4 Stars

[Mini-Reviews] The Archived and We Should Hang Out Sometime

The Archived (The Archived, #1)The Archived by Victoria Schwab
Series: The Archived #1
Publication: January 22nd, 2013 by Hyperion
Number of Pages: 328
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Source: School library
Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.
Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures 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 may 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 hard-won redemption.

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[Review] The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

The Summer of Chasing MermaidsThe Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler
Series: None
Publication : June 2nd, 2015 by Simon Pulse
Number of Pages: 399
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, YA
Source: PulseIt’s Weekly Full Read
Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


 Summary

From the bestselling author of Twenty Boy Summer, a talented singer loses her ability to speak after a tragic accident, leading her to a postcard-perfect seaside town to find romance.
The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.
Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: an ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.
Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother, Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.
When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them…

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[Review] More Than This by Patrick Ness

More Than This

More Than This by Patrick Ness
Series: None
Publication: May 1st 2014 by Walker Books Ltd
Number of Pages: 480
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, LGBTQ
Source: Public library
Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies.
Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive.
How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place?
As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?
From multi-award-winning Patrick Ness comes one of the most provocative and moving novels of our time.

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[Review] Winger – Andrew Smith

Winger (Winger, #1)

Author: Andrew Smith

Series: Winger #1

Publication Date: May 14th, 2013

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Number of Pages: 439

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Source: Public library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids in the Pacific Northwest. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

Filled with hand-drawn info-graphics and illustrations and told in a pitch-perfect voice, this realistic depiction of a teen’s experience strikes an exceptional balance of hilarious and heartbreaking.

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[ARC Review] Denton Little’s Deathdate – Lance Rubin

Denton Little's Deathdate

Author: Lance Rubin

Series: Denton Little’s Deathdate #1

Publication Date: April 14th, 2015

Publisher: Knopf Books For Young Readers

Number of Pages: 352

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Sci-fi

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


Summary

Fans of John Green and Matthew Quick: Get ready to die laughing.

Denton Little’s Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that’s tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend’s hostile sister. Though he’s not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton’s long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton’s life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

Debut author Lance Rubin takes us on a fast, furious, and outrageously funny ride through the last hours of a teenager’s life as he searches for love, meaning, answers, and (just maybe) a way to live on. (more…)

[Review] Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge

Cruel Beauty (Cruel Beauty Universe, #1)

Author: Rosamund Hodge

Series: At the moment, none

Publication Date: January 28th, 2014

Publisher: Balzer + Bray  

Number of Pages: 342

Source: Library

Genre: Retelling, Fantasy, YA

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository


 Summary

Graceling meets Beauty and the Beast in this sweeping fantasy about one girl’s journey to fulfill her destiny and the monster who gets in her way-by stealing her heart.

Based on the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Cruel Beauty is a dazzling love story about our deepest desires and their power to change our destiny.

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle-a shifting maze of magical rooms-enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex’s secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love.

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[Review] Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek – Maya van Wagenen

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern GeekAuthor: Maya Van Wagenen

Series: None

Publication Date: April 15th, 2014

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

Number of Pages: 272

Genre: Memoirs, YA, Contemporary, Non-Fiction

Source: School library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

Summary

A touchingly honest, candidly hysterical memoir from breakout teen author Maya Van Wagenen

Stuck at the bottom of the social ladder at pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren’t paid to be here,” Maya Van Wagenen decided to begin a unique social experiment: spend the school year following a 1950s popularity guide, written by former teen model Betty Cornell. Can curlers, girdles, Vaseline, and a strand of pearls help Maya on her quest to be popular?

The real-life results are painful, funny, and include a wonderful and unexpected surprise—meeting and befriending Betty Cornell herself. Told with humor and grace, Maya’s journey offers readers of all ages a thoroughly contemporary example of kindness and self-confidence.

