EDIT: Okay, I think I can form a sort of review-ish-thing now.
So let's do the whole go-over-the-synopsis thing. Take a second, and let this idea sink...moreEDIT: Okay, I think I can form a sort of review-ish-thing now.
So let's do the whole go-over-the-synopsis thing. Take a second, and let this idea sink into your head: imagine that, when you die, a copy of you was stored on a shelf somewhere, exactly like a book. You could be read, every detail of your life viewable like turning through chapters in a great novel.
Loving that idea so far? Good, keep up with me here.
When I came across the cover to The Archived through the lovely Victoria on Facebook, it was probably around November. There had been a pre-order craze for this book, and of course, I had to take a peek at it. I'm a hungry reader, new ideas are like fodder for my ever impatient brain. If I had to read one more vampire love story or poorly crafted run of characters, I was going to scream murder.
Several clicks on Amazon later, and a few minutes spent drooling over a fantastic cover and even better blurb for the book, and I was hooked. I slapped that book on my Christmas list and shoved it under my parent's noses with glee. The words were clear: "Order me this, and I'll be happy with nothing under the three on the 25th. Just. Order. Me. This."
In the end, they ordered me far more than The Archived, but imagine my squeal when a few days pasts its release, and it showed up at my house. I don't remember tearing a package that violently with the intent of cradling the interior object so lovingly.
Okay, moment of adoration over. Let's get onto the book, shall we?
The Archived follows young Mackenzie, who depending on who you speak to, could be known as Mac, Bishop, Keeper, or M. She's had a few bumps in the road recently; her family has moved to run from a ground-shaking trauma in their immediate past with the loss of a child, her grandfather's passing still holds weight in her heart, and above all, she has to keep a dark secret with her at all times.
She is a Keeper, and she works for the Archive.
The Archive is a vast, massive type of library that houses the copies of those who have passed, which are called Histories. And Keepers are the people who make sure they stay in the Archive. To break it down easily, Keepers are to the Archive like worker bees to a nest. Mac is the soldier in the field who patrols the Narrows, a sort of in-between that rests between the Outer, our world, and the Archive, the world that stores all the Histories.
Being a member of the Archive, Mac can never tell her parents about her job, or anyone for that matter. The end result makes her a bit of an introvert, but not by choice. Right out of the gate, you see Mac jump off the pages of this story. Under any normal circumstance, she would be a normal girl with a smart mouth and mind to boot. But being a Keeper, among other things, has bruised her spirit, and it doesn't seem to want to heal.
As time goes on in her new living location, Mac meets a new cast of people who dance in and out of her life, one which is a charming boy by the name of Wesley. At first, Mac doesn't think too much of the boy, but as time goes on, she comes to learn not only is he also working with the Archive, but will become something greater to her as time goes on.
As all of these little pieces of her life run around, it's the undercurrent of a murder mystery that requires both the Archive and the Outer, plus a mysterious boy named Owen, to figure out just what happened nearly 50 years ago in her home.
The Archived is one of those books that shows me, as both reader and writer, that you can take a simple idea, and make it into something unique and magnificent all in one shot. I don't know about you, but I've never read a book about people being stored like books, not like this. And the writing, oh my gosh. Victoria Schwab has such a unique, easy, poetic flow to her words that runs natural and true. It's normal to the point that it sounds like something you'd think of saying yourself as you read it, and those are the books I love the most; the ones where the words vanish and the story plays in your head like a movie as you continue to read. I can't tell you how many times I lost track of time reading it. It became a glorious guilty pleasure to steal a few minutes here, or three hours there to read this masterful story.
Oh, and the best part? THERE'S GOING TO BE A SECOND BOOK. Heck YES. The Archived doesn't end with a cliffhanger, but I think that's what's making me want the second book even more. The first was written and tied together so well, but left just enough open perfectly to write the second and expand on this world and people we've only begun to learn about.
Do yourself a favor, grab this book. Devour it. Very rarely do I fall in love with a book so much as I have with this. You won't be disappointed reading The Archived. (less)
It's been years since The Amulet of Samarkand was published, years since I found it in my Scholastic event inside the library at my Middle School. At...moreIt's been years since The Amulet of Samarkand was published, years since I found it in my Scholastic event inside the library at my Middle School. At the time, I had bought the book because the author's name was spelled the same way as my current crush. I thought to myself, "Hey, good conversation piece for next time I run into him!" While the book didn't bring us any close (and trust me, it was for the better) when I finally got around to reading it, I was hooked!
The first book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy follows a young, naive, semi-traumatized little boy named Nathaniel. Prior to reading this book, I've never actually read anything with a male POV outside of Harry Potter. Nathaniel is nothing like Harry- he's headstrong straight out of the gate, sticks his foot in his mouth so many times you begin to feel bad for him, and any chance of being a well-rounded boy is cut short by his brooding master, Arthur. The book brings you to speed on Nathaniel's crummy life within the first few chapters, half bouncing between present and past to paint the full picture.
The second, and more main character than Nathaniel, is Bartimaeus. First, let me say that Bartimaeus, in my opinion, is far hotter than any vampire/ghos/werewolf guy on the reading market right now. He's rude, bitter, snarky, witty, can change into any shape or form, and even though he doesn't like most of the things he is told to do, he finishes them with zest and without having to be naked or missing a shirt the whole time like all these other honchos do. Bartimaeus is a djinn, or a genie of sorts, and slightly more powerful than your average one, but nothing spectacular. Summoned by Nathaniel, he is first only told to hide a valuable Nathaniel stole to ruffle the feathers of another magician who upset him. But soon Bartimaeus and Nathaniel are both swept into uncovering a huge mystery that could end up killing all of the magicians in London, if not more, if they don't stop it!
This books is currently the only book I know that jumps between 3rd POV Past and 1st POV Past, each one dedicated to a character. When I first noticed it, I thought it might deter from the book, but once again it goes to show that if the story is good and draws you in you hardly notice the POVs in the book. The author's writing style is elegant in a way, using larger words and adding detail into places most books skip nowadays. As an author myself, I'm so impressed with Stroud's writing that I aspire to write at least one work like his someday.
If you're still on the fence with this book, don't be. Pick it up, gobble it down, and move onto the next two with speed. This is one series I'm sure you'll want to read again and again.(less)
Having just finished this book about, oh, five seconds ago, let's just say there's a cluster-junk of emotions dancing in my heart and head right now....moreHaving just finished this book about, oh, five seconds ago, let's just say there's a cluster-junk of emotions dancing in my heart and head right now. But they're all pointing to the same, giant neon butterfly sign that says, "WE WANT MORE!" SPLINTERED takes two parts Tim Burton-style Alice in Wonderland, one part hormone-raging sexiness in a male, and a hundred parts AG Howard imagination that blew me away and left me clinging to the pages desperately.
To give a rough summary of the obvious blurb, SPLINTERED follows the young Alyssa Gardner, a descendant of Alice Liddell, whom Lewis Carroll based his writings of Alice in Wonderland off of. Viewed as naive, prude-ish, and fragile, Alyssa is handled with kids gloves by everyone, from Dad to the boy best friend she's got a walloping crush on. Her mother, Alison, is locked in an asylum called Soul's (don't mind the irony of the name) having gone 'mad' over the years, claiming she can hear bugs and plants talk.
Funny thing, so can Alyssa.
For years Alyssa tries to ignore the voices; bugs can't talk, after all, they're bugs. Double for plants. But when one specific moment coupled with high emotion spikes Alyssa's drive to find out more about the madness surrounding her family to help her ailing mother, Alyssa is tossed into the world of Wonderland, and right into....
MORPEUS. /swoon /double swoon /swooning harder than a 13-year-old fan-girl over Justin Bieber
As Alyssa makes her way through the story, she's followed with a variety of companions in her attempt to fix Wonderland and ultimately break her family 'curse'. Her two steady companions, mortal Jeb and hot not-mortal Morpheus, keep her company throughout about 90% of the book. And while I wasn't really expecting a romance story to weave underneath the tale of Alyssa's Wonderland, man oh mighty am I glad there was one. Don't get me wrong; the plot was solid, the world building was eccentric, but you want to know what sold me on this beautiful book?
