Review: The Archived by Victoria Schwab

Lizzie     Jul 19th, 2013     Fantasy, Paranormal, Reviews     0 Replies

Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Books (January 22, 2013)
Source: Purchased
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423157311
ISBN-13: 978-1423157311

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive. Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was: a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often-violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now that her little brother is gone too, Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hardwon redemption.

I had this book for many months before finally picking it up, something that I now regret dearly. I began it during Bonnaroo in June under a canopy at my campsite, while listening to a band I could hear from the main stage. It was beautiful, as beautiful as this book is.

I had heard so much hype about The Archived and about Victoria herself but admittedly, I’d never gotten around to picking up The Near Witch (though I’ve always intended to). Hype like that always scares me because I’ve read my fair share of hyped-up books that I hated. And now I’m wondering if I place too much doubt on the hype.

The Archived is a story full of sorrow and beauty. From the beginning, I ached for Mackenzie and the loss of her brother. I wanted to crawl into the pages and hold her, and maybe smack her mother into dealing with her grief. I loved the flashbacks to when Mac was being trained by her grandfather Da; it felt so bittersweet, though we didn’t get see very far into their relationship. Those flashbacks, though, held so much love, you knew they were close.

The Archive was such a fascinating idea, too. Your loved ones all there, shelved and quiet, their memories still very much alive? It’s almost hard to not believe in something like that being possible. It would be nice, wouldn’t it? But then again, Mac’s job as a Keeper makes you realize why that would be entirely frightening.

I fell in love with Victoria Schwab’s writing in The Archived. It is exactly how I wish my writing to be, rich and beauitful, flowing, and without description overload. Needless to say, I will be reading all of her books from now on. The hype around her is 100% deserved and true.

Review: Circle of Fire by Michelle Zink

Lizzie     Feb 9th, 2012     Fantasy, Paranormal, Reviews     0 Replies

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (August 3, 2011)
Source: Bought
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316027375
ISBN-13: 978-0316027373

With time dwindling but her will to end the Prophecy stronger than ever, Lia sets out on a journey to find the remaining keys, locate the missing pages of the Prophecy, and convince her sister Alice to help–or risk her life trying. Lia has her beloved Dimitri by her side, but Alice has James, the man who once loved her sister–and maybe still does. James doesn’t know the truth about either sister, or the prophecy that divides them. And Alice intends to keep it that way.

There are some secrets sisters aren’t meant to share. Because when they do, it destroys them. This stunning conclusion to Michelle Zink’s Prophecy of the Sisters trilogy will make saying good-bye bittersweet for readers.

I love this series and I’m so sad to see it is over. =/ The first book wasn’t so action-y as the second, and the second wasn’t as action-y as the third. Basically, it got better with every book!

Michelle has a way with words that is so terrific, it holds me in the book and I cannot put it down for hours. It was 10 PM when I started reading and before I knew it, it was almost 1 AM. Oops! I guess for some people, that’s not saying much, but lately, I’ve had trouble getting into books for a few months but I think this book is what finally cured me of that!

I was glad to see that James, Lia’s boyfriend in the first book, had returned in this one. That was the thing that bother me the most in Guardian of the Gate; James seemed to have completely disappeared, though it was for good reason. Still, I thought it was great to see him return. Now, though, I’m pretty partial to Dimitri hehe. ;)

I’ve noticed this trend that series finales are really great up to about the last five or so pages, and then the author throws in some bit that is totally unnecessary. I won’t mention any names *coughcough*Mockingjay*coughcough* but I think we all know of a book like that. I didn’t feel this way at all with Circle of Fire. I thought this had the most perfect ending, and it wrapped almost everything up nicely.

I don’t know what was missing. Probably, nothing was missing. It’s been a while since I read the first books in the series but I felt like something was left out. Don’t take my word on that though. I think I’m just mixing things up. Overall, I really, really loved this book and this entire series. It had one of the best endings I’ve read. It was action- and romance-packed, with a fascinating storyline. I cannot wait to read more from Michelle and I know I’ll returning these books over and over again!

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Lizzie     Jun 6th, 2011     Fantasy, Paranormal, Reviews     0 Replies

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Quirk Books (June 7, 2011)
Source: Finished copy received from publisher
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594744769
ISBN-13: 978-1594744761

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. And a strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children who once lived here—one of whom was his own grandfather—were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a desolate island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

I’m going to start this off by saying, this was a very peculiar novel. The name was all too fitting. It was very unlike anything else I’ve read. And not just because it involved literature and some very creepy photography.

