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review 2017-02-19 08:07
The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
The Invisible Library - Genevieve Cogman

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.

**********


THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY is a book that I've been curious to read for a while now and I was quite happy when I got the chance to read it. I mean how can you not, if you are a bookworm, find the description of the book tantalizing? A Library that collects fiction from different realities. The book is intriguing right from the start as we get to know Irene who is on a mission to retrieve or rather steal a book. Finding rare books is what Irene and others that work for the Library do, they blend in and steal books and especially rare books that only exist in one reality or differ in another reality.

 
READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW OVER AT FRESH FICTION!
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review 2017-02-15 19:59
The Burning Page / Genevieve Cogman
The Burning Page - Genevieve Cogman

Librarian spy Irene has professional standards to maintain. Standards that absolutely do not include making hasty, unplanned escapes through a burning besieged building. But when the gateway back to your headquarters dramatically malfunctions, one must improvise. And after fleeing a version of Revolutionary France astride a dragon (also known as her assistant, Kai), Irene soon discovers she's not the only one affected. Gates back to the Library are malfunctioning across a multitude of worlds, creating general havoc. She and Kai are tasked with a mission to St Petersburg's Winter Palace, to retrieve a book which will help restore order.

However, such plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy - particularly when the enemy is the traitor Alberich. A nightmare figure bent on the Library's destruction, Alberich gives Irene a tainted 'join me or die' job offer. Meanwhile, Irene's old friend Vale has been damaged by exposure to Chaotic forces and she has no idea how to save him. When another figure from her past appears, begging for help, Irene has to take a good hard look at her priorities. And of course try to save the Library from absolute annihilation. Saving herself would be a bonus.

 

I was so frustrated with the ending of The Masked City, I could hardly wait to get my hands on this, book three of the series. The Burning Page answered the hanging questions from TMC and plunges the reader into more Library adventures with Irene and Kai.

Thankfully, this volume ends on a better note for me—the story is wrapped up, although there is definitely room for more adventures (which I shall await impatiently). This installment has fewer Fae in it (a minus for me) but gets Irene back to the fundamentals of being a Librarian, i.e. the pursuit of rare books (definitely a plus).

I love the Library’s determined neutrality—they refuse to support either the forces of Chaos or those of Order, knowing that the optimum state is a balance in between those two poles. Like real libraries do, actually, trying to support the needs of their community, no matter which political party is currently forming government, while defending free speech, free flow of information, and freedom from censorship.

I do hope that Irene and Vale manage to overcome their issues to become a couple in the next book (although if he is a Sherlock-Holmes-kind-of-guy, this may be a doomed relationship). Four books is an awful long distance to draw out the suspense of this courtship. And Kai is hinting that he’s in the running too, so will Irene have to deal with some awkward workplace romance? And will she regain her standing within the Library hierarchy, or is she doomed to probation forever? Perhaps The Lost Plot will answer some of my questions.

I’m ever so glad that I discovered this series—it is highly entertaining and I will be sad when I’ve finished reading it. Thankfully, that point seems to be some distance in the future right now, with books 4 and 5 promised, but no dates for publication yet available.

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review 2017-02-03 03:05
Invisible Library series is ridiculously fun
The Burning Page - Genevieve Cogman

My latest at B&N SciFi.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-01-29 03:48
Still enjoying
The Burning Page - Genevieve Cogman

Burning page (Invisible Library book three)

 

Never judge a book by its cover...   Due to her involvement in an unfortunate set of mishaps between the dragons and the Fae, Librarian spy Irene is stuck on probation, doing what should be simple fetch-and-retrieve projects for the mysterious Library. But trouble has a tendency to find both Irene and her apprentice, Kai—a dragon prince—and, before they know it, they are entangled in more danger than they can handle...   Irene’s longtime nemesis, Alberich, has once again been making waves across multiple worlds, and, this time, his goals are much larger than obtaining a single book or wreaking vengeance upon a single Librarian. He aims to destroy the entire Library—and make sure Irene goes down with it.   With so much at stake, Irene will need every tool at her disposal to stay alive. But even as she draws her allies close around her, the greatest danger might be lurking from somewhere close—someone she never expected to betray her...

Review:

As blurb tells you in this book Irene is initially stuck on probation imposed on her by the Library (by one of the Senior Librarians actually but this appears to be the same thing – it is book three and I still have no idea if Library as an institution has some sort of intelligence or people acting in Library’s name pretty much means that these people ARE Library). What this means is that she and Kai get the suckiest /most dangerous jobs for several months. Have I mentioned how happy I was that Kai was with Irene instead of being tortured the whole second book? I guess I really like him as a character.

