Many ways to be enslaved in Enslavement

23585287“One world.  One currency.  One bright future.”  That is what the world has become in Enslavement by Melinda Friesen.  Now people have a chip in their hands from OneEarth Bank and there is no longer physical cash.  When you get paid it is loaded into your chip.  You walk into a store, select what you want and walk out.  As you walk out the chip records what you purchased.

Some people have resisted getting the chip like main character Rielle’s parents.  Without the chip there are no longer jobs to have and no money for food and supplies.  But as resistors, Rielle’s parents are taken and she is separated from her big brother and little sister.  She is soon sold into slavery and sent from Minneapolis to Texas where she is abused by the “Banker,” her owner.  She now has a chip but it’s a tracker chip that will alert the Banker if she tries to escape.

The slaves are all kids who are sold and shipped to different parts of the country to work mainly as domestic help.  Majority of the kids have parents who are rebels, who refuse to get the chip.  The Banker is a mean sonofabitch who abuses his slaves.  Then his nephew comes to stay and takes a liking to Rielle.  Taking her on horseback rides and showing her things she shouldn’t see.  Is he helping her or setting her up?

This is an interesting way to think about how our future world could become.  Melinda does a great job with the characters and making the reader care for some and not others.  She made me late back to work from lunch because I didn’t want to put the book away.  I kept thinking about the characters even when I wasn’t reading.  This is an interesting take on what would happen if one government or organization controlled everything about our lives.  This is really worth the time.  I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.

Book description:

“One world. One currency. One bright future.”  That’s the promise made by OneEarth Bank after a global economic collapse–but only for those who accept the insertion of a commerce chip.  When Rielle’s parents refuse to comply, government officials tear her family apart. As punishment for her parent’s crimes, Rielle is forced into a Community Service Contract–a legalized form of slavery–and sold to a wealthy, abusive banker.

The Banker’s secrets hold the key to Rielle’s freedom, but will she risk prison or even death to escape and search for her family?

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Tempestuous is a light and humorous story full of teenage angst

15874882What happens when a snow storm hits the city and many people, including a bunch of high school students in a mall are stranded overnight?  Tempestuous: A Modern-Day Spin on Shakespeare’s The Tempest by Kim Askew and Amy Helmes answers this question.

Miranda is a fallen A-Lister at her private school where she had it all, the guy, the brains and the popular clique.  It all came crashing down and she is required to get a job in a mall food court to re-pay her debts.  Miranda works at the Hot Dog Kabob where she has to wear a stupid hat and work with the regular kids.

One night, a huge snowstorm closes down the roads and everyone still in the mall must spend the night.  Many teenagers are trapped including Miranda’s former popular friends and current tormentors.  There is also a thief who is robbing several stores while everyone is trapped.

Miranda is a terrific character.  She is diabolical, humorous, brilliant, daring, caring, and loyal.  Miranda works at the Hot Dog Kabob where she has a little pixie-like sidekick, Ariel who is adorable.  Then there is Caleb who likes Miranda and is the lead singer of a band.

At the beginning of the book, Miranda is very stuck up.  She doesn’t want people to see her working at the Hot Dog Kabob and doesn’t want the popular kids to see her with the regular kids.  Soon Miranda and Caleb are handcuffed together and all hell breaks loose.

This is a fun young adult story that will keep you entertained.  It’s almost like a Lord of the Flies as the Food Court kids stick together and the popular kids are on the other side of the mall.  Each group schemes to attack the other group and retaliations happen.  Some of the pranks Miranda comes up with to get back at her former friends are pretty funny.  I found myself laughing out loud.

This is a very entertaining young adult story that will pull you in and make you care for the characters.  I really enjoyed this story.  This book was light and humorous with a little bit of teenage angst and a mystery thrown in.

