The Moon Dwellers is a fantastic dystopia story

The Moon Dwellers by David Estes is a wonderful young adult dystopian story.  Hundreds The Moon Dwellersof years in the future, humans have done enough damage to Earth that civilization is now living underground in the Tri-Realms.  The privileged live on the Sun Realm, which is the closest to the surface.  There is also the Moon Realm and Star Realm.  The Sun Realm takes most of the power generated and leaves almost nothing for the other Realms so they are very dark and dank.

The story starts out with Adele who has been put into the Pen because of parent’s crimes of treason.  As she is sitting watching a parade go by that includes the President’s son, two people she doesn’t know sit down with her.  Tawni and Cole immediately make friends with Adele.  In the parade, the President’s son Tristan is waving at the crowd when he and Adele lock eyes making them both experience a searing pain and feel sick.  Something neither one of them has ever experienced before.

As a war breaks out, Adele, Tawni and Cole are able to break out of the Pen and go on the run.  Adele is determined to rescue her sister from a horrible orphanage and her parents from their confinements.  While the three of them are on the run, Tristan has decided to find out who Adele is and find her.  He goes out into the Moon Realm to find Adele because he feels a connection and wants to find out why they have a connection.  He also doesn’t agree with how his father runs the Tri-Realms.

There is lots of action and danger throughout the story.  Multiple times you can’t imagine any of them will survive.  David Estes is a great storyteller who pulls the reader along for the ride with his characters.  He makes you care for them and you want the characters to succeed.  The point of view of the book goes back and forth between Tristan and Adele, which was nice to see the different perspectives.  You get to see what each of them goes through as Adele looks for her family and Tristan looks for Adele.

I could…not…put…this…down!  I need the next installment and I need it now!  Do I recommend this book, you bet!  Will you be entertained, you bet!  Will you want more, you bet!  Well done David!  Now, time for me to devour everything else he’s ever written.

Book description:

In a desperate attempt to escape destruction decades earlier, humankind was forced underground, into the depths of the earth, creating a new society called the Tri-Realms.  After her parents and sister are abducted by the Enforcers, seventeen-year-old Adele, a member of the middle-class moon dwellers, is unjustly sentenced to life in prison for her parents’ crimes of treason.

Against all odds, Adele must escape from the Pen and find her family, while being hunted by a deranged, killing machine named Rivet, who works for the President.  She is helped by two other inmates, Tawni and Cole, each of whom have dark secrets that are better left undiscovered.  Other than her friends, the only thing she has going for her is a wicked roundhouse kick and two fists that have been well-trained for combat by her father.

At the other end of the social spectrum is Tristan, the son of the President and a sun dweller.  His mother is gone.  He hates his father.  Backed by only his servant and best friend, Roc, he leaves his lavish lifestyle in the Sun Realm, seeking to make something good out of his troubled life.

When a war breaks out within the Tri-Realms, Tristan is thrust into the middle of a conflict that seems to mysteriously follow Adele as she seeks to find her family and uncover her parents true past.  In their world, someone must die.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger set

One Plus One takes you on a journey

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes is about Jess, a struggling single mother after her husband 18693716Marty leaves.  Jess works hard at trying to pay her bills.  Many times she can’t make her bills, but through it all she stays positive.  Jess’s 10-year-old daughter Tanzie is a math wiz.  She is quirky and everything she sees, she sees in numbers.  She can’t help it.

Nicky is Marty’s son with his ex-wife and neither of them can to take care of Nicky so he ends up with Jess, who raises him like her own.  Nicky is 15, a gamer and he dresses Goth, so he gets picked on by the local bullies, the Fisher brothers.  They pick on him so bad he ends up in the hospital.

Then there is Ed.  A software programmer who just sold his company and gave information to a woman he just wanted to get out of his life.  Sharing this stock information has put Ed into the middle of an insider trading scandal.

Jess cleans Ed’s vacation house and also works at a bar.  While suspended from work, Ed goes to the bar where Jess works.  One night while Ed is totally drunk, Jess takes him home in a taxi and after Ed has been put to bed in his home, Jess finds Ed’s work building access key card and a roll of money.

Tanzi has been invited to a math Olympics in Scotland which if she wins, she would earn $5,000.  This money would help with tuition to a private school.  Jess packs up the kids and the very large dog Norman into Marty’s junky Rolls Royce which breaks down on the side of the road.  As the police are talking with Jess at the side of the road, Ed drives by and stops to help.  He then agrees to drive the family to Scotland since he doesn’t have anything else on his schedule.

During this three day journey (they can’t go over 40 due to Tanzie and her motion sickness), each of them starts to heal from their different wounds.  Ed starts to realize that what he is missing in his life is a family.

