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Blog Tour: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (Author Interview + Review + Giveaway)

Happy Monday!

Today I have best selling author, Francesca Zappia on the blog as part of the promotional tour for her latest young-adult contemporary novel, Eliza and Her Monsters. In this latest young adult contemporary novel, Francesca give readers a story that is not only fun and heartwarming but also respectful to a sub-culture where people with common interest unite.

Eliza and Her Monsters is out tomorrow, so don’t forget to grab your copies. But before that, check the interview and book review below to get an idea of how good the book is.

Also, there’s a giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win copies of Eliza and Her Monsters.

Interview with Francesca Zappia

Eliza and Her Monsters deals with mental illness and depression just like your first novel, Made You Up. What drew you to write stories with these sensitive themes? As a writer, do you feel a sense of responsibility? If so, how do you deal with this?

I write about these topics because I think more people should be aware of them and sensitive to them. I definitely feel a sense of responsibility. I think all writers should—no matter what your genre or subject matter, you’re portraying human lives, and real people are going to be impacted by what you make. I don’t know necessarily that we should “deal” with responsibility; I think it’s something we should carry with us. I always do my best to research what I’m writing about and make sure I look at it from many different angles, because everyone who reads the story is going to have a different experience and is going to see it through a different lens. At the end of the day, I may still mess things up, and I have to own that, too.

Eliza and Her Monsters was a little different to write because it is very much about my own experience with anxiety. I felt like I wasn’t just writing for other creative people who deal with anxiety, but for a younger version of myself.

I love the inclusion of graphic art illustrations, convo messages and other snippets in Eliza and Her Monsters. I must say, I envy your artistic talent. What inspired you to add those illustrations? Do you think the story will still work the same way without them?

Thank you! The inclusion of the artwork was actually part of the whole concept of the book, and was there from the very beginning. Monstrous Sea (the webcomic Eliza draws) is my own earliest story, and I’ve been drawing artwork for it my whole life. Putting some of that into the book was a super fun way for me to introduce readers to that world and give them something visual to hold on to. There isn’t that much of the Monstrous Sea story in the book, so with pictures, the readers can actually see those characters and understand better what Eliza and her friends are talking about.

I think the story would work without the pictures (I wrote and edited the whole thing without them!), but I think it’s way less fun.

Eliza and Her Monster is very respectful to fandom. Are you a fangirl yourself and if so what are you a huge fan of? Could you tell us about some of your own experiences with fandom?

YES. Oh, geez, yes. I’m pretty picky about what I call myself a fangirl of, but when I do fangirl, I fangirl hard. My first big experience with fandom was on some Harry Potter forums online. When you signed up, you got sorted into a house with a common room and prefects and everything, and you could go to different threads to attend certain classes for roleplaying, and you could claim certain magical objects from the books, and it was GREAT. I used to draw Harry Potter fanart on those boards, too. I really miss that. I’m also right now working on an epic Pokémon fanfiction. I’d definitely call myself a Critical Role fangirl, too—Critical Role is a webseries where a bunch of professional voice actors play Dungeons and Dragons, and it’s better than any TV show I’ve ever seen. I also really love Dragon Age: Inquisition, and right now I’m obsessed with Final Fantasy XV. (In Eliza, Monstrous Sea is described as a cross between the Faust legend and the Final Fantasy video games. It’s because I LOVE THEM.)

It’s taking all my will power not to start yelling about my favorite characters from all of these things.

What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in creating Eliza? How did you go about putting yourself in her mindset?

The most surprising thing was probably exactly how easy it was to put myself in her mindset. There is so much of myself in her—her insecurities, her anxiety, her love of her art—that the difficult part was not putting myself in her mindset, but forcing myself to write down what I found there. I sometimes felt kind of sick while I was writing because it was all hitting so close to home.

In Eliza and Her Monster, online communication plays a huge part in the story. Do you think it is important for writers like you to use online mediums not just for promotions but also to interact with your followers? Is social media more useful than distracting?

