Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Title: Assassin's Heart
Author(s): Sarah Ahiers
Narrator(s): Khristine Hvam
Series: Assassin's Heart, book #1
Length: 10 hrs 41 mins
Publisher: HarperAudio
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Source: ARC received from publisher, audiobook from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

I like a good revenge story. I like a good story featuring assassins. And I liked this story a lot more than I expected to, based on early reviews. Maybe those same reviews tempered my excitement for such a novel and thus I was able to enjoy it on its own merits? I mean, it wasn't a perfect story, but I appreciated the spirit of it just the same.

So maybe there wasn't all that much assassinating going on past the annihilation of Lea's family, but the revenge scheme carried the book for me. Or, more accurately, Les and his involvement in the half-baked revenge plot did. Lea was alright...a little too preoccupied with her former lover and each of their roles in her family's fall, but she realized the error of her ways and was more tolerable for it.

My biggest complaint would be how religious and fanatical the whole story is. I mean, for families who commit murder for hire, it seemed...odd...to be so beholden to a specific deity, but it's not as if I haven't seen something like this before. I did find it intriguing how the religious aspects came into play later in the story, though, so I guess since it was central and necessary to the overall plot, I'll allow it. :P

It probably also helped this story that Khristine Hvam is the narrator. She's an absolute favorite of mine, and I rarely pass up an opportunity to listen to one of her audiobook performances if I can help it.

About the author: 

YA fantasy writer, dog lover, all around cool nerd? Repped by Mollie Glick of Foundry Literary + Media. Author of ASSASSIN'S HEART Winter 2016 from HarperTeen.

Find Sarah:

WebsiteTwitter | Goodreads

Title: The Girl from Everywhere
Author(s): Heidi Heilig
Narrator(s): Kim Mai Guest
Series: The Girl from Everywhere, book #1
Length: 10 hrs 9 mins
Publisher: HarperAudio
Publication Date: February 16, 2016
Source: ARC received from publisher, audiobook from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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Nix has spent her entire life aboard her father’s ship, sailing across the centuries, across the world, across myth and imagination.

As long as her father has a map for it, he can sail to any time, any place, real or imagined: nineteenth-century China, the land from One Thousand and One Nights, a mythic version of Africa. Along the way they have found crewmates and friends, and even a disarming thief who could come to mean much more to Nix.

But the end to it all looms closer every day.

Her father is obsessed with obtaining the one map, 1868 Honolulu, that could take him back to his lost love, Nix’s mother. Even though getting it—and going there—could erase Nix’s very existence.

For the first time, Nix is entering unknown waters.

She could find herself, find her family, find her own fantastical ability, her own epic love.

Or she could disappear.

I remember reading a review that basically said if you'd read Passenger, you could probably skip this one because it was very similar. And it is. And it isn't. I don't want to get into the specifics, comparing and contrasting the two stories because then we could be here all day. I will say that I probably would have enjoyed this book a smidge more if I'd read it prior to Passenger. But the same is true for having already read Passenger: if I'd read this book first, I probably would have enjoyed Passenger a smidge less than I did. And it does boil down to those similarities.

I think what I enjoyed most about this story was the magical aspect, that these pirates could sail to any land, real or imagined, as long as they had a map for their destination. There were magical creatures and artifacts and a fortune teller and it all culminated into this fantastical story of time travel and treasure seeking.

Also: this is actually more of a pirate book than Passenger turned out to be, considering that the ship is the vessel that takes its crew from one destination and time to the next, rather than fissures in time and space that have to be located in order to travel on, as in Passenger. I'm a big fan of pirates stories -- and roguish pirates, to be more specific -- and making a pirate ship the time travel apparatus was a stroke of brilliance. Almost as awesome as a blue police box. ;0)

Kim Mai Guest is always a phenomenal narrator, but I love when she's picked to voice characters of Asian descent. She beautifully captures Nix's struggle to come to terms with what might have been and what her future holds and whether or not any of it matters when she could just as easily disappear, never to have existed at all.

I don't know if I'll continue this series. I enjoyed the story overall, but it definitely didn't have the cliffhanger that Passenger did...that draw to return and find out more. Honestly, I know there's much more story ahead for Nix and company, but this book had a solid conclusion and could have been a stand-alone novel. I'm not saying I prefer cliffhangers, but they do make it harder to say no to the sequel. o_O

About the author:

Heidi grew up in Hawaii where she rode horses and raised peacocks, and then she moved to New York City and grew up even more, as one tends to do. Her favorite thing, outside of writing, is travel, and she has haggled for rugs in Morocco, hiked the trails of the Ko'olau Valley, and huddled in a tent in Africa while lions roared in the dark.

She holds an MFA from New York University in Musical Theatre Writing, of all things, and she's written books and lyrics for shows including The Time Travelers Convention, Under Construction, and The Hole. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their pet snake, whose wings will likely grow in any day now.

Find Heidi:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram


  1. I am actually really surprised by how many people did not enjoy the religion aspect in Assassin's Heart. For me, it was one of the most important things in the book, and I thought the author really connected everything with the religion aspect.

    As for the The Girl from Everywhere, I really want to read it soon-ish, Passanger too. I am a little bummed to hear that they are very similar. I think it will be hard to choose which book to read now first.

    Anatea | Anatea's Bookshelf

    1. Huh, I actually can't say I've seen too many reviews mentioning the religious aspects, except only briefly, but my issue is probably a personal preference thing. I'm not a very religious person, so I like to be forewarned of that type of thing in a story, especially when it's going to be so heavy-handed. I mean, it made more sense as the story progressed, but I was just more focused on the revenge plot, as that's what initially piqued my interest.

      Yeah, good luck choosing, lol. They're not THAT similar, but they left me with a similar feeling overall. I feel like Passenger was a little more technical and TGFE was the more magical of the two…if that helps. :)

  2. I'm not too religious either but I'm still going to give Assassin's Heart a shot. I'm going to skip on The Girl from Everywhere for now. I haven't rad Passenger yet but I plan to. If I like it enough, I might give The Girl from Everywhere a try.

    1. The great thing about Assassin's Heart was that I still enjoyed it *despite* the religious aspects. :) And you can't go wrong with Passenger or TGFE...they're both great in their own respects. Hope you enjoy!


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