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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.

Confessions of a Sheba Queen

Confessions of a Sheba Queen - Autumn Bardot

Bilqis is born to a jinni mother in the ancient lands of Saba, what is now known as Yemen.  Bilquis' birthday come with a prophesy- that she will have a great destiny to fulfill.  Bilqis doesn't seems to have the same talents as a jinn as her mother, but is easily able to soak up all of the knowledge that her mother can bring her.  As a young adult, Biqis learns of one of the jinn powers that she can use-her power of sensuality. After discovering the power of sex, Bilqis' world changes and opens. Then, tragedy strikes that leads Bliqis on a mission of revenge.  With her mission, Bilqis learns more of the terrible King ruling over Saba.  As Bilqis continues her journey, her destiny becomes clear- to end the King's regime and become the leader that the people need.

The full story of Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba is lost to history.  I have read several other versions this amazing Queen's story, but none quite like this.  Autumn Bardot is known for her strong female characters as well as erotic story lines.  Confessions of a Sheba Queen definitely falls firmly in erotic historical fiction, which isn't something I normally read, but I really enjoyed this.  Bilqis' story combined with the erotic story line makes for an intense and absorbing plot. From the beginning Bilqis jinn parentage and destiny add a sense of purpose to the story.  Even without her jinn heritage, Bilqis' character is strong, intelligent, and willing to put others first.  I liked that the jinn part of her parentage allowed Bilqis to use sex and her sensuality as a source of power and clarity in her life and allowed her to grow as a person.  The sex scenes were all unique, imaginative and used very modern language. However, what I appreciated most were the ties to what little history we do know of Bilqis.  I loved the lavish descriptions of the temple of Awwam and Bilqis' time with King Solomon. Richly absorbing and passionate, Confessions of a Sheba Queen creates a great blend of erotica and historical fiction.


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

The Lost History Of Dreams

The Lost History of Dreams - Kris Waldherr

Famed poet Hugh de Bonne is dead following his wife, Ada sixteen years earlier. From this, Hugh was thrown into a melancholy that produced some of his most famed works published in The Lost History of Dreams as well as a stained glass chapel where he buried his wife.  With Hugh's death,  distant cousin Robert Hightstead is charged with carrying out Hugh's last wishes- to be buried next to his wife and have a daguerreotype taken with his corpse in the chapel next to Ada's niece, Isabelle Lowell.  Robert is the perfect person for the job since he is currently a post-mortem photographer.  However, Robert is dealing with a ghost of his own and doesn't want to leave London for long.  Upon arriving to Hugh's home in Shropshire, Robert finds that his task is made much harder by Isabelle who will not let anyone open the glass chapel.  Robert and Isabelle finally make a deal where Isabelle will open the glass chapel if Robert will record Ada's story over the course of five nights.  

The Lost History of Dreams creates a haunting by hopeful story and a mystery that patiently waits to be unfolded and solved.  Every character, object and place has been created with a story and a secret that made we want to keep digging in deeper and deeper.  From meeting Robert at the beginning of the story I was very curious about and his past and how that led him to be a post-mortem photographer. As the setting moves to Shropshire in Victorian England, a weight settles upon everything that gives the book a distinctive Gothic, atmospheric feeling.  The ghosts in the story are created as characters just as much as Isabelle and Robert.  I loved the device of a story within a story as Isabelle tells Robert of Ada and Hugh; through the story some mysteries are solved and others arise.  The romance entangles not just the dead, but the living as well as two lost souls untangle death to learn how to live.

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

Madame Fiocca

Madame Fiocca - Suzy Henerson
Nancy Wake wants more from life than to stay in her homeland of Australia.  After receiving some money from her Aunt, Nancy travels the world and lands in Paris.  Nancy finds work as a journalist in the 1930's as Hitler's rise to power overtakes Europe.  During this time Nancy meets Henri Fiocca, a wealthy French industrialist and known playboy.  Nancy and Henry eventually fall for each other's charms and settle in Marseilles.  As Hitler's influence encroaches on France, Nancy knows she can not sit back and do nothing.  Together, Nancy and Henri join the Resistance to help people escape and then, after eluding capture Nancy joins the Special Operations Executive and is training in everything from parachuting to weapons and hand to hand combat becomming one of the most valuable members of her team as well as one of the most hunted by the Gestapo.
 
