Not If I Save You First is filled with Girl Power

35238072The last several years I have listened to audiobooks in the car, while working around the house and even at work.  For some books, the narrator brings the characters to life so much that I don’t want to let them go.  Sometimes the narrator is so blah that it ruins the book.  A lot of times the characters live with me for years to come, because I have heard their voices.

Entertaining, humorous, suspenseful and just a whole lot of fun.  This is what comes to mind while listening to Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter.  Main character Maddie, is strong, silly, girlie yet knows how to survive and take down dangerous Russian men.  Narrator Brittany Pressley, Earphones Award Winner, gives Maddie a voice that is very typical of a teenage girl.  Sing songy yet full of confidence.

The book starts out with Maddie’s Secret Service father being shot while trying to protect the first lady from an abduction by Russians.  Maddie and the President’s 10-year-old son, Logan, witness the attempted kidnapping and the shooting.  Maddie and her father move to Alaska so her father can recover from his injuries and to keep Maddie safe and out of danger.

Fast forward 6 years and now Logan is sent to spend time in Alaska with Maddie and her father.  Maddie is not happy about Logan visiting because he has been radio silence the entire time they have been apart and not once did he respond to one of her letters.  In fact, Maddie is so hurt and mad, she wants to kill him.

As a storm starts to roll in, Maddie’s Dad leaves to fly supplies to another part of Alaska leaving the two “friends” alone.  Of course with the parent away, there has to be danger.  Logan is snatched and taken into the woods.  Maddie is the only one who can save Logan.

Maddie has not been sitting around the cabin in Alaska painting her nails and writing in her diary.  Her father has been keeping her busy with wilderness training and teaching her survivor skills.  Skills that help Maddie in case something happens like a kidnapping.

This is a short book so it’s really easy to finish it in a day.  The pace is fast and will keep you involved with these unusual teens.  This is a great book for teenagers who like a book with danger, relationships, laughs and a strong female character.  All girls should have mad skills like Maddie and know how to protect themselves.

Book Description:

Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever.  But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans.  Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.  No phone.  No Internet.  And not a single word from Logan.  Maddie tells herself it’s okay.  After all, she’s the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction.  (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.)  She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle.  Her life is full. Until Logan shows up six years later . . . And Maddie wants to kill him.  But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate.  Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help.  But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.  Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.  But she has to save him first.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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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

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

Whisper of the Woods is another great YA book

27869352Whisper of the Woods by D.G. Driver is the second book in the Juniper Sawfeather story.  Juniper or June as her friends and family know her, is a great character.  She’s a high school senior in Washington State living with her environmentalist parents.  In the first book, June dealt with mermaids.  In the second book she encounters an ancient spirit in a very old tree.

Juniper is a great character who doesn’t follow along with everyone else in high school.  This makes her an outcast and also a target for the Vice Principal Mrs. Slater, who seems to have it out for her.  I couldn’t stand Slater.  I wanted to reach in and throttle her.  She should not be in education and I hope she gets what she deserves in the third book.

June can see magical characters.  In Cry of the Sea she saw mermaids but no one believed her and called her a liar and fraud.  There are a few high school kids who are determined to ruin her life.

This time Juniper is attracted to one of the oldest trees on the reservation.  When she is first near it with her boyfriend Carter, they argue for the first time.  June goes back to the tree the next day and next thing she knows she is 100 feet in the air up in the tree and doesn’t remember getting up there.  June’s uncle wants to cut the tree down but every time someone inflicts damage to the tree, June feels it.

Driver does a great job of bringing across such a wonderful visual of the story that the reader becomes part of the story.  I felt I was up in the tree with Juniper and also on the ground with her family.  I cringed when the tree was hurt.  I got cold when Juniper was cold.  I wanted to know if she was ever going to be let down or if the tree would take her forever.

This is a fantastic young adult series that everyone will enjoy.  You could read the books as standalone but they are much better enjoyed as a series. I can’t wait to see if Juniper succeeds on her next quest.

Book Description:
Juniper Sawfeather seems to have a talent for finding mythological creatures. Or maybe the creatures are finding her.  The mermaids she saved from the oil spill are long gone. There’s no evidence of them, and she’s been branded as a liar and a fake in the media and at school. Her environmental activist parents have moved on to a protest to save Old Growth trees from being chopped down. June isn’t particularly concerned with this cause until after falling asleep at the base of a giant tree she wakes to find herself 40 feet in the air on one of its branches!

From this point on she becomes obsessed with the tree, and it appears the tree is becoming obsessed with her too. Soon, she is trapped 170 feet above the ground, and the magical spirit that resides in the tree isn’t interested in letting her go free or allowing anyone else to save her. Is the tree spirit good or evil? Will Juniper’s feet ever touch the ground again?

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The future looks bleak in The Slip

27275190Two years ago I stumbled across young adult author David Estes and I’m so glad I did.  I devoured his The Dwellers series and Country Saga, which go together, now I’m hooked on The Slip Trilogy.

In the Slip, it is many years in the future where the sea levels are rising and livable land masses are shrinking causing available resources to shrink.  In order to conserve resources, the government won’t allow people to have a child unless they secure a death match certificate.  So someone can live only if someone dies.  But then some children are born who don’t have a match and those are called Slip.  Slips can’t be allowed to live so the government kills any that are found.

