One Bad Apple

Snow White Re-imagined

Book Summary

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs… reimagined.

When a wagon train of Black pioneers rescues the seven orphaned Dalton cousins from the side of the trail, it seems like an answer to their prayers. As they roll west toward Kansas, fourteen-year-old Levi Dalton is dazzled by the beautiful Mrs. Mallone. She’s a healer, and her knowledge of medicines and herbs inspires Levi to want to become a doctor. Maybe then he can stop people from dying of fevers and illnesses like his folks did. 

But Mrs. Mallone’s stepdaughter, Hopeful, warns Levi not to become too attached to the healer. Levi dismisses her warnings and his own misgivings until the day he sees something dreadful. 

Levi knows he needs to tell someone what he’s seen before it’s too late. But will anyone believe the story of a fourteen-year-old orphan? Will anyone stand up to evil, no matter how beautifully it’s packaged?

My Review

This delightful middle grade book is the perfect introduction to stories about the pioneer experience in the American West. There is a diverse cast of characters, and young readers will feel an affinity with Levi and his orphaned status. 

The people of color that save Levi and his siblings by allowing them to join their wagon train remind us that we are a country of many complexions and backgrounds. Hopeful, Ness and the rest of those on the wagon train are wonderful representations of the diversity that is ignored in most historical narratives. 

As a young reader, I loved Laura Ingall’s Wilders Little House series. This finely crafted tale belongs in that canon for all of those who dream of freedom on a farm of their own, or yearn for adventure.

Link to Giveaway Being Hosted by the Author: 

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/2b4f811762/?

Link to Purchase:

The Mall

Publisher’s Blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty returns to her roots with this YA coming of age story set in a New Jersey mall.

The year is 1991. Scrunchies, mixtapes and 90210 are, like, totally fresh. Cassie Worthy is psyched to spend the summer after graduation working at the Parkway Center Mall. In six weeks, she and her boyfriend head off to college in NYC to fulfill The Plan: higher education and happily ever after.

But you know what they say about the best laid plans…

Set entirely in a classic “monument to consumerism,” the novel follows Cassie as she finds friendship, love, and ultimately herself, in the most unexpected of places. Megan McCafferty, beloved New York Times bestselling author of the Jessica Darling series, takes readers on an epic trip back in time to The Mall.

My Review:

Wow! This book took me back to my days of teen angst. I’m a Gen Xer, so this was pure nostalgia. I felt like I was immersed in one of my favorite John Hughes movies – expecting Jake Ryan to turn the corner at any moment. It’s a story about fitting in and finding out who you are.

When Cassandra’s possibility of forever boyfriend breaks up with her at the beginning of summer, and her parents start acting like weird cardboard replicas of themselves, her world quickly becomes the crappiest show on earth. She doesn’t know what she wants. She doesn’t know how to deal with all of the raw emotions wheeling through her. She wants to become a newer, more spectacular version of herself, but she doesn’t want to lose who she is in the process. When she lands a job at the prestigious Bellarosa Boutique it seems like a dream come true.

But Cassie’s quest for popularity has unexpected rewards and lessons. There are undercover makeout sessions, treasure maps, and unexpected friendships. There is a very active rumor mill, and a mysterious music aficionado a la High Fidelity. There are mini-skirts, hair spray and discussions about Club MTV.

I absolutely loved it! I think I had Wicked Game on solid repeat while reading it…..

The Woman Before Wallis

My Review:

A huge thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

I had no idea that Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor was such a rebel. I had no idea that having a diplomat as a father granted you access to the glittering world of the Vanderbilts. This story absolutely fascinated me. The main charcter of the story has been painted by historians as a grasping socialite who leveraged her tenuous connections and beauty to survive. Long before the rise of the paparazzi culture, her name was synonymous with scandal.

Wallis Simpson was not the first divorcee to catch the eye of the prince. As the sister of Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, Thelma was not a stranger to the lures of the polo set. When Edward singles her out, she becomes the paramour of the moody prince, spending less and less time with her husband. The extramarital affair is not uncommon in the social circles she moves in, and does not irreparably damage her reputation.

When a tragic death leaves her sister Gloria in an untenable situation, she vows to support her twin. As the world is rocked by a court battle that aired all of the tawdry laundry of the upper class, Thelma becomes a liability to the pristine outward appearance of the royal family. Wallis Simpson supplants Thelma in Edward’s affections.

You won’t regret picking up this tightly woven expose of the world of wealth and privilege in Depression-era America, or its sympathetic treatment of a family that was villainized by the press of the time.

Excerpt:

ONE

October 9, 1934
RMS Empress of Britain

THELMA CONSIDERED MANHATTAN HER HOME, though she hadn’t lived there for over ten
years. To her, it was a city of firsts: she had smoked her first cigarette there, a Lucky Strike
stolen from a nun’s desk drawer at the convent and passed around the dormitory after bedtime.
She and her twin sister, Gloria, had rented their first apartment on Fifth Avenue: an attic
brownstone, which, at sixteen years old, they were far too young to live in unchaperoned but did
so anyways, stuffing the living room with flowers and leaving the icebox empty. Her first
encounter with the society pages had been at New York Harbor: she was eight at the time,
mobbed by reporters at the behest of their diplomat father in an attempt to turn the tone of a
negative press scrum. The next day’s papers would run pictures not of Harry Morgan on his
recall to Washington but of his twin daughters, Thelma and Gloria, walking down the gangplank
in matching pinafores.


First marriage, thought Thelma, gripping the sable collar of her coat more tightly around
her neck. First divorce. She stayed on deck long enough to watch the ship slip past the redbrick
buildings of Southampton before seeking refuge from the chill air.
Though Thelma felt uneasy at the prospect of being away from David for nearly six
weeks, she knew that she had little choice: Gloria’s trial had become a media sensation,
chewing up columns on front pages across America and Europe. The custody battle, dubbed
the “Trial of the Century” by reporters who squeezed onto the courthouse steps each day, was a
nightmare for her sister, forced to defend not only her right to raise her own daughter but also to
preserve her own good name. Thelma still rankled at the letter Gloria had sent her: For Reggie’s
sister to believe what’s being said about me is bad enough, but to know that the rumors came
from our own mother is too much to bear…


Thelma knew that the stories would continue long after the trial concluded—it was
inevitable, given that it revolved around a Vanderbilt daughter with a Vanderbilt fortune. She had
received the letter five days ago and booked passage on the earliest steamer bound for New
York. If it had been either of her other siblings—Consuelo or Harry Junior—in this situation,
Thelma would have offered what help she could, but as her twin, Gloria held Thelma’s
allegiance the strongest. It was how it had always been: one supporting the other.
There was only one consideration weighing on Thelma’s mind which made it difficult for
her to focus on what she would find in America.


“Shall I come, too?” David had asked days ago at Fort Belvedere. Dismal weather had
driven Thelma, David and their guests indoors, an afternoon of weeding David’s gardens
mercifully replaced by card games and needlepoint round the drawing room fire. David laid his
embroidery hoop to one side, the half-finished rose pointing sightlessly at the ceiling.
Across the room, Wallis Simpson, perusing the contents of the bar cart, turned.
“Don’t be silly,” she said. From a club chair in the corner, Wallis’s husband, Ernest,
folded down the corner of a newspaper. There was a momentary silence as Wallis’s long fingers
trailed delicately along the crystal tops of several heavy decanters before she selected one.

“You can’t possibly think it’s a good idea for him to get caught up in this mess,” she said,
glancing at Thelma as she poured a neat scotch. “You’ve seen the papers. Can you imagine the
sort of froth they’d work themselves into if the Prince of Wales stuck his oar in? I don’t mean to
offend you, Thelma,” she said, “but it’s just not seemly for him to get involved, don’t you agree?”
David’s brows knitted together as Wallis handed him the whiskey. “I feel so terrible about
it all,” he said. “Gloria’s a decent sort. She doesn’t deserve all this…surely there’s something I
can do?” He looked up at Thelma, his spaniel eyes imploring.


Wallis sat down. “You can let Thelma go to support her sister,” she said. “Gloria needs
her family, sir, not the distraction of a royal sideshow.”
“Wally’s quite right, sir,” said Ernest, resting his newspaper on his lap. “You’d be
hindering more than you’d help. Couldn’t fix me up one of those as well, could you, darling?”
David exhaled, but didn’t look convinced. “Perhaps,” he said, as Wallis returned to the
cart. “I wouldn’t want to add any more controversy to this ghastly business, but I hate the
thought of you going on your own.”


Thelma sat beside him, smiling at the thought of what David’s advisors would say if he
so much as commented on the Vanderbilt trial, let alone sailed to America.
“They have a point,” she said, taking his hand in hers. “I don’t think there’s much for you
to do. But thank you for wanting to help.”


He smiled, worry carved into the lines of his face. “Of course,” he said, and kissed
Thelma on the cheek. He picked up his needlepoint, lifting the embroidery hoop to inspect the
stitching more closely. “Just don’t stay away from me too long. I don’t think I could stand it.”
Perching herself on the armrest of Ernest’s chair, Wallis caught Thelma’s eye. She
smiled, red lips curling in a wide, reassuring grin.

Excerpted from The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull, Copyright © 2020 by Bryn Turnbull.

Published by MIRA Books

A Flame Through Eternity: Book 3 of The Wanderer Series

Book Description:

It started 3,000 years ago. It ends now. Who survives the final confrontation?

According to Helle Madsen, being the protagonist of a time-spanning epic love story has some things going for it, primarily Jason Morris. Because seriously, meeting up with your fated lover after 3 000 years apart is not bad—at all. Unfortunately, where Jason goes, there goes Sam Woolf, yet another very, very ancient acquaintance—with the fundamental difference that Sam is not into Happily Ever After. He’s into destruction, more specifically of Jason and Helle.

Helle may believe in second-chance love, but she sure doesn’t believe in reincarnation. Okay, she didn’t believe in stuff like that until she met Jason Morris a year or so ago. By now, she has accepted that sometimes impossible things are quite, quite possible—like an ancient princess being reborn as an ambitious financial analyst.
Finding Jason was like finding the part of her that had always been missing—a perfect match. But handling Sam Woolf, the reborn version of their ancient nemesis is something of a trial. No sooner do you have him well and surely beat, but up he bounces again. Sheesh, will it take an oak stake to permanently rid their lives of him?

Sam Woolf is a powerful adversary. Too powerful, even. Jason and Helle will need help from unexpected quarters to finally bring this tangled, ancient love-and-hate triangle to some sort of conclusion. Question is, will they survive the experience?

My Summary:

The third book in Anna Belfrage’s Wanderer series is a continuation of the saga of star-crossed lovers Helle and Jason.

The series is based on pivotal characters from the tale of Jason and the Argonauts. Three thousand years after their love story ended in tragedy, Helle Madsen and Jason Morris are given another chance. Their reincarnated souls have finally found one another again.

Before Helle and Jason can claim the happiness they were denied, they must thwart the efforts of their archenemy. He has also been reincarnated, and is determined to destroy them like he did the first time.

I am smack dab in the middle of reading these books and loving them. They are full of adventure, steamy, swoon-worthy romance, grand gestures and dastardly deeds. If you are a fan of lush detail, unforgettable characters and are in the midst of an Outlander hangover, this is the series for you!

About the Author

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with three absorbing interests: history and writing.

Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England. (Medieval knight was also high on Anna’s list of potential professions. Yet another disappointment…)

With Jason and Helle, Anna has stepped out of her historical comfort zone and has loved doing so.

Find out more about Anna by visiting her website, www.annabelfrage.com, You can also connect with Anna on FacebookTwitterAmazon, and Goodreads.

No One Saw

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review. 

When a five year old girl goes missing in broad daylight, and no one’s stories line up, it’s a race against time.

When detective team A.L. and Rena are assigned the case, they learn that everyone has buried secrets. They know that very few children are abducted under these circumstances by strangers, and a ten year old cold case in a nearby town is eerily similar. But the grandmother insists that she dropped the child off and released her to the teacher. The teacher insists that is not the case. The parents are fighting. There is a mysterious vagrant. The grandmother has a shady past of her own. 

There were so many threads of possibility in this story, they kept me on my toes. My initial suspicions proved correct, but not in the way I thought. 

If you like fast-paced crime stories that will challenge your powers of deduction, you’ll love this one.

To Catch An Earl

The publisher and Netgalley provided me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

Emmeline Danvers is not the sort of girl to make an entrance. Her obscurity is a shield against her secret identity, and she keeps it wrapped around her. A masquerade ball offers her the perfect opportunity to claim a kiss from the man she has always wanted.

But the magical kiss in the moonlit garden quickly escalates. And Alex Harland and Emmy Danvers are unexpectedly drawn together by forces beyond their control. But Emmy has an assignation and Alex leaves for the battlefield.

Four years later they meet again. The memories of that kiss have filled their dreams. Alex is desperate to find the woman that ensnared him, and finally realizes that the elusive, beguiling woman from the garden is Emmy.

But they are no longer star-crossed strangers in a garden. Now they are bitter enemies, on opposing sides of a criminal divide. As the stakes become higher, their passion becomes undeniable.

I adored this enemies to lovers story. The dialogue was rapid-fire, whip-smart and infused with fire. The plot was original, fully fleshed out and believable. The characters were mature, unique and realistic. And most importantly the love story unfolded with exquisite detail. It was tender, triumphant and unforgettable.

Lord Shallow

A giant thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

Guess what I love almost as much as chocolate? An exquisitely written regency romance. Lord Shallow was an amazing reading experience. It was a start it at 10 PM, wait, it’s 2 AM and I’m still reading experience. Because I could not put it down until I finished. 

What I loved – literally everything.

1. The character development was robust, multi-faceted and poignant. Both Sebastian and Gwynna evolve in ways they never expected – bringing out each other’s strengths and supporting each other’s weaknesses. 

2. The hero was conflicted and courageous. He slays dragons, empowers the heroine’s independence and offers her validation and a soft place to land. And he is eminently swoon-worthy. 

3. The heroine is no milksop miss. She is strong and brave and resilient in her own right. She saves him too – from a  half-life of duty and obligation.

I am buying every single book I can find by this author.

When You Wish Upon A Rogue

A huge thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me an ARC of this wonderful story.

This regency romp has all of the elements of a perfect slow-burn romance. There is a strong, vulnerable hero who hides in the shadows. There is a determined, independent heroine who must resign herself to an unwanted match to salvage the family finances.

But Sophie isn’t quite ready to be sacrificed. When she meets Reese and her presence cures his insomnia, they enter into an agreement that is his salvation and her ruin. She sets rules for all their interactions. Especially no touching rules. They bare their innermost thoughts and fears to each other, and the no touching rule becomes harder and harder to bear.

Sophie doesn’t want to settle for anything less than the sense of belonging and rightness she has with Reese. Reese wants nothing more than to share starry nights, moonlit garden strolls and picnics with Sophie. She is the one person grounding his reality and giving him the courage to move onward with his life.

Anna Bennett’s characters are always the perfect combination of complexity and vulnerability. This unforgettable couple will make your stomach and heart flutter.

Five Stars!

Recipe For Persuasion

A huge thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

The story of Rico and Ash was a slice of perfection in an imperfect, chaotic world.

Persuasion by Jane Austen is my favorite book of all time. And I am an obsessive bibliophile who devours books like others inhale chocolate or cupcakes. So I had high hopes and high expectations. I was not disappointed.

One of the reasons I love Persuasion so much is its unflinching portrayal of familial obligation and manipulation. The force of those same undercurrents is masterfully portrayed in this new adaptation. The weight of these unspoken expectations is what separated Rico and Ash as teenagers, and the trajectory of their adult lives has been shaped by them.

Ash has done everything in her power to ensure her father’s legacy is a golden one. The restaurant that has consumed all of her sweat and tears for over a decade is drowning, and  Ash is grasping at straws in the hope of finding a miracle. When her two best friends concoct a plan and offer her a spot on a reality tv cooking show, she immediately dismisses the idea as ludicrous.

It’s been over a decade since he saw her. He’s resisted the urge to google her, and be confronted with all of the shiny, happy pictures of choices she made that did not include him. What Rico finds when he finally does google her is an announcement that Ash will be one of the contestants on a reality tv cooking show that pairs chefs with celebrities. And he calls his agent.

They have a decade of regret between them. They have animosity and tension sharp enough to sever limbs. But they also still have an aching awareness the exact space in a room occupied by each other. And like his namesake, Rico is half agony and half hope.

For them to have a second chance, Ash will have to confront the demons that are crippling her. For them to stand a chance this time, all of her secrets and misperceptions must be laid bare.

This was a glorious interpretation of my favorite novel, and unforgettable in true Austenesque form.

Five Stars!

Man O’ War

Caroline is catapulted into the chaos of a British warship in the worst of circumstances. She has been broken, battered and shamed by the men who ripped her world from its moorings and imprisoned her. She has vowed that she will remain indomitable – even if the independence and dignity she sought are forever irretrievable. No matter what challenges her tenuous future holds, she will not bow in defeat.

Captain Merrick’s many years of sacrifice and tenacity have finally been rewarded. The demise of his superior means he is now the commanding officer of the Boudicca. His captaincy is temporary, held on sufferance from the admiralty. He must prove his competency to gain the permanent appointment. And he cannot allow distractions to deter him. 

From the moment he sets eyes on the woman chained in the hold of the Culloden, she is a distraction. Despite the degradation she has suffered, she is defiant and flouts his authority at every opportunity. Every encounter between them is tinder to a bonfire, with both of them tamping down the smolder of attraction with barbed insults and injured pride. 

When the powder keg is thrown overboard, the destruction it leaves in its wake is unavoidable. The identities and agendas they have concealed are laid bare. They are forced to confront the inevitability and impossibility of what lies between them. 

I became wholly immersed in this meticulously researched novel. I felt like I was standing on the deck of a frigate during a ferocious storm, and witnessed the political machinations that occurred on the fringes of a perfectly executed minuet. 

This was my first novel by this author, but it certainly won’t be my last. I cannot wait to read the rest of the Rebels and Redcoats Saga. 

Five stars.