Book description:

Recently banished, unfairly, by the school’s popular crowd, former “it girl,” Miranda Prospero, finds herself in a brave new world: holding dominion amongst a rag-tag crew of geeks and misfits where she works at the Hot-Dog Kabob in the food court of her local mall. When the worst winter storm of the season causes mall workers and last-minute shoppers to be snowed-in for the night, Miranda seizes the opportunity to get revenge against the catty clique behind her social exile. With help from her delightfully dweeby coworker, Ariel, and a sullen loner named Caleb who works at the mall’s nearby gaming and magic shop, Miranda uses charm and trickery to set things to right during this spirited take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Genetic purity is the future in Vagabond

22143978Vagabond by J.D. Brewer is a wonderfully written story.  I really got sucked into this one and got lost in the characters.  Vagabond is the distant future where society as we know it no longer exists.  The world now revolves around genetics and the Genetic Engineering Guild dictates your entire life by your genetics; where you live, who you marry, whether you can have children and how many.  The colonies live by a strict set of rules and anyone who goes against the rules and live outside of the colonies, is known as vagabonds and rebels.

The main character Niko is first introduced after she’s been dumped by her best friend and mentor Xavi who has ditched her for a random girl with a nice pair of legs.  Niko’s heart is broken and she is traveling alone when she bumps into a new guy fresh out of the colonies and reluctantly ends up teaching him the ways of the Tracks.

The story weaves back and forth through the past and present where we learn about Niko’s life before she became a Vagabond.  We learn about a major tragedy that forced her to flee the only life she knew, how she met and was left by Xavi, and the present, where she’s learning so much about herself and the world.

Vagabond is an interesting concept of what our world could look like in several hundred years from now as the government tries to make the human race perfect by manipulating genetics.  The Genetic Engineering Guild is trying to eliminate all illnesses and making people as perfect as possible and they are worried the Vagabonds will bring illnesses back into society.

It was also sad with the way people were being treated and how government was trying to get rid of what makes people unique.  I really wanted the Vagabonds to succeed and avoid the people hunting them.  There is quite a twist that was very shocking.  Vagabond is a very good read that was well worth my time.  I want to know more about the characters and can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

Book description:

When Niko’s parents are brutally murdered by the Republic for being Genetic Terrorists, she must learn how to survive in the wild, in life, and in love. With nothing but her pack for a home, she travels the fringes of the Colonies by train and by foot, and collects memories of the Vagabonds who teach her how to live with her new freedom. She first encounters Xavi, the boy who heals her heart before he breaks it. He simply leaves her for a nice pair of Legs, and Niko must learn how to move past unexplainable heartbreak. She soon discovers the Tracks are no place for love, because everything moves a little too fast. Before Niko has time to mourn her rejection, she encounters a different kind of pain— a pain in the rear named Flea. Niko’s subsequent adventures cause her to question her beliefs about the Genetic Engineering Guild, the Republic, the Revolution, and her heart. In this unconventional science fiction novel, a coming of age story is set against a utopian backdrop, and Niko just happens to be on the wrong side of perfection. Her tale is propelled by non-stop action while her past is never far behind to fill in the gaps. It’s a twist-driven page turner that’s incredibly difficult to put down once you pick it up.

Read, enjoy, and share.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Calling Me Home brings out many emotions in the reader

15793184Books can affect you in different ways.  Some put you to sleep, some make you laugh out loud, some make you have an ah ha moment, some make you fall in love with the characters, some scare the crap out of you (thank you Stephen King) and some grab onto you and don’t let go.  Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler is one of those books that makes you laugh, cry, care so much for the characters that you don’t want to see them leave, and then it grabs onto your heart, chews it up and spits it out so that you have nothing left.  When I finished Calling Me Home, it took me several days to put my heart back together again.  There is a revelation that totally caught me off guard and broke my heart leaving me emotionally drained.

I listened to the audio version of Calling Me Home and it was beautifully read by Bahni Turpin and Lorna Raver who bring Dorrie and Isabelle to life.  I fell in love with both women.  They are very interesting, independent women who both have heart ache in their lives.

Calling Me Home is about Isabelle who has asked her hairdresser to drive her from Texas to Ohio for a funeral.  Isabelle is white and almost 90 while Dorrie is black and in her late 30’s to early 40’s.  As they are driving to Ohio, Isabelle tells Dorrie about her past.  She starts when she is 16 and first falls in love with Robert Prewitt, the black son of her family’s housekeeper.  Isabelle is the daughter of the town’s white doctor and lives where blacks are not allowed alone outside at night.

The story seamlessly flows between present day through Dorrie’s eyes and the 1930’s to present day through Isabelle’s eyes.  In her storytelling to Dorrie, Isabelle reveals what a strong woman she has had to be all her life.  She was determined to live the life she wants with Robert despite what her family wants for her.  Dorrie has her own troubles as a single Mom with a son close to graduating high school and who has a situation with his girlfriend.  Dorrie is also trying to figure out her relationship with her boyfriend and whether she should take the relationship further.

Isabelle and Dorrie have a special relationship that I just loved.  They are very supportive of each other and at one point Isabelle said she thinks of Dorrie as a daughter.  After this statement, they become even closer.

I totally fell in love with Isabelle and Robert.  The love they have for each other made me want them to succeed when society and their families are against them.  It’s so hard to wrap the mind around how hard it was in the 1930’s with interracial relationships now that it’s 2015.  There will people who will love this story like I did, and there will people who will have issues with the relationship between Isabelle and Robert.  All I know is that I will be recommending this book to anyone who wants a recommendation because Calling Me Home now resides on my top 10 favorite books of all time.

Book description:

Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a big favor to ask her hairdresser, Dorrie.  She wants the black single mother to drop everything and drive her from Texas to a funeral in Ohio tomorrow.  Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious about Isabelle’s past, agrees, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives.  Isabelle confesses that, as a teen in 1930’s Kentucky, she fell in love with Robert Prewitt, a would-be doctor and the black son of her family’s housekeeper in a town where blacks weren’t allowed after dark.  The tale of their forbidden relationship and its tragic consequences just might help Dorrie find her own way.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Book of Speculation is a beautiful debut novel

23014670I always enjoy a book with a setting I’m not very familiar with.  The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler tells the story of Amos, a boy who was abandoned in the woods shortly after he could walk and has been adopted into a circus where he is first the wild boy and then becomes an assistant to Madame Ryzhkova who reads tarot card.

It is also about Simon and his sister Enola in present day.  Simon is a librarian and Enola has been away for years traveling with a circus reading tarot cards that were her mother’s.  Simon receives a book from Martin Churchwarry, a bookstore owner from Iowa.  The book is sent to Simon because his grandmother is mentioned in the book and Churchwarry thinks Simon would enjoy having a piece of his family history.  It’s more of a journal than a book owned by Hermelius Peabody, the owner of a circus.

Simon soon realizes that all the females in their family have died on July 24, which is fast approaching.  Enola returns home, not the strong steady sister Simon remembers but a nervous, scared shell of herself.  As July 24 approaches, things are starting to fall apart.  Simon loses his job, the family house is falling apart and revelations are revealed from family friend Frank McAvoy.

Ericka does a great job of weaving the past and the present so that the reader slowly finds out why the women in Simon’s life are drowning on July 24 and how everyone is connected.  There are very interesting characters in the present and in the past.  I liked Enola’s boyfriend Doyle who is covered in tattoos and has electricity going through his body.

This is a beautifully written story that flows easily from past to present.  I enjoyed learning about Amos, Madame Ryzhkova and Peabody.  The introduction of Evangeline into Amos’ life I found fascinating.  The way they were able to communicate.  This book is so worth the read and should be added to all book lists.

Book description:

A sweeping and captivating debut novel about a young librarian who is sent a mysterious old book, inscribed with his grandmother’s name. What is the book’s connection to his family?

Simon Watson, a young librarian, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a cliff that is slowly crumbling into the sea.  His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks.

One day, Simon receives a mysterious book from an antiquarian bookseller; it has been sent to him because it is inscribed with the name Verona Bonn, Simon’s grandmother.  Simon must unlock the mysteries of the book, and decode his family history, before fate deals its next deadly hand.

The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler’s gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books, family, and magic.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Intrepid takes a leap into the future

23722493What if there were multiple universes and you could jump from one to the other.  And what if you could split universes, create new ones or change one with your energy?  This is Intrepid by J.D. Brewer.  Texi Nicholson is a high school student in a small town several hundred years in the future.  She lives with her father and spends a lot of time with her neighbors.  Soon she starts having headaches and that is where her life is turned upside down.

Texi quickly finds out that she can split a universe and make it into multiple ones.  She can jump or hop to different locations by putting in the coordinates into a bracelet that she has worn all her life.  But Texi is different, she is a hybrid.  She was an experiment and was given more skills than what was given to others.

There is so much more that could be done with these characters and storyline.  It would be an interesting trilogy if J.D. Brewer decided to go that direction.  This stretches the imagination and makes the reader wonder if there really are multiple universes out there and if so, what is happening in those universes?  Are they all different people or a different version of ourselves living a slightly different life.  I really enjoyed this story.

Book description:

Texi Nicholson is a small town girl living a small town life—that is, until the Multiverse intervenes.  Suddenly, Texi learns she is not only capable of traveling between universes, but she has the ability to create or destroy them as well.  Can she trust her childhood neighbor, Iago, to help her navigate the stars or will his own agenda prevent her from realizing her potential?

Liam Martinez grows up believing he understands who he is and what he will become, but he soon discovers his plans do not coincide with those who raised him.  When he is given the task of helping Texi learn how to travel the Multiverse, he will truly learn what it means to Stand on the Shoulders of Giants.  Can he remain objective when it means the fate of the Multiverse depends on his judgement?

Intrepid is a story of untapped potential, Multiversal imagination, and worlds colliding. Its blend of action, heartbreak, adventure, science fiction, and philosophy will make you question what you think you believe.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Woman in the Photograph highlights the talented Lee Miller

23492824The Woman in the Photograph by Dana Gynther is the second book I have recently read that includes Lee Miller as one of the characters who I never knew about until this year.  Miller was a model and American photographer from Poughkeepsie, NY.  After spending years in New York as a successful fashion model, Miller moved to Paris so she could apprentice for the famous surrealist artist and photographer Man Ray.

Miller quickly becomes his lover and became Ray’s muse, model and co-collaborator.  Gynther does a great job of portraying Miller as an ambitious woman who doesn’t need a man to help her succeed.  As her business grows with sittings and assignments for Vogue, she was able to open her own studio.

Ray is portrayed as a jealous and possessive individual who I think was threatened by Miller’s success.  He went as far as taking credit for some of Miller’s best work.  Miller finally can’t take Ray’s jealousy and moves back to New York where she opens her own studio.

Gynther does a wonderful job of pulling the reader into the lives of Miller and Ray.  She makes you care for Miller and whether she will succeed in a man’s world in the 1930s and she even made me a little worried for Miller because Ray was sometimes beyond obsessive.  There were times I worried Ray was going to hurt himself or hurt Miller.

This is a beautifully written story about courage, freedom, determination and obsession.  It’s a great look into the world of artists in Paris.  This is one I had a hard time putting down and one that peaked my interest enough to Google search both Miller and Ray to learn more about them and see their works of art

Book description:

Set in the romantic glow of 1920s Paris, a captivating novel of New York socialite and model Lee Miller, whose glamorous looks and joie de vivrecaught the eye of Man Ray, one of the twentieth century’s defining photographers.

1929, Montparnasse. Model and woman about town Lee Miller moves to Paris determined to make herself known amidst the giddy circle of celebrated artists, authors, and photographers currently holding court in the city. She seeks out the charming, charismatic artist Man Ray to become his assistant but soon becomes much more than that: his model, his lover, his muse.

Coming into her own more fully every day, Lee models, begins working on her own projects, and even stars in a film, provoking the jealousy of the older and possessive Man Ray. Drinking and carousing is the order of the day, but while hobnobbing with the likes of Picasso and Charlie Chaplin, she also falls in love with the art of photography and finds that her own vision can no longer come second to her mentor’s.

The Woman in the Photograph is the richly drawn, tempestuous novel about a talented and fearless young woman caught up in one of the most fascinating times of the twentieth century.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat