Science Fiction

SNEAK PEEK of The Archived by Victoria Schwab

I really enjoyed Victoria Schwab’s The Near Witch last year so I was so excited when I was able to read a sneak peek of The Archived, only the first 100 pages, but oh so good. It makes me want to wear a key around my neck and carry chalk in my pocket.

Details Please (Publisher’s description)
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.

So What?
Like I said before I just read the first couple of chapters and was just barely scratching the surface of the story, but I can tell this will be a book to look out for. I really liked the whole premise about Mackenzie sending back the Histories that escape through the cracks in the Archive. Mackenzie has a start as a Keeper at a relatively young age and on top of that she is dealing with deaths in the family, and the lack of closure there. There is also Roland a really cool librarian who catalogs the dead, and hasn’t aged a day, and the mysterious Wesley with scars of his own. Also there are a whole lot of doors and shadows just waiting to be explored.

As a side note, have any of you seen the Japanese film Be with You, base off Takuji Ichikawa’s novel? When I started reading this that movie came to mind because in the film the mother dies and goes to a planet named Archive. I had always wondered why they named the planet Archive and now after reading this I understand. Two totally different things but I had such a eureka moment. Lol.

I’d like to imagine that Mio from Be With You escaped from the Archives in Victoria Schwab’s world and came back in the rainy season in Takuji Ichikawa novel.

Anyway,I believe that everyone is approved for the Sneak Peek on NetGalley so you guys should go seek it out. Then we can all patiently wait for January 22nd to come. So. Far. Away. 😦

I can’t wait to read the whole story.

Cinder Audiobook Giveaway

I’m excited to host a giveaway of Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Woot Woot! This book is all kinds of awesome, being a cyberpunk retelling of Cinderella and so Macmillan Audio is acting as your fairy godmother and offering a free audiobook copy to one of you.

In the spirit of Marissa Meyer’s recent guest post over at Bibliophilic Monologues, all you have to do to enter is name a song that fits in with one of your favorite books. An example from me would be “Give Me Strength” by Snow Patrol really fit in with The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa. That simple!

This giveaway is open to everyone. If someone outside the U.S. wins they will get a Cinder digital download instead. The giveaway will end when the clock strikes twelve on the 25th of January. I hope all of you participate!

Here’s an audio clip courtesy of Macmillan Audio and Novel Novice‘s YouTube page 🙂

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Details, Please (Publisher Description)

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

So What?
This is a fast read, and completely entertaining. It’s not so exhaustively high-tech to the point that you don’t understand what the heck is going on either.  I think this qualifies as a dystopian book, because although the world is high-tech, the world is bleak with disease threatening to kill and no antidote to be found. Plus society is against our protagonist and poor Cinder goes through more than one identity crisis.

As a character, Cinder isn’t all prim and proper or annoying; she’s realistic and not pining away for the prince. The prince knows that his duty is to his people and not about whom he loves…you just get the sense in this first installment that there are bigger issues than just Cinder and Kai. Cinder is the first of a four-book series and Scarlet comes out in 2013. Don’t worry there isn’t a horrible cliffhanger. As a side note Marissa Meyer seems pretty cool she started by writing Sailor Moon FanFiction. What’s not to like?

Oh! For those of you who joined any Sci-Fi challenges or are planning on participating in the Once Upon a Time challenge this would be a good book for both. I’m using it towards my dystopia challenge.

And just because this came to mind while reading here is a Futuristic Paso Doble from Dancing with the Stars 🙂 (nothing like this happened in the book that we saw anyway…it’s just the spirit of it I guess)

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I was seriously prejudiced when starting this book. Like many other of my reads I finally read Outlander because I kept hearing people rave about it on Tumblr and so forth. I opened the book and read the first sentence of the brief summary:

Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another.”

*slammed book shut*

“Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire.”

This suspiciously sounds like one of those books your aunt gets caught reading from the book stash hidden under her bed. Plus I hate infidelity…I don’t care if your husband and your lover will never meet because while with one the other wasn’t born yet, or with the other your lovers been dead 200 years. Pfft. How convenient.

Details, Please

So in 1945 while on her second honeymoon, former nurse Claire Randall ends up touching some random boulder in an ancient stone circle while out collecting plants and –Bamf- gets transported to 1743 Scotland. Freaked out and landing in possibly the worst place ever she ends up between a feud with Scots and the English. Now she constantly has to defend herself because everyone who’s anyone thinks she’s a spy or a witch. She meets Jamie Fraser a younger Scots warrior and complications arise. What’s a time traveling girl to do? Stay with her younger warrior or return to her husband in the 20th century…

So what? *Slight spoiler warning*

I heard it’s difficult to classify this book because its historical fiction, fantasy and even science-fiction, but you know what? It’s basically an angsty romance. I guess you could call it a fantasy…the Loch Ness Monster makes an appearance. But Gosh, I got over my initial prejudice about this book, because I was curious and I heard the first chapter on audiobook while packing. It was interesting. I mean the one scene that made me curious is when Claire’s first husband sees a Scotsman ghost staring at her from outside her window. I kept reading. Here’s the thing: It’s brutal.

I did not take pleasure in worrying about whether someone was going to get flogged, raped or assaulted at every corner. I felt like I was peering through sadistic windows, becoming an unwilling voyeur. I had to take a break half way through and read Harry Potter fanfiction. Dude, that’s how upset I was.

I felt bad for her first husband probably going out of his mind looking for her. I felt like the author was trying to justify Claire not going back to her husband because her first husband’s six-time-great grandfather is the villain of this book. Plus, some of the sentences just made me laugh:

“I was now shut in the room of a rural inn, awaiting a completely different husband, whom I scarcely knew, with firm orders to consummate a forced marriage, at risk of my life and liberty.”

I had a legit reason to marry another man in a different century! Pfft. Please.

Overall

Read it, just so you can say you read the book all the girls are fangirling about, but only if you don’t care about wasting your time. I just got tired of feeling uptight. The book has some controversial scenes. I mean the majority of it took place in the 18th century so of course women of today would be scandalized by some scenes. I don’t know what to think of them except I didn’t like reading about someone getting beaten within an inch of her life, and it being acceptable at the time.The ending was happy, but it wasn’t worth the crap I had to trudge through to get there.

I can’t go any further. I’m emotionally spent. I hear someone gets sold into slavery in the next book? No thanks. I’m not coming back to this world. I’m touching the stones at Craigh na Dun and I’m going back home.

To be fair, here’s a GoodReads link so you can find some positive reviews of this book if still interested.

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien

Details, Please…

In a dystopian future, society is marked by the privileged that live inside the Enclave and those who live a life of poverty and no education outside. Following in her mother’s steps, sixteen-year-old Gaia Stone becomes a midwife and the best in her sector outside the wall. Her job wouldn’t be so bad if she didn’t have a quota of babies to give to the Enclave for “advancement.” Mother greed is supposed to be unnatural and disloyal to the Enclave; mothers should be happy their children will be given better opportunities, but something seems off about all of it. One night her parents are taken in for questioning. It stretches to three weeks and still no word from them. Meanwhile, Gaia’s being questioned by the mysterious Sergeant Grey about a list or some secret code her parents made about the babies her mother helped bring into the world. Determined to get into the Enclave to save her parents, she smuggles herself in and her life drastically changes. What does the Enclave want with her parents, and what is in the mysterious ribbon with an embedded message? Gaia soon realizes it’s not so simple to rebel, especially against an elitist society that’s all about their exclusive gene pool.

So What?

Wow. I wanted to read this book for a while now, and I honestly don’t know why it took me so long to finally read Birthmarked. I love strong heroines that stand up against authority! Gaia isn’t your traditional perfect character with overwhelming beauty either. The scars of life are on her face quite literally. She goes through life with different forms of bravery, and doesn’t even think so. She’s just doing what she has to do. There is also slight romance and it doesn’t impair her judgment. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever used my dictionary as much as I did reading this book. I feel like I learned a volume of words I never even heard of before. It’s always nice to learn something new.

Overall

If you love dystopia, then this is one of the best I’ve read recently. The only bad thing about this book is that the next one (Prized) doesn’t come out till the early part of November. It doesn’t leave off on a cliffhanger, but it certainly has you wanting to read more about Gaia and those she loves. Put it on your TBR list, because it’s excellent.

Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1: Unmanned

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication date: September 2002 – March 2008
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Pencillers: Pia Guerra,Goran Sudžuka and Paul Chadwick
Inker: Jose Marzan Jr.

As you can see, Y: The Last Man is sort of old news, but since this is my first time ever reading it I thought maybe I’m not the only one new to the series.

Details, Please…
One July summer the supposedly impossible happens: every mammal, fetus and sperm…anything with a Y chromosome dies. Yorick Brown, an unemployed English Major of New York seems to be the anomaly along with his pet monkey Ampersand. On finding out he is the only male survivor all he wants to do is go to Australia to find his girlfriend Beth. Of course not everything is as easy as it sounds, after two months a group of women known as the Amazons go around defacing memorials to men claiming Mother Nature killed all men on purpose so women could inherit the Earth. So of course when they find out about Yorick, they call him a deformed female poisoned by his own hormones and try to kill him.

