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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Reviews of My Favorite 2014 Books (2)

Continuing with the reviews of the books I liked and recommended in 2014.

Side TripSide Trip by Renee Duke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A thoroughly enjoyable tale of a trio of planet-hopping teenagers who end up saving a Prince's Kingdom and keeping one little brother out of jail. Fun and fast reading.

Meda and Kristy look forward to the edu-tour of multiple planets but the chaperone is bound and determined that no kid in her care is going actually have fun on it. The two girls form a plan to get off the tour and head out on their own, hopping between planets, getting jobs to make money for food and their next ticket. All is going well until they discover Meda's clever little brother has jumped ship as well. Unfortunately, he's hooked up with a couple of older boys who talk him into stealing an important item from an exhibit.

The chase is on! The girls and little brother are joined in their travels by a Jip, a girl who can move between different planes of existence. A very handy skill when the kids are on the run from various evil-doers trying to get that certain item back and won't hesitate to kill to do it. Meda, Kristy, Jip, and bratty brother are on the run and determined to help an alien prince become the Emperor he's destined to be.

It's a mad dash for the teens, avoiding the men who oppose the prince, a strange man who seems to be chasing them for no reason, and their parents who will most likely ground them for life for ditching the tour.

Very well written (as I've come to expect from Ms. Duke). My favorite of hers to date. I hope she turns this into a series.

I received a free advance copy of this book from the author.


Elspeth, The Living Dead GirlElspeth, The Living Dead Girl by Stuart R. West
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We met Elspeth and Elizabeth in the third "Tex the Witch Boy" book. I'm happy that Stuart West decided to go on the Elspeth/Elizabeth branch in this spinoff series.

What Stuart West has done is rotate first person accounts of the two girls (Elspeth is actually in her 50s if she'd lived). The changes in Elizabeth (the one inhabited by Elspeth the dead girl) are progressive and natural as information builds. It's good to see her moved and changed by events. Elspeth is unlikely to change a lot, being dead and all, but she does find a softer side who cares about Elizabeth and helps the living girl become a better person.

Okay, confused? It's really not too difficult. A rocker chick, Elspeth died in the 1980s. She's hanging out in a sort of limbo where (thought not specifically stated) she has a chance to "earn her wings" and move on. To do her requisite good deeds, she occupies the body of Elizabeth, an extremely annoying high school princess type (I know. We all hated her, the bitch.)

What's very cool here is the way Stuart West has managed to do a few impossible things:

1. He needed to write in first person from the point of view of two girls who couldn't be more opposite.

2. He had to show the transition of both girls away from their original personalities and into better and kinder people.

3. He had to entertain us readers.

Mission accomplished. I'm looking forward to the further adventures of Elspeth/Elizabeth. Well done, Mr. West.


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