A Book for a Rainy Day with a Cup of Tea: The Archived (2013) by Victoria Schwab

The Archived by Victoria Schwab (2013)

Suggested age range: 12 and up (Hyperion, 328 pages)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Source: Library

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Gothic

“Each time you finish a story, you make me tell it back to you, as if you’re afraid I will forget. I never do.” (2)


The Book: Mackenzie has an unconventional job for a 16 year old. She is a “Keeper” in the Archive, a place where the dead are stored as “Histories” on shelves. After her grandfather passes away, Mac carries on his duties: tracking down escaped Histories who find themselves in “The Narrows” where they must be returned. Under no circumstance can “Histories” escape into the real world. Mac begins to suspect something strange is happening when she discovers that some histories have been changed, some of their memories erased. Furthermore, the Coronado, the hotel turned apartment building, where Mac and her parents now live, has a mysterious history. Mac begins to suspect that this history is somehow connected to the hidden world of the Archive. Flashing back to scenes with Mac’s grandfather, The Archived introduces a unique and fascinating world where the unseen is just as important as what is seen.

Spirituality in The Archived: The question of what happens to people when they die is a spiritual one, just as much as a religious one. This story certainly brings up that question, and the way Schwab represents what happens to the “dead” in the book world could open up some thought-provoking discussion. The book highlights the significance of preserving the past and keeping memories alive, especially when someone loses a family or friend in an untimely way. Finally, Schwab’s book also celebrates the strength of relationships between brother and sister, and between grandparent and grandchild.

Who Should Read This Book: Don’t hesitate! If you like gothic fiction or mysteries featuring beautiful prose and a unique premise, snatch up a copy at your library or bookstore. I mean it—go, now!! This is a detailed and fascinating world and there’s a sequel. If you need a little romance in your YA, don’t worry—there’s some romance here as well. Also, you have to admit, the cover of this story is intriguing—a face, a dark corridor, and a key. Even the endpapers of the hardback are gorgeous.

The Final Word: It seems that I have been particularly lucky lately—I’ve been reading books that I just can’t put down. That doesn’t always happen, and I’m always pleased when it does. Another reason why I adore this book: I couldn’t tell what was coming around the corner in this book, and I love when that happens. The story didn’t end on a cliffhanger, but it did leave you wanting to read the next book. Thankfully, it’s already out, and I’ll be sitting down with a cup of tea during a thunderstorm for The Unbound in the near future.


Cupcake Review: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (2010) by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Cupcake (Mini) Review

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (2010)

Suggested age range: 13 and up

(Knopf, 260 pages)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Source: Library

Genre: Contemporary Young Adult, Realistic

dash and lily

*There is a new feature on the blog—Cupcake Reviews! These are like mini book reviews; they may not be as long as regular reviews, and they are short and sweet! Just as we love to bake cakes and cupcakes, we like to write long reviews and mini ones. Enjoy!

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

The Book: It’s almost Christmas and Lily is looking for love. Dash discovers a red notebook while browsing through books at New York City’s famous Strand bookstore. The notebook belongs to Lily, a teenager who has left a series of dares for a boy who feels up to the challenge. Dash’s completion of the first set of dares sets in motion a relationship via the red notebook that brings the two teenagers closer and closer together. Will they ever meet? Will the idea of one another match up with the real Dash and Lily?

The Final Word: This book is filled with so many laugh aloud moments. It’s a fun, light read that illustrates the beauty of letter writing and appreciating the geography of one’s hometown. It’s also a story that asks questions about finding that “special” someone and how relationships work and don’t work. Dash and Lily both experience their own set of adventures and the pace of the book is perfect—giving readers moments to reflect on the characters, and providing those on the edge of your seat moments—oh no, how is this gong to work out?!?! It’s a fabulous book, and will have you looking for a red notebook the next time you drop into the Strand.


Alien Wave: Review-The 5th Wave (2013) by Rick Yancey

The Book: You may not have expected them. The aliens are here. We were not ready for them. Few of earth’s survivors are left. They have already attacked in four waves. The 5th Wave is approaching. One of earth’s remaining humans, sixteen year old Cassie, is fighting to survive, and must find her brother, Sammy. She made a promise, and refuses to break it. Armed with Sammy’s teddy bear and very few possessions, she moves carefully through the woods, until sh5th wavee is shot by one of THEM on an open stretch of highway. When she is rescued by the mysterious Evan Walker, things may be looking up. But who really is Evan Walker, and is Cassie’s brother still alive? What is the 5th wave and will it completely wipe out the rest of the human population? The first in a series, you may finish this book wishing you had Rick Yancey’s phone number so you could call and ask him for an advanced reader’s copy of the second book.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey (2013)

Suggested age range: 13 and up (Putnam Juvenile, 457 pages)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Source: Personal Copy

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Apocalypse, Survival

Spirituality in The 5th Wave: Is the power of love stronger than fear? Can hope survive in the midst of the darkest and loneliest moments? These questions surface as Cassie attempts to survive on the earth after 80% of the population has been wiped out by aliens. Her promise to her younger brother spurs her on. The promises we make to those closest to us are powerful, and this book illustrates that idea.

Who Should Read This Book: Young adults and adults should read this gripping post-apocalyptic novel. As many people as possible should consider how we would respond should a large spaceship appear in the sky. What would you do if earth was attacked by aliens? Do you have what it takes to survive in the wild?

The Final Word: The others were right. Once you start this book, you may not put it down until you find out what this 5th Wave is. You may not stop reading until you discover if Cassie is going to survive. Be careful about reading this book late at night—your dreams may be laced with running from aliens and stocking up on food. Then again, some of you may want to have these dreams. In that case, do read Yancey’s fantasy at night.

If you like The 5th Wave, You might like:

The Passage: A Novel (Book One of The Passage Trilogy) by Justin Cronin

In the After by Demetria Lunetta

Gone by Michael Grant

Think with Your Heart–Review: Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy (2014) by Karen Foxlee

Suggested age range: 8 and up (Knopf Books for Younger Readers, 240 pages)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Source: Net Galley

Genre: Children’s, Fantasy

Release Date: January 28th, 2014


“Ophelia did not consider herself brave…Of course she couldn’t save the world. She was only eleven years old and rather small for her age, and also she had knock knees.”

The Book: In a foreign city, covered in snow, Ophelia and her sister Alice, spend their time in a museum while their father prepares for an important exhibit of swords. One day Ophelia discovers a boy (the marvelous boy) who is locked away, and requests that she help release him. He claims he is being held by the Snow Queen (who is going to destroy the world), and that wizards took his name, dubbing him the marvelous boy who would defeat the queen and save the world. He tells Ophelia that she must help him find a magical sword along with the “One Other.”

Ophelia possesses a scientific mind, and doesn’t believe in magic. However, she listens to the voice of her mother (who has recently passed away) and she braves challenges and dangers to help the marvelous boy. Slowly, Ophelia’s perspective about the supernatural changes. During her adventure in the museum, Ophelia faces misery birds, snow leopards, ghost children, and the cold curator, Miss Kaminski. The marvelous boy tells Ophelia his history throughout the book, creating a story within a story. Foxlee has crafted a creative narrative that reminds me of other works such as The King in the Window  (2005) by Adam Gopnik and The Ghost in the Glass House (2013) by Carey Wallace, but yet it is certainly unique.

Spirituality in Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy: The revelation that she is brave and capable takes place gradually for Ophelia. Her logic often kicks in as she responds to the claim that there are ghosts and live snow leopards and misery birds on the seventh floor. When she sees such things, however, she believes. Her revelations of the supernatural aspect of reality then change the way she faces the next obstacle.

Ophelia hears the voice of her mother as she navigates the difficulties and fears tied up in helping the marvelous boy. This voice releases significant aid and wisdom during key moments for Ophelia and illustrates the importance of her mother in her life. There is a connectedness within this aspect of the story that is vital for Ophelia on her mission to help the marvelous boy. Certainly, Ophelia’s mother plays an important role in her spirituality. It is her mother who reminds Ophelia of the greatest weapon: love.

