The Burning Page: An Invisible Library Novel by Genevieve Cogman

burning-pageIf you’re a huge book nerd like me, or if you just like librarians the I can guarantee you will love the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. There are lots of things to love about this book and it’s preceding books. That being said, this is the third book in the series, and I feel that in order to really understand what’s happening in this book you need to read the first two. The characters are constantly making reference to events that happened previously, so it would be better to read the other two books so you can feel more connected to the characters and the plot.

I don’t want to give too much away about the plot, but here’s the basic premise: There is an interdimensional Library that links to every alternate Earth in existence. These worlds fall onto a spectrum of chaos and order. Most worlds fall around the middle but there are some worlds that are high-chaos where the Fae thrive, and worlds that are high order, where the Dragons thrive.  Humans can exist in both chaos and order. Librarians are humans who live in the Library. They are sent out to each alternate world to collect rare and unique books to bring back for safe keeping in the Library. The main character, Irene, is a Librarian stationed on an alternate world similar to Sherlock Holmes’ London, with some interesting twists… vampires, werewolves, and dragons, oh my!

In this book, Irene and her assistant, Kai, are being sent out to various different alternate worlds on “crap” missions because they are being punished for some events that happened in the last book. Seriously, you should read it. If you love fantasy and science fiction this is the series for you! One minute they are in futuristic worlds, the next more fantasy based ones! Brilliant!

Alright, things I liked about this book are:

  • Set in Victorian England in an alternate version of earth
  • It has a steampunk-y vibe to it
  • There is a Sherlock Holmes type character. I love Sherlock Holmes stories!
  • There are dragons
  • There are librarians
  • The librarians are awesome secret agent for an awesome interdimensional Library.
  • The whole concept of chaos and order is really well thought out
  • Main character is someone I can relate to 

There aren’t too many things I didn’t like about this book, but one of the main things is that there is suddenly a love triangle that I didn’t realize was there, or at least I don’t remember it being mentioned at all in the previous books. It seemed to pop out of nowhere. I knew there was some romantic tension between Irene and another character, but now this third character was thrown in. Seems like there was no build up to it at all.

The other thing I didn’t like about this book was that it ended. I just wanted to keep reading, and reading, and reading! The plot wraps up nicely, but there are so many more questions that are brought up throughout the book and I’m so curious about characters and their background stories now! Guess I’ll have to wait until December for answers. Heavy sigh.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads because it was awesome and I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves fantasy novels. The first book is called The Invisible Library, and the second book is called The Masked City. the fourth book is called The Lost Plot and is due to be published at the end of 2017.

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Pantomime by Laura Lam

pantomimeOriginally, I picked up this book because it had an interesting cover. I don’t usually judge a book by its cover but in this case the cover just looked so intriguing that I had to pick it up! When I read the back of the book I was further intrigued! I really enjoy gaslamp fantasy novels, The Night Circus  by Erin Morgenstern being my favourite from this genre (it’s so good everyone should go read it right now!). Even though Pantomime falls nicely into the gaslamp fantasy genre it remains unique. Never have I ever read a book with such complicated themes set in a world like this. This book takes fantasy, circus, magic, and rolls in themes like self acceptance, coming of age, LGBTQ+, and intersexuality.

This story is about one person. Gene is a noble girl with a secret. She is both male and female – intersexual. If her secret were to leak out it would be a scandal and she and her whole family would be shunned from society. Then she displays strange magical abilities – last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age – The Vestige. Gene discovers her parents are not her real parents and plan to have an unwanted medical procedure performed on her, so she decides she needs to run away from home. So, Gene takes on a new name and becomes Micah Grey, a boy who joins the circus and becomes an aerialist. Micah trains hard and falls in love, but the dark side of the circus forces him to run for his life again.

Honestly, while I really enjoyed this book I felt the story was a bit slow and a little confusing at times. The story hops between Gene’s life as a noble, and Micah’s life in the circus. As the time lines get closer and closer to merging (ie, when Gene becomes Micah) it can get a little confusing as to when things are happening. Despite the slow pace I felt it really picked up near the end as Micah’s secret is exposed and he needs to flee for his life. However, beware! The cliffhanger at the end is real. My library system doesn’t have the second book yet (Shadowplay – 9781509807802, published Jan. 2017) so I have to either buy the sequel myself or wait patiently… heavy sigh.