I really enjoyed this book.  Jojo knows how to give substance to her characters and knows how to make the reader care for the characters.  You start to hope things work out for all of them and everything becomes right in the world.  Jojo Moyes is becoming one of my favorite authors and this is a book that should not be passed up.

Book description:

Suppose your life sucks.  A lot.  Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for.  That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them.  Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean.  But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

Until next week…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Royals rule in The Tales of Terrowin

Exile: The Tales of Terrowin by Jerry Canada is about the people of Terrowin.  I’m not sure 23885375when this takes place as carriages, candles and lanterns are used yet some of the people wear bikinis, polo shirts and say ‘yo dude.’

Many years ago, bad things happened in the land of Terrowin so they decided to take the first seven babies born after midnight of every four years to be the “Royals” and those seven will rule Terrowin for four years.  First male born will be the king, first female will be the queen, then there is the protector of the king, the mistress to the king, the lover for the queen, the king’s confidant and an assassin who is either male or female.  The assassin is needed so that no one will want to assassinate the king.  This has been going on for hundreds of years.

This book is about the seven who are now 12 and covers their lives up to their 12th year.  The assassin is a girl named Salil, who is born to a simple couple who have been trying to have a baby for years.  They have experienced multiple miscarriages and have pretty much given up ever having a baby go full term.  They finally have a successful pregnancy and to their disappointment the baby is due December 27 and could be a royal.  When a royal is born, the parents get to enjoy 20 minutes to with the newborn and then have to hand him or her over to be raised at the school for royals.  They never get to have time with the baby again.

The book starts with someone burning down the building where are the royals are sleeping.  Then there is a lot of background description of how the royal system works sprinkled with the lives of the seven who are 12-years-old.  You learn what the kids have to give up in order to be a royal and how they are conditioned for their individual roles.  The seven escape the fire and travel to a land far to the south.  What they don’t know is they are being pursued by the 16-year-old assassin Kass who doesn’t want to leave anyone from the fire alive.

This was a very enjoyable book and can be read in a day.  It’s an interesting take on what could be done to curb violence and political greed.  It shows how the leaders of the country could be manipulated and controlled. With the way this book ended, there will definitely be a next one.  At least there better be because I need to know what happens next.

Book description:

Terrowin is an ancient society like no other.  Its unique monarchy consists of a king, queen, advisor, protector, king’s mistress, queen’s lover and assassin (collectively known as Royals.)  The Birthing Holiday is the grandest celebration in all of Terrowin, when Royals are named every four years according to their birth order on the first day of that New Year.  The Royals are taken from their parents at birth and raised at the Royal Ascension School where they receive the most advanced and sophisticated course of study for the first twenty-four years of their lives.  The king is raised to lead the people.  The assassin, raised to kill him.

A murderous plot destroys the School leaving just seven Royals remaining.  Twelve-year-old Salil, born an assassin, manages to escape along with six other twelve-year-olds: the future King David, Queen Nara, Advisor Cedric, Protector Tem, Mistress Ava and Lover Brandon.  Exiled to a land unknown to them they are pursued by Kass, a ruthless sixteen-year-old assassin out to finish her job.  Their studies incomplete, the Royals struggle with their own identities, roles and loyalties while fleeing Kass.  Salil, raised from birth to be a killer, must now fight for her own survival and try to save the future King David along with the future of Terrowin.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

‘The Bachelor’ continues in the future in The Selection

In the future, in the land of Illea, 35 girls are selected from a lottery to compete for 19-year-10507293old Prince Maxon’s hand in marriage.  Kiera Cass brings a little bit of the Bachelor and Hunger Games together in The Selection series: The Selection, The Elite and The One.

In order to keep the royal lineage going, the girls are selected from the top five castes to be brought to the palace, located in Angeles, as they compete for Maxon’s heart.  Just like on the Bachelor, Maxon goes on dates with the girls, talks with them in groups, the girls are interviewed on TV and Maxon eliminates a few at a time.

America Singer comes from Caste Five where classically trained musicians and artists live.  America was encouraged to enter the lottery by her boyfriend Aspen Leger so that her family would receive extra money while America is at the palace.  All the girls are paid while they are part of the selection.

16248068There are eight caste, which signify the class status.  Caste 1 is the royal family, caste 2 are celebrities, professional athletes, actors, politicians and so forth until you get to caste 8 where the mentally and physically unwell, addicts, runaways and homeless are sent.  Kind of like the Hunger Games.

On the outside, the Selection looks random but King Clarkson controls the lottery and selects the girls he wants who will help him with the relationship between him and their countries/areas.  The King throws in a few extra throwaway girls like America.  What the King doesn’t expect is for America to be strong, independent thinking and someone Maxon would be attracted to.  Someone who questions what is going on with the castes.  Someone who thinks differently from the King.