Michael Kelly is the head of Population Control.  He is the one who searches for the slips and has them killed.  Michael has a son who is a slip and he will do anything in his power to keep his son alive.  He hasn’t given his son a name and keeps him in seclusion so he won’t be found.  He is always watching to make sure no information about his son comes to light.

But there are others who don’t see Slips as humans and will do everything to kill them and their families.  Corrigan Mars is second in command at Pop Con and he is nothing like Michael.  Corrigan is determined to find every Slip out there and exterminate them and their families.  He employs The Destroyer who is a psychopath.  After an accident while in the military The Destroyer is half man and half machine who seems to have no feelings for anyone.  It’s all about him and if he doesn’t get what he wants, he kills.

People have all their information in their eyes and that is how the government tracks people.  Ads float around the streets scanning eyes and customizing the ads to the person.  It’s a great way for them to know where people are located and what they are doing.

David does a great job fleshing out the characters and making them real.  He makes the readers care for the Slip and his family and hate the Destroyer and Corrigan Mars.  When the book ended, I wasn’t ready because I wanted to keep reading.  I was sucked so far into the story I wasn’t ready to let the characters go.  This is one trilogy that when it’s over I will miss the characters.

Book Description:

Someone must die before another can be born…

As sea levels rise and livable landmasses shrink, the Reorganized United States of America has instituted population control measures to ensure there are sufficient resources and food to sustain the growing population.  Birth authorization must be paid for and obtained prior to having a child.  Someone must die before another can be born, keeping the country in a population neutral position at what experts consider to be the optimal population.  The new laws are enforced by a ruthless government organization known as Pop Con, responsible for terminating any children resulting from unauthorized births, and any illegals who manage to survive past their second birthday, at which point they are designated a national security threat and given the name Slip.

But what if one child slipped through the cracks?  What if someone knew all the loopholes and how to exploit them?  Would it change anything?  Would the delicate resource balance be thrown into a tailspin, threatening the lives of everyone?

And how far would the government go to find and terminate the Slip?

In a gripping story of a family torn apart by a single choice, Slip is a reminder of the sanctity of a single life and the value of the lives we so often take for granted.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Everyone has issues, even pretty people

Chasing Pretty by Jennifer Lark is about Ashlyn who is very beautiful.  The girls envy her, 19283956the guys want to date her and someone is stalking her.  All Ashlyn wants is to be normal, which also includes not being pretty.  She dreams of disfiguring her face so people will see beyond her looks and take her seriously.

Her mom is a nightmare.  She is controlling, selfish, and only cares about surface appearance.  She wants Ashlyn to look perfect.  After her car breaks down, Ashlyn falls and scrapes her knee and what does her Mom do?  She immediately takes Ashlyn to the plastic surgeon so she doesn’t get a scar.  She makes Ashlyn wear pants so no one can see the injury.

Ashlyn meets Zeus at school when a photo of a girl in her underwear with Ashlyn’s face is sent to everyone in school.  He’s different than everyone else.  He sees beyond the pretty.  When Ashlyn’s car breaks down while she and Trevor are coming home from school, Zeus picks them up and brings them back to his farm where they meet his strange family.  Strange things start to happen.  Zeus’ mom says Ashlyn is in grave danger and gives her candles to burn for protection.

Zeus’ Mom gives Trevor a book that looks like the original Abigail’s Craft 1694 spell book.  She instructs him never to read the spells out loud.  While looking at the book, Ashlyn reads a poem out loud called Truest Love Thy Heart’s Desire.  When she’s done, there is a knock immediately at the door and in walks her perfect man Michael.  Soon Ashlyn realizes that someone is stalking her.  And that is where the crazy starts to happen. While all this is going on, Ashlyn realizes that she is starting to like Zeus.

This is a great young adult book.  It teaches girls that no matter what someone’s life looks like on the outside, their lives could not be as picture perfect as you think.  It also teaches you to that what is important is what’s on the inside.

Book description:

Ashlyn is sick of the attention her beauty brings to the point she may do something rash like smack her face against a cement wall, anything to alter her appearance.  As a senior at Mt. Timmons High, the boys date her for the bragging rights and the girls despise her out of jealousy. Even her own mother doesn’t try to hide her contempt.

Mt. Timmons, Virginia is known for historical battles and colonial witch trials. Since childhood Ashlyn’s been taught that this is the place where history is made. But all she wants to do is fade into obscurity when a scantily clad picture of her, that’s been photoshopped by her ex, is circulated at school. As if life couldn’t get any worse her car breaks down.

Zeus, the one man immune to her charms, offers her a ride home, he just has to make one quick stop. But that layover changes everything. There’s a witch and a book of spells and Michael, the ideal boyfriend conjured from pure magic.

Ashlyn must choose between two men, the real thing or the dream, come to terms with her own appearance and keep her mother in the dark long enough to decide her future. All this while figuring out if the man who’s stalking her is really her ex. There’s magic swirling through the Virginia hills and it might just save Ashlyn’s life…

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat