip to the library gives a clue about the family secret, Helene was prosecuted as a collaborator during WWII.  This sends Kate and sister-in-law Heather on a hunt to uncover the truth.  While digging, they also uncover a secret cave, untouched since the war and filled with priceless vintage wines.


A family secret, a historical mystery and a romance round out The Lost Vintage. This story has many notes that were brought together like a fine wine.  I was drawn in by the beauty of France, the descriptions of the vineyards, grapes, wines and traditions.  Then I was intrigued by Kate's broken romance with Jean-Luc.  Then the historical mystery found me and I was captivated by Helene and her long lost journal.  Lastly, the suspense of tracking down the missing wine pulled me in even further.  The point of view switched between Kate and Helene's journal, I am a sucker for dual-time stories, so this suited me perfectly.  The plot did pick up for me when Helene's mystery was introduced.  I enjoyed learning more about the French resistance as well as the 'horizontal collaborators' and their fate.  Helene's story made me think about our choices for survival, making this a relevant story for many people during the present. I was pleased to find out that Helene's story was inspired by Resistor, Agnes Humbert, who I will be looking farther into.  Overall, an intricate story that mixes past with present, romance and mystery for a delectable read.


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

The Underground River

The Underground River: A Novel - Martha Conway
May Bedloe is the seamstress for her famous actress cousin, Comfort Vertue.  May has been with Comfort since her parents passed away and feels secure in her routine and Comfort's knowledge of May's irregularities.  May has always been very direct in her speech and has a hard time with anything that isn't exactly the truth.  May's life changes when the steamboat she and Comfort are travelling on explodes on the Ohio River in 1838.  May and Comfort lose everything.  Comfort is soon snapped up by benefactress and abolitionist Flora Howard who will have Comfort speak for her cause. May is not included in this plan; so she decides that she will find employment on her own.  May is hired on Hugo and Helena's Floating Theatre; but she needed to use the money Flora gave her to go home in order to get established.  May soon finds herself an integral part of the Floating Theatre and comes into her own.  When The Floating Theatre and Comfort's speaking tour cross paths, Flora uses May's place on a boat traveling from south to north for her own deed of transporting people to freedom, jeopardizing May's place in the Theatre.
 
The Underground River is a different look at how the Underground Railroad functioned and some of it's players.  Interesting characters and the unique setting pulled me in.  May's character has several quirks and might be on the autism spectrum if she lived in the present.  Her directfulness and untouched insight gave a very honest look at the people around her;  abolitionist Flora Howard is a bully using others to further her own cause, even Comfort kept May hidden and kept putting her down in order to raise herself up.  The true heroes, Leo, Donaldson and Hugo shine through May's eyes.  Though the book is about the Underground Railroad, the process and danger of the transport is really only half the story.  Most of the story revolves around life on the river and the theatre.  Through May's perspective, we get a good look at how the towns along the river in the North and South are all pretty similar except for the presence or absence of slavery and peoples attitudes about it.  There is also an intimate look into theatre life and the distinctiveness of a riverboat theatre.  The teamwork, diligence and creativeness of the entire crew is apparent.  I do wish May had been a willing player in the transport instead of being blackmailed, she had the compassion for the job and believed in the cause, but the fact that she is being forced marred my view a bit.  Overall, an exciting and insightful historical fiction read about the Underground Railroad and Theatre life.
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

Ghosts & Exiles

Ghosts & Exiles - Sandra Unerman

Hugo is being tormented by ghosts. They are the ghosts he summoned himself in hopes they would befriend him and keep him company at his boarding school. However, the ghosts have done anything but, causing Hugo to become even more of an outcast and act out. Hugo's uncle, Stephen has become concerned about him and has turned to the mother of the two boys who have seemed to befriend Hugo at school. Tilda Gray and her boys, Nicholas and James seem to understand Hugo's problem more than Stephen can comprehend. Tilda Gray's husband came from the land of Spellhaven where magic was used regularly, a gift from the spirits and unseen inhabitants of the land. However, Spellhaven is no more. The spirits are now free and there are those who would like to use their powers again. When Hugo's ghosts attract the attention of a Spellhaven native who is using the spirits for evil. the boys, the Gray's and Stephen get pulled into the world of the Spellhaven natives, the Exiles club and the Unseen spirits that still roam then land.

