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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 Monster Upstairs

The Monster Upstairs (Bloodseeker, #2) - Elle Klass

Cryptozoologist for Halloween Bingo!

 


Sixteen year old Mandy arrives home to find her mother on the brink of death-injured by something or someone very dangerous.  Before Mandy's mother passes, she imparts some important but mysterious information to her.  Mandy is then whisked off into a new and dangerous world by her upstairs neighbor, Joel.  Very quickly, Mandy learns that her life is not what is seems.  Mandy is a twin daughter of a dark witch and light witch as well as the next amethyst Slayer.  The woman she thought was her mother, as well as Joel are really Werewolves who have been protecting her.  Now, it is time that Mandy learn to harness her powers.  The rest of the Slayers need Mandy in order to help rescue her twin, Veronica.

The Monster Upstairs picks up right where The Vampires Next Doorleaves off and bounces between Mandy and Joel's story and Allison, Rodham, Lacy and Veronica's story.  In The Monster Upstairs we get to meet even more supernatural creatures:  werewolves, shifters and boggarts.  Mandy's journey is a supernatural adventure that is action-packed from the start.  I enjoyed learning about the light and dark witches, the werewolf pack and how they fit into everything.  With Mandy's gifts, the Slayers are growing in strength, but not complete yet.  It seems that Veronica has some tricks up her sleeve to help the others get to her and when Allison's friend Vicky visits, they might find another piece of their Slayer puzzle.

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

 

The Vampires Next Door

The Vampires Next Door - Elle Klass

Dead Lands for Halloween Bingo!

 

Allison is the new girl in St. Augustine, she misses her friends in Virginia and hasn't had much luck in her new home except for swooning at the boy across the hall, Rodham. Allison's luck soon changes as noisy and strange neighbors move into the apartment complex; they party all night, aren't seen during the day and their arrival has sparked strange visions and a green glow that Rodham can't seem to resist. Rodham teams up with Allison to figure out just what these neighbors are up to. Together, Allison and Rodham open up a dangerous world that they have been fated to. As Slayers, they are two parts of a team that was created to destroy the Bloodseekers in a deadly game that has gone on for centuries.

A well-crafted, intense paranormal romance with vampires that packs a lot into a short book. Allison was a very easy character to relate to and I enjoyed her coming into her own as she became confident in her relationship with Rodham and discovered her gifts as the Garnet Slayer. I enjoyed learning all of the elaborate details and history of the Witches of darkness and light, Bloodseekers and Slayers. I appreciated the creation story as it gave a purpose to all of the different beings. The constant action and discovery of new magic and beings kept the story quick-paced. With a shorter story, there were a lot of lucky coincidences that brought people together rather quickly; however I was still easily wrapped into the story and can't wait to meet more Slayers. 

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

When The Men Were Gone

When The Men Were Gone - Marjorie Herrera Lewis
Tylene Wilson was born and bred in Texas, a football fan through and through.  More than that, she fully understood the game and the players thanks to her father's lessons.  Tylene is now the assistant principle in Brownwood, TX, the year is 1944 and most of the men have gone to war, including some of her students and their football coach.  Tylene knows the importance of football for the boys and the town; with the threat of the football season being cancelled, she is determined to find a worthy coach for her boys.  After scouring the town, she finds that the best football coach may be herself.  Although the decision to take on coaching the football team was a tough on Tylene, it is even more difficult for those around her to accept that a woman will be coaching football.  
 
When the Men Were Gone is a heartfelt story of a real woman in our history, Tylene Wilson.  Though her actions may not have helped to win the war, she showed immense bravery and compassion as she stepped up to do a job that not many believed she could do while protecting the male students from leaving for war too early and reinvigorating her small town.  Tylene's story is so genuinely portrayed using many facts from her life told to the author by Tylene's grand-niece.  Sharing the connection of being a female football coach, author Marjorie Herrara Lewis was easily able to relate with what Tylene must have been feeling as she navigated through a job that only men had previously done. I am not really a football fan, however Tylene's passion for the game and her students carried me through the story as well as the author's understanding of the game and ability to describe what is happening.  I could feel Tylene's need to keep the boys safe over her need to prove herself as a coach among the men.  Her personal story was touching and I could see how she saw all of the football team as her own sons.  I was surprised at just how much opposition she faced when she decided to take on coaching, but even more surprised at how much support she received as well. 

