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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.

Lust-The Elite Seven Series

Lust - Ker Dukey

Rhett Masters is high school royalty, wealthy, good-looking and a star football player. Rhett has a new girl every day and plans to go to school on a football scholarship. After a family tragedy that Rhett believes is his fault, his life spirals downhill and causes him to loose his chance at a football scholarship. Rhett changes his focus to becoming one the Elite, a secret society in New Orleans that recruits seven members a year. The Elite will pave the way for Rhett's future, but getting in will come at a price. The task that the Elite give Rhett seems simple for a guy like him, but once Rhett learns more about the the woman he has to target, he has to choose her reputation over his dream.

From the absolutely heart-wrenching opening of Lust, I knew I was hooked. I really liked the idea of the secret society, The Elite and how they were based on evil and sin. Rhett seemed like he was going to be the stereotypical good-looking bad boy, however, his motivations were much deeper. From the beginning, I could tell that Rhett had much deeper emotional motivations than her ever showed on the surface. Rhett's initiation into the Elite was intense, but predictable. Although, Rhett and Chastity did make a really cute couple and the heat and dirtiness factor ramped up when their relationship took off. I can't wait to go deeper into the stories of the other seven member, especially Rhett's friend, God.

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

Julian Fox, the Dream Guardian

Julian Fox the Dream Guardian - E.J. Miranda
Julian Fox is a college graduate looking forward to working at his father's business.  He and his brother, Nicholas are engaged in a continuous prank war and his girlfriend, Jennifer is always around saying how much she loves him.  Julian's life is beautiful.  One night Julian has an extremely lifelike dream, one where he is taken to the Land of Wise Dreams where he fights off an evil force that wanted to enter the dream arch of a dreamer and harm them.  Julian learns that he is a dream guardian, a Kelsdrant and has been in training to protect dreamers from the Defiler's.  Julian now splits his time between his real life and his dream life until the two begin to mix.
Julian Fox, the Dream Guardian is a unique and interesting fantasy read.  It did take me a little while to get into the story as it began with showcasing the extravagant and affluent lifestyle of the extremely gifted Fox family. There was a lot of description of the family's exorbitant wealth that really didn't do anything for the plot except for setting up Jennifer as a gold-digger.  I also didn't understand why the mother of the 20 and 21 year old Fox brother's were so involved in their lives to the point of sticking thermometers in their mouths and regulating what they eat.  However, I really did enjoy the book once Julian entered the Land of Wise Dreams.  The world-building was wonderful and had a captivating history and landscape.  I was fascinated by the different animals of the land and how they tied into Earth's mythology as well as the painful histories of those that became Defilers.  I found Julian's journey within the Land of Wise Dreams much more interesting as he went on quests, battled Defilers and made friendships.  The ending twists Julian's real life and dream life together even more and leaves room for a sequel. 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Pleased to Meet Me

Pleased to Meet Me - Bill Sullivan

Have you ever wondered why you do some of the things you do? Or just simply why you are the way you are?  With a deeper knowledge of our genetics and how our body and environments interact, Bill Sullivan explains who we are based on our genetics.  This topic may not sound like everyone's cup of tea (you might find out why if you read the book!), however, the writing is easy to read and relatable.  This is accessible genetics the way you wish your high school biology teacher would have taught things and is filled with pop-culture references and engaging language that will appeal to science buffs and curious minds alike.  

Broken into ten sections, the reader is introduced to their Maker, Tastes, Appetite, Addictions, Moods, Demons, Match, Mind, Beliefs and Future.  In Meet Your Maker, a primer to DNA, genetics and expression is given for those of us who may not remember the finer points of biology or need a brush up. 

My favorite section was Meet Your Tastes, the writing really dives right in to describe how genes are responsible for your love or hatred of broccoli and your tastes in general.  It was amazing to see how well genetics could describe my tastes and what I enjoy.  I was definitely able to pinpoint some of the tasting genes that I do or do not have just from reading (I am definitely not a supertaster, but I do have a variation in my TRPV1 receptor).  

Meet Your Moods was another very informative section for me.  Giving insight to how we feel the way we feel, Pleased to Meet Me describes just how much influence our gut bacteria has on the way we feel and made me think about just how much control I have over how I feel. 

More than anything, Pleased to Meet Me continuously emphasizes not to judge people based on factors that they may not be able to control- their weight, addictions, moods, temperament or romantic preference.  These are all based on genetic factors that we can better understand and- in some cases help one another with.  There is a wide future for genetic engineering and the impact it can have on humans, but what we do with these discoveries and innovations is up to us and what our gut bacteria wants us to do.

