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Review: The Girl From Everywhere

February 13, 2016 in Book Reviews, YA, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Girl From EverywhereThe Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Series: The Girl From Everywhere #1
Published by Hot Key Books on 3rd March 2016 (UK)
Genres: Fantasy, YA Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-stars

It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer.

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times - although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix's father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix's existence rather dangerously in question...

Nix has grown used to her father's obsession, but only because she's convinced it can't work. But then a map falls into her father's lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it's that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.

I wanted to get this post up in time for the US release which I believe is this Tuesday (16th February -where is the year going?) so although this isn’t out in the UK until 3rd March here are my thoughts…

A time-travelling pirate ship? Erm, yes please! A blend of fact and fantasy? Sign me up! I was thoroughly intrigued by the concept of this book and so jumped at the chance to read it. I’ll tell you now that I really enjoyed it!

Nix is 16 and she lives on board a ship called The Temptation with her father the Captain, Slate, her best friend Kashmir and their crew. Nix’s father is a Navigator – he can use old maps to shuttle them across time and place. I loved this concept, that once reaching the border of a map another map of a different time and place can be used, the two maps blending together with some kind of purgatory in between. This is such a fascinating idea and is obviously where the time travel element comes into this story.

Now, Slate is from our current time New York, but his daughter Nix is actually from 19th Century Hawaii. Slate fell in love with Nix’s mother Lin back in 19th Century Hawaii. He didn’t know she was pregnant when he went to sea to gather funds so that they might build a home together. He returned to find that Lin had died giving birth to Nix, and, well, he had a daughter. So Slate ‘stole’ Nix away on the ship. However from that day he has been obsessed with finding an accurate map drawn during that period he was at sea, when Lin was still alive, so that he might go back to her. It’s this obsession that’s at the core of the story.

Nix has grown to be an expert in maps. She’s also well versed in history, myth and legend. It’s her  job to think of ways they can generate funds for these old maps and so she takes the crew across space and time hunting for the map that will set her father free from his obsession – as well as his opium addiction.

The thing is though that no-one quite knows what will happen to Nix should her father succeed. Would she cease to exist?

There’s so much to enjoy in this book and a great deal to learn. Heilig is clearly well read herself and has undertaken significant research to mix real history with fantasy in this novel. I loved the way she weaves myth and legend throughout this book. Upon reading the author’s note I realised several links that I had failed to pick up on.

Heilig’s description in this book is wonderful. I could truly see everything she described. Her descriptions of Hawaii were stunning – not only do I now really want to go there but I wasn’t surprised to learn that she herself is Hawaiian.

I must admit that at times I found it a wee bit hard to keep up with the dates, places, maps and history. However I’m sure that’s just down to my fog-addled brain. I wanted to mention it though as it was something I encountered.

Heilig has created some wonderful characters in this book, not only Nix, Slate and Kashmir but some of the more peripheral characters too. She had me going back and forth on Slate – one minute I thoroughly disliked him, next I felt sorry for him, then I was frustrated by him…it was quite the journey!

Nix is a strong likable character but I must admit that Kashmir was my personal favourite – a cheeky chap with a sense of style, the gift of languages, an absolute charmer and a master thief. I just loved him!

All in all, this was a fascinating read. It’s a true blend of fact and fantasy filled with adventure, beautiful writing and fantastic characters. Loved it.

four-stars

Review: Glass Sword

February 9, 2016 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Glass SwordGlass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #2
Published by Orion on 11th February 2016 (UK)
Genres: Fantasy, YA Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars

Mare's blood is red - the colour of common folk - but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from the prince and friend who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by the Silver king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red and Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat. Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

This week sees the publication of the second book in the Red Queen series Glass Sword. If you are in the US the book is out today, but here in the UK Thursday is the publication day. I was kindly provided with an eARC of this book via the publishers on NetGalley, so I thought now would be the perfect time to share my thoughts.

If, like me, you feel you need a Red Queen refresher before you jump into Glass Sword then I recommend this post. I only just happened across the site this week but with lots of sequels coming up this year I think it could prove very useful if your memory is as bad as mine!

So, Glass Sword picks up where we left Red Queen – Mare and Cal on the Undertrain with the Scarlet Guard, fleeing from Maven and his scheming mother, the Queen. As you know I hate spoilers so I’m not going to discuss the plot of this book and I’m going to be very cagey with whom and what I mention. So rather than launching into a summary, let me tell you why I only gave this book three stars.