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

Witch Dance

Witch Dance - Lori Crane

Southern Gothic for Halloween Bingo!

 

Margaret and Thomas Speedwell are looking forward to a relaxing vacation with their twin girls Sarah and Emily at the Witch Dance campground near Margaret's home town in Mississippi.  The area of Witch Dance not only carries the story of the witches themselves, areas where the witches danced in circles, where grass no longer grows.  It is also where the people of the Choctaw tribes  settled and buried their people in what are known as the Bynum Mounds.  Sarah and Emily run off to play on the Mounds as soon as the family arrives, however only Emily comes back from the Mound.  Sarah has disappeared without a trace and Emily won't talk.  Margaret is desperate as search efforts and police turn up with nothing.  However, Margaret's childhood friend Rich digs up reports from the past about other children disappearing from the same area.  They are all children who are twins and none of them have returned.  Determined to find her daughter, Margaret will have to accept help from an unlikely and unbelievable source and dig into a story that is centuries old. 

 
An intriguing mystery that combines history and the supernatural for a chilling tale.  Lori Crane weaves together the legend of Witch Dance and the stories of the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes  in order to concoct a compelling reason for the children to disappear from the Mounds.  I was pulled into Chicksah's wife, Salina's story as she dealt with tragedy and found her way into a life changing coven.  Margaret is a difficult character, she is a doting mother but clearly suffering from postpartum anxiety.  This was a fast paced read where time moved quickly.  The mystery and suspense intensify as Salina and Margaret's stories converge as to how and why Sarah was taken.  Clues are dotted throughout the book, however some of the twists were very surprising to me.  Witch Dance is a shorter read and the a so I felt some details were skipped that could have added a lot more ambiance and suspense to the story.  Overall, a unique thriller combining different aspects of historical myths and modern day sleuthing.

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

The Silver Shoes

The Silver Shoes - Jill G. Hall

Anne has been struggling in a long-distance romance with long-time boyfriend, Sergio.  Anne is an artist based in San Fransisco and Sergio a New York City designer.  Anne wants Sergio to buckle down and commit to the relationship, but that may not be where either of their hearts lie.  On a trip to New York, Anne picks up a pair of antique rhinestone shoes.  With the shoes comes a strand of pearls and a hidden picture of two flappers wearing just those shoes.  The shoes inspire Anne to create several art pieces as well as think about her situation with Sergio.  In 1929, Clair, the original owner of the shoes, admires the footwear from the window.  She knows her father would never let her own them.  Although, Clair finds a friend in a performer, Winnie, who introduces Clair to speakeasies and uncovers Clair's hidden talents.  When Clair's life seems to be controlled by everyone but her, Clair's father pushing her into an arranged marriage with an odious man named Farley and not allowing her to continue her college education, the stock market crashes.  Clair decides to carry on and follow her heart becoming the provider of the family by secretly performing in  a Broadway Review.  When Anne learns of the woman behind the shoes, she takes a page from Clair's book and decides to follow her heart. 


A beautifully written dual-timeline story of two women learning to follow their hearts.  I enjoyed both Anne and Clair's characters and their willingness to strike out on their own, even if it took a lot of convincing.  The quick flow of the chapters with switching points of view between Anne and Clair kept my reading at a good pace.  Clair's story stole my attention as I was pulled in by her spirited nature and willingness to strive forward in life despite everything thrown in front of her.  The ambiance of 1929-30 shown through with the extravagance of hotel living,  debutante balls, speakeasies, FBI raids and the devastation felt after the crash. Anne's story was a slow journey to self realization that took more time to reel me in.  Both women are wonderful examples of determination and perseverance in times of strife. 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

