The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

the-invisible-library-by-genevieve-cogmanThe Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
Series: The Invisible Library #1
Genre: Fantasy
Setting: Inside the Library and in alternate worlds
Published by Roc
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: June 14)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
352 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen.

London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…

Initial impressions

  • So many things caught my attention about this book–the Library aspect, the adventure of finding books and bringing them back to the Library. I enjoyed the book–with a few caveats!

The story

  • Book begins with Irene in an alternate world stealing a book for the shadowy Library. She gets away and back to the Library, but not before she is chased to the portal to the Library.
  • She reports in and immediately receives a new assignment. And she is assigned a student to mentor. She had hoped for some down time in the Library, but she heads off into the Library to meet Kai, the student she must take with her and mentor.
  • When she meets Kai he is rather mysterious. Their assignment is to an alternate London which is chaos-infested. Irene is puzzled that she is being sent there with a student.
  • In a chaos world reality is changed enough to allow supernatural beings and magic. This makes the world unpredictable and dangerous.
  • On their way to the portal for the alternate world they are intercepted by another spy who wants Irene to hand over her assignment. Irene has a history with this spy and doesn’t trust her.
  • Irene and Kai enter the alternate London, meet their colleague stationed in this world who briefs them about the world and start trying to retrieve the book.
  • They immediately run into problems which escalate–mostly because of the chaos in this world.
  • Irene tries to figure out exactly what Kai is hiding as well as trying to unravel the mystery of where the stolen book is. Can she trust Kai?
  • She receives an urgent message that a dangerous renegade Librarian is present in this alternate London.
  • Irene and Kai must unravel the mysteries, decide who to trust and survive to get the book back to the Library.

Pluses

  • The chaos world Irene and Kai are sent to is interesting. I think there is lots more to learn about it in future books.
  • The ability to move through many worlds is very exciting to read about.
  • Reading about a huge invisible library is very awesome!
  • I enjoyed learning more about Irene and Kai during the book. Each of them have vulnerabilities, but lots of strength of character, too.
  • Lots of chaotic things happen during the book both because of the world they are in, the characters they meet in that world and the renegade from the Library who infiltrates the world.
  • There’s a steampunk vibe to the world Kai and Irene are in which I enjoy.
  • There’s mystery to the story and even a detective from the world they’re in whom they join forces with.
  • Kai is still mysterious by the end of the book and I look forward to getting to know more about him.
  • I want to learn more about the Library. I have a feeling the motives of the Library and some of the people working there may not be as pure as Irene thinks.

Minuses

  • This read more like a young adult book, but it doesn’t seem like it should be YA since Irene has lived quite a while already. Irene doesn’t seem as self-confident and experienced as I would expect and Kai acts like a teenager. I’m not sure the romance vibe between them works.
  • I feel like this first book throws lots of concepts and setup of the worlds at the reader which we will understand better as we read more books. This made things kind of confusing, but after a bit I just went with the flow!

And concluding thoughts . . .

  •  The next book in this series–The Masked City–comes out in the United States in September!
  • I want to find out what happens next!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Genevieve Cogman got started on Tolkien and Sherlock Holmes at an early age, and has never looked back. But on a perhaps more prosaic note, she has an MSC in Statistics with Medical Applications and has wielded this in an assortment of jobs: clinical coder, data analyst and classifications specialist. Although The Invisible Library is her debut novel, she has also previously worked as a freelance roleplaying game writer. Genevieve Cogman’s hobbies include patchwork, beading, knitting and gaming, and she lives in the north of England.

Reading Challenges

Envy of Angels by Matt Wallace

envy-of-angels-by-matt-wallce“Envy of Angels” by Matt Wallace
Series: Sin du Jour #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy novella
Setting: New York City
Published by Tor.com, 2015
E-book, purchased
225 pages
Grade: B-
Synopsis: In New York, eating out can be hell.

Everyone loves a well-catered event, and the supernatural community is no different, but where do demons go to satisfy their culinary cravings?

Welcome to Sin du Jour – where devils on horseback are the clients, not the dish.

