Before and After: The Girl From Everywhere

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The Girl From Everywhere

By: Heidi Heilig

Rating: 2.5 stars

   Nix is a 16 year old girl who has had a very unusual upbringing.  Due to her father’s gift of traveling by ship to any time on Earth, in reality or myth, Nix has seen firsthand what many people only read about.  Unfortunately for Nix, her father only uses this skill in an effort to return to a time before Nix was born in order to save her mother from dying in childbirth.  While Nix wishes to see her father happy, she can’t help but fear for her own life and what will happen if events are altered too much so close to her birth.  While life aboard a ship and spending time with her closest friend Kash has helped lift her spirits in the past, Nix spends more time focusing on her mortality as her father’s success seems more imminent.  On top of these issues, Nix is starting to notice a change in her friendship with Kash just as she meets and begins to develop feelings for another boy.

Review: When I first heard about this book, I was really excited for an adventure, almost pirate-esque book that had the unique twist of being able to take place at any point in history.  And that is what I got, in the very beginning and the very end.  Much of the rest of the book was pretty stationary on land and seemed to focus a great deal on the new love triangle in Nix’s life.

The things I loved:  It is very obvious that Heilig put a lot of research into making sure that the time periods and the places she was portraying were accurate, which was greatly appreciated.  I also loved the idea that the ship had the ability to travel into mythic realms as well as reality.  I thought this was really creative and would have loved to see more of that.

Things I didn’t get on board with:  The love triangle.  For me this was a really intriguing story all on its own, and the issues Nix is already facing would have created a great story.  I also felt like one of the love interests didn’t really feel like a character to me so much as a plot device to reveal key information to Nix.

Final Thoughts:  I love the premise of this book, but would have loved to see more traveling and adventures.  At times TGFE almost felt like a prequel for all the traveling Nix could do in future books.  TGFE was an alright read for me, I might pick up future installments, but I’m not in a huge rush to see what happens next.

Review: The Prince of the Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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The Prince of Mist

by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Rating: 5/5 stars

    It’s Spain during WWII and 13 year old Max Carver is forced to move with his family to a beach house in order to avoid the conflict from the war.  No one in the family besides Max’s dad is excited about this move, but their lackadaisical attitudes are snapped to attention when strange occurrences begin.  Soon after, Max begins questioning his surroundings he learns that the previous owners had a son who drowned in the ocean, and Max is certain his death is connected to his family’s experiences.  With the help of a native boy named, Roland, Max and his sister set out to find answers.  They soon discover that their is a malicious spirit terrorizing their family, until he collects a debt he was promised many years before.

Review:  To begin with a disclaimer.  Had I read this book, rather than listening to the audiobook, I probably would have been more likely to rate it as a 3-3.5.  But the recording was so well performed, that I sped through this entire book in a single day!  This story was super creepy and I think it is a great Middle Grade book, that anyone could enjoy.  The music and sound effects did wonders in creating a spooky atmosphere and I would love to know if the other audiobooks were recorded in a similar format.

Waiting on Wednesday: Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

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In Wild Swans, Ivy has spent her life inventing outrageous stories about the women in her family, specifically her mother who she hasn’t seen since childhood.  According to Ivy’s grandfather, the Mildbourn women are known for their tragically short but utterly amazing lives.  While all Ivy wants to do is ignore this legacy and enjoy the summer of her senior year, all plans and expectations are sidetracked when Ivy’s mother returns in an unexpected way.  When her mother returns with two more young daughters in tow, Ivy is further heartbroken by her mother’s abandonment.  Ivy now spends the summer replacing the adventurous mother she’s imagined, with the actual woman who has finally come home.

I am very excited about this book describing the realities of growing up and leaving childhood behind in order to face harsh reality.  This has lots of potential to pull at some heartstrings and I can’t wait!

Wild Swans comes out May 1st, 2016, and is published by Sourcebooks Fire.

Top Ten Tuesday: Anti-Valentine’s Day Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a tag created by The Broke and The Bookish! Each week there is a new topic for book bloggers to discuss that features a variety of books.