When Elephants Fly

When Elephants Fly - Nancy Richardson Fischer
Tiger Lilly Decker is hoping to make it through the next twelve years.  Her genetics have predicted her future and it doesn't look good.  Lilly's mom had schizophrenia and attempted to kill Lilly and herself by jumping off the top of a building when Lilly was seven years old.  Now, as a senior in high school, the danger zone for the onset of schizophrenia is approaching.  Lilly follows a strict regiment to ensure that she will not trigger any of the symptoms including reducing stress, getting plenty of sleep and avoiding certain foods.  Lilly's handsome, rich, popular and not yet out of the closet, best friend, Sawyer supports her through.  With Lilly's internship at the local paper, she has been reporting on the birth of an Asian Elephant Calf, Swifty.  After the calf is born however, the mom rejects Swifty and Lilly is triggered to run in front of the charging elephant mother to protect Swifty.  With a strong bond to the calf, Lilly is invited to follow Swifty as she is sent to the circus to be with the father that sired her.  Lilly continues to report on Swifty and the circus conditions and digs until she uncovers the cruelty that happens there.  With Swifty slowly dying, Lilly decides to break all of her rules and the law to get Swifty to safety.
 
When Elephants Fly is a powerful story of one person's journey with schizophrenia. If that weren't enough, the story also focuses on animal rights and sexuality.  Lilly's story is an important one, putting into focus that people with a mental illness are people first and should not be characterized by their illness.  Lilly is careful, guarded, and has an amazing heart.  Her fear of inheriting schizophrenia is understandable, but rules her life.  Lilly's journey to accept that she can not change her genetics is very meaningful especially when it is tied into the story of saving the life of Swifty.  With Swifty's story Lilly learns that there are bigger things in life than herself.  Swifty brings to light the plight that all elephants are facing now in the wild and the role of zoos in animal conservation along with the difficult decisions that people make on the elephant's behalf.  Along with that, Lilly learns that some people aren't what they seem as she uncovers that hidden animal abuse at the zoo.  The writing does a wonderful job of showing the complex emotions that elephants have as well as the complicated nature of a mental illness. As Swifty's life is endangered, Lilly's symptoms also begin to show, although it doesn't seem like anything that Lilly can't deal with.  Inspiring and hopeful, When Elephants Fly beautifully takes difficult subjects and weaves them into an intricate and enjoyable story. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Bewitching Hannah

Bewitching Hannah - Leigh Goff

Third book for Halloween Bingo- Spellbound!

 

Hannah Fitzgerald would like nothing more than to be a normal 16 year old. However, Hannah is descended from a long line of witches and the magic in her is beginning to bubble over. With both of her parents deceased, Hannah moves to Annapolis with her aunt. Annapolis is where her coven is located and has many witches as well as other people with special gifts living among the ordinaries. At school Hannah quickly makes a friend in Summer and her brother Mateo and enemies among the Queen J's, especially their leader, Emme. At her coven meeting Hannah finds out just why she is so hated amongst the J's as well as a few clues to why her parents may have died. A prophecy that foretells of two witches in of Hannah's generation, a battle and then either peace or a downfall. Hannah would prefer to hide from her magic and ignore the prophecy, but with the help of a mysterious friend, she learns to embrace the magic within her. 

Bewitching Hannah is an enchanting young adult paranormal romance that eventually pulled me in with a variety of magic and great characters. The beginning had a lot of information to take in and it seemed like I had missed something and needed to catch up. However, once Hannah was in school and the other witches found her, the suspense, danger and mystery quickly ramped up. I loved that so many magical being lived under the noses of everyday people in Annapolis and that their power was tied to history and culture. I enjoyed watching Hannah grow and make decisions as she came to terms with her magic with the help of the mysterious W. W added a touch of sweet romance and a bit of a Beauty and the Beast feeling. The ending tied everything together with an exciting and twisty display of magic . Complete with witches, curses, ghosts, and shapeshifters, Bewitching Hannah is a perfect Halloween time read. 

