The Unbound – Victoria Schwab

And I’ve completed this duology! I have very mixed feelings about this one, as I had pretty high expectations after finishing The Archived. If you were to ask me honestly, I think The Archived worked much better off as a stand-alone. The second book wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t as necessary. The whole book revolves around Mackenzie dealing with her depression and her fears, and although the book did portray that feeling of hopelessness outstandingly, it just wasn’t the perfect book for me at the moment since I’m not the best with sorting out my own feelings just yet. Most of the book focuses on that topic and only the last few chapters of the book was fully devoted to the real story. That part however did played off really well, as it was flawless coming from Victoria’s writing and the action was hooking and addictive. One aspect I enjoyed a lot was seeing Mackenzie at school, because nothing beats having to see a normal kid who has much more of a life than what she shows to her friends. I would’ve liked this book more if they were to explore and explain the Library a bit more. The whole world is still full of mysteries and I was looking forward to more secrets and clues as to what the world can allow, but the second book didn’t introduce much which is new. The romance in this was sweet and not overdone, but I’ve already learned that Victoria doesn’t focus on that as much. Although this wasn’t the best book by her, Victoria is still an author with loads of potential and I will be continuing with her Shades Of Magic trilogy as soon as I can!

 

3.5/5.

The Archived – Victoria Schwab

I’ve always heard fantastic reviews about Victoria Schwab’s books, and I am more than lucky to get this book as a gift from my friend. I felt like this book has a really good concept, whereby the dead are kept as Histories on shelves in a place called the Archived. The Archived are guarded by the Librarians. There are passageways connecting our world with the Archived, and that pathway is called the Narrows. It is a long narrow dark road with identical doors on both sides, and only a Keeper can navigate through the Narrows. Keepers have the ability to find doors into the Narrows and have special keys to open the doors. Once in a while, a History gets disturbed and will awake, venturing into the Narrows, and it is the Keeper’s job to send them back into the Archive. I love the world-building and the description, and everything that is written I can picture it in my mind perfectly, giving me a grand and vivid image of the world. With such a good setting, the plot must too be intriguing and interesting. I would give the plot a 4/5 stars, it definitely was special and I wasn’t expecting it, but I just wish it could’ve been a bit faster in pace. However, it all pays up in the end because I was glued to the pages with my heart pounding when the story reached its climax. Bishop Mackenzie is a very strong protagonist, and I love the relationship she had with her granddad. On the start of every chapter, there’s a small flashback with her and her grandfather, and to me those are the best parts of the book. This book deals with a lot of privacy and time-controlling issues that teenagers can really understand and relate to (even if you are not a keeper of course!). Although there are obviously many things left to explore in this world and a lot of mysteries to be explained, I hope they can all be answered in the sequel The Unbound which I would of course be reading as soon as I can.

 

Overall I would give it a 4 stars, and it is a good start to the world Victoria has created.

Stand Alone Recommendations

Sometimes after a long series, you just need a rest from all the characters and escape from the world you’ve just lived in. Stand-alones are like a platform between a series and the next. I personally have read tons of stand alones but it’s hard to find one that really blows me away as I expect a lot and they have to delivered in that one novel. So here are 8 stand-alones that blew me away and I think everyone should try them out some point of their reading lives. (I’ve chosen books from different genres so hopefully you can find something that intrigues you)

  1. READY PLAYER ONE – ERNEST CLINE
    This is such a fast-paced gripping story about a futuristic world set in the year 2044, where everyone seeks refuge in a virtual reality game known as the OASIS. When the creator of the game dies, he leaves a message saying there is a prize lying in the OASIS while giving the first clue. For years people have been trying to decipher the message but to no progress. In the end, when everyone started giving up, our main character Wade Watts cracks the first clue and begins his journey battling against other competitors. This book is filled with 80s pop culture and video game references, and it’s definitely a book that will bring you into a different world. Reading the book felt like playing in an arcade for hours, addicting and compelling. The world Ernest Cline created can be pictured so easily and the adventures will keep you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for sci-fi and video game fans, and also a very good choice for someone who’s trying to get into reading.
  2. DIGITAL FORTRESS – DAN BROWN
    Digital Fortress is my second novel by Dan Brown followed by Angels and Demons. I was amazed by the amount of research and study he did with Angels and Demons, and all in all it was a pretty spectacular book. A lot of friends have been urging me to pick this book up, and so I did. Comparing this with Angels and Demons, Dan spent most of his effort forming plots and linking them together, whereas Angels and Demons relied more on history and full on research. It’s a really fast paced book even though it’s a big chunk to devour. Some chapters were relatively short, and it was told in multiple point of views. It deals with code-breaking and also encryption. He gives readers a brief touch on both topics, just enough to let you be pumped about the plot. It was a fun ride, trying to decipher the mysteries yet at the same time scanning the content as fast as possible. The story was told in multiple perspectives, but since the chapters are short, it’s easier for you to connect with all the different characters. The story was really well thought out and every part linked from top to bottom, making you go Oh whenever something is revealed. The feeling will then fade instantaneously when you flip to the next page as another mystery tops the pile. I’m truly amazed by how Dan actually squeezed all the details of a day into a 500 page book. You will easily get pulled in by his writing style and the interesting content, and for my case I just can’t let an unsolved mystery go to rest. The amount of plot twists in this book… It really makes you scratch your head on who’s the real enemy.  All in all, the book grasp my heart completely and left me stunned with a 5 star rating. 
  3. WINGER – ANDREW SMITH
    Winger follows 14 year old Ryan Dean West at boarding school, living in Opportunity Hall, which is a dorm for troublemakers, thinking he doesn’t deserve to be there. He plays rugby in the school team and is madly in love with his best friend Annie. We follow him throughout the year as he tries to not just solve his own troubles, but the people around him as well. This is a really light read , suitable for high-school students and easy to relate to. Andrew Smith creates characters that are all funny and unique, and at the same time flawed. The story deals with LGBT issues and it gets a bit dark towards the end, but Andrew Smith delivered the story perfectly that it made me constantly think about the story after I’ve finished it. Definitely the best book to try out if you are wanting to try anything by Andrew Smith.
  4. KAFKA ON THE SHORE – HARUKI MURAKAMI
    If you guys are familiar with Murakami’s stories, they are normally a bit extraordinary or weird, and especially filled with metaphors. The stories are one of a kind and after you’ve finished a book, you will not stop thinking about it, but every time with a different outcome. It follows Kafka who runs away from home in search for his missing mother and sister and at the same time escape from his father. In another state in Japan there’s Nakata, an old man who has the ability to talk to cats. Both of them set off from their home in order to search for different meanings and end up finding their lives converge. It is a story of coming of age and although the story may be a bit strange (talking cats and fish falling from the sky), the writing is outstanding and worth reading. One can never do justice by giving a summary of Murakami’s books, so just read it and you’ll understand where I’m coming from!
  5. THE KITE RUNNER – KHALED HOSSEINI
    Most people probably have already read this as a reading project in high school or college, but I won’t stop emphasizing on how such an impact this book is. This is a story about an unlikely friendship formed between a wealthy man’s son Amir and the son of their servant Hassan. Amir soon grew jealous of his father’s treatment for Hassan and does unforgivable things to demand his father’s attention. The two boys are then separated because of war and are forced to forget about their friendship. As Amir grows old, he decides to take on the journey to search for Hassan’s son. This book is definitely heartbreaking! Every turn in the book will tear your heart and fill your eyes with tears. The message behind the story is just so powerful, and you can’t help but love Khaled Hosseini’s writing. A story about friendship, brotherhood and love, stringed together to break and mend your heart at the same time.
  6. ELEANOR AND PARK- RAINBOW ROWELL
    A typical young adult contemporary of two teenagers falling in love. However I finished this book in one seating because the writing was so addicting! Both the main characters are flawed in their own ways, but even though the story was kinda cliche, the writing was so cute and hooking. It is also a realistic YA love story unlike a lot of other ‘love at first sight’ books. Rainbow Rowell just has a way with words that makes you want more and more from her.
  7. THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE- AUDREY NIFFENNEGGER
    This is a more adult romance story about a guy who has a disease that allows him to travel in time, whether forward or backwards, but can never control it. He falls in love with a young girl who he meets while traveling back in time, and lets her know more about him, and how to find him in the future. You follow their journey as the both of them grow older and deal with the consequences brought by time traveling, and learn to fix everything with their love. A heartwarming story, every chapter in a different timeline, and an unpredictable ending. Even with all these issues, they try their best to focus on living normally together. A must read for fans of Colleen Hoover!
  8. BIG LITTLE LIES- LIANE MORIARTY
    I’ve already talked about this book in my previous blog post 🙂 . Just know this is a superb read for me, and one of the best books I’ve read in 2017 yet!

 

 

Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty

This book is just addictive! I was just completely sucked in by the loud conversations of typical mothers while waiting for their kids in school, having coffee together in a nearby cafe. This book follows the story of 3 mothers, all from different backgrounds and more than enough secrets for their own to handle, while they take up the challenge of keeping their kids happy. It’s heartwarming watching them help each other out in giving advice on how to communicate with their kids. I loved this book so much, it was an easy 5 star for me. It was gripping and hilarious and the writing just sucks you in. At the end of each chapters there is a short section where a detective gives people interviews, trying to find out the truth about a ‘murder’ that took place. Throughout the book I just kept wondering what it might be and the ending took me entirely by surprise. Everything fit very well in the end and completely made sense. This book does talk about some serious issues such as rape and domestic violence, but putting that aside it’s a really light read and it will definitely put a smile on your face. The characters are all filled with substance and you can’t help but love them. The 3 main characters all have their own perspective in this story and it’s very nice to see how they got through the struggle with their secrets and how they openly accept help and comfort in the end. There are no significant flaws I would like to address, in fact, I would like to say I can’t find any flaws at all! I recommend this book to anyone who wants a quick read to get pass a reading slump.

