Tag Archives: time travel

Sixteen by Jen Estes

Here is a tale of teen angst with a twist. You have the social misfit who despite her lack of popularity, is best friends with the prom queen and dating the Captain of the Football Team that she met while fulfilling her court mandated community service as punishment for buying drugs (sleeping pills) from an undercover cop. To complicate matters, the one person who provides emotional support has run off with her obnoxious foster sister. Sounds like your typical YA novel, yet there is a whole other story written between the lines which moves Sixteen by Jen Estes up a notch from normal expectations.

Those of you who read Fifteen, the first novel in the Dreamwalker Diaries Series by Jen Estes are familiar with Ashling Campbell, a Dreamwalker who is the only one that can stop the depraved Jumlin from achieving immortality for himself and his spawn, thus gaining the ability to enslave or destroy mankind. Luckily this can only be attempted once every fifteen years and requires the help of the reincarnated Laughing Bear who is human despite being a descendent of the Jumlin. The Dreamwalker is able to travel 15 years forward through time in order to find a way to thwart these potential cataclysmic events. Their progeny is then burdened with the same task until the Jumlin either succeeds in his task or is destroyed.

In Fifteen, Ash discovers that the Jumlin is actually, Walker Smith, the supposed father of best friend Skykar (who was actually switched at birth with his real daughter – Nadette – by the predecessor Dreamwalker). In order to prevent her horrific recurring nightmares from becoming true, Ash convinces Nadette (her foster sister) to run away, not realizing her buddy Tate would go along for the ride. It’s not that she totally resents his attraction to her malicious “adopted” roommate, it’s that she doesn’t have anyone else with whom she can share her most intimate nightmares without being declared insane.

Sixteen advances the saga as Jen tracks down her half brother who has the key to finding another way to “redo” her previous feat in order to “undo” the accidental shooting death of her mother. Success in this quest would result in a boring plot, so the unexpected repercussions of her actions alert the Jumlin to her presence, endangering her friends and family. Forced to expand the circle of individuals who know the truth, they must band together and make some difficult decisions on how to keep the demon Walker from unearthing any further secrets while destroying the minions who make up his empire – all without being thrown into prison for murder or ending up hospitalized/dead.

The trouble the author, Jen Estes, faced was how to weave the two stories together. It’s been two years since Fifteen was published, so a little refresher was welcome, but as Ash explains the whys and wherefores to a widening circle of people in the know, the reader is forced to hear the details over and over. Flashbacks and old diary entries fill in additional blanks as Ash solves some of the remaining riddles. While the repetitions get annoying at times, the plot has enough booby traps to keep it interesting along with some gratuitous violence to appeal to readers who additionally enjoy stories with vampire or dragon slayers. Of special interest was the blending of past, present, and future as Ash interacts with various individuals from her life at different stages in their existence.

Expect an abrupt culmination with a cliffhanger ending leading into the next novel where the teens, armed with what normal people would consider insane facts, are determined to spend the summer tracking down and destroying this evil which threatens the world.

Not quite as groundbreaking as the first novel, three and a half stars and a thank you to Curiosity Quill for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review. This review also appears on Goodreads and Amazon.

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Maggie Needs an Alibi by Kasey Michaels (Maggie Kelly Mystery Series, Book 1)

Maggie Needs an Alibi by Kasey Michaels is a cute bit of fluff certain to provide light entertainment for avid romance readers. Seems that best selling author, Maggie Kelly, known for her Regency Mysteries, has literally brought her sleuth hero to life. Handsome, suave, and pain-in-the-ass Alexandre Blake, Viscount St. Just and his lovable, bumbling sidekick Sterling Balder, have been studying modern life in Manhattan via Maggie’s thoughts and experiences until they become so vivid in her mind that they are able to morph into actual human beings right in the middle of their host’s living room. This is not a good time for Maggie as she is just finishing up her latest book as well as discontinuing her romantic relationship with the owner of the publishing company who produces her novels. Yet there they are, and apparently there won’t be any future books without their assistance. Her only choice is to accept this new reality or sign herself into the funny farm. Luckily Maggie is not the only one who sees the gentlemanly duo and after a trip to Neiman Marcus, the now properly attired “guests” attend the post publication party along with the major players in Maggie’s life. They all become part of a list of potential perpetrators when former boyfriend, Kirk Toland, doubles over with stomach cramps and dies in the hospital of some sort of poisoning after eating dinner at Maggie’s house. Of course Maggie is the prime suspect – she did serve him potentially poisonous mushrooms. The interactions amongst a multitude of diverse, humorous characters, including a sassy doctor from the frequently visited hospital and a much too nosy, albeit good looking, homicide detective, add to the chaos. Maggie sets out to solve the case with St John and Sterling getting in the way as they attempt to prove her innocence while searching for the truly guilty party(s).

This is the first in the Maggie Kelly Mystery series involving a central cast of friends and family whose lives are intertwined in various who-done-its, enabling Michaels to have some fun with modern vernacular vs Georgian era dialect as Maggie and her English “cousins” wreck havoc throughout the city. Since this is a rerelease of books originally published over ten years ago, I’m disappointed that the author didn’t do some updating as technology has changed quite a bit with concepts such as videos and home phones totally outmoded. While Time Travel has the potential to be entertaining, modern discrepancies are simply annoying, distracting from the novelty of the plot. Unless, of course, the author intended this to be a period piece from the not so distant past.

Three and a half stars and a thank you to the author for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Fifteen by Jen Estes

One of my pet peeves is when authors dumb down books for YA audiences because they mistakenly believe that teens don’t care about content, style, or characterizations.

Jen Estes is not one of those authors. In fact, she could teach a few lessons to those who write for adults. Some of her strengths include witty dialogue and characters who are well defined. Despite the fantasy quality inherit in a plot dealing with a future full of evil Jumlins who either eat or enslave humans, the actions of the teenagers and their parents ring true.

It’s easy to like our heroine, dreamwalker Ashling Michelle Campbell. Ash, a fifteen year old sophomore at Billings High School, has a difficult task. Somehow she must change the present to prevent the future demons from rearing their ugly heads and taking over the town. Her only clues to guide the process are her nightly dreams which progressively reveal the secrets of the future fifteen years to the reader. And once Ash thinks she has a handle on her mission, the situation totally reverses where present is past and future is the new reality. The only one she can confide in is her best friend Tate Witco who helps her deal with the universal plight of a teenager in high school as well as the repercussions of her nightmares. Add in some other players, such as nasty foster sister Nadette, beautiful popular girl Skyler Smith and her wealthy conniving father, a perceptive somnologist Dr Robert Deitz, future hunky boyfriend Nelson Cooper, a loving concerned mom, and an “adopted” caring Aunt Lavaughn and you have the cast of hometown life in Billings, Montana.

Somehow Jen uses her imagery to create well rounded individuals who seen familiar. People you would actually like to meet. The reader roots for Ash to solve her dilemma so that their world isn’t destroyed by evil. They also want to comfort the teen when her astral projecting doesn’t always achieve the planned results.

My main criticism is that the destruction and decay of Billings seems to be more extensive than the timeline indicates, but perhaps it is explained better in the upcoming books in the Dreamwalker Diaries Series. Of course, I’m suspending belief in reality by accepting the entire premise of this fantasy, but for some reason the story is presented in such a way that it all makes sense. Well, it almost makes sense. My new problem is whether to consider this Science Fiction, a dystopian novel, or a bizarre “Coming of Age” story. This book is one of those that any age can enjoy (unless you are prone to nightmares).

As an aside – while thirty might seem old to a teenage audience, don’t make Ash’s physical agility at that age the equivalent of a fifty year old. Remember, thirty is the new twenty.

So Jen, get a wiggle on and finish Diary #2 so I can find out what happens next. Four stars.

A thank you to Netgalley and Curiosity Quill for providing an ARC in exchange of an honest review.