I love when books introduce me to real women whom I had never heard of before.  Nancy Wake was truly an extraordinary woman who made brave choices in order to help the Allies win World War II.  From the beginning, I knew that Nancy was going to be an amazing character.  She clearly knew what she wanted in life, had strong opinions, was able to teach herself many things and was not afraid to add her voice.  Nancy also had the opportunity to witness first hand the terrors that Hitler's rule forced upon other people.  I think this was a large influence upon her actions.  I was constantly amazed at Nancy's ability to keep going and do whatever it took to help with efforts during the War.  I do wish that the writing gave a little more insight into Nancy's inner thoughts and feelings to really give it a personal feeling.  
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 
 
 

Ascending Power

Ascending Power - Malcolm David Gibson
Billy Strikeleather is returning home to the Chinati Indian Reservation after a washed up NFL career.  He returns to help his uncle, Sam with something that has been happening in the hot springs on the reservation.  In college, Billy earned a geology degree and suspects that the issues of the hot springs has something to do with the hydraulic fracturing nearby.  However, as soon as Billy and Sam reach the springs, they are shot at.  Billy does get a small sample from the spring and recognizes it as dysprosium, a rare earth mineral he studied in college that could have the ability to wreak havoc on the energy and big oil markets and give a payday to the Chinati people.  Billy's discovery begins a whirlwind of trouble as every player tries to get their hands into the dysprosium source for different reasons.
 
 
Ascending Power highlights the modern day David and Goliath struggle between energy corporations and Native Americans.  From the very beginning I was grabbed by the action, suspense and Billy's character.  I liked that Billy was struggling and was invested in using a skill other than football to save his town.  The narration begins from his point of view and I wanted to see the rest of the story through his eyes; however, in order to get the full view of the many different sides of the story, the point of view changed hands many different times.  With the numerous characters, I felt that not all of them were fully fleshed out and some became a stereotyped or caricatured version of themselves.  I was glad to see a modern representation of life on a Reservation and the people who live there.  The suspense and many plot twists kept me reading and I'm glad that Billy story felt resolved.
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant - Kayte Nunn


Rachel Parker is a research scientist who has just taken a position in the Isles of Scilly to study the effects of climate change on the warty clam.  Rachel has moved around a lot in life and has never bothered to form lasting friendships or relationships. When Rachel is caught in a storm passing through the Isles, she takes cover on Little Embers, inhabited by the cantankerous Leah, an artist who prefers to be alone.  While on Little Embers, Rachel discovers the suitcase of a former occupant of Little Embers and some unsent love letters that she is determined to return to their rightful recipient.   In 1951 Esther Durrant is unceremoniously dumped at Little Embers by her husband.  Esther has survived a tragedy and still isn't quite right.  Little Embers is run by Dr. Richard Creswell, a retreat for men suffering from the psychiatric effects of the War.  Dr. Creswell has agreed to treat Esther as well.  After fighting and trying to get back to her family, Esther comes to enjoy life on the island and the company of the people around her.  

The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant feels like is was written just for me; I love the dual timeline in the story, the mysteries of an isolated island, and finding yourself before finding romance.  The characters were carefully crafted and pulled me into their stories before revealing everything.  Both Rachel and Esther were guarding secrets and were difficult to figure out creating complex and interesting women that I wanted to learn more about.  The writing flows easily through time and from character to character making the book easy to read and always wanting to know what's next.  I appreciated that the other characters on Ember Island in 1951 were also taken seriously, even at a time when psychological diagnosis were still being developed.  I also loved that Esther in 2018 was also a strong character and that I was able to see how she was not defined by her tragedy.  The romances were handled well for both Rachel and Esther, I'm glad that they were able to make decisions for themselves and find happiness.

