The Girl From Everywhere – By Heidi Heilig

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Goodreads Synopsis: Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination. As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix. But the end to it all looms closer every day. Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence. For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters. She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

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This book was recommended to me by a friend, and I’m quite happy they did so. It was an interesting read.

The Girl From Everywhere takes you back in time to several different places, and is at times in the present day.  I loved the time travel, especially since they traveled by boat! I enjoyed the world a lot in the book. Though time travel took some explaining and was sometimes confusing.  I found that hard because I wanted to know everything about the world. But when it came time to teaching Nix how to travel, I found the explanation a little flat.

Nix herself is a great character. It’s very interesting because she’s part Chinese, and so the book deals with some racism, and I always like it when books work with realistic topics. I also enjoyed her stubbornness, her motivations, and her friendships.  It’s easy to sympathize with her. Her father is an abusive man, and I found myself wanting to stand up for her more than once.  I found it amazing that she is able to forgive her father in the end, I really thought that was admirable. For myself I couldn’t forgive his character, and still hated him at the end.
The other characters in the book are well written.  There is an unfortunate love triangle of sorts, which I thought was silly, but thankfully it wasn’t a major plot point.

I found the conclusion of the story just a bit too easy. I felt like the author desperately wanted a happy ending, and so because of this forced everything to come together in a way that wasn’t very realistic. I was a bit disappointed with this.  I also found the story just a little predictable.  Because of these I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads, but I definitely recommend it to people who love time travel.

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Blue Lily, Lily Blue – By Maggie Stiefvater

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Goodreads Synopsis: Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

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It had been awhile since I read the earlier books in this series, so it felt a bit weird jumping back in.  At least I enjoyed this book more than the second one!

I’ve always enjoyed the world in The Raven Cycle. I like the magic set in the real world, with the mysteriousness of Cabeswater, and the tying into past legends and magic. I think Stiefvater does a really great job with world-building.

I also enjoyed this book because it had a lot of character development between the boys, and not just Blue and Gansey.  Ronan and Adam are the best and I am continuing the series solely for them. I felt really bad for Noah in this book, but he was also kinda creepy in this book.  Gansey is as annoying as ever, I really hate his rich kid attitude and just pretty much everything about him.   I liked Blue a lot more in this book than in the second, she stops being so whiny and actually does stuff.

I still found the plot pretty predictable, hence why I didn’t give it a higher rating. You can see the plot twists coming way too easily.  But the drama that was really high in the second book went down, and so it’s not bad to read.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is a fast fluffy read.  I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads.

Wither – By Lauren DeStefano

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Goodreads Synopsis: By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children.

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can’t bring herself to hate him as much as she’d like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband’s strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape–before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden’s servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom? 

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This was a reread, since I had read the book many years ago online, and I wanted to get an actual copy of it this time.

Wither is an interesting story, the writing for the book is absolutely beautiful. The descriptions make every very vivid, and you can see everything that’s happening clearly. I really liked that, I like it when the prose makes up a big part of the book.   Wither is set in a dystopian world, and the writing helps build that in an interesting way. DeStephano gives us enough information about this genetic plague for it to be plausible, but never gives us all the details on how it works.

The story builds slowly, but not too slowly. Which I appreciated. It gave me time to connect with the characters, and with the story in general.  Although at times the story became borderline angsty, I was never bothered by that too much.

The characters themselves were honestly my least favorite part. Rhine is set on leaving, but never has to struggle with leaving anyone or anything behind. Is it bad I wanted her to go through a little Stockholm syndrome?  Besides that I felt like she had a strong character, and I appreciated that. The other girls had their unique characters, I wanted to see Rhine getting to know them more, but she never did.  Gabriel, the romantic interest, was the most boring. His character was flat as a pancake, and I never could tell exactly why she loved him.  I think the romantic subplot was completely unnecessary.  Linden, Rhine’s ”husband” was creepy, but also pathetic. You have some of the same feelings for him, as you would for say Gollum from the Lord of the Rings.

I felt like the end of the story was a little too easy for Rhine. I started to get bored 3/4ths of the way through the story, and that’s the main reason my rating is low. I felt like I should have been more engaged at the climax of the story, but I just wasn’t.

In the end I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads.

 

Max – By Sarah Cohen-Scali

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Goodreads Synopsis: In the Lebensborn program, carefully selected German women are recruited by the Nazis to give birth to new members of the Aryan race. Inside one of these women is Max, Literally counting the minutes until he is born and he can fulfill his destiny as the perfect Aryan specimen.

Max is taken away from his birth mother soon after he enters the world. Raised under the ideology and direction of the Nazi Party, he grows up without any family, without affection or tenderness, and he soon becomes the mascot of the program. That ‘s what it’ s all about. Lukas, a young Jewish boy who knows how to despise. Instead, the friendship that blossoms changes Max’s world forever. That ‘s what it’ s all about. Lukas, a young Jewish boy who knows how to despise. Instead, the friendship that blossoms changes Max’s world forever.