This book is just as action packed as others. Very early in the book Irene realizes that something is wrong with the Library because she and Kai are having a lot of trouble trying to get back to the Library after another one of their assignments, because somebody is blocking the entrance points between this world (and as it turns out from other alternate worlds as well) to the Library.

Eventually they make it back to the Library and learn that the whole Library is under attack. Alberich is back and as we know he showed himself to be a very dangerous and evil adversary and somebody whose knowledge and skill outmatch Irene’s a great deal from the book one.

After attending the emergency meeting of the Librarians Irene and Kai have to attempt another dangerous assignment and they now know for sure that while Alberich is happy to destroy the whole Library he is also specifically targeting Irene because of what he thinks she may have learned from the certain book she had in her hands in book one. Basically Alberich thinks that Irene learned certain thing about his past which he himself really wants to know as well. Irene does not possess this knowledge, but she also realizes that if she were to insist on that Alberich is not likely to believe her.

Irene and Kai are reluctant to leave their friend inspector Vale alone while they go on assignment because after rushing to help Irene to save Kai in the book two he is not in the best shape – there is a reason why the worlds where Chaos is strong are dangerous for humans and Vale is struggling to overcome his chaos contamination. Irene and Kai however do not have much choice and they have to go, one of her Librarian colleagues promises to visit Vale and there are other people who supposedly will keep an eye on him.

I am not going to tell you how Irene and Kai’s assignment plays out, but I do not think it is a spoiler to tell you that in this book Irene has another confrontation with Alberich. I really like that it was made very clear in the first book that Irene is no match to him skills wise and Irene was and is afraid of him after what he did to her in book one, but she is still trying to hold her ground and fight him.

I heard but I am not sure about this – supposedly five books are planned in these series. I think the story could easily end after the third book though – except the hints of romantic attraction between Irene and Kai and Irene and Vale which did not go anywhere, the story seemed quite complete to me.

I will be honest, even though I am still happy that Irene takes her role of Kai’s mentor seriously and does not sleep with him for that reason, I am at the point where I would not mind a secondary romance storyline if the future books in the series were to appear. Although considering that there were clear mentions that Irene is attracted to Vale as well, I think I would be okay with the book without romance – yes I hate love triangles very much. The above comment was just expressing personal preferences not a critique of any kind especially since as of now the book does not have a romance of any kind.

As an aside, I was very happy that the author did not abandon the humorous touches in the narrative. All of the books have some extras – instructions to the librarians, some extra trivia about this universe, and this is part of the instructions to the librarians in this part.

"We also wish to make it absolutely clear that Librarians should not attempt to use the Library to transport dinosaur eggs. And if they do disregard this rule, under no circumstances should they draw official in-world attention while doing so. In fact, we wish to remind all Librarians that they are here to collect books, not dinosaurs. Those Librarians who have problems distinguishing between the two should take a refresher course in Library basics."

Grade B.

 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-01-22 23:42
Good overall
The Masked City - Genevieve Cogman

The written word is mightier than the sword—most of the time...   Working in an alternate version of Victorian London, Librarian-spy Irene has settled into a routine, collecting important fiction for the mysterious Library and blending in nicely with the local culture. But when her apprentice, Kai—a dragon of royal descent—is kidnapped by the Fae, her carefully crafted undercover operation begins to crumble.   Kai’s abduction could incite a conflict between the forces of chaos and order that would devastate all worlds and all dimensions. To keep humanity from getting caught in the crossfire, Irene will have to team up with a local Fae leader to travel deep into a version of Venice filled with dark magic, strange coincidences, and a perpetual celebration of Carnival—and save her friend before he becomes the first casualty of a catastrophic war.   But navigating the tumultuous landscape of Fae politics will take more than Irene’s book-smarts and fast-talking—to ward off Armageddon, she might have to sacrifice everything she holds dear....

REVIEW CONTAINS SOME SECONDARY SPOILERS FROM BOOK ONE.

Review:

Dear Genevieve Cogman,

I really enjoyed the first book in the series which I reviewed here at DA, however when the second book was out here in the US (I understand that it was out in the UK several months earlier) I have not read it till recently.

You should not be reading this book as a stand –alone. The first book sets up the world and introduced the main characters. Although we definitely learn more about how things work in this one and I am sure we still have not learned everything about mysterious Library and people who work for it. And is everything we learned so far even true?

We learned from the first book that as species Dragons and Fae of these worlds are enemies, because they are the agents of the opposite Forces. Dragons are Order, Fae are Chaos. There are many alternative worlds in the universe of this series and the worlds where Fae get too much power become more and more unstable and may eventually slip into Chaos.  Library is neutral, or so we were told and Library tries to strengthen the unstable worlds by buying/stealing important books from those worlds and in that way maintaining its links with those worlds. Basically library is supposed to be a bastion of stability and neutrality and when its stores the book from unstable world or any world it stabilizes the world by virtue of such connection.

Librarians are told not to trust Fae, because Fae love to be the main characters in their own stories and eventually they relegate humans to the cardboard supporting characters and they become walking stereotypes. Now, while I am very fond of this explanation, I cannot say that I fully understand the exact danger this poses for humans. Does this mean that they stop being alive, them becoming characters in Fae’s stories? I am not sure, all I know I like to imagine how Fae can spin the power of the storytelling and even turn it in something unsavory for the humans.

On the other hand, we also learn that while Dragons is an antithesis for Fae in the universe that these series created, the high order worlds may not be ideal either – they are too prone to becoming authoritarian worlds and it looks like that what Library really likes is maintaining balance in the worlds – some order, some chaos and overall stability seems to be their favorite combination. I can be wrong though.

 Kai is kidnapped very early in the book and it is clear that he is kidnapped by Fae, who wants to start a war with Dragons. When Irene and Vale (detective from the London where Irene and Kai were stationed) go to their local Fae Acquaintance Lord Silver for possible helpful information he does tell them that Kai was kidnapped by another Fae whom Silver clearly does not like and would prefer to see them fail. Librarians are not supposed to make any alliances with Fae, but Irene is desperate to save Kai and she is not making an alliance exactly, she is just accepting Silver’s help in arranging transportation to that world – which as blurb states is an alternate version of Venice. Irene has to go alone because that Venice is a world where Fae rule and accordingly it is on the high chaos end of the spectrum. It would be very dangerous for Vale as a “mere human” to go there, because he could be contaminated by Chaos.  The only reason Irene can even try is because she serves the Library and has additional protections and Silver kind of offers some of his own protection. Not that one can trust such offer from the Fae, but she does not have much of a choice and she accepts his offer with her eyes open.

Basically Irene spends the vast majority of this book trying to get to alternative version of Venice and then when she got there she tries her best to save Kai and stay alive. Overall I enjoyed it and was entertained. I still really like Irene as a character.  She is definitely strong and smart and devoted to her job, she knows her limitations and she knows that there are some things she is afraid of and she should be afraid of. Having said that, she truly never gives up, or at the very least she knows she did her best before it is time to run from the enemy. I also really appreciate that while she knows that she would like to go to bed with Kai, she does not do so because he is her apprentice and she is his mentor.  Having said that, I am growing more and more fond of the idea – not that I think that her affair/ relationship with Kai is in any way a done deal in the future based on the books I read.

I also still really enjoyed the writing and appreciated occasional humorous touches, like here when Irene does some fast mental calculations before fighting some werewolves:

 

"“Now, don’t you make any trouble for us, duckie, and you won’t get hurt,” another of the men said. Like the rest of them, he had thick brows, hairy palms, and unsettlingly yellow eyes. Wonderful. Yet more werewolves. “We’re just going to take you for a little walk. There’s a gentleman as wants you to stay out of his affairs for a few days. You behave yourself, keep quiet, and nothing bad’s going to happen to you.” Irene mentally cringed at the dialogue, lifted straight from Plots Involving Heroines Too Stupid to Live, Unless Saved by the Hero. She must have looked unconvinced, as the man’s eyes narrowed. “You don’t want us to do this the hard way, duckie,” he snarled. “No,” she said, attempting helpless meekness. “I’ll behave . . . Please don’t hurt me.” “And no saying none of them spells,” another said. “We’ve been told as how you can do sorcery.” Ah, so clearly they’d been warned about the Language, in a way that would make sense to them. But it looked as if she could get away with some speech.”

 

I have one complaint and this is something I was surprised myself that I disliked. See before this book I read two or three where my main complaint was being bored out of my mind. In this book weirdly enough I felt the opposite to the point that I often felt as if I could not catch my breath and often it was not a good thing. I was exhausted and several times had to put the book down simply because my heart started pounding.  It is not that the fights never stop, because they do, and occasionally we see Irene doing something else but I felt like the tension kept growing and growing and I know it is supposed to till it gets to the highest point. However for me it was too much of the tension – especially since for some reason the writer did not feel it was enough that I *know* that Irene’s only purpose of being in this world is saving Kai, it is not enough that I am perfectly aware that Kai was kidnapped, no, we are treated to two scenes of Kai suffering from the torture (nothing too graphic – but Dragons can’t function well in the too high Chaos prone worlds even under normal circumstances and Kai is kidnapped in hurt).

I am not trying to decide what scenes needed or did not need to be in the story, I am just saying that to me this all added up to the complaint of too much tension and I was annoyed enough to lower the overall grade to B because of that complaint since this is something I felt throughout the story .

 

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