The storyline actually engrossed me so much that I was reading while my mother watched television in the same room, which is something I’m normally entirely incapable of, because it distracts me easily. Instead, I found myself reading this quickly, reading over a hundred pages in an hour (another thing I’m normally incapable of). It was like I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!

Miss Peregrine’s, admittedly wasn’t exactly what I expected. I expected entirely creepy ghost children shifting out of the walls, monsters hopping out in front of Jacob in the dark, and nightmarish creatures. Actually, what I got was a lot better and a whole lot less cliche than what I expected. Which was awesome! Yes, it was creepy, particularly in the first half of the story, and there was plenty of nightmare-causing things in the book but more than that, the story followed a path entirely captivating but I can’t even reveal more about that without spoiling the book for everyone.

The photographs added a lot to the enjoyment of the story, though I think even if they hadn’t been apart of it, I still would’ve loved it. I absolutely loved that they gave you a better visualization of the characters and happenings throughout the book. The fact that those photographs are actually real (though some are manipulated) is amazing. They’re all so fascinating, that I would’ve finished a lot sooner with the book if I hadn’t spent so much analyzing and staring at the photos.

Sometimes, I got very confused. Still, I’m very confused about some parts of the novel, because there was a lot left open. At the same time, the layers to the story have left me wanting a sequel to this so I can dive back into this fascinating, confusing, mind-blowing world. I would love to know more about Jacob’s grandfather’s past, Jacob’s past (and future), and where the story is going next!

Review: Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Lizzie     Oct 26th, 2010     Fantasy, Paranormal, Reviews, Romance     0 Replies

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (October 12, 2010)
Source: Won from Publisher
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316077054
ISBN-13: 978-0316077057

Ethan Wate used to think of Gatlin, the small Southern town he had always called home, as a place where nothing ever changed. Then he met mysterious newcomer Lena Duchannes, who revealed a secret world that had been hidden in plain sight all along. A Gatlin that harbored ancient secrets beneath its moss-covered oaks and cracked sidewalks. A Gatlin where a curse has marked Lena’s family of powerful supernaturals for generations. A Gatlin where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen.

Sometimes life-ending.

Together they can face anything Gatlin throws at them, but after suffering a tragic loss, Lena starts to pull away, keeping secrets that test their relationship. And now that Ethan’s eyes have been opened to the darker side of Gatlin, there’s no going back. Haunted by strange visions only he can see, Ethan is pulled deeper into his town’s tangled history and finds himself caught up in the dangerous network of underground passageways endlessly crisscrossing the South, where nothing is as it seems.

*Note: This review contains no spoilers for Beautiful Darkness but may spoil Beautiful Creatures if you haven’t read it yet.

Kami and Margaret have done it again. By far my most anticipated book of 2010, I was dying to get my hands on this from the second I learned about it. And I’m so excited to say that it more than lived up to my expectations!

Since reading Beautiful Creatures back in May, I’ve found myself thinking back to the story way too often than is healthy. The rich detail, the fantastic writing, the amazing character development, the awesome Southern setting—I loved it all so much! When asked by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, author of Raised by Wolves, who my favorite character from the book is at Smart Chicks, I answered, “Lena, without a doubt!”

Lena has gone through so much, both in Beautiful Creatures and beforehand, that I think it’s amazing she’s still standing by the beginning of Beautiful Darkness. Macon, the only father she’s ever known, is dead. Everything has changed. She remains Unclaimed, which is unheard of in the Caster world. And because of her grief, it’s clear that she’s slowly turning Dark.

This book had a lot more action and progressed a lot quick than its prequel. Kami and Margie have created an amazing, layered world of mystery, magic, and danger, and I’m completely in love with it. Just when you think everyone’s safe, even if for only a minute, another twist comes into play and you’re sucked right into the next chapter. Seriously, there are so many twists in this story, that I couldn’t put it down for more than a couple hours. Yes, it was THAT amazing.

If you’re a fan of the first book, you will most definitely not be disappointed by Beautiful Darkness. It’s everything a sequel should be, and even more. If you haven’t read these yet, what are you waiting for?! Go grab them right now! If you love Southern gothic or fantasy, this is one not to be missed. If I could give this a thousand stars, I would. ;) Now, it’s only a good long wait for Book #3. I may die before then, though….

Review: Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink

Lizzie     Oct 5th, 2010     Fantasy, Paranormal, Reviews     0 Replies

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (August 1, 2010)
Source: Purchased
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316034479
ISBN-13: 978-0316034470

The ultimate battle between sisters is nearing, and its outcome could have catastrophic consequences. As sixteen year-old Lia Milthorpe searches for a way to end the prophecy, her twin sister Alice hones the skills she’ll need to defeat Lia. Alice will stop at nothing to reclaim her sister’s role in the prophecy, and that’s not the only thing she wants: There’s also Lia’s boyfriend James.

Lia and Alice always knew the Prophecy would turn those closest to them against them. But they didn’t know what betrayal could lead them to do. In the end, only one sister will be left standing.

*Note: This review contains no spoilers of Guardian of the Gate but may spoil Prophecy of the Sisters if you haven’t read it.

I didn’t hear about Prophecy of the Sisters until only very recent, probably somewhere around the beginning of summer. When I did, though, I ran for the bookstore. I absolutely love books set in the Victorian era; something about that particular era fascinates me. Since I read the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray, I’ve been dying to read more books set in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. And when I finished Prophecy of the Sisters, I was immediately dying for the sequel, Guardian of the Gate. Luckily, I didn’t have very long to wait.

When I cracked open the cover of this book, I found myself enthralled once again, transported into Lia’s world of mystery and sorrow. She’s lost nearly everyone at this point: her father, her brother Henry, and her sister Alice, who’s bent on Lia’s destruction. Lia is now in England with her best friend Sonia, on a desperate search of the keys of the Prophecy, who will ultimately aid in its succession or, more preferably to Lia, failure.

What I loved most about this book is that it didn’t waste any time throwing you into the action and adventure. Michelle quickly catches you up and then you’re off. It was faster paced than Prophecy without confusing you. Everytime I finished a chapter, I’d wince if I couldn’t continue onto the next. Even though it’s clear Lia is still grieving the loss of her brother, the story doesn’t dwell on that and stop for several chapters; there’s always new things happening that keeps it going.

Alice is one of my most favorite deranged characters in YA; she’s freaky and coniving and absolutely sinster. Every time she enters a scene, I could feel her evilness seething off the page. And she makes it clear that she’s not a weak little girl. She’s working with the Lost Souls, threatening Lia at every chance she gets. She also assisted in the death of their brother, which bumps her up further on my list of favorite evil YA characters.

One thing that bothered me was James, Lia’s boyfriend, almost entirely disappeared from the story. Albeit, he’s an ocean away from Lia but I felt like he could’ve had at least a bit of a bigger impact on the book. He’s mentioned a time or two in the beginning but as you move through the story, he seems to vanish. Lia hardly mentions him (or maybe I just remember wrong…) and she’s moves on rather quickly, even though they clearly loved each other intensely in Prophecy.

As the story progresses, Lia must travel to the mysterious island of Altus. This is where things did get a little prolonged. The journey for Lia and her friends is very long and consumes most of the book, and at times, I did get a little bored with the woods scenes. I was hoping the story would be redeemed quickly and boy, did it! Just when you think, “Oh my, are we ever gonna get to the island?” BAM! Somethings happens and you’re suddenly thrown onto the edge of your seat, and frightened for your life.

When they arrive to Altus, Michelle hones her incredible writing skills and creates a stunning landscape, rich with detail. She certainly doesn’t bore you, though, with the descriptions. Instead, it helps you better understand the amazement that Lia herself is feeling, while allowing you to immerse yourself in it. I want to live on Altus!

The ending was breathtaking. It was dark, scary, wonderful, and probably the most perfect ending to a book that is apart of a series, ever, in my opinion. I mean, things are actiony up until the very last page. In fact, my favorite parts are all within the last sixty pages or so, so I couldn’t tell you about them even if I wanted to.

Overall, I actually liked this one better than Prophecy of the Sisters. I absolutely loved it! Where the first one spends a large amount of time explaining the Prophecy, Guardian of the Gate throws you in the fire and takes you on an amazing adventure. If you haven’t picked up this book, or even the first one, you need to! Michelle Zink is an incredible author, and I’m absolutely dying for the third and final book in the series!

Review: Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Lizzie     Sep 7th, 2010     Paranormal, Reviews, Romance     0 Replies

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (July 13, 2010)
Source: ARC received from author
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0545123283
ISBN-13: 978-0545123280

The Longing.

Once Sam and Grace have found each other, they know they must fight to stay together. For Sam, this means reckoning with his werewolf past. For Grace, this means facing a future that is less and less certain.

The Loss.

