Audiobook: The Sun is a Compass

by Caroline Van Hemert
Read by Xe Sands
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Content: There’s some swearing, including several f-bombs. It’s in the creative non-fiction section of the bookstore.

I picked this one out of my audiobook stash primarily because I’m a sucker for travel books, and this one — in which Caroline and her husband Patrick traverse from Bellingham, Washington to the Arctic Circle entirely on foot and boat over the course of six months –seemed to fit the bill.

A biologist by trade, Van Hemert also grew up in Alaska, and has had a need for adventure — or to at least be in the outdoors — her whole life. And she found a kindred spirit in Patrick, who (if I remember right) built his own cabin in Alaska (though he grew up on the East Coast) and lived in it for a year between high school and college. They are the sort of people to decide to spend six months trekking 4000 miles and then write a book about it.

I don’t mean to sound bitter (if I do); they are amazing people. And I’m glad that there are people like them out there. I’m not sure this one worked entirely in audio; while I was transfixed with the story, I was a bit frustrated I didn’t have a map. The places she was talking about (aside from Bellingham; I know where that is) were foreign to me. Sure, I could have stopped the book and Googled it, but I listen while I drive, and it wasn’t practical. That said, I did enjoy her story, the ups and downs of six months of backwoods hiking, and the reminder that the world is a big, wild place that has been here (and will be here) a lot longer than we humans.

Not If I Save You First

by Ally Carter
First sentence: “Dear Maddie, There’s a party at my house tomorrow night.”
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Review copy provided by the publisher.
Release date: March 27, 2018
Content: There’s some tense moments, and a couple people die, but it’s not graphic. It will be in the YA section (grades 6-8) of the bookstore.

Ally Carter has a distinct talent for writing girls who are smart, capable, and more than willing to save themselves from whatever situation they find themselves in. Sure, it may be implausible (I mean, a 16-year-old spy or art thief?) but it’s always fun.

This time she gives us Maddie: the daughter of former Secret Service agent who suddenly retired (after thwarting a kidnapping attempt of the First Lady by some Russians) to the middle of nowhere, Alaska. She’s been living there for six years, homeschooling, cutting word, learning how to survive in the Alaskan wilderness. So, when her former best friend (emphasis on former, since he never wrote her back!), the president’s son, shows up on her and her father’s doorstep, she knows she’s going to kill him. That is, until he’s kidnapped by some Russians while her father’s away, and so it’s up to her to, well, save him.

And thus follows a very intense and gripping girl-against-nature book. She’s smart, she knows her terrain, and it’s fascinating (and okay, I admit, quite fun) to watch Maddie outwit the kidnappers, navigate the wilderness, use her know-how and skills to get her and Logan (who isn’t as helpless as he first appears) out of the scrapes they got into. Which makes for a delightfully fun (and that includes the bit of romance thrown in) book to read.

Oh, and for the record: I saw Logan as black, and you won’t convince me otherwise.

Highly recommended.