Picture a thin, slender Jared Leto from Thirty Seconds to Mars, in his video The Kill, where his hair is a curtain of black. Now make the hair a bright, glowing blue, and amp up the black eyeliner. Bam. Morpheus. Sex in a suit. I need a bucket, because I'm still drooling over here.
Subtle note to all men: you don't need wings to seduce a lady. Just be Morpheus.
Prior to reading SPLINTERED, there was only one other character who has haunted my head in both seductive and cunning ways. Now there are two who will share space in my heart, because I won't forget this guy any time soon.
I'm sorry, I know I'm supposed to review the whole book, but all I can think of, DREAM of for the last two nights, is Morpheus. Let me see if I can think of a semi-authorly professional line.
'SPLINTERED is fantastic, utterly mind-ravaging. Dark, twisted, and deliciously mad, it will take you further down the rabbit hole any Alice in Wonderland spin-off has yet, along with introducing some highly memorable characters. Perfect for any fantasy-paranormal readers.'
Please, tell me there's more. I CRAVE MORE MORPHEUS. (less)
HOLY FREAKING BOUNCING RUSTY KETTLE BA...moreOh my God. Oh. My. God.
I... I just... I don't even know where to begin.
EDIT: Okay, NOW I know where to begin.
HOLY FREAKING BOUNCING RUSTY KETTLE BALLS OF HELL.
Where did my brains go? I'm not sure, Michelle Hodkin must have replaced them.
THE EVOLUTION OF MARA DYER is a dark, twisted, elegant, daring, imaginative, gripping read that will have you run through so many different emotions so fast, you'll wonder how your heart can take it.
Trust me, it can.
Right where UNBECOMING leaves off, EVOLUTION picks up with a rough shake of the shoulders, and tosses us with Mara into a taste of a mental unit. White walls, white sheets, needles and wires and meds and-
Wait a minute. Do you remember what happened at the end of the last book?
Mara had been screaming, freaking out because she saw JUDE. Yes, Jude, the boy who was supposed to have died. Jude, the boy who, for reasons soon to be revealed, wanted to torture Mara, make her suffer in a sick, sadistic way.
I'll give you a hint- trust the blood.
Under the constant current of her unstable, untrustworthy mind, we have a deeply romantic, heartbreakingly beautiful love story that reminds me of what I would imagine two serial killers would express in their love. It's strong, but so dark you wonder how it survives in the light of Miami. Noah and Mara thrive like vines crushing a tree, drawing life from it until it withers and dies, and yet they continue to survive in a perpetual bubble, suspended in a reality all on their own.
Noah, ohhhhhhh Noah. I'm in love, LOVE I tell you. He is the opposite of my insane attraction of Jem of Clockwork Prince. He is dark and corrupt, and human and broken, and it blows my mind away reading him. The love he offers to Mara, the level of persistence and dedication he pours out of himself for her to see, it overwhelms me in a way I can't even begin to explain coherently. Many girls wish for a 'book boyfriend' to be real, like Jem or Harry or Jace. But me? I wish for a Noah, because Noah is frighteningly human despite his abnormality of a gift he has. He's searching for a fight he can't win to feel alive, and in a wild and twisted way of love, he's found it in dysfunctional Mara.
Then there's Mara, and her surrounding family. Mara herself as the narrator of this story, is frightening. As a reader, you don't know what to trust from her words. Did she really see the blood on the wall? The dead cat? Was Jude there at all? You have to grasp and come to terms that, when you read the Mara Dyer series, you must trust everything and nothing in the same breath.
