Parallel lives are real in Shift

Shift Cover - Final Front OnlyI recently read a book that talked about how our past lives can begin before our current birth date and end after our current lives end.  Or in other words we can live multiple parallel lives.  Over the years I have been places for the first time but feel like I’ve lived there for years.  It’s starting to happen more and more, especially in the United Kingdom, where my ancestors are from.

Lately I have had that experience with books.  Books that won’t be published for months.  Books I could predict where the characters would stand a room next, what they will do and what they will say.  These are books I know I have never read before and the concepts are new.

I attribute this weird experience with unpublished books to the fact we are living a parallel life.  A parallel life where I am also a reader, because of course in every parallel life I love books.

M.A. George must think the same way I do.  In her latest book Shift, High School Senior Peregrine (Perry) experiences vivid dreams that feel real and leave her exhausted.  Perry is an artist and she fills her bedroom walls with drawing of her dreams.  Perry lives with her Aunt Jessamine (Jess) and her brother Ezra, who she says is her best friend, is off at college.

In the first chapter, Perry is in a medieval land where a knight with ice-blue eyes looks very familiar.  Her brother Ezra is also in the dream fighting along with Perry.  This dream made me laugh out loud as Perry tries to decide if she is in a dream because it feels so real and she is trying to understand why she thinks it’s a dream while in the dream.  Make sense?

Then one weekend Perry and Aunt Jess visit Ezra in college where she meets Ezra’s best friend, Max, who looks super familiar to Perry.  In fact, he looks just like the guy who is all over her bedroom wall that she keeps drawing from her dreams.  Max is a geeky, smart science guy with funny T-shirts, not the typical jock-type hero.  But alas, a hero he is.

After experiencing a few more dreams that take Perry all over the place, including space, Ezra drops a bombshell that Perry has a hard time wrapping her brain around.  Perry and her brother can “shift” to different scapes.  Not different planets or time travel, but different varieties of reality.  Once Perry becomes aware that her dreams aren’t really dreams, that is when the story takes off on a rollercoaster of a ride.

Ms. George just keeps getting better and better and so far I think this is my favorite story and characters to come from her imagination.   She has presented a reality that some of us could be living parallel lives and it makes total sense to me.

What a fantastic job giving life to these characters.  Perry is spunky, strong, quick witted yet vulnerable.  I literally burst out laughing a few times.  I was totally sucked into this book and the lives of the characters.  I could not put this book down and leave the characters, and I stayed up WAY past my bedtime.

Well done Ms. George.  I know this is a stand-alone, but I feel there is more we need to learn from Perry and the other characters.  I don’t know if I’m ready to let them go quite yet.  If you like this type of genre, do not miss this book.

Book Description:

Seventeen-year-old Perry Teasdale is a dreamer.

She’s not the kind of dreamer who waltzes through fields of wildflowers, twirling her skirts in a starry-eyed daze; or the kind who aspires to be the biggest rock star the world has ever known (not that she’d complain, if that accidentally happened). She’s the kind of dreamer who can’t get a decent night’s rest, because her sleep is flooded with scenes from other worlds—ones that seem as real as life itself.

Mind-blowing dreams may sound like loads of fun, but when they start to bleed into Perry’s waking hours—confusing the line between dream and reality, and keeping her in a sleep-deprived fog no amount of caffeine can cure—Perry’s not exactly thrilled.

Try as she might to shake the dreams from her mind, they keep gaining speed, growing ever more vivid and intense…until that hazy boundary between real and imaginary fades away, and Perry is forced to consider the impossible: Her dreams seem real, because they are.

When disaster strikes, sending Perry’s newfound normalcy into a tailspin, she takes the only logical path left: a whirlwind tour of the multiverse, scouring an ever-growing assortment of alternate realities for the missing piece—the missing person—to put her life together again.

