The Archived – Victoria Schwab

IMG_3396

Title: The Archived
Author: Victoria Schwab
Publisher: Hyperion
Year: original 2013, this edition 2014
Page Count: 352 Pages
ISBN: 9781423171089

Before starting this blog, I was the kind of reader who would just read the whole book in one sitting. This would normally mean I would finish a book within four to seven hours depending on the length of the book. I daresay there were things I may have missed when reading this way, but I always get so absorbed in books that I don’t even care. Since reading to write reviews, my reading pace has slowed, as I have to stop to take notes for books. For The Archived by Victoria Schwab, I can tell I loved this book due to the lack of notes I have written on it. The story kept me so invested that I didn’t even pause to take notes (I literally have two sentences of notes. That’s it. Oops!). So this review may be a little short. Just know that this is a book that is so incredibly amazing.

The Archived tells the tale of Mackenzie Bishop (Mac), a 16-year-old girl who has inherited the role of a keeper from her grandfather Da. A keeper is someone who stops violent Histories (kind of like ghosts but in this world they are called Histories) from getting back into the real world. This job takes a hard toll on Mac, especially since she gets physically hurt and must lie to everyone she knows. Mac is also struggling with the death of her younger brother, and she spends hours in the Archive (a library that keeps histories as opposed to books) just sitting by the cabinet that holds the history of her brother. By accident, Mac discovers that someone is erasing certain histories from the archive, histories that are linked to the building she lives in, and as Mac delves deeper into these secrets, the whole Archive is compromised, as greater amounts of Histories are erased. Mac needs to solve the mystery before there is no Archive left.

There are so many things I loved about this book. I loved the writing. Schwab has a beautiful way with words. Seeing as how I took barely any notes, I have no specific examples of this beautiful writing; just know it’s there. I also loved how Schwab wrote this book with an alternating mix of first and second person perspectives. The majority of the book is told in Mac’s first person view, but when there is a flashback to when her grandfather is alive, Schwab uses both first and second. It sounds strange, and I don’t really know how best to explain this, but I really loved how the two perspectives contrasted. I also really loved the characters. Mac was just such a beautiful character, and I loved being inside her head. I loved her relationship with Wesley, and I love that Wesley was also a keeper. I feel like I just used the word love so many times in this paragraph. My bad.

I also adore this stunningly beautiful cover. I currently own this in a paperback version, but since the sequel is currently only available in hardback, I think I’m going to cave and buy the hardback of the Archived as well!

There was not much that annoyed me about this book. I did feel that parts of it were a little confusing. Primarily, the descriptions of the Narrows, the Archive, and the rest of this world building confused me the most. Schwab spends a good half of the novel putting detail into this world and explaining everything, so it wasn’t a lack of explanation that was confusing. It was more just trying to wrap my head around everything, and remembering all the background information in later scenes that confused me. Due to this, the beginning of this book seems to be a little slow, but it definitely does not take long to pick up in pace.

So I couldn’t remember any specific quotes from this book that I really loved, so I went on Goodreads to find some. So here are two quotes from this book that are just stunningly beautiful (they also showcase some of Schwab’s beautiful writing):

“You’re trying to block out every bit of noise. But people are made of noise, Mac. The world is full of noise. And finding quiet isn’t about pushing everything out. It’s just about pulling yourself in.”

“Because the only way to truly record a person is not in words, not in still frames, but in bone and skin and memory.”

I adored The Archived so much. It is entertaining, haunting, and downright beautiful. It can keep you invested, and it will leave you wanting to read more from this world. I give the Archived 5 stars, and although this review is not the greatest at explaining how wonderful this book is, it is definitely a book that you should go and read, because I am sure you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Landline – Rainbow Rowell

IMG_3314

Title: Landline
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Year: 2014
Page Count: 308
ISBN: 9781250049377

My opinions of Rainbow Rowell’s works are probably not as favourable as everyone else’s. I always feel as if there is such a strong hype for her books that they have become an automatic love for most people. This is the same way I feel about John Green’s The Fault in our Stars. Sure, they’re enjoyable, and for the most part they’ve been really good books, but there’s always some aspect that makes me not feel the hype. Up until I read this book I thought I had an issue with Rowell’s endings. Eleanor & Park, and Fangirl had both been really great reads up until the endings. The endings were such a disappointment, and not satisfying in the least. I don’t know if this was the same for Attachments as I can’t remember my opinions towards that book. So I was interested to see if the ending of Landline had me feeling the same. The ending was fine, it wasn’t perfect but it left me more satisfied than her other books. This time it is the characters that ruined this book for me. I couldn’t relate to them and I struggled with how I liked them, and so this made it difficult to finish this book. I don’t think Rainbow Rowell is my kind of author.