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[Review] The Truth About Alice – Jennifer Mathieu

The Truth About Alice

Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Series: None

Publication Date: June 1st, 2014

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Number of Pages: 208

Genre: YA, Contemporary

Source: Library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

Summary

Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.

But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?

It’s true. Ask ANYBODY.

Rumor has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumors start to spiral out of control.

In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students—the girl who has the infamous party, the car accident survivor, the former best friend, and the boy next door—tell all they know.

But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself.

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[Review] Don’t Look Back – Jennifer L. Armentrout

Don’t Look Back

Don't Look Back

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publish Date: April 5th, 2014

Number of Pages: 369

Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller, Romance

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it’s one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took “mean girl” to a whole new level, and it’s clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She’s getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she’s falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn’t just buried deep inside of Sam’s memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?


Review

“Don’t look back. You won’t like what you find.”

Page 39

Slightly disappointed but still very happy with this book.

Let me clear some things up.

I was disappointed because the “murderer” didn’t end up being who I wanted it to be. Not because of any technical qualms I had with the novel. On the inside, I kind of knew that it wasn’t going to be that person but I still wanted it to be like that. Even so, Don’t Look Back was an incredibly enjoyable read.

The amnesia aspect of the novel is done really well. I felt like Armentrout really captured the frustration of remembering and the feelings that someone gets when they are that close to getting a shred of their memory back before it just dwindles out of reach yet again. Samantha’s inner turmoil was described fantastically.

Character-wise, I thought that the book was alright. I never really ended up liking Carson – I found him kind of aggravating at times, but I really really liked Samantha. Samantha was quite complex and her character growth by the end of the book was great. The side characters were all very two-dimensional. Most, if not all of the girls that were part of Samantha’s original “clique” were very flat (in other words, very shallow and often portrayed as being very bitchy). The same goes for some of the side characters. Their personalities were never really explored beyond the surface. Even Cassie, one of the crucial characters (even if she was dead), was flatter than I’d like her to be.

The plot of the story could be seen as boring. In my opinion, although there were many down moments, the suspense was what made me want to keep reading. Every time I turned a page, I felt like Samantha was gonna be shot (and to be honest, I kind of wanted it to happen just for more action). Armentrout did a really good job of building the mood of her scenes.

I loved some of the ideas brought up in the book. Now that I’m thinking about it, I loved the idea of being able to start over with a new slate. Obviously, not many people get the chance to do that, but I liked the idea that if you really tried, you can change your habits and life and that based upon others, you can shape a lifestyle that you are happy with. Don’t Look Back also touches on family and important values. The heart of the conflict in this book were the goals of the characters and how they wanted to keep the secrets they had delitescent.

4/5 Stars

The Monstrumologist – Rick Yancey

The Monstrumologist

The Monstrumologist (The Monstrumologist, #1)

Author: Rick Yancey

Series: The Monstrumologist #1

Publish Date: September 22nd, 2009

Genre: Horror, YA, Paranormal, Historical Fiction

These are the secrets I have kept. This is the trust I never betrayed. But he is dead now and has been for more than forty years, the one who gave me his trust, the one for whom I kept these secrets. The one who saved me . . . and the one who cursed me.

So starts the diary of Will Henry, orphaned assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthorpe, a man with a most unusual specialty: monstrumology, the study of monsters. In his time with the doctor, Will has met many a mysterious late-night visitor, and seen things he never imagined were real. But when a grave robber comes calling in the middle of the night with a gruesome find, he brings with him their most deadly case yet.

A gothic tour de force that explores the darkest heart of man and monster and asks the question: When does man become the very thing he hunts?


Review

Before I start this review, I have to say a few things regarding The Monstrumologist.

Firstly, I picked this book for a school book report and that I read it because every other girl in my English class was reading some sort of contemporary novel (and it was on my neverending to-be-read list). The next couple of posts on my blog will be related to this book because one of the options for the projects were to create a series of blog posts. They’ll cover a variety of topics from symbolism, theme, to other aspects of the novel. Needless to say, there will most definitely be spoilers. I’ll do my best to try to censor or warn but my teacher is going to read this so I’m sorry in advance if you get spoiled.

Maybe I’ll turn this into a sort of book feature. “Deconstructing a Novel” or something like that.

But yes, onto the review.

I was so so so excited to read The Monstrumologist. It had been on my to-be-read list for a while and omigod the premise sounds amazing. It mixes historical fiction (which I love) and monsters and it sounded really good. And I’m happy that I picked this one. I really enjoyed reading The Monstrumologist but there were a few problems here and there that I had with it.

Obviously it’s going to be completely fictional so any qualms I had about how realistic it would be flew out the window. Sure, I questioned the relationship between Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop (*cough child labor cough*) but in a world with monsters, why not?

It’s classified as a horror novel, yet never once did I ever feel scared. The Anthropophagi are depicted as fierce, man-eating beasts with long claws, huge jaws, and the ability to jump forty feet high. While the monsters and setting are fantastically described, the mood and suspense fell flat. The mood did feel historic (as the book is set in the 1800s) but there was a noticeable lack of suspense and fear. In my opinion, had Yancey had this aspect, the novel would have been even better than it was. While this book was missing this one emotion, it did have some pretty gory scenes in which I felt disgust (reading about worms come out of some nasty sores? ew.)

Additionally, the book started to really drag about halfway through. It had already been a slow book but it had really start to become boring at this point. The Monstrumologist chronicles the entire Anthropophagi case, from the moment Will Henry and Warthrop discover the first death to the aftermath of the case. As a result, the moments that are less suspenseful and exciting became extremely slow and were the reason that it took me so long to finish it. Would it surprise you if I said that entire 450ish-page book happens over the course of 2ish weeks? It feels like their expedition would have taken so much longer when you read it but it’s just how slow the plot progresses.

The characters are characterized very well. I have a love-hate relationship with Warthrop at the moment. I adore his eccentric personality but I hated some of the things he did and said to Will Henry. He was portrayed as a hard-working man that didn’t understand people emotionally. His backstory did explain why he was like that though. His change over the course of the book was simply great. He grew to learn how to understand people a little more, especially Will Henry, and I enjoyed reading about the progression and changes in his character over the course of the book.

He had a catch-phrase which some people might have found annoying. Contrary to this, it made me smile every time I read it.

“Will Henry!” floated his call through the open basement door. “Will Henry, where are you? Snap to, Will Henry!” Page 38

The main character, Will Henry, is a 12-year-old boy, orphaned a mere year earlier. He has been taken in as Dr. Warthrop’s apprentice and is the author of the journals. The book is entirely from his point-of-view. Will Henry was an interesting character. Although he isn’t forced to stay with Dr. Warthrop, in fact, he’s been asked many times during the book if he wants to live with a foster home instead, he stays with Dr. Warthrop for reasons unknown to the reader at the beginning of the novel. His reasons and desires for staying are complicated and also related to his back-story. While the writing and language is significantly more mature in terms of vocabulary and word choice than a 12-year-old would have, it can be attributed to the fact that these journals had been penned years after the incidents had happened. His character was also portrayed very well.

I wasn’t satisfied with the ending. The epilogue felt rushed and cheesy compared to the rest of the book. It flashed back to the future, the same setting as the prologue, right after the man (he’s unnamed in the book) has finished reading the journals. It was fine up until the last two pages. Then the events that transpire feel like a cop-out. Yancey ended it with a scene that felt unfinished and a quote! I would have been perfectly okay with it if there had been no prologue or epilogue. I felt that they didn’t contribute to the story of Dr. Warthrop and Will Henry. The ending of the last chapter before the prologue felt like a more appropriate ending.

About halfway through the book, I realized that this was the same author that wrote The 5th Wave. While I haven’t read that one yet, I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about it and after reading The Monstrumologist, my expectations have skyrocketed. I will be picking up the sequel, The Curse of the Wendigo as well.

4/5 Stars