I did not realize that this was a second book in a series and I think it would have helped me a lot to read the first book, however I was still able to understand everything. I was pulled in by Hugo's ghost problem, although it is Tilda who pulls everything together for me. Her nature was sweet and surprising considering the danger her children were in. I enjoyed the fantasy elements with the ghosts and the spirits, especially Tilda's interactions with Thistlebeard. I did get confused for a few parts in the middle especially with Lyulf, but was able to pick things back up. Part of the suspense was not knowing who to trust throughout the story, although I'm still not sure about a few characters. Overall, Ghosts and Exiles is a good combination of suspense and fantasy for young adult to adult readers. 

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

All The Ever Afters

 All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother - Danielle Teller

Agnes is the third daughter born to a serf in an English village. When she is still a child she is sent to work at Aviceford Manor in town as a laundry apprentice. The laundress she works for simply gives Agnes all the work there is to do. While things seem hopeless Agnes cuts out a place for herself and chooses to work wisely instead of hard. Through her intelligence and cunning, Agnes finds her way up in the world to serve the abbesses mother, Lady Wenslock at Ellis Abbey. While at the abbey, Agnes is wooed by the messenger, Fernan and becomes pregnant. Together, they are sent away and Fernan is ordered to care for her. Agnes once again creates a better life for herself by learning how to brew. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Agnes is once again forced back to Aviceford Manor as a servent, this time she is an adult with children of her own and she is able to be a nurse to the master's daughter, Elfida or Ella as everyone calls her. Still endeared to Sir Emont, Agnes soon finds herself as Ella's stepmother. Ella proves a wistful child, lost in her own mind and intentions and is given anything she wants by her father. Agnes tries her best to temper Ella with hard work and life lessons like her own daughters, but Ella's beauty and station in life eventually get her everything she wished for. 

Set within history and the confies of women's roles, duties and expectations at the time, the story of Cinderella's step-mother unfolds. I have always enjoyed fairy tale retellings especially when they are rooted in reality. Agnes' story reveals how traditional beauty is favored, how your station and gender affect opportunity and choice and most of all how stories evolve. With lavish writing and elegant prose, I was pulled me in to Agnes' world. I was constantly impressed with Agnes' ability to pull herself up and carve out a place for herself in a world where she could have easily been forgotten. In this harsh time in history, we are pulled out of the fairy tale element by the realities of Agnes' life. Most of all, by her want of freedom and never seeming to quite achieve it. Cinderella's 'ugly' step- sisters were also given context. Charlotte and Matilda were enchanting in their own right and I would love to see where their life went as well. By seeing Agnes' background, it provides a stark contrast to Cinderella in every way as well as a basis for the injustices that Cinderella had endured. Through seeing the other side of the story, we go deeper than good vs. evil and the tale of happily ever after; perhaps, Cinderella isn't the only one to receive her ever after. A meaningful story that combines history, fairy tale and strong female leads, All the Ever Afters is one of my favorite reads so far this year. 

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

A Handbook For Beautiful People

A Handbook for Beautiful People - Jennifer Spruit

Marla is a 22 year-old waitress/ medical assistant who has had a difficult life. Born to a addicted mother, Marla has partial Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and her younger brother, Gavin is deaf. Marla bounced around in foster homes and worked as a prostitute until she found a friend in fellow outcast, Dani. Now, Marla and Dani look after each other. Marla is finally beginning to feel like an adult while holding down her two jobs and entering into a relationship with Liam. However, Marla soon finds herself pregnant and looking through the options of abortion, adoption and motherhood. Marla invites Gavin to visit when she is pregnant and getting ready for the arrival of the baby. With Gavin's arrival, she learns that his life has not been easy for him either. Gavin and Dani also enter into a relationship further complicating the balance. Despite everything Marla is doing to keep her head above water, the world has other plans and everything takes a turn for the worse all at once.


A Handbook for Beautiful People provides a raw look into the lives of very real and heartfelt characters. I was very interested in reading a book from the perspective of someone with fetal alcohol syndrome. Marla is an astonishing and well written character. At every turn, Marla's surprised me with her faults, accomplishments, missteps and decisions she was able to make. Though it seemed as if her life were a series of mistakes and drama, Marla was able to shine through. More than once, it seemed as if Gavin might steal the show. Gavin is strong and supportive, but is still working on who he is while being hearing impaired. Gavin's journey was amazing in itself, I think there could be a whole separate story there. My only complaint was that the writing style quickly changed points of view, and it would sometime take me a few sentences to make sense of everything again. The supporting characters around Marla and the events in her life create one big beautiful mess. With twists, turns, breaks, floods, a baby and a decision, Marla's journey is unique and satisfying.


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

Heavenly Bodyguards- Trainee in Action

Heavenly Bodyguards - Trainee in Action (Heavenly Bodyguards, #1) - Rebecca  Lange
Joelle is dead; but she is just beginning to find out her purpose.  Joelle is hit by a vehicle while saving a child.  When she dies, Joelle is welcomed into heaven and immediately told that she will be serving as a guardian angel.  Joelle's trainer, Josh delivers Joelle to her first assignment, a twelve year old girl in Scotland named Hannah.  Joelle's job is to give Hannah a helping hand as she navigates life in an orphanage.  Joelle may also help Hannah get adopted into a loving home.  However, as Joelle and Josh spend time with Hannah and a potential adoptive mother, Joelle learns of evil angels that may turn her plans awry.  
 
This is a book aimed at the Young Adult crowd with a religious leaning.  I could guess from the title that this book would involve religious figures, there was just a little too much religious ideology for me to really enjoy it.  The author makes it known from the beginning that she is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and creates Joelle as a member of the Church also.  Many tenants of the religion are placed throughout the book such as modesty and good overruling evil.  As the author's first book, some of the writing was a little clunky and I felt there were some parts that were really not necessary for the plot, like an angel that constantly hit on Joelle and did n't seem to take no for an answer.  Although the religious tones overwhelmed me a bit, I did enjoy the overall story.  Joelle's personality was strong and she changed the way guardian angels were trained. I was compelled to find out how she was able to help Hannah and untangle the mess that has befallen her and her potential adopter, Ruth.  The end was very exciting and suspenseful and carried me through.  Although I may not be quite the right audience for this book, I do believe someone in the  YA audience with a strong sense of spirituality would enjoy this book as well as the rest of the series. 
 
 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

To Love A Spy

To Love A Spy - Laura Beers

Lady Elizabeth Beckett's sister, Lady Kate Camden has finally been released from the clutches of her fake and abusive marriage to the French spy posing as Lord Camden. Kate is now learning how to live independently and trust the people around her. Kate has made a refuge for herself at her country estate and is being protected by Adrien, Earl of Camden and Agent of the Crown. Adrien wants to help Kate come out of her shell; he is desperately trying to break in, but is falling for her at the same time. Meanwhile, Adrien, Eliza and Johnathan receive a new assignment as Agents of the Crown. The British have been warring with Napoleon and it seems as though French spies have introduced a bill to Parliament to end the War against the French. The French have been abducting female relations of Parliament members in order to force the vote in their favor. After some digging, it seems that Kate holds the key to eliminating the French spies, but she and Eliza are abducted soon after the conspiracy is broken. 

To Love A Spy continues the story of the Beckett family with Eliza's sister Kate. I love that these are a perfect blend of historical spy thriller and regency romance with well balance scenes of sweet adoration and action-packed danger. Kate has made appearances in the past two books in the series, but we now learn what a tremendous impact her false marriage to a French spy has made on her life. I enjoyed seeing Kate's transformation from someone terrified to leave her country manor and untrusting of anyone but her own staff to someone who is independent, advocates for herself and contributes ideas. The romance was infatuating and wholesome with a lot of respect from both sides. Through his courtship of Kate, I got to know Adrien's character better and his abilities as a spy. It was interesting to find out about his time in France and how he carried out his present mission. My favorite part, however, was continuing to see how Eliza's life is now with Benedict and how she and Kate were able to navigate through the French spy ring. Overall, To Love A Spy is a wonderful read with plenty of romance, surprises and spy operations. I highly recommend reading the first two books in the Beckett Files first, it is a wonderful series to dive into. 