Landline tells the story of Georgie McCool, a TV writer who, along with her writing partner Seth, have been given the opportunity to have the show they’ve been writing since college be picked up by a network. In order to make the pitch, Georgie must give up her Christmas plans to visit Omaha with her husband Neal and their two daughters. Georgie and Neal’s marriage has been in trouble for sometime now, but skipping out on Christmas may be the final straw. Neal takes the girls to Omaha alone, leaving Georgie alone for the holidays. Rather than be productive on the extra scripts, Georgie comes close to a breakdown, as she realises just how little she’s been putting into her marriage, and how she has possibly ruined everything. Whilst desperately trying to get in contact with her husband in Omaha to make things right, Georgie calls him on the yellow landline phone she used as a teenager at her mother’s house, and discovers that she has somehow managed to communicate with a past Neal – a Neal from the time they had a fight so bad they almost broke up. Georgie has been given the chance to fix her marriage before it starts, but she is conflicted with the idea that perhaps Georgie and Neal would have been better off if they had never been married.

One of my biggest annoyances with this book is that not a whole lot happened plot-wise. This is a very character driven novel – Georgie’s emotions and feelings towards the events of her marriage and how she should have done more is pretty much all that is pondered throughout this entire book. Now I don’t care normally if a book is character driven, I just like this when it is done well. Because of this lack of plot however, a big bulk of this book is reserved for the characters trying to communicate with each other. I lost count of how many times the following happened:

  1. Georgie called Neal’s mobile and went straight to voicemail
  2. Georgie called Neal’s mobile and got one of the daughters instead
  3. Georgie called Neal’s mobile and got his mother instead
  4. Georgie called Neal at an inconvenient time because she forgot about the time difference…again.
  5. Georgie called Neal’s mobile and got told he was out and that her message would be passed on to him to return her calls
  6. Georgie called Neal’s mother’s landline and still never got to speak to Neal
  7. Neal called Georgie’s mobile but Georgie missed it
  8. Neal called Georgie’s mobile but because Georgie’s phone needs to be perpetually charged because she can’t be bothered to go get a new phone, she missed the phone call
  9. Georgie called Neal on the yellow landline and talked to past Neal.

Yep, there are that many different attempts to get in contact with one another. It was so frustrating. In the 21st century it really can’t be this difficult to get in contact with people. I also don’t understand how this could be interesting to anyone? Reading the same thing over and over again. Really? I just don’t get it.

As an author who writes in both the young adult and adult genres, it was interesting to see a bit of a comparison in this novel. This is a novel in the adult genre, but the flashback scenes talk of Georgie, Neal and Seth in college. These were probably my favourite parts of this book. I thought that they were more sweet because I actually liked Georgie in these parts. I also thought it was interesting that I believe Rainbow Rowell can pull off writing for the young adult genre much better than the adult genre. Her teenage/young adult characters are stronger than when they are adults.

I also didn’t care much for the side storylines with Georgie’s mother and younger sister. I didn’t particularly like them as characters, and I just found them kind of annoying. I don’t really see the value they added to the story.

As I’ve already stated, I didn’t like Georgie. I thought she was selfish, and that she had no interest in either her husband or her children. I mean one line even says “that was back when Georgie still pretended to help.” From page one, the reader can see just how bad their marriage is. We are provided with details on how the house is a mess, and how little communication occurs between Neal and Georgie. We learn that this is an ongoing thing. She has taken her family for granted for years and years, and no one has called her out on it. Her husband offered to quit his job and stay at home at the birth of their first daughter because Georgie didn’t want to quit her job and couldn’t find adequate childcare. Furthermore, since college her husband has read more into the relationship between Georgie and Seth. Everyone always thought they would end up together and yet she married Neal. She flaunts Seth in Neal’s face. Not purposely, but when you work everyday with your male best friend who is clearly into you and has been for a long time, and your husband knows this, you’re tormenting your husband. A few times in the book I picked up on quotes such as this one: “even on good days, Georgie knew that Neal was unhappy. And that it was her fault.” If she knew he was unhappy, and knew she was the cause, why didn’t she do anything to fix it? This just further proves her selfish nature.

I did find it interesting that I feel like Rowell was making a statement with the gender reversal. It is typical that male characters are the too-into-their-work-to-have-a-happy-marriage, and for female’s to stay at home with the kids. I liked that this was different. At least this was more unique this way.

I felt nothing but empathy for Neal. He was such a sweet character and you can just see that he loves Georgie so much but that he can’t live like this anymore. Georgie has walked all over him and doesn’t even realise how valuable someone like Neal can be. As much as I liked him and the daughters, this wasn’t enough to save my opinions of this book.

One favourable thing about this book, and Rowell in general, is her writing style. I can easily sit and read her books in one sitting. Even though the characters drove me crazy, and that a major part of this book was failed communication, I do believe this book was well paced. I was able to read this in about four hours, which is pretty decent for a book that was driving me insane.

Lets take a moment for some cover appreciation. This cover. Yes. Everything about this cover is amazing. I love it so much. It is perfect. Even the UK edition of the cover is perfect. I had such a hard time deciding which cover to order off the Book Depository. In the end it came down to the fact that this book was hardback, and therefore would match my other Rowell hardbacks. Whoever is designing Rowell’s books deserves an award because they are perfection.

Landline is a book that I disliked more than I liked it. As such, I think it’s worthy of a 2.5 star rating. It’s bad parts outweigh the good parts for me, so there is an imbalance towards the negative. As most people have seemed to really enjoy this book, I feel as if I am in the minority, and so even if you feel swayed by my opinion, I would suggest in giving it a go. Perhaps I really am in the minority and you will really love it. Perhaps I’m the only person who was so frustrated with Georgie that it changed my perspective of the entire book. If you’ve read Landline, let me know what you thought and whether you agreed or disagreed with me!

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews

IMG_2111

Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Author: Jesse Andrews
Publisher: Amulet Books
Year Published: 2013
Page Count: 295
ISBN: 9781419705328

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is surprisingly well paced for a book that has a minimal plot. It was so well paced that I struggled to put the book down. All I wanted to do was to sit and keep reading it. It’s light, and humorous, and not what you would expect for a book that has themes of cancer. I enjoyed it so much, that it came to a great shock that the ending ruined it for me. It’s not that there is some major dramatic ending or anything that made me dislike it (*cough* Allegiant *cough*). It’s about the last five chapters or so, and the epilogue that bugged me. I’ll get into why it bugged me a little later into this review.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is written through the perspective of Greg Gaines. Greg is a senior in high school, and for the past three years has maintained a social status of not belonging to a group of friends. In other words, he is friendly enough with all the social groups, but he doesn’t choose a main group to sit with or whatever, in order to remain mostly unnoticed. Along with his some-what friend Earl (I say somewhat, because Greg in the book himself says that Earl is the closest thing he has to a friend but that they’re not actually friend friends – confusing right?), Greg enjoys making films, but no one apart from the two boys have ever seen their films. This is because they think they’re really bad, and have yet to make a film they can be proud of. Rachel a.k.a. the dying girl is diagnosed with leukemia in her senior year. Greg and Rachel used to be friendly in elementary school (maybe middle school, I don’t even remember), and so Greg’s mother encourages Greg to re-friend Rachel, and to help her through her trying time. During this friendship, it is decided that Earl and Greg will make a film for Rachel, and so the book then covers the various attempts of creating this film. Continue reading

The Book Buying Ban

IMG_3127 The month of August was a little crazy for me. In 31 days I managed to buy close to 40 books – that’s more than one book a day! To be perfectly honest, I don’t even remember the exact number because I bought so many. This was the first month I had told myself I was going to buy less books, and so my book buying ban begun. But somehow this saw me buy books out of control. Why is it that banning myself from something made it all the more desirable?

The above photo is the 75 books that I currently own but have not yet read (73 now as during the time of taking this photo and writing this post I managed to read two of them). Continue reading

Four – Veronica Roth

 

IMG_3049

Title: Four
Author: Veronica Roth
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Year Published: 2014
Page Count: 285
ISBN: 9780062345219

I was uncertain if I had wanted to read this collection of stories. Although I love the Divergent trilogy and ship Tris and Four, I don’t particularly love Four as a character. I wouldn’t say I hate the guy, but if I were to pick my favourite male characters from all my books, Four would not make the cut. There was also the problem in that I didn’t like Four’s perspective in Allegiant. It was much too similar to Tris. Basically, I had no idea what to expect with this, and I had no idea if I would be missing out if I didn’t read them.

 

What made me decide to buy this book was my long wish to own the trilogy in the US hardcovers. I hate the UK paperback editions of these books; I honestly do not see why the US covers won’t sell in the UK or Australia. If anything, I know of more people who have bought the US covers online to avoid having to buy the gross UK covers. When I saw that there was a box-set collection that included the trilogy and Four, I decided to finally cave and buy the hardbacks. And so I had Four. Continue reading

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs

 

IMG_2954

Title: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
Author: Ransom Riggs
Publisher: Quirk Books
Year Published: 2011
Page Count: 352
ISBN: 9781594744761

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children was a book that I feel I was pressured into reading. I had seen it a lot, both online and offline, but I never felt particularly gripped by the cover. It honestly didn’t seem like my kind of book. So I didn’t add it to my TBR list. I didn’t buy it. I didn’t read up on it. Then some of my closest friends read it and talked about how much they thought I would like it. So I borrowed one of their copies, and managed to finish it in a night. And I must say I was pleasantly surprised as I did rather enjoy this very unique book.

 

For those of you who don’t know, Miss Peregrine’s follows the story of sixteen-year-old Jacob. To quote the blurb on the dust jacket, “A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very peculiar photographs.” Somehow these three connected things are woven into Jacob’s life as he tries to uncover the truth about the history of his recently deceased Grandfather’s life. For many years of Jacob’s childhood, his Grandfather told him stories about living in an orphanage located on an island, and in particular about the children of the orphanage and their peculiar talents. When Jacob visits the islands decades later, he discovers that there is a great chance that somehow these children are still alive, and Jacob is split between two times, the need to uncover his grandfather’s secrets, and the need to keep himself in his actual world.  Continue reading