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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.

Van Helsing Academy (Supernatural Rehab #1)

Van Helsing Academy - Stacey O'Neale

There is trouble in the supernatural world of shifters, vampires and witches and Mina Van Helsing is stuck in the middle.  As a Reaper, a direct descendant of the Van Helsing himself, Mina has trained her entire life to police the supernatural beings who break the pacts agreed upon long ago.  On a mission gone wrong, Mina is captured and injured.  She wakes up with no recollection of the past few weeks except for strange fragments.  There is video evidence however of Mina killing two vampires without cause and for this, Mina must be punished.  Mina's parents know there is something bigger at play and have Mina sentenced to Van Helsing Academy, a rehabilitation center for wayward supernatural beings.  Mina's sentence is not just punishment, she is directed to find out the secret plot that  framed her for the vampire deaths and might begin a war between the factions.

 
Van Helsing Academy is a fun and exciting paranormal romance.  Mina's character is gracious, smart and not afraid to go against the status quo.  I really liked the idea of the Van Helsing Academy and that there were supernatural beings all around.  The plot was intense with multiple factions, secrets and intrigues.  The characters were all distinct.  I loved Kiera, her friendship and willingness to open up to Mina allowed Mina to realize that not all was well at the Academy and that supernatural beings were not the stereotypes that she believed.  Mina's open-mindedness helps her to see that all is not right at the Academy and that all that she was told may not be true.  Cassius, the vampire prince and the other vampires were sleek, sexy and secretive. The shifters and Sacha, the Alpha were strong, courageous and handsome.  The romance took a while to build, but felt right.  There were definitely some great steamy sections that put this book more in the New Adult category.  The ending brings together many revelations and a lot of action with a cliff hanger.  I will be diving into the next book as soon as it comes out. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

The Attic Tragedy

The Attic Tragedy - J. Ashley-Smith

Sylvie is new to the school. Her old-school clothes and head in the clouds demeanor make her an easy target for boys like Tommy Payne and his gang. George knows what Tommy will do to a girl like Sylvie. When George intervenes on Tommy's attack of Sylvie the pair become fast friends. Sylvie accepts George with all her quirks and faults. George accepts Sylvie's strange gift of knowing the background of the antiques at her father's shop with a simple touch. As life moves on, Sylvie goes to University far away. George stays and works in the antique shop waiting to desperately rekindle the feelings that they shared in school.

The Attic Tragedy is a short story about friendship and how it changes us over time. The unique elements of Sylvie's gift brought me into the story, but isn't the main focus. I would love to have a gift like that, to know the history of objects with a touch. The stories Sylvie shared were amazing whether they were sweet, heartbreaking or silly. Since this is a short story, the timeline moves quickly and the characters are carved out along the way. I do wish there was more information about Sylive's gift and George's background. The real focus, however, is on the value of friendship and how it affects us, even if the friendship changes. Overall, a unique story with elements of the paranormal and acceptance.

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

Gluttony (The Elite Seven #5)

Gluttony - K.  Webster

Baxter Samuel Goddard V, or God to his friends has been given life on a silver platter. His father is one of the richest men in the world an has made sure that everything is in excess. This also means that he was able to buy God into The Elite, the controlling secret society in New Orleans. God takes on The Elite mostly for his best friend, Rhett so they can be members together. However, the task that God has been given will directly impact Rhett and their friendship. God completes his task for The Elite, but also injures a young woman in the process. Even though God's dad takes care of any consequences for the snafu, God feels terrible for ruining the life of the woman and stays by her side throughout her recovery. Zemira is horrified that the man who hurt her is there when she wakes up; but, he is helpful and the only one she has. As she recovers, Zemira discovers that maybe all Gluttony needed was a little lesson in temperance.