Another thing I felt was a bit confusing was the Vestige, the ancient civilization that disappeared, leaving only magical artifacts behind.. I felt there wasn’t enough backstory about this and would have appreciated a prologue or foreword describing it in further detail. Perhaps in the next two books more about the Vestige will be revealed as more magic like Micah’s is awakened..

I felt that Laura Lam did a really good job at portraying Gene’s confusion about whether she is male or female. Gene doesn’t quite feel like a female, but not quite a male either. Which is why she is so easily able to slip into Micah’s world. Gene/Micah is a Kedi. An intersexual creature from legend that is the only creature in the world who is whole.

I also liked how Lam described Micah’s confusion about his feelings for both Aenea, his female aerialist partner, and Drystan, the white clown. Micah kept asking himself “Do I like Aenea as a boy or as a girl?” Eventually he decided it didn’t matter and just lets his emotions take over. Despite being in love with Aenea, Micah is still too afraid to tell her about his secret – that he is a Kedi – for fear she will be disgusted with  him and reject him, like someone from Gene’s past did recently. At the end of the book Micah’s secret is revealed! But you’ll have to read the book to find out how both Aenea and Drystan react. #troll

I gave Pantomime 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads because of the unique and interesting premise and characters. Would have taken half a star from the overall score if i could have due to the slow pace and sometimes confusing order of events.

Writing this review has been difficult because I’m not sure which pronoun to use for Gene/Micah. Gene is the female, but Micah is the male. I’m not sure which gender neutral pronouns to use. Further research is required.

 

Goldenhand by Garth Nix

goldenhandLet me just start by saying that the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix has been one of my favourite book series since I started reading it as a teenager. I’ve re-read the books multiple times since they were released and I never get tired of reading them. I’ve also force fed them to a couple of people who also ended up loving them as much as I do! My love for these books is strange, actually, and people are always surprised I love them given my total aversion to zombies in all forms of pop culture. I don’t know what it is about these books. I love them. I love the characters. I love the world. And i love the lore surrounding the story.

Reading the fifth book in the series made me want to start from the beginning again and read all the books over again for the zillionth time.

This book takes place a few months after the third book in the series, Abhorsen, where Lirael, Sabriel, Touchstone, Sam, and everyone battled against Orannis to save not only the Old Kingdom, but Ancelstierre as well. Lirael is struggling to recover not only from losing her hand during the battle but also losing her best friend the Disreputable Dog. she also struggling to fit into her new life as the Abhorsen-in-Waiting and rushes off to various dangerous tasks in an attempt to not feel. One such dangerous task is to go across the wall and deal with a free magic creature causing trouble. She comes across Nicholas Sayre while she’s there and decides he needs to see the Clayr due to his condition (being half Charter Magic and half Free Magic creature as a result of being possessed by Orannis).

While this is all happening we are introduced to a new character, Ferin. Ferin is a runaway offering to the Witch With No Face (aka, Chlorr of the Mask) and she makes her way to the Clayr’s Glacier to give Lirael a message from her late mother. The message reveals that there is another dangerous threat to the Old Kingdom, and Lirael and Nicholas need to be the one to stop it.

This book nicely wrapped up the Chlorr of the Mask plot that started in the first book (I think… been so long since I read them that I’m not sure when Chlorr was introduced), that was left unfinished in the third book. The fourth book in the series, Clariel, was a prequel that gave us some of Chlorr’s history, but honestly, I wasn’t as big a fan of this one as I was of the other books so I don’t remember much. Need to re-read!

I also really liked that the Old Kingdom was expanded upon in this book! We learn so much more about the northern part of the Old Kingdom and the people who live there. Ferin’s people live in the mountain clans of the north and we learn a lot about her culture and the history of the Witch With No Face. Learning more about the Old Kingdom made me curious about the rest of the world the story takes place in. Are there other countries? Other continents? Are they magical like the Old Kingdom, or are they void of magic like Ancelstierre? I want to know more!

A few things I found annoying about the book was that it referenced events that happen in the short stories Nix wrote about the Old Kingdom (Nicholas Sayre and the Creature in the Case, and To Hold the Bridge). Neither of which I have read.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the relationship between Nicholas and Lirael. It felt too sudden to be natural. Sure, sometimes people fall in love suddenly like that, but considering the only contact Lirael and Nicholas had was during the battle with Orannis I find it hard to believe they fell in love enough to think about each other so much before reuniting. Perhaps they met up in the short stories, and that furthered their relationship, but I’m not too sure.

