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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.

American Princess

American Princess: A Novel of First Daughter Alice Roosevelt - Stephanie Marie Thornton

Alice Roosevelt is a force to be reckoned with. From the moment her father took office, Alice knew that she would make a mark on the world. However, impressing Theodore Roosevelt is a monumental task. Alice lives according to her own rules and the beliefs that her father has instilled upon her. Alice makes waves in Washington from her teenage years through adulthood, even when a Roosevelt is not in office. Alice would love to find love, but that aspect of her life seems to continuously fall through the cracks. As Alice survives the years and the ups and downs of Washington, she make friends and enemies but is respected by all.

I love learning about lesser known historical figures. I of course knew about Theodore Roosevelt and the many things that he had accomplished while in office. I have even visited the site where the book begins. However, I have not heard much about Alice except for a few quotes. From the moment the Roosevelt's find out that Theodore will be President, I knew that I would like Alice. Her character has immeasurable strength and conviction that is paired with a wildness that makes everything more exciting. I was surprised at the many things that Alice was able to accomplish both large and small- from having a color named after her to helping her father with international relations, Alice was influential in both the social and political spheres. While Alice's public life was filled with escapades, her personal life was just as engrossing. Her relationship with Nicholas Longworth would be fodder for every tabloid if she were alive today. I was endeared by Alice's quest to please her father. Written with careful detail to historical records, American Princess creates a rich and riveting story of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, a woman who earned the title of Princess and The Other Washington Monument throughout her life. 

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

The Time Collector

The Time Collector - Gwendolyn Womack

Roan West has a unique talent, he is a pyschometrist- a person who can read the imprinted memories on an object or person just by using his sense of touch.  There are only a handful of  pyschometrists in the world and since a recent discovery of strange artifacts dubbed ooparts, psychometrists have been gone missing, including Roan's friend, Stuart.  Ooparts, or Out of Place Objects are artifacts that originated in one time period, but are unearthed in rock from a previous time period.  The ooparts carry a mystery to be unlocked, and someone believes that the pyschometrists are the key.  When Roan hears of a new pyschometrist in LA, Melicent, he rushes out to meet her and warn her that she is now a target.  When Roan and Melicent meet, sparks fly and Melicent finds herself in immediate danger.  Now, Roan is racing the clock to find out the secret of the ooparts and to keep Melicent and the other pyschometrists safe.  

Exciting and distinctive, The Time Collector creates an amazing world with people who are able to read the past off of an object.  If I could have any superpower, I would definitely choose this one.  Because of Roan's ability, he has been able to live the lives of countless people throughout history.   Roan has experienced violence, trauma, love, happiness, greed, fame and many other emotions through the objects he has touched making him a extremely complex, sympathetic and well rounded individual who decided to carefully watch how he used his powers.  Melicent was a complimentary counterpart to Roan.  While their relationship progressed quickly, it was aided by their abilities to read each other.  I loved taking the trips into history and experiencing the emotions and journeys connected to each object.  Through the objects I was reminded of the importance of artifacts as well as our inner ties to objects that we posses. With a surprising and action packed ending, The Time Collector is an exhilarating genre-bending thriller.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 


Lone Soldier

Lone Soldier: A Novel - Leo Rozmaryn

Airk Meir is a young Jewish man growing up in Los Angeles in the 1970's.  Arik does not really participate much in his faith except for hearing about the stories his father, a disabled war veteran, tells him of being in the Israeli Army.  Arik becomes a pillar of his faith after a heroic act and decides to learn more at a Zionist summer camp, Camp Moshava.  At first, Arik has a difficult time fitting in with the posh kids from New York.  Soon, Arik finds friends in Richard, Eliezer, Penny and Dahlia.  Dahlia is the jet-setting daughter of the Israeli ambassador to the United States.  Arik and Dahlia find themselves in a whirl-wind romance with promises of a future together.  However, fate seems to want to keep them apart.  Dahlia's father does not approve of the relationship and pushes Dahlia to find someone more fit for her stations. As Arik enters the Israeli Army, he faithfully writes letters to Dahlia about the trials of becomming an elite soldier.  However, the distance does damage and the two drift apart.  Dahlia has trouble finding her footing but eventually finds her calling in the Israeli Army as Arik becomes a hero for Israel. 