For me it is more useful than distracting, but that’s not true for everyone. For writers, promotion comes best when you’re doing what you’re good at, and what you’re comfortable with. For me, mediums such as YouTube and Snapchat haven’t really been an option, because I don’t have the time or interest to use them. Some writers don’t like using Twitter or Instagram; some don’t like using any social media. Personally, I love interacting with my fans on social media, and I enjoy giving them more content to see and updates about what to expect from me in the future. Social media can be a scary place sometimes, and can be a real time suck if not monitored, but it does a whole lot of good, too.

Are you working on any project right now? What we should expect from you after Eliza and Her Monsters?

I’m always working on something! My two books so far have been contemporary novels, but what I really love is fantasy and science fiction. I have The Children of Hypnos, my serial novel published on Wattpad, that’s urban fantasy, and I actually do have a draft of the real Monstrous Sea written. I have fantasy books, I have near-future sci-fi books, I have horror books, I have all kinds of things! It’s mostly a question now of what people are going to want to see from me, and what will work best.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Pages: 400
Format: Hardcover, Ebook

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart. With pages from Eliza’s webcomic, as well as screenshots from Eliza’s online forums, this uniquely formatted book will appeal to fans of Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl.

Book Links: Amazon | B&NBook Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Eliza and Her Monsters is instantly captivating, heartwarming, and immensely entertaining. It celebrates fandom, and online community without forgetting to remind readers the pros and cons of Internet fame.

Eliza Mirk in her school is a loner, quiet, shy and unknown. But online, she is the beloved LadyConstellation – anonymous creator and artist behind the hugely popular webcomic, Monstrous Sea with millions of passionate followers. She has online friends but only a handful few who really know her identity beside her own family. Though she communicate with her followers she never brave the chance to interact with them in person. Until she met Wallace, a die-hard fan of Eliza’s work, Monstrous Sea. But Wallace didn’t know Eliza as LadyConstellation. For him, Eliza is a friend who also love Monstrous Sea. Can Eliza share her identity to Wallace? What she will do if her online life and real life finally collide? How will she deal with her own monsters?

Eliza and Her Monsters depicts a realistic view of fandom in general. Through Eliza’s story and the webcomic inside it, we see how a subculture of fans and their world behave and operates. It’s a close representation of community that get together for the common love or passion.

“I do have friends. Maybe they live hundreds of miles away from me, and maybe I can only talk to them through a screen, but they’re still my friends. They don’t just hold Monstrous Sea together. They hold me together.”

While the story is about fandom and art, don’t make the mistake of dismissing how important this book is. Though lightly touch, Francesca Zappia incorporate mental illness such as anxiety, panic disorder, and selective mutism in the story. Eliza is an introvert who prefer conversing with her online friends than her family and classmates. For her, online world is better than real world. It is easier to navigate and much more welcoming. But as much as she love her online life, she cannot stay there forever. She is missing a lot of things. At some point she need to face the real wold and be brave. No matter how real her online life is, she still needs to be present in real world and live in it. She needs to face her own monsters both real and imaginary.

Then we have Wallace and his selective mutism. Wallace just like Eliza doesn’t participate much to real world. He communicate to Eliza mostly through writing. He prefer not talking and spend most of his time writing/translating the webcomic Monstrous Sea. This behavior is a form of anxiety disorder. Wallace may be really shy or has a social anxiety – conditions that is lightly address in the story but surely leave an impact.

Overall, Francesca Zappia takes a lighter approach in handling sensitive themes without disregarding the heaviness of the topics. With illustrations, convo messages, and graphic story snippets, Eliza and Her Monsters is a unique and creative story that is not only powerful but also compassionate.

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* This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Greenwillow Books an imprint of HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • 2 ARCs of Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

The Rules:

  • Open PH residents only
  • There will be two (2) winners
  • Winner will be chosen and announced through rafflecopter
  • Prizes will be sent by tour host, Precious of Fragments of Life

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

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The Crown’s Fate (The Crown’s Game #2) by Evelyn Skye

“The Game might be over, but their story was not.”