​Gluttony is the fifth book in The Elite Seven Series and things are getting really good now. I would definitely read the other four books beforehand since a lot of plot points are beginning to come together in this book. I actually really liked God's character, he was flawed and he knew it and his worst fear was becomming his father. Though it seemed wrong, I really enjoyed the progression and romance between God and Zemira. I was well paced and surprisingly respectful. They turned out to be exactly what each other needed. Gluttony moves the plot along at a good pace as well. I was glad to find out more about Lillian's situation and see what her consequences were to her scheming. Wrath's story is also continued and it looks like there might be some closure for Sabella and some ramifications for Envy. The ending seems to signify that some change is coming with this class of The Elite and I definitely want to jump into the next two books soon.

The Abolitionist's Daughter

The Abolitionist's Daughter  - Diane C. McPhail

Emily Matthews grew up in Mississippi in the 1850's.  Her father, the town Judge is an abolitionist.  Judge Matthews owns slaves and teaches the children alongside his own.  One of the slaves, Ginny has grown up raising Emily after her mother's death. Recently, at Emily's insistence Judge Matthews bought a family that was going to be broken up at auction. Nathan arrived with a broken arm, prompting Judge Matthews to call the town doctor, Charles Slate.  After the visit, Charles takes a liking to Emily and asks for her hand in marriage.  As their relationship progresses, so do tensions in the Slate and Matthews families as well as between the North and South.  Emily, Ginny and Emily's mother-in-law, Adeline forge out new relationships during the war as the forge out a new way to survive.

 
The Abolitionist's Daughter dives into the complex relationships between slaves, slave owners and families during the Civil War.  Most of the story focuses on Emily's choices and changing views and not much on abolition.  I felt like the most important character was Ginny, the unyielding logic and knowledge of the fragility of her situation that she constantly imparts upon Emily is a beacon of light in Emily's times of darkness and uncertainty.  Although Emily was not part of any abolitionists movement, her willingness to learn about her slave's experiences and fears combined with her small actions of defiance ultimately made a difference in their lives. Most of the plot was focuses on familial drama and the role of choice within our lives.  Within this, highlighting the strength of the women left behind finding their ability to make decisions on their own and create change.  Emily's story was heartfelt and well written with wonderful characters showing a different side of the South during the Civil War. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Envy (The Elite Seven #4)

Envy - M.N. Forgy

Sebastian Westbrook seems to have everything: wealth, cars, fancy digs and good looks.  However, the one thing he wants seems to continuously slip through his fingers- a girlfriend.  Sebastian doesn't just want meaningless sex, he can get that whenever he wants.  He needs someone loyal to him, someone who makes him feel good about himself.  After Sebastian causes some trouble, his uncle decides to place Sebastian at St. Augustine in order to try to get him noticed by a secret society, The Elite.  Sebestian agrees since The Elite might be just the way to get him noticed by the type of woman who would treat him right.  Sebastian uses his computer skills and ruthlessness to gain a spot into The Elite.  With the Elite he finds a brotherhood and with the brotherhood, a woman who he thinks is worthy.  Sebastian's task for The Elite is easy for him and he quickly refocuses on the woman of his dreams, Sabella.  However, when Sabella doesn't agree to everything Sebastian wants, things begin to unravel and everything Sebastian has built up for himself might come crashing down. 

Envy is book four in The Elite Seven Series.  I would highly recommend reading at least book three, Wrath, beforehand since the stories are inextricably linked.  Envy breaks the mold of the other Elite brothers.  Sebastian is different and he just doesn't have some qualities of the sin he is given, but truly encompasses the meaning of Envy by destroying the lives of others for what he covets and not caring about the causalities it causes. Sebastian's character is darker and isn't a character that I could get behind, but is a character I understood.  Though most of his actions are heinous, I understood his need to be part of the group and his willingness to do anything to get there.  I sort of liked the break of the obvious romantic interest that the other stories had and Sebastian's infatuation with Sabella heightened the suspense.  I really want to jump into the next book after this since so much went wrong for Sebastian at the end.  