Lone Soldier is an epic journey of two young people in the 1970's with many twists and turns as well as unexpected ups and downs. Lone Soldier is quite a tome rounding out at 625 pages in length.  While I don't think that the book needed to be quite this long, the characters and plot kept me interested the whole way through.  Arik's character is very easy to like, he was hardworking, wholesome and could see the bigger picture in life, though he can almost seems too perfect at times.  Dahlia is, at first very much a spoiled princess, however, her intelligence, caring nature and charisma is enhanced once she is paired with Arik.  I enjoyed watching their relationship grow and change as they became adults. One thing that did bother me early on was the dialogue and overall wordiness.  The amount of times that "I love you" was written out was too many to count and many points were unnecessarily repeated to the reader. Some of the dialogue also felt unnatural and clunky as all the characters readily said exactly what was on their minds and were overwhelmingly honest with their feelings.  What could have used a little more explanation were some Jewish customs, holidays and phrases.  Though I am familiar with some of the Jewish culture, I still had to stop and look up some things.  The story had a unique lens of the Jewish-American community in the 1970's to give a different perspective on the decade.  Through Arik, the trials of racism and the African-American community of Los Angeles was shown in a new light, especially the impact of basketball on the community of Watts.  I did thoroughly enjoy reading about Arik's time within the Israeli Army and his part within the Arab Israeli conflict.  I could tell that the author had done a lot of research and had passion for this time.  

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

Indian Paintbrush (Carson Chronicles #3)

Indian Paintbrush - John A. Heldt

The five Carson siblings plus two new sisters-in-law and a new baby have entered a new time period in pursuit of their parents yet again.  Now the large group has entered into 1943 Arizona, a dangerous time especially for the three men who are all of age to be drafted.  They all quickly find jobs that will help the war effort.  Cody drives a supply truck that makes deliveries to an Internment Camp where he befriends a family.  Caitlin and Natalie maintain airplanes and meet two aviators.  Adam settles down with his wife and child as well as finding a job teaching English to Chinese pilots.  Greg along with his new wife are also finding their way in a new time, but with the same old problems that continue to haunt him.  With extensive knowledge of the events of World War II, the Carson clan must be extra careful to make sure they are fitting in with their time period.

Exhilarating and endearing, Indian Paintbrush offers an engaging time-travel adventure into 1943 with the Carson siblings.  I would highly recommend reading this series in order to get to know all of the characters and motivations.  I enjoyed diving right back into the action when the Carson family crossed through the veil into 1943 from 1918.  I was excited to learn how they would fit into a time period that they had more knowledge of and how the brides from 1889 and 1918 would do with the continued changes. After two previous time hops, the group is getting better at assimilating to the time period. As with the past two installments, I was impressed at how well immersed into the time period I felt.  Between the siblings, the writing explored the Internment Camps and the treatment of the citizens that were held there, the loss of a loved one during Pearl Harbor, the training program to be an aviator and romance during wartime.  I was surprised to see how some of the characters from the past time periods were integrated as well as how trouble the Carson's have caused in the past is still affecting them in 1943.  Their mission to find and reconnect with their parents is still their mission, however, it seems that the Carson family might be fated to near misses.  I can't wait to see how the next time period treats the Carson's.