I liked but didn’t love Red Queen, however I was really looking forward to book two and seeing where the series would go. However, I didn’t love this book either. I’d say I enjoyed the last quarter the most. In all honesty at 51% I wrote myself a note “I kind of don’t care. Hard work to read this right now.” That’s truly how I felt, let me try to explain why.

Firstly, there is a lot of information about a lot of different places. Now I love world building and it’s something I generally really appreciate but I just lost interest with this. The book visits lots of different places, mentions lots of places, describes these places, their history, their physical appearance, which way roads bend, but it was just all too much information for me. I felt swamped by it and couldn’t enjoy the actual plot. I found it particularly difficult as there are places that are just visited briefly, and yet when we are told about them there is great detail so you kind of think “oooh this place must be important, I’d better pay attention” and next thing we had left. Does this make sense?

I also struggled to keep up with all the names. There are plenty of new characters in this new book and I found it hard to keep track of them all. This was compounded by the references to various Houses etc from the first book, I felt lost in a sea of names at times. I kind of felt like I could’ve done with a wee cheat sheet!

I should say that I do live with a foggy brain so it’s highly likely that these two issues are entirely unique to me. I’d love to know if anyone had a similar experience though.

As for the characters, well I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not a huge fan of Mare. Somewhat problematic I’m sure you’ll agree when she is the central character, the heroine. I just found her to be pretty moany, selfish and generally hard to like. However I do still love Cal! I was very intrigued to see where his character would go in this book and honestly it’s his character that makes me want to read on in the series. He’s definitely my favourite!

Despite not seeing a huge amount of Maven in the book, Aveyard still managed to convey his evil. Just his name sent a shiver down my spine; in a way I’d liken it to reading the name ‘Joffrey’ in A Song of Ice and Fire series.

I really like a lot of the concepts in this book and as far as the actual plot of the story is concerned, I enjoyed it. I found the different powers of the Newbloods to be fascinating, and the exploration of the relationships between the reds, silvers and red-silvers was really interesting.

Clearly though I had some issues with this book. I must say that once the foundation blocks of the story were laid and things started to really kick off, I did enjoy it. All in all, by the time I finished the book I was glad I’d stuck with it. I enjoyed the plot and the progression of the story, however I just had a few issues with its execution.

Will I read on in the series? Erm… probably, if only for more Cal and some closure.

three-stars

National Libraries Day + Win a Literary Break

February 5, 2016 in Bookish Posts, Competition

It’s National Libraries Day tomorrow (6th February), a chance to celebrate libraries and library services across the UK. You can find out about events near you by clicking here.  If you can’t make it to any events it’s worth keeping an eye on Twitter as I’m sure publishers will be joining in the fun with some competitions!

Speaking of competitions, I also wanted to quickly share Travelzoo’s Guide To Literary Britain with you. I happened across their quiz this morning and stunned myself by getting 81%.

Of course, you could read the Literary Guide first and get 100% but I’m not that clever!  Anyway, I thought I’d share it as you might find it fun, plus there’s the chance to win a literary break in the Lake District.

I’d love to hear how you get on in the quiz! Good luck in the competition and I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

I just wanted to share this information with you, this post is not sponsored

Review: Mind Your Head

February 3, 2016 in Book Reviews, YA

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Mind Your HeadMind Your Head by Juno Dawson
Published by Hot Key Books on 4th February 2016
Genres: YA
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

We all have a mind, so we all need to take care of our mental health as much as we need to take care of our physical health. And the first step is being able to talk about our mental health. Juno Dawson leads the way with this frank, factual and funny book, with added information and support from clinical psychologist Dr Olivia Hewitt. Covering topics from anxiety and depression to addiction, self-harm and personality disorders, Juno and Olivia talk clearly and supportively about a range of issues facing young people's mental health - whether fleeting or long-term - and how to manage them, with real-life stories from young people around the world.
From Goodreads

Sometimes you find a book that you just know you have to read. Juno Dawson’s Mind Your Head is one such book for me. In my early 30s I’m not really the target audience for this book, but having tackled mental illness myself for many years I instantly recognised the importance of this book. Having now read it, I can confirm that this is indeed a very important book/resource.

Juno makes it very clear from the start that this isn’t a self-help book (something which I personally appreciate). She also states that, despite her first-class honours degree in psychology, she is not a doctor, so she has enlisted the help of her friend Dr Olivia Hewitt, a clinical psychologist, to assist with this book.

From the outset Dawson forewarns us of “triggers” – this is something to be aware of before you start to read. The book covers a huge amount within its 200 or so pages, and so it’s unsurprising that this book comes with a trigger-warning. From coping with stress to addiction, depression to personality disorders, self-harm to anxiety, each area is approached in an informative, yet friendly manner. Juno isn’t afraid to use humour where appropriate. Likewise, she doesn’t shy away from any issue, offering the reader her total honestly. It’s this honesty that, I feel, makes this book what it is. It’s quite some time since I was a teen but I know that had I read this during that time I would have appreciated the honesty of the adult writer. Heck, I appreciate the honesty now!

Juno understands what her readers want and need. She’s not judgemental; she’s approachable (I’m not sure that’s the word I’m looking for but hopefully you know what I mean) and together with Dr Olivia offers some real insight and useful advice.

As I read I couldn’t help but think how important this book will be to so many. I imagined a teenager with no parental support, struggling with depression. This book would be a much needed lifeline to them.

It doesn’t claim to have all the answers and it certainly doesn’t imply that there will be any miracle cure. However, it does share experiences from fellow sufferers and makes it clear that the reader is not alone in their feelings. It advises of the steps the reader can take – where to turn to, be it online or to a trusted adult, or GP.

As an aside, my husband came home from work the other day to find me reading this book. He told me he’d see Dawson’s book This Book Is Gay in the school library that morning. Naturally I was delighted to hear this, and I genuinely believe that this book should also be a fixture within school libraries across the country. It will have a huge impact on thousands of young people and might just save some lives too.

I learned a lot from this book and could really imagine how powerful it would have been during my darkest days. You don’t have to be a teen to read it. In fact whether you’re a parent, a teacher or a family friend I urge you to read this book.

five-stars

Top Ten Tuesday #41 – FREEBIE – Non-Fiction TBR

January 26, 2016 in Bookish Posts, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. If you’d like to participate too, see here.

Top 10 Tuesday Strupag

This week is a freebie week, so we all get to choose our own topic. After a bit of thought I’ve decided to go with

 

10 Non-Fiction Books I Want To Read Soon

 

I go through phases with non-fiction. I often become focused on one area and consume as much information as I can on that one topic. So, for this post I’ve tried to show a wide range of some of the non-fiction books I hope to read soon. Many of these are on my shelves, a couple of these I’ve actually started and some of them I’m planning to buy the next time I find some lose change hidden down the side of the sofa!

1

SPQR

This was released at the back end of 2015 and instantly caught my attention. Ancient Rome and the Romans fascinates me, but my knowledge is definitely lacking.

27 brief lessons in physics

I received a copy of this for Christmas and I can’t wait to read it. It’s just a short book but I think it will be an easy, interesting reading.

3ghettoside

I won a copy of this over on the Vintage Vlog (if you don’t already subscribe, I highly recommend it). Given my recent interest in the Serial and Undisclosed podcasts, as well as the Making A Murder Netflix series I’m very intrigued to read this.

4

The Bookshop Book

I’ve actually already started this and it’s brilliant! I have it on my bedside table and dip into it every so often. Jen also has a fantastic BookTube channel which I highly recommend!

5

A Fortune-Teller Told Me

Speaking of Jen, she recommended this book on her channel quite some time ago. I am yet to get my hands on a copy but I will eventually as I really want to read this.

6

Persepolis

This is a non-fiction graphic novel, a memoir of Satrapi’s childhood growing up in Iran.

7

what if

What can I say? I’m a geek!

8

Mark Webber

I love sport so I enjoy reading autobiographies from sporting stars. Mark Webber is one of my favourites, I feel F1 misses him. I got this book for Christmas and can’t wait to read his story.

9

The RomanovsThis is Simon Sebag Montefiore’s latest book. In fact it’s out this week I believe. I have his book Jerusalem: The Biography and while I’m nowhere near finishing it (it’s HUGE), I find it very interesting.

10

How To Be Sick

I keep meaning to get my hands on this book. This isn’t generally the type of book I read, but I’ve read articles by Toni Bernhard which I’ve found very useful.

 

Have you read any of these titles?

What non-fiction books are on your TBR?