The Archived By Victoria Schwab

Title: The Archived

Author: Victoria Schwab

Publisher: Hyperion

First Published: January 22nd 2013

Blurb:

“The dead rest on shelves like books. Each body has a story to tell, a life in pictures only Librarians can read. The dead, called ‘Histories’, rest in 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 tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper is dangerous and a constant reminder of those she lost, Da and her little brother. Mac wonders about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. Yet someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.” (From Goodreads, 20th January 2015)

Review:

One of the things any book lover enjoys is a book about books, libraries, and drama. The archive however, is a different type of library, the books contain the histories of the dead individuals. However, violent histories break free and Mackenzie must stop them. Moving house, she has found her new home has many more histories waking up, needing to be returned to the Archive. Soon she is pulled in to a deeper mystery within the Archive as not all is as it seems.

This novel is fast paced and a very quick read. It is a book to grab the attention of reluctant readers, young adults, teens and adults alike will enjoy this novel. This book is the first in a series and I am yet to read any further, however, I definitely will be.

5 out of 5

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The Madness Underneath By Maureen Johnson

Title: The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2)

Author: Maureen Johnson

First Published: 26th February 2013

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books

Blurb:

When madness stalks the streets of London, no one is safe…

There’s a creepy new terror haunting modern-day London.
Fresh from defeating a Jack the Ripper killer, Rory must put her new-found hunting skills to the test before all hell breaks loose…

But enemies are not always who you expect them to be and crazy times call for crazy solutions. (From Goodreads, 25th May 2014)

Review:

After enjoying ‘The Name of the Star’ as much as I did I was excited to jump into ‘The Madness Underneath’. I was excited as I thought this second novel was going to be even more enjoyable because it concerned mental health patients…unfortunately such characters did not appear often or really play any central role. The excitement of the chase that was so strong in ‘The Name of the Star’ was lost and we are left reading a teen romance. I was disappointed. I was expecting ‘The Madness Underneath’ to be even more action packed than ‘The Name of the Star’ since it was the second in the series and we know the characters, their gifts, and I expected a fast paced sequel.

However, once I neared the end of the novel we returned to the gripping, thrilling writing by Maureen Johnson that we see in ‘The Name of the Star’. Soon I was at the end, mouth wide, eyes wide and breathless. Frantically I put my computer on and searched for the release date of the third novel in this series…then comes tears. So long to wait. Another book whose release date keeps getting pushed back. My advice – wait until the third book is released and marathon all three novels.

Okay, so by itself ‘The Madness Underneath’ gets 2 out of 5. However, as a series I place this as a 4 out of 5…but that may change once ‘The Shadow Cabinet’ is released and I can see if it rectifies the failings in this second Shades of London book.

The Name of the Star By Maureen Johnson

Title: The Name of the Star

Author: Maureen Johnson

First Published: 29th September 2011

Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books

Blurb:

The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree of more than a century ago. Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him–the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target. In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

I absolutely loved this book! First it is set in London. Second it combines history with supernatural elements! And for me this just was wonderful!

Rory is in a new country, at a new school, away from her family and there is murders happening on her schools door step. Soon Rory becomes entangled in the murders after seeing the murderer, and becoming the next target. Life becomes more than high school for Rory as she is thrust into a world she never knew about. Ghost, murders, secret police, and some romance in there as well.

The premise of this novel was fantastic and I was gripped as soon as I started. The novel was fast paced and kept you wanting more. A ‘one more chapter…’ type off book.

‘The Name of the Star’ is a novel I would recommend to individuals who enjoy murder mysteries, combined with some teen angst and supernatural elements. A novel for those who enjoy something a bit different. Although I really enjoyed this novel, I can’t imagine many adults taking to it, however, young adults and teens should love this series. One that I will be recommending to my younger sister.

4.5 out of 5

Pushing the Limits By Katie McGarry

Title: Pushing the Limits

Author: Katie McGarry

First Published: 1st July 2012

Publisher: Mira Ink

Blurb:

“I won’t tell anyone, Echo. I promise.” Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. “You didn’t do that-did you? It was done to you?” No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

So wrong for each other…and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

Firstly, before I begin this review I have a confession to make…it has been quite a few months since I read this book and although I remember most of what happens I am a little hazy on the details. For that I appologise.

However, I am still going to review this book as I really did enjoy it and know I will be getting the companion novels at some point in the future (maybe when my TBR pile is slightly smaller!) ‘Pushing The Limits’ presents us with two protagonists who are dealing with a lot for their ages, however, sometimes finding another who is going through a rough time is what you need to get through it. Echo is dealing with forgotten memories. Noah is dealing with the death of his parents. Both are dealing with high school…and a persistent school councilor.

This is a novel that deals with difficult issues whilst also being very readable and not too ‘dark’ making it fantastic for teens and young adults…and adults too. We have a little bit of everything in this novel that makes it very real and raw. Katie McGarry captures human emotions impeccably and gives readers an adventure through the eyes of two teenagers lives. A realistic and gripping novel. Highly recommended.

4.5 out of 5

Willow By Julia Hoban

Title: Willow

Author: Julia Hoban

First Published: 2009

Publisher: Speak

Blurb:

Seven months ago on a rainy March night, Willow’s parents drank too much wine at dinner and asked her to drive them home. But they never made it–Willow lost control of the car, and both of her parents were killed.

Now seventeen, Willow is living with her older brother, who can barely speak to her. She has left behind her old home, friends, and school. But Willow has found a way to survive, to numb the new reality of her life: She is secretly cutting herself.

And then she meets Guy, a boy as sensitive and complicated as she is. When Guy discovers Willow’s secret, he pulls her out of the solitary world she’s created for herself, and into a difficult, intense, and potentially life-changing relationship. (From Goodreads, 12th May 2014).

Review:

‘Willow’ was one of those novels that helped get me out of a reading slump, however, ‘Willow’ is not the greatest book I have read focusing on self-injury. On the other hand, for a novel aimed at teenagers this deals well with a topic many individuals do not understand whilst also dealing with love, death, loss, stress, friendships and much more ‘life stuff’.

Willow is a girl who blames herself for the death of her parents, whilst also feeling like a burden to her older brother and his wife and baby cousin. Both Willow and her brother have not yet come to terms with the sudden death of their parents or the sudden changes in their living arrangements. Willow cuts herself to help escape the true pain she is feeling inside, it is the only way she manages to cope with life. However, soon her life begins to spiral out of her control when Guy, a boy from school who quickly enters her life, finds out that Willow cuts herself. We soon follow this relationship, through ups-and-downs and watch how life begins to change for both individuals who each carry the knowledge of Willows cutting.

As I said above, I have read other novels regarding the topic of self-injury that I preferred, but this may be due to two things. Firstly, I read a lot of books on this topic when I was in my teenage years, and therefore know the formula. Second, I have also read many books about self-injury aimed at adult audiences, and also researched a lot about self-injury, which includes case examples and memoirs. Therefore, having such a knowledge, and having exhausted (at the time) many of the books focusing on self-injury aimed at teenagers during my teenage years I may be slightly harsh compared to other readers. For that I appologise.

I did enjoy ‘Willow’ as it was fast paced and Julia Hoban successfully incorporated Willows life into the novel with self-injury not being the main focus, which is nice. It reminds you that individuals who self-injure have a life with stresses and why these stresses result in self-injury. We have a teenager who is going through many ‘normal’ teenage stresses, such as a new school, exams, making friends, whilst also dealing with more extreme difficulties, such as her parents death.

‘Willow’ is a novel that tactfully addresses many hard hitting issues and some more run of the mill teenage issues without belittling them or over exaggerating them. It is because of this that makes ‘Willow’ a believable and human novel. It also means I feel able to recommend ‘Willow’ to individuals who self-injure, friends  and family of individuals who self-injure, and also those who are interested in mental health related fiction. This is a novel that as a teenager I would have loved to have found in the school or local library, just simply because it reminds you that you are not alone. Novels that deal with difficult issues specifically aimed at teenagers are so important and valuable, no matter what the topic, just to give someone even a small amount of strength to find the help and advice so many of us need.

However, for me this novel is only a 3.5 out of 5 stars, but I would imagine if I read this novel when I was in my teenage years (and mot my mid twenties) I would have given it 4 to 4.5 stars.

The Reflections of Queen Snow White By David C. Meredith

Title: The Reflections of Queen Snow White

Author: David Meredith

Publisher: Self Published

Publication Date: 2nd October 2013

Blurb:

What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?

On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:

The king is dead.

The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?

Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White. (From Goodreads, 7th February 2014)

Review:

Okay so I am not going to give an overview as the blub is long enough! So straight into my review!

I was surprised to be contacted by the author asking me to read this book for review, and therefore happily accepted! I had not expected this novel to be as beautifully written and aimed more towards older young adults and adults. For me this was refreshing, having read multiple young adult fairy tales lately it was nice to read one which was written with description rather than simply action. With lyrical prose. Simple wonderful to lay your eyes on. I cannot express what a talented wordsmith David Meredith is. A man I will watch with interest, as it was such a breath of fresh air reading ‘The Reflections of Queen Snow White’.

An interesting novel set long after the typical Snow White novels. However, we learn about Snow White’s younger life along with her older life. Queen Snow White is lost, but by reflecting on her past she begins to view herself with a new perspective. This is a novel of a journey and is a nice book to read in between two larger books because it is short and relaxing.

A book I recommend to everyone, especially if you are looking for a less action packed, more traditional style of fairy tale.

4 out of 5

Marina By Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Title: Marina

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Publisher: W & N

First Published: 1999

Blurb:

In May 1980, 15-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts. His story begins in the heart of old Barcelona, when he meets Marina and her father German Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m. precisely a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman dressed in black, her face shrouded, wearing gloves, holding a single rose. She walks over to a gravestone that bears no name, only the mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings. When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her they begin a journey that will take them to the heights of a forgotten, post-war Barcelona, a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons; and a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets. (From Goodreads, 1st December 2013)

Review:

I was very excited when I won a copy of ‘Marina’ By Carlos Ruiz Zafon after entering a Goodreads competition. I was a huge fan of ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ and ‘Angels Game’ both by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Marina is a dark Gothic style novel that will make your hair stand on end. This is a novel aimed for young adults but was still very chilling in my opinion, and many adults will enjoy this macabre novel. One of the reasons I really enjoyed ‘Marina’ was that the story was new to me. Many novels I read nowadays are either similar to ones I have read before or new takes on fairy tales. ‘Marina’ had a fresh new mystery, with new demons, new monsters, and a new setting. Maybe for Spanish readers this may not be the case, and some of this story reflects local folklore, but maybe not. But as an British reader, the ideas in ‘Marina’ were new to me.

Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a fantastic author, whose prose just draws you in. His writing style is high class, and simply beautiful. I cannot express how fantastic his writing is. If you haven’t read a novel by Carlos Ruiz Zafon you must pick one up. ‘Marina’ is maybe not as expressive as ‘Shadow of the Wind’ but I believe that to be due to the target audience of each book.

‘Marina’ is a fast paced novel and a quick read. We have love, loss, tragedy, mystery, horror, death, everything, it has everything. It is a book I suggest reading for Halloween, and a book I want everyone to get there hands on. I feel that I cannot really do justice in reviewing a book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, as his books sing to me. I love them. I simply love them.

5 out of 5

Looking for Alaska By John Green

Title: Looking for Alaska

Author: John Green

Publisher: Speak

First Published: 3rd March 2005

Blurb:

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same. (From Goodreads, 1st December 2013)

Review:

‘Looking for Alaska’ is a coming of age novel following Miles Halter aka Pudge when he moves to Culver Creek Boarding School. Pudge’s roommate befriends him and introduces him to Alaska Young, a young girl with an explosive personality. We follow these characters through the school year, we follow the highs and lows, the pranks, the pay back pranks.

I enjoyed ‘Looking for Alaska’, but it did not live up to the hype. After reading ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ multiple people recommended ‘Looking for Alaska’ so I was really looking forward to jumping into it. I loved the premise, I loved the characters, and I did generally enjoy the book, but it didn’t blow me away by any means. It is a well written book, and one I would suggest to many young adults and teenagers to read.

‘Looking for Alaska’ is a good novel with multiple layers, but lacked the ‘wow factor’ that I some how expected. However, although this sounds like I didn’t enjoy ‘Looking for Alaska’, that is not true, I did enjoy it. I enjoy John Greens writing style and I enjoyed this book. It is a book about a young boys relationships, and his journey towards adulthood, along with the good and bad that comes with this journey. But as an adult reader this book didn’t connect to me as it may once have.

A skilled author, that deals with difficult subjects, and an author for teens and young adults to try if they have not already. But for me, I would say I read this book too late.

4 out of 5

The Iron Daughter By Julie Kagawa

Title: The Iron Daughter

Author: Julie Kagawa

Publisher: Mira Ink

First Published: January 1st 2010

Blurb:

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan’s own fey powers have been cut off. She’s stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can’t help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.(From Goodreads, 14th November 2013)

Review:

It has been nearly a year since I read “The Iron King” and I have no idea why I waited so long to pick up “The Iron Daughter” but I am so glad that I finally did. I had read some negative reviews saying it was just a love story. But I found that despite the teen romance going on there was a lot of adventure keeping me interested and reading late into the night. In “The Iron King” Meghan is attempting to save her little brother from the the Iron King, and just discovering the world of Faery. In “The Iron Daughter” Meghan is implicated in a much bigger adventure that affects all those that live in the Never Never.

I will not write any more about the actual plot as I do not want to spoil either the first or second books in this series for anyone. However, this novel is great and I would highly recommend it for teenage girls. We have romance, but not too much, yes there is some bits I thought ‘can’t we just get on with the story!?!?!’ but that is me, I prefer the action. Despite this, there is plenty of action to keep you entertain, plenty of mysteries, and pangs of doubt, because we all know Faeries are mischievous!

For a young adult novel I find that both “The Iron King” and “The Iron Daughter” are well thought out and have a great deal of imagination within the pages. Julie Kagawa has created a world I love, with characters that you love, and characters you are simply terrified off. Julie Kagawa has created novels that I think many teenage girls would love and could get reluctant readers to sit down and escape into the narrative.

4 out of 5