Russia is on the brink of great change. Pasha’s coronation approaches, and Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter, but the role she once coveted may be more difficult—and dangerous—than she ever expected.

Pasha is grappling with his own problems—his legitimacy is in doubt, the girl he loves loathes him, and he believes his best friend is dead. When a challenger to the throne emerges—and with the magic in Russia growing rapidly—Pasha must do whatever it takes to keep his position and protect his kingdom.

For Nikolai, the ending of the Crown’s Game stung deeply. Although he just managed to escape death, Nikolai remains alone, a shadow hidden in a not-quite-real world of his own creation. But when he’s given a second chance at life—tied to a dark price—Nikolai must decide just how far he’s willing to go to return to the world.

With revolution on the rise, dangerous new magic rearing up, and a tsardom up for the taking, Vika, Nikolai, and Pasha must fight—or face the destruction of not only their world but also themselves.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

The Crown’s Fate is darker, action-packed and thrilling conclusion to Evelyn Skye’s The Crown’s Game fantasy duology.

The story picks up shortly after the the first book, The Crown’s Game ended. Vika is now the Imperial Enchanter under the command of Pasha who is the next Tsarevich following his father’s death. Nikolai is gone, presumably dead after his sacrifice during the Game, saving Vika’s life. Pasha and Vika are torn in Nikolai’s death. Pasha blame himself for forcing the Game to his friends which resulted losing Nikolai. While Vika is incredibly sad. She not only loose Nikolai, she also earned a new prison she didn’t expected. She maybe the Imperial Enchanter, but she doesn’t have the power over her magic. She is bound to serve the Tsar, disobeying his orders means punishment for her.

But Nikolai isn’t really dead, he is just trapped in the dream world – a place he previously created which still holds some of his magic. After the battle with Vika and saving her, Nikolai almost drained his energy and magic, he become a shadow reeling in-between world. In order for Nikolai to go back to the real world, he must pay a dark price – a payment he isn’t willing to make. But what if the choice isn’t for him to make? What hill happen if Nikolai turned against not only to Pasha and Vika but also against himself?

One of the strongest aspects of this series is the Russian settings. Evelyn Skye weaves fantasy and Russian history together, while painting the world in an enticing imagery for readers to get lost into. I was happily lost in Saints Petersberg, following the characters in each corner of the streets of Imperial Russia. Add the political settings, and rich history where the characters are dancing, I feel like I am at the center of a grand show. The Russian elements make the story atmospheric and worth visiting over and over.

“But hadn’t they all changed? Life happened without permission, and it swept everyone along in its violent wake.”

Vika continue to be a strong character in this final instalment. She is still smart, forgiving, and compassionate. When she was commanded to limit the usage of her magic, Vika realized how vulnerable she is without magic, and how she become dependent to her power. Magic maybe part of her, but it is not what she is.

“We are not defined by what we can do, but by what we actually do.”

Pasha who is soon to be a Tsar finally realize the importance of his role. With his parents gone and his best friend not on his side, he now gradually accepting his responsibilities. After the devastating outcome of the game from the previous book, he is now learning from his mistake. He wants to do things right and be a worthy Tsar of Russia.

Nikolai on the other hand, turns to the dark side. A situation he didn’t pick for himself, and no full control over. As he battle his dark side, readers will surely feel for him. Nikolai’s inner battle is sometimes intense. His newly acquired personality painted this last instalment dark, edgy, even at times frustrating. It is no doubt that followers of this series will miss the old Nikolai, and will probably don’t like his newly acquired personality. On my case, I understand why his character need to be tainted. He cannot always be the perfect guy after-all. By throwing Nikolai on the dark side, Evelyn Skye open his character. Readers who love him from the first book will surely find ways to excuse his actions. Like Vika, we all believe that the old Nikolai is still there and we all want to save him.

The only mild complaint is the rush ending. Though the story was tied up pretty neatly, I feel like the conflict was easily resolved. The last battle is action packed and well delivered but I wish there was more. There are still room for more actions, answers and character development. Like more information about Vika’s parents, about Renata’s newly acquired power or even just the tea leaf reading, and Yuliana’s character. Too bad this is the final book already.