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

The Thief's Heart

The Thief's Heart - Kathleen Shoop

Fifteen year old Tommy Arthur has had an interesting few years.  After his grandfather lost their family inheritance, the Arthur family was left destitute and Tommy fled to the prairie to survive.  Now, he is back in Des Moines with his mother and sisters, having found housing with the independent business woman Violet Pendergrass, an anomaly in 1892. Tommy tries his best to earn money for the family, working odd jobs selling prayers for the Reverend, being a bell boy at a hotel and doing some things for Miss Pendergrass.  As much as Tommy wants to be a good person, help his family and save money for their future, but it seems everybody else would like to see him fail. The Reverend asks him to steal trinkets from the houses that he delivers prayers to, Miss Pendergrass isn't forthcoming with what exactly the women in her house are up to and Tommy easily falls into the comforts of drink and gambling.  When Tommy's little sister, Yale is taken to a house for imbeciles he knows that it is time to be a man and help his family.  Luckily, Tommy has family and friends who still believe in him and know that he is a good person.


The Thief's Heart is a story of struggle and survival in the late 19th century.  This is the 4th book in The Letter series and while I could tell that a lot had happened before this book began, I did not feel lost at all.  I did find myself wrapped up in Tommy's strife and constant attempts to make his and his family's life better.  I had a lot of sympathy for Tommy as his successes were cut down and attempts to right wrongs were squashed by miscommunication or circumstance and found myself frustrated for him.  The love of family and friends stood out for me. Tommy is willing to sacrifice, steal and work unsavory jobs in order to help, but he is slow to see how other's are trying to help him.  One of the friendships and characters that I absolutely adored was Frank the crow, a perfect companion as well as an addition of humor.  Along with Frank, Pearl Riverside's character adds a lightness to balance Tommy's edge with her honest and strong personality as well as her ability to rebound from many situations.  As a lover of historical fiction, The Thief's Heart is a perfect read for me, bringing me back to the late nineteenth century in the midwest.  I enjoy Kathleen Shoop's seamless addition of touches of magic throughout the story to create hope, wonder and whimsy.

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

Mercy House

Mercy House - Alena Dillon
Nestled in the row houses of Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood is a house with an angel doorknocker.  Mercy House, a refuge for women is run by three aging nuns, Sister Evelyn, Sister Maria and Sister Josephine who don't exactly follow all the rules of the Catholic Church to a tee.  The Sister's have helped many women find safety, heal and succeed in life.  They have also helped women obtain abortions, calm by practicing Reiki and have never discriminated based on any of the women's preferences.  All of the good work that the Sisters of Mercy House have done is threatened when Bishop Hawkins arrives to audit their house.  Hawkins has a damaging history with Sister Evelyn and is set on closing the house and preserving his reputation.  Sister Evelyn would rather go down than see Mercy House close and when Hawkins does just that, Sister Evelyn dives deep into her past to reveal all in order to save Mercy House and herself.
 
Mercy House grabbed my attention with wonderfully thought out characters and an immersive plot.  From the beginning, I was amazed at how interesting a group of contemporary Nuns could be. Written mostly from Evelyn's point of view with flashbacks of her youth and interspersed with stories of the current residents of Mercy House, I felt like I got to know each of the characters well.  Thoroughly developed and distinct, the Nun's personalities and the young women's background's captured me.  Evelyn's story allowed me to empathize with her every step of the way and understand her motivations.  The story also focuses on contemporary Nuns and the issues of the Catholic Church.  It was great to see these Nuns portrayed in a very non-stereotypical way and have them be heroes for their residents as well as themselves.  These Nuns are portrayed as real people and some of the most caring and strong people around.  It was clear that these women created a community in Mercy House that extended throughout Bedford-Stuyvesant. Bishop Hawkins added a layer of suspense and an antagonist that I loved to hate. The tension he created with Mercy House and the secrets he tried to kept hidden was palpable in the atmosphere.  Overall, Mercy House is a unique contemporary fiction with amazing characters that focuses on the good and the bad that the world has to offer.
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Timestamp: Musings of an Introverted Black Boy

Timestamp: Musings of an Introverted Black Boy - Marcus Granderson

Timestamp is a collection of written works by Marcus Granderson, a Harvard Graduate and young black man.   As Marcus states in the introduction, the works are not related in any way.  The works range from essays, poetry, lists, observations as well as speeches.  The themes of the writings give a fresh perspective on what it's like to be coming of age in the world today with a highlight on racial disparity.  I was able to identify with many of the writings about life during and directly after college very well and remember those feeling. However, what I enjoyed reading the most were the pieces that gave insight to the author's experience a a young black person in today's world.  Oreo was a brilliant introduction to the collection and allowed me to get a clear view of his perspective. Some of my other favorite pieces were Hallelujah Anyhow, Last Night, Sunrise and Hair Like Mine.

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

Resistance Women

Resistance Women - Jennifer Chiaverini

Mildred Harnack, Sara Weitz, Greta Kuckoff and Martha Dodd all come from different backgrounds.  Mildred is a doctoral student from Wisconsin and married to Arvid, a German. Sara is a literary student and Jewish. Greta is an aspiring author who loves theatre and Martha is the daughter of the US Ambassador to Germany.  These four women are living in 1930's Germany as Hitler rises to power and witness first hand the terror, hatred, destruction and lies that spreads throughout the country.  The women find each other and vow to resist the Reich in any way they can.  Mildred continues teaching, helping her students think for themselves as well as passing on information to Martha at the US Embassy.  Martha's vivacious nature helps her to make many friends around the Embassy that talk to her about their parents work.  Greta translates works so that other countries can read about Hitler's terrifying words.  Sara passes out flyer and posts stickers all over Berlin.  All of the women know the price they will pay if caught, and all are willing to risk it for their futures.


History has a way of forgetting the women who have had an impact.  Mildred Harnack, Martha Dodd and Greta Kuckoff were all real women that were part of the resistance network dubbed the Rote Kapelle.  From the opening where Mildred is imprisoned and still fighting, I knew I was going to love these characters.  The writing flows between each of the four characters point of views beginning in 1929 and ending in 1946.  This gives a full perspective of where each character came from before the war as well as how Hitler's ideologies were able to slowly infiltrate, take over and become the norm for Germany.  This also highlights how aware and free thinking that each woman had to be in order to not be swept up the ideals. Each woman's resistance ranges from small acts of passing along lists or putting up stickers to full out defiance of passing along coded radio messages and making sure written works make it to other countries.  Throughout everything that happened, Mildred, Sara, Greta and Martha never wavered in the convictions. Chiaverini's writing dives deep into their individual thoughts and feelings to let the women's power shine through.  Inspiring and thoughtful, Resistance Women  is a story of women from our past that will resonate with many people today.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

Dreamland

Dreamland - Nancy Bilyeau

Peggy Batternburg has been graced with being part of one of America's richest families in New York's gilded age. However, Peggy would gladly give up her family's perks to continue her position at the Moonrise Bookstore. When Peggy is unceremoniously taken from the bookstore by the family patriarch, her Uncle David, she is told that the family is summering at the Oriental Hotel and her presence is needed to secure the engagement of her sister Lydia to Henry Taul, notorious playboy and someone who Peggy would rather forget.  After arriving to the Oriental, Peggy visits Coney Island and the Dreamland park where she finds artwork by Stefan.  Peggy is enraptured with both the artwork and artist.  While Peggy is busy with Stefan, a string of murders seems to follow the couple around.  When Stefan is suspected, Peggy does everything within her power to find the real killer.


I am a fan of all of Nancy Bilyeau's previous books and I couldn't wait to dive into the world and characters of Dreamland.  From the ominous prologue, I was hooked into the mystery of the story.  When Peggy enters the scene, I knew that this young woman would be the one to figure everything out.  Peggy goes against the grain, especially when it comes to her family's wishes.  She is inquisitive, insightful and willing to look deeper into prejudice and bias, especially within herself. I loved the setting of 1911 New York.  Through the writing, the Gilded Age came to life-from the richness of the Oriental Hotel to the atmosphere of Coney Island.  There was a lot of care taken to recreate Coney Island and Dreamland, especially when it came to the people of Dreamland.  Even though we only meet most of the characters of Dreamland briefly, each of is fully realized with a rich background and story.  Stefan's story is teased out slowly and through him we see the plight that many immigrants went through at the time.  Though Stefan is treated unfairly and accused for simply being from his homeland, he does not lose hope or place blame. The mystery is engaging and complex as Peggy begins to realize that every murder can be traced back to her.  Rich with historical detail, excitement, suspense, romance and mystery, Dreamland is an engaging read in a world that I did not want to leave. 

Camp Lake (Carson Chronicles #5)

Camp Lake - John A. Heldt
The Carson family plus new significant others and children have landed in 1983, what should be the last stop on their last stop through time in order to finally reunite with their parents and head back to 2017.  This time, twin siblings Cody and Caitlin plus 1962 transplant, Dennis are planning on getting jobs at the summer camp in Maine that their teenaged parents first met at in hopes that their older parents will visit the camp as well.  Everything is going to plan until Cody, Caitlin and Dennis are paired up in cabins with their teenaged parents. The teens are worried that they might upset the timeline even more and prevent their parents from getting together.  Furthermore, Cody meets Karen at camp and they immediately form a connection.  However, in addition to being a time-traveler, Cody and Karen's relationship seems doomed because of a secret that Karen is hiding.
 
Camp Lake is the fifth and last book in the Carson Chronicles.  This heartfelt conclusion to the epic series kept my attention with plenty of surprises for a family that I felt I've gotten to know pretty well over five books. I found myself simultaneously wanting the story not to end as well as desperately wanting the  Carson family to finally reunite.  The writing keeps the suspense in Camp Lake heightened as the whole family searches for one another knowing that this is the last stop on their time travel journey as well as everyone attempting not to destroy their own timelines.   Balanced with the suspense is the wholesome feeling and love that the Carson Clan shares.  Despite being in desperate situations,  the Carson's always support one another and pull through.  I loved the setting of a summer camp in the 1980's.  Everything about the experience and setting seemed fitting. This book focuses on Cody, who throughout the series has always formed a deep bond with women in each time period, but hasn't yet found the one. Cody and Karen's relationship seems like it was meant to be, they challenge one another and Karen is empowered, intelligent and strong-willed.  While I couldn't wait for the Carson parents and siblings to finally reunite, I was amazed when they finally did.  I was very happy with the reunion as well as the send off of the family members when back in their own time. 
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Far Away Bird

Far Away Bird - Douglas A Burton
Constantinople in 512 AD is an ever-changing and dangerous world.  Theodora is a young woman when chaos erupts between the factions and follows her father into battle.  When the dust settles, Theodora's father is dead and the women of the family are left destitute.  Magister Origen steps in saying he has a place for Theodora and her older sister in a theatre, however this is simply a facade for a brothel that demeans Theodora and Comita and eventually leads to rape.  Theodora escapes and returns to her mother broken.  They plead in the Hippodrome for mercy and are saved by a member of the opposing faction. Eventually Theodora finds the strength in her sexuality and earns a living through acting and prostitution becoming known as the Notorious Theodora.  Theodora's charisma attracts the attention of a spy ring and Theodora is trained to use her skills in order to collect information from high ranking clients.  With this position, Theodora learns how to harness true power within herself and discovers the benefactor who saved her family in the Hippodrome years ago. 
 
Far Away Bird tells the story of Theodora as a young woman before she becomes Empress.  Theodora's character is complex, emotional and raw and allowed me to feel every part of her journey.  The writing conveyed the joy, strength, sorrow and passion that Theodora carried with her in every step of her way.  In addition, the setting of Constantinople was brought alive from the busy streets, to the political factions, the Hippodrome and the theatres.  I do not know a lot about this time in history and enjoyed experiencing the variety of settings that the empire offered.  Theodora and Justinian's relationship was carefully crafted and both seemed to realize the consequences of their love.  At every turn of the way, Theodora's inner strength shone though.  Her story echoes the plight of many women throughout history and today and is a reminder of the power women can hold even when continually beaten down.  I can't wait to see her impact as an Empress alongside Justinian.
 
This book was received for free in order for a honest review.

Dead Ringer (Gaslamp Gothic #5)

Dead Ringer - Kat Ross


In New York City, 1889 there exists a special unit,  the Society for Psychical Research which handles cases of the paranormal variety.  Harrison Pell and John Weston are currently investigating a case of a mud man that has attacked and scared many residents in the Tenderloin district.  While chasing down a golem in New York's sewer system is not exactly what Harrison relishes, she is glad to have cracked the case for the SPR.  Harrison is much more interested in the strange deaths of Columbia students that have been happening where witnesses have sworn that they have seen the deceased somewhere else at the time of death.  Despite her best attempts, Harrison is denied the case.  However, she is hired privately by one of New York's notorious criminals, James Moran.  Moran is terrified that he will be next in the series of deaths.  Harrison and James learn more of the series of events and doppelganger folklore in order to save the life of a criminal that they would rather see dead.

Dead Ringer is a paranormal murder mystery in the Gilded Age of New York City.  I was immediately pulled into the story as Harry hunted down a mysterious being in the New York City sewer system.  The characters are all very well developed.  I loved Harry's sense of adventure, bravery and perspective throughout the story.  Her partnership with John is sincere, sweet and not forced.  Moran kept me guessing throughout the whole story as to where his motives lie and his true nature.  All of these characters definitely have more to say and do and I hope their stories continue throughout the Gaslamp Gothic series.  I very much enjoyed the paranormal parts of the book, expanding on not as well known creatures.  The folklore behind the golem and doppelgangers is complex and interesting.  They both made for great monsters. The setting also took me through many different parts of New York in 1889, giving me a good feel of the diversity of people, homes and entertainment at the time.  The writing kept the story at a fast pace with excitement, intrigue and suspense building the whole way through; I can't wait to read more!

This book was received for free in order for a honest review.

The Second Midnight

The Second Midnight - Andrew Taylor

Hugh Kendall is a young boy in England, 1939.  Hugh is seen as a burden by his father and after Hugh is kicked out of school, Hugh's father is offered a mission through the British Intelligence Service. Alfred Kendall or Captain Kendall, as he prefers to be called is sent to Prague on a simple exchange mission and takes Hugh as a cover.  While in Prague, Hitler invades and Hugh is left behind.  Hugh is taken in by one of the Resistance contacts and is given a new identity as Rudi.  Hugh is eager to learn the language and picks up Czeh and German.  As the war progresses, Hugh's caretakers fall victim to the violence and Hugh ends up with Bela Juriga, a violent member of the resistance until Nazi Colonel Scholl come into Bela's shop and Hugh saves his life.  Scholl thanks Hugh with a place in his household. Hugh quickly adjusts to life at the Scholl's as a gardener.  The Scholl children, Magda and Heinz see Hugh in different ways, Magda is entranced while Heinz is filled with contempt.  When Hugh finally makes it back to England 10 years later, he is changed and wants to leave his ordeal in the past, except for Magda, that is.  Although, it seems that the past will continue to haunt him.


