Jump back in time to a magical place

22840421I enjoy quirky books and My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows was a fun, entertaining and very quirky book.  In the 1500’s, there are two types of people: Verities, what we know as non-magical, and E∂ians (pronounced eth-y-un), shape-shifters, or people who can change into animal form.

Sixteen-year-old King Edward is dying and he needs to figure out who is going to succeed him after his death when all he really wants to think about is his first kiss.  His cousin Jane is more interested in books than romance.  Edward decides to marry Jane off in order to secure the line of succession, skipping over his two sisters.  There is something weird about her intended, Gifford who prefers to be called G.  Gifford is an E∂ian and involuntarily shape shifts into a horse.  He spends his days galloping around a s a noble steed and then turns back into a human at dusk.

Edward is close to dying when he overhears a plot to kill him.  Soon Edward, Jane and G are running for their lives and trying to stop a conspiracy that could doom the King and the Kingdom.  They will need to rely on a gang to help them take back the Kingdom and save the E∂ians from death.

This book was so much fun.  The characters were quirky, sharp witted and at times a little frustrating.  What an interesting twist on history where people can turn into animals. There were times I was laughing out loud and other times trying not to cry.  I highly recommend this fun young adult romp through the 1500’s and make sure to put the entire series on your to be read list.  Next up, My Plain Jane.

Book Description:
Edward (long live the king) is the King of England. He’s also dying, which is inconvenient, as he’s only sixteen and he’d much rather be planning for his first kiss than considering who will inherit his crown…

Jane (reads too many books) is Edward’s cousin, and far more interested in books than romance. Unfortunately for Jane, Edward has arranged to marry her off to secure the line of succession. And there’s something a little odd about her intended…

Gifford (call him G) is a horse. That is, he’s an Eðian (eth-y-un, for the uninitiated). Every day at dawn he becomes a noble chestnut steed—but then he wakes at dusk with a mouthful of hay. It’s all very undignified.

The plot thickens as Edward, Jane, and G are drawn into a dangerous conspiracy. With the fate of the kingdom at stake, our heroes will have to engage in some conspiring of their own. But can they pull off their plan before it’s off with their heads?

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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Tomorrow Will be Different is a story of strength and courage

36452276The first time I was introduced to Sarah McBride was when she spoke at the Democratic National Convention.  I already knew about transgender people since my daughter had a friend in high school who was transgender.  She would come stay at our house and our daughter would go to her house for overnight stays. I never had an issue with the sleepovers.  My husband only asked once if we should be worried and allow it.  Once I explained why someone is transgender, he got it.

In Tomorrow Will Be Different, Sarah does a great job explaining what she went through all her life knowing deep down she was a girl in a boy’s body.  She also does a great job explaining the struggles that transgender people go through just to have basic rights.  There are a lot of misconceptions about the transgender.  So many people and politicians have the idea that transgender people say they are the wrong sex so they can assault someone.  That is so far from the truth.  Transgender people just want to live their life as the person they always thought they should be.

Sarah talks about all the many people who have been fighting for years to change state and federal laws.  She shows just how hard it is to change those laws.  Then once a law has been changed, the fight continues because of another politician who circles back and tries to reverse the law almost immediately after it passes.

Two years ago, the nonprofit organization where I work, fought the Missouri Government against SJR39, a bathroom bill.  Luckily it was defeated at the committee level but now there is yet another bill on the docket.  Once again, our office is taking up the fight.

Before I met my daughter’s friend, I didn’t know what transgender meant.  I thought it was the same as transvestite.  Which even though different, neither one is a danger to society.  It saddens me to see how transgender people are treated and misunderstood.  Just because someone is different from us doesn’t mean it is evil or wrong.

The way I explain transgender to people quickly is a soul was put in a body by mistake.  I know Sarah has opened my eyes further in the transgender world and I think if people aren’t sure what it’s like for someone to struggle to live their authentic self, they need to read Sarah’s book.  My heart breaks for transgender people and how they are being treated out in the world.  They just want to live their lives to the fullest and feel safe.  I’m so glad I read Tomorrow Will Be Different and I thank Sarah for being brave enough to share her story.

Book Description:
A captivating memoir that will change the way we look at identity and equality in this country
 
Before she became the first transgender person to speak at a national political convention in 2016 at the age of twenty-six, Sarah McBride struggled with the decision to come out—not just to her family but to the students of American University, where she was serving as student body president. She’d known she was a girl from her earliest memories, but it wasn’t until the Facebook post announcing her truth went viral that she realized just how much impact her story could have on the country.