Overall, The Crown’s Fate is a fast and enthralling read. A dark and edgy conclusion to Evelyn’s Skye first fantasy duology that will probably leave readers asking for more.

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* This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.

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Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

“Is this how it goes? You fall in love, and nothing seems truly scary anymore, and life is one big possibility?”

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Book Links: Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher | NBS

Personal Thoughts:

Always and Forever, Lara Jean is bittersweet, heartwarming, and swoony read that will surely leave followers of this series more than satisfied.

When I first read To All the Boys I’ve Love Before, it surprised me in all the best ways. It brings memories and feelings I never thought I’ll trace again. Lara Jean’s story becomes my own as she reminds me of how it was to be young and in love. Then when the second installment came out, I fell harder with the characters. I cheer and root for them like fully realized people. I want for Covey and Peter’s story to work. I thought that was the last time I will heard about them, since this series is originally a duology. But when Jenny Han announced on twitter that there will be one last book for Lara Jean’s story, I can’t help but get excited. Who am I kidding? More Peter Kavinsky is always a good news.

So, I finished reading Always and Forever, Lara Jean few nights ago. After that I reread the first two books and reread and reread this one final installment. I can’t just let go yet. In fact, I’m still doing a reread as of this moment. Multi-tasking while writing my thoughts.

“Never say no when you really want to say yes.”

Always and Forever, Lara Jean takes on Lara Jean and Peter’s high-school senior year. With the prom, graduation, college applications, and family issues — these two are both having a tough year. Add the fact that they might go separate ways in college and that it feels like they don’t have enough time to do things together. Long distance relationship isn’t exactly easy and they are both aware of it. They have responsibilities not only as a couple but also as individual for themselves and for their families. Senior year proves that entering adulthood is not easy.

“I guess that’s part of growing up, too–saying goodbye to the things you used to love.”

Lara Jean’s character development from book one to here is just remarkable. I thought the video scandal she had from P.S. I Still Love You is a tough one. But in here, I feel like she badly needs a break. The girl needs a breather with all the worries and issues around her. But then she also need all these things to grow. Adjustments and changes are part of life, and she and Peter cannot skip those parts.

“You can’t protect him from being hurt, babe, no matter what you do. Being vulnerable, letting people in, getting hurt… it’s all part of being in love.”

Peter Kavinsky’s character just become more swoon worthy. We’ve finally view his vulnerable side, making him more realistic. I love him for being the cool and optimistic guy from the first two installments, but seeing him unsure, scared or just loosing control in this final book just makes me love him more. The sweet moments between him and Lara Jean are just adorable. Every little thing he does for Lara Jean makes my heart giddy. He is the kind of guy who remember little things, and he surely makes an effort for Lara Jean. Like when he try to learn how to do French braid, or when he color spray his hair during ‘characters day’ because he know how Lara Jean take seriously of costuming. He even make sure that people will get who Lara Jean’s character is. There’s so much more, but you have to read the book to find out. Otherwise I will spoil you and maybe ruined the excitement.

I also love it when Peter takes care of Kitty. Even when he and Lara Jean are not in good terms, he always love the kid. He is like a real brother to her. Plus the dynamics between him and Kitty is so much fun. Hilarious even.

As for Kitty, well she continue to be amazing. I’m sure every reader of this series love the kid. She is witty, funny and feisty. I didn’t realized how much I miss her and her snarky dialogues until I get back to reading this series. She really put the big difference. Add the family dynamics of the whole Song household, and the latest addition to the family, this novel is fun and sweet. Jenny Han effortlessly emphasize the importance of family in this series and for that alone, makes the whole series worth reading.

All in all, Always and Forever, Lara Jean is a perfect ending to Lara Jean’s story. I really cannot ask for a better conclusion from Jenny Han. This whole series is heartwarming, nostalgic, and just pure love. Something to get back into if you feel like experiencing teen love over and over again, or just want to swoon for days. Because sometimes lighthearted and fun read is all we need.

