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

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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.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Murder at The Dollhouse

30039173The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis is such a fascinating story!  This is a story about Rose Lewin who in 2016 moved into the Barbizon Hotel in New York City with her newly divorced boyfriend and Darby McLaughlin who in 1952, moved from Ohio into the hotel to attend classes at the Katherine Gibbs secretarial school.

Barbizon Hotel had a long history as a safe and secure place for young women who came to New York City to study, look for a job or look for a husband.  Over the years it eventually was turned into condos.

Rose, a former network reporter takes a job that is a step down so she can be with her boyfriend.  As she is leaving the building, she meets an unfriendly elderly resident in the elevator.  She finds out that a few of the long-term tenants of the former hotel are living on the fourth floor.  She learns that the unfriendly woman was involved in an accidental death that took place back in the 50’s.

As Rose starts to investigate the accident from the 1950’s, we learn about Darby’s life at the Barbizon Hotel where she wasn’t treated nicely by the women on her floor and how she becomes friends with the hotel’s maid named Esme.  Esme introduces Darby to the darker side of New York City.

The story switches back and forth between Darby’s story from the 1950’s and Rose in 2016.  It shows how their lives progress and eventually intertwine.  I remember reading about rooming houses in New York where women lives with a housemother.  The Barbizon hosted famous women like Sylvia Plath, Liza Minelli, Candace Bergen and Joan Crawford.

I loved this book and found it so fascinating.  It was hard to put it down.  Fiona does a great job pulling the reader into the lives of the women at Barbizon Hotel.

I was able to read this book through the First to Read Program from Penguin Random House.

Book Description:
Fiona Davis’s stunning debut novel pulls readers into the lush world of New York City’s glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where a generation of aspiring models, secretaries, and editors lived side-by-side while attempting to claw their way to fairy-tale success in the 1950’s, and where a present-day journalist becomes consumed with uncovering a dark secret buried deep within the Barbizon’s glitzy past.

 When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren’t: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn’t belong—a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she’s introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that’s used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance.

Over half a century later, the Barbizon’s gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby’s involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman’s rent-controlled apartment. It’s a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby’s upstairs neighbor, to resist—not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose’s obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

One Less Problem Without You is about three women surviving adversity

26114216When I enjoy a book by an author, I usually look to see what else they have available because I want more of their work.  One Less Problem Without You by Beth Harbison is her latest release and the fifth book I have read by her.  Every time I read something from Harbison, I’m always entertained and swept on a journey with the characters.

This time Harbison brought me into kind of a dark storyline.  There is abuse, a cheating husband, financial struggles and dreams dashed.  This is the story of Prinny, Chelsea and Diana.  Prinny grew up with her stepbrother Leif, who was abusive to her from when she was a baby, but hid it from their parents as love.  He is full of hate and jealousy of Prinny.

Diana is Leif’s wife who is madly in love with him even though she knows he cheats on her and knows she must break away from him if she wants to survive.  Chelsea works for Prinny at her shop Cosmos and also survives by working as a living statue at tourist sites.

Prinny has a gift.  She is psychic and her shop Cosmos, sells crystals, potions, candles and she does readings.  Diana makes homemade teas that seem to have a little magic to them.  Prinny and Diana haven’t really been close so Diana runs away to where she thinks Leif won’t be able to find her.

I really enjoyed how each of the women dealt with different struggles in their lives yet they are very strong individuals.  Slowly the book reveals how their lives are intertwined with flashbacks and an event that happens to one of them, that was kind of scary.  This is a really good book to take on vacation, to the beach, the backyard hammock or curled up on the couch with a blanket and a strong cup of tea.

Book Description:

Meet Prinny, Chelsea and Diana. Prinny is the owner of Cosmos, a shop that sells crystals, potions, candles, and hope. It’s also a place where no one turns down a little extra-special cocktail that can work as a romance potion or heal a broken heart. But Prinny is in love with her married lawyer and she’ll need nothing short of magic to forget about him.

Chelsea works as a living statue at tourist sites around Washington, DC. It’s a thankless job, but it helps pay the rent. That, and her part-time job at Cosmos. As her dream of becoming a successful actress starts to seem more remote and the possibility of being a permanently struggling one seems more realistic, Chelsea begins to wonder: at one point do you give up on your dreams? And will love ever be in the cards for her?

Diana Tiesman is married to Leif, a charismatic man who isn’t faithful. But no matter how many times he lets her down, Diana just can’t let him go. She knows the only way she can truly breakaway is if she leaves and goes where he will never think to follow. So she ends up at Cosmos with Leif’s stepsister, where she makes her homemade teas and tinctures as she figures out whether she’d rather be lonely alone than lonely in love.

In Beth Harbison’s One Less Problem Without You, three women suddenly find themselves together at their own very different crossroads. It will take hope, love, strength and a little bit of magic for them to find their way together.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

 

Take a ride through space in the Proximity trilogy

24555337A good sci-fi story makes you believe there really is other life forms on different planets and they can come to Earth and be among us without us knowing it.  Or the story pulls you into space and become a part of the alien encounter. The Proximity trilogy by M.A. George brings you into the lives of an alien culture who look like humans and are able to blend in really well with humans as long as you don’t see their ears or their blood.

Palta’s family left their planet, Ononti, to avoid being killed in an uprising.  Palta Capal was born in America shortly after they arrived and her mother died giving birth to Palta.  So Palta has learned her family history and about the planet of Ononti only through stories told to her by her older sister, Sabela and her father.

In the first book, we are introduced to Palta, who is 118 years old, and her family living comfortably in New Mexico.  She has been working in medicine, specializing in Infectious Diseases because the human species captivates her.   One of her co-works is Eric (Aeron), who she has a huge crush on.  One day at work she comes across Aeron injured and is shocked to see he has the Ononti orange blood and realizes that someone else from her home planet is on Earth.  Each Ononti resident has a special power and Palta uses her healing powers to save him, which weakens her.  When she awakens, he has disappeared.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00044]Because of Eric, Palta thinks someone from Ononti is hunting them.  With the help of Sabela, her human brother-in-law Dominick and her father, Palta searches to find out who else is on Earth from Ononti.  They soon realize that Earth’s very existence is at stake and the whole group must pull together to save the planet.  It turns out Aeron and his sister Emma are Ononti royalty and the group join forces to stop the invaders of Earth and return Aeron and Emma to Ononti so they can take back leadership of their home planet.

Relativity starts where the the first one leaves off.  The group heads to Ononti so that Aeron can take his rightful place as the King of Ononti.  They need to defeat Bito Obo who is using mind control to control the people of Ononti to serve him and overthrow Aeron and his rule.  Palta is now on her home planet but doesn’t feel at home since she has only lived on Earth.  She must learn a new language, learn the Ononti way and must learn how to use her power of healing along with a new found power.  This book does not slow down like some middle trilogy books.  There is a lot of action that will take you on a ride.  Even though Palta is in a strange place where she is a little lonely, she still comes across as a strong Character and does everything she can to protect the ones she loves even if her ideas aren’t very safe or smart.

18194506Vitality is a great ending to the Proximity trilogy.  Palta is now married to Aeron and their battle with Bito Ono, her father’s brother, is still going strong.  Bito Ono uses mind control and has someone stealing other people’s powers for him to make him strong.  Palta can now sense if someone is around, she can talk to someone with her mind and can control another person’s mind by putting a thought in their mind making them think it is a reality.  This is the type of mind control that Bito Ono possesses.  I wish I could have spent more time with some of the other characters as this one is mainly about Palta and Nangi.

M.A. George does a great job of spreading the story through the three books and wrapping everything up at the end.  There are several great characters in this trilogy like Nangi who is super old and has all kinds of powers, some of his own and some he has taken from people.  He and Palta have a unique relationship as he helps her learn how to use her powers in a curmudgeon kind of way.  There is action, space travel, family situations and a little bit of romance.

M.A. George does an amazing job with describing where the characters are and who they are so that you feel as though you are right there with them, feeling and experiencing everything with them.  If you like science fiction and young adult fiction, then pick up this trilogy and enjoy the ride.

Book Description:

Proximity: She’s an alien whose home world doesn’t even know she exists.  He just inherited a planet, and now he’s running from it.  She has spent a lifetime hiding in plain sight.  He wants to escape the spotlight.  Her touch can heal.  His wounds are deep.  Two hearts, two planets collide. It’s the perfect union.  Except the part where the world’s about to end.

Relativity:  No matter the planet, Palta Capal is an alien.  She’s lived a lifetime where she never belonged…but relocating to the “home world” she’s never seen has her feeling more like an outsider than ever.  Teetering between the thrill of newfound love and the despair of family loss–not to mention the looming threat of global war–Palta doesn’t need any more excitement in her life.  But what she needs and what she gets are two entirely different things.

Vitality: Palta learned long ago not to expect a “normal” life. She’d settle for one free of close encounters with supernaturally-gifted homicidal maniacs.  Apparently that’s too much to ask.  Join your favorite Onontian royal family, as they settle into life at the palace…only don’t get too comfortable, because things are about to take a hair-raising turn.  Vitality is the gripping third installment in the Proximity series.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Would you want to know the outcome of different choices?

Maybe in Another LifeWhen you are confronted with two choices, what would happen if you selected both?  That is what happens in Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid.  The main protagonist Hannah, has moved back to Los Angeles and while at a welcome back gathering at a local bar, she is presented with the choice of either going home with her friend Gabby and her husband Mark, who she is staying with or go home with her former high school boyfriend Ethan.

Reid does a great job of covering both choices by alternating between the choices with each of the chapters.  When Hannah decides to go home with Gabby, a terrible accident happens and Hannah and Ethan’s relationship isn’t as strong as she thinks.  When Hannah decides to go home with Ethan, their relationship takes off and several positive things happen to Hannah.

I found I liked both the outcomes of the choices.  I liked Hannah with Ethan and I liked who she was in the other life.  It is also interesting how she goes down similar paths with both choices.  I was really cheering for Hannah succeeding in both lives.

I’ve read a few books that say we are living in a four dimensional world instead of three dimensional and that we do have parallel lives happening.  One book talked about how some of our past lives co-exist at different points in time.  It would be really interesting to think that we could possibly be living different experiences and not even know it.

Reid is a wonderful writer who knows how to bring the characters to life.  I didn’t want to put this down.  It flowed very smoothly and makes the reader care for the characters.  There are a few times you laugh, a few times you might tear up, a few times you cheer and a few times you want to smack the back of Hannah’s head.  But all in all, Maybe in Another Life is worth the read.

Book description:

From the acclaimed author of Forever, Interrupted and After I Do comes a breathtaking new novel about a young woman whose fate hinges on the choice she makes after bumping into an old flame; in alternating chapters, we see two possible scenarios unfold—with stunningly different results.

At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life.  She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college.  On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom.  Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.

Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go.  A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay.  Hannah hesitates.  What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?

In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision.  Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her.  As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be?  How much in our life is determined by chance?  And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

Hannah believes there is. And, in both worlds, she believes she’s found him.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Before I Go brings out many emotions for the reader

Before I GoBefore I Go by Colleen Oakley is about Daisy who had breast cancer four years ago and she has just received the results of her recent cancer checkup.  Daisy’s cancer has come back and this time she has been told she might live for 6 months.  Just in time to see her husband Jack graduate from veterinarian school.

Daisy is a list maker.  She puts everything on a list.  She has a list for everything that needs to be done with their old house and a list for what she needs to do for school.  One of those items is to find Jack a new wife so he won’t be left alone once Daisy is gone.  When she was 20, Daisy made a list of what she would do if she had months to live.  Seven years later, her list has changed.  I think my list of what I would do if I had a few months to live hasn’t changed.  I would want to either be in a hammock on the beach or in a small house in Tuscany, Italy.  Somewhere quiet where I can die peacefully with a beautiful surroundings.

This hit a little close to home for me.  I’m an 8 year breast cancer survivor.  I was lucky that the cancer had clear margins and didn’t go to my lymph nodes like Daisy, so there is a 99% chance it won’t come back.  Daisy is a confident person who just wants to make sure everything is in order once she is gone, especially making sure her husband is okay and taken care of.  She thinks he needs someone to take care of him because he can’t even remember to pick up his socks that pile up next to the bed.  I think this is only a distraction for her from the cancer and dying because she doesn’t want to come to terms with dying and not getting to do what she wants, like have a child.

When I read the part where Daisy tells her Mom I cried because I couldn’t tell my parents that I had cancer.  I had one of my sisters call because I knew telling them that their youngest daughter, their baby had breast cancer would break my heart as I knew I would be breaking their hearts.  When I called my husband to tell him I was hyperventilating and he couldn’t understand me.  He thought I had been in an accident.

I really liked Daisy and Jack and her friend Kayleigh.  I thought Daisy and Jack had a great relationship and it was sad to see her try to ruin their relationship by pushing him away for the last few months she was alive.  I wanted to reach in and shake Daisy.  Remind her that what she has with Jack is something special and that she needs to spend what time she has left with Jack as much as possible.

Even if you haven’t had cancer like me, this is well worth the read.  The reader is pulled right into the lives of the characters and will care for Daisy and Jack.  Daisy is a great character.  While reading, I wished that Daisy and Jack could live a long and healthy life together.

Book description:

Twenty-seven-year-old Daisy already beat breast cancer four years ago.  How can this be happening to her again?

On the eve of what was supposed to be a triumphant Cancerversary; with her husband Jack to celebrate four years of being cancer-free, Daisy suffers a devastating blow: her doctor tells her that the cancer is back, but this time it’s an aggressive stage four diagnosis.  She may have as few as four months left to live.  Death is a frightening prospect; but not because she’s afraid for herself.  She’s terrified of what will happen to her brilliant but otherwise charmingly helpless husband when she’s no longer there to take care of him.  It’s this fear that keeps her up at night, until she stumbles on the solution: she has to find him another wife.

With a singular determination, Daisy scouts local parks and coffee shops and online dating sites looking for Jack’s perfect match.  But the further she gets on her quest, the more she questions the sanity of her plan.  As the thought of her husband with another woman becomes all too real, Daisy’s forced to decide what’s more important in the short amount of time she has left: her husband’s happiness or her own?

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat