Review: The Girl from Everywhere

The Girl From Everywhere, Heidi Heilig

Hardcover, 464 pages

Expected publication: February 16th 2016 by Greenwillow Books

Source: e-ARC from Edelweiss


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.

Time travelling pirates?!  Could a book sound any cooler than this?  Nix sails on her father’s ship, The Temptation, and as long as he has a map the captain can sail to any place – and any time.  The past?  Then to the future? Mythical ports?  All doable!  Oh and partly set in Hawaii?  Give me more!  

Nix helps her father find the maps required for their time traveling sails, but the one map he desperately wants might wipe Nix off page entirely.  Nix and Captain Slate don’t sail the Temptation alone – they have a unique and hilarious crew to help – including ghosts and tiny dragons.  So poor Nix loves her father, but to help him find happiness she risks her own life.  And as much as the story is about Nix and her father, there’s so much more; love, addiction, treason and adventure on the high seas!  

I loved Nix, I loved Kashmir and I loved the mythology that Heilig wove into their journeys.  I knew I was head over heels for this book when the Chinese Terracotta warriors came up…



If you’re looking for an adventure I highly recommend this fast and fun read.  I am dying to get my hands on a finished copy of The Girl from Everywhere so I can see the maps!  This was such an awesome concept and I cannot wait to see where the series goes.  

5 stars!

Thank you Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss for this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

5 Thoughts on Gilded & Silvern


Gilded and Silvern are the first two books in a young adult trilogy by Christina Farley that follow Korean-American teen Jae, who moves to Seoul with her father and ends up pissing off some gods in the Korean spirit world. Oops.

I definitely enjoyed these books, both of which I read in one day – both on days that involved flying and waiting around at the airport. If you’re looking for something different – and fast – to read, I think you should give them a try. Reviews and comments are sort of all over the place on these two, so here’s what I think you should know:

1. There has been all kinds of talk recently on the need for diversity in books, particularly young adult books, because all readers should be able to see themselves reflected in literature. The GIlded series takes place in Korea, but Jae’s story is that of an American-born girl who grew up in L.A., transported to Korea – where she goes to an international school. I don’t think this means the book is less “authentic” – in fact, I think it makes for a relatable story. After all, how many American teenagers (of all backgrounds) have only a passing connection to their ancestral ethnic heritage, primarily through food and holidays? Jae has a few things she loves about Korea, but she’s learning about the country, the people, and the mythology as she goes.

2. The author, Christina Farley, is an American who spent years teaching in Korea. Ditto above – she’s not writing about the experience of being Korean, but that of an American in Korea.

3. Sometimes Jae acts like an idiot. And sometimes she treats her friend Michelle like she’s an idiot. Sigh – I think this is a common YA problem – as in Young Adult, the genre, as well as young adults, the people.

4. The romance (of course there’s a romance) happens super-fast and escalates quickly from the start of book 1 to the end of book 2. Again, that seems to be the case in YA. And, to be fair, they do go through some pretty intense experiences together, which perhaps ups the feelings of LUV.

5. These books definitely make Seoul come alive, and I felt like a learned a few things about Korea from reading them. And, in Silvern, there are some thought-provoking bits on North Korea. I appreciated all these real-life details in addition to the spirit-world setting.

Anyone else have thoughts on GIlded and Silvern?


Two Books Called Feed



In M.T. Anderson’s Feed, the future is a place where 73% of Americans have “feeds” embedded into their brains, which allow personalized advertisements and entertainment to reach directly into the brain. School™ is run by corporations and primarily teaches kids how to use their feeds. Titus, our narrator and main character, doesn’t read or do a lot of thinking for himself.

They had built a pretty nice stucco mall there, so Loga and Quendy said we should go in and buy some cool stuff to go out in. That seemed good to us. I wanted to buy some things but I didn’t know what they were.

In Mira Grant’s Feed, the world is twenty-some years past the start of the Rising – in which a medical advance gone wrong means that everyone on earth has the potential to become a zombie, either through contact with a zombie or via the virus that lies dormant in everyone. On the plus side, cancer has been cured, so the cigarette companies are back on top. Georgia, our narrator and main character, is a blogger following the 2040 presidential campaign.

I’ve encountered his type before, usually at political protests. They’re the sort who would rather we paved the world and shot the sick, instead of risking life being unpredictable and potentially risky. In another time, they were anti-Semitic, antiblack, antiwomen’s liberation, anti-gay, or all of the above. Now, they’re antizombie in the most extreme way possible, and they use their extremity to claim that the rest of us are somehow supporting the “undead agenda.”

In Anderson’s Feed, the world – as experienced by Titus – is reduced to unchecked, all-encompassing consumerism.

It smelled like the country. It was a filet mignon farm, all of it, and the tissue spread for miles around the paths where we were walking. It was like these huge hedges of red all around us, with these beautiful marble patterns running through them. They had these tubes, they were bring the tissue blood, and we could see the blood running around, up and down. It was really interesting. I like to see how things are made, and to understand where they come from.

In Grant’s Feed, the world – as described by Georgia – is reduced to living in constant fear. While (non-implanted) internet feeds are still full of “porn, music download, and movie tie-in sites,” Georgia and her readers rely on her words.

My material rarely depends on graphics. I don’t need to concern myself with camera angles, lighting, or whether the footage I use gets my point across. At the same time, they say a pictures is worth a thousand words, and in today’s era of instant gratification and high-speed answers, sometimes people aren’t willing to deal with all those hard words when a few pictures supposedly do the job just as well. It’s harder to sell people on a report that’s just news without pictures or movies to soften the blow. I have to find the heart of every subject as fast as I can, pin it down on the page, and then cut it wide open for the audience to see.

These two futures are both terrifying – and Anderson and Grant both include just enough details that you could almost see either of them playing out. I don’t want to live in either of these futures, but if I had to choose, I’d probably opt for the zombies and maintaining control of my brain.

Grant’s Feed is book one of a triology, and you better believe that I’ll be reading two and three soon. Unless the zombies get me first.

Anderson’s Feed is all the more remarkable when you realize it was published in 2002. So basically, M.T. Anderson invented Facebook, eh? Also, perhaps my favorite moment in this book is when the kids start showing up in Riot Gear, as a fashion statement: “it’s retro. It’s beat up to look like one of the big twentieth-century riots. It’s been big since earlier this week.” This includes, I kid you not, one of the girls asking another, “Kent State collection, right?” It’s like Anderson predicted this infamous clothing item from 2014.

Resist the feed.



We’re Reading: Dark Triumph

Dark Triumph


Hardcover, 385 pages

Published April 2nd 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Source: Purchased for review

Holly and I are doing our favorite part of book blogging and reading a new book together.  We’ve started the His Fair Assassin series #2, Dark Triumph.  We read the first book, Grave Mercy, here, here and here.  While we were not 100% sold on the teenage assassin nun concept, it was time to try Sybella’s story.  If you haven’t read Grave Mercy beware of spoilers!

When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge – but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for…

Amanda: Either this book is 100% more intense right away or its slightly more intense and there’s just no retelling of the backstory.  I like it.

    I feel hooked at 5% in!  Also, Sybella is kind of a sad girl.

Holly:    Girls with happy childhoods don’t become assassin nuns.

A:     Too true.  But this is seriously in your face with it.  Sybella is a bad ass.  I just stopped at 29% and this seems faster than Book 1 was, hardly any repetition from #1.

H:     Sybella is definitely pretty tragic.  And I’m hooked on the story, but I’m still uneasy about this being YA when everyone is in constant danger of being raped and killed by bad guys.  Or just killed by good guys.  Not a happy place.

    Also, Sybella just declared that without vengeance, she was just a victim, but if she can avenge her injustices that her life would have meaning.  Couldn’t those nuns have taught her to find meaning in her life through other outlets?  Oh no, because they are kind of crazy and manipulative.  These teenage girls need therapy!

A:    I totally agree re: unhappiness.  Its kind of a downer of a book thus far.  I’m not disliking it, but I am creeped out. I don’t think its necessarily inappropriate for YA though, I mean its no fight to the death in a ring a la Hunger Games?  I mean yes, the threats of death all around are not normal, but sadly Sybella’s other family issues can be way too common and so they should be addressed in YA!

And yes – therapy for everyone please!  They’d all be happier and healthier with some therapy and less assassin-class.

H:     I like Sybella but she is sort of terrifying.  At least she’s smarter than Ismae was.  

A:    Sybella is totally scary to me.  You’re right though, she seems far less easily led astray than Ismae could have been.  

H:    Oh! You stopped when Sybella got punched right?! Cliffhanger….

We’re about to keep reading the next 1/3 of the book.  We ended on quite a scene so I can’t wait to see what awaits Sybella, I hope its a brighter direction soon!

Review: The Body in the Woods

The Body in the Woods,  April Henry (Point Last Seen #1)

Published June 17th 2014 by Macmillan Children’s

263 pages

Source: NetGalley

Reviewed by Amanda


From Goodreads…

In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.

Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.

Thanks to Air Canada I read this book in about 2 hours sitting at the gate waiting for a flight last week.  This is definitely a fast read!

Alexis, Nick and Ruby are all in training for Portland Search and Rescue and conveniently end up on their first search together without an experienced team member.  Alexis stumbles upon a body, Ruby announces its murder, and Nick – well Nick wants to be a hero but runs away in fear when they think the murderer may be coming back.  I liked that the perspective kept changing throughout for a different interpretation of the facts.  I also really like when we get a point of view from a mystery criminal.  They sometimes are a little cheesy, but always successfully creep me out.

Alexis, Nick & Ruby make an unlikely team (starting with the fact that they’re high schoolers doing Search & Rescue), but they do balance each other as they became closer.  Ruby particularly needs humanizing from the others.  I assumed based on her disconnectedness from others and her need to play a role with everyone that she is supposed to be on the Asperger’s/Autism spectrum somewhere.  This made for an interesting character.  Not necessarily a likeable character, but different.  Nick is trying to live up to his idealized image of his deceased father.  I think as the series continues Nick has the best opportunities to grow as a character.  Alexis was probably my favorite of the trio, though she became a bit overbearing with her “no one can get close to me and learn my secrets” complex.  In the end, Alexis seemed like a different character entirely.  Yes, growth and change happen throughout a book but that was too fast for me to be believable.  Its frustrating to me when a character seems to behave at total odds with the way they’ve been portrayed 90% of the book.

This was a book that felt like a book written for a Young Adult audience, rather than a just a book that would also work for young adults.  I think you can have a great YA mystery without writing too simplistic a book but this was not that mystery.  I have no problem with suspending disbelief when I read, but I had to do that a bit too much with A Body In the Woods to really enjoy the book.  Maybe middle graders would enjoy it much more than I did.

2 Stars

Thank you MacMillan Children’s and NetGalley for this advanced read copy in exchange for an honest opinion.

Don’t forget you have until the end of the week to win a copy of Finnikin of the Rock! Comment here!

Review: Don’t Even Think About It

Don’t Even Think About it, Sarah Mylnowski

Reviewed by Amanda

Published March 11, 2014 by Delacorte Press, 336 Pages

Source: Netgalley

From Goodreads


Contemporary teen fiction with romance, secrets, scandals, and ESP from the author of Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have).

We weren’t always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn’t expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we’ve kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what’s coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same.

So stop obsessing about your ex. We’re always listening.

Don’t Even Think About It follows 21 students who develop mind reading abilities after being given the flu shot at their New York City high school.   I thought the idea of this book was fun, I mean clearly if you’re writing about mind reading teenagers you aren’t taking yourself too seriously.

This was a book about normal, fairly average teenagers doing pretty average things with the new and exceptional ability to hear the thoughts of everyone around them. All your basic high school archetype characters were covered-the pretty girl, the best friend, the smart girl, the nice boyfriend.  But now they call can hear every thought around them.   

I thought the group narration was funny, something I’ve seen other reviewers had a problem with.  I liked the jump around from student to student, and I did not mind that there was no one central narrator.  I laughed as the narrators kept pointing out that the espies would try to keep the others from learning something, but that this was futile basically.

“Now we know everything.  Even the stuff we try to forget.  Especially the stuff we try to forget.”

There were too many students included I think, because it bothered me that not all of the students were really part of the book.  I liked most of the central characters Mylnowski focused on, but I wanted to know all of the scoop! I felt like I was missing something because these other students were referred to, but then were not part of the book really.

I’m very curious to know whether there will be another book in the future, because I’m sure I’d read it to satisfy my curiosity.  But ultimately this is a YA book  that I think is best for a YA audience.  I think I would have loved it when I was younger.  Its a book about high schoolers and sticks to a high school theme, it was a cute and easy read.

2.5 Stars
I received an advanced read copy of this book from Netgalley and Delacorte press in exchange for an honest review.