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

I am Mrs. Jesse James

I Am Mrs. Jesse James - Robert Wahler

Zee Mimms grew up in the Missouri countryside. She is an obedient and helpful daughter to her parents who run a boarding house, dutiful in every way except allowing her parents to arrange a marriage for her. During the Civil War, Missouri was split between neighbors, Confederate and Union sympathizers were neighbors and friends. Zee's family, the James' felt deeply for the Confederate cause and her cousins, Jesse and Frank fought bravely for what they believed in. After the war, Jesse was badly wounded and a wanted man. He made it to the Mimm's where Zee took charge of his care. Over the course of Jesse's healing, Jesee and Zee fell in love. However, the life Jesse leads is not what Zee's parents want for her. Jesee is still fighting battles from the war, always on the run and living the life of an outlaw. Zee decides that love is worth the risk and steals away with Jesse for a life on the run.

Jesse James is a name that everyone knows, a handsome and cunning outlaw who continued to fight for his Confederate beliefs well after the war was over. However, not much is known about his wife, Zerelda. Told from Zerelda's point of view, I Am Mrs. Jesse James imagines the life that the wife of an outlaw would have lived. Taking the few little known facts about Zee Mimm's life, Pat Wahler weaves a story of immense love, trust, danger and concealment that became Zee's adult life. Zee was a very relatable character compared to her headstrong, fugitive husband. I was very surprised that Jesee James married a first cousin, although their love must have been strong in order to endure all the trials that they went through. Zee's life was a series of moves and living under different names, isolated in many cases since she was not allowed to get to know neighbors. I was even more astonished to know that Zee probably didn't know exactly what her husband was up to until later in her life. I felt strongly for Zee and Jesse's children, born into a world of peril and constant movement, unable to make friends of even use their real names. Even with all of this, Zee's love for Jesse kept her strong and unwavering. Overall, an informative and powerful story of the life of the woman behind the man who was Jesse James.

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

The Adventures of Phatty and Payaso: Central Park

The Adventures of Phatty & Payaso: Central Park - Marie Unanue

 

Phatty is a tabby cat who lives a luxurious life with his brothers Clyde and Stanley in a New York City apartment overlooking Central Park.  Phatty is usually scared and uncoordinated but is friendly and caring.  Every year Phatty looks forward to his friend Payaso visiting for the summer.  Payaso is well traveled, knows different languages and a lot about how things work. One day, an escaped hawk from teh zoo, Crawler comes to visit Phatty's window.  He threatens to hurt Phatty, Clyde and Stanly and steal their mother's jewels.  Phatty decides to overcome his fear and take care of Crawler.  He escapes to Central Park in hopes of finding Crawler's zoo keeper.  Phatty's friends race after him with the help of a boy named Max who can communicate in a different way and understands the animals.  Together, the friends will go on an adventure overcoming their fears.

An exciting adventure through the eyes of animals that revolves around conquering your fears, friendship and being your best self.  In the vein of A Pet's Life, The Adventures of Phatty and Payaso: Central Park focuses on what the pets do when the humans are not around.  I think the middle grade audience would enjoy the variety of characters and their interactions.  Phatty is encouraged by his friends to come up with ideas to fend off Crawler as well as overcome his fears.  When Phatty is exploring Central Park he is able to learn even more about himself through the eyes of the many animals that live there in addition to making some new friends. I loved the addition of Max as well, a boy who seems have autism, though it is never mentioned.  He has trouble communicating with people, but can talk with animals just fine.  He shines as he helps the pets solve a series of problems as they track Phatty through Central Park.  Another important part of the story was the treatment of Crawler's character.  Although he was the bully of the story, the characters were able to realize the deeper reason for his actions and help him rather than retaliate.  Overall, a fun animal adventure with plenty of life lessons for a middle grade reader.


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

The Mind's Eye

The Mind's Eye - Perry Prete

My 2nd book for Halloween Bingo- Amateur Sleuth

 

Paul is a middle-aged detective in a place that doesn't have much crime at all.  Then, a dismembered arm in found in a snow bank, after that more body parts are unearthed.  The crimes might be connected, but he has no idea how. With no real leads, Paul turns to Nicole, a guest at the same party as one of the victims.  Nicole has developed a gift- she can see pictures move and can see the moments before and after.  Nicole has kept her gift mostly a secret and plays it off as a parlor trick.  Paul is desperate and Nicole is cute, so he asks her to use her gift on the victims photos.  Carl is a crime reporter at a struggling newspaper and desperate for a good story.  With some anonymous tips, Carl begins to put together the murders for himself and goes in deeper to the story than he should.  Will is on a mission, he also has a special power that leads him to who he wants, but would never guess that Nicole is not far behind tracking his every move. 

A unique murder mystery told through they eyes of three very different people trying to solve the crime as well as the murderer.   It did take me a little while to get into the story as the first few chapters jump from different points of view to introduce characters.  Nicole's gift reeled me into the story it was so distinctive and she seemed to have a bond with the women who were being taken as well as the murderer.  Along with Nicole, Will's story drew me in.  The scenes where Will was tracking, killing and dismembering were gruesome in detail.  I was also intrigued by the insight into his mind and what he was seeing and feeling.  The medical details of the writing were very accurate and detailed as well. The reasons why the killings were done was the real mystery here, and it was truly disturbing, but I'm glad Carl was able to get the details out of Will.  The ending was thrilling and surprising as the cat-and-mouse game comes to an end, but not without a few twists.  One thing that bothered me at the end was that the reason for Nicole's intense connection with Will was never explained.  Overall, a thrilling, threatening and surprising murder mystery.  

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

 

The Secret of the Irish Castle

The Secret of the Irish Castle - Santa Montefiore

First Book for Halloween Bingo!- Romantic Suspense

 

Centuries ago, a curse was placed upon the Deverills after taking a building a castle on the O'Leary land.  Since then, every male Deverill heir has been trapped in a limbo inside the castle upon their death.  For the curse to be broken, the land must come back into the hands of an O'Leary.  Now, in 1939, the Deverill Castle has fallen out of Deverill hands and has been bought up by former housemaid Bridie after she came into money in New York.  Bridie believed taking the Castle from the Deverills would be a perfect revenge, but still feels like an outsider in her hometown.  Jack O'Leary also returns to Ballinakelly from New York with a wife and kids in tow upsetting the gentle balance that Kitty has made with her family.  Meanwhile, Bridie's daughter that she believes has died, comes looking for her family believing that Lady Rowan-Hampton is her birth mother.  However, she is just the one who began many of the lies and deceptions.  With everyone in one place, old flames light once again and new ones spark.  A chance for  JP Deverill and  Alana O'Leary to end everything with true love. After generations of lies, mistakes, secrets and missteps, the Deverills and O'Learys will have to dig deep for forgiveness.

The Secret of the Irish Castle is the last book in the Deverill Chronicles trilogy.  I would highly recommend reading these in order, there is much to keep track of and a lot of history.  It was almost difficult for me to read this last installment because so much tension existed between all of the characters due to the massive web of lies and deceptions that they have formed over the years in the belief that it would keep them safe.  It was a relief when everything begun to crash down around them.  Santa Montefiore deftly moves through the many subplots happening at once in a way that kept me engaged and interested while showing the beauty of the Irish landscape, Castle and people as well as the intensity of war.  I was glad that more of the ghost's stories were brought to light along with how the curse began with Maggie O'Leary as well as their influence over their descendants.  A rollercoaster of emotions, The Secret of the Irish Castle went from triumph to tragedy, heartbreak to  happiness and fury to forgiveness which is what lies at the heart of the story.  