Exploring this Book with Readers: With allusions to the Snow Queen, fairy tales, and other supernatural concepts, this book could act as a jumpstart for readers to write their own fairy tales. Children could create entirely new tales, pulling elements from different stories, or follow a structure similar to the one in this novel. With laugh aloud moments, this story would also be perfect for reading aloud, whether it’s in a large group or between readers.

The Final Word: I had great hopes for this book when I first saw its cover (I’m a fan of Yoko Tanaka’s atmospheric drawings) and read its synopsis. I was not disappointed and enjoy the humorous tone underlying the narrative, as well as its many magical aspects. It was refreshing to read about Ophelia’s transformation from a skeptic to one who was ready to embrace her destiny. Those who enjoy a humorous fantasy with a fantastic villain and a story set in a maze-like museum should certainly pick up Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy.

Favorite Quotes:

“The strangest think I have learned is that it’s impossible to know what’s inside someone. The wizards didn’t teach me this, but I have learned it myself.” (The Marvelous Boy)

“But I got used to those wizards, who really are very kind. If you have heard it said that wizards eat nothing biscuits, then you have heard the truth.” (The Marvelous Boy)

“If she were a wizard, she’d write reports for people. She’d make sure everything was very clear. She’d write, Looking for a magical sword? No problem. Go to the fifth floor, turn left, open a large wooden chest, et cetera, et cetera. She’d have check boxes. Found your magical sword? Place X here.” (Ophelia)

“ ‘Should I think scientifically? ‘You should think with your heart,’ said her mother. ‘My heart?’ whispered Ophelia.” (Ophelia)

Review: The Tragedy Paper (2013) by Elizabeth Laban

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth Laban (2013)

Suggested age range: 13 and up

(Borzoi, 312 pages)

Rating: 5/5 stars

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Realism, School Story

Source: Library


“I had no clue at that moment, of course, what I had set in motion.”

The Book: Tim Macbeth transfers to Irving High School as a seventeen year old senior, and he is different than the other students. He is an albino. Before he arrives at school, he meets Vanessa, who happens to be dating one of the most popular boys at school, Patrick. Vanessa and Tim hit it off, however, and they maintain a significant connection even in the midst of their attempting to keep their relationship hidden from general knowledge. Tim is frequently teased by Patrick, Vanessa’s chauvinistic boyfriend, who recruits Tim to help him with the senior’s “secret outing.”

The story alternates between Tim’s viewpoint and that of Duncan’s, a senior who arrives at the school the year after Tim. Duncan listens to CDs made by Tim about what happened the previous year. The reader knows Duncan was involved somehow, but we aren’t sure exactly what happened. Duncan is told by Tim at the beginning of the recording, that he is giving him the content for his senior project, his “tragedy paper.”

What is the tragedy that took place at Irving High School and what role did Tim Macbeth play in that?  As Tim’s story unfolds, readers may have a difficult time putting the book down.

Spirituality in The Tragedy Paper: Tim’s character offers a spiritual dimension to this contemporary school story. How should we treat and interact with those whom look different from us or represent a vastly different background? In other words, should we treat our brother as ourselves? Thinking about Vanessa’s issues in the book: how important is social status and how do we avoid valuing superficial appearances over valuing authentic relationships and being kind to others? There are many discussion worthy passages from the book that highlight the challenges and struggles related to relationships in high school.

Who Should Read This Book: Readers who enjoy a good school story, but want something profound and thought-provoking should pick up Laban’s novel. Tim’s character reflects many of the insecurities and concerns that adolescents may face today, and his identity as an albino adds a significant dimension to the book. Readers may walk away from this book having a little bit more understanding of what it is like to be someone who stands out to everyone else, and can’t do anything about it.

The Final Word: Giving this book my highest rating, I could not put it down and loved it. It was my second book for Bout of Books 9.0 and I raced through it. The school culture at Irving fascinated me, and the relationships between the students and the teachers/administration is another discussion-worthy aspect of the story. The design of the book is beautiful—the endpapers represent a map of the school and provide readers with something to examine. I was drawn to discover the tragedy of what happened when Tim Macbeth arrived at Irving High School. Expect to be drawn into Laban’s novel once you read the first chapter.