Throughout the whole series, you juggle the notion that this whole thing could come to a wild, unseen end with her having made the whole thing up, all a product of her mind. Then you wonder if it is all real, and if that's true, what becomes of them in the end and where and why their family histories wrap Noah and Mara so tightly together. The theories run endless in this book, and I'm sure that's exactly how Michelle Hodkin wants it; she wants you to have no idea where its going to go. She doesn't make it clear if it's a true paranormal book, or a mystery-thriller, or a psychological mind-twister bending you into a pretzel before turning you to mush. You just don't know.
You have GOT to be kidding. So many emotions. JENNIFER HOW DARE YOU DO THIS TO ME. No, just no. NO. You do NOT get to make Daemon say he loves Katy and...moreYou have GOT to be kidding. So many emotions. JENNIFER HOW DARE YOU DO THIS TO ME. No, just no. NO. You do NOT get to make Daemon say he loves Katy and then she- she- SON OF A WITCH. (less)
I had an absolute BLAST writing this. Jumping back into Essallie's world, mingling with Kayden and newcomer Ari, it's been one heck of a rush, and I'm...moreI had an absolute BLAST writing this. Jumping back into Essallie's world, mingling with Kayden and newcomer Ari, it's been one heck of a rush, and I'm so excited you all finally have a chance to read it too! And with that, I'll leave a little quote taken from the final copy of Obumbrate.
"And one more thing. Do be careful." Her voice sounded almost resembled something of sympathy and genuine concern. "When it comes to the race of Nephilim, the world reacts in two ways. None will take kindly to your angelic blood; there will be those who will seek to harvest your blood for their own gain. Others will want you dead, no matter the cost."
Wariness crept over my skin. "Why would you tell me this?"
"Because one of the last Nephilim was killed at the hands of a madwoman. A woman who tried to harvest the blood of Nephilim to create the perfect race." (less)
Ethereal is one of those projects I had debated on for months upon months, endlessly trying to decide if it would be worth it or not. In the end, it w...moreEthereal is one of those projects I had debated on for months upon months, endlessly trying to decide if it would be worth it or not. In the end, it was the wonderful support of all you readers that made me say, "Okay, let's talk about Rinae."
Rinae Decant is one of those characters that has stuck with me since the original conception of Illumine. I knew right from the start that she was directly tied to Essallie, in more ways than one, and that she would fill a vital gap in the story while giving it a new light. She's this vibrant, fresh, sharp knife that loves to slice up the problems that plague her. Toss in her Watcher, Tegen, and a whole new cast of friends surrounding Rinae, and needless to say, the addition of Ethereal to the Illumine Series will truly give the whole series a marvelous shine.
Excerpt from Ethereal:
Behind her, Tegen’s low words carried with the faint draft. “There are others out there.”
She stiffened, curiosity picking at her like a bird to spare bread crumbs. It could be a bluff, she realized, or it could be the start of something she privately ached for over the last seven years; the truth. Acceptance, knowledge, maybe even adventure.
Her heart pounded wildly in her chest, screaming yes. Her brain logically fought back, reminding her it wasn’t real, magic couldn’t exist.
Cocking her head over her shoulder, Rinae couldn’t believe herself as she asked, “Others like me?”
Tegen shoved his hands into his pockets, forcing the rigidness of his body into a slouch. “Yes,” he said, unwavering. “Others like you.”
“And how are they like me? Aren’t we, as humans, unique and individual?”
“You’re far from human, dear.” He winked. “And you know what they say, for every one of you, there’s at least six in China.”
What little cockiness she had drummed up shriveled and died inside her. Fire lanced through her veins, palms itching with the need to burn. “You didn’t answer my question.”
Neither of them moved, keeping the breezing distance in place. Rinae watched him as he shifted from one foot to the next, a mask of amusement bringing his lips to a tantalizing smile.
“They are like you because they are Nephilim.” His grin turned hard, broadening to a smirk. “And whether you like it or not, there are others like the creature you just killed.”
“I didn’t kill-”
Tegen closed the distance between them in seconds, eyes sharp and bright. He hissed. “You did. You slaughtered a vampire who otherwise would have used your veins like a soda tap.”(less)