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

Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard

Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard - Lawrence M. Schoen
Far in the future, there are no remnants of human life left. In a distant solar system, the uplifted elephant-like species of Barsk, the Fant live out their daily lives excluded from the many other uplifted species.  However, Barsk is the only planet that can grow the plants for a variety of medicinal drugs.  One drug, called koph helps those with the talent of Speaking to interact with the dead.  Jorl is a Fant who is a Speaker and a historian who has specialized in the prophesies of the Matriarch.  Jorls often Speaks to his best friend, Arlo and helps to take care of his son, Pizlo.  While Speaking, Jorl notices that he cannot connect with several Fant's that have just passed, this knowledge combined with some interesting visions that Pizlo has begun to see, causes Jorl to believe that he is part of one of the prophesies.
 
Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard is a unique fantasy that pulled me into a different world.  This is a story that you have to allow yourself to go with the flow and immerse yourself into the world of Barsk.  The inhabitants of Barsk and the other worlds are all mammals that have been somehow integrated with human thought process, language and emotions while still having traits of the animal they originated from.  This made for an interesting conflicts between beings as well as a mystery as to why everyone else disliked the Fant.  Since there was so much going on, I focused on Jorl and his insights as well as Pizlo.  Pizlo was the most intriguing character for me.  He is an outcast, since he was born to parents who were not fully bonded.  Fant- besides his mother and Jorl ignore Pizlo, however Pizlo seems to have the greatest sense about what is going on with Barsk and those who are after its resources.  Once Jorl and Pizlo begin to investigate the issues with the dead, things get complicated. The draw of koph has pulled in many other inhabitants from around the galaxy and they are not about to play nicely.  Tensions rise as Speakers try to draw out knowledge from deceased Fant as well as almost deceased Fant.  From here the story got very political and could easily relate to many trade situations happening on Earth.  Pizlo's character added the elements of innocence and fantasy to keep the story on track for me.  The ending also surprised me with what they were all hiding.  Overall, a distinctive fantasy that has a lot to offer. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

The Phantom Tree

The Phantom Tree - Nicola Cornick

In present day Wiltshire, England Alison Bannister sees a portrait that catches her eye.  The portrait has been recently authenticated to be of Anne Boleyn, however Alison knows better.  It is of her friend, Mary Seymour and the portrait contains precious clues that Mary left for Alison in order to find her son.  Mary and Alison grew up together, castoffs of Wolf Hall under the care of their cousin Edward.  After becoming pregnant and being forced to give up her child, Alison runs away with plans to set up a home and bring Arthur there.  Though, the place Alison has found is a portal into the future and for 10 years she has not been able to find out how to return to her own time. 


Exciting and engaging with strokes of magic and fantasy, Nicola Cornick's The Phantom Tree reimagines the little known life of Katherine Parr's daughter, Mary Seymour and gives her an enchanted but tragic life with a time-traveling best friend.  From the time Alison sees Mary's portrait, I was hooked on the mystery surrounding her life.  The point of view shifts back and forth between Alison and Mary's life in the 16th century and Alison's life in the present.  I was amazed at how well Alison was able to adapt as well as intrigued by the series of clues left for her by Mary.  Alison and Mary's characters are painted as opposites, Alison is wild, resourceful and cunning, Mary is careful and quiet in order to keep the secret that she sees visions of the future.  Between the the women, there is a full picture of what life was like for a woman in the 16th century who did not have a male figure to provide for them.  The writing easily transported me to both centuries and I could envision Wolf Hall and Middlecote as well as Alison's modern flat and the portrait of Mary.  Historical fiction rolled up with fantasy, romance and time travel provides for a well-rounded, fast-paced entrancing read.  I'll definitely be looking for more from this author.


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

Summer Sizzle (Accidental Kisses Book 2)

Summer Sizzle - Tammy Andresen

Millie has been working as a counselor for the summer at Camp Winnipeg.  Her best friend, Chloe is working with her.  Chloe's task for the summer was to try to win the affections of fellow counselor Alex, but has instead fallen for Drew.  Now, quiet and creative Millie has a lot of time to spend with the goofy and popular Alex.  Both Millie and Alex feel lost in love having been publicly humiliated by significant others before.  Now, Alex's ex is back at camp as well. Could they be falling for one another now and could they make it work if they were?