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Avenged (Ruined #2) by Amy Tintera

“Just because you have the title of King doesn’t mean you have any power.”

In the sequel to Ruined, the romance of The Selection and the epic stakes of Red Queen come together in a story of revenge, adventure, and unexpected love.

Emelina Flores has come home to Ruina. After rescuing her sister Olivia from imprisonment in rival kingdom Lera, Em and Olivia together vow to rebuild Ruina to its former glory.

But their fight has only begun. Olivia is determined to destroy everyone who acts against Ruina, but Em isn’t as sure. Ever since Em posed as Prince Casimir’s betrothed in Lera, she’s started to see another side to this war. And now that Cas has taken the throne, Em believes a truce is within reach. But Olivia suspects that Em’s romantic feelings for Cas are just coloring her judgement.

Em is determined to bring peace to her home. But when winning the war could mean betraying her family, Em faces an impossible choice between loyalty and love. Em must stay one step ahead of her enemies—and her blood—before she’s the next victim in this battle for sovereignty.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Avenged is a quick, easy read, and entertaining sequence to Amy Tintera’s young adult fantasy, Ruined.

In this instalment, we are reacquainted with Emelina Flores and her sister Olivia. The two are now ruling side by side as Queens of Ruined. They plan to rebuild Ruina but soon they realized that it will take a while to restore their lands to its former glory. While Casimir, now the new King of Lera, is struggling to maintain his position as the new leader. His cousin, Jovita is a huge threat, and not everyone believe that he is fit to rule.

With the ending of the first book, Ruined, I was actually looking forward for Olivia in this second instalment. She is the big sign that promised great battle and wars. Which makes me excited to read Avenged. Add the title, I’m positive that the book will be an action-pack read even before I start reading. And true to itself, Avenged is packed with battles and war. Olivia is portrayed as menacing, non-empathetic and cold-blooded, which makes her a terrifying villain. But Olivia doesn’t start as the villain in the story. Though readers will see her true side, for Emelina, Olivia is still her younger sister, her family – the very reason Emelina put herself in danger in Ruined.

But inspite of not seeing ahead what Olivia truly is, Emelina is actually smarter in this instalment. Most of her decisions are thoughtful and clever. She don’t make drastic decisions, she ask opinions from others and most importantly she put her people first. She deserves her position as one of the leaders of the Ruined in-spite of her being powerless.

Casimir Gallegos on the other hand started weak. He was poisoned, lost his position as King, and almost give up his entire Kingdom just to be with Emelina. Soon, with the help of Em, he realized what a huge mistake it will be. He then start to claim his throne, and fight for land and his people.

“Maybe ‘coincidence’ is another word for fate.”

Emelina and Casimir are caugth in the middle of political war, revenged, and relationship issues. Which basically makes the plot flowing. With so many things that is happening around these two, there’s no time for boredom. The only mild complaint is that despite of all those things, I still feel like that the story doesn’t contribute much to the whole plot of the series. From book one, we already know that Lera and Ruina are at war with each other, which continue here in this second instalment. It’s a never ending war and revenged that started from earlier generations. It’s like they haven’t learn after losing their parents and many of their people. Though we finally seen the land of warriors, Olso, and get glimpse of how their Kingdom operates, that lasted shortly and cramped near the end.

All in all, Avenged is a heart-pounding, addicting, and light-fasting read. Though it offers little resolutions being the middle book that it is, it is still satisfying and enjoyable overall. Followers of the first book, Ruined will surely relish additional time with Emelina and the rest of the characters, while eagerly waiting for the final instalment.

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* This review is based on an advance readers copy I received courtesy of the publisher, HarperCollins International in exchange of honest opinion.

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The Ship Beyond Time (The Girl from Everywhere #2) by Heidi Heilig

“…whenever you try to change something, you sacrifice something else.”

Nix has spent her whole life journeying to places both real and imagined aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. And now it’s finally time for her to take the helm. Her father has given up his obsession to save her mother—and possibly erase Nix’s existence—and Nix’s future lies bright before her. Until she learns that she is destined to lose the one she loves. But her relationship with Kash—best friend, thief, charmer extraordinaire—is only just beginning. How can she bear to lose him? How can she bear to become as adrift and alone as her father?

Desperate to change her fate, Nix takes her crew to a mythical utopia to meet another Navigator who promises to teach her how to manipulate time. But everything in this utopia is constantly changing, and nothing is what it seems—not even her relationship with Kash. Nix must grapple with whether anyone can escape her destiny, her history, her choices. Heidi Heilig weaves fantasy, history, and romance together to tackle questions of free will, fate, and what it means to love another person. But at the center of this adventure are the extraordinary, multifaceted, and multicultural characters that leap off the page, and an intricate, recognizable world that has no bounds. The sequel—and conclusion—to the indie darling The Girl from Everywhere will be devoured by fans of Rachel Hartman and Maggie Stiefvater. Includes black-and-white maps.

Book Links: Amazon | B&N | BD | Goodreads | Publisher

Personal Thoughts:

Heidi Heilig sailed once again in this sequel of her time travel series, The Girl from Everywhere. Amira/Nix and her crew are back in The Ship Beyond Time for more journey, searching for the biggest question of time travel about changing history and fate – Do we decide our own fate or is it simply a predetermined path?

Can Amira change her destiny to save someone she love?

I come aboard reading this sequel with less expectations especially with all the issues I have from the first book. If not for Kashmir and the hope to get answers or explanations to at least few of my questions from the The Girl from Everywhere I’m not sure I’ll be coming back for more. But my curiosity win as usual.

The best part of this book (aside from Kashmir and his point of view) is how all the events are interconnected. Sometimes I view those events as circle or loop which are all linked to each other in some way. And analyzing them just form lots of questions (more on that later) than answers. The events are all interconnected, every decisions counts, and they are all part of a grander plot. Which makes me appreciate the intricacy of all these connections. Heidi Heilig must have done lots of research and outlining, not only weaving the imaginary world to the real ones but also interlacing each events.

Remember the main conflict from the first book? About the possibility or erasing Amira’s very own existence if his dad tried and save her mom. Well, that conflict doesn’t really work for me because of Kashmir – an imaginary character from mythical land who exist as real and living boy in the story. (Check my explanations from my review of the first book here for more details.) I did wait for some explanations for that in this second installment, and Kash actually have some thoughts about it but there was never a clear answer. Just one of the many unanswered questions I have from this series.

“If you can create a myth, why not a man? Am I merely a figment of some cartographer’s imagination? Or did you make me up when you arrived?”

Then there’s also the time traveling part. I won’t go into details about the rules of time traveling. I cover more than enough of those from my review of the first book, The Girl from Everywhere. Instead, let’s discuss the classic question I mentioned above, about fate and destiny. Are we the masters of our own fate? Amira travel the length of mythical land looking for answers about changing her destiny with the belief of saving Kashmir. She cannot accept a future where she will lose Kash, to the point of losing the time she was supposed to enjoy with him.

“That’s why you want to know you can change things before you commit.”
“You watched your father chase your mother for years, and you wished he didn’t love her. What will you do to my memory when I’m gone? Will you chase it like a dragon? Or will you banish it like smoke?”

Amira dreaded the future that she forgot to enjoy the present. Unlike Kash who even doubting his very own existence manage to appreciate what he has.

“I won’t let fear of tomorrow steal joy form today.”

Heidi Heilig challenged her characters about the cause and effect of our choices, the ramification of our actions, and how destiny play a huge role in all of these. Amira went to this mythical utopia to find answers in saving Kash, but in doing so she actually triggered the events that led to her loss. Which is just one part of the connections I mentioned above. If only I can enumerate all them here without spoiling. But trust me, those parts are the best, especially in the end where everything is laid out.

“Every choice has a cost, Miss Song. The real question is whether or not one is willing to pay it.”
“No, Blake. The real question is whether it’s worth the price.”

So, Amira doesn’t actually changed her destiny. In the end she still lose someone she love. Which means destiny cannot be altered. If that’s the case, then it brings conflict to Kashmir and Blake’s dream. During their stay in the mythical utopia, there are events that explain Kashmir and Blake’s dream which are actually altered reality – something that happened but was altered somehow. And only navigators remembers what really happened in those events. Those parts are contradicting. They bring more conflicts than answers. Which means we are back to square one. Is fate can really be altered or are we just treading the same line where our destiny ends? Unfortunately, The Ship Beyond Time cannot answer that question. I guess, it’s really up to the  readers what they want to believe.

Back to Amira and Kash. These two went through a lot. Their internal struggles, relationship issues, and overall character development is really the heart of The Ship Beyond Time. Though I missed the other characters who all take a few steps backward in this last adventure, I still enjoyed Kash and Amira’s story. Surprisingly, there’s no love-triangle involved. Blake is not much of a competition as I expected him to be, especially with how the first book ended. So we only have Amira and Kash trying to navigate their own sea of issues both as a couple and individual. Kashmir is questioning his own purpose and existence. While Amira is struggling not only with her destiny of losing someone she love, but also becoming like her father. She is afraid of losing control, of giving in to love and end up like her father – whom we see from the first book as someone obsess in getting his wife back.

Overall, The Ship Beyond Time is imaginative, exciting and entertaining read. Not everything is explained, but that matters very little especially when you are lost enjoying sailing with characters like Amira and her diverse crew aboard the time-traveling ship, Temptation.

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Hear The Wolves by Victoria Scott

“The circle of life isn’t a circle at all. It’s a straight line, with hunters on one end, and prey on the other.”

Sloan is a hunter.

So she shouldn’t be afraid of anything. But ever since her mom left the family and she lost hearing in one ear in a blizzard, it’s been hard to talk to people, and near-impossible to go anywhere or do anything without her dad or big sister within eyesight — it makes her too scared to be on her own.

When they leave her home alone for what should only be two nights, she’s already panicked. Then the snow starts falling and doesn’t stop. One of her neighbors is hurt in an accident. And the few people still left in Rusic need to make it to the river and the boat that’s tied there — their only way to get to a doctor from their isolated Alaska town.

But the woods are icy cold, and the wolves are hungry. Sloan and her group are running out of food, out of energy, and out of time. That’s when the wolves start hunting them . . .

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Personal Thoughts:

Victoria Scott new novel, Hear the Wolves follows a young girl in a richly drawn small town Rusic Alaska, trying to survive the wild and the cold snowstorm.

Twelve year-old Sloan Reilly knows a thing or two about hunting. She’s pretty good with guns. When her dad and sister left her alone to vote on keeping the township separate, Sloan find herself in the middle of blizzard trying to help a terribly injured neighbor, Ms. Wade. Together with other five people, Sloan brave crossing the river to Bernon with wolves surrounding them. They don’t have enough supply for the journey, and not much enough choice either. Will they all survive the cold and the hungry wolves?

Sloan as the main character is both strong and vulnerable. A combination that makes her and her narration captivating. Her fears and struggles both internal and external were very well drawn. Creating an emotionally intense story for readers to get lost into.

The wolves are frigthening making the reading experience on the edge. But more than being the hunters or villain in the story, the wolves remind readers that they too are victims. Like Sloan and her gang, the wolves are just trying to survive. They need food, and since the people of Rusic eliminate their source of food they have to get something else to survive. Most of the times, our actions affect someone or something else. There’s a law of nature, a inevitable process we all part of, and we need to be aware of how we as a humanity contribute to it. We can’t always think of ourselves as superior being as if the earth owe as something. We have parts to do too and other living and non-living things to consider.

Overall, Hear the Wolves is a pleasant surprise. It has an intense and realistic plot that delivers a powerful punch. Readers will surely find Sloan’s story not only inspiring but also unrelenting. A survival story of both physical and emotional that won’t leave readers for awhile.

* This review is based on a copy I received courtesy of the publisher, Scholastic Press Philippines in exchange for an honest opinion.

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