Four years later, McBride was one of the nation’s most prominent transgender activists, walking the halls of the White House, advocating inclusive legislation, and addressing the country in the midst of a heated presidential election. She had also found her first love and future husband, Andy, a trans man and fellow activist, who complemented her in every way . . . until cancer tragically intervened.

Informative, heartbreaking, and profoundly empowering, Tomorrow Will Be Different is McBride’s story of love and loss and a powerful entry point into the LGBTQ community’s battle for equal rights and what it means to be openly transgender. From issues like bathroom access to health care to gender in America, McBride weaves the important political and cultural milestones into a personal journey that will open hearts and change minds.

As McBride urges: “We must never be a country that says there’s only one way to love, only one way to look, and only one way to live.”

The fight for equality and freedom has only just begun.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger side

The Woman in the Window is a great psychological thriller

34848682When I first read the description for The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, it said if you liked Gone Girl you would like this book.  But I think if you liked The Girl on the Train you would like this book.

The main character, Anna Fox, is a child therapist who suffers from agoraphobia and has not left her house for the past ten months.  She spends her days watching old black and white thrillers, on the internet in an agoraphobia group giving advice, drinking lots of wine, taking her meds that are not to be mixed with alcohol and spying on her neighbors.  She knows all about her neighbors and their schedules.

Then a new family moves in across the way and she starts watching them.  She meets the teenage son who comes to visit, and she meets his mom who stops by.  Then she witnesses something horrible take place with the new family.  That is where the story turns into a psychological thriller.

This book has a feel like Hitchcock’s Rear Window.  As Finn slowly reveals what really happened in the house across the way, I found my heart pounding just a little faster.  As you get deeper into the story there is twist after twist after twist with shocks at every turn.  I thought I knew what was going on and then – nope.  Along with the incident at the neighbor’s house, Anna’s life slowly is revealed.  Why doesn’t her husband and daughter live with her anymore?  And why did she turn into an agoraphobia ten months ago?

If you like psychological thrillers, you will enjoy The Woman in the Window.  This is a very quick read, because you will not want to put it down.  Make sure to carve out a good chunk of time where you won’t get distracted because you will not want to put this down.

Book Description:
For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts, to be published in thirty-five languages around the world and already in development as a major film from Fox: a twisty, powerful Hithcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.

It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . .

Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble, and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

Twisty and powerful, ingenious, and moving, The Woman in the Window is a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Sunshine Sisters isn’t all sunshine

32867521The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green is about the relationships within one family.  Ronni Sunshine is the perfect selfish Hollywood diva who cares more about her image than her three daughters who can’t wait to get away from her, and a husband who can’t make her happy no matter what he does.  To the general public, Ronni is a wonderful person who has the perfect family.  But behind closed doors it’s another story.  Ronni is narcissistic and often a cruel mother.

When the veil comes off and her mood comes out, Ronni treats her daughters differently and the daughters react in different ways to Ronni’s cruelness.  Nell, who is the oldest, withdraws within herself and when she turns 18, flees to a farm a few miles away where she befriends the owner, who becomes a stable mother figure.  Nell seemed like a genuine, down-to-earth person who worked tirelessly to fill the voids she didn’t get from her childhood.

Meredith takes a lot of abuse from Ronni.  She is told she needs to lose weight, that she isn’t pretty enough.  This breaks Meredith and she flees to England to stay with relatives.  Meredith is a people pleaser and wants everyone to be happy.  Because of her mother’s comments over the years, Meredith doesn’t feel she deserve to be treated with respect, which leads her to be engaged to a who acts like she isn’t good enough as herself.

Then there is Lizzy who doesn’t take any crap from Ronnie.  While growing up, she laughed at the things Ronni said and did, never taking it seriously.  Lizzy really came across just as selfish and self-centered as Ronni.  Now a famous TV chef, Lizzy doesn’t care who she hurts with her actions, including her husband and child.

The main focus of the book is bringing the three girls together again to be with Ronnie, who has become ill and wants them by her side as she passes.  Once again making everything about her and bringing the attention to her, the center of attention.  This story is also about the relationship between the sisters, who are not close and are so very different.

The Sunshine Sisters shows that families can look all rainbows and sunshine on the outside, the inside, behind closed doors, might not be what it seems.  It’s probably why on the news, the neighbors say “they were such a nice and loving family” when something goes wrong with a family member or an entire family.

I have four older sisters so it was interesting for me to see how the sisters were very different yet could support each other after being reacquainted. There were relationships where I wanted to smack people on the back of the head and relationships where I wanted to stand up and cheer.

I have pretty much read all of Jane Green’s books and have enjoyed every one of them.  Like her other books, I had a hard time putting The Sunshine Sisters down.  When I wasn’t reading the book, I found myself thinking about the sisters.  The Sunshine Sisters looks like a fun cheerful book, but instead it dives into family dynamics that aren’t so filled with sunshine.

Book Description:
The New York Times bestselling author of Falling presents a warm, wise, and wonderfully vivid novel about a mother who asks her three estranged daughters to come home to help her end her life.

Ronni Sunshine left London for Hollywood to become a beautiful, charismatic star of the silver screen. But at home, she was a narcissistic, disinterested mother who alienated her three daughters.

As soon as possible, tomboy Nell fled her mother’s overbearing presence to work on a farm and find her own way in the world as a single mother. The target of her mother s criticism, Meredith never felt good enough, thin enough, pretty enough. Her life took her to London and into the arms of a man whom she may not even love. And Lizzy, the youngest, more like Ronni than any of them, seemed to have it easy, using her drive and ambition to build a culinary career to rival her mother’s fame, while her marriage crumbled around her.

But now the Sunshine Girls are together again, called home by Ronni, who has learned that she has a serious disease and needs her daughters to fulfill her final wishes. And though Nell, Meredith, and Lizzy are all going through crises of their own, their mother s illness draws them together to confront old jealousies and secret fears and they discover that blood might be thicker than water after all.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Flora Banks’ motto is Be Brave in the new Emily Barr book

33287077The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr tells the story of Flora, a seventeen year old who suffers with anterograde amnesia. Flora has memories of her childhood but now her brain resets every few hours and she forgets everything after the age of 10. Flora has a book with notes to remind herself who she is and what has happened over the years. It reminds her of who is in her life and what they mean to her.

One night Flora kisses her best friend Paige’s boyfriend, Drake, and the next day she remembers the kiss. This is the first memory her brain has kept since the amnesia took hold.  Drake heads off to Norway to study and Flora is certain the key to “fixing” her is tied to seeing and kissing Drake again. She also thinks she loves him. Flora secretly follows Drake to the very small town in Norway and meets many different characters who help her along the way and shows how a community comes together to help a stranger.

While Flora is traveling to Norway, she has enough notes to remind herself to lie to her parents about where she is as they have gone to Paris to take care of her very ill brother Jacob.  Jacob is a very supportive brother who is very patient and protective of her.  A lot happens to her brother that I will not mention but his story is an interesting addition to Flora’s.  We also find out why Flora has a tattoo on her arm that says “Be brave,” which is her personal motto and keeps her going through the dangerous travel to Norway.

I have read mixed reviews on this book. It seemed like either you liked it or you hated it.  I think the narrative through Flora can put some people off as she repeats herself a lot but that is what her amnesia is all about. As a mother, this book made me think of my daughter. How would I feel if she couldn’t keep a memory for very long? Would she try to go somewhere on her own? Would she be able to cope? What would I do to keep her safe? How far would I go?

I found Flora brave and adventurous. I can understand why she would follow Drake.  Who doesn’t want to be normal and it’s probably frustrating forgetting things and people, even who you are. I didn’t care for Paige who was a selfish, spoiled little brat. Her reactions really showed their age and shows no matter how mature you think you are, there is always room to grow.

This book took me into the mind of someone with amnesia and to get a small glimpse of what that might be like. It made me appreciate my healthy life and my family. I really enjoyed this book and I’m glad I read it.

Book Description:
Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Be careful what you wish for

22813276I have mixed feelings about How to Date Dead Guys by Ann M. Noser.  One, it was very well written and an interesting concept.  Two, I wanted to reach in and throttle Emma.  Emma is a very naive college student who can barely talk to a guy without showing how socially inept she is.  Her extrovert roommate and sister take Emma to a campus party where they leave Emma leaning on the wall by the beer keg while the party raved on around her.  In walks Mike and he is a vision of beauty to Emma, he is all she can see.  He is a guy that she could fall in love with.

