Friday, March 8, 2013

Mini Reviews: 3 - 8 - 13

 Wow, have I read a lot of great books lately! And sometimes when I speed-read through a batch, it's easier to do a quick, whirlwind review of a few while they're still fresh on my mind. :D

From Goodreads:
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 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 hard-won redemption.

My Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars

Wow, The Archived blew me away. First, I absolutely love a good, original, after-life kind of story and in The Archived, I found an immensely creative and awesome after-life mythology. I thought the whole concept of the Archive and of MacKenzie's job as a keeper patrolling the Narrows for escaped, ghost-like Histories was so cool. She was a great and very real character, full of layers and conflicting relationships - but packed with talent and fighting skills. But my favorite part was that most of this story is a very spooky and very well-done murder mystery, all taking place in the best place for such a thing - an old hotel turned apartment complex that Mac's family has just moved into. As if the Archive itself wasn't a cool enough setting. Mac can literally read the layers of history in the building by touching objects and floors and I was just so engrossed by that part of the story.

The story progresses slowly at first and I had a harder time with the beginning when it just felt like so much information to process, but by the middle it flew. I was completely into the story and desperate to see each new development. Read the second half in one sitting it was that hard to put down. I knocked down a half star from my rating only because I was able to predict very early on exactly who Mac should definitely not have been trusting. And a slight deduction was necessary because the love interest is described as a eyeliner-wearing, black-painted nails, goth kind of guy. Yuck. Not my idea of attractive. But as a character he was fascinating and in fact, all the characters were fully-developed and well-described. The librarians (especially Roland) were my favorite. :D

In short, this is a totally original, kind of spooky, and incredibly entertaining read. There will be a sequel, but thankfully this reads as a stand-alone without any mean cliffhangers. Highly recommended!


 From Goodreads:
The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms... is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope...

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

I wasn't sure what to expect from Prophecy. The concept looked awesome to me, but I read a lot of negative reviews so I was worried that it would fall short. And it was not love at first page. I felt a little bit like I was forcing myself to keep going when I started it. I loved the Korean influence and the concept was still interesting and magical, but the characters were hard to like. Character development really suffered and I hardly felt like I knew anyone or how Kira related to others and why she liked certain people but not some, etc... I was about to put it down when somewhere around the halfway point the magic happened. And all of a sudden the book just started to rock. All these incredibly magical things happened and there were cool objects and prophecies fulfilled and dragons and a quest and water spirits and Kira was totally in her warrior, demon-fighting groove and I got completely swept up in it. At the end I closed the book and thought, "I loved that! 5 stars!!!" And then I had to say, "Cool your jets. Remember how we didn't like the beginning?" And so the result is 4 stars for Prophecy and I am for sure checking out the sequel whenever it comes out.

 From Goodreads:
After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever. She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge from the wasteland. In Gaia's absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher. Is Gaia ready, as a leader, to sacrifice what--or whom--she loves most?

My Rating: 3 /5 stars

Promised is book 3 in the Birthmarked trilogy, so if you want to avoid spoilers for books 1 and 2, skip this review.

I've finally gotten around to finishing this trilogy, and I really think that I've liked each book less and less as it's gone on. By Promised I was heartily sick of the love square and especially sick of Leon. What a constant drain he was on the story! He's so depressing and I wasn't really sure if I trusted him either. But, I kept reading for Gaia, and she's always been the saving grace of this story. Gaia is a great character. I love her background as a midwife and I like that she's been forced into the role of leader not because she wants it, but because she has to do it to help her people. She also makes mistakes and is very human and likeable. I love all the medical ethical questions this series brings up too. Overall, I didn't love the romance, and since most of this book is about the romance it really brought my rating down. Despite that, this is a fascinating dystopian world and the trilogy is worth reading if you absolute need a new dystopian. :D

From Goodreads:
Jackson Meyer has thrown himself into his role as an agent for Tempest, the shadowy division of the CIA that handles all time-travel-related threats. Despite his heartbreak at losing the love of his life, Jackson has proved himself to be an excellent agent. However, after an accidental run in with Holly—the girl he altered history to save—Jackson is once again reminded of what he's lost. And when Eyewall, an opposing division of the CIA, emerges, Jackson and his fellow agents not only find themselves under attack, but Jackson begins to discover that the world around him has changed and someone knows about his erased relationship with Holly, putting both their lives at risk all over again.
My Rating: 4 / 5 stars

Vortex is book 2 in the Tempest trilogy. SPOILERS

Tempest was exactly the kind of time travel book I love best, all twisty and complicated and mind-bending, and the good news is that Vortex continues the awesomeness (minus the cover, which I don't think qualifies for awesomeness - not my favorite). Plus, Jackson is now training with the CIA and a good portion of the beginning goes through that. I thought it was so interesting and I liked reading about the conflicted lives of CIA agents and how they have to lie to so many people about what they do. There are some great new characters too. Then everything goes crazy again with lots of time travel mix-ups and a certain child named Emily appears again from the future making things very complicated (she's my favorite). And there's plenty of Holly, too, though things are not right since Jackson and Holly's original timeline got all skewed. Anyway, it's all a big mess, but I'm a big fan of time travel messes. :D It ends in kind of a shocking place and I can't wait to see what happens in the final book.

One star off my rating for content - too much swearing for my tastes and a little bit of sexual innuendo. This one is also pretty violent at times.

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