“Most important rule of working here,” he tells her. “Just when you think you’ve got a handle on how fucking sick the universe’s sense of humor is, it goes and tells you an even dirtier joke.”

and

At some point the ground beneath their feet disappears and all four of them are slipping through.

The entire world has become a child’s playpen.

There’s no bottom.

Initial impressions

  • What a fun, strange book!

The story

  • Lena and Darren are unemployed cooks, because they’re blackballed in NYC.
  • They have to find something soon or they’re going to have to go outside of NYC.
  • They get an opportunity to work for at least a week with an iconic chef.
  • Sin du Jour is a private club that caters to demons. Lena and Darren don’t know demons exist or anything about Sin du Jour before they start working, but they find out!

Pluses

  • It’s ironic and satiric and even silly sometimes. Just a lot of fun!
  • This was a little like watching a reality TV cooking show–maybe Hell’s Kitchen–if there were demons!
  • Funny, but also some horror vibes to the story as I wasn’t sure exactly what was going to happen.
  • Written in present tense–gives an immediacy to the story as though it’s happening right now. Also the story is told with detachment toward the characters. I didn’t feel very close to them so I felt every character was in danger. That really works for this story.

Minuses

  • There’s not a lot of world building. I hope there’s more world building in the next book, because this world has lots of promise.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • The second novella was published in January and the third one is coming out later this month.
  •  Since 2015 Tor.com has been publishing novellas from a number of authors. I really like that they are doing this. I can try new authors and read authors I already like in a shorter version which means I can read more new fiction!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Reading Challenges

  • 2016 Goodreads Challenge
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy Bingo Reading Challenge–hosted by the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog– Sci Fi Fantasy Humor

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard

roses-and-rot-by-kat-howard

Roses and Rot by Kat Howard
Series: Unknown
Genre: Fantasy — Dark Fairy Tale
Setting: New Hampshire at Melete — an artist’s colony
Published by Saga Press
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: May 17)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
336 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: Imogen and her sister Marin have escaped their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, be it art or love.

What would you sacrifice in the name of success? How much does an artist need to give up to create great art?

Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn’t imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As adults, Imogen and her sister Marin are accepted to an elite post-grad arts program—Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there’s more to the school than meets the eye. Imogen might be living in the fairy tale she’s dreamed about as a child, but it’s one that will pit her against Marin if she decides to escape her past to find her heart’s desire.

Initial impressions

  • Such an interesting and imaginative book! I love the fairy tale within the fairy tale feel of the book.

The story

  • The story of two sisters–one a writer and one a dancer–who attend an artists’ retreat (Melete) together.
  • They have been apart for a number of years. Their mother is worse than any stepmother in a fairy tale and Imogen (the writer) felt she had to escape from her mother before her mother killed her.
  • Marin (the dancer) is more favored by their mother, but she suffered, too, from her mother’s cruel attentions.
  • After the sisters’ arrival at Melete they begin to get reacquainted as they both pursue their art.
  • Slowly they begin to discover that not everything at Melete is as straight-forward as they thought.
  • Gradually they learn that both of them and others at Melete are chosen to compete for a very special prize. And they both want that prize.

Pluses

  • I like the mix of fantasy and modern, mundane everyday life.
  • This is a fairy tale, but a dark fairy tale.
  • I like the strange things at Melete–birds watching, leaves blowing into a room, getting lost trying to find some places in Melete, a bridge built only half-way across a river.
  • Imogen is a writer who has grown up reading fairy tales. She also writes them and the stories are sprinkled throughout the book. This gives the book even more of a fairy tale feel.
  • I like that Imogen is skeptical about Melete. She feels it just sounds too good to be true. Many people who attend Melete become famous and successful afterward. Almost everything she reads about Melete tells how wonderful the place is and how much everyone loves it. She’s very suspicious of that!
  • I didn’t know how the book would end. Throughout the book there is an ominous feeling.
  • Interesting characters in the book. Helena is one of the most interesting characters in the book.
  • The cover gives a brooding, gothic feel. From the descriptions in the book I didn’t feel Melete looked like this. However, a brooding atmosphere does come through in the story.
  • I love the title and the images that arise from that title–Roses (beautiful, flower, colorful, often sweet-smelling, sometimes with thorns, sometimes hidden thorns); Rot (something spoiled, smelly, corrupt, sometimes hidden below the surface, maybe even morally corrupt?) A dichotomy, but maybe the rose is rotten? Provides lots of imagery for the story.