When Mike’s 21st birthday rolls around, his friends and brother get him super drunk.  He leaves with Emma and wants to swim across the river where others have drowned.  Emma wants to do something crazy, so she decides to swim across the river with him.  But Emma makes it to the other side and Mike is nowhere to be found, which Emma thinks is all her fault.  Personally I thought it was partially her fault because if Mike was as drunk as he was, then I think she could have distracted him away from the river.

I was mad at Mike’s brother Kevin for getting him super drunk.  It drives me crazy when I hear about a 21-year-old over drinking on their birthday and either getting injured or die.  They have a lifetime to drink, their friends should know better than to keep pushing the drinks on them.

Emma finds a book of spells under her roommate’s bed and decides to bring Mike back.  Like that is a good idea.  Of course, she doesn’t get what she wants and soon dead guys are showing up all around her.  There is a reason they are showing up and Emma has to figure out how to help them while avoiding her roommate, who is dating Mike’s brother Kevin.

This is part paranormal romance, part mystery and very entertaining as the nightmare of one night pushes a young woman beyond her comfort zone and into the hearts and souls of strangers.  There are funny moments, sad moments and moments that might make you cry.  A very enjoyable story that makes you ask the question – would you bring someone back from the dead?

Book Description:
College sophomore Emma Roberts remembers her mother’s sage advice: “don’t sleep around, don’t burp in public, and don’t tell anyone you see ghosts”. But when charming Mike Carlson drowns in the campus river under her watch, Emma’s sheltered life shatters.

Blamed for Mike’s death and haunted by nightmares, Emma turns to witchcraft and a mysterious Book of Shadows to bring him back. Under a Blood Moon, she lights candles, draws a pentacle on the campus bridge, and casts a spell. The invoked river rages up against her, but she escapes its fury. As she stumbles back to the dorm, a stranger drags himself from the water and follows her home. And he isn’t the only one.

Instead of raising Mike, Emma assists the others she stole back from the dead—a pre-med student who jumped off the bridge, a desperate victim determined to solve his own murder, and a frat boy Emma can’t stand… at first.

More comfortable with the dead than the living, Emma delves deeper into the seductive Book of Shadows. Her powers grow, but witchcraft may not be enough to protect her against the vengeful river and the killers that feed it their victims.

Inspired by the controversial Smiley Face Murders, HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS will ignite the secret powers hidden deep within each of us.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Goat Children shines a light on dementia

Lonely teenage girl sitting on the dock on cold winter day.

Lonely teenage girl sitting on the dock on cold winter day.

Goat Children by Jordan Elizabeth Mierek features high school senior Keziah who’s Grandmother (Oma) is starting to show signs of dementia.  Oma needs to go into assisted living but her children aren’t ready to put her there so Keziah volunteers to live with Oma and take care of her.

Oma tells Keziah the story of the Goat Children and tells Keziah that she was once one of them.  She says they are coming to get her and also tells Keziah she is next to become one.  She even tells Keziah how to join them.

I found the story about Goat Children very interesting.  The author told me it was difficult to write the story as she used a lot of events from when she took care of her Grandmother in the story.

Some of the things I struggled with this story was the fact it seemed like Keziah didn’t receive much guidance on how to care for Oma and what to expect from the disease.  Keziah was supposed to go to school and leave Oma home alone during the day, which didn’t seem very smart.  Keziah wanted a normal life hanging out with friends and participating in extracurricular activities, but then Oma would be home alone too long.  She also didn’t understand why she couldn’t go out with her friends and was upset when Oma was mean to her.

I found Keziah a little selfish despite the fact she volunteered to take care of her Grandmother.  This story did make me feel for the people who pretty much stop their lives to make sure their loved ones have a decent life as their minds deteriorate.  This was very well written…another great book by Jordan.

Book Description:

When Keziah de Forest’s grandmother, Oma, is diagnosed with dementia, the seventeen-year-old makes the decision to leave her family and move to New Winchester to care for Oma.  However, the decision comes with burdens Keziah never expected.  Each day becomes a greater weight and loving the woman she once cherished becomes a chore.

Resentful of her hardships in New Winchester and the family secrets buried in the attic, Keziah finds herself drawn to Oma’s ramblings about the Goat Children, a mythical warrior class who ride winged horses and locate people in need, while attempting to destroy evil in the world.  Oma sees the Goat Children everywhere, and as Keziah reads the stories her grandmother wrote about them, she begins to question if they really exist.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat