The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library #1) by Genevieve Cogman

21416690Summary (from http://www.goodreads.com):
The first installment of an adventure featuring stolen books, secret agents and forbidden societies – think Doctor Who with librarian spies!

Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

Review:

Oh my goodness! How wonderfully fun was this book?! Another recommendation from a fellow bibliophile, this was an addictive read.

Irene is a spunky, resourceful, professional spy who collects books for the mysterious Library. I enjoyed Irene’s asides (written in parenthesis) and the humour with which Cogman voices her. Kai, Irene’s apprentice, is powerful and enchanting and a trusted colleague. The interaction between Kai and Irene is, for a lack of a better word, fun to read.

I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed this book. The mix of magic and mystery and adventure and a strong female lead has made this one of my favorite reads of this year (well, in the last two weeks!). I’m already on to the second book, The Masked Library (The Invisible Library #2)!

A Gaiman Double Feature! Review of Unnatural Creatures by Neil Gaiman (editor) & Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Unnatural Creatures

Summary (from Goodreads):

Unnatural Creatures is a collection of short stories about the fantastical things that exist only in our minds—collected and introduced by beloved New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman.

The sixteen stories gathered by Gaiman, winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards, range from the whimsical to the terrifying. The magical creatures range from werewolves to sunbirds to beings never before classified. E. Nesbit, Diana Wynne Jones, Gahan Wilson, and other literary luminaries contribute to the anthology.

Sales of Unnatural Creatures benefit 826DC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students in their creative and expository writing, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.

Review:

Needless to say I am a huge Gaiman fan (writing a review for two of his novels is a dead give away!), so when I saw this collection of short stories edited by him, I had no option, but to buy the book … and it did not disappoint!

Each story in the collection is unexpected, spine-tingling, surprising, hair-raising, and utterly original. The blurbs before each story gives insight into the author as well as sets the stage (a little) for the story ahead.

If you enjoy anything unexpected or unusual or just stories that linger in the corners of your mind long after the last sentence is read, then I cannot recommend this one enough!

Good Omens

Summary (from Goodreads):

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes NutterWitch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

Review:

As much as I love Gaiman and Pratchett, this one took a little while to get into. I was a bit confused in the beginning, especially about the loss of the Antichrist, but about twenty-five pages in (it’s worth it to keep going), it all started to fall humorously into place.

Like both author’s previous work, this novel is unexpected and tackles a big idea – the idea of faith, good and evil, and humanity –  in a, sometimes confusing, but always humorous way.

Recommended.

Review: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

A Storm of SwordsSummary (Goodreads):

Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces maneuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords.

Review:

This instalment of A Song of Fire and Ice took much longer to read than initially anticipated. For the most part it had nothing to with the novel itself – I was distracted by work and other novels –  and could not give this the time and concentration it deserved. However, I have finally completed it and … wow!

While the first few sections (about four of them) were a little slow going, the action picks up right afterwards. So much happens to all the characters in this instalment, it took a couple of days afterwards for me to come to terms with what I had just read. The action, needless to say, is intense, gruesome and bloody (as wars are), but the outcomes are astonishing! Characters I adored (and some that I despised) either died (should have learned my lesson from book 1!) or made decisions that took my breath away, while one character that I had long despised (I get way too emotionally involved) gave me pause, and made me reconsider his behaviour and my feelings towards them (I still don’t particularly care for them, but the feeling is not an intense loathing, either). And then there were those characters that got their just rewards – both good and bad (will not say more or will give too much away). Every character undergoes a change due to their own actions or because of the actions of others, which is one of the reasons I find this series so addictive. The setting, Westeros, and the cities beyond it are astonishing in scale and detail, while the plot (at some points meandering and tiresome), for the most part is exciting and full of suspense.

Much is revealed, but even more questions are raised about the conspiracies and political intrigues that lead to the battles, in all its forms, in Westeros.

I very much enjoyed this one and and am looking forward to season three of the HBO series, as well. Recommended. On to book four – A Feast for Crows!

Review: The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

The Eyes of the DragonSummary (Goodreads):

A tale of archetypal heroes and sweeping adventures, of dragons and princes and evil wizards, here is epic fantasy as only Stephen King could envision it.

The number-one New York Times best seller – the prelude to the classic Dark Tower series.

 

Review:

I had never read anything other than horror or suspense by Stephen King, so I was pleasantly surprised when my mom had this waiting for me (she had found it in a book sale) when I came for the holidays.

The plot is the classic story of one brother – handsome, kind, wise, and loved by all – is destined for greatness, while the younger brother is left in the shadows of resentment, fear, and anger. The evil wizard, advisor to the king and one who has been alive for thousands upon thousands of years, plots to undermine and imprison the true heir to the throne with the help of the younger brother. It’s classic political intrigue, but more evil.

The story is full of suspense, mystery, heart-breaking moments of violence, and greed. The characters are well rounded and complex, so much so that I couldn’t help but sympathize with the antagonist … sometimes. It is thoroughly enjoyable and easy to read. Recommended.