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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.

A Deceptive Bargain (The Beckett Files #5)

A Deceptive Bargain - Laura Beers

Martha Hackett is still recovering from the trauma of being sold into prostitution. She was rescued by Agents of the Crown and now resides with her rescuers, acting as a lady's maid for Lady Eliza Landsdowne. Martha has not reconnected with her family or much of society since the trauma, especially men. After a particularly bad flu, she is just beginning to trust Dr. Emmett Maddix, the family doctor who stayed by her side throughout the illness. When Martha father shows up without warning, he brings unexpected news- an inherited title of Earl and a deal for Martha. If she spends one Season with him in London, Martha will be gifted a dowry and an estate. Martha has never had warm feelings towards her father, but at agrees at Eliza's urging and with promised protection. While in London, the group of Agents don't waste any time in investigating. They are set up to probe the town of Gravesend, where a gang called the Cursed Lot have taken over. However, the Cursed Lot's reach is further than anyone could imagine and involves more people than the Agents expect. 

A sweet and cautious romance paired with multiple intriguing spy plots marks the fifth book in The Beckett Files series, A Deceptive Bargain. I would definitely recommend reading the rest of this series beforehand in order to become familiar with the characters, especially Dr. Madddix and the prostitution ring that had captured Martha and was brought down by the Agents. Once again, Laura Beers has pulled me in with characters I care about and luring plots. All of her female characters, including Martha are strong and courageous in body and mind. Martha is very complex, still dealing with her years as a slave and trying to figure out how to live in a world that seems forever changed. Dr. Maddix is a Lord who would rather use his talents to treat the poor in order to atone for his past. When he hears of Martha's past, he is drawn to her strength. Their relationship is slow going, respectful and delightful to watch as it plays out. In addition to the romance, the spy plots in A Deceptive Bargain are complex pulling together demons from Emmett's past as well as new villains as the web of treachery deepened. I loved when all of the Agents go to put their skills to use against the Cursed Lot; the excitement of kidnapping, escapes, brawls, longbows, pistols and stabbings made for a heart-pounding ending. I can't wait to see what happens next. 

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

Gloved Heart

Gloved Heart - Charlotte Brentwood

Amy Miller has found herself in a desperate situation. Used and discarded after becoming pregnant by her employer's brother, Amy had nowhere to go. She refused to be shamed by her situation and was graciously taken in as a ward. At the Fortesque's, Amy is relishing in the comforts of being a mother, but is feeling overwhelmed at Mrs. Fortesque's demands for her to learn ladylike qualities. In addition, Amy is still suffering from the attack and cannot feel that she can trust another man. When the Fortesque's house becomes stifling, Amy escapes for a bit with her new son and runs into a longtime friend, Henry Russell. The meeting ignites feelings for both Henry and Amy. Henry wishes he would have asked for Amy's hand long ago, but now Amy can't even bear to touch Henry's hand. Henry is determined to help Amy and give her time to heal, but a suspected secret may ruin his chances.

Gloved Heart is a Regency romance complete with many swoon worthy moments. Though I felt that the story line was very predictable, I loved the characters and felt invested in their story; especially since I have read the first book in the series, The Vagabond Vicar. Amy is clearly a woman who knows what she wants in life; however, the past trauma she has suffered has left her scarred. Amy's past has led her to be independent and headstrong, but has lacked love. The big secret being held from Amy is strongly foreshadowed early on and suggested by Henry, so there was not a lot of suspenseful buildup there. Instead, the focus is on Amy's realization that she might be able to love once again. Henry is perfect for Amy, with a relationship rooted in friendship and an understanding nature. I loved watching the trust build and Amy's confidence rise as she and Henry got to know one another again. Everything about them seemed pure and true. As a bonus for me, a look into the characters lives from the first book of the series is tied into Amy's story. Overall, a delightful Regency romance with engaging characters.

