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)!

Review: Edge of Black by J.T. Ellison

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Summary (from http://www.goodreads.com)
Dr. Samantha Owens is starting over: new city, new job, new man, new life. She’s trying to put some distance between herself and the devastating loss of her husband and children, but old hurts leave scars.

Before she’s even unpacked her office at Georgetown University’s forensic pathology department, she’s called to consult on a case that’s rocked the capital and the country. An unknown pathogen released into the Washington Metro has caused nationwide panic. Three people died, just three.

A miracle and a puzzle.

Amid the media frenzy and Homeland Security alarm bells, Sam painstakingly dissects the lives of those three victims and makes an unsettling conclusion. This is no textbook terrorist causing mayhem with broad strokes, but an artist wielding a much finer, more pointed instrument of destruction. An assassin, whose motive is deeply personal and far from understandable.

Xander Whitfield, a former army ranger and Sam’s new boyfriend, knows about seeing the world in shades of gray. About feeling compelled to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Only his disturbing kinship with a killer can lead Sam to the truth
and once more into the line of fire.

Review:

Now, this book I finished in two days! This is my first J.T. Ellison novel (and I started with the second one because that’s what was available in the library), and I enjoyed it.

It was a heart-pounding mystery from multiple perspectives that kept me guessing fro beginning to end. Dr. Owen’s is a likable, intelligent, no-nonsense woman who knows exactly what she wants (her relationship with Xander is complicated, but ironically simple) and knows how to say, “no” to what she doesn’t (the advances of Detective Fletcher). While the writing is quite basic and simplistic, the plot is interesting and full of suspense. Because the novel is written in multiple perspectives, we get a chance to get to know the characters in quite a bit of depth.

If you enjoy a mystery or a who dun’ it, then I would recommend this for you.

Review: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (YA)

when-you-reach-meSummary (from Goodreads):

Winner of the 2010 John Newbery Medal

“Four mysterious letters change Miranda’s world forever.”

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, like the local grocery store, and they know whom to avoid, like the crazy guy on the corner.
But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a new kid for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then Miranda finds a mysterious note scrawled on a tiny slip of paper:

“I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.”

The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows all about her, including things that have not even happened yet. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

Review:

I needed an appropriate novel for my grade six class and found stacks of this novel in the library resource room. While I enjoyed the novel immensely, I didn’t think my students would. Was I ever wrong!

The mystery of the note leaver, coupled with the life that this mystery person is coming to save, plus the sudden end to Miranda’s friendship with Sal had the students and I enthralled from the first chapter.

This is one of those rare novels where mystery, science fiction, adventure meet and is enjoyable for all ages. It is an easy and quick read with many lessons to be learned about friendship, family and our impact (big or small) on others. Recommended.

Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Summary (from Goodreads):

Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

Review:

This is one of those novels that you read in school, and don’t quite see the depth and breadth of meaning until you read it again as an adult, at least for me.

Jonas lives in a utopian society where all decisions are made for him – there are no conflicts, and everything from thoughts and emotions to your role in the society is controlled. That is until Jonas turns twelve and is assigned the role of Receiver.

The Giver trains Jonas to receive the memories he has been holding for the community, which is when Jonas learns the truth about the true pain and pleasure of life. With this begins an awakening and adventure that changes, not only Jonas, but also the community as a whole.

It’s a novel about learning harsh truths and taking risks in order to do the right thing, no matter how difficult – moving, heartbreaking, but full of hope. Recommended.