  This is a fun, sweet romance, perfect for the summer that captures the uncertainty of young love.  Book 2 of the Accidental Kisses series picks up right where Camp Crush left off except now we get to see a romance bud from Alex and Millie's points of view.  Alex and Millie are opposites and  written very realistically, like people I know. Once again, Tammy Andresen has been able to capture the vulnerable and awkward side of teenage dating from both the male and female perspectives.  The writing and dialogue is down to earth and natural.  I was able to relate to the fears of dating as well as the inevitable pull of love.  Overall, another enjoyable, fast-paced, sun-soaked romance.  It seems that the next book will focus on one of Drew's band mates, I can't wait!

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

The Book of M

The Book of M: A Novel - Peng Shepherd

One day in India, a strange occurrence happens- Hemu Joshi looses his shadow.  Not just for a moment, but seemingly for good.  At first, he is revered as someone special, closer to the Gods.  Then, he begins to forget things- important things, like his family and where he lives.  Hemu is placed in a facility, but the plague of shadowlessness is spreading along with the loss of memory.  People are forgetting how to read, walk, eat and sometimes breathe; however, they also have power in their forgetting.  When the forgetting reaches the United States, a wedding party holes up in Elk Lodge, Max and Ory decide to stay and survive there, until Max looses her shadow; Naz, an archer is outfitted with her bow and arrows to fight whatever craziness comes.  All of the survivors, shadowed and shadowless alike hear rumors of a city that still stands, New Orleans and a person there who may be able to help.  The separate groups fight their way to New Orleans, but what will they remember when they get there?

A unique and engaging dystopian read that introduces a new danger into the world.  The narrative switches between several points of view: Ory, Max, Naz and The One Who Gathers.  Through these very different sets of eyes, we see the world slowly devolve as people loose their shadows and their memories.  I was very interested in the shadow/memory connection and how it could possibly be solved.  I was also amazed at how the loss of memory turned dangerous and perception mirrored reality for a shadowless- if you forget a place, it disappears, if a shadowless believes that a deer now has wings, it does.  This opened up a world of endless opportunities as well as engaging questions: who are you without your memories?  What is it like to live without remembering your past or what you have learned?  In this world, it seems that despair and destruction reign free, but through Max and Ory's stories, we see hope and love.  Ory is determined to find Max despite putting himself in danger and Max is determined to keep Ory in her memory by recording herself, but keep him safe by running away.  With an unexpected and exciting ending, The Book of M is a memorable and imaginative read.

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

Tiffany Blues

Tiffany Blues - M.J. Rose

Jenny Bell has run away from a dark past in Hamilton, Ontario and has found her way to New York with a new name, new look and a continuing dream to be an artist.  Now, in 1924 Jenny's magnificent studies in black, white and grays in an attempt to capture light have won her a coveted spot in Louis Comfort Tiffany's art colony in Long Island along with her friend Minx.  Jenny is inspired by the beauty around her, especially that of Mr. Tiffany's grandson, Oliver.  However, the anxiety of her past catching up to her stays with Jenny especially when another artist begins to hint at knowing her past.

Engaging and mysterious, M.J. Rose has taken the unfortunate burning of Louis Comfort Tiffany's Laurelton Hall and created a story of beauty, danger and intrigue. Jenny's character brought me into the story with her puzzling past and intricate artwork.  Her refusal to use color in her art was a conundrum considering she saw color in everything else, including people's voices.  Rose's writing masterfully created a world of art, color and light; I could perfectly see paintings, imagine Laurelton Hall and the way the sun shone through the stained glass windows.  The mystery was well crafted with a slow reveal of Jenny's past, who was torturing her with that knowledge in the present and stolen Tiffany jewels.  The Jazz Age was also brought alive in speakeasies, bootleggers, the grandeur of Laurelton Hall and the spiritualism that so many people believed in.  Overall, an engaging and fascinating mystery that brings together history, mystery, art and spiritualism. 

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