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

Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel

Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel - James Markert

Vitto Gandy has returned home from World War II, his mind ravaged by the events that have taken place overseas, things he did and did not do.  Vitto returns home to a child who does not remember him and a wife who has been raising a toddler and taking care of Vitto's father, Robert who has been having memory issues- what doctors now call Alzheimer's.  When Robert goes missing one night, Vitto knows that there is only one place that he would go- the Tuscany Hotel that Robert and his wife Magdalena built years ago on the California Coast as a creative retreat for artists and scientists.  When Vitto and his family find Robert, he is miraculously cured.  Claiming that the water from the fountain at the hotel has aided his recovery, Robert has invited others with memory issues and re-opened the hotel.  Along with the inexplicable claims of the fountain, stories of Vitto's mother, Magdalena have resurfaced.  An anomaly, herself, Magdalena was born with memory issues.    The water at the Tuscany Hotel flows freely as more and more people show up for its medicinal properties.  However, when the other side of the water's powers are uncovered, the guests will have to decide whether or not to take the good with the bad. 

A mesmerizing, magical and mythological testament to the powers of memory.  James Markert artfully weaves together the very real issues of post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer's with the magic of miracles and the Greek mythology of Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory.  From the beginning, where Magdalena is introduced at an orphanage on a stormy night, I felt invested in her story.  Magdalena's character was not present for most of the story, but it was her spirit that kept the rest of the characters motivated.  The Tuscany Hotel was created for artists and creators and the writing mirrored that in the descriptions of fresco's, colors, landscapes as well as the minutiae of everyday living. The power of the fountain intrigued me as well as the stories of the people that were helped.  Vitto's healing was fascinating to watch as he resisted the pull of the water and looked within himself to recuperate.  As Robert and Vitto were able to heal, they slowly teased apart Magdalena's past and the story behind the the fountain.  Filled with more tantalizing stories that the one's she often told of the Greek gods and goddesses, Magdalena's written memories aided to unlock more than the past.  Emotional and unique, Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel delivers a powerful story of love and memory. 

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

Josephine Baker's Last Dance

Josephine Baker's Last Dance - Sherry  Jones

Josephine Baker is well know for her dancing and singing and wild routines. However, her childhood growing up in Missouri, how she began in show business and her activism during World War II is less known. Josephine's rise to fame was anything but smooth as she endured poverty, racism, and sexual abuse. Through her own fortitude and determination Josephine carved a place out for herself in the entertainment industry and the world.

As a dancer, Josephine Baker is someone I have learned about and idolized. Through this biographical story we are carried through the lesser known ups and downs of Josephine's exciting and controversial life. The opening scene absolutely dazzled me as we are thrown into Josephine's preparations for what would be her last performance. This is a perfect introduction to the person who is a true force of nature and a true performer. This introduction gave just enough hints into Josephine's life to keep me wondering about her life. The elegant writing conveyed the highs and lows of the journey through Josephine's life and the emotions that went alongside of it. I was constantly amazed at how Josephine pulled herself up again and again and continued to add good to the world after all that she went through. Josephine Baker's Last Dance is a whirlwind of an inspirational story of a remarkable woman.

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

Meet Me In Outer Space

Meet Me In Outer Space - Melinda Grace

Roll 5 for Snakes & Ladders- Square 25- go back!


College student and fashion major Edie Kits is going to do a summer semester in Paris and maybe stay for the fall- if only she can pass French. Edie is having an especially hard time in French due to her Central Auditory Processing Disorder, an invisible disability that makes it difficult for Edie to understand things and sometimes mishear things. This makes French class twice as hard, especially when her professor won't let Edie record the class. The French TA, Hudson- a super cute,beanie wearing fashion failure comes to Edie's aid. Hudson over-zealously offers to tutor her and helps the teacher understand Edie's transmitter. Edie finds herself falling for Hudson, but Paris is only a few months away.

Meet Me in Outer Space is a sweet, heartfelt and realistic new adult romance that explores life with an invisible disability. Edie stole my heart with her determination, grit and willingness to fight for herself and her dreams. The writing portrayed Edie as a regular college aged woman who just happened to have a disability. Central Auditory Processing Disorder isn't a disability that is often explored and is definitely one that is very misunderstood. The opening chapter did a fabulous job exposing the difficulties of living with and finding resources for a disability that no one believes you have. The romance and Hudson's character were sugary sweet and charming. For as determined as Edie was to not have a boyfriend before she left for Paris, Hudson was equally determined to be with her. I enjoyed Hudson's willingness to really get to know Edie and taking things at her pace. Overall, a charming and entertaining new adult romance that showcases the struggle between chasing your dreams and romance. 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