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

Secrets by the Knoll

Secrets by the Knoll - Julie Metros
Gracie and Timmy Johansson were walking home one evening after church in 1902.  Not far from their home, the two teenagers were brutally murdered and left by the roadside to die.  The death of the two youngest Johansson siblings left a hlarge hole in their family, Timmy was favored by his father and was being trained to take over the family farm.  Gracie was looking to further her education.  Such a crime was not common in the small town near Des Moines, Iowa.  An inspection was completed and several suspects brought in, but the murders left a black spot on the town and especially the Johansson family.  Patriarch Lukas Johansson takes the news especially hard as he believes Timmy was the only son who could take over the farm.  As time passes and no perpetrator is found, the Johannson family is left divided by their loss.
Inspired by the real life unsolved murders of Lena and Tommy Peterson in 1902, Secrets by the Knoll attempts to retell the days leading up to the murder, the investigation and the effects on the family and the town. The mystery of the children's deaths drew me in along with the strange family dynamics. The first chapter, which takes place in the present really piqued my interest as a descendant of the family goes back to find the place that the children were murdered.  However, we never come back to the present or what the descendant learned.  The writing overall was a little clunky and the dialogue unrealistic with one character saying "do this" and the other character saying, "ok, I will do this."  There are also quite a few typos, such as "Like goes on" instead of "Life goes on."  Regardless of these, I finished the book since I really wanted another point of view on who the author thought committed the murders and why.  For the most part, the story follows the actual events of the murder and investigation with the exception of name changes.  This does give a good feeling of time and place as well as people's views.  Almost the whole town was ready to convict an African-American coal miner for the children's deaths simply because he was a newcomer to the town.  I should not have been surprised as to who the author believed was responsible for the deaths as there was heavy foreshadowing and strange reactions to the character the whole way through. Overall, a historical mystery with a lot of potential, but one that needed some cleaning up and a bit more punch, such as the murder from the children's point of view or a clear and thought out motive for the perpetrator. 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Caitlin's Song

Caitlin's Song - John A. Heldt
The growing Carson family has made a speedy and dangerous exit out of 1943 and has arrived in 1962- 10 years prior to the year they want to be in to find their parents.  The Carson siblings plan on settling in for a few months before they can make their next hop to 1983.  For Cody and Caitlin, this means college.  With a little help from new family members that they met in 1943, Cody and Caitlin gain admittance to Boulder University and relish their college experience in 1962.  Cody rushes fraternities, goes on panty raids and falls hard and fast for Caitlin's roommate, Molly.  Caitlin studies hard but also uses the experience to grieve for her airman from 1943 and move on.  Caitlin finds hope in two young men, Vince and Dennis.  As she gets to know the two young men, only one will win her heart.  The Carson parents arrive as planned in 1972 and quickly find out that their children have not reached the same year.  Looking back through news articles, Tim and Caroline Carson find the worst news that they could receive- one of their children has been killed in the past.  Further research gives them the name and unfortunate background of the killer and sets the Carson parents in action to attempt to stop a killer before he is born.  
Caitlin's Song is the fourth book in the Carson Chronicles series.  I would very much advise reading this series in its intended order to keep the timelines straight and really get to know the characters. I'm glad that Caitlin finally had a happy story, although it easily could have turned out differently.   In each of the Carson's adventures, there has always been a very good sense of the time period the family is in and this is no exception.  From the diners, to the cars, fraternities and hairstyles, 1962 is shown in it's glory.  The Cuban Missile crisis is the event the the Carson siblings know will cause drama in that year, but they are a little too confident that their actions have not changed anything in the past.  It was really interesting to see how things played out when the Carson's were not sure of the future.  Caitlin's story was intensely emotional as she processes grief, changing time periods, excitement of starting college and finding love again.  I was glad that this story also focused more on the Carson parents and their journey.  This time, Tim and Caroline have many difficult choices to make that involve more than just finding their children.  It was interesting to see what they did and how it simultaneously affected their children's timeline.  With the Carson's next jump in time to 1983, I can't wait to see what awesome adventures unfold for Cody.  
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