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

Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel

Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel - Linda Bennett Pennell
In June of 1930 Al Capone and several of his men check in to the out-of-the-way Blanche Hotel in Lake City Florida and stay for almost two weeks.  There is almost no mention of the stay or what they did there for that long.  In 2011, Liz Reams, researcher of American Crime and new professor comes across this tidbit of information about her favorite bad boy for a new class syllabus she is working on.  Liz dives into the research, but can't find much information about Capone at the time.  Instead, she finds a series of crimes involving the KKK, the newspaper editor and the Sheriff that rocked Lake City during the same time as Capone's stay.  The story of one boy, Zeke, has Liz especially interested.  However, she can't seem to find any evidence of Capone's involvement; and while Liz is immersed in her studies of the past, her present also seems to be falling apart.
I was hooked on this story from the introduction, where boys Zeke and Jack watch a body go down a sinkhole and sets off a chain of events that will change their lives.  Capone is a historical figure that we all know.  His violent reign has always been viewed with a surrounding glamour.  Liz's character reflects this feeling as well and Liz often looks for a bad boy in her personal life as well.  Through her research, we are shown the greater impact of Capone's actions as his presence changes the lives of innocent residents of Lake City.  The historical characters served as a lens for the time period.  Meg, who worked at the Blanche, Jack and Zeke, kids who witnessed the crimes, DeWitt, the officer who uncovered the crimes and Jack and Zeke's fathers displayed the wide range of consequences for an era filled with instability, hate and uncertainty.  The writing made me feel very attached to these characters and made the transition between time periods easy as each chapter hopped between the 1930's and 2000's.  Short chapters and the suspense of Capone's involvement made this book fly by.  Overall, a fun, fast-paced historical crime novel.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

The Strongman and the Mermaid

The Strongman and The Mermaid (The Donora Story Collection) -  Kathleen Shoop

1910- Donora, Pennsylvania  is a town built on steel and the hard work of the immigrant workforce.  Mines, mills, nails and clouds of smoke that obscure the sun mean prosperity and a chance at the American Dream.  For the Lancos family, this means that everyone works in order to pay the mortgage and the taxes.  Mary Lancos often suffers the brunt of the children's labor without complaint, rowing her father to work, doing chores at home and working for the Dunn's-one of the mill managers.  Mary longs for a lemon-scented, soot free home like Mrs. Dunn keeps and a man that can provide that for her.  However, when Mary's family finds a match for her, Mary would rather wait for love.  In Myscowa, Poland Lucasz Musial knows a better life awaits him in America-if he could only win the one remaining ticket.  When the stars align to bring him to Donora, he thanks the mermaid that's been haunting his dreams.  Lucasz finds more luck as he proves himself a strong worker at the factory and his sponsor family finds him a match.  Lucasz believes that his American dream is coming true, until it all comes crashing down on him.  It's possible that the mermaid from his dreams is still out there waiting for him.

The Strongman and the Mermaid is a sweeping historical romance that ties together the immigrant experience, many traditions and a touch magic.  From the beginning, when a cantankerous Patryk is found clutching the book that detailed the story of his ancestor's romance, I knew I would be hooked.  From there, the story alternates between Mary and Lucasz' point of view.  The poetic writing shone through as the bleak and sooty world of Donora was made beautiful through Lucasz and Mary's eyes.  I loved reading about all of the different Polish and Czech traditions that families were able to bring and recreate in America.  The work in the factory and mines as well of the conditions the workers kept up were realistic and a good reminder of how our country was built.  The suspense in the story was kept up by wondering when Mary and Lucasz would ever figure out that they were meant for one another.  Their romance is natural and sweet, gradually building with friendship over time.  I can't wait to read more of their story in the next book.

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

The Partnership (Extra Credit #1)

The Partnership (Extra Credit #1) - Charlotte Penn Clark

Kyle is a college senior who is failing English Composition.  Lani is junior, a dancer who is a pushover.  Lani is in trouble for covering for a friend.  Kyle and Lani both end up in a special class to make up for their transgressions- Extra Credit.  The class ends up being more of an examination of how they ended up there and utilizes partnerships for the semester to help each other with their issues.  Kyle and Lani are partnered up.  Kyle needs help getting words on paper, Lani needs to learn to stand up for herself.  As Kyle and Lani help one another the tension between them grows until their academic partnership is more like a partnership with benefits. As the end of the year approaches for Kyle and Lani, they have to make decisions about where their short but intense partnership will take them.