The last thing I felt was strange about the book was that the Disreputable Dog could have come back at any time, yet she chose not to despite Lirael’s obvious pain at losing her friend. I know the Dog wanted Lirael to learn to live with humans and create bonds with them, but an occasional visit now and then couldn’t have hurt, right?

Well, there you go. That’s my review of Goldenhand by Garth Nix. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads because despite the few things I disliked about this book I absolutely loved and and want more Old Kingdom books! Mr. Nix, if you read this, please don’t ever abandon the Old Kingdom and the people in it! I love them all so much!

The Vagina Monologues: V-Day Edition by Eve Ensler

monologuesThe dreaded “V-word” that a lot of people, myself included, avoid saying at all costs. The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler….

I’ve actually read this book before. Back during my undergrad days in university I was the stage manager for this show. It was being put on by the university’s drama club and I thought it would be interesting. It was weird because there was a male director. He was weird and somewhat… inappropriate with his female cast. I didn’t like him very much. Gave me the creeps. I saw him a few years ago while I was doing my graduate degree at a different university and I ducked into a Chinese restaurant to avoid talking to him.

Anyways, this is my second time reading this book. I decided to read it again because a local theatre group announced it as part of their season and I was considering auditioning for it. I don’t think I will audition…It’s a good read, but like I said before I get uncomfortable with the word… That’s the way i was raised. Don’t talk about your personal bits with people who aren’t your gynecologist.

I read the V-Day Edition, which was interesting because it includes a lot of anecdotal stories and facts that you don’t get from the version with just the monologues.

Not much else to say except that I think if you’re interested in this book that you would have a better experience watching it be performed, rather than reading it. The V-Day edition is nice because of the little facts, but I think this book was made to be performed, and the impact would be so much greater if you watched it.

Fun Fact: My favourite monologue is The Angry Vagina. It’s hilarious and true.

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

princess-xI started reading this book because I saw an audiobook version of it at my local library. Upon reading the description of the book I decided reading the physical book would be better than listening to the audio version for one main, and very important reason. This book is part graphic novel, and the graphic novel is VERY important.

This book is about two girls, Libby and May, who become best friends in elementary school. They are both a little on the awkward side and like nerdy things like comic books, drawing, writing, ninjas, etc. Together they create a comic book character whom they name Princess X. Fast forward a couple years and Libby and her mother have passed away in a car accident, taking Princess X with her to the grave. Fast forward three more years and May, whose parents got divorced shortly after Libby died, is visiting her father back in her home city. As she wanders the city she starts seeing Princess X everywhere. There are stickers, and patches on backpacks, finally she discovers the Princess X webcomic and knows that somehow Libby survived the car accident (which May discovers was MORE than a simple accident) and needs help from her best friend. The webcomic is littered with easter eggs that only May would understand.With the help of her new hacker friend, Trick, May begins a quest to find the creator of the Princess X comic, however, there is a very dangerous person also looking.

This book was so good I could barely put it down. It’s fast paced and the mystery element is very intriguing. The story is so compelling that i didn’t pause while reading to make notes, so now I have to try and remember things after the fact. One of the things I really enjoyed about this book was the lack of romance. Trick and May are friends, but not romantic. Sure, there is potential for it to develop but that isn’t what the story was about. The story is about solving the riddles in the Princess X comic, and saving Libby. I also really enjoyed the relationship between may and her father. May’s father truly wanted to help May find Libby, even though he wasn’t sure it would come to fruition. I like that there was a positive male father figure in this story.

The comic book element to the story was awesome. It was really neat to read bits of the comic and try and figure out the easter eggs before May did. I can’t imagine that the story would be as compelling without the comic book sections to go along with it.

That basically about it for this review. I gave it 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads because the story is just so interesting. Cherie Priest has a true gift for storytelling and describing the setting of the story. I felt almost like i was with May and Trick during their whole adventure. I highly recommend reading this

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ready_player_one_coverReady Player One by Ernest Cline
Average Goodreads Rating: 4.31 stars
My Rating: 5 stars

Let me start by saying this book is full of nostalgia. Even for people who didn’t necessarily grow up in the 1980s, such as myself (born in the 80s but grew up in the 90s). Even if you’re simply a proud geek or nerd this book will delight you based on all the references to geek culture. There’s really something for every one in this book. Music nerd? Lots of 80 music references, Dungeons & Dragons fan? Pretty much the whole basis of the book is a quest. MMO RPG gamer? The setting is primarily an online game. Probably only book nerds, like me, would get the Cory Doctorow reference, though.

So, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Set in 2044, a dystopian, almost post-apocalyptic future where the only way to escape reality is to log into the virtual reality known as OASIS. Background story: the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, has created an in game quest upon his death. Players need to solve riddles to find three keys and three gates. The first player to get to the end of the quest wins James Halliday’s entire estate. The whole world becomes obsessed with this game. Groups of players are forming to work together to find the keys, and a corporate conglomerate is trying to solve the puzzles as well to take over the company.

Main character Wade, better known by his online avatar’s name, Parzival, is an orphaned high schooler living with his abusive aunt in the Stacks (basically a trailer park where the trailers are stacked vertically). Wade’s only escape from his dismal life is going to virtual high school in the OASIS, and hunting for Halliday’s Egg (that’s what the prize is called). Wade’s only friend is Aech and together they speculate where the Egg may be hidden and how to solve the first riddle. One day, Wade makes a connection and finds the hiding place of the first key. His name shoots to the top of the score board and he is an instant celebrity! Unfortunately, the corporate group looking to control the OASIS will do anything, including murder, to get to the Egg first. Suddenly, Wade’s life is thrown upside down and he’s on the run.

What I like about this book is that there is something for everyone. It’s a race against time, it’s nostalgic, there’s a little bit of romance, and there’s a mystery element too. It’s exciting and fast paced, and the characters are interesting and relatable. If you’ve ever been insecure, introverted, bullied in school, or straight up socially awkward, you will relate to the characters in this book.

Fun Fact: Ready Player One is being made into a movie directed by Steven Spielberg! It’s set for release in 2018. If you want to read the book before the movie comes out you should do it soon!

That’s it for this review, Internetland! Until next time, keep turning pages!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”
― Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

This quote describes how I feel about the book, kind of. Let me explain.

I originally found a copy of this book in perfect condition at Value Village and thought the cover looked really interesting. I didn’t read the dust jacket or anything before I bought it and simply judged it by the cover. This book has been on my ‘to read’ list for a while but I always found something I would rather read instead. It went completely out of my mind. I decided that while I was driving home for my break from school I would listen to an audiobook. While browsing the Edmonton Public Library EAudiobook collection I happen to come across The Night Circus in the romance section. I thought, why not? I probably won’t get around to reading it otherwise.

So I downloaded it and started listening to it. I was instantly engaged in the world and the characters. The descriptions of the settings and the relationships between the characters felt so real to me. Since finishing this book I have almost been a little obsessed with researching victorian travelling circuses. I didn’t want the magic of this book to end! I feel like if Le Cirque des Reves was a real circus I would be a Reveur for sure. And I’m going to knit myself a crimson coloured scarf for sure!

So in relation to the quote, one day the book was not there and the next it was and I had no warning in how it would affect my life. That sounds really melodramatic… Oh well.

The story follows two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been pitted against each other by their teachers in a challenge where only one can survive. The venue for the challenge is Le Cirque des Reves. The only problem is that Marco and Celia have fallen in love and now must find a way to get out of the challenge with both of them still alive. I loved all the characters in this book and they all felt so real to me.

There were so many things I loved about this book and I’m having a hard time articulating them. I really liked the foreshadowing and how it was incorporated in the text. Poppet, one of the twins who were born in the circus,  has the ability to see the future in the stars. When she sees things she tells Celia about it and it is fascinating to try and figure out when and how her visions will play out. For example, (spoiler alert!) when Poppet says she doesn’t want them to put the nice lady in the ground. When Celia asks which lady Poppet responded that she didn’t know because they looked the same. She doesn’t elaborate any further, but I was able to figure out that it was probably one of the Burgess sisters who would die and I was right.

This book isn’t considered a steampunk novel but I got a similar vibe from it. It’s possible it was because it was set in the same era but there are some other factors that I can’t seem to put words to. I love the movie The Prestige and The Illusionist was pretty good too, and The Night Circus fits into that same genre. I am definitely going to be reading more from this genre and I’m excited about doing more research on Victorian circuses!

PS. I found this tumblog: Calling All Reveurs :3 yay!