The Undertaker's Assistant

The Undertaker's Assistant - Amanda Skenandore
Effie Jones was born a slave before she escaped to Union lines where she was taken in by an army surgeon and taught the trade of embalming as the ward of the surgeon and his wife.  Now, ten years after the war Effie is compelled to leave  the only home she remembers and travels to New Orleans.  Effie knows that there might not be many opportunities for a young freedwoman, but she takes a chance by knocking on the door of Mr. Whitmark, the local Undertaker and a former Union soldier. Mr. Whitmark takes Effie on and while improving the shop, Effie tries to find where she fits in.  Effie quickly falls for the orator and state legislator Samson Greene and becomes involved in his political committee fighting for rights.  Effie also finds an unlikely friend in Adeline, a Creole who teaches Effie social graces in return for help with her tricks of the spiritual trade.  However, Effie is looking for more than friendship and love, she is looking for what she forgot before she was found in the Union camp, a family to miss her when she is gone.  The answers Effie is looking for might be closer than she thinks.
Thoughtful and distinctive, The Undertaker's Assistant is a historical fiction novel of Reconstruction era south that intelligently weaves together the experiences of a freedwoman and a woman on a journey of self discovery.  I was easily able to connect with Effie's character and the turbulent but exciting times in Reconstruction-era Louisiana.  Effie also shows the unique lens Undertaker and the very well researched practice of embalming. The impact of the Civil War left it's mark on more than just the freed slaves and the soldiers.  Effie's employer, Mr. Whitmark, a southerner who fought for the Union is treated as an outcast even though the Union won.  Adeline is a Creole whose family has been hit by the economic downturn.  There is also Sampson Greene who has found his calling in helping others to rise above and using his freedom for political action.  With this diverse cross-section of people in one place, I can feel the tension rising over the course of the story.  In addition to the setting, Effie's search for herself and ties to her own culture drive a second story line.  Effie's quest to discover her roots and the people from her past was heartfelt and emotional.  Throughout the story there is a foreboding foreshadowing that something traumatic has happened in Effie's past,  I enjoyed the unraveling of the mystery within Effie's mind as her travels revealed hidden memories locked in her mind.  
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Fool's Errand (Beat Street #2)

Fool's Errand - Jenna Zark

Twelve year old Ruby Tabeata is ready to have a fun summer. However, she finds out that her best friend Sophie is forced into hiding with her mother after her mother attended a Communist meeting.  The House Un-American Activities Committee would like to serve Sophie's mom in order to have her turn in other people who have  attended meetings as well.  Ruby wants to help Sophie and her mother after her mother loses her job and goes on the run, but after last year's run-in with a social worker, Ruby's mom has set some rules for her.  Ruby decides to chase Sophie all the way to Illinois along with her brother's girlfriend JoJo.  Although, her intentions may end up hurting more than helping.

An exciting and dangerous middle grade adventure in the 1950's. Fool's Errand picks up soon after book 1, The Beat of Ruby's Street leaves off and I would highly encourage reading that first in order to get to Ruby. Through Ruby, I learned a little more about America's hidden history of the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Hollywood Blacklist that Sophie's mom was placed on. Ruby's adventure was also a coming-of-age journey for her where she expanded out of the Beat society and learned that her actions had consequences.  Ruby also learned more of the rules of society that she didn't always experience as a Beat and gained maturity as she learned to trust others and that not everything will go the way you think. 

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

The Fire of Winter

The Fire of Winter - D.K. Marley

 Gruah knew she was destined for greatness from a young age from seeing her destiny after touching the Stone of Scone.  However, Scotland is treacherous and after watching her mother murdered, Gruah escapes to the forest and is taken care of by outcasts, Hecate and her daughters.  Gruah and Hecate practice the old ways of Cailleach.  The Goddess keeps a flame burning in Gruah.  When Gruah is married off by her father to Gille Comgain, Gruah knows that she must find a way to be with her true love, Macbeth in order to fulfill her destiny.  Through brute force, manipulation and violence, Gruah claims what is hers, but at a price.

History and literature combine to tell the tale of a woman who helped to shape Scotland's history and later become immortalized through Shakespeare's work.  Through DK Marley's writing, the life of 11th century Gruah comes to life.  Gruah's character is strong and unbending, stopping at nothing to fulfill her destiny that will end with her enemies dead and her and her true love as King and Queen of Scotland.  However, Gruah is so filled with vengeance that her destiny will come with a high cost.  Gruah's path seemed like such a slippery slope where one death only causes more death.  In this sense, the realities of 11th century Scotland are brought to life.  With every decision Gruah made, I kept waiting for her to learn her lesson and finally reach contentment and peacefulness, this is a long journey for Gruah.  I enjoyed the continued theme of a woman's will guiding the men of Scotland who believed that they held control.  From Gruah to her unassuming cousin Donella to the 'witches' Hecate and her daughters, it was their will that drove the actions of others.  

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

F is for Fairy

F is for Fairy - Rhonda Parrish
F is for Fairy is an alphabet anthology of short stories that incorporate fairies or the world of fae in some way.  Each story has a letter that it is themed around and a different author that offers a wide variety of writing styles and well as takes on what a fairy is.  Like any anthology or collection, there were some stories that I liked better than others.  
Many of the stories that I was drawn to included fairy re-imaginings of stories I already knew or included fairies from popular stories such as Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan and A Midsummer Night's Dream.  One of my very favorites was A, a story that seems very familiar as it examines how fairies come into existence and find their purpose as the fairy Apple goes through many different emotions to find out who she is.  M was another story with a familiar twist as a princess decides for herself whom to spend the rest of her life with.  W was a very different story, taking the vibe of a comedic mystery with some unlikely heroes from Midsummer's Night.  Y was also a story with a different tone and an ogre that offered a redeeming and sweet song.  Overall, a good and varied collection of stories for any fairy or fantasy lov 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

No Woman's Land

No Woman's Land - Ellie Midwood

Ilse Stein and her family are Germans in 1941.  That is, until the rights of the German Jews are stripped, leaving them without land, without a home.  Ilse and her sisters are transported to the Minsk Ghetto.  The trip was difficult and they are left with nothing in the Minsk winter.  Determined that her and her sister will survive, Ilse works diligently at the tasks given to her by the people who took everything away.  While in the Ghetto Ilse befriends Rivka, a member of the underground resistance.  Ilse begins to take part in small acts of resistance to help their survival.  However, after a massacre of most of their work group performed by the SS, hope seems lost.  A Luftwaffe officer, Willy Shultz takes over the group and shows favor toward Ilse.  Willy does everything he can to keep them together and offers Ilse food and clothing to take back to the girls.  As Ilse and Willy spend time together, their affection grows.  However, the situation they are in has tremendous consequences for their emotions.  Ilse and Willy must find out how to navigate much more than their feelings for each other as the war rages on and their futures become unclear.  

Based on a true story, No Woman's Land is an emotional historical romance.   Right from the beginning, the slow spread of hate and anti-Antisemitism is shown through Ilse's eyes.  The writing shows the gradual but deliberate spread of hate and how easily it caught on and and became normalized to make an entire people were made to feel less than others and eventually kill them off.  Unfortunately, this is still a good lesson for today.  As Ilse watches what is happening around her, she is upset at being treated differently, but feels thankful at times that she isn't treated as poorly as other Jews.    Once Ilse and her family were moved out of their homes, the writing very accurately portrayed what people went through in transport and in the Ghetto.  The pogroms in the Ghettos were bloody, violent and senseless.  Ilse, Willy and Rivka showed tremendous strength and hope through the worst of times.  I was fascinated to learn about the amazing members of the Resistance within the Ghetto and the surrounding towns as well as the German soldiers who used their power to help where they could.  Ilse and Willy's love grew gradually in the darkest of times and in the sweetest of ways; the effortless writing conveyed the magnitude of the many emotions seamlessly.  Overall, No Woman's Land is an astounding story of hope, bravery, resistance, resilience and love.

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

The Last Word

The Last Word - Samantha Hastings

Lucinda Leavitt has just returned home from finishing school.  Lucinda's mother died when she was young and Lucy has grown up at her father's countinghouse where she learned how to help with the books and complete sums quickly in her head.  After finishing school, Lucy would like to have a job at the countinghouse, however, she is now expected to spend her days as a lady- working on stitching, attending parties and generally wasting the day away.  One of Lucy's pleasures after finishing school is reading her favorite serialized novel, but the issue that the ending of the story should be in instead contains a note that the author has died and the story is left unfinished.  With a renewed purpose in life, Lucy begins the hunt for deceased author B. Smith's final words of the story.  Although, a proper lady cannot go about with her chaperone and a man to guide her, so she enlists her sleepy chaperone Mrs. Patton and childhood friend and father's business partner, David for the adventure.  While tracking down B. Smith, Lucy proves to others and herself that she is much stronger than she believes.