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

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach: A Novel - Beatriz Williams

Virginia Fortescue bravely maneuvered her Red Cross ambulance through artillery fire and nighttime rescues during World War I. While transporting patients, Virginia meets British army surgeon, Captain Simon Fitzwilliam. Virginia is enchanted, but hears rumors that he is already married. However, Captain Fitzwilliam is enchanted and promises Virginia a divorce from the wife he was forced to marry for family money. The two are married in secret, but Virginia hears of more devastating rumors about her husband and decided to return to her father's home after the War. Virginia soon gives birth to a wonderful baby daughter, Evelyn and continues to receive letters from Simon who is renovating a family orchard and running a shipping company in Cocoa Beach, Florida. It isn't until a letter arrives that informs Virginia of Simon's death that she travels to Cocoa Beach to take over the business that she discovers the true nature of the lies and deceptions of the Fitzwilliam family. Cocoa Beach proved to be irresistible as soon as I dug in; combining the elements of danger in the prohibition age with romance and a menacing mystery. I have read Beatriz Williams' other books with some of the same characters, including Virginia and was glad to pick up her story again. While I loved The Wicked City and A Certain Age, it is not necessary to read those first. Virginia enters the scene in Cocoa Beach like a fighter; as a woman in 1922 and now a widow, Simon's lawyer figures she will be uninterested in the business that Simon carried out. Virginia makes it known that "...my wishes are your business now..." and I knew that Virginia would be a formidable character. I enjoyed that the writing switched back and forth between Virginia and Simon's time during World War I and 1922 in Cocoa Beach. Through these scenes I was able to know Virginia as a hero and an independent woman, I was also able to form an opinion about Simon. I was amazed at Virginia's fortitude as an ambulance driver and appreciated the compassionate love story despite the many times others attempted to derail it. The mystery is written with many layers and twists, I thought I knew where it was heading, and yet other elements kept getting thrown in for surprise after surprise. I was also pleased to see that the story will most likely continue as there is a cliffhanger at the end. This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

Trouble in Glamour Town

Trouble in Glamour Town - S.R. Mallery

Rosie Paige is an actress in 1926.  She has been pushed into the rush of 1920's Hollywood by her mother, Beatrice who believes that making Rosie a starlet will solve all of her own problems.  Rosie would much rather spend time with her pets and her boyfriend, Eddie who helps out on set.  When the Chester Harris is suddenly shot and killed on the set of a movie Rosie is in, Eddie is considered a prime suspect.  However, with several similar shootings in the past, the police department needs to solve the case quickly and is willing to blame just about anyone in order to call the crime solved exposing the corruption, greed and political influences of the time.

Trouble in Glamour Town is a fast-paced historical mystery set within the mystique of 1920's Hollywood.  This book caught my attention right from the start with an intense look at the murder from the killer's point of view.  After that moment, we still have no idea who committed the crime and the mystery builds.  From that point, Rosie took center stage.  She is a strong character from the start making herself stand apart from the other Hollywood starlets that she is surrounded by.  Despite Rosie's strength of character, she struggles to find her independence due to her dedication to her mother.  Beatrice is the ultimate stage-mother taking a job as a seamstress to be close to Rosie as well as get all the inside gossip.  Beatrice also uses the guilt of Rosie's father leaving them to oversee the comings and goings of Rosie's life along with their superintendent, Walt.  Along with the murder mystery and the suspense of having Eddie as a suspect, this was also a coming of age story for Rosie.  The shooting acted as a jumping point for Rosie to think about getting out of the corruption of Hollywood; she begins to think about her own dreams rather than her mother's and push back.  The mystery itself grows gradually until the end. Along with adding suspense, the killing exposes many nuances of the time period including prohibition, sexuality, and crime.  With an exciting and unexpected conclusion, Trouble in Glamour Town provides a fun and fast historical mystery. 

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