Friday, December 23, 2016

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

I will admit that I knew nothing about this book but the title when I picked it up. I assume that I will love any book about books and libraries, and I am rarely disappointed. That being said, The Invisible Library was an especially fun ride for me because the librarians were not just book lovers, but undercover book stealing spies!

Irene works for The Library, a repository that exists outside of time and space where Librarians work to collect and store all works of fiction written in the many alternate worlds of the multiverse. Irene and her new assistant, Kai, are sent to a world to retrieve an original manuscript written by the brothers Grimm. Unfortunately for them, this particular world has become infected by “chaos” making it that much more dangerous and unpredictable. Add in a rogue colleague, a nefarious fairy, giant mechanical insects, and a master villain intent on destroying the Library, and you’ve got an action packed adventure like none other. Fans of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series will enjoy the quick banter, peculiar worlds and entertaining plots, though The Invisible Library underlines its quirkiness with a sense of foreboding.

It’s hard to believe that this is Cogman’s first novel. The characters are well-rounded, the settings written with such detail that I felt like I was there, and the plot was engaging and suspenseful. What’s not surprising is that this book made a number of “Best of” lists for 2016.

-Portia Kapraun

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Imagine Me Gone

Adam Haslett's novel Imagine Me Gone is the story of a family dealing with mental illness. It is written with clarity and compassion and feels honest and true. Margaret marries John, even though he struggles with crippling depression for which he is hospitalized, and they build a life together and have three children. The oldest of these children, Michael, struggles with his own mental demons and is frenetic and obsessive. He is brilliant and musical and yet cannot keep a job or stay in school or maintain healthy relationships. John succumbs to his depression by committing suicide, and his family members each deal with that in their own ways. Most of the book is focused on how the family copes and cares for Michael. His siblings, Celia and Alec, have very different personalities and approaches to life and to dealing with Michael. Celia is very rational, and Alec wears his feelings on his sleeve. Michael forms the center around which Margaret, Celia, and Alec revolve. The love and caring they show for him is deep and real, but this is not a candy-coated story of love conquers everything. Because it doesn't. This is a sad book, but it is heartwarming, too, because you see the love and the ways in which these very complex characters express it and struggle with it. They try, and that is what matters.

Reviewed by Kelly Currie

Thursday, December 01, 2016

New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey

The science fiction/fantasy books I enjoy incorporate world building or time travel.  The New Pompeii by Daniel Godfrey is a bit of both. NovusPart, an energy giant has developed a new technology that can transport objects, and people  just before they die.  Of course before they accomplished this feat, some who thought they were safe had to die so they could perfect the technology.  One who doesn't die when she should have is Kirsten who is not sure what has happened or who is to blame.

Nick Houghton takes a job at NovusPart as an historical advisor.  In spite of his father's warnings about the company's ethics, he is excited by by the prospect of seeing how the Pompeians lived.  NovusPart has built a replica of Pompeii in Russia and transported Pompeians just before they are killed by the volcano from Mount Vesuvius. Nick walks among the citizens and begins to notice their angry and questioning looks.  He becomes uneasy as they seem to know he is not one of them and wonders what happened to his predecessor.  Do the Pompeians believe the outsiders when they are told why they cannot stray far from the compound? Of course not.  Integral to the plot is the belief on the part of NovusPart that the citizens they have imported are stupid.  A big mistake!  Exciting coliseum showdown involving saber tooth tigers!  And a big surprise starring Kirsten.  Can't wait for the sequel!