The Last Word  is a fun, young adult, Victorian romance with a strong female lead.  Lucy is a magnetic personality from the start, wanting to defy all of the female norms for women in 1861.  Her determination to use her intelligence to work, find the end of her story and be more than a lady who sits around until she finds a husband is immediately captivating.  I absolutely loved the idea of the adventure to find the last words of B. Smith's story, I know that this would be something that bothered me as well.  I was even more pleased to find out that B. Smith's story was based on the real unfinished work of Elizabeth Gaskell.  Lucy's quest brought her on a journey through many Victorian-era homes and people of the time.  David was a perfect travelling companion for Lucy and I enjoyed watching their friendship turn to romance through their many swoon-worthy moments together.  David's respect for Lucy and his understanding of her intelligence and strength makes them a perfect pair.  In addition, I enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel, the culmination of the story with the Tooley Street Fire and the impacts it had on the area as well as the introduction of Bloomers to society and the practice of wealthy American women marrying into English families for titles make an appearance as well.  Overall, a charming Victorian romance with a fiercely determined heroine who will make her own last words. 

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


Shrug - Lisa Braver Moss
Martha Goldenthal is simply trying to navigate through life in 1960's California.  As the world changes around her, Martha's life seems to be imploding.  Martha's parents are both abusive; from making Martha believe she isn't good enough to physical violence, Martha's family life has made her develop a tic.  Martha shrugs her shoulder whenever she feels nervous or uncomfortable, the shrug only goes away when she is playing music.  Her siblings have manifested physical symptoms as well.  Martha feels she has to be better to win her parents affection: good grades, believing in her mother's strange habits and having the same interests as her father.  Martha struggles as her home life becomes more unstable over time, if she can make it to college and get out on her own, she just might make it.
Shrug is a coming-of-age story set in the Bay Area in the 1960's. This is a story built on hope and strong characters.  While no major climax of events happens in the story, Martha's growth and gradual change of mindset take center stage.  Anyone who has lived through any kind of domestic strife or abuse could easily relate to Martha's situation.  The writing deftly conveyed the amount of anxiety and complex emotions that Martha dealt with within herself and her family.  I knew exactly what Martha was going through as her family life was falling apart but she still knew she had to do well on all of her homework or try to console her mother even though her mother did not care about her comfort.  I also understood her tick and how and why it manifested as well as the impact it had on her life.  I loved the inclusion of the music of the era and the impact that it had on Martha.  The classical music in the beginning and the change to pop music reflected the turbulence of the time period along with her home life but the calming undercurrent of classical stayed throughout.  While the ending of the book might not have seen everything solved for Martha or her family, it gave a distinct impression of hope and a brighter future which is exactly what anyone in Martha's situation is looking for.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

A Bad Breed

A Bad Breed - Kat Ross
Anne is a daeva- one of a few magical and ancient beings left who now use their powers to hunt down any evil beings left in the world.  Anne is on assignment in a small Romanian village in 1889, she is on the hunt for a pricolici- a creature of folklore, a werewolf that killed several children in the small village. Anne has uncharacteristically gone missing from a nearby monastery on her assignment prompting friends Vivienne, Alec and Nathaniel to come looking for her.  Unbeknownst to Anna or Alec, Anne is being held as collateral by the very beast she was after in order for the beast to settle a grudge a few hundred years old.  However, as Anne begins to study her captor, she learns much more about him than she expected.
Bad Breed is a Gothic fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast and is the third in the Gaslamp Gothic series.  This can be read as a stand-alone, but now I definitely want to read the first two books.  The Romanian folklore of the pricolici intrigued me at the very beginning as Anne tries to outrun the vampire-werewolf hybrid that doesn't seem to particularly want to hurt her.  Furthermore, I was very interested in the origins of the daeva, I'll have to go back and read the other books to find out about that.  The action and pacing of the story was very tight and kept everything moving quickly.  The writing was a good mix of fantasy, fairy tale retelling, mystery and romance.  I especially liked the details that tied the story to Beauty and the Beast, but didn't make it a direct reproduction.  I especially loved the fierce female characters.  Anne was anything but a damsel in distress, even when her magic was disabled and Vivienne seems a loyal protector.  The mystery of the pricolici and what exactly he wanted with Anne and Alec kept the mystery going.  The ending left room for more of the story to be told as well, so I will be looking forward to the next book as well. 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Mighty Mary

Mighty Mary - Max Davine
A herd of elephants roams peacefully around India in the late 1800's under the watchful eye of their matriarch.  The matriarch recently gave birth and her baby watches mom carefully as she makes friends, plays and watches for predators. As the herd migrates, they notice that the funny apes keep getting closer to them and are building structures and making lots of noise.  One day while the matriarch is protecting the herd from a tiger the pale apes intervene, killing the tiger and the matriarch.  Her baby is left crying by her side.  The baby is taken and chained by the white apes, which she learns are people.  The baby named Mary and treated cruelly, punished until she learns to do what the people want.  Mary is eventually sold to Sparks World Famous Circus where she learns to perform and is hurt less often.  She learns to think of the circus performers as her herd.  However, her memory of all of the past cruelty and her life as a wild elephant never leave her. The day comes where Mary can not take the pain and loneliness.  Mary's actions that day will go down in history. 
I have always had a hard time reading books like this and I knew that Mighty Mary would be no different.  Especially since she was a real elephant and the terrible events that led to her death are true.  Mighty Mary is mostly written from Mary's point of view and displays the emotional depth that Mary and all elephants are capable of as well as the psychological changes that happen when we take an animal from the wild and attempt to tame it.  Mary's inner dialogue is heartbreaking as she is pulled from her mother and her home and dragged into the unknown to be cruelly treated, tormented, beaten and threatened with the bull stick that haunts her memories.  Mary attempts to find any connection with any living thing, even the predators was wrenching to me and when she finally gave up and seemed to forget who she was, I knew it was the beginning of the end.  Books like Mighty Mary remind me and all of us that we can do better for the animals that we share this world with and that any less is cruelty. 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Abe & Ann

Abe & Ann - Gary Moore
A young Abraham Lincoln sets off to the town of New Salem, Indiana in order to run a general store.  Abe is poor, looking for work that is anything but farming and also hopes to run into a woman that he has briefly met before, Ann Rutledge.  Ann's family run the Tavern in town and that is where Abe plans to stay, at least until his money runs out. During Abe's stay, he runs a store poorly and runs a militia well.  All the while, he and Ann grow a well-guarded relationship centered around grammar, symbols and signs.  When Ann becomes engaged and moves, Abe follows while taking the job of a surveyor while campaigning for legislature and finds out just how strong their relationship can be.
Abe & Ann is a look into Abraham Lincoln as a young man and not the formidable President that we usually think of him as.  At this point in time, Abe is just starting out with no money and no education, but he does have a lot of confidence, personality and willingness to learn.  His bravery shines through immediately when he decides to room at Ann's Tavern.  It was interesting to see Abe in this light, where his confidence is still growing and he is constantly having to pull himself up in order to survive.  I was intrigued to learn about Abe's early path to the Presidency and how this time of his life clearly influenced how he lead and policies he held.  Ann was a force, a woman who deserved better than the time she lived in.  Ann tried to re-write the rules favorably for herself and Abe.  It was a delight to see how she was able to fit in jabs and innuendo when they spoke. Written in the third person with a lot of introspective thoughts for each character, we are really given a close look inside Abe & Ann's heads- this is good because a lot of what each character has to communicate to the other is unspoken and communicated through signals, signs and wordplay.  However, for me the third person point of view failed to help me connect with a character.  That being said, the point of view also led to a lyrical and poetic prose, tying in the themes of grammar, poetry and symbolism for the slow, steady and nurtured love that grew between Abe & Ann.  
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Private Pursuits

Private Pursuits - Laverty Sparks

808 West Washington Street in the small town of New Water, Illinois has had a varied past. Now the house has been converted into profitable apartments by the industrious Dolsen Worthington. His renters are comprised of Macey, a makeup artist and her teenaged daughter Emma, Sonny Vice a war veteran with a permanent leg injury who drowns his depression with gambling and drinking, the Allen siblings whose parents both died recently and the elderly Fernie Braley, a former nanny. Dolsen has secretly placed security cameras in each apartment, except for Fernie. Dolsen fulfills his voyeuristic tendencies by watching the security footage often and gets a sneak peak into the private lives of his tenants. However, he might find some things that he would rather not know and miss some things that he would like to know. 

Private Pursuits is a is a domestic melodrama that will keep you guessing. The writing focuses heavily on the characters and moves quickly but sort of clunky through the many points of view. It seemed the most time was given to Macey Burris and very little to the others even though Fernie is a driving force near the end. Also, why does nobody in this book have a regular name except for Emma? Bane, Kettie, Dolsen, Fernie- all in one place at a time? Anyway, with a look into each of these characters intimate moments, a suspense and intrigue was created. I had a feeling that something big was going to happen in order to bind everyone together; however that never really happened. There were several bigger moments that could have accomplished this, but just sort of petered out. Overall, an interesting look into people's private lives that didn't quite hit the right notes for me.

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