Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Look at 2015: Statistics and Numbers

Hi, lovely people! Happy New Year's Eve!

Like the last couple of years, I'd like to share my end-of-the-year statistics roundup with you all. 2015 was an excellent year in reading and in number!

Here are some numbers and data for 2015:

- Last book read: Tell Me You Want Me by Joya Ryan
- Total Pageviews: ~565,000 (since December 2012)
- Total blog followers (does not include Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads): 5,998
   - GFC: 1,185
   - Bloglovin: 2,117
   - Email/RSS: 559
   - Linky: 368
   - Pinterest: 518
   - Tumblr: 248
   - Google Plus: 1,003
- Goodreads friends/fans: 1,494
- Twitter: 2,541
- Facebook: 2,842
- Number of reviews in 2015: 214
- Number of 1-star reviews: 7
- Number of 2-star reviews: 14
- Number of 3-star reviews: 65
- Number of 4-star reviews: 122
- Number of 5-star reviews: 8
- Average rating for 2015: 3.509
- Total books read in 2015: 216
- Total number of published posts in 2015: 519
- Days missed in publishing a post: 0 (since the December 2012)

See all 216 of my 2015 reads below:

Follow Alyssa's board 2015 Reads! on Pinterest.

Data for Books read/reviewed in 2015:

(I did this via Excel - I kept a spreadsheet throughout the year. It made it easier to put the data together and make charts and things.)

What this tells me: 

- Age Level: I more than doubled the amount of adult books I read, from 2014 to 2015! That makes me happy. Still VERY heavily YA based.

- Dominant Genre: contemporary overtook fantasy! I think it's because of the amount of adult contemporary romance books though.

- Number in Series: I am so proud of myself for reading more standalones and conclusions! "First" books still dominated but YAY for completing series and not starting new ones!

- Publisher: it's no surprise that HarperCollins dominates, in both YA and Adult. In my pie chart, "HarperCollins" refers to their teen imprints only (HarperTeen, Balzer+Bray, Katherine Tegen, etc.). Avon is actually part of HarperCollins too! An adult imprint.

- Rating: Generally it seems that I like what I read. I continued to have a low amount of five-star ratings, but an even higher amount of three-star ratings. That "meh" feeling though.

- Source: The number of books from the publisher (meaning printed ARCs) jumped A LOT. It overtook Edelweiss which is a huge surprise for me. O_O But I had a jump in NetGalley reads - this is indicative of the NetGalley cleanse I went on!

- Year of Publication: 2015 dominated, as it should have. But this tells me that I didn't do as good a job with backlist titles as I wanted (every Friday is a backlist review day -- usually).

Things I did well in 2015 (and in general):

- Post my reviews on Goodreads.
- Post my reviews on Amazon.
- Post my reviews on Barnes & Noble.
- Get my NetGalley ratio to 100%.
- Review the eARCs/ARCs within a month before publication.
- Do backlist reviews (mostly 2014 though).
- Diversify my reads in terms of genre.
- Reply to comments on my blog within 24 hours.
- Return comments to the blogs that commented on mine, within 24 hours.

Things I'd like to do better:

- Read more backlist.
- Read less in general. (uni comes first!)
- Comment on unfamiliar blogs.
- Comment on blogs (any) without them commenting on mine first.
- Do a little more on Twitter.
- Attend more events. (This isn't quite my fault - Baltimore doesn't have many!)

And there you have it! The Eater of Books! blog in terms of numbers, for 2015. I thought I had a good year, despite technically scaling back in reading (in September, I cut back from four reviews per week to three. Or I was supposed to. I did for most weeks!). I can't wait to see what 2016 brings!

Swoon Thursday (#153): The Distance From A to Z by Natalie Blitt

Swoon Thursday is a hot meme hosted by the fabulous ladies at YA Bound!

- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting

This week, my swoon is from The Distance From A to Z by Natalie Blitt!

"ArrĂȘte." His voice is barely a whisper.

There's a moment, a moment that lasts, that extends and separates into two moments and then four, eight, and sixteen. And then shoots back, like an elastic pulled too far, hurling toward us.

