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)!

2014 Summer Reading Review – Part 1

So far, my 2014 Summer Reading has been eclectic. I’ve read everything from history to fantasy to young adult and to mystery. However, from what I have read so far, the novels that I enjoyed the most and would recommend to others are: Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, The Salinger Contract by Adam Langer, and The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker. These novels were suspense-filled, wonderfully written,  and just absolutely magical. Happy reading!

Review: It’s a Magic, Mystery, Post-Apocalyptic Extravaganza!

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The Peculiar (#1) by Stefan Bachmann

Summary (from Goodreads):

Don’t get yourself noticed and you won’t get yourself hanged.

In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings–Peculiars–and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them.

One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley–Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.

First he’s noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly magical and mysterious, by Jack Box and the Raggedy Man, by the powerful Mr. Lickerish . . . and by Arthur Jelliby, a young man trying to slip through the world unnoticed, too, and who, against all odds, offers Bartholomew friendship and a way to belong.

Part murder mystery, part gothic fantasy, part steampunk adventure, The Peculiar is Stefan Bachmann’s riveting, inventive, and unforgettable debut novel.

Review:

The Peculiars is a refreshing new look at the fantasy/fairy tale/steampunk genre. While the story takes place in the large, well known metropolis of London, it is inhabited by a mixture of humans, magical creatures and automatons. It is this world where magic clashes with the ‘normal’ that makes the book special.

The plot is fast moving – there’s not much time to catch your breath from the fear and suspense that begins the novel to the tragic, but hopeful ending that leaves one wanting the second installment. What is refreshing about this novel is that the story is not focused only on one particular character. The plot is told from the perspective of multiple voices, both adult and child, which is a refreshing change from the standard fantasy/fairy-tale genre.

Overall, I enjoyed this immensely and cannot wait to begin the second installment, The Whatnot. Highly recommended.

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The Watcher in the Shadows (Niebla #3) by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Summary (from Goodreads):

 An enigmatic toymaker who lives as a recluse in an old mansion, surrounded by the fantastical beings he has created to escape his solitude…Strange lights that flicker through the mist from an abandoned lighthouse…An eerie figure that watches from behind the curtains of a locked room and holds a terrifying secret…A sinister presence that lurks deep within the forest and has already claimed a life…These are the elements of a mystery that will bind young Irene to Ismael during one magical summer spent in the Blue Bay, when her mother takes a job as housekeeper to the eccentric toymaker, Lazarus Jann. For Cravenmoore is a place haunted by the shadows of the past…

Review:

Zafon is a master of suspense and he brings this to his novels aimed at the YA (Young Adult) audience. Even though this novel is meant for younger audiences, it is still rich in description, suspense, drama and emotion. The characters, especially Lazarus Jann, are both believable and larger than life (if that makes sense) placing them at the center of the story and of the reader’s attention.

I enjoy Zufon’s novels, especially because of his ability to weave reality with magic in a believable manner. If you enjoy a good adventure that will leave you breathless, then this one is recommended.

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Pure (#1) by Julianna Baggott

Summary (from Goodreads):

We know you are here, our brothers and sisters . . .
Pressia barely remembers the Detonations or much about life during the Before. In her sleeping cabinet behind the rubble of an old barbershop where she lives with her grandfather, she thinks about what is lost-how the world went from amusement parks, movie theaters, birthday parties, fathers and mothers . . . to ash and dust, scars, permanent burns, and fused, damaged bodies. And now, at an age when everyone is required to turn themselves over to the militia to either be trained as a soldier or, if they are too damaged and weak, to be used as live targets, Pressia can no longer pretend to be small. Pressia is on the run.

Burn a Pure and Breathe the Ash . . .

There are those who escaped the apocalypse unmarked. Pures. They are tucked safely inside the Dome that protects their healthy, superior bodies. Yet Partridge, whose father is one of the most influential men in the Dome, feels isolated and lonely. Different. He thinks about loss-maybe just because his family is broken; his father is emotionally distant; his brother killed himself; and his mother never made it inside their shelter. Or maybe it’s his claustrophobia: his feeling that this Dome has become a swaddling of intensely rigid order. So when a slipped phrase suggests his mother might still be alive, Partridge risks his life to leave the Dome to find her.

When Pressia meets Partridge, their worlds shatter all over again.

Review:

First and foremost, I have to say that I could not put the book down once I began reading. Describing the book as ‘good’ does not do it – the characters, the plot, the writing – justice. Yes, it is a YA book where a group of teenagers are destined to save mankind. However, what makes this YA different is its gritty, frightening and unflinching description of the horrors of  surviving in a world where everything is out to get everything else. I don’t know what else to say without giving too much away. So, I will end with: recommended.

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.