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This book is possibly the strangest thing I’ve read all year.

Max follows the life a young boy, born and breed for the Nazi Party.  To me he was never a character I could sympathize with, though I did pity him a lot.  This book was at times hard to read, because I was so disgusted with how the adults treated Max, and the mothers birthing the babies.  I was also upset by the scenes where the soldiers would steal Polish children from their families in the night. This book does not shy away from any of the horrors that happened at the hands of the Nazis.

I found the book strange because of the way Max narrates the story. He’s a very aggressive narrator for the small boy that he is.  He also fully believes everything he’s been brainwashed to think. Though at times he finds himself confused, even by the end of the book he hasn’t decided that the Nazi’s are completely wrong.  Max is never a character that you like.  If you’re like me and are sensitive to how children are treated in literature, this might not be the book for you.

Unlike the synopsis suggests, the friendship between Max and the Jewish boy is not really a friendship…it’s a mutual need to survive that puts them together, and it does not end well for either one of them.  This is what made me give this book a lower rating.

In the end I gave this book 3 stars.

Given To The Sea – By Mindy McGinnis

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Goodreads Synopsis: Khosa was born to be fed to the sea, to prevent the kind of wave that once destroyed the Kingdom of Stille. She can’t be sacrificed until she produces an heir, but human touch repulses her…except for the touch of the Indiri.

Dara and Donil are the last of the Indiri, a native race with magic that’s seductive—a force of nature—but dwindling since the Pietra slaughtered their people.

Witt leads the Pietra, the fierce warriors who are now marching on the Kingdom of Stille. The stone shores of Witt’s kingdom harbor a secret threat, and to ensure the survival of his people, he’s prepared to conquer every speck of Stille’s soil.

Vincent stands to inherit the throne of Stille, but has no wife to share it with. When the beautiful and mysterious Khosa arrives without an heir, Vincent knows that his father will stop at nothing to make sure she fulfills her duty. Torn between protecting his kingdom and protecting the girl whose fate is tied to its very existence, Vincent’s loyalty is soon at odds with his heart. While royals scheme, Pietrans march, and the Indiri struggle to survive, the rising sea calls for its Given, and Khosa is destined to answer. 

Find on Goodreads and Amazon. 

I picked up this book solely because of the cover.

This is the first fantasy book that I’ve read where I honestly wanted (and needed!) a map. Usually I don’t even look at the maps, but this book seriously needed one. It was confusing as hell to try and remember where everything was in relation to the other countries. It didn’t help that this book has narration from every character given in the synopsis, and it’s only 352 pages! This book definitely felt too short.

Now while I started off complaining about a few things, I did enjoy a lot of this book. I liked the world a lot, it felt totally unique from any other fantasy novel I’ve ever read. The world-building was done really well, each people group had their own motivations, and you felt for them.

The characters were really good as well.  I liked Khosa a lot, I liked that she wasn’t shirking her duty.  I’m really tired of reading YA main characters trying to get out of their duty, it’s just overdone at this point. But I also liked that Khosa struggled with human touch, it made her character interesting.
Dara, Donil, Witt and Vincent also were good characters. I liked the interaction between Dara and her brother.  I also loved her storyline with being in love with Vincent, but never acting on it because of her stubbornness.

By halfway through the book I was pretty sure I was going to give it four stars. But the ending, mixed with some actions that felt contradictory made me feel conflicted.

SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING.

The prince, Vincent decides (because he’s in love) that he wants to risk the lives of everyone in his land to save the life if Khosa. All of the sudden he’s saying that maybe she doesn’t need to go to the sea, maybe thousands of years of writing and tradition are wrong.  Now it’s not his questioning that I disliked, it was his willingness to let thousands of people die just because he liked a pretty girl. I could understand Khosa not caring, none of these people mean anything to her. But everyone else who went along with this idea were just silly, and it didn’t make any sense to me.

On top of it in the ending, Khosa controls the sea and kills an invading army, which is really cool. But then everyone is magically willing to give up hundreds of years of traditions, for this one event. Which I get was pretty crazy, but it was completely unreasonable. When people are ruled by fear they don’t act rationally. But they were in this book? In the face of uncertainty, and possibly death if they don’t let Khosa go to the sea, somehow the rulers decide they were wrong? Maybe this is pessimistic of me but I just felt like the ending ruined the stakes for me. It was all too easy.

END SPOILERS.

So in the end I gave this book 3 stars. It’s an interesting world, maybe you’ll like the book. And I am actually planning on reading the second book.

NetGalley Reads – 3 Books

The Bone Witch – 3 stars: Find on Amazon and Goodreads. 

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Goodreads Synopsis: Tea is different from the other witches in her family. Her gift for necromancy makes her a bone witch, who are feared and ostracized in the kingdom. For theirs is a powerful, elemental magic that can reach beyond the boundaries of the living—and of the human.

Great power comes at a price, forcing Tea to leave her homeland to train under the guidance of an older, wiser bone witch. There, Tea puts all of her energy into becoming an asha, learning to control her elemental magic and those beasts who will submit by no other force. And Tea must be strong—stronger than she even believes possible. Because war is brewing in the eight kingdoms, war that will threaten the sovereignty of her homeland…and threaten the very survival of those she loves.

I really wanted to fall in love with this book, I have heard a lot of good things about it!

So the writing of this book is amazing, there were times when I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of everything. Rin Chupeco has created one of the most beautiful worlds that I have ever come across. It felt inspired by Asian culture, so that was really cool as well. But beautiful worlds alone aren’t enough to make this book a five star, and for the first half of the book I enjoyed it immensely.

The Bone Witch is also really long, and sort of slow. It takes awhile for anything to happen.  You’re caught between loving all the words on paper, and then realizing you’ve been reading for two hours and very little has happened.

As far as the characters go I enjoyed Tea (pronouced Tay-uh), her powers to raise dead beasts were badass, her life was interesting.  The book is told in flashbacks and present time. In present time Tea is telling her story to a bard, and I had a hard time seeing how Tea from the past became Tea in the present.  It was confusing, but I also wanted to know more.

Things I wasn’t quite as happy about were just some minor details, and a lot of confusion in the second half.  I felt like the bond between Tea and her brother wasn’t explained until way into the book, and it should have come a bit sooner.   I also felt like the romance between Tea and the prince was a little weird because it just sort of was, but Tea hardly ever spent time thinking about him or even really seeing him. Maybe it was supposed to be more of a crush on her part, but then the book compared it to her teacher’s love and so I wasn’t sure.

And then the end. What happened in the end? I’m not sure, I felt like it was a mixture of not explaining clearly what was going on and making a few things too easy.
That said, I do want to read the next book in the series because I feel invested in the world and in Tea.  I want to see her burn the world down. 😀

I give this book 3.5 stars.

Waste of Space – 1 star: Find on Amazon and Goodreads. 

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Goodreads Synopsis: Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show. And it’s a hit! Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.

Okay…Wow. I was expecting this book to be silly, I mean, just read the synopsis! But I wasn’t expecting it to be so stupid that I could barely finish reading it. I wanted satire! Not this.

Sigh. I don’t even know where to start with this book so I’ll keep it short. Nothing in this book is worth your time. The characters are idiotic, the plot even worse and the writing. Huh, don’t even get me started on the writing!

In short I hated this book, I would give it .5 stars on Goodreads if  I could.

Hour of Mischief – 3 stars: Find on Amazon and Goodreads.

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Goodreads Synopsis: Born in a whorehouse in the slums of Fortuna and burdened with a prosthetic arm, seventeen-year-old JANET REDSTONE doesn’t think she owes the Clockwork Gods anything—which is why she makes a living stealing from their temples. But when she lands her team in prison, making a pact with the God of Mischief, ITAZURA, is the only way to right her wrongs and free her friends.

Janet doesn’t trust Itazura as far as she can punch him, but with her soul in his hands, she has no choice but to do what he says. The clockwork gods and the bad-tempered elder gods of the ancient past are locked in a game of cat and mouse and the human realms are caught in the middle. If Janet can’t somehow convince the gods to step in a save the world, humanity is in an abyss of trouble.

Well this was an interesting read. I just finished it last night and I still don’t know how to feel.

Hour of Mischief is funny, it’s fast paced and it has decently interesting characters. At times the writing felt like the book could have been for a younger audience, even the character’s and their reactions felt like this too. Janet would say things like ” Why did my cheeks get warm? I did not give them permission to do that.”And though I laughed, the writing felt more middle grade than YA. Save for the few uses of the word “fuck” and the PG13 mentioning of Janet’s mom being a prostitute.
Also the plot was pretty predictable, which that’s the other reason I found it sounded like a younger book.

Janet herself was a good character. Strong, sarcastic, and a great thief. Everything I needed to be interested in her. Sadly the author threw in some problematic ideas that made me take off a full star. Janet, in response to a question about having relationships says she’s never had any, and then says she’s probably “broken” because of this. Unfortunately nothing was ever said to contradict this and I felt very uncomfortable with this. It would have been one thing if this was just her own musings, but it felt like the tone of the book said it was a bad thing that she hadn’t had relationships yet. It was sort of one of those “when she finds the right guy she’ll good.”

The rest of the characters were good. There’s an unnecessary romance between Janet and Itzura, but besides that I enjoyed reading the two’s interaction.

In the end I gave this book 3 stars, I wish I could have given it more.