Song of Sacrifice

Song of Sacrifice (Homeric Chronicles #1) - Janell Rhiannon

4th Roll for Snakes and Ladders- Square 16: Genre Fantasy


Everyone knows the stories of the Trojan War, but we often don't think of the women who gave up their children,  their lives and their homes to appease their gods and their husbands. Queen Hecuba of Troy if forced to sacrifice her son Paris after a seer decrees that he will cause the downfall of Troy.  Queen of Sparta, Leda has been taken by Zeus giving her two children by her husband and two children by Zeus.  Her daughters, Clytemnestra and Helen will go on to endure different fates by husbands Agamemnon and Menelaus.  Penelope, wife of Odysseus of Ithaca raises her son alone while Odysseus is called to war and waits 20 years for his return.  From afar, the Gods and Goddesses watch and intervene in the lives of the mortals who desperately try to defy their will.
Song of Sacrifice is a fresh retelling of the Trojan War that focuses on the stories and emotions of the women, mothers and children of the story.  Beginning with Hecuba who had Paris ripped from her to be sacrificed for her country and never recovered from the loss to Helen who viewed her beauty as a curse and was continually sold to the highest bidder instead of finding love for herself.  The writing intricately investigates the inner thoughts and emotions of the female players both real and mythological while not losing sight of the bigger story. Song of Sacrifice does cover a very long time period and includes a large cast of characters, I often found myself having to stop and process all that was happening.  With so much at stake- bloodshed, war, romance, family issues and mythology, Song of Sacrifice provides an epic and in-depth look at the people behind the Trojan War.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Within These Lines

Within These Lines - Stephanie Morrill

Next roll for snakes and ladders- Square 10- Author's Last Name Begins with M


Soon after the attack of Pearl Harbor, life becomes much more difficult for teen Evalina Cassano and Taichi Hamasaki.  Evalina and Taichi have been hiding their growing relationship since Taichi's family began delivering produce to Evalina's family's restaurant.  Now, resentment for their Japanese- American neighbors are growning in California and talks of relocation centers are starting to arise.  Taichi's family is preparing for the inevitable and unknown that awaits them at a War Relocation Center.  Evalina is preparing for college without Taichi while wondering how her fellow Americans can be treated with such cruelty.  When Taichi and his family are moved, Evalina is there.  She continues to fight for the rights of her friends in the Relocation Center while Taichi struggles to navigate his new life.

Within These Lines is a heartfelt, emotional and enlightening World War II historical romance.  I was very interested to read more about the US Internment Camps as this part of our history usually glossed over.  Taichi and Evalina are amazing characters and I enjoyed watching their relationship grow and change through adversity.  Evalina continued to fight for what she thought was right even though everyone had doubts about their relationship.  Taichi continued to make the best out of his situation while continually thinking of Evalina's welfare and was willing to sacrifice for her.  Through Taichi and Evalina's points of view, I was able to see how the Camps were portrayed from both sides.  From Evalina I was able to see the propaganda that the government put out as well as the hatred and misunderstanding that quickly spread and the people who helped and fought for the rights of those interred.  From Taichi and his family I was able to see the true conditions of the camps, the lack of adequate housing, food and sanitary facilities and the community that residents were able to form.  I was surprised to read about the very real riots in the Manzanar Relocation Center that erupted between the residents.  The ending wrapped up rather quickly and I would have loved to see more details of Evalina's and Taichi's romance and what they faced after the war.  Overall, a very well researched and historically detailed sincere romance. 