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This week’s topic surrounds Valentine’s Day!  I chose to recommend 10 books that I consider to be Anti-Valentine’s Day Reads, and they go into a few different categories.

These first set of books are ones that are not anti-love, they just have a plot that surrounds something other than romance and really don’t dive into any relationship nonsense!

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Next up, are books that have a love story that is central to its plot, but because of the nature of the love story or how things play out, the reader is in no hurry to dive into a relationship!

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Finally, are the books that teach the reader about the strength of independence and friendship, rather than the importance of a romantic relationship.  I guess you could call these the Galentine’s Day Recommendations 🙂

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Review: Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

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Challenger Deep

by Neal Shusterman

Rating: 3/5 Stars

    Challenger Deep is a truly unique story depicting Caden Bosch and his struggle with mental illness.  Half of the novel takes place aboard a ship that is headed towards Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the ocean.  On this ship Caden is struggling to determine who is his ally and who is using him in order to put forth their own agenda.

     The chapters alternating between those on the ship show Caden’s experiences at school and home, where the people closest to him are starting to notice his odd behavior.  In order to cope with their questions and the threatening looks he is getting from strangers, Caden begins walking for hours everyday after school.

Review:  Shusterman depicts mental illness in such a unique but very personal way within Challenger Deep.  I have never been able to better understand the confusion, fear, fogginess, and frustration, that someone dealing with mental illness experiences than when I was reading this book.  When I was reading about how Caden felt when he was on medication everything became clearer about why someone may not want to take medication despite the fact that it could help them.

Parts of the novel were really confusing, and I had to push to get through them.  But this wasn’t due to poor writing, it was because Caden felt just as confused by his experiences.  This confusion as a reader began to clear up as Caden’s experiences on the ship began to match up with his experiences in the hospital.  Despite half of the novel taking place on a ship in Caden’s mind, this book is a very realistic depiction of mental illness, and makes me appreciate the struggle people experience to overcome this difficulty so much more.

Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

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The Bone Season

by Samantha Shannon

Rating: 3/5 Stars

     Set in an alternative future London, The Bone Season follows Paige Mahoney who works for a street lord named Jaxon by discovering other people’s secrets.  Discretion is Paige’s biggest ally, not only for the sake of her job, but also because she commits treason just by existing.  Paige is a clairvoyant, who is able to see into people’s dreams to gain information.  In this world, the government hunts these people down and they disappear from society.  At the start of the novel, Paige is captured and taken to an abandoned part of the city, where she is assigned a Warden.  The Wardens are an alien race who control the human government and enslave those with extra abilities.  Paige must use her training and instinct to learn as much as she can about these people so that she can make her escape.

Review: So I picked up this book when I was participating in TBR Takedown 3.0 and trying to complete my reading outside my comfort zone challenge.  The Bone Season definitely fit into this category.  I’m not even sure what genre this novel fits into, it seems part dystopian, part sci-fi, part something else altogether.  Needless to say, I was very wary, going into it.

That being said, I was pleasantly surprised.  While at times I might have gotten lost in the specialized language, for the most part I was engaged and excited to see what happened to Paige next.  Because this book fits into so many different genres for me, it also brought several different experiences to the reader.  There is the mystery of discovering who this alien race is and what their purpose is.  There is a very slow-burning romance that kept my interest when other parts dragged.  The reader gets to see the inner workings of how Paige’s powers work, which was really interesting.

Because it was out of my comfort zone, this was an entertaining read but I don’t feel the need to rush out and read the sequel.  Overall, I do want to keep reading this series, but its one that I will probably read over several years, when I’m looking to read something different than my norm.

Waiting on Wednesday: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Waiting on Wednesday is a topic hosted by Breaking the Spine, where bloggers post about books that they are looking forward to being published in the near future 🙂

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This is a fictionalized accounting of Lady Jane Grey’s life as she is about to be married and take the throne.  This sounds like it is going to be an awesome light hearted read about a time in history that has been retold hundreds of times.  I am very interesting to get this altered, spoof, version of the events.  The description states that it is perfect for fans of The Princess Bride, which is right up my alley!

My Lady Jane comes out June 7th, and is published by Harper Teen.