The Second Midnight is a historical spy thriller that begins at the start of World War II and continues throughout the 1950's.  There is a lot going on in the story with secret missions in England, Germany and Czechoslovakia, the political spread of Nazi's and Communism and changing allegiances.  At the heart of the story, however, is Hugh and his will for survival as well as his knack for continuously being able to adapt to new situations.  Through ten years in a strange place, Hugh was able to learn the languages and customs, maintain his cover as Rudi and earn the trust and friendship of Colonel Scholl and Magda. Hugh's is story the driving force in the book.  Through Hugh, I was able to see many faces of Nazi Germany and the Resistance.  However, the writing bounces back and forth between Hugh and his family in England.  The point of the focus on the rest of Hugh's family does not become apparent until the end of the book.  After Hugh escapes back to England, the pacing slowed down for me and I was just wondering when and how he would reconnect with Magda.  While I didn't quite know where all of the background espionage was leading, it was interesting to see all of the different players, their impact on the War and how Hugh fit into it all.

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

Haskell Himself

Haskell Himself - Gary Seigel
Haskell Hodge is a sixteen year old from New York  who is focused on school and his acting career.  It's 1966 and Haskell is on his own a lot since his mother is a busy realtor who often works late into the night, he is also a loner without many friends.  Heading into his senior year, Haskell's mom drops a bomb, she is going overseas with her boyfriend and Haskell will be moving to L.A. with his aunt and uncle. Haskell absolutely does not want to uproot his life; however, after a strange going away party where Haskell kissed a boy and liked it, he decides it might be best to run away from the embarrassment.  Haskell finds it difficult to adjust to life with a family, but eventually makes it work.  In L.A. he also finds some friends, but he is still worried that he might be gay and the implications of what that might mean for his future.  
 
Haskell Himself is a unique view into the defining year for a young man in the 1960's. Haskell's character is complex and he is at a time in his life where he is changing and growing as well as living in a decade that is redefining lifestyle and freedom.  The writing truly made me feel for Haskell as he went on an emotional roller coaster.  The descriptions of the inner turmoil Haskell faced within his head were wonderfully done and I was amazed as Haskell went from confusion to denial and acceptance.  Along with his sexuality, Haskell also figures out how to be a friend and family member.  I thought these transitions were just as thoughtful. I enjoyed seeing 1960's L.A. through Haskell's eyes, especially since he was involved with acting. I would have loved to see how Haskell actually dealt with being on set for his movie and how he dealt with the possible fame it brought.  Overall, an important and insightful historical coming of age story.
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

Salt the Snow

Salt the Snow - Carrie Callaghan
Millie Bennett is a jet setting, free-spirited journalist in the 1930's.  Millie has covered events in San Francisco, Hawaii and war in China.  Now, she is in Moscow working for the Moscow Daily News.  Millie mostly covers fluff stories and works on translations.  However, Millie longs to write stories of the effects of socialism , stories that matter.  Millie is able to experience firsthand the issues that arise with the system of government when her Russian husband, Zhenya is arrested.  Millie assumes that his arrest is due to a story she wrote and desperately tries to get him out.  However, when it is revealed that Zhenya was arrested for lewd behavior, Millie reveals more secrets about her marriage as well as the government. 
 
Salt the Snow introduced me to the fascinating life of the first female war corespondent, Millie Bennett. I never would have imagined that there were female war corespondents in the 1930's, much less one like Millie!  I was pulled into her vivacious character in the very first scene with her arrival home from a party.  Carrie Callaghan's writing brings 1930's Moscow to life, as despondent as it may be.  Millie's spirit never seemed to fit in with the setting.  She always seemed to be a bright and animated character in a dreary and repressed place.  In the first half of the story, the writing bounces back and forth between before Zhenya was arrested and after before settling into a linear timeline.  I found the first half of the story interesting, but not exciting.  I was curious about Millie's interactions with the government, especially the police as well as the conditions for the rest of the population in Moscow.  I was also questioning whether or not Millie truly realized her husbands secret or was simply hiding it from herself.  The pace picked up a bit for me as Millie actions attracted the attention of the police and she decided that what had happened to Zhenya as well as herself needed to be documented, even if it could not be published for a while.  From Moscow, Millie escaped to Spain, I wish her story would have been continued there!  
 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.