Minuses

  • The ending felt a little too easy to me. The book is imaginative and has a great premise, but I feel it didn’t quite live up to that. Still a good read though.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • This is Ms. Howard’s debut novel. She’s a talented writer and I’m looking forward to reading more books by her.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Kat Howard lives in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, anthologized in year’s best and best of collections, and performed on NPR. Roses and Rot is her debut novel.

Reading Challenges

  • 2016 Goodreads Challenge
  • Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge–hosted by Falling for YA
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • New Release Challenge–hosted by Lexxie at Unconventional Book Views and Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My!
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy Bingo Reading Challenge–hosted by the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog — Fairy Tale Twist

Admiral by Sean Danker

admiral-sean-dankerAdmiral by Sean Danker
Series: Evagardian #1
Genre: Science Fiction (military sci fi)
Setting: A small inhospitable planet
Published by Roc, 2016
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: May 3)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
320 pages
Grade: B-
Synopsis: “I was on a dead ship on an unknown planet with three trainees freshly graduated into the Imperial Service. I tried to look on the bright side.”

He is the last to wake. The label on his sleeper pad identifies him as an admiral of the Evagardian Empire—a surprise as much to him as to the three recent recruits now under his command. He wears no uniform, and he is ignorant of military protocol, but the ship’s records confirm he is their superior officer.

Whether he is an Evagardian admiral or a spy will be of little consequence if the crew members all end up dead. They are marooned on a strange world, their ship’s systems are failing one by one—and they are not alone.

Initial impressions

  • A good start for a new military science fiction series. Lots of action, creepiness and mystery as the story unfolds.

The story

  • Four people wake up on a ship on a strange planet. Three of the people are just graduated into the Imperial Service. The fourth person–the narrator of the story–is the last to wake and is in a sleeper unit identifying him as an admiral.
  • He seems much too young to be an admiral and the trainees are suspicious. He’s surprised himself. He doesn’t seem to remember who he is, but he’s surprised he’s an admiral.
  • There are lots of questions. And they need to work together to find the answers, but they’re suspicious of each other.
  • They discover the crew is dead, but they’re not really sure how they died.
  • Then they discover they might not be alone on this planet.

Pluses

  • Lots of questions and mystery. Where are they? Why are they there? Who is the main character? How did the crew on the ship die?
  • The story is absorbing and full of action.
  • The story is told in first person, but we still don’t know whether to believe the main character.
  • We’re given hints about the world we’re plopped into and for the most part that’s fine. We learn more as we go along.
  • I liked the creepiness of the story as it slowly dawns on the four people that they aren’t alone on this planet.
  • The ship and planet they are on are very strange and even stranger as the story continues.
  • We find out a little about the Evagardian Empire and I’m looking forward to finding out more about it!

Minuses

  • The ending leaves a lot of questions unanswered. I guess that’s okay for the first book in a series.
  • Even though we get the narrator’s first person point-of-view he’s not a reliable character. We don’t know who he is even after it seems he remembers.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I want to read the next book. I want to see if some of my questions are answered!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Reading Challenges

  • 2016 Goodreads Challenge
  • Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge–hosted by Falling for YA
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • New Release Challenge–hosted by Lexxie at Unconventional Book Views and Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My!
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy Bingo Reading Challenge–hosted by the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog — Military Sci Fi

Arena by Holly Jennings

arenaArena by Holly Jennings
Series: Unknown
Genre: Science Fiction (Dystopia)
Setting: 2054
Published by Ace, 2016
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: April 5)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
336 pages
Grade: C+
Synopsis: Every week, Kali Ling fights to the death on national TV.
She’s died hundreds of times. And it never gets easier…
 
The RAGE tournaments—the Virtual Gaming League’s elite competition where the best gamers in the world compete in a no-holds-barred fight to the digital death. Every bloody kill is broadcast to millions. Every player is a modern gladiator—leading a life of ultimate fame, responsible only for entertaining the masses.

And though their weapons and armor are digital, the pain is real.

Chosen to be the first female captain in RAGE tournament history, Kali Ling is at the top of the world—until one of her teammates overdoses. Now, she must confront the truth about the tournament. Because it is much more than a game—and even in the real world, not everything is as it seems.

The VGL hides dark secrets. And the only way to change the rules is to fight from the inside…

Initial impressions

  • I really enjoyed the gaming aspect of the story.

The story

  • The beginning starts with Team Defiance losing for the first time in the RAGE tournaments–a virtual gaming league. Team Defiance has three women and two men on the team.
  • Clarence who put their team together makes Kali the Captain of the team. She’s the first female captain the league has had, but it appears he does it more for ratings than because he thinks she will be a good leader.
  • Then she discovers one of her teammates dead of a drug overdose. Soon he’s replaced and forgotten.
  • Team Defiance is in the loser’s bracket of the tournament and has to win every game to make it to the top and meet the winner of the winner’s bracket.
  • Kali wants people to know that addiction and drugs are a big problem in the virtual world, but the sponsors and heads of the teams don’t want to know about it anyone to know that ugly secret.

Pluses

  • For some reason I thought this book was going to go in a different direction than it did!
  • The beginning of the book really drew me in.
  • I like the gaming aspect of the book. Of course, it reminds me a bit of Ready Player One.
  • However, in Arena players are pro athletes, because your skills carry-over into the virtual world. They use all their skills and physical agility in the virtual world. They are their own avatars. They feel pain and feel when they die in the virtual world. They wake up in the “real” world alive, but with the memory of pain and/or death.
  • The resemblance to elite sports today is well-done–both the good aspects (the joy and love of the game, the physicality of sports and competition) and the bad aspects (sponsors and team owners who control the players, the dangers of addiction).
  • I like that Kali gets back to her roots as a half Chinese gamer who grew up with Tao philosophy and books. That helps her overcome many of her problems.
  • With the help of other people including her team Kali slowly learns leadership skills and what is really important to her.

Minuses

  • To me this seems more of a coming of age book…learning to grow up and to believe in yourself. That is what Kali has to do in this book. Even though the characters are older I felt it was more of a young adult book.
  • Kali is too perfect. Everything seems to work out the way she wants it regardless of what she does. Just seems too easy to me.
  • There isn’t a lot of world building in the book–just vague references to the cost of education, difficulty getting jobs. I get the idea of a dystopian future, but the people competing in the elite games are doing just fine.
  • During the book I kept expecting bad things to happen to Kali and her team…things they would have to overcome. Because so much money is involved I expected Clarence who put together the team to control the team more than he did. I thought there would be plotting behind the scenes. I guess I’m too cynical!
  • This book doesn’t really need to be science fiction or set in the future. It could as easily be set today. The only science fiction aspect is the total immersion in virtual reality.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  •  I think because I was expecting more adventures and plots I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I might have if I’d realized the theme of the book was more the importance to stand up for what you believe.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Holly Jennings’ debut novel Arena is set in the not-too-distant future and was inspired by a documentary about young adults striving to make it as pro gamers (professional video game players). Tired of so many people looking down on those who enjoy games, Ms. Jennings created a future where gamers are the ultimate celebrity athletes. Thanks to fully-immersive virtual reality, pro gamers compete in nationwide tournaments and build their skillsets in the real world by training in weapons and martial arts. I hope that Arena is the first of many set in this world. 

Reading Challenges

  • 2016 Goodreads Challenge
  • Netgalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge–hosted by Falling for YA
  • New Author Challenge–hosted by the Literary Escapism blog
  • New Release Challenge–hosted by Lexxie at Unconventional Book Views and Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews Oh My!
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy Bingo Reading Challenge–hosted by the B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog — Debut Novel

Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs

fire-touchedFire Touched by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #9
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Setting: Tri-cities area of Washington State
Published by Ace, 2016
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: March 8)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
352 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans, and the fae, Mercy, Adam, and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

Initial impressions

  • A great addition to the Mercy Thompson series. This continues to be one of my favorite series. And this book is one of my favorites in the series.

