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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 her 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 . . .

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

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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Jorie and the Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson

“Sometimes we need more than magic words to make a situation better. Many times we carry our own magic within us, an inner magic that takes many forms, such as love, friendship, courage and tolerance.”

When Marjorie went to live with her frosty maiden aunt, she couldn’t imagine the adventures she would have with dragons — good and bad — and all the strange creatures that live in a mysterious land beneath the Tarn. The spunky 9-year-old redhead forges an unlikely friendship with an insecure young boy named Rufus who lives with his crusty grandfather next door. When Jorie — for that is what she prefers to be called — finds a dusty ancient book about dragons, she learns four strange words that will send the two of them into a mysterious land beneath the Tarn, riddled with enchantment and danger. Hungry for adventure, the children take the plunge, quite literally, and find themselves in the magic land of Cabrynthius. 

Upon meeting the good dragon, the Great Grootmonya, Jorie and Rufus are given a quest to find the three Stones of Maalog — stones of enormous power — and return them to their rightful place in Cabrynthius. Their mission is neither easy nor safe, and is peppered with perils in the form of the evil black half-dragon who rules the shadowy side of the land. They have to deal with a wicked and greedy professor, the tragic daughter of the bad dragon, caves of fire, rocky mountainous climbs, and a deadly poisonous butterfly.

Jorie must rely on her wits and courage to win the day? Can she do this? Can she find all three Stones? Can she save Rufus when disaster befalls him? Can she emerge victorious? She and Rufus have some hair-raising challenges, in which they learn valuable lessons about loyalty, bravery, and friendship.

Book Links: AmazonGoodreads

Personal Thoughts:

Jorie and the Magic Stones is a delightful and entertaining read that offers wonderful messages for middle grade readers.

Marjorie Beatrice Weaver who prefer to be called Jorie is an orphan who just moved in with her Aunt. While there she found an old and mysterious book under the bed. Being the ever curious and adventurous that she is, Jorie explore all the possibilities suggested on the pages of the book. With her new friend Rufus, Jorie discover new world and experience an adventure she never thought possible.

Jorie as the main character is so much fun to follow. She is a witty, curious, smart and imaginative kid who can easily charm her way. Her adventure to the land of Cabrynthius will not only entertain readers but also leave some important messages to ponder and carry even after the last page is closed.

Richardson easily weaved an imaginative world in this new fantasy adventure tale. With simple and straightforward narrative, middle-grade readers will surely find Jorie and the Magic Stones a quick and fast-paced read.

I’m not sure yet if the book is a part of a series but the ending promise a wonderful follow up and exciting adventure for the characters. I think Richardson can expand Jorie’s adventure and the magical land of Cabrynthius.

Overall, Jorie and the Magic Stones is quick and fun read. It is a tale of adventure, courage, and friendship that young readers will surely enjoy.

* This review is based on an a copy I received courtesy of Book Publicty Services.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A. H. Richardson was born in London England and is the daughter of famous pianist and composer Clive Richardson. She studied drama and acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She was an actress, a musician, a painter and sculptor, and now an Author.

She published her debut novel Jorie and the Magic Stones in December 2014. At the request of those who loved the first ‘Jorie’ story, Richardson has written a sequel titled Jorie and the Gold Key, and she is currently working on the third book in the series.

She is also the author of Murder in Little Shendon, a thriller murder mystery which takes place in a quaint little village in England after World War Two, and introduces two sleuths, Sir Victor Hazlitt and his sidekick,  Beresford Brandon, a noted Shakespearian actor. She has more ‘who-dun-its’ planned for this clever and interesting duo… watch for them!

A. H. Richardson lives happily in East Tennessee, her adopted state, and has three sons, three grandchildren, and two pugs. She speaks four languages and loves to do voiceovers. She plans on writing many more books and hopes to delight her readers further with her British twist, which all her books have.

Find A. H. Richardson

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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Hunted by Meagan Spooner

“She wept because she did not know what she wanted, and because she wanted everything.”

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

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

Personal Thoughts:

Hunted is a neat and vivid fairy tale retelling of a tale-as-old-as-time with a touch of Russian folklore that every readers will surely enjoy immensely.

Being marketed as a Beauty and the Beast retelling, Hunted automatically make it to the top of my reading list of 2017. As I have mentioned before from my other review, Beauty and the Beast is part of my childhood, it is my all-time favorite fairy tale, and I love experiencing every interesting version of it available for me. Hunted is no exception.

For a retelling, Hunted felt very much an original. It has its own appeal and surprises that keeps me guessing as I read. Meagan Spooner not only took the Beauty and the Beast plot line but also cleverly stitch Russian tales into it. Weaving a beautiful and new tapestry that makes me adore this retelling even more.

Though I haven’t read most of those Russian tales, the stories still feel familiar to me. Some of them are closely related with our own local tales. Tales that are parts of my bed time stories growing up which somehow transported me to my past. A lovely experience reminding me of my Dad telling stories before bedtime.

“She moves like beauty, she whispers to us of wind and forest—and she tells us stories, such stories that we wake in the night, dreaming dreams of a life long past. she reminds us of what we used to be.
She reminds us of what we could be.”

Yeva our protagonist is nothing like the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. Though both are well read, the similarity ends there. Instead of a sweet young lady, we have Yeva as a Hunter, a would-be assassin for the Beast who she hopes to kill in revenge for her father’s death. She is tough, ambitious and caring.

The Beast like the one from the animated version is not at all menacing. But uniquely portrayed by Meagan Spooner as two different souls trap into one body. Beast constant battle between his human and beast side is well drawn. Making him very much intriguing and pulling readers to sympathize with him. The short narratives from his perspective before each chapters will surely entice readers for more of his thoughts.

Meagan Spooner did a wonderful job in re-imagining the tale of Beauty and the Beast. She took established characters and gave them a new wonderful story without removing the sense of nostalgia to readers like me who grew up with the tale-as-old-as-time.

Overall, Hunted is imaginative, captivating and gorgeousness re-imagining of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.

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Gem & Dixie by Sara Zarr

gem-dixie

“I don’t have the power to be responsible for every single person in the world.”

Gem & Dixie is the new novel from renowned young adult author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr—a deep, nuanced, and gorgeously written story about the complex relationship between two sisters from a broken home.

Gem has never known what it is to have security. She’s never known an adult she can truly rely on. But the one constant in her life has been Dixie. Gem grew up taking care of her sister when no one else could: not their mother, whose issues make it hard for her to keep food on the table; and definitely not their father, whose intermittent presence is the only thing worse than his frequent absence. Even as Gem and Dixie have grown apart, they’ve always had each other.

When their dad returns for the first time in years and tries to insert himself back into their lives, Gem finds herself with an unexpected opportunity: three days with Dixie, on their own in Seattle and beyond. But this short trip soon becomes something more, as Gem discovers that to save herself, she may have to sever the one bond she’s tried so hard to keep.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr has written her most personal and affecting book yet—an unforgettable story of breaking apart and of coming together again.

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

Personal Thoughts:

Sara Zarr explores the relationships of two sisters who both grew up in a dysfunctional family in this upcoming contemporary novel, Gem & Dixie.

Gem is three years older than Dixie. And being the older one, her instinct is to take care of her younger sister. She used to be Dixie’s protector until the two steps into their own separate lives. They still live in the same house with their mother but they aren’t exactly close anymore. They don’t even agree with lots of things. They rarely converse at home nor at school. They never bond anymore. When their Dad suddenly return to their lives, Dixie and Gem find themselves together running away from home. How long they can manage to stay together?

Gem as a narrator is easily accessible inspite of being a loner. Her internal monologues and letters about her past shows real struggles of living a life with no adult role in it. As she desperately tries to get out of the her messy life, readers will surely feel and even ache for her.

Sara Zarr successfully shows in this novel how Gem and Dixie navigates their relationship as sisters, as well as the family dynamics that made these two who they are. The absentee parents, poverty and other difficult things that Gem and Dixie has to deal with everyday of their lives push them into different directions and hardened them like no other girls their age.

“When you have a shared experience with someone who showed you some kindness when you needed it most, it sticks with you.”

Ultimately, this novel is about the relationship between two sisters, Gem and Dixie. But what I find more interesting is how Sara Zarr shows the contrast between two individuals. Gem and Dixie have the same home situations. They basically have the same issues and problems, but these two girls cope up with their lives differently. Gem becomes a loner who talk to school psychiatrist while Dixie charms her way to survive everyday.

Sara Zarr reminds us in this novel, how unique and different people are, even those with the same life circumstances. Sometimes we tend to compare our lives with other people but in reality even we have the same position with others we won’t exactly get the same life.

All in all, Gem & Dixie is a quick and heart-rending read. Sara Zarr takes a simple yet emotionally difficult story of two sisters and let the readers brave the reality of their situations.

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

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A List of Cages by Robin Roe

a-list-of-cages

“I used to think that if I concentrated, I could make myself disappear. I don’t believe that anymore, but sometimes I still have to try.”

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian–the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

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

Personal Thoughts:

A List of Cages is an astounding debut novel that leaves me deeply affected and emotionally invested. It is brave, gripping, if at times uncomfortable read that sometimes makes me wish there’s something I can do for the characters.

Adam and Julian are foster brothers for a time, until Julian is forced to live with his only living relative. Their lives crossed again when Adam is assigned to help the school psychologist as his elective. Part of his task is to track down Julian, making sure Julian won’t skip more of his appointments. As Adam try to do his job, he noticed the difference between the Julian who used to live with them and the present Julian. Concerned with his former foster brother, he tries his best to be part of Julian’s life once again. As Adam unravel the new Julian, Adam not only understand Julian but also see the reality of the situation he was in.

Robin Roe did a wonderful job of writing Julian and Adam’s story. I almost can’t believe that ‘A List of Cages’ is her debut novel given how good and affecting her writing is. The alternating narration between Adam and Julian easily shows the contrast between Adam and Julian’s lives. Not just their personal living condition, but as well as the way they handle their mental health conditions.

Julian’s storyline will undoubtedly linger to readers. My hearts bleeds for him, and constantly lost my breath while reading his parts. He affected me deeply that even I feel uncomfortable reading some of the things that happened to him I still can’t stop reading, if only to prove to Julian that he has someone who won’t leave him.

Julian doesn’t deserve those horrifying things. Sometimes I wonder who’s to blame — his uncle or the foster system that put Julian to his uncle’s care? But as much as I want to point finger, I also know that there’s no use in condemning any of those people. This is fiction after all. I can only hope that no one suffers like Julian in real life. No one deserves that kind of treatment or that kind of life.

“I used to think struggle was what aged you, but if that were the case, Julian should’ve been a hundred years old. Now I wonder if the opposite is true. Maybe instead of accelerating your age, pain won’t let you grow.”

As for Adam, well he is genuinely caring guy. He reminds me that kindness and love goes a long way. Sometimes it’s easy to forget little things like that. I’ve seen many times how hardships change people. How bad experiences can make someone tough by stripping him of kindness and love. It is sad but it is also a reality.

“Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.”

On the whole, A List of Cages touches some difficult issues with sensitivity and reality that will surely make readers think of things and feel every kind of emotions that the characters went through. It’s unflinching, honest, and uncompromising story that shows the power of kindness, friendship and brotherhood.

This new addition to the ya contemporary novels is not to be missed.

* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley

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