And suddenly his hands are cupping my jaw, gently, and his lips are crushing mine. Like it's not close enough, like as close as he gets it's still not enough. And it's not like that night at the bar, our noses bumping. His glasses are there but I don't notice them, because his lips are the chapped Zeke lips I've been dreaming about, and I feel like everything is swirling around us, like everything is tilting and running and jumping and flying. The whole world is flying.

My fingers buy themselves in his hair and I'm sure I'm thinking somewhere in the back of my brain that is shouting Oui! Oui! Oui! Oui! that I need to hold on tight. That with all this flaying and spinning and rocketing, I might fall. That he might move back. That we might hurtle to the ground.

- eARC, 72%

Wasn't that a beautifully written swoon!? I love the "flying" metaphor, how it carries throughout the kiss. This is one of my favorite YA contemporaries! And it's only $1.99, for a full-length (swoony) novel! :D

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Review: The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt

The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: January 12, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

This full-length novel by debut author Natalie Blitt is a pitch-perfect blend of Stephanie Perkins and Miranda Kenneally that proves the age-old adage: opposites attract.

Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk.

What I Liked:

Oh my goodness, this book! That isn't usually how I start my reviews, but this book deserves every reaction I had while reading and upon finishing - joy, heartbreak, mirth, embarrassment, glee, and the warm and fuzzies. I am not usually a YA contemporary fan - I rarely like the tough-issue ones especially - but I adored this book!

Abby comes from a family that is obsessed with baseball, especially the Chicago Cubs. She wants to get away from baseball, and so she's doing an eight-week class in French over the summer, in New Hampshire. As it would turn out, the only other high school student taking the French class is Zeke Martin, a huge baseball fan. They're paired as partners in the class for the eight weeks, which means speaking, writing, watching movies in French with Zeke. Zeke may love baseball, but he has a passion for French and speak the language beautifully. Even though she swears he's not for her, she falls for him. But there is something about him that doesn't add up, and Abby doesn't know if she wants to take the risk and open herself to heartbreak.

I feel like one of the biggest reasons why I love this book is because it mirrors my love life in the past - to a point. Abby is a smart, hard-working girl who wants (needs) to do well in this summer course so that she'll be able to apply to the Paris School. Zeke is an athlete, charming and handsome too, with an almost exotic air to him, with his love for French, his cultured mind, and his athletic jock-ness - it confuses Abby that he is all of these things. They are partners in the class, and must meet up outside of class to do the work. This story isn't new to me; replace baseball with soccer and French with Spanish and you have me and my gilipollas boy. I didn't get a nice ending though.  *shrugs*

Anyway. Abby And Zeke don't get a good start, because Abby sees Zeke's baseball shirts and his athleticism and doesn't want anything to do with him - she's done with baseball, and athletes. But his love for French surprises her, and slowly, she falls for Zeke. She sees him with different girls but she still falls for him. (Girl. I know this struggle.)

I honestly LOVE how this story is written, the cadence of the story. I love how Abby and Zeke fall for each other. It's written in Abby's POV, but we can see how Zeke is falling for Abby. I love experiencing Abby's side though - the way it's written, readers can totally relate. We've all fallen in like/love with someone before (right? hopefully! It's a lovely thing, even if it goes nowhere or ends badly.), and the author captures this beautifully.

I love Abby and her strength. She IS courageous, even if she doesn't think the word fits her. She is determined and hard-working and kind (sometimes she's mean to Zeke though!). Abby's roommate Alice is such a sweetie. I love how well-written she is; she struggles with anxiety especially in large groups of people. The author captured Alice perfectly!

And then there's Zeke, lovely handsome charming French-speaking smooth-talking Zeke. I admit, bilingual athletes are my type... sign me up for one of him! I love how multi-layered he is - he's so much more than an athlete who, on the surface, seems like a player. He's a nice guy! Also super swoony. SWOOOOON.

I love the pacing of the romance. Honestly I wish I could read this book again for the first time, to experience Abby and Zeke falling in love all over again. It takes about half of the course, and I LOVE the weeks leading up to their change in relationship status. The "before" part, in which they are falling for each other, is so fun and swoony! There are so many swoony scenes in this book. And some steamy ones too. And some sweet ones.

And heartbreaking ones. I love how perfectly Blitt captures a relationship, before, during, and after. The mixed signals, the confessions, the honeymoon period. I also love how this book was very romance-focused, but so much more than the romance. There was Alice's part of the story. And Abby's struggle with her love/hate relationship with baseball. And then there was Zeke's story and secret.

I had a feeling about what Zeke's secret was. I'll say no more - but I adored the ending of this book! I loved how the author ended it; she could have chosen a dozen different was, but this one really fit. All the feels!

What I Did Not Like:

I joked with the author, telling her that there was one line that I didn't like, and that was the only thing. Literally the only thing I didn't like about the book! I won't say one line but I will say that as a former top-seeded badminton player in my county, I didn't take that line well. LOL. No hard feelings though. 

Would I Recommend It:

I highly HIGHLY recommend this book! And hey, that's coming from me, who generally stays away from YA contemporary because she doesn't always like them. If you like books by authors like Kasie West, you NEED to read this book. Kasie West, guys. I haven't read any Stephanie Perkins but I am sure that comparison is spot on!


4.5 stars. I'm rounding down to 4 stars but it's a 4.5-star-rating! I need to stop reading all of these lovely books that are definitely favorites at the wee end of the year (like Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell). I already did all of my top ten lists for 2015! This book would have made it. It is that good! Definitely worth more than the two dollars it costs.

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

ATTENTION: this book is a full-length novel (over three hundred pages), and it is $1.99! It's so cheap and sooooo worth the money! Hint hint. :D

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean

Welcome to the blog tour for The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean! This was my first Sarah MacLean book and I LOVED it! Follow the rest of the tour HERE, read my review HERE, and enjoy the post!

About the Book:

The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean
Book One of the Scandal & Scoundrel series
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: December 29, 2015

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Official Summary:


The youngest of the infamous Talbot sisters scandalized society at the Liverpool Summer Soiree, striking her sister’s notoriously philandering husband and landing him backside-first in a goldfish pond. And we thought Sophie was the quiet one…

When she finds herself the target of very public aristocratic scorn, Sophie Talbot does what she must to escape the city and its judgment—she flees on the back of a carriage, vowing never to return to London…or to society. But the carriage isn’t saving her from ruin. It’s filled with it.


The Marquess of Eversley was espied descending a rose trellis—escaping an irate Earl and his once-future countess. No lady is safe from Eversley’s Engagement Ending Escapades!

Kingscote, the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, a quality that results in a reputation far worse than the truth, a furious summons home, and a long, boring trip to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the trip becomes anything but boring.


He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, and suddenly opposites are altogether too attractive…

Read my review of The Rogue Not Taken HERE! I absolutely adored this book, and cannot wait for more. Don't miss this book!

About the Author:

Sarah MacLean grew up in Rhode Island, obsessed with historical romance and bemoaning the fact that she was born far too late for her own season. Her love of all things historical helped to earn her degrees from Smith College and Harvard University before she finally set pen to paper and wrote her first book.

Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband, baby daughter, their dog, and a ridiculously large collection of romance novels. She loves to hear from readers. Please visit her at

Intro from Sarah MacLean

Being shot on the Great North Road isn't exactly a thing people expect to happen, and Lady Sophie Talbot finds herself in the rooms above The Warbling Wren pub, under the welcome care of a rather mad doctor and the watchful eye of the rather infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) Kingscote, Marquess of Eversley. There are worse things, she supposes. Or are there? Not for King.)

“If you want a bath, you’ll have to accept my help,” he said.

She pursed her lips at that, her gaze settling longingly on the steaming bath. “You mustn’t look.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” It might have been the most obvious lie he’d ever told.

Somehow, she believed it, nodding and throwing back the coverlet to step out of the bed. She came to her feet, the top of her head at his chin, and he resisted the urge to help her across the room. “How do you feel?” he asked, hearing the gravel in his words. He cleared his throat.

“As though I’ve been shot, I’d imagine.”

He raised a brow. “Clever. There's food when you’ve bathed." The words summoned a low growl from her, and her hands flew to her stomach. Her cheeks turned red, and he smiled. “I take it you are hungry.”

“It seems so,” she said.

“Food after the bath. And then sleep.”

She met his gaze. “You’re very domineering.”

“It’s a particular talent.”

“What with you being called King.”

“Name is destiny.”

She moved past him to the high copper bathtub. He resumed his place against the wall, arms crossed, watching her carefully as she reached down, her long fingers trailing in the hot water as she sighed her anticipation. The sound was like gunfire in the room—pure, unadulterated pleasure. It was delicious.

King stiffened. He was not interested in the lady’s pleasure.

If only someone would tell his body that.

The Giveaway:

Set of the Print editions of all books in the Rule of Scoundrels series (A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME, ONE GOOD EARL DESERVES A LOVER, NO GOOD DUKE GOES UNPUNISHED, and NEVER JUDGE A LADY BY HER COVER) *U.S. ONLY)

Waiting on Wednesday (#157): Nil on Fire by Lynne Matson

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm featuring:

Nil on Fire by Lynne Matson
Book Three of the Nil series
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Publication Date: May 31, 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

Despite Rives and Skye's attempt to destroy Nil, the island remains. And back in this world, Nil won't let Skye go. Haunted by a darkness she can't ignore, Skye wrestles with Nil nightmares that worsen by the day and threaten to tear her apart. As the island grows in power, Skye fights to keep her mind intact. Soon Skye realizes that to finally break free of Nil, she must end Nil's vicious cycle once and for all--and she can't do it alone.

Who will return to Nil, and in the end, who will survive? In this thrilling final installment of the Nil series, the stakes have never been higher: everyone's fate hangs in the balance, including Nil's own--and Nil will fight to the death. When the full force of the island is unleashed, Skye faces an impossible choice, a cruel one she'd never imagined she'd have to make. As the island's clock ticks away, one Nil truth becomes painfully clear: only one side can win.

Perfect for fans of Lost and survivalist stories, NIL ON FIRE is a stunning conclusion to the Nil trilogy that will leave readers breathless.

I can't wait to read this final novel! The wait has been agony so far!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Review: The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine
Book One of the Ravenspire series
Publisher:  Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighboring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

What I Liked:

I adore retellings! Especially fairy tales ones. Redwine's Defiance trilogy is one of my favorite trilogies, and as soon as I saw that she was working on a "fairy tale project", I knew I would love it. This book was delightful to read! I breezed through it so quickly - the pages could not turn fast enough for me!

Lorelai and her younger brother Leo have been hiding from Queen Irina, who killed their father nine years ago, and took the Ravenspire throne. Lorelai is the rightful queen, and she, Leo, and the former captain of the guard have been plotting to take back the throne for Lorelai. Lorelai's magic will be very important in attempting to defeat Irina. In the kingdom of Eldr, Prince Kol is now King Kol, after his father and older brother were killed by ogres. Kol strikes a deal with Irina - banish the magical-wielding ogres, and Kol will bring Lorelai's heart to Irina. But when Kol catches Lorelai, he finds that he cannot do it, and he fights Irina's control over him. Together, the princess and the dragon king could destroy Irina - but Irina is not so easy to kill.

I had no idea that this book had dragons in it! Kol and the people of Eldr are human dragons with two hearts, a human one and a dragon one. Kol is a fierce Draconi warrior who can hunt and catch prey easily - which is why Irina struck the deal with him. Who better to find Lorelai than a master dragon huntsman? Kol is honorable and noble and loyal, but unfortunately, making the deal with Irina gave her control over him. It's with Lorelai's help that he get control back, bit by bit. But Irina has his human heart, so they must destroy Irina not only to restore the Ravenspire, but to get Kol's human heart back.

So I really liked Kol. I also liked Lorelai. She is sweet and kind like Snow White, but she is also very tough and intelligent, analytical and calculating. She does not hesitate to help or heal anyone, and uses her magic in good ways. She isn't a helpful princess by any means! But she's also very kind. I love how she never gave up on Kol, despite Irina's control over him.

The story is very engaging, and I read the book in no time! It's about four hundred pages, but I literally could not stop turning pages. I will say that the first couple of chapters lagged a little, but not enough for me to be bored or starting skimming.

I do love that this book is written in third person POV, occasionally switching between Kol and Lorelai. Both of them are lovely characters to follow, with very different burdens and lives and motives. I liked both of their voices and didn't mind reading from one side or the other.

What's also interesting is that we get Irina's third person POV at times. I love how Redwine digs deep into the heart and soul of all of her characters, including the villain. I didn't hate the queen as much as one might have! Really well written by Redwine.

The romance isn't a make-or-break aspect of this book, and I like how gradual it sweeps through the story. Kol and Lorelai kind of do a 360-degree turn in their relationship - it starts well, gets poor, and then gets better again. I love their interactions, their tenacity, their determination to be good to and for each other. Cute romance and no love triangle!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book! I think the story here is closed - the next book in the series should be a companion novel, I imagine? Set in the same world, but with different characters? I wouldn't mind that! Which fairy tale will Redwine take us through next?

What I Did Not Like:

There is one aspect of this book that is bothering me a bit- it's something to do with Lorelai's brother, Leo. I didn't quite like his resolution, at the end of the book. It just wasn't clear, in my opinion. But I think this might be addressed in another novel? I hope I'm right!

Would I Recommend It:

I recommend this book! Fantasy fan, retellings fan, Snow White fan, this book is magical and epic and will appeal to anyone who loves a fairy tale. And hey, I'm pretty sure it's a standalone, so it's nice to know that (most) things are resolved. The ending was very resolved, in this story. Hopefully future books are companion novels!


4 stars. I have faith in Redwine's storytelling! This book did not disappoint at all. The retelling aspect was well-written, the magic was larger than life, the characters were so likable, and the romance was sweet! Sign me up for the next book!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Three-Year Blogoversary Celebration and Giveaway!

Three years! I've been blogging for three years! *commence flailing*

(No minion gifs this year - sorry! They'd probably be Star Wars gifs anyway, hehe.)

Sometimes I can't believe I've been at this for so long. Sometimes I feel like I'm still a newbie, finding her way in a sea of voices. Sometimes I still feel like I'm finding my way.

Sometimes I feel lost. 

I spent a year (2011-2012) in the blogging world, following blogs (like Erica's and Gail's!) before I started my own blog in December 2012. I was a high school senior, just finished with college applications, tucking in for the long wait to March. 

My life has changed so much in these three years; I honestly feel like a completely different person, and yet, wholly the same. Nothing about these past three years have been easy - my college experience especially has been, well, challenging.

I have no idea who or where I would be without my blog, without the blogging community, without books and reading and escapism in the form of words on pages.

Thank you to everyone who has touched my life in some way. Everyone who has tweeted something to me, commented here, viewed a blog post, read a blog post, liked my reviews, followed me on Goodreads, entered a giveaway, put up with me. I have so much respect for people who deal with me! I'm sassy and opinionated and bold and not afraid to speak my mind. In books, people LOVE these types of heroines. In real life, people really appreciate my candid nature. On social media, it doesn't always come across as "sassy" or "opinionated" - but rather, possibly rude or flippant. Soooo, a special thanks to those who understand me, or maybe don't, but love/like/put up with me anyway.

(I'm slightly - very - stressed and anxiety-filled right now because I know I'll leave someone out but it's not my intention! I hope I don't hurt or offend anyone if I don't mention a name - I truly appreciate so many lovely people! Forgive me if I forget you - I DO appreciate you!)

Pili, Carina, LizaLily, Erin, Sophia, Jessica, Brooke, Lauren, Nereyda, Cyra, Danielle, Nick, Mary, Alexia, Aila, Fatima, Meredith, Katiria, Rita, Amber, Jessica, Jessica, Jessica, SajdaCookie, Grace, Eileen, Danielle, Sam, Kel, JuhinaCelesteAndrea, ShannonAnna, Gail, Rachel, Racquel, HeatherNikki, KarinaAneeqah, JaimeMaura, Crys, Kaitlin, Cyn, BrittKristen, Steph, Kelly, Marilyn, ZareenaJessiThais, Therin -- maybe it was one thing you tweeted to me, or a card or package that you sent to me, or a comment you posted on my blog. Constant comments, conversations on Twitter, Goodreads likes and comments, kind words - you all are amazing for a number of reasons, and I thank you all! Thank you for showing my blog or Twitter or Goodreads or ME support. It means the world to me!

Katie and Kelly -- my AMAZING Secret Santas this year! Katie spoiled me in #TBTBSanta and Kelly spoiled me in #SecretWitch. Thank you so much, both of you!

Lori, Lori, and Rachael -- thank you for your generosity! Recently you helped me track down those last three buttons and I am GRATEFUL! LizzieSkye, Kelli, Sondra, Jessica, Jen, Cyra, Brittany, Mary, Emma, Crystal, for successful trades throughout the year. You all are rockstars!

The three publicists at Avon, as well as the Avon Addicts -- I am so thankful to Avon for selecting me to be a round five participant! It is a privilege and honor. The Addicts are a lovely bunch, and the publicists are so kind and generous. Thank you!

JaimeRachelHannahthe folks at YA Reads and FFBC -- thank you all for being amazing tour organizers, and general LOVELY people! I adore all of you and working with you all is always super easy and fun. Thank you for all of your hard work! Also Jamie for being a fabulous human being, but also for organizing so many nice things like #TBTBSanta for so many years! Rockstar!

My Waterwitch Babes -- Lou, Gabi, Katrina, Charlene, Carine, Steph, Kaina, Kit, Kim, Olivia, Maddie, Ale, and Shanna. It has been an HONOR to get to know you all, work with you all, share love and excitement for Truthwitch together. I love all of you! And Nicola -- the Babes would not exist without you (or Sooz)! Thank you for all of your effort and enthusiasm! Another special thanks to Jess, who is an honorary Waterwitch - she and I have something special coming your way on January 7th. ;)

Susan Dennard - Empress Sooz, you are amazing. And so generous. I wish the world of success to you - Truthwitch is destined to be a successful book! 

All the amazing authors I got to meet at the Baltimore Book Festival this past September! I mentioned them all HERE - thank you for coming! Thank you for letting all of us book nerds fangirl all over you. I love you all!

Kathy MacMillan -- thank you for reaching out to me! I so enjoyed the opportunity to work with you and present (omg so exciting and nerve-wracking and exciting!), and I'm honored to know you, have met you, to have read (and loved!) Sword and Verse. I'll see you in a few weeks!

I could sit here and list a thousand and one authors who have done wonderful things with and for me, as well as fabulous authors who wrote amazing stories that touched my heart. Kimberley, Elissa, Melissa, Nicole, Lynne, Michelle, Christina, Emily (whose book The Accidental Movie Star was one of my first Kindle books I owned - and a favorite!) and all of the rest of the lovely authors who are amazing beyond words - thank you for being you! I'm honored to know you. 

Publishers and publicists too -- it's been an honor working with you all! I look forward to continue doing so in the future. Keep on rocking the publishing world!

And to everyone I forgot (because I sooo did - post-semester + holiday brain = holes in brain), as well as to all the people who are reading this, I adore you! I appreciate everything that you have said or done for or to me, and for putting up with me. Thank you to my parents, for housing my preciouses (my books!). Thank you God, for everything, especially for giving me a passion for reading (who even would I be if I didn't love reading?!). Thank you to everyone who has touched my life in some way - I am grateful!

I usually go through my stats but I also do that on my Dec. 31st post, so catch that in two days. For now, I will move on to my giveaway!

Winner picks two books. There will be one winner chosen from my blog, one chosen from Twitter (HERE). Feel free to enter both! The top row is hardcover, middle is ARC, bottom row is paperback. This is open internationally! Anyone can enter. Good luck! And THANK YOU!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Review: The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Book One of The Girl From Everywhere series
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Rating: 2 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

Summary (from Goodreads):

Heidi Heilig’s debut teen fantasy sweeps from modern-day New York City to nineteenth-century Hawaii to places of myth and legend. Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. The Girl from Everywhere, the first of two books, will dazzle readers of Sabaa Tahir, Rae Carson, and Rachel Hartman.

Nix’s life began in Honolulu in 1868. Since then she has traveled to mythic Scandinavia, a land from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights, modern-day New York City, and many more places both real and imagined. As long as he has a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place, any time. But now he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, before Nix’s mother died in childbirth. Nix’s life—her entire existence—is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years. If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own.

In The Girl from Everywhere, Heidi Heilig blends fantasy, history, and a modern sensibility with witty, fast-paced dialogue, breathless adventure, and enchanting romance.

What I Liked:

This book was such a colossal disappointment - FOR ME. I recognize that the issues that I had with this book aren't issues that everyone will have. There are a slew of super positive reviews on Goodreads that came way before my review. So there is a very good chance that most people will find this book magical and wonderful and whatnot. But me? No. I will write my harsh negative review in hopes of warning others who have preferences like mine about the things that didn't work for me. 

Aboard the Temptation with her father as Navigator, Nix has been to many places and many time periods. She was born in 1868, but she's been to modern-day New York and deep into the past as well. Her father is searching for a 1868 Honolulu map to be reunited with Nix's mother. But going back to the past, to the mother that died in childbirth, might mean that Nix's existence will disappear. She doesn't know if this WILL happen, but Nix would rather not take the chance. Nix is determined to make it out alive - but there is more at stake than she knows. 

From the synopsis, this book sounds pretty great. Time-traveling fantasy, lots at stake, LINEAR ROMANCE (or so it sounded) -- "If Nix helps her father reunite with the love of his life, it will cost her her own." That makes it sound like Nix has one love (Kash, who was mentioned in the line of the synopsis just before this one); WRONG. See next section.

The best part of this book was probably Kashmir (Kash) - I love him so much, and I ache for him, because he does not get what he deserves (a million pounds of gold, a hot bath, and a girl who loves him and only him). He's charming and intelligent and clever and observant and hilarious. And he deserves better.

I honestly thought I was enjoying this book for a bit, with all the interesting historical facts and settings, the weird tales and myths of Hawaii (once the crew reaches Hawaii). It's clear that Heilig really did her research for the story, and it's well-written in that sense. Take away the negatives that I'll list below, and you've got a story of great world-building. And probably a decent, interesting story. But I REALLY did not like certain things, and those things ruined the book for me.

What I Did Not Like:

I'll warn you now that there may be spoilers ahead. I am too f***ing pissed to even think about screening spoilers in this section. Read at your own risk - but if you hate love triangles, you might want to read further regardless.

LOVE TRIANGLE IN THIS BOOK. And it's not a shy one. The synopsis makes the book sound like there is a linear romance! Kash, Nix, riding off into the sunset (or whatever). I LOVE it when the heroine is in love with and/or slowly falls for her best friend! But that's not quite what happened here.

It's obvious that Kash loves Nix. Soooo obvious. He's a flirt and a tease and so charming and wonderful, but he's totally in love with her. Nix has him so friend-zoned though, although she starts to see otherwise as the book goes on. So that's part of the romance - she's seeing that she actually likes him beyond a friend.

But then the second part of the romance is introduced - Leg 2 of the triangle. Blake Hart is on Honolulu (year 1884 - daddy dearest overshot a little). AS SOON AS the author started going into a detailed physical description of a boy "close to Nix's age", I KNEW that he would show up again and he'd make up a love triangle. Why else do we care about his physical appearance? Right, because the heroine is going to fall for him too. YUP.

It would be one thing if Blake were one of those boys that falls for Nix, but Nix doesn't fall for him. You know, those "love triangles" in which one of the boys is an annoying pesky fly that won't go away, but you know he's the dead leg of the triangle because he's just annoying and the heroine doesn't care about him. But... she does. Don't get me wrong - Blake IS annoying. 

The love triangle represents - wait for it - Nix's choice: Blake is a grounded boy, on the island, a constant guy. Kash is your wanderer, part of the crew on the ship. Choose Blake, you choose a settled life on Honolulu. Choose Kash, you choose the wanderer's life, ever the adventurer. SO F***ING CLICHE. And did I mention that Blake is annoying?

Spoiler -- she kisses them both. This bugs some people, and I know it's a deal-breaker for some. For ME, it just solidified the fact that there is a love triangle, and the type of love triangle that isn't about to go away.

And the ending - HA! The ending is a very clear indication that the love triangle isn't going to go away! We have ALL THREE OF THEM - Nix, Kash, and Blake - in the same space! Going to the same place! Are you f***ing kidding me?! That solidifies the love triangle EVEN MORE - Nix gets to bounce around between the two of them in book two. THIS IS WHAT BOTHERS ME THE MOST ABOUT THIS LOVE TRIANGLE.

All caps are totally necessary. 

I thought the love triangle would turn out to be mild - at one point in the book, it looks like Nix is going to leave Hawaii (and Blake) forever - but that wasn't the case. So I'm ridiculously angry because the synopsis REALLY had me thinking that Nix's "love" would be Kashmir (and maybe it is, but then her "love" part 2 is Blake?). I love Kashmir. I think Blake is a waste of space. Pansy. Idiot. Weak. One-dimensional. A space-filler. The author REALLY wanted a love triangle in this book. 

I want to say that Kashmir is the "real" choice, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. The heroine gives no indication of a preference, of which boy has more of her affection. Honestly the more I think about it, the more I despise Nix. She's not incredibly astute, intelligent, and decisive. Not that everyone has to be but... the fact that she isn't when she could/should be, bothers me. A lot.

Well this review is rapidly turning into a love triangle rant, so I'll switch gears for a second. This book is LONG - nearly 500 pages - and it really felt that way. Usually long books don't bother me! 300, 400, 500 pages never really deterred me from reading - or finishing - a book. But 10% into this book, and I was feeling the length. I dreaded continuing this book; maybe I wasn't in the mood, but this book took forever for me to get into it, and obviously I never really got invested. Or maybe I got too invested, which is why I reacted so badly to the love triangle. 

But anyway, I struggled with this book, especially when I first started reading it. It didn't hook me. It never hooked me. It took me entirely too long to finish this book, longer than it usually takes me. Some parts of it were sooo boring, other parts more exciting.

This book threw me because I thought for a second that I was reading a carbon copy of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. Both deal with ships whose captains/navigators can take you to different times and locations. Weird, no? I didn't like this one nearly as much as I liked Passenger

So, to recap. Love triangle; dumba** heroine; a struggle to get into the story; eerily similar to Passenger by Alexandra Bracken. Mostly - LOVE TRIANGLE with no end in sight. Ew ew ew.

Unfortunately this is a prime example of peer pressure gone wrong - I never would have gotten this book from Edelweiss had a friend not reviewed the book before the book was available from the publisher. I kind of regret ever considering this book! I rarely pick up books based on peer pressure alone - this is exactly why. Go with your instinct/interests, people!

Would I Recommend It:

I so do not recommend this book under any circumstances, especially if you hate love triangle like me, or if ANYTHING I mentioned in the previous section bothered you. If you don't mind love triangles... this is probably going to seem like a jolly good story with lovely world-building and a uniqueness to the locations and whatnot. Otherwise? Steer clear of this one. Far faaaar away.


1.5 stars -> rounded up to 2 stars (this is my generosity at its finest, people). I'm rounding up because there is a SLIM chance that I might read the next book, if only to see what happens.  If the love triangle disappears quickly into the sequel, then I'll bite. But at the moment, I refuse to think about continuing with the series. SOMEONE COMFORT ME PLEASE.

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!