Sexy, sweet and fun, The Partnership is a realistic new adult romance with characters that I could easily relate to. With the point of view switching between Lani and Kyle, I was able to see what was going on inside each of their heads.  I love seeing when the guy is just as unsure about a relationship as the girl.  Lani and Kyle both had a great energy that pulled them towards one another for a passionate romance. The sexy times were great, not over-explained but genuine and true to a college experience.  In addition to the sex and romance, Kyle and Lani's story is about growth, change and entering adulthood.  One of my favorite characters was the Extra Credit teacher, Marjorie who tells the class: "Trust...You should all be working on trust-when to give it and when to withhold it."  I think we all should have taken Marjorie's class in college.  I would love to continue this series and see where the rest of the relationships in the Extra Credit class go and find out more of Marjorie's advice.  Overall, The Partnership is a fast-paced, sexy, New-Adult read. 

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

How We Disappeared

How We Disappeared - Jing-Jing Lee

As World War II rages on, the people of Singapore believe that they are relatively safe on their tiny island with few resources, especially with British Troops around.  However, the Japanese invade with force.  Deadly air raids leave few survivors.  Other villages are raided and young women are taken for the pleasure of Japanese Soldiers.  At seventeen, Wang Di is on of the many young woman taken from her family to serve as a comfort woman.  Wang Di was forcibly raped for years and then shamed when she returned home, never talking about what happened to her or the friends she made.  Wang Di's parents quickly find her a husband. Soon Wei is much older than Wang Di, a widower whose wife and child perished in the air raids.  In 2000, Kevin is dealing with the death of his grandma who admitted a secret to Kevin right before she died.  Kevin tries to put the pieces of the past together in order to help his father  heal.

How We Disappeared  is an absolutely beautiful story about the horrific truth about what happened to the people of Singapore.  I had heard of the comfort women before, but had not been exposed to the reality of their situation.  Wang Di, like many of the real comfort women, were taken as children to houses where they were beaten, starved, and forcibly raped by dozens of Japanese soldiers a day.  Wang Di's hope was what pulled her through the brutality .  The writing of Wang Di's time in the brothel was direct and honest, but through Wang Di's voice, there was always a glimmer of what could be.  I was surprised at the amount of shame the survivors among the comfort women faced even among their family.  Kevin search for the truth weaves together the narrative of Wang Di, Soon Wei and his grandmother in a surprising way.  Though the time hops and change in voice happens quickly, Kevin's search is what allows for healing and truth.  Touching and raw, How We Disappeared is a story of survival, love and healing after tragedy. 
This book was received for free in return for an honest review. 

Free Pizza

Free Pizza - G.C. McRae
Brian McSpadden leads a pretty boring life.  His parents are a little older and very strict.  His mom spends most of her time taking care of Brian's younger brothers who seem to have constant issues and can never seem to feed Brian enough.  This all changes around Brian's 12th birthday.  First, Brian's chaotic friend Danny manges to get Brian in trouble even when he didn't do anything.  Now, Brian and Danny are stuck doing chores for Danny's.  Then, Brian receives a strange birthday present and a call from his adoption agency saying that his birth mother wants to get in touch with him for his birthday.  In addition to finding a whole new family, Brian gets roped into the drama with Danny's extended family and his cousin Alvin.  Will Brian be able to figure it all out?
Free Pizza is a charming, wholesome and amusing story about a very typical 12 year old boy.  I immediately felt as if Brian could be any 12 year old boy that I had known, always hungry, trying to do his best, but somehow keeps getting in trouble. One of the things that I liked best in the book was that Brian was adopted, but that is not what the story centers around.  Even though Brian should be focused on the momentous event of meeting his birth mother and discovering a whole other family, it takes a back seat to his own family and the craziness of Danny's family.  There were elements of suspense and adventure tied in with Danny's neighbor, Grantree and an expensive stamp collection as well as Danny's sick aunt and having to find Alvin a place to stay.  Between Brian's family, his birth mother's family and Danny's family, the fact that there is no normal is really highlighted.  Each of these families are unique and a little crazy in their own way, but all of them share love and acceptance.  

