The Girl In Between broke my heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can she move on before it’s too late?

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Flora Banks’ motto is Be Brave in the new Emily Barr book

33287077The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr tells the story of Flora, a seventeen year old who suffers with anterograde amnesia. Flora has memories of her childhood but now her brain resets every few hours and she forgets everything after the age of 10. Flora has a book with notes to remind herself who she is and what has happened over the years. It reminds her of who is in her life and what they mean to her.

One night Flora kisses her best friend Paige’s boyfriend, Drake, and the next day she remembers the kiss. This is the first memory her brain has kept since the amnesia took hold.  Drake heads off to Norway to study and Flora is certain the key to “fixing” her is tied to seeing and kissing Drake again. She also thinks she loves him. Flora secretly follows Drake to the very small town in Norway and meets many different characters who help her along the way and shows how a community comes together to help a stranger.

While Flora is traveling to Norway, she has enough notes to remind herself to lie to her parents about where she is as they have gone to Paris to take care of her very ill brother Jacob.  Jacob is a very supportive brother who is very patient and protective of her.  A lot happens to her brother that I will not mention but his story is an interesting addition to Flora’s.  We also find out why Flora has a tattoo on her arm that says “Be brave,” which is her personal motto and keeps her going through the dangerous travel to Norway.

I have read mixed reviews on this book. It seemed like either you liked it or you hated it.  I think the narrative through Flora can put some people off as she repeats herself a lot but that is what her amnesia is all about. As a mother, this book made me think of my daughter. How would I feel if she couldn’t keep a memory for very long? Would she try to go somewhere on her own? Would she be able to cope? What would I do to keep her safe? How far would I go?

I found Flora brave and adventurous. I can understand why she would follow Drake.  Who doesn’t want to be normal and it’s probably frustrating forgetting things and people, even who you are. I didn’t care for Paige who was a selfish, spoiled little brat. Her reactions really showed their age and shows no matter how mature you think you are, there is always room to grow.

This book took me into the mind of someone with amnesia and to get a small glimpse of what that might be like. It made me appreciate my healthy life and my family. I really enjoyed this book and I’m glad I read it.

Book Description:
Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend’s boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora’s fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words “be brave” inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must “be brave” if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Geekerella is a fun modern-day twist on Cinderella

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

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

Things are not what they appear in Just Breathe

23474174Lately I’ve been very lucky with the books I have won, received from publishers or requested to read by authors I have never heard of before.  Each time I read one of these books, I have been pleasantly surprised.  Just Breathe by Kari Lynn is one of those surprises.  This is Lynn’s first novel and she does an outstanding job.  I was quickly pulled into the life of Keira and her family from the start.

Keira and her older twin siblings have moved from Wisconsin to Oregon to live with their aunt and uncle after their parents have been killed.  The kids are junior and seniors in high school and start at the new school a few months into the school year.  On the first day, Keira quickly becomes friends with Ashlyn and Katie making her transition at the new school easier.  Keira then meets David and falls madly in love.

Keira has a hard time sleeping and only gets a few hours at a time.  She also forgets to breathe when she is in a nervous situation, which has caused panic attacks in the past.  Now that she is in Oregon, she hears a voice in her room.  A voice that sounds familiar to her but she can’t quite pinpoint who it is.

It is soon revealed that there are witches and vampires in the world and they are a lot closer than you think.

Lynn pulled me into the story immediately and I had a hard time putting the book down.  This is a very well written book that will pull you into the story.  There are times when the story goes really fast and times when it slows down.  I really liked Keira’s brother Justen, he was such a nice guy to Keira.  It would have been nice to have had more of him in the story.  This is such a good book and worth the read.  Pick it up and enjoy the ride.

Book Description:

After the death of her parents, sixteen-year-old Keira is forced to leave her childhood home to live with her aunt and uncle whom she never met.  One night a voice wakes her from her troubled sleep, a voice that cannot be placed.  A voice that cannot be unheard.

Amid settling into her new life she meets David, an attractive charming senior. His confidence and mystery engage and consume her.  Keira tries to escape her haunts but finds herself battling with anxiety.  She learns she doesn’t live in the world she thought she did.  She isn’t who she thought she was.  Her thoughts no longer feel as if they are her own and all too often she can’t breathe.

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