Along the way, Perry enlists the help of an ancient wise woman (who may be a tad homicidal); a nerdy-in-all-the-right-ways mathematician (who knows all of Perry’s secrets, even before introducing himself); and a sword (because you can never go wrong with a sword).

At times hilarious—at times heartbreaking—Shift is sure to be, well, one of those two things.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Advertisements

Choices have serious consequences in Lies You Never Told Me

38213804Lies You Never Told Me is the first book by Jennifer Donaldson and what a page turner.  The story is about Elyse in Portland and Gabe in Austin with the chapters going back and forth between their lives.  These two high school students have never met.

Elyse is a shy 16-year-old who goes out of her comfort zone and auditions for the school play.  She is surprised after winning the lead role in Romeo and Juliet, the role she thought her best friend Brynn should have landed.   Elyse lives with her junkie Mom, who can’t keep a job and can’t keep off the stuff, so Elyse has had to grow up fast at a young age.  She pays the bills and keeps the apartment clean.

Then there is Gabe who lives in Austin.  Gabe’s girlfriend, Sasha, is very popular and knows it.  She is a total beatch and tries to control him.  Sasha is very jealous when Gabe spends time with his family, even gets upset when he attends his down syndrome sister Vivi’s dance recital.  Sasha thinks Gabe should be with her all the time.  She isn’t nice to any of her friends and they let her get away with it.  Sasha is the true queen bee of the school.

One night, Gabe leaves Sasha’s house on his skateboard and is hit by a car.  A girl stops and calls the police but doesn’t stick around.  He soon sees the girl, Catherine, at school and is attracted to this quiet girl who sticks to herself.  Gabe breaks up with Sasha and her crazy side comes out.

While all this drama is happening with Gabe, Elyse shares an accidental kiss with someone at drama practice and she steadily falls in love.  As Gabe and Elyse make choices that change their lives, the story ramps up even more, pushing the reader on a journey where you are scared for one character and want to reach in and slap sense into the other.  As the story begins to wrap up, Gabe and Elyse head towards dangerous situations that could ruin both their lives.

I don’t want to give anything away about the choices they both make because it will give too much away and I would rather people find out themselves, trust me, they are big.  This was such a fantastic story.  I hope other people enjoy Lies You Never Told Me as much as I did.

Book Description:
“A compulsive page-turner with a shocking twist–get ready to stay up all night!” –Sara Shepard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Pretty Little Liars 

Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.

Quiet, shy Elyse can’t believe it when she’s cast as the lead in her Portland high school’s production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn’t sure she’s up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye–someone she knows she absolutely shouldn’t be with–she can’t help but be pulled into the spotlight.

Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable–breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She’s not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.

Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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 Girl I used to Be is a roller coaster of a ride

37563646Lately I have been reading a lot of psychological thrillers.  Each one has been slightly different, but all of them have been heart-pounding reads.  Psychological thrillers tend to stay with me.  I dream about the characters and what is happening to them.  I find this is a genre I have a hard time putting down and getting back to real life and I also have a hard time letting go of the characters for days, sometimes weeks.

In The Girl I Used to Be by Mary Torjussen, Gemma Brogman is a real estate agent and her husband, Joe, stays home with their little boy Rory.  Gemma works long hours, seven days a week, not leaving Joe much time to have adult time outside of the house.  One day Gemma shows a nice looking man (David) several apartments as he waits for money from the sale of his house to hit the bank.

A few days later Gemma heads to London for a conference.  She decided to go a day early to have alone time away from her busy schedule and her family.  Instead of taking a bath and going to bed with a book, she decides to eat at the hotel restaurant.  While talking to other real estate agents, she sees her client David across the room.  To avoid an annoying acquaintance, Gemma decides to have dinner with David.

After dinner, they both head to their rooms located on different floors.  While on the elevator, Gemma is super tipsy and stumbles all over.  She doesn’t remember drinking that much so David helps Gemma to her room where he kisses her.  Gemma wakes in the morning with a horrible hangover and doesn’t remember the night after the kiss.

Now back home, Gemma starts to receive weird messages and photos that she doesn’t remember being taken while at the conference about situations she doesn’t remember.  Each photo is more horrible than the next.  Who is blackmailing her? And who is David who she can no longer contact?

Part one of the book moves along smoothly, slowly building the story.  We learn about Gemma and her husband and we meet her co-workers.  We learn that Gemma is not happy that Joe stays home all the time instead of going back to work so she can cut back on her work schedule and spend more time with Rory.  She’s jealous of Joe and how Rory goes to him first instead of her.

We learn that Joe wants to get out more with his friends and have more of an adult life. I think he secretly is jealous of Gemma with her work schedule keeping her away from the home all the time.  But Joe doesn’t seem like he wants to go back to work.  He’s almost a little annoying.  Part two really kicks up the psychological warfare.  We quickly learn who is involved with the blackmail and what is really happening.

Think about riding a roller coaster.  The first hill is super big.  It’s a slow climb to the top, making the riders’ nerves increase on what could be on the other side of the crest of the hill.  That’s part one.  Then think of what happens when you go over the crest of the hill and you pick up speed heading down the hill, hair blowing behind you, stomach dropping and you are probably screaming.  That is part two.

I had a really hard time putting this book down.  It was a good thing I had an ebook copy or I probably would have flipped to the back of the book because I couldn’t read fast enough to find out the who and why.  A good stormy day would have been nice so I could have curled up on the couch and read it in one sitting.  If my friends and family ask for a book recommendation, The Girl I Used to Be will be one of the first books I recommend.  Make sure you block off time because you will want to read The Girl I Used to Be in one sitting.

Book Description:
The acclaimed author of Gone Without a Trace returns with a new novel of twisting psychological suspense in which a woman is forced to face down her blackmailer.

Someone’s been sending Gemma compromising photos. Photos she doesn’t remember. She can’t recall much about that night during a work conference–she’d written off her headache the next morning as the result of too much drinking at the hotel bar. But then increasingly disturbing photos start appearing in her email, along with bills and other items she can’t account for. As the blackmailer grows bolder and events start to escalate beyond her control, Gemma fears for her already shaky marriage and worries that the truth of what really happened that night must be more twisted than she imagines.

Unable to go to the police for fear that she will lose her family, Gemma resolves to hunt down the blackmailer on her own. But not everyone in Gemma’s life is who they seem, and as she gets closer to the truth, she discovers just how far the shadows from her past can reach.

Until Next Time, enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Alchemy of Night is a must read historical romance with a murder thrown in

36570121I have enjoyed several Nicola Italia books and her writing keeps getting better with each book.  This time around in The Alchemy of Night, we are introduced to Emmeline (Emme) Bell and the Marham brothers – Everett and Nigel.  Everett is next in line to become Lord Marham and run the family estate.  Nigel is in love with Emme and asks her to marry him.  Emme isn’t sure she wants to marry Nigel and asks for time to think about her answer.

In the meantime, Emme starts to bump into Everett at different events and around town setting off sparks between them, which they both try to ignore.  But when they unexpectedly spend several days together at their mutual friend’s house before the winter ball, the attraction can’t be ignored.

As Everett and Emme are falling in love, another woman sets her sights on Everett.  Not because Maude Thomas loves him, but because Everett comes with a title and money.  Who wouldn’t want to be a countess?  But how far will someone go to get said title? And is it worth dying for?

Nicola is a wonderful historical romance author who knows how to draw the reader into the lives of her characters.  I found myself losing track of time as I went back in time to London when women wore big flowing dresses and rode around in carriages.  A time when women were the “property” of the man they were with whether it was a father or a husband.  A time when a woman had money but couldn’t “own” the money because they were too simple minded.

It was also a time when couples had to sneak around and if they got caught together, whether they were doing anything or not, a marriage had to happen to stop any rumors that could ruin the woman’s and the man’s reputation.

