A Million Junes is a magical love story

30763950Two families who hate each other for generations.  I’m sure the first thing you think of is the feud of the Hatfields and McCoys.  But there are two other families that have hated each other for generations – the O’Donnells and the Angerts.

In A Million Junes by Emily Henry, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have held a grudge against each other for generations.  Generations of fathers that worked hard to stay away from each other even though they used to be best of friends.  Enter the younger generation who want to be together despite the feud.

June O’Donnell is the latest in a long list of Jacks and Juniors.  As the daughter Jack O’Donnell, one of the rules she must follow is to stay away from any of the Angerts.  June has been curious of Saul Angets, who lives across the field and through the woods.  She has internet stalked this forbidden guy.  She has seen him from afar.  Then they meet and the pull they have towards each other can’t be denied.  Such a pull it makes them wonder why their families began feuding in the first place.

Besides a love story, this is a magical story.  There are a lot of magical things that happen in June’s world.  Cherry trees grow overnight from a seed.  If you leave shoes in the yard, Coywolves will come and get them so make sure they aren’t your favorite pair.  And there are white floaty, fluffy balls that can soak into your skin and show you a memory, a memory that might not be yours.  The memories will feel real like June is being transported back in time.

This story might not be for everyone.  You have to like magical stories that stretch your beliefs.  But I think if you like a story with a little bit of magic, laughs, family drama, and an enjoyable love story, you will find that Emily Henry will take you on a journey that will make you fall in love with June and Saul and look at dandelion dust floating in the wind differently.

Book Description:

For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.

Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.

As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

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Royal Bastards is a gripping fantasy story

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts is a great young adult story about a ragtag group of characters trying to prevent a civil war.  Tilla is a bastard.  Her father is Lord Kent of the Western Province and her mother is a low born woman.  Tilla longs to be at her father’s side as a legitimized heir.  But as soon as Lord Kent has his own legitimate children, he tosses Tilla aside to raise them into nobility instead.  At the age of 16, Tilla spends most of her time with her half-brother Jax, a stable hand, exploring the old tunnel system under the castle and drinking with the servants.

Instead of being with her family at feasts, Tilla ends up sitting with the other bastards.  At that table is Miles of House Hampstedt, a nerd who has had a crush on Tilla for ages and Zell, a Zitochi bastard from the north.  Princess Lyriana visits with her uncle, the Royal Archmagus and instead of sitting with the Royals, she decides to sit at the bastards table.  Soon, Tilla, Jax, Miles and Zell are leading the sheltered Princess on a nighttime escapade.

As the group is looking at the view from a cliff, they witness a brutal crime that they were never meant to see.  The group must run for their lives after their parents have put bounties on their heads to stop then from reaching the King and telling him about their parents’ crimes.

Tilla, Jax, Miles, Zell and Lyriana are well rounded characters and we learn a lot about their backstories.  The story starts out nice and lighthearted and then soon takes a dark turn. The story moves along nicely with humor, friendship, fighting, romance and death.  The dialogue is sassy, there is magic, danger around every corner and the writing keeps things fresh and modern regardless of the fantasy setting.

I usually don’t like to wait for the next book in a series or a trilogy because I don’t want to let go of the characters for a year or two waiting for the next installment.  When this book was over, I was wishing it wasn’t a stand-alone, I didn’t want to let go of the characters.  But now I see it has become a trilogy with book two coming out in 2018.  If you like this genre, this book is well worth your time.

Book Description:
Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had true born children.

At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.

Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.

Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.

The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey.

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The Girl In Between broke my heart

32739853There are a lot of things in life that are sad, things that can break your heart.  The Girl In Between by Sarah Carroll is a book that is sad in so many different ways and broke my heart.  The story depicts life on the street and on the move for a young girl and her mother from the eyes of the young girl.

Life is good when the girl and her Ma live with grandma, but Ma doesn’t want to stay there, so they move out.  They don’t have any money and nowhere to go.  Ma is a drug addict and promises the girl she will stop the drugs and drinking and take care of her.  But Ma doesn’t keep her promise.  She forgets to feed the girl, she takes her daughter to scary places where drug dealers live and she doesn’t take her to school.

They end up on the streets until moving into an abandoned old mill they call The Castle.  The castle that Ma has promised the girl they would live in some day.  The girl explores the Castle, drawing on the walls, and from the roof, spies on the people walking by.  The girl must be vigilant to remain invisible from the outside world.  She can’t leave the Castle but can only let the Caretaker see her.

The girl thinks the mill is haunted and tries to lure the ghost out into the open.  She learns about the ghost from the Caretaker, who is struggling against his past and grief to leave the mill after forty-seven years.

The girl doesn’t want the Authorities to see her because they could take her away from Ma.  Now, the Authorities have come to the Castle, but not for her. They have come to take her Castle away leaving Ma and her with nowhere to live.  There are flashbacks intermixed in the story that slowly brings everything together ending with a shocking revelation.

The Girl In Between shines a spotlight on addiction, parenting on the streets, the relationship between a mother and a daughter and how drugs can make someone selfish.  No child should live on the streets and this book shows what it’s like for some of the children living on the street.  This is a very sad story.

Book Description:
I know the mill has a story cos there’s something strange going on. I heard something. I’ve decided that I’m going to find out what it is later today when Ma leaves. Cos even if it is scary, we live here and we’re never leaving. So if there’s something going on, I need to know. 

In an old, abandoned mill, a girl and her ma take shelter from their memories of life on the streets. To the girl it’s home, her safe place, the Castle. But as her ma spins out of control and the Authorities move ever closer, the girl finds herself trapped – stuck in the crumbling mill with only the ghosts of the past for company.

Can she move on before it’s too late?

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

Geekerella is a fun modern-day twist on Cinderella

33224718Growing up, Cinderella was and still is one of my favorite Disney stories.  I love when an author takes an old story and puts a new twist to it.  Geekerella by Ashley Poston is a fantastic young adult story about Elle Wittimer who grew up watching an old popular sci-fi series with her father – Starfield.  She’s a huge fan and blogs about the show.  One morning her dreams come true when a new adaptation is announced.  But the excitement doesn’t last long when she finds out Prince Carmindor will be played by Hollywood’s up and coming ‘it’ boy Darien Freeman.  Elle quickly rants about casting on her blog (she doesn’t hold back how she feels) and overnight becomes an internet sensation.

Darien is also a huge Starfield fan but doesn’t want to let on that he was a big geek growing up.  In fact, when his casting is announced on a national morning show, he blows an answer to a trivia question even though it was a no brainer.

Elle’s father who has passed away, used to run a Comicon type convention called ExcelsiCon.  Darien has been committed to attend the convention but he hate them as he is supposed to meet fans and small when he really just wants to let his geekiness come out.  After texting the phone number he thinks is for the organizer of ExcelsiCon, he ends up texting Elle.  This soon turns into a constant text conversation between the two.

Staying true to the Cinderella classic, Elle lives with her terrible Stepmother and stepsisters.  Elle decides to enter the Cosplay contest at ExcelsiCon in hopes to win the prize money and move to California, away from her evil Stepmother.  Just like the original Cinderella story, there is a “fairy Godmother” who is actually Sage, her young supervisor in the Food truck painted like a huge pumpkin and called what else, The Magic Pumpkin.

I loved this story!  This is such a fun twist on the Cinderella story with very modern day characters and modern situations.  The characters are fun and a little nutty.  I enjoyed Elle with her hopes and dreams and fandom of a sci-fi TV show.  I enjoyed Sage who doesn’t really give a crap and I liked Darien who you kind of wonder if some child stars or any celebrities have issues like he does.

I thought this was a lot of fun to read and it definitely can be read over a weekend because you won’t want to put it down.

The one thing I had an issue with is Elle and Damian talking to a stranger through text messaging.  With online pedophiles, I found this a little creepy as you don’t know who is on the other side.  Other than that, I recommend this book.  If I read books more than once, this would be on my rotation.

Book Description:
Cinderella goes to the con in this fandom-fueled twist on the classic fairy tale.

Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom. Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.

Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Find out what happened to two abducted best friends

25226082In Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G. Thompson, Amy and Dee are abducted when they were 10 – and 12-years-old by a man named Kyle, who had a thing for dolls.  Six years later, Amy returns home but where is Dee?  Amy won’t tell anyone what happened over the six years and why Dee isn’t with her.  But slowly the story comes out.  This book is told from the view of Amy, or Chelsea as Kyle calls her.

Mary Thompson does a great job of showing what can happen to the mind when someone is kept in captivity by an abductor who is slightly off mentally and can be violent.  I really felt for Amy and her family and several times I was brought to tears.

When you are on the outside, you always wonder what an abduction and being held in captivity for years does to a person, how they can survive to live a normal life and what happens to the families left behind who don’t know where their loved ones are.

This was such a good story and well written that kept my attention.  I didn’t want to put the book down.  I’m glad I got the chance to read it through the Penguin Random House First To Read Program.

Book Description:
A bittersweet homecoming holds dark secrets in this heart-wrenching story of loss, love, and survival for readers of Room.

When sixteen-year-old Amy returns home, she can’t tell her family what’s happened to her. She can’t tell them where she’s been since she and her best friend, her cousin Dee, were kidnapped six years ago—who stole them from their families or what’s become of Dee. She has to stay silent because she’s afraid of what might happen next, and she’s desperate to protect her secrets at any cost.

Amy tries to readjust to life at “home,” but nothing she does feels right. She’s a stranger in her own family, and the guilt that she’s the one who returned is insurmountable. Amy soon realizes that keeping secrets won’t change what’s happened, and they may end up hurting those she loves the most. She has to go back in order to move forward, risking everything along the way. Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee is a riveting, affecting story of loss and hope.

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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