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

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

Freeks is all about the traveling freak show

28220899Romance, mystery, violence, carnies and supernatural beings.  Freeks by Amanda Hocking has all of these elements.  Set in 1987, 18-year-old Mara and her mother have traveled for years with the Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, a sideshow where everyone has a supernatural ability.  Her mother is a necromancer who tells fortunes and Mara is starting to show signs of the same.

The traveling sideshow is invited to the small town of Caudry, Louisiana to perform for a week beside a carnival.  The first night in town, Mara goes for a walk and meets 19-year-old Gabe at a party where they immediately hit it off.  In fact Mara spends the night with Gabe in his bedroom.  That same night Mara’s best friend Daisy disappears but no one is really worried because she always wanders off for days.

Everyone associated with the sideshow have special abilities that mark them different from everyone else, causing people to call them freaks.  Mara hides from Gabe the fact that she is part of the traveling sideshow.  She knows that people look down at them and she wants Gabe to treat her like a normal person.

Meanwhile, back at the sideshow camp, when the sun goes down the performers are being stalked by some sort of animal.  When people continue to get injured, Mara needs to find the strength to fight whatever is attacking her friends.

This book has a slow build as Amanda introduces the reader to all the characters.  As the unknown creature attacks, it gets stronger, allowing it to attack more frequently. This makes the story start to move a little faster and causes more to be revealed.

I really enjoyed this story and had a hard time putting it down.  I look forward to reading more of Amanda’s young adult books.  Plus the cover is way cool!

Book Description:
Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodes are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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