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100 Pages A Day...Stephanie's Book Reviews

I absolutely love historical fiction and read a lot of it; I love to learn history this way.  I also enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller and non-fiction science.

The Third Daughter

The Third Daughter - Talia Carner
Batya and her family flee their hometown in the Russian countryside, the only survivors of another pogrom.  After pushing their belongings through the countryside and living off the kindness of others, a wealthy foreign Jewish man, Reb Moskowitz enters the family's life and takes an interest in 14 year-old Batya.  Moskowitz offers Batya's father money for her betrothal to him and promises her plenty of food, a nice home and a fortune in America.  However, Batya quickly learns that Moskowitz is not the good man he portrays.  Batya is sold into prostitution in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  After being abused, locked up, tortured and starved, Batya comes to terms with her predicament and focuses on survival.  She becomes a sought out girl in her brothel and is trusted by Moskowitz.  Batya's hopes are focused on bringing her family over from Russia and a mysterious new client may help Batya escape slavery and saver her family. 
I absolutely adore historical fiction that is able to open my eyes to a period of history that I knew nothing about.  I was certainly not aware of the very long time span that prostitution was legal in Argentina and fueled by the Zwi Migdal, a ring of Jewish men and women who kidnapped young girls and widows for their own profit.  The writing deftly portrays the horror as well as the hope in Batya's story.  It was obvious that the author delved into the research of this hidden history, from the way Batya was lured away from her family, to the conditions on her journey to Argentina and how she was treated in the brothel to the rhythms, dances and food in Buenos Aires, everything was reflective of the experience of the women and the time period.  I was very interested in how involved the Zwi Migdal was in Argentinian politics and culture and just how hard it was to bring them down.  I was amazed at Batya's bravery helping to provide evidence against Moskowitz in kidnapping women and especially the real woman, Raquel Liberman who risked it all to save other women from her fate. 
This book was received for free in return for and honest review. 

Dragon Lady

Dragon Lady - Autumn Bardot
Xianggu is a teenager when she is sold into slavery by her father.  Xianggu is bought by Madame Xu, the Madame on a floating brothel.  Xianggu quickly learns the ways of the brothel and becomes indispensable to Madame Xu.  After years on the floating brothel, Xianggu is a prized flower girl and has trained to take over for Madame Xu.  However, the brothel is raided by pirates and Xianggu uses her skills to change her situation.  Soon, Xianggu is the wife of the Zheng Yi, the boss of the Red Flag pirate ship.  As Zheng Yi's wife, Xianggu does more than satisfy his needs, she learns everything about the ship, pirate hierarchy, how they conduct business and learns to battle.  Xianggu is determined to rise above the situation she was handed in life and piracy is the key to her success.
Dragon Lady is an amazing adventure about a real extraordinary woman who faced adversity, survived and made the best of every situation thrown her way.  The overwhelming theme of the story is "who is to say what is good or bad?" and using determination to change your own fate.  From the moment Xianggu is sold into slavery and uses the power of a story to calm the other girls with her, I knew Xianggu's character would prevail.  Xianggu used everyone as a stepping stone to her own growth, despite being in a position below them.  The writing carried me through Xianggu's life with wonder and amazement, showing both of Xianggu's sides of fierce determination and shrewd business sense as well as sincerity, compassion and fairness.  A great amount of research is evident when reading about Xianggu's time aboard the Red Flag, from the layout of the ship, to the food the pirate's ate and all of the crew to keep the ship running, the details are all precise and I could imagine the large ship clearly.  Xianggu's role and importance in history is also shown as she played a part in battle planning, money making schemes, doling out punishments and creating pirate code.  Overall, an absorbing story of Xianggu's rise to power and her ambition to lead on her own.  
This book was received for free in return for and honest review. 

The Necromancer's Bride (Gaslamp Gothic #4)

The Necromancer's Bride - Kat Ross
2nd book for Halloween Bingo- New Release
Anne Lawrence is a daeva, a magical being, who has upset and almost killed the man she loves, the necromancer Gabriel D'Ange.  Anne is now on a mission to find him and repair the rift that she created.   When Anne does track Gabriel down,  he finds him regrouping the Order of the Rose and planning an elaborate scheme to take down, Jorin Bekker, a particularly evil necromancer.  After finding one another Anne and Gabriel don't want to separate, so Anne finds herself aboard a ship to Brussels where she learns that Bekker is not an easy target to take down.  Bekker can sense magic, so he will know that Anne is close by.  Gabriel plans to separate Bekker at a gala with King Leopold; however, another necromancer, Balthazar has a similar plan to take out Bekker.  When the two plans collide, Gabriel and Balthazar find themselves in a precarious situation that only a daeva can help them with.  
The Necromancer's Bride picks up soon after A Bad Breed which should definitely be read first in order to understand just what Anne and Gabriel are as well as their complicated relationship.  I was glad that Anne was able to fully use her powers in this book, from the beginning Anne worked her magic with the weather, showed her skills running, found other creatures and used her elemental power in combat.  From the previous book, it was clear that Gabriel and Anne were meant to be together, but would have a difficult time admitting it to one another.  I think their romance and marriage was handled perfectly, quickly, quietly and sweetly, but without any grand romantic gestures.  I enjoyed watching both Gabriel and Balthazar engage in their quest to rid the world of Jorin Bekker.  The point of view moved back and forth between Gabriel and Balthazar making for a quickly-paced story.   Bekker's character also looped into some real atrocities Belgium's King II was committing in the 1800's, taking over the Congo and enslaving the people there.  The end wrapped up in an amazing battle with Anne center stage.  I love that Anne was able to use her powers to the fullest and that Gabriel kept teasing his tormentors that his wife would not be happy when she arrived. With some evil's extinguished and new alliances in the works, I'd love to see where Anne and Gabriel land next.
This book was received for free in return for and honest review. 

The Curse of the Bruel Coven

The Curse of the Bruel Coven (The Bruel Witch Series Book 1) - Sabrina Ramoth

My first book for Halloween Bingo-Spellbound Square!


Vivienne Davenport is a high-schooler who is still reeling after the death of her mother to cancer.  Now living with her grandmother, Vivienne looks back on memories of her mother and finds that she is adopted.  When her grandmother won't give her any answers about her biological mother, Vivienne enlist her friend Savannah to track down her biological mom.  Vivienne and Savannah find Claire easily enough, but not any answers.  When Vivienne returns, her mom has disappeared and Vivienne is let in on the secret of her adoption and the curse of her family.  She is a witch and an immortal has taken her mother in order to get to Vivienne.  Now, with a new family and new powers to figure out, Vivienne must find her mother and figure out their curse. 

This is a fast-paced young adult paranormal centered around witches.  I enjoyed the premise of the story with a young woman learning about her family of witches and trying a break a curse from the past.  However, the pacing of this book was extremely fast.  This made for a quick and easy read, but I was left wanting to know more of the characters, the setting and the curse.  I'm not quite sure that I really got to know Vivienne's character or any of her many family members that she quickly acquired.  I think I knew more about her best friend, Savannah through Vivienne's eyes.  I did like the overall themes of family, purpose and coming-of-age that resounded throughout the story.  I also thought the mystery of Vivienne's opal ring and the curse was intriguing.  I would have loved to see more of a developed story line for the ring's original owner, Lisette instead of just brief flashbacks.  The book did quickly wrap up with an exciting battle, but left me wanting more.  I would definitely dive into the sequel. 

The Secret Life of Mrs. London

The Secret Life of Mrs. London - Rebecca Rosenberg

Charmian London sacrificed much to marry the man she was passionately in love with, the legend, Jack London.  After years of serving as his muse, typist, editor and nurse, Charmian wants the romance back.  Instead, Jack is often distant and manipulative.  When the London's take in a show performed by Harry Houdini, Charmian is chosen to go up on stage with Harry for an illusion.  Charmian is taken by his charisma, demeanor and physique.  As the London's and Houdini's form a friendship, Charmian finds her passion again.  However, she struggles with still needing Jack's approval and a conundrum of befriending Houdini's eccentric wife, Bessie.

I love reading books about the lives of historical figures that give insight into their personal lives and The Secret Life of Mrs. London did just that.  While the story is fictionalized, the events and settings are all based on the London's life.  Through the writing I could envision the vastness of Glen Ellen ranch and the apartment Charmian rented in New York.  Charmian's character had an excitement for life, a zeal for love and dedication to writing.  While I have read many of Jack London's classics, I had never thought about his wife or known she was an author herself.  Reading about Charmian's input into Jack's works, I have a new appreciation and insight into the books knowing that it was Charmian who reworked many passages and described scenes.  Charmian's emotions were that force that created suspense and drama throughout the story and I could easily sympathize with the complexity of her feelings. I was intrigued by her relationship with Houdini, especially since Houdini was really the springboard to discovering who Charmian was without Jack.  At one point Charmian says"Jack cuts to the bone of things, and I feel shallow."  This is a  perfect metaphor for her life with Jack.  Alluring, magical and moving, The Secret Life of Mrs. London is a stirring historical fiction read.  
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