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

Snakes and Ladders Tracking Post


Square 1: Author is a woman- Passengers by Elizabeth Collums

Square 4: Published in 2019- The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick

Square 10: Author's Last Name Begins with an M- Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill

Square 16: Genre: Fantasy- Song of Sacrifice by Janell Rhiannon


The Woman in the Lake

The Woman in the Lake - Nicola Cornick
Snakes and Ladders roll #2- Published in 2019
In London, 1765 the philandering and abusive Lord Gerard becomes so enraged at his wife, Lady Isabella that he commissions a beautiful gold gown meant to kill her.  When his plan fails, Lord Gerard enlists his Moonraker pal and Lady Isabella's maid, Constance to destroy the dress.  However, both Lady Isabella and Constance become so enraptured with the dress that the task is never completed.  Lady Isabella decides to escape the city and convalesce in Lydiard, away from her husband.  The dress calls to her though, possessing Lady Isabella.  In 2004, Fenella Brightwell takes a school trip to Lydiard.  Fen has kleptomania tendencies and when she walks into a small room at Lydiard, she sees a drunken man in time period clothing staring at a golden dress.  Fen is spooked, but before she goes the golden dress calls out to her- take me.  Years later, Fen is out of an abusive relationship and has created a stable life for herself.  Then, she gets a package in the mail. The golden dress has made its way back to her life with a strange message- danger.  
The Woman in the Lake is an enchanting dual-time mystery that pulled me into the story just as the dress made its way into the character's lives.  From the beginning I was engrossed with the puzzle of who the woman in the lake was and the importance of the dress.  The narrative switched between Isabella, Constance and Fen's point of view tying together their experiences with the pull of the golden dress.  While the dress enhanced the worst traits in all of the woman, the dress also seemed to make it possible for the women to rid themselves of an even bigger problem, the men in the lives.  As Fen investigated the history of the dress, the similarities between herself and Isabella became apparent with a love of art and a knack for falling for abusive men.  Constance was a very interesting character to me as it was not apparent as to where her loyalties lied, however, she was definitely the most clever.  The golden dress was a character in itself; as I read about the qualities of the dress, I felt possessed myself as I felt the need to continue to read in order to unravel its mystery. I would have loved to know how exactly the power was created.  Overall, a captivating story mixing history, mystery and a touch of magic.  
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.


Passengers - Elizabeth Collums
Snakes & Ladders Book 1- Author is a woman
Katy Ewing and her daughters Annie and Lily live in a rural Irish village in the midst of the famine.  Katy's husband has gone to New York in hopes of providing for his family, but Katy has not heard from him in a while.  On top of this, Katy has not felt the same since the birth of Lily and has left Annie with a lot of responsibility.  When Katy receives a letter from the United States, a new world opens up to her as she learns of her family origins and finds courage to track down her husband and family in New York.  With this new found determination Katy packs up the girls and starts on a journey that will open up their lives to new opportunity, family and healing.  
Passengers in an epic family saga that covers decades in time and many issues.  I was drawn into Annie's character right off the bat, she was the driving force behind change in the story as Katie was lost and forlorn from the start.  I was intrigued by Katie's family and the mystery of her mother.  I enjoyed the history of the famine and the immigration to New York.  The conditions on the boat and the living conditions in New York were very accurate and heart wrenching to read.  All of the characters do grow and change throughout the story, though it seems like a lot of it comes from pure luck and God's will as the story swayed towards Christian Fiction.  I was impressed with all of the work that the Ewing family was able to do in New York and loved how it changed each of them individually.  Since this story covered such a large span of time, some important events seemed almost glossed over, such as deaths and marriages just happen in a sentence or two.  Overall, a heartwarming and sweeping historical family tale.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Innocence Lost

Innocence Lost (Bootleggers' Chronicles #1) - Sherilyn Decter

In 1924 Philadelphia, the city is run by bootleggers. The gangs that supply the alcohol run the city, controlling the money and most of the police force and Mickey Duffy is one of the bosses that controls it all. On the night of a raid of one of Duffy's warehouses, three young boys are caught in the action. One boy, Oskar, never made it home. Oskar is friends with Tommy Barnes, Tommy's mom, Maggie runs a boarding house in order to make ends meet. When Maggie finds out that it is Tommy's friend that has disappeared, she becomes more involved in the community and sees the toll that bootlegging has taken. Maggie is determined to find out what happened to Oskar, but has no idea where to start. Maggie gets a helping hand from an unusual source, a retired Police Inspector from another era coaches Maggie to help her bring down the criminals hiding right beneath her nose. 