The Righteous One

The Righteous One - Neil Perry Gordon
Moshe is a cobbler in 1960's Manhattan.  He runs the same cobbler shop that his father began as a immigrant and where Moshe discovered that he was a tzaddik. In Judaism a tzaddik is a righteous person who is given powers by the Almighty.  Moshe had the ability to comfort people in times of great pain, but hasn't felt the connection for awhile.  Moshe's skills as a tzaddik are called upon one day by a man named Gray who works for city councilman Arnold Lieberman.  Arnold has come upon a rasha, the enemy of the tzaddik who uses their powers for evil.  The rasha is Solomon Blass who uses his prophetic dreams for his own benefit and has become part of New York City's crime ring.  As Solomon ages he seeks to put his son Myron in control by making him mayor.  In order to stop the rasha, Moshe begins training in the dream world in order to destroy the rasha's soul.  
 
The Righteous One is a follow up to A Cobbler's Tale. While it is not necessary to read A Cobbler's Tale first,  it does help to understand how Moshe's gift originated.  The Righteous One creates an intersection between the organized crime of New York City in the 1960's and Jewish magical realism or the tzaddik, rasha and the dream world.  It did take me a little while to get into the story as the points of view bounced between Solomon and Myron and Moshe and Arnold.  I felt more grounded in the story as Moshe learned more about the dream world with Noa and Gray.  I would have loved to learn more about these two, especially Noa's lineage.  I also enjoyed the character development of Myron's character.  Through Myron, the effect of organized crime on New York City's infrastructure becomes apparent.  His character was also one who went through a lot of transformation and I wish his story wasn't cut short.  Moshe's revelations as a tzaddik and his abilities in the dream world were intriguing and I would have loved to spend some more time there.  
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Wrath (The Elite Seven #3)

Wrath - Claire C. Riley

Samuel Gunner grew up in an abusive household- told by his father he was the reason for his mother's death and physically assaulted by his grandparents as well as countless nannies.  Samuel learned early on that if he acted up, he could keep the focus and pain on himself and off of his twin sister Sabella.  As Samuel grew, so did his anger.  Now, Samuel is looking for a way to permanently separate himself from his father.  The opportunity comes when Samuel learns about the Elite, a secret society with power and money.  Samuel attracts their attention, but has to complete a task in order to get in.  The task is to seduce and then break the heart of the mayors daughter, Patience.  This would typically be an easy task for Samuel; however, Patience is the only girl that Samuel has ever considered a friend and he broke her heart years ago.


Wrath is the third book in The Elite Seven series and now some of the stories are beginning to connect and the Elite players are becomming familiar.  Samuel is a difficult character to connect to.  With his sin of wrath Samuel is a difficult character to get to know.  He is angry and a jerk all the time to pretty much everyone around him, even to those who don't deserve it.  It wasn't until a little after halfway through the story when Samuel receives his Elite task with Patience that he begins to soften and we can see his true personality.  The romance with Patience seemed a little off to me, but considering their past history was probably just right for them. The sex scenes didn't capture me as much as the other books, but this may have been because of Samuel's need for dominance. The ending leaves many questions to be answered with Samuel's position within the elite, his sister Sabella as well as Elite brother Sebastian.  


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

Wings of a Flying Tiger

Wings of a Flying Tiger - Iris Yang
Jasmine Bai has been sent to live with her aunt, uncle and cousins in Chungking during World War II.  Her parents are still in Nanking teaching at a college.  As the Japanese close in and the danger intensifies, Jasmine decides to travel to Nanking and convince her parents to leave.  Jasmine arrives in Nanking just as the Japanese decide to massacre everyone in their path.  Jasmine miraculously survives Nanking after witnessing unspeakable atrocities and reunites with aunt, uncle and cousin in time for the threat of danger to reach Chungking.  Jasmine and her cousin, Daisy are sent to a remote country village in western China.  Here, Jasmine and Daisy rescue a downed Flying Tiger, Danny.  Danny is injured and sick with malaria, with the help of the village doctor, Jasmine and Daisy help care for him.  However, the Japanese have heard that the Flying Tiger has been hiding in the Village of Peach Blossoms and will stop at nothing to capture Danny.  Jasmine, Daisy and the villagers risk everything to keep Danny safe so he can continue fighting for them.  
 
 
Wings of a Flying Tiger captured me in the opening scene with Danny's bravery, passion for the cause and immense emotion.  I didn't really know about The Flying Tigers and were amazed to learn about these real heroes,  a group of American volunteers under of the Chinese Air Force.  After that first scene, the perspective is switched to Jasmine for a while.  Jasmine is an intelligent young woman who knows what she wants and does it, which is rare for a young woman in China at the time.  While I was aware of the Nanking Massacre, the writing of the violence was intense and graphic, however; I'm sure it only conveyed a fraction of the true terror of harrowing reality of those six weeks. I was amazed at the resilience and fortitude of the people who managed to survive.  When Danny and Jasmine's stories collide, the danger intensifies but the element of romance is added.  They both have an immense amount of respect for each other and the situation that they are in.  I was astonished at the collective protection of the town towards Danny and their willingness to do anything to keep him safe for the greater good.  The ending is gut wrenching and heartbreaking, showing the true courage of people fighting for their freedom.
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.  

A Spy With Scruples

A Spy with Scruples - Gary Dickson

Scott Stoddard is enjoying his honeymoon in the South of Fance in 1964.  Scott, an American student studying in Geneva has just married the former Countess de Rovere, Desiree in an unexpected and whirlwind romance when a letter from the draft board appears saying his status is under review.  Scott must now report to a base in Germany to be tested and then tested again only to learn that the CIA is forcing him to train as a spy and use his new social status to gain information and pass it along.  Scott is not pleased about how he has to go about his duty, keep secrets from his new wife and spend time away from his baby daughter.  However, he finds a way to use this position for good as well as finding a way back to his life. 

 
A Spy With Scruples is the sequel to An Improbable Pairing, while this could be read as a stand-alone it is helpful to know Scott and Desiree backgrounds and romance.  This picks up right after the first book with the couple enjoying married life and waiting for the arrival of their new baby.  Much like the first book, A Spy with Scruples is a tour of the opulence and luxury of the upper class European community.  The descriptions dazzle with the dress of the time period, the hotels, restaurants and cuisine, vacation resorts and parties.  Desiree shines with her charm and intellect, I'm not at all surprised that she caught on to Scott's situation.  Scott remains one of the luckiest and fast-thinking men ever; even though he was in a less than desirable situation, it was better than having to fight in Vietnam.  Scott's time as a spy was filled with suspense, but not a lot of action.  Through his articles and meetings, I was able to see the many intricacies of the influences of different European countries during the Cold War.  I particularly liked his interviews with Vietnamese families and tracking of former Nazi's.  Overall, A Spy with Scruples offers a different kind of spy thriller focused on the gathering of information.
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.  

The Socialite

The Socialite - J'Nell Cieselski

Ellie Whitford has escaped the confines of her stuffy and aristocratic English home and has found her place in Occupied Paris.  Her boyfriend in the head of Culture and Social Movement for the SS.  As a high ranking Nazi, Eric von Schlegel has riches and the power to give Ellie anything she wants and Ellie revels in party planning and creating social circles for Eric.   Ellie's family wants her back, Kat Whitford has been sent to Paris to do just that.  However, getting out of Occupied Paris is a lot harder than getting in, so Ellie's father made sure she had the help of Barrett Anderson, a Resistance Operative for the SIS.  Barrett will be rewarded heavily for his return to England with the Whitford sisters.  However, Ellie's situation with Eric becomes more dangerous and plans for extraction are hastened.  

 
 
The Socialite is an exciting romance at the height of World War II.  Well developed, thoughtful characters and an invigorating pace made The Socialite a moving read. Through Ellie, the influence of the Nazi's through art, music, theatre and social gatherings was shown.  I was intrigued by the groups visit to Hitler's Bavarian home, The Berghof and how he surrounded himself with his ideals.  Through Barrett,  the strength of the Resistance and what they were willing to do to oppose the Nazis was highlighted.  Kat's strength, hope and love for he sister was evident from the very beginning.  Kat has always believed herself to be a dutiful daughter, stuck in doing exactly what her father wants.  However, as soon as she arrives in Paris, Kat begins thinking for herself and realizing how capable she really is.  I loved the slow blooming romance between Kat and Barrett as they complimented each other's attributes, learned how to trust and heal past wounds.  Overall, a fast-paced, exhilarating romance through of different point of view during World War II.
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.  