Into their comes a new wolf named Cole, whose past is full of hurt and danger. He wrestling with his own demons, embracing the life of a wolf while denying the ties of being human.

The Linger.

For Grace, Sam, and Cole, life is a constant struggle between two forces—wolf and human—with love baring its two sides as well. It is harrowing and euphoric, freeing and entrapping, enticing and alarming. As their world falls apart, love is what lingers. But will it be enough?

*Note: This review contains no spoilers of Linger but may spoil Shiver if you haven’t read it.

As a lover of all things young adult fantasy, it was no surprise that I found my way to Shiver, the first novel in the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, by the multi-talented, superwoman Maggie Stiefvater. Originally, my friend picked it up at Borders, loudly proclaiming, “I MUST read this!” Several months later, I bought her Shiver as a belated birthday present, but not before reading it myself. Immediately, I fell in love. I was obsessively tweeting about it, listening to songs and thinking, “Sam and Grace, aaah!”, it even inspired my Twitter name! My friends became very annoyed with me, amusingly so. ;)

The cliffhanger ending frustrated me beyond belief, because I assumed that Shiver was a standalone novel. Boy, was I happy when I finally found out that there were actually two more books to follow. I quickly dedicated myself to finding out more about Maggie and her work. That was when I discovered the Linger ARC contest being held on Maggie’s blog back in February. I entered, with little hopes of winning, considering the nearly three thousand entries. Yet, somehow, I did win one of five ARCs of the novel. Can you imagine my excitement at midnight when the winners were announced? You truly should’ve been there.

In Shiver, Grace always watched the wolves behind her house from her tireswing, silently wondering about the yellow-eyed wolf that watched back. When she meets Sam, she becomes entangled in his struggle to stay human. Together, they discover a cure for the lycanthropy that shattered his humanity every winter. In Linger, finally settling into their new lives together, Grace and Sam are on top of the world, no less together. Sam struggles to accept that he is firmly in his skin, while Grace knows that she is not. I’ll admit—I had absolutely no idea what the opening line meant. “This is the story of a boy who used to be a wolf and a girl who was becoming one.”

Because of this, I had no idea where the story was going. It was, of course, by my own stupidity. I was on edge with every turn of the page. Regardless of whether you understand the opening line or not, you’ll surely be on edge as well. All your favorite characters are back—including the introduction of a new character. Cole’s old life consisted of touring with his band NARKOTIKA, bedding girl after girl, downing colorful handfuls of pills, and living recklessly. When he’s turned by Beck, who happens to be Sam’s surrogate father, he finally escapes from his hollow life, to a new one full of possibilities and opportunities.

Cole’s daredevilness, good looks, and complex personality had me from his introduction. I absolutely loved his clever lines and utter confidence. I’ve loved Sam and Grace from the beginning, but Isabel, who lost her brother, a newly-turned wolf, in the previous book, took some getting used to. She had always struck me as the snobby mean girl who had everything and it wasn’t until Linger for me to see through that nasty exterior, to the empty girl inside who only wanted a real friend to lean on. When Cole and Isabel meet, I was always laughing my head off at the acid they shot at each other, while knowing exactly what they were actually thinking, which was completely opposite of the things coming from their mouths.

As I raced hungrily through this book, I found myself enveloped for hours at a time admiring Maggie’s lyrical writing. Her style is soft yet packs a punch where necessary. I’m not big on fluffy, comfortable romance but in Linger, there’s nothing comfortable about these lovers. Always in the back of their minds is a lurking, unsaid danger, and you, as the reader, can feel it too, even if you don’t know what it is (if you’re like me, that is). The fluffiness, however, just so happens to work in these books.

When I finished Linger, I actually, truly cried. It wasn’t full-on bawling but there were definitely tears. I cried at the end of Shiver as well, but not as hard as this one. I can only imagine what my tears will be like at the end of Forever, the final book in the trilogy!

So, in all, I enjoyed this one just as much, if not more than the first book. Even the littlest details will leave an impression on you by the end. And if I were you, I’d be prepared for tears so keep a few tissues on hand—or a whole box if you’re emotional. ;)

Linger is now in stores!

I apologize for the lateness of this review! Keep checking back as I add more things to the blog. Also, very, very soon, I’ll be holding my first ever contest and it’ll involve swag from authors like Michelle Zink (Guardian of the Gate), Sophie Jordan (Firelight), and maybe a signed something from the Smart Chicks at the Cincinnati signing. This’ll probably happen when I reach 25 followers or so.