Luckily he just happens to double as an amateur escape artist, which comes in handy when women either want to help him repopulate the world against his wishes, study him like a lab rat or just keep him from finding his girlfriend.So far everyone is trying to figure out what caused all the men on Earth to die. Is it about some ancient artifact hinted at being stolen or the fact that on that very same day a geneticist gave birth to a human clone? I love how its science fiction mixed with political intrigue, because Yorick’s mother as a U.S. representative, is trying to help stabilize the government after some women are saying since men and all the founding fathers are dead their constitution doesn’t apply anymore.

So What?
While writing this I realize a lot of what I’m saying is painting women in a negative view, but I don’t think that’s the aim of the graphic novel. This is like a feminist dream in that all the women so far are strong. I think if the situation was the other way around men would be desperate to fix things too. Perhaps they’d miss women a lot more though. I’m really curious about what’s going to happen to Yorick. I really like him, and I like that he’s not taking advantage of the situation and trying to sleep with everyone. At the same time he seems rather unconscious of his situation. He’s not as careful as he should be considering he could be the last man on Earth and has a responsibility to the world now. As of the first five issues all he seems to care about is finding his girlfriend instead of helping prevent the extinction of the human race. So he’s a super romantic stuck in probably the worst scenario ever. Can you imagine if it was the other way around? I’d hate to be the last woman on Earth. Somehow I thought it would be easier if it was a man, but Yorick has it pretty hard.

Y: The Last man has won a couple of Eisner awards including: Best Writer, Best Continuing Series, and Best Penciller/Inker Team and was nominated for the Hugo Award for best Graphic Novel in 2009. A film was in the works but is temporarily on hold.Personally I think a television series would be better. Shia LeBeouf and Zachary Levi were connected to the role and writer Brian K. Vaughan wanted Topher Grace as Yorick. This really messes things up in my head, because all I can think of is Eric Forman. If he was the last man on Earth…Earth would be doomed.

For those of you who’ve read the whole series, is it worth continuing? I’m pretty hooked already, but if this turns into a lesbian utopia I’m out. No offense against lesbians, I just love men too much. I already ordered volume 2 so I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game is not a book my mother would like. I took her to see Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events once, which ended with her leaving the theater mad that I “subjected” her to kids who were in a helpless situation. We didn’t even get to finish the movie, and I was so confused at her reaction. I totally thought of that moment when I read this book, because…well the Bauedelaire children had it easy compared to Ender Wiggin. And to think I almost read this book to my mother. Ha!

Details, Please…
I’ve seen this book referred to as a “military-academy Harry Potter,” but I don’t really see the comparison. Ender gets accepted to Battle School and it’s no Hogwarts with magic, butterbeer and quidditch. Its military boot camp in space with grueling hours, exhaustive exercising, and constant wargaming where the future of the human race depends on how well you play. Almost every situation in Ender’s life is deliberately made worse so that he can learn to think and fend for himself.

As if the name, "Battle School" doesn't imply it's hardcoreness

Not to mention Ender is always picked on for being a “Third”….a third child is extremely rare in this future setting,but Ender’s birth was authorized by the government. He seems to be Earths only hope against an alien race. Did I mention this kid is only six, and by the end of the book he’s only twelve?

“How do I love thee (Ender)? Let me count the ways…”
I love that Ender is a peaceful character forced to make difficult decisions and yet he still maintains his humanity. I love that Ender doesn’t even seem like a child, yet we are constantly reminded of his frailty. I love how he is constantly worried he is turning into his brother Peter (who is a freakin’ psychopath) and he totally isn’t. I love his sweet relationship with his sister, and his immense compassion and empathy. Even when the odds are stacked against him he manages to shine. I love, I love, I love…

Overall
Despite the immense pressure all the children were put through and some of the violence Ender had to deal with, I liked the story. It’s obvious that Mr.Card has an interest in military science. I found myself interested in the battle-simulations and strategy Ender used. I always wondered why Ender’s Game has such a huge following within the military. Now I know it’s supposed to teach critical thinking. So if you like the idea of reading cool battle strategies and don’t want to read Bruce Catton’s three-volume Army of the Potomac then by all means read this. If you get queasy, throw a tantrum and cry at the thought of watching Lemony Snicket’s then you should probably pass.