The story

  • A troll on the bridge! Eating cars and people (I always knew I was right when I was afraid of trolls as a child!)
  • The werewolves come out to fight with Mercy joining in as well.
  • The story gets even more complex with the appearance of a human stolen by the fae a long time ago. He has some dangerous powers. And the fae want him back.
  • The story escalates from there!

Pluses

  • March is one of my favorite months of the year, because I can almost always count on a Patricia Briggs book. I love catching up with Mercy, Adam, the rest of the werewolf pack and other characters. I really like how characters grow and change in these books.
  • I love the relationship between Adam and Mercy. Ms. Briggs does a great job of showing their love and concern for each other.
  • The last Mercy Thompson book dealt with a volcano god and that has had lasting effects on the pack. Now they are dealing with fire again–and this will change their world even more.
  • I am glad to see Adam support Mercy so strongly.
  • This is a great story–lots of action and important plot twists.
  • I like the ongoing story arc with the fae and humans at odds. Lots of room for action on both sides. Is a war going to happen?
  • I’ve always liked that Mercy is a VW auto mechanic. That has always been a great job for her–shows her strengths and makes her more real. And throughout these books lots of action takes place at her garage. She’s doing repairs after the volcano god wrecked the garage.

Minuses

  • I’m ready for all the pack to finally fully support Mercy. There’s progress in this book, but I want to make sure that continues…lol. The pack isn’t a democracy after all.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I love the world Ms. Briggs has created and that she writes two different (sometimes intertwining) series set in this world.
  • I don’t like waiting for the next book, but I’m glad the quality of writing is so high. So take the time you need for this series, Ms. Briggs!

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Patricia Briggs, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mercy Thompson series, lives in Washington State with her husband, children, and a small herd of horses. She has written 17 novels to date. Briggs began her career writing traditional fantasy novels. In 2006, Ace Books published Moon Called, the first book in her #1 New York Times bestselling—and signature series—about Mercy Thompson.
  • Briggs also writes the Alpha and Omega series, which are set in the same world as the Mercy Thompson novels. What began as the novella “Alpha and Omega” in an anthology called On the Prowl (2007), was then expanded into a full new series.

Reading Challenges

February reading challenge updates

my-reading-challenges

February updates

When I look at these stats I come to several conclusions…lol.

  • You can see the specific books read and reviewed (or not read) in each category if you check out my “Reading Challenges” Pages.
  • I’m reading more mysteries than fantasies or science fiction so far this year.
  • I’ve read and reviewed quite a few NetGalley books–and thus new releases–so far this year (so I haven’t read any TBR books yet).
  • I’ve read books in several categories, but just haven’t reviewed the books yet. That should change in March.

Audiobook Challenge

  • Audiobooks read and reviewed: 0
  • Challenge Goal: 20 -30 audiobooks
  • I’m listening (or rather not listening) to an audiobook. I only listen during certain times and haven’t found those so much.

Cloak and Dagger Challenge

  • Books read and reviewed: 6 mysteries
  • Challenge Goal: 31+ books

Goodreads Challenge

  • Books read: 20 books
  • Challenge Goal: 100 books
  • I’ve only reviewed 7 of the 20 books I’ve read in 2016. I’m doing better reading than getting some of my books reviewed.

I Love Libraries Reading Challenge

  • Books read and reviewed: 0
  • Challenge Goal: 18 books

Netgalley and Edelweiss Reading Challenge

  • Books read and reviewed: 6 books
  • Challenge Goal: 25 books

New Author Challenge

  • Books read and reviewed: 7 books
  • Challenge Goal: 30 books
  • All 7 books I’ve reviewed so far this year are from new authors

New Release Challenge

  • Books read and reviewed:  6 books
  • Challenge Goal: 31 – 45 books

Science Fiction/Fantasy Bingo Reading Challenge

  • Books read and reviewed: 0

TBR Pile Challenge

  • Books read and reviewed: 0
  • Challenge Goal: 31 – 40 books

What about you? How are your reading, reviewing and challenges going so far this year?