An Unexpected Exploit

An Unexpected Exploit (Myth Coast Adventures #3) - Kandi J. Wyatt
The small coastal town of Myrtle Beach, Oregon has been a known hot spot for mythical creatures.  The portals that open up have caused several creatures to come through to our world.  So far, several teens with the help of NSA agent Winston Raleigh have helped the creatures.  Now, 16 year old Franklin stumbles through a portal on a hunting trip and befriends a sasquatch.  Before Franklin can return home, he learns about the world of Shinwano, all the creatures that live there and begins training on how to protect the portals when he returns home.  However, promptly upon Franklin's return to his world, Jack Collins, hunter of mythical creatures forces Franklin to show him the portal.  Luckily, Agent Raleigh and Franklin's friends aren't too far behind and can help Franklin defeat Jack and the evil forces in Shinwano while protecting the beings that live there.
In the final book of the Myth Coast Adventures series, a middle grade fantasy adventure, we finally get to see where all of the magnificent creatures came from.  I really enjoyed exploring Shinwano with Franklin and learning about how the portals work.  My favorite part of the story was when Franklin was training with Ladaku, a sanraksaka, or Sasquatch.  Through Ladaku, Franklin learned about the strength within himself`and how to use his bhala.  I did notice that the religious undertones that had been set in the previous two books have now come full force as the fight of good versus evil erupts in Shinwano.  The excitement and danger was amplified in this installment as Jack Collins is unleashed in a land with creatures that he wants to kill for their body parts.  To stop Jack, they use teamwork, creative thinking and their beliefs.  I also loved the consequence that Jack has to face at the end.  My only complaint was that there were a lot of new Shinwano words introduced all at once and it was difficult for me to keep track of new names for creatures that there are already words for.  Overall, a satisfying end to an enchanting trilogy.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

Pride (The Elite Seven #2)

Pride (The Elite Seven #2) - J.D. Hollyfield
Mason and Evelyn Blackwell have been in the foster care system for years.  Mason is almost out when the siblings are placed with the Griffin family.  Lillian Griffin decides that Mason will be the perfect leader for her secret society since he has so much to lose if he doesn't do exactly as Lillian says.   Holding Evelyn as a bargaining chip, Lillian puts Mason through hell until he agrees to lead the initiates of the Elite.  Mason must delegate evil deeds to the other members to complete as well as complete his own.  Mason's task is to expose the dark secret of the new Theology professor at St. Augustine University.  However, once he finds out who the unlikely professor is, Mason's task becomes much more difficult. 
The second book in The Elite Seven series focuses on the group's leader, Mason who has been given the sin of pride.  So far, books one and two have meshed together really well, keeping characterization and timeline all in sync.  In Pride, the evil nature of The Elite Seven becomes apparent as Mason is a very reluctant initiate.  Mason's life has not been easy, so his character is more relatable than Rhett in book one, Lust. Through Mason, we find out a lot more about LIllian's character, her motivations and how much pull she has within the Elite.  Mason's story line is as much seated in revenge against Lillian as it is his relationship with his target, Meghan.  Mason and Meghan's relationship was explosive, dirty, hot and incredibly sexy.  These steamy scenes also happened a lot throughout the book, so this one has a high heat rating.  Pride's story pushes along the plot of the Elite Seven society and leads into the next story of Wrath. 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.

Three Ways to Disappear

Three Ways to Disappear - Katy Yocom
The DeVaughan children grew up in India where their father worked at a clinic saving lives.  After an unexpected tragedy the DeVaughan sisters, Quinn and Sarah and their mother pick up and move to Kentucky, leaving their father behind.  Quinn, the eldest sister, blames herself for the accident and their mother blames India.  Now as adults, Quinn is a neurotic mother of twins who is continuously used as the family doormat, younger sister, Sarah is an adventurous journalist whose assignments takes her to the most dangerous parts of the world and their mother has developed a spending habit that she absolutely cannot afford.  Sarah decides to break away from journalism and takes a job at a Bengal Tiger Conservation Organization in India, near their old family home.  Sarah becomes notorious internationally for her efforts to save a tiger cub and begins a project with the village women that she needs Quinn's help with.  With both sisters in India, Sarah and Quinn dig into their past and the truth behind the tragedy that ripped through their family while trying to protect the future of a young tiger family.
With a powerful opening that gave insight into the entire DeVaughan family dynamic in one sentence, I knew I was going to fall deep into Three Ways to Disappear.  Combining literary fiction with family drama and environmental fiction created a dual story of the DeVaughan family and Machli the tiger' family trying to navigate life.  From the beginning Sarah's character gives absolutely stunning descriptions of the beauty of the wild's of India and the contrast of the small villages and colorful cities that made everything feel as if I were there.  There was also a deep understanding of tigers and their role in nature.  Machli, Akbar and their cubs were characters in the story just as much as Sarah and Quinn, with personalities and goals that I cared about.  The focus of the story however, is on Sarah and Quinn and how they are still trying to find themselves apart from the tragedy that defined their childhood.  Sarah and Quinn take very different routes to find who they really are, although the tigers and the magic of India helps them both in their journey.  A highly emotional ending closes out this impactful story that left me thinking about my the effect of my actions on the Earth and those around me. 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

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.