Beyond the Ghetto Gates

Beyond the Ghetto Gates - Michelle  Cameron

For her entire life Mirelle has known life behind the Ghetto gates.  Every Jew in Ancona, Italy must live within the gated area.  Her father runs a renowned Ketubah workshop and Mirelle relishes in the artistry, she also has a talent for keeping her father's accounting books in check.  However, as Mirelle becomes a marriageable age, it becomes improper for her to work in the shop. Mirelle's parents also have a very wealthy suitor in mind for her.  As these changes come into Mirelle's life, Napoleon's French Troops arrive in Ancona. With the troops arrives Christopher, a French soldier who makes Mirelle question her faith, her morals and her family.

Beyond the Ghetto Gates is a transformative coming of age story as well as a deeply historical account of Napoleon's influence on Jewish communities during his Italian Campaign in 1796.  I didn't know anything about Napoleon's time in Italy and was amazed by the changes he created as well as his infatuation with a miracle portrait of a Madonna. The writing changes between the points of view of Mirelle, Daniel and Christopher in Napoleon's troops and a Catholic family, Emilio and Francesca. All of these points of view are important to the story, however, it takes a little while to set everything up and the story didn't completely capture my interest until everyone's story lines came together.  Mirelle's character was very well written.  From the beginning I was amazed by her intelligence, steadfastness, caring nature and maturity.  Mirelle's journey to find her purpose in life is a difficult one, filled with missteps, challenges and self realization.  I appreciated that while romance was a part of the story, it was not what Mirelle fell back on in order to improve herself.  Through Daniel and Christopher we see the impact of Napoleon's campaign through the eyes of both a Jewish and Catholic soldiers and their interactions with the citizens of Ancona.  They see the effects of injustice as well as the positive and negative effects of faith on people and what that can drive them to do.  I didn't know anything about Napoleon's Italian campaign or even the original Italian Ghettos before reading this and was glad to open my eyes to this part of history.  The writing created vivid imagery of Ancona, the Ketubah workshop and the dazzling homes.  Beyond the Ghetto Gates is an amazing story of courage, hope and doing what's right. 

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

Witch of the Wild Beasts

Witch of the Wild Beasts - Catherine Stine
Eighteen year old Evalina Stowe watched in horror as her customer, Dr. Dowdrick strangles Evalina's brother for dropping his suit at the tailor shop they work for in nineteenth century Philedelphia.  Evalina stabs Dr. Dowdrick with scissors as a swarm of angry wasps descends upon him.  After her brother's death, Evalina is on the run.  She finds work scaring birds from a field, but finds it is easier to befriend the birds.  When her boss confronts her, one of Evalina's birds chokes him and Evalina is imprisoned at Eastern State Penitentiary for murder.  While imprisoned, Evalina practices controlling her emotions to call upon the animals that visit her cell.  Soon she is able to give directions to mice, birds and bugs.  Evalina also discovers that Dr. Dowdrick is still alive and is running cruel experiments on prisoners, including Evalina's cell neighbor.  With the help of her animals friends and other inmates including a  Welshman named Birdie, Evalina hatches a plan to use her gifts as well as Dr. Dowdrick's greed for his own demise while gaining her freedom back.  
 
I was really pulled in by the premise of Witch of the Wild Beasts, a 19th century witch in America who is in Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary.  Evalina's character is strong, smart and resourceful.  While her powers were integral to the story, they weren't a magic cure all to her problems, Evalina still had to think on her own and use her own willpower.  I was very interested in the setting of Eastern State Penitentiary and the medical advancements of the time, especially with women's health. The author uses rich historical detail and elements of the time period to create the setting of Eastern State Penitentiary. The descriptions of the prison's special architecture allowed me to easily envision the space that Evalina was in.  I was amazed that Charles Dickens actually did visit the Penitentiary as well as medical advancements in sanitation, midwifery, and plastic surgery that were developed in this time period.  The writing and plot moves very quickly, which didn't lead to a lot of character development other than Evalina herself, but did keep the pace moving very swiftly and kept my interest high. With this, the romance wasn't as developed, however this was not the focus of the story.  Overall, Witch of the Wild Beasts is a historical fantasy with a strong female lead and touches of magic and romance. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Unknown 9: Genesis

Unknown 9: Genesis - Layton Green

Andie Robertson has relied on her mentor and PhD adviser, Dr. James Corwin for much of her life, especially after her mother left. All of Andie's life, she has had strange hallucinations that take her into an eerie shadow world. After Dr. Corwin is mysteriously murdered in Italy, Andie finds some research of Dr. Corwin's that is out of his field of study along with drawings that looks exactly like her hallucinations. With the drawings, Andie finds the Star Phone, a strange device that leads her on an adventure with a series of clues. The clues are associated with a secret society, The Leap Year Society and The Ascendants. On the other side of the US, a disgraced investigative journalist, Cal, is desperately trying to find the people who ruined his career. Once Andie and Cal figure out that they are both being hunted by a very dangerous and secretive group, they team up to help one another on the perilous path that has befallen them.

 

Unknown 9: Genesis is a complex science fiction thriller featuring secret groups, code breaking, hidden history, conspiracy theories and mind bending scientific breakthroughs. This is the first book of a trilogy and the beginning of the book was a gradual set up of characters, events and background before getting too heavy into the plot. The writing gripped me from the beginning, building suspense as Dr. Corwin is running for his life. After that, the set up bounces back and forth between Andie, Cal, Omer who is contracted to deliver them, and Ettore in the 1930's. This lends to a slower pace in the beginning, however it does a wonderful job of creating deep characters and intriguing story line that is compounded, but easily followed. I enjoyed the fast paced adventures in Egypt and Italy's historical spaces. I'm deeply interested in the Leap Year Society and the secrets they want to protect. I was absorbed by the idea of The Fold and the potential it could unlock. There is much more to explore with all of the characters and the journey they are on, I can't wait to read more.

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

The Ancestor

The Ancestor - Danielle Trussoni
Alberta Monte is at a crossroads in her life.  She has found that her marriage has fallen apart after several miscarriages and a recent stillbirth. Worse, there is no explanation for her inability to reproduce successfully.  So, when Alberta receives a letter addressed to the Countess Alberta Montebianco from her family's ancestral land of Nevenero, Italy saying she is the heir to a title, castle and money, she dives in.  Before leaving for Italy, Alberta finds out more about why her grandfather left Nevenero and finds a story full of danger, tragedy and folklore.  Alberta is whisked away on a private jet to her castle and finds that she has a living aunt and great-grandmother.  However, along with the dazzling castle, comes a host of dangerous secrets, secrets that Alberta will have to accept and protect.  
 
The Ancestor is a deeply atmospheric Gothic thriller that uniquely combines elements of horror and folklore for a completely unexpected look into family history and duty.  The writing slowly and deftly builds tension with unlikely stories, isolation, dangerous conditions and an unraveling of family secrets.  Alberta's character is one of immense transformation.  Though her transformation does not take a typical route, it is all necessary in Alberta's journey.  I enjoyed that the underlying theme was in science, with genetics and finding your true self while discovering your ancestors. I was astounded by the landscape of Mont Blanc and the communities of the Aosta Valley.  I could picture the imposing castle casting a shadow on the small towns below, unchanging through the centuries.  I can easily imagine how the folklore of the Icemen developed.  At some points, I thought I had the mysteries solved, but there were surprises until the very end.  The Ancestor is a transporting, surprising story that will take you on a journey like no other.  
 