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

Embers (WIngs of War #1)

Embers (The Wings of War Book 1) - Karen Ann Hopkins
Ember is a 17 year old who has suffered much during the past year.  Her parents both died in a fiery car crash, a car crash that Ember was also in- but she came away from miraculously unscathed.  With her parents gone, her parent's will sends her to live with Aunt Ila in the hills of Tennessee. Aunt Ila quickly fills Ember in on the reason why the fire didn't hurt her.  Ember is a Watcher, a descendant of the Angels and Ember's power is clearly the fire element.  Ember no w must balance training with Ila and all of her new powers and beginning classes at her new high school.  At school Ember meets several human friends as well as someone who is different.  Ember notices Ivan right away and soon learns that he lives near her in a secluded compound.  When Ember meets Ivan's friend, Sawyer, she recognizes him immediately from her dreams.  Ember struggles with what this means, especially when she finds out what Ivan and Sawyer really are and what their leaders on the compound are planning.  Ember was told that the end of the world was coming.  She just didn't think it would be so soon, or that she would be in the middle of it. 
Embers is the first book in the Wings of War Series.  This is a young adult paranormal romance much in the vein of Twilight.  If you like books like that, then you will probably enjoy Embers.  If you do not like books in this category, than Embers may not be for you.  I happen to love this genre of books and dived in happily.  It did take me awhile to get a feel for Ember and the story.  I settled into the pace once Ember reached Tennessee and the point of view began alternating between Ember and Sawyer.  I really enjoyed the idea of Watchers, Demons, Growlers and their origins.  I'm hoping the next few books explain a little more about their history.  I had a hard time getting to know Ember's character at first, but I did appreciate Ember more as she learned about her powers and made friends at her high school.  Sawyer and Ember's relationship was fast and intense, however they don't get any farther than kissing in this book.  I absolutely loved Ila's character with her knowledge, powers and understanding.  Ivan was another favorite for me and I'm glad Ivan and Ember's relationship was not made into a love triangle.  The ending of the book ramps up the excitement and suspense as the demons prepare for war.  I can't wait to see where the rest of these books go!

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

Song of Songs: A Novel of the Queen of Sheba

Song of Songs: A Novel of the Queen of Sheba - Marc Graham

Half-sisters Bilkis and Makeda are daughters of the Mukarrib or chieftain of Saba. When a flood overruns the land, Bilkis does her best to protect Makeda, but Blikis is swept away in the waters for her efforts. Bilkis is believed to have perished in the flood, but is found by merchants making their way to Yisrael. On their journey, Bilkis' caravan is attacked and she is claimed by the King of Yisrael. Bilkis soon learns the ways of a Queen and orchestrates people and events to her whims. Bilkis grows and secures her son to the throne, ruling still through him. She decides a temple should be built and is surprised when stonemason Yeltzer is chosen for the job. In Saba, Makeda has earned her place as Mukarrib after her father passed and her mother sacrificed after building a dam to secure water for Saba's future. Years pass and the earthen dam is soon to fail. When Makeda learns of a builder of stone, she follows a a trader to Yisrael to discover her sister once again. 

The story of the Queen of Sheba is veiled in mystery. The time period of around 550 BCE is not very well documented, however Marc Graham manages to bring the stories of Bilkis, Makeda and Yeltzer alive. In addition to these characters that the narrative alternates between, the landscape, dwellings, rituals and beliefs are richly described. I was amazed at how well I could connect with the lives of these people that lived so long ago. Their motivations and emotions resonated through the years. Bilkis and Makeda's relationship as well as their choices made while Queen were incredibly interesting. Bilkis and Makeda are two sides of the same coin, both strong leaders who are destined to rule; yet, one is guided by force and manipulation and the other with care and sympathy for her people. Yeltzer's character as the builder of the Temple of Urusalim was fascinating to follow, his life seemed destined to be continuous trial and heartbreak and he always seemed to make to best of his situation. The journeys of all three characters ends with the promise of more, and I would love to read more. The story of these characters and the writing carries through and resonates throughout many years creating a harmony of time and place, bringing to life a story of people who have only been known to us through a few verses of religious texts. 

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

American Princess

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

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

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

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

The Time Collector

The Time Collector - Gwendolyn Womack

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

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


Lone Soldier

Lone Soldier: A Novel - Leo Rozmaryn

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

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

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

Indian Paintbrush (Carson Chronicles #3)

Indian Paintbrush - John A. Heldt

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

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

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

Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel

Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel - James Markert

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

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

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

Josephine Baker's Last Dance

Josephine Baker's Last Dance - Sherry  Jones

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

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

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

Meet Me In Outer Space

Meet Me In Outer Space - Melinda Grace

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


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

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