 

5/5 stars. Or more…

Half Of A Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is such a beautifully structured story of war, tragedy and love. It’s my first ever novel by Chimamanda and I had pretty high expectations before going into this and I am not disappointed. The writing style was amazing and the story was so engaging that you can’t help rooting for the characters. The story is told in 3 point of views. Ugwu who is a houseboy, and later on learns from his masters and turns into a teacher, even fought for the war. Next there’s Olanna, strong independent woman who stands up for herself despite her family background. Lastly Richard, an Englishman and a journalist who falls in love with Olanna’s twin sister. The characters lives are all entwined together during the Nigerian Civil War. Personally I am not a big fan of history myself and I haven’t read many historical fiction, and I had to go into this book blindly without knowing anything about this war. I didn’t even know that the nation Biafra existed for a couple of years. But it wasn’t difficult to get into the story and picture the war and the setting because Chimamanda has such a way with words that she manages to get me into the character’s shoes. The character development in this story is amazing as you get to see how far each character reaches out in situations of desperation, and how they learn to put down their pride and trust each other. She also managed to perfectly establish the horror of war and how a whole nation can be affected by it. I wasn’t very happy that the author used quite a lot of the native language throughout the novel, as I had a very hard time guessing what they meant. Right after reading the book I decided to watch the movie just to get a clearer picture of the whole story ( I won’t rate the movie ), and I’m quite glad almost everything is left unchanged and they managed to get the main points and plot through. All in all, great novel and I will be reading Chimamanda’s other novels soon.

4/5.

SPOILER SESSION

  1. My biggest issue with this book was the character Odenigbo. I understand that he may have gone through a lot during the war but that’s not really a big enough excuse to abandon his pride and mistakes and sleep around with girls over and over again even though he has a wife.  Especially after Alice comes into the picture, I lost a lot of respect for him. From the start of the book, I used to think he was a very honorable man on the way he treats Ugwu and how Ugwu looks up to him too.
  2. Let’s talk about Ugwu. I think he was the center of the story and he showed the most development in this story. It was really touching to see a young boy like him so determined, going to standard 3 classes with a bunch of younger kids, later on learned to speak English properly, joined the war and became a teacher together with Olanna because they think that the war shouldn’t affect education. He was a really well thought out character and big thumbs up to his presence!
  3. The scene where the lady showed Olanna her child’s head, that was very disturbing… But it was necessary I guess, to show the brutality these people possess.
  4. I really loved how in the end Olanna and Kainene helped each other out and grew to show each other how much they care for the other. It was heartbreaking to not know what ever happened to Kainene, but I guess it was just nice to see Olanna grasping on to hope so tightly.

 

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child – J.K. Rowling

This is going to be a hard first review considering how I must be very careful with my words as there are so many HP fans out there! Luckily for me, I pretty enjoyed this ‘novel’, and though not very necessary, it is really nice to have a glimpse of what the HP world looks like after 19 years. It definitely had a lot of tiny flaws, but considering how this is a play instead I think they can be neglected. It was a really fast read and I finished it in one seating. I think the biggest issue to address is the fact that some characters weren’t acting like themselves, and by that I mean Harry and Snape. After seven novels and 8 movies, all of us HP fans already have a very strong mindset on how these characters should be. Maybe they had to force something into the characters to keep the story flowing, but it really didn’t work out for me. But putting that aside, we got a glimpse of some really cool new characters like Scorpius Malfoy, especially Scorpius Malfoy. It was a very great little extra touch that they decided to add some small but important roles such as Polly Chapman. The whole story was focused on time travelling and it was very interesting to have a glimpse of the different outcomes when the past is altered. There were some parts which could have been dragged longer to show character development and also to give the readers a bit more ‘punch’ of feels, especially between Albus and Scorpius. It’s not necessary a must read, but if you’re up for a quick and light read, this is definitely the book to pick up. Just bear in mind that this is still a play and don’t compare it to the previous books.

3.5/5

SPOILER SESSION

  1. Can we please just talk bout the trolley witch… I think I’m not the only person who’s confused with this or have very big issues with this character.
  2. I was definitely disappointed that Teddy Lupin wasn’t in this play at all.
  3. Weird but from the starting I kept getting hints that Scorpius has a thing for Albus since he got jealous whenever Delphi comes in to the picture. But I’m very glad how it turned out in the end. They really portrayed a very strong image of the friendship between these two characters
  4. Speaking of Delphi, she was just a really weird character. We all know throughout this series Voldemort has never considered anyone as his equal, and even though he has the slightest bit of admiration and shows no dislike on Bellatrix, it’s impossible for them to have a child together.
  5. Really didn’t like the bookshelf scene in Hermione’s office. Why would she put a puzzle for someone to find the Time Turner? She’s the bloody Minister Of Magic, surely she could’ve done so much better.
  6. It was really really nice seeing Draco put aside everything just for his child, even his grudge against Harry.
  7. The part where Severus sacrificed himself for Scorpius and opened up so much, very unlikely. He kept his love for Lily Potter a secret from everyone except Dumbledore. He would’ve been furious if someone else knew about it. Also, that alternate future just doesn’t explain why Snape was still alive.

 

That’s all I have for this book, looking forward for more stuff from this world no matter what it is!