 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

They Went Left

They Went Left - Monica Hesse

Eighteen-year old Zofia Lederman has been liberated from Gross-Rosen concentration camp and has finally recovered enough to leave the hospital.  Zofia has been confused, she is forgetting things and has false memories.  Zofia desperately wants to find who she believes is the last living member of her family, her younger brother Abek.  Zofia promised Abek that she would find him after everything and that is exactly what she plans to do.  Upon returning to her home, Zofia finds it empty, looted with no sign of Abek.  Zofia learns that many people from concentration camps went to displaced persons camps, so Zofia makes her way to the camp her brother would most likely be in, Foehrenwald.   In Foehrenwald, Zofia meets many others just like her, confused and looking for  lost family members.  Zofia connects with Josef, who seems as damaged as her and with a secret.  As Zofia gets closer to finding Abek, her memories of the last time she saw him form.  

They Went Left is a poignant and heartfelt look at what happened to those who were liberated after World War II.  Often when I read books about World War II, the end of the book corresponds to the end of the War.  However, that was not the end of the hardship and suffering for anybody involved.  Zofia's story highlights the unique struggles that someone liberated from a concentration camp went through: displacement, searching for loved ones who may or may not be alive, not knowing who to trust including yourself and continued hatred.  The writing deftly conveys the dual feelings of hopefulness and sadness, uncertainty and confidence, bravery and fearfulness that people had in this time.  Through Zofia, Josef, Abek and the many people in Foehrenwald, the variety of trials and triumphs of the time are highlighted.  The story is told entirely through Zofia's point of view and is absolutely absorbing and fascinating to see her slowly transition from confused but committed to finding her brother to more sure of herself and accepting of what has happened.  I loved the device of the family alphabet that Zofia created in order to help her brother remember.  It served as a great way to get to know Zofia's family before the War.  Overall, They Went Left is a genuine and deeply affecting story of the world people faced after World War II.


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

The German Heiress

The German Heiress - Anika Scott

Clara Falkenberg was handed the reins to her family's ironworks empire in Germany during World War II.  As the War ends, Clara flees the ironworks and takes the alias of a secretary that had worked there, Margarete Muller.  Two years later, Clara desperately wants to find the best friend she left behind, Elisa Sieland.  As Clara heads back home, her cover is blown by British Officer Fenshaw who wants Clara to pay for her war crimes.  Clara escapes Fenshaw's grasp only to find Elisa's home destroyed.  In her search for Elisa, Clara connects with Jakob.  Jakob is now a black marketeer who has lost a leg in the war.  Jakob is also in search of Elisa since he stumbled into  a mine shaft with a young soldier named WIlly Sieland who is guarding a stockpile of German supplies and believes that the war is still raging.  Clara and Jakob form an alliance to find Elisa and help Willy, but Fenshaw has not let up on his quest to capture The Iron Fraulein.

The German Heiress is a unique look into post World War II Germany and the many layers and situations that the German people faced in the aftermath of the war.  Clara is a very well-developed and intense character.  For the entire story, she is struggling with her identity as well as her morality for what happened at the factory during the war.  The German government gave Clara the moniker of the Iron Fraulein, which is a name she tried to run from; however, it is Clara's iron will that helps her through the toughest of obstacles. Other than the suspense of Clara constantly being on the cusp of capture by Fenshaw, I found Clara's internal moral fight the most intriguing. I was absorbed as Clara fought with herself in trying to decide whether or not she did enough for the people forced to work for her.  Willy's character also surprised me, Willy's mental health is fragile and his secret the most explosive.  Through Willy, I was able to see the influence of propaganda and the Jungvolk. The writing transported me to the bleak, destroyed landscape of Essen, Germany.  Home were demolished, landscapes were changed and food scarce, but the people found a way to carry on.  This book took me a little while to get into as Clara's character developed and some of her secrets are revealed as this happened, I was pulled deeper into her and Jakob's quest as well as the cat-and-mouse game with Fenshaw.  The ending is surprising and shows the hope that post World War II Germany kept. 

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