I recommend picking up The Alchemy of Night if you are looking for something to read on vacation while relaxing in the sun.  It’s even perfect for those times you want to curl up by the fire with a blanket and a warm drink.  It’s a perfect time to read anytime and anywhere.  Be prepared to be entertained.  Then be prepared to add Nicola’s other books to your TBR list.

Book Description:
Emmeline Bell, the only daughter of a well-known London solicitor, is intelligent, beautiful, and well loved by her family and friends.

Nigel Carey, the second son of Lord Marham, is quiet and reserved yet secretly pines to call Emme his own. When Nigel proposes, Emme accepts it without love knowing the match will give her a comfortable life. She is unaware that Nigel’s dark and mysterious older brother, Everett, heir to the earldom, also holds a deep desire for her.

Arriving a week early to a mutual friend’s annual winter house party, Emme and Everett strike up an unexpected friendship, one that quickly leads to romance. As Everett invokes feelings in her she never thought possible, he urges her to break off her engagement to his brother. However, another young woman who has been scheming to force a marriage with the handsome, wealthy, and titled Everett is found dead in the middle of the winter ball. Suddenly everyone has a motive for murder–even Emme.

As the inspector assigned to the case tries to unravel the plot, the list of suspects narrows, and Everett is arrested. Convinced of his innocence, Emme embarks on admission to clear his name. She uncovers overlooked clues and someone suddenly becomes determined to stop her. Emme and Everett must race to unmask the killer before the killer silences Emme forever.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The Girl Who Lived is a heart pumping thriller

36412584I enjoy a good thriller.  One that makes my heart pound and my pulse race.  The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson is a good thriller.  A really good thriller.  On her 13th birthday, Faith Winters watches as her older sister Kim is brutally murdered on the porch of their family cabin.  While inside the cabin, are Faith’s father, her best friend and her best friend’s mom, all dead.

After Kim tells Faith to run, Faith hides in the woods with the murderer hunting her down.  Fast forward 10 years with Faith back in her hometown trying to start over.  She has been in and out of mental hospitals, has become an alcoholic and often thinks about killing herself.

On her first night home, after leaving an AA meeting, Faith heads to a bar and downs several shots.  While heading home she is sure the ‘Ratman’ drives by her.  The same man who was sitting in a car by the cabin the night of the murders.  The man she hid from under a log for four hours, the man that no one believes exists.  This starts a crazy hunt by Faith to find the killers and realizing she doesn’t know who she can trust.

Is Faith having hallucinations?  Is the alcohol making her paranoid?  Is she just plain crazy?  No one will believe Faith.

This book took me on a roller coaster of a ride, which kept me up at night trying to figure out who was behind the murders.  Do you think you know who is behind the murders? You might want to rethink your choice.  Pick this book up for a thrilling ride with a lot of f’d up people.

Book Description:
Ten years ago, four people were brutally murdered. One girl lived.

No one believes her story.
The police think she’s crazy.
Her therapist thinks she’s suicidal.
Everyone else thinks she’s a dangerous drunk.
They’re all right—but did she see the killer?

As the anniversary of the murders approaches, Faith Winters is released from the psychiatric hospital and yanked back to the last spot on earth she wants to be—her hometown where the slayings took place. Wracked by the lingering echoes of survivor’s guilt, Faith spirals into a black hole of alcoholism and wanton self-destruction. Finding no solace at the bottom of a bottle, Faith decides to track down her sister’s killer—and then discovers that she’s the one being hunted.

How can one woman uncover the truth when everyone’s a suspect—including herself?

From the mind of Wall Street Journal bestselling author Christopher Greyson comes a story with twists and turns that take the reader on a journey of light and dark, good and evil, to the edge of madness. The Girl Who Lived should come with a warning label: Once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop. Not since Girl on the Train and Gone Girl has a psychological thriller kept readers so addicted—and guessing right until the last page.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat