Fantasy Reviews #4: The Girl From Everywhere & A Thousand Nights

April 22, 2016 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Fantasy Reviews #4: The Girl From Everywhere & A Thousand NightsThe Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Series: The Girl from Everywhere #1
Published by Hot Key Books on March 3rd, 2016
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales & Folklore
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer.

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times - although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix's father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix's existence rather dangerously in question...

Nix has grown used to her father's obsession, but only because she's convinced it can't work. But then a map falls into her father's lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it's that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.

With time travelling pirate ships, a lush tropical Hawaiian setting and multi-cultural characters, The Girl From Everywhere had many interesting elements, but unfortunately the sheer volume of these things made it messy, unfocused and hard to follow at certain points. The journey featured the search for a map to guide the time travelling locations of the pirate ship, but there was also a light heist story, the fixation of a Captain’s past love, and a love triangle between Nix and two suitors.

I was surprised to find that there really wasn’t much time travelling in the book, with most of it set in 1800s Hawaii where Nix, Slate and Kashmir are searching for a map for a particular location. Maps were an interesting part of the time travel, they could travel to any location set out in the maps, whether real or fictional. Aside from 19th Century China with the terracotta soldiers, most of the other locations were talked about rather than visited. Other than the maps leading the ship to any location, the time travel rules weren’t really set out clearly.

I had never known my mother, but I knew my life as it had been without her: the ship, the sea, the myths, the maps…and yes, Kashmir. The pain I felt at the thought of losing him – the same pain that kept me at arm’s length – gave me a hint of my father’s own struggle.

The Hawaiian setting was a feast for my senses, with tropical rainforests, exotic fruit, caves and nature. The research into the setting during the 1800s was done really well, as we learn about the political nature of Hawaii during this time and the mythology which sets it apart. The writing is beautifully descriptive and I loved hearing about the food they were eating.

However, the experiential nature of the novel starts to drag as the plot is largely directionless. Instead of focusing on finding the map and enacting the heist, Nix starts getting to know her two suitors during the mandatory love triangle. Nothing much happens aside from the overuse of metaphors, adjectives and descriptions for the first 80% of the novel, and it really doesn’t tie off until the last 20% of the book. Even then, the ending felt a little lacklustre and rushed – I had to re-read the final few paragraphs to really grasp the ending.

thegirlfromeverywhere

The love triangle drove me crazy due to Nix’s indecisiveness. Most of us think Kashmir is the clear winner, with the best friend romance and how he flirts, teases her and feels protective over her, but then the annoying Blake comes along from Hawaii who felt bland in comparison. She flits between the two without much direction and even kisses them both. Even at the end of the novel, it isn’t really resolved much to my irritation.

I couldn’t really get a good feel of Nix other than her indecisiveness and her interesting relationship with her father who acts more on a whim rather than being a stable parent. Kashmir is a character who stands out however, he’s charming, caring and protective. I loved that both of these characters were from different cultures, Nix being half Chinese and Kashmir from a Persian background. I did feel that their cultures however weren’t explored really well, and had some issues with the Chinese translations which were inaccurate. If your main characters could be any culture and it wouldn’t have made a difference, why bother making them a mixed ethnicity just so it can be marketed as ‘diverse’?

epilogue

Due to the loose plot of the novel, the main focus of The Girl From Everywhere is the historical account of Hawaii in ancient times, the fascinating mythology and the family history behind the Song family. If you love historical fiction, this novel would be up your alley, but if you’re looking for a bit more action or time travel though, there isn’t too much of that in this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Thanks Allen & Unwin for sending me a review copy of this book!

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston Review

Fantasy Reviews #4: The Girl From Everywhere & A Thousand NightsA Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston
Published by Pan Macmillan Australia on October 22nd 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fairy Tales & Folklore
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife. When Lo-Melkhiin - a formidable king - arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. Desperate to save her sister from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice - leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man. But it seems that a strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king ...if only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster.
Set against a harsh desert backdrop, A Thousand Nights by E K Johnston is an evocative tale of love, mystery and magic that would not feel out of place if Scheherazade herself were telling it. And perhaps she is...

You know how some books just have a beautiful package, promising you wonderful things, but then afterwards you end up disappointed? That’s how I felt with A Thousand Nights.

That beautiful purple cover draws you in instantly, and the poetic words and retelling based on 1001 nights sounded promising. I was initially impressed by the Arabian nights setting, of deserts, magic, camels and nobility, and the wonderfully noble main character who gave herself up for her sister all Katniss style. It felt a bit like Beauty and the Beast in a way, where Lo-Melkhiin demonstrated cases of humanity, but it soon took a nosedive when I realised we weren’t really getting anywhere. That’s when the frustrations started.

Firstly, we are never given the characters’ name. I really struggled with this, after all how are we supposed to connect to a character we don’t even know the name of? In fact, the only named character in the book is the villain. Referring to her relatives as her mother, father, and sister and brothers were fine, but it gets clunky when she refers to her great grandmother as her mother’s mother’s mother, or her father’s father’s father or her uncle as her mother’s brother. There was no reason for this other than artistic writing.

Lo-Melkhiin’s way of loving was to use and to burn. It was not like my mother and my sister’s mother and my father. We might work together, he and I, but it was dangerous work, and I did not see how it would be a good end.

I haven’t actually read 1001 nights myself, but I also struggled with the way all these random metaphors and stories would crop up in the middle of the actual story. For instance, she would be having a conversation with someone, and then she’ll interrupt the story by reminiscing about a goat that her father’s father’s father had bought or liken it to the camels resting upon the desert horizon. The beauty of the book quickly wears off when you realise that the entire book is like this, which is where the different tales come into the book. And what of the main character? You never really find out why she’s a smallgod, where she gets her magic or how Lo-Melkhiin became evil. It just is, in favour of yet another magical random story.

And the romance? Why does there even HAVE to be a romance? Where was the development? Why does she suddenly like him? I just wasn’t sold, especially when you find out what’s really going on with Lo-Melkhiin. It felt like an unnecessary and forced addition to the story, especially when there was no development to this. The ending felt rushed and anti-climactic.

epilogue

While A Thousand Nights is beautifully packaged with evocative and lyrical writing, behind the veil is a clunky plot with limited characterisation and development. It tells a story of a nameless girl who saved her sister and endures the pain of being married to a monster, but it doesn’t really move the plot in any particular direction. While it’s a unique and beautifully written book, set in an amazing Arabian Nights setting, I felt disappointed upon reaching the last page.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Thanks Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a review copy! 

Jeann-Sig

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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31 responses to “Fantasy Reviews #4: The Girl From Everywhere & A Thousand Nights

  1. keionda

    OMG…. HAWAIII?? I'm in love with the sound of the caves and all of the exotic places! But SO, SO, SO not in love with the fact that there is a love triangle and (surprise) the main character can't seem to get her stuff together, put on her big girls panties AND MAKE A FRIGGIN' choice…. It angers me to no end.

    But on a side note, LURVE that book cover. 😉

    • Yesss, the setting was absolutely gorgeous Keionda! I think you'd love Hawaii and the setting, but yeah, the character and the love triangle was really distracting and iffy. I love the AU cover as well!

  2. lekeishathebooknerd

    The Girl from Everywhere really was a let down on the time travel part. I wanted so much to happen, but thr romance kinda took center stage and made me want to stop reading altogether. I've not read A Thousand Nights, but I'm not sure I want to right now. I'm just not into as much YA fantasy, since I've been let down so much recently. Great reviews!
    My recent post Stacking the Shelves #78

    • Yeah, nothing really happened except for that romance and a few historical facts. There are so many that have been disappointing, but the truly brilliant ones make it worth it thankfully 🙂

  3. Sighh, I totally get you on A Thousand Nights! I was superrr excited about it (especially since it was after I read TWATD, which you know I loved), but WOW was it just extremely disappointing. The ending was "meh," and the main character made me so exasperated. FOR REAL – no one cares about your father's father's father! Save it. :\

    • I know right! Everyone was like yesss this is going to be awesome but then going into it, it was just disappointing. She just spouted so many annoying stories, I was like focus on the plot!

    • Yep, that love triangle was so frustrating and unnecessary, particularly where there was a clear front runner, yet it's going to drag on D:

  4. Yeah, the love triangle was a frustrating part of TGFE. The gimmick was really frustrating for many people definitely.

  5. I think your A Thousands Nights review is absolutely spot on! I did not love it either. I felt like nothing at all happened, until the end when ALL the things happened. And by then I kind of didn't care anymore. I also referred to good old No Name as "Glen Coco" for reviewing purposes, and because I was bored of the actual book 😉

    I DID really love The Girl from Everywhere though. I totally think your points are valid, and agree with you- and Blake is the worst, can he go away? I didn't know about the Chinese translations while I was reading because, well, I don't know any Chinese, and this came to light after I'd read it. And I had already kind of fallen in love with it sooooo, yeah.

    Great reviews! And I feel you about the super pretty purple cover of A Thousand Nights- that's just sadness.
    My recent post Reviews in a Minute: More April(ish) Books

    • Oh man, A Thousand Nights just felt like a drag to read because my brain was just trying to pinpoint all those annoying metaphors and relatives but after a while it just felt like too much. Lol that's hilarious Shannon, whatever keeps you going ammirite?

      Yeah, there's mixed reviews about TGFE but I did find a few problems with the Chinese wording. Hehe no shame in loving a book that I Didn't!

  6. Cyn @ Bookmunchies

    No, not liking the sounds of the love triangles! The setting sounded very cool in Girl from Everywhere, that's too bad it gets dragging. And I'm sad about A Thousand Nights, it had so much potential but unfortunately I've seen a lot of disappointing reviews. The romance sounds like a flop. Great review, Jeann! Hope your next reads are great!
    My recent post Review: Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

    • Yeah, both had really evocative settings that had potential but a few things that just didn't quite make it there you know? Thank you Cyn!

  7. I completely agree with you about The Girl from Everywhere. I loved the Hawaiian setting and the idea of a ship that could time travel, but it felt…lacking for me somehow?

    And most of the reviews I've read for A Thousand Nights have reflected your thoughts. I don't think it would be for me either. 😐 Thanks for sharing Jeann and, as always, fabulous reviews! <3

    • Yeah, it felt really light without much depth unfortunately and lots of elements. A Thousand Nights was frustrating but I'm glad it was a quick read. Thank you Zoe!

    • I love our version of the TGFE cover as well, it really covers the lush tropical setting well. I hope you enjoy them when you pick them up Kelly!

  8. I'm so sorry you didn't love either of these! I've heard loads about both of them, but I've never really wanted to read A Thousand Nights. The name thing seems SO CONFUSING (I mean, I'm confused at the start of loads of books anyway. This would make my brain explode!), and just kind of unnecessary. I really wanted to read TGFE though, but now I'm not too sure. The lack of adventure, and too much love-triangle stuff seems annoying, especially when so many people make it out to be the epic time travel fantasy that the blogosphere's been waiting for. Great reviews! 😀

    Denise | The Bibliolater
    My recent post Nefarious Tales Blog Tour: Do we actually need villains in books?

    • Yeah, A Thousand Nights was just really frustrating with the long winded lack of names you know. And just naming the villain places an unnecessary importance around him which I wasn't too fond of. I did find TGFE was one of those overhyped books but that time travel fantasy is still far away I think. Thank you Denise!

  9. I'm currently reading The Girl from Everywhere… and I've been stuck within the first 100 pages for weeks. It's not bad, but for some reason it's just not grabbing me. I only just reached Hawaii and I'm not sure I want to read about a love triangle with an indecisive heroine in the middle. As for A Thousand Nights, I am apparently one of the few black sheep out there who loved it. I understand why so many readers had qualms with it, but I personally adored it.
    My recent post East of West, Vol. 1: The Promise and Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal | Mini-Reviews

    • Yeah, I've heard lots of people struggle with TGFE and I can definitely see why, it doesn't really go anywhere. The Hawaiian setting is really beautiful but the love triangle was frustrating. It's great to hear that you enjoyed A Thousand Nights though!

  10. bingeingonbooks

    Hmm,a time traveling book that doesn't have much time traveling? That doesn't sound very promising. I was really looking forward to The girl from everywhere. I like the fact that the author did a great job with the Hawaii setting,but the whole boring thing kind of puts me off. I'll probably still read it,but maybe I'll wait until there's a sale or something. Great reviews.
    My recent post Beyond The Books #4 – The one where I eat tons of peanut butter by myself

    • I know, it seems like that is the trend because Passenger was similar as well. The Hawaiian setting was actually really wonderful, as long as you don't expect too much action it should be fine. Thank you Cynthia!

    • Yeah, the front of it had lots of time travelling then all of a sudden nothing! A Thousand Nights just got really frustrating lol.

  11. I've read a Thousand Nights Jeann and couldn't even get through it sadly. Even until around halfway, it felt as though it had next to no plot. The main chunk was how many lyrically ways to describe sand really.

    Girl From Everywhere doesn't sound like my thing either unfortunately. I'm all for diversity, but not if it's inaccurate and culturally insensitive. As you've said, maybe just a marketing tool to make it more appealing to the wider reading audience?

    I'm so sorry you couldn't have enjoyed these a little more Jeann, hopefully your next read is a far better read. Wonderful reviews <3
    My recent post Lady Midnight Discussion

    • Yeah, luckily for me it was a short book, it was just such a frustrating book especially when it wasn't going anywhere. With The Girl From Everywhere, unfortunately I think diversity is used as a marketing tool these days and it's 'trendy' to include things like that to market a book. Thank you Kelly! Yes you were first 😀 Well done *gold star*