Innocence Lost is a unique murder mystery set within Prohibition era Philadelphia. It took me a while to get into the story while the scene was being set, but once Maggie and Tommy's characters were introduced, I felt connected to the story. Maggie's character transforms throughout the story from a woman who feels powerless to control her surroundings while feeling like she does not fit in with many of her immigrant neighbors to a woman who is actively fighting crime and caring for her neighbors. The integration of Inspector Geyer was very interesting. His presence as a ghost fit in seamlessly and helped Maggie immensely, but I did wonder a lot about his background and how he found his way to Maggie. The Prohibition era was highlighted in the storytelling as well; I had never thought of the many reasons why so many men easily fell into bootlegging after World War I and how women embraced the freedoms of the era after taking up the men's jobs while they were away. While Maggie lends a large hand in avenging Oskar's death, there is still a lot of work to be done in keeping her city safe. I'd love to see what she can accomplish next. 

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

A Cobbler's Tale

A Cobbler's Tale - Neil Perry Gordon

Pincus Potasznik is a Jewish cobbler living in Galicia. In 1910, he receives an opportunity to travel to New York and set up a landsman society through his rabbi. Pincus decides to travel to New York making the decision to leave his pregnant wife Clara and their children at home and return for them later. On the voyage to New York, Pincus does not fare well, but with the help of Jakob Adler, her makes it. Jakob befriends Pincus and they decide to help one another after landing. However, Jakob is running from an accidental murder of a Warsaw crime boss and has fallen right into the Jewish gangs of New York with boss Leo Gorpatsch. On the boat over Pincus also has his palm read and receives a warning to bring his oldest son over within the year. With the help of Jakob's connections and Pincus' skills, they set up a cobbler shop which also fronts as a way for Jakob to collect payment for Gorspatsch. Soon Pincus is so busy with his shop and Landsman Society that he can't imagine finding time to go home to retrieve his family. Back in Galicia, four years have passed. Clara has had her baby and the children have grown. She has kept her home and the cobbler shop running. War has broken out near Galicia. Pincus and Jakob plan to rescue the family while delivering a package overseas for Gorspatsch. This opens up a whole new world of trouble for everyone, but also a world of hope.

A Cobbler's Tale combines an immigrant's story along with the suspense of the Jewish Mafia, World War I and mysticism. The story focuses on Pincus, but the point of view bounces between Pincus, Jakob and Clara giving a rounded to view to the immigrant experience and the time Clara was left in Galicia. I was surprised at the reach of the Jewish Mafia. Pincus and Jakob might not have survived their first years with same ease if it were not for Gorspatsch, although it would have saved them a world of heartache later. PIncus' journey closely reflected that of a Jewish immigrant at the time and was loosely based on the author's grandparents. The writing easily conveyed the living conditions and the feeling of community within the Lower East Side. I felt a lot of sympathy for Clara's character, left to raise children, run a shop and survive in a war zone without knowing when Pincus would come back for her and the children. Her strength and courage shone as Clara protected her children and helped her community. Jakob's character was very interesting, always seeming to find trouble and falling in with the gangs, despite his friendship with Pincus, he tends to cause trouble for him over and over. There was a layer of added suspense and mystery with PIncus' oldest son, Moshe and his talent of foreseeing grim events. Known as a tzaddik, Moshe's talent can help his family, but is sought out by others. Incorporating this mysticism creates an exciting and dangerous ending that pulls together Pincus' journey. Overall, A Cobbler's Tale has a lot going on and offers an action packed historical journey of a Jewish immigrant with a touch of magic.

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

The Peddler of Wisdom

The Peddler of Wisdom - Laura Matthias Bendoly

The village of Les Échelles is a quiet farming and mining town connected to the rest of the world by one bridge. Les Échelles has just recently recovered from the plague and it's widowed healer, Irene is just beginning to be recognized again by her neighbors after many of their families perished under her care. Irene works through the protection of the town's spirit, Zahara and has read her future with her tarot cards. Soon after the plague subsides an invader, Duke Dominico, ravages the town and kills their peaceful Count Girau. Many of the villagers are taken with Dominico's finery and promises of a gilded town. The Duke also brings along Durande who works as a healer as well as an alchemist. Durande holds many of Domenico's secrets. Irene befriends Durande and finds out that Domenico's fantasies are fueled by madness and he will soon tear their small town apart. Finding strength within herself and a little push from Zahara Irene must become the leader her town needs to form a resistance against the Duke.

The Peddler of Wisdom is an engaging historical fantasy combining life in a provencial French town with a little bit of magic and large dose of female-led resistance. I immediately fell in love with Irene's character, a healer who cares for everything including birds and snakes and does not seem to hold a grudge. The town of Les Échelles was absolutely charming and picturesque, through the writing I could envision the shops, the castle, Irene's farm and the countryside where Irene left offerings for Zahara. With the arrival of the Duke and Durande, Les Échelles is turned upside down. The Duke and Durande bring elements of danger, fear and magic, a deadly combination for anyone who gets in the Duke's way. With gruesome automata, fiery jinn, and people painted in gold, the Duke attempts to create his vision. Durande, a reluctant hand to the Duke brings Irene into his fold and provides the knowledge for Irene to turn on the Duke. I liked that the relationship between Durande and Irene was not a focus of the story, but their partnership was important for town and their freedom. I enjoyed seeing Irene's leadership grow and emerge among the town. She is the beginning of the resistance, a healer in more ways than one. Her wisdom, kindness and touch of magic within leads to a revolution that the Duke never saw coming. Overall, a unique historical fantasy that left me wanting more.

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

The Warrior Maiden

The Warrior Maiden - Melanie Dickerson

Mulan has grown up in a small villiage in Lithuania.  She is the daughter of Milokai, a warrior who fathered her while fighting in the East.  Milokai's wife has raised Mulan as her own.  Now, Mulan is a young woman and Milokai is dead.  Mulan's mother attempts to marry off Mulan, however when Milokai is called to battle, Mulan assumes his place as Milokai's son.  Assisted by her father's steward and her archery coach, Andrei, Mulan marches off to protect the castle of an ally from the Teutonic Knights.  Fighting with Mulan is the Duke of Hagenheim's son, Wolfgang.  Wolfgang's brother Stefan however is fighting for the Teutonic Knights.  At first, Wolfgang sees Mulan as a rival in archery, but Mulan's skills in battle win her respect and Wolfgang see's her as an equal.  Now, fighting closely with Wolfgang, Mulan must protect her secret and her feelings towards Wolfgang while continuing to fend off the Teutonic Knights, including Wolfgang's brother. 

A very creative re-imagining of the Mulan story within the world of Hagenheim. At first, I was very wary of how Mulan would fit into the western European world, but with a few twists here and there, it seemed liked she was made to belong all along.  I enjoyed how the spirit of Mulan was kept in her personality.  Mulan was scared, but kept a very confident face, and showed bravery and ingenuity in battle, using her strengths as a woman.  She balked against the gender norms of marrying for safety and security to a man who would not love her for who she is.  I loved reading the battle scenes and seeing Mulan's mixed emotions as she fought to protect herself as well as what she believed was right.  Mulan and Wolfgang's relationship was also very interesting.  Beginning as a rivalry and then a respected friend and warrior, Wolfgang then turns into the only other person who know Mulan's secret and his feelings towards the soldier and now woman must change.  There is a lot of will they or won't they that drove me a little mad as neither of them wanted to ruin the friendship forged in battle. I also appreciated the incorporation of the historic Teutonic Knights and Grand Master Rusdorf.  With an exciting ending and the hope of a happily ever after, The Warrior Maiden is another wonderful installment in the Hagenheim stories.

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