Aspen has been saving money to marry America so he signs up to be a palace guard to 18635016be closer to America and also to get extra money for his family.  Aspen works it out so that he can guard America’s room.  This way they can steal private moments together without being caught.

While the selection is going on, rebels attack the castle.  When they attack, the royals and their staff run to safe rooms and hide.  Some of the rebels are dangerous and some are just trying to create change.  But the core of the trilogy is the relationship between Maxon and America and how they are trying to be their true selves as their relationship grows.

I really enjoyed this trilogy.  I call it a trilogy because the first three books read like a trilogy.  Book four The Heir, takes place twenty years later when the next selection takes place.  This is a great young adult trilogy that I recommend.

Book Descriptions:

The Selection:  For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself–and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

The Elite:  The Selection began with thirty-five girls.  Now with the group narrowed down to the six Elite, the competition to win Prince Maxon’s heart is fiercer than ever—and America is still struggling to decide where her heart truly lies. Is it with Maxon, who could make her life a fairy tale? Or with her first love, Aspen?  America is desperate for more time. But the rest of the Elite know exactly what they want—and America’s chance to choose is about to slip away.

The One: The time has come for one winner to be crowned.  When she was chosen to compete in the Selection, America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the end of the competition approaches, and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Sweetheart brings female wrestling to life

The Sweetheart by Angelina Mirabella is a wonderful coming-of-age story set in the 214122671950s.  It’s also very relevant to women today, as it felt it could happen in today’s world.  It is a story about friendship, love, growing up, maturing and finding your path in life.

At the beginning of the book, Leonie doesn’t know what she will do with her life.  Because she is a lot taller than the other girls at school, she feels like an outcast.  Then a chance meeting with a pro wrestling promoter at her work changes her life.  She moves to Florida to start training as a professional wrestler.

The man who takes the promotional photos for the pro wrestlers is a giant of a man.  He is given the responsibility of naming the girls and he names Leonie Gwen Davies.  Gwen doesn’t have much confidence in herself or her abilities.  She is paired with Screaming Mimi Hollander as the team people hate.  All Leonie wants is to be liked by everyone so she decides to change her personal and becomes The Sweetheart.

Along the way Leonie falls for Sam, Spider McGee, who is the soon to be Junior Heavyweight Champion.  Sam is old fashioned.  He has the need to protect Leonie and wants to quit wrestling, settle down and have a normal life.  Leonie is in her first year of wrestling and wants to see just how far she can go.  She loves the fame and adulation and isn’t sure she is ready to give it up.

I enjoyed the wrestling scenes and kept wondering why a woman would do this to her body.  There are too many parts that could be damaged permanently.  That was the only part I struggled with because I like wrestling that boys do in school, but the pro wrestling that is staged, not so much.

One thing I did struggle with at first is the book entirely in the second person.  That was a little confusing but then I got used to it.  I found myself swept up in this story and taking a journey through the life of female pro wrestlers.  This book is very enjoyable and very entertaining.

Book description:

A debut, coming-of-age novel in which a teenage girl from Philadelphia leaves her old life behind to become The Sweetheart, one of America’s most infamous female wrestlers.  It’s 1953 and seventeen-year-old Leonie Putzkammer is cartoonishly tall and curvaceous, destined to spend the rest of her life waiting tables and living with her widowed father, Franz, in their Philadelphia row house.  Until the day legendary wrestling promoter Salvatore Costantini walks into the local diner and offers her the chance of a lifetime.

Leonie sets off for Florida to train at Joe Pospisil’s School for Lady Grappling. There, she transforms into Gorgeous Gwen Davies, tag-team partner of legendary Screaming Mimi Hollander, and begins a romance with the soon-to-be Junior Heavyweight Champion Spider McGee.  But when life as Gorgeous Gwen leaves her wanting, she orchestrates a move that will catapult her from heel to hero: she becomes The Sweetheart, a choice that attracts the fans she desires but complicates all of her relationships with Franz, Joe, Spider, Mimi (who becomes her fiercest competitor), and even with herself.

Angelina Mirabella’s surprising, affecting, and morally complex novel describes how a single decision can ripple through the lives of everyone around us. How Leonie sizes up the competition, how she triumphs, how she fails, and how she manages, somehow, to endure, holds promise: if she can, maybe we can, too.  The Sweetheart showcases Mirabella’s breathtaking talent; it is daring, innovative, and powerful storytelling.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Hunting witches can be a family affair

The Hunter’s Companion by Lori Powell bounces back and forth between Regan in 201320753152 and her ancestor Lora Smith in 1645.  Both of them have a gift for hunting and killing familiars that attack humans in an unusual fog in the fenland of West Norfolk.  They both team with someone from the Hunter family along with some of their ancestors doing the same thing.  Sometimes, the Hunter family members have fought alone.

Regan meets Nate, an American at the Hunter’s Rest, a bar where Regan recently gets a waitressing job.  Lora teams with Rafe.  When fighting, Regan and Nate know when each other is near and they know what the other is going to do without looking.  They are so synced together.

Regan has moved to Scytheton Village with her mom Katherine and younger sister Ashleigh to take care of Aunty Vi who is over 90-years-old.  Regan soon makes friends with Toni and Maeve and Toni’s best friend Ella, who really doesn’t seem to like Regan much.  While walking home late from work one night, Regan encounters a very unusual dense fog.  She soon hears weird noises and then sees something that doesn’t look human.  Soon another noise is heard and Nate shows up on his motorcycle and chases the creature away.  Here begins the relationship between Nate and Regan.

The creatures or as Nate calls them familiars, are the pets of a witch in the area.  Nate has been told that the witch has been killed years ago so it is confusing to him why the familiars are showing up more frequently when there isn’t a witch to own them.  They also only show up every 100 years.

Regan selected the attic room for her bedroom when they moved in and while moving boxes around, finds a box with old diaries from her ancestors.  She and Nate soon start to learn the history of Lora and also of Elizabeth and about their ancestors who fought the familiars and the witches.

I liked that the book bounced back and forth between Regan and Lora.  It was interesting to read about the differences with fighting, dealing with a witch and the witch hunt that went on in 1645 where anyone could turn in a neighbor as a witch and not really have any solid proof.

Back in the 1600’s, the Witch Finder Mathew Hopkins, would be summoned to a village because villagers would turn in their neighbors as witches.  Hopkins would torture the women until they couldn’t take it anymore and confess even if they weren’t witches.  Strap them to a board and they floated on the lake, why they must be a witch.  Didn’t matter that boards can float.

This was a really well written story that brought the reader into the Fenland and the lives of the characters.  Sometimes you wanted to scream at them and sometimes you wanted to reach in and help.  I there were a couple times I thought “I did not see that coming.”  I look forward to the next installment and to find out what is next for Regan and Nate.

Book Description:

Witches and hunters.  Blood and magic.  Heartache and lust.  Will history repeat itself?  Lora Smith’s life changes forever one day deep in the English fens.  Caught up in the Witch trials of 1645, her life ends tragically early, yet her legacy lives on.  Regan White is a 21st century Brighton girl who loves to shop, party, and shop some more.  Forced to relocate to her aunt’s crumbling old house in the fenland of West Norfolk, away from everything she’s ever known, Regan’s life takes a mysterious twist.

A box of old diaries tell of strange happenings, striking a chord with Regan’s own recent unnerving experience in the lingering fog of the fens and drawing her deeper into the mystery.  Destiny is a big word but it seems that Regan’s is irrevocably entwined in this bewitching landscape.  How do the diaries, her band of new friends, and the captivating American Nate Hunter, all tie together?  Will Regan find the link before it is too late, or will she share Lora’s fate?

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Art of Fielding is more than just about baseball

I heard lots of good things about The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach so I decided on the 10996342audio book and I’m glad I did.  I was transported to a small Wisconsin college called Westish, a DIII college.  Henry is the main character and is the shortstop on the baseball team.  He lives and breathes baseball and can’t imagine doing anything else.

Mike Schwartz is a year ahead of Henry and convinces the coach to recruit Henry for the team after watching him play in High School.  Schwartz takes Henry under his wing and coaches him throughout college, building his strength up and working to improve Henry’s skills because he sees something in Henry and so do the scouts.  In Henry’s junior year, there is a lot of talk about Henry possibly going in the first round of the MLB draft.

Then there is Henry’s gay black roommate, Owen, who I adored.  He made me smile as he sat in the dugout with his nose in a book while using his reading light strapped to his hat.  There is also 60-year-old President Affenlight who has realized he is in love with Owen but knows a student/faculty relationship is forbidden.  Then Affenlight’s daughter Pella shows up after running away from her older husband and takes up with Schwartz.  All of these people are affected When Henry has his first error in a long time, which totally derails him.

I work in sports and recently ran the press box for the DIII Men’s and Women’s Soccer Championships.  It was interesting to watch and interesting to interact with the players and coaches as I was setting up interviews for the media.  I think working in sports and my love for baseball made this book a little more special for me.  But I don’t think you have to know anything about baseball to like this book.  This book is also about heart, character and love.

Book description:

At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom.  But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.

Henry’s fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future.  College president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love.  Owen Dunne, Henry’s gay roommate and teammate, becomes caught up in a dangerous affair.  Mike Schwartz, the Harpooners’ team captain and Henry’ best friend, realizes he has guided Henry’s career at the expense of his own.  And Pella Affenlight, Guert’s daughter, returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.

As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets.  In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths.  Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment—to oneself and to others.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat