Tag Archives: library

The Voyage to Magical North (Accidental Pirates #1)

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The adorable cover captures the story inside perfectly. Who wouldn’t want to sail aboard a pirate ship and battle sea monsters to find endless magic and treasure? Especially on a charmed ship called The Onion? (Some pirates don’t spell so well).

12-year-old Brine Seaborne was found floating in a boat at sea when she was just a young girl. She has no memory of how she got there, or where she comes from. Claimed by a mediocre magician as his servant, she has grown up in a house of magic, serving the magician and his apprentice, Peter. Which is a bit of an issue, as she is allergic to magic.

One day, Brine and Peter overhear the magician making plans that will change their lives for the worse, so they steal the magician’s source of magic and flee in the middle of the night. Through one misstep after another, they get lost at sea and end up as crew of the great pirate ship The Onion, captained by none other than the beautiful and captivating (when she washes her hair) Cassie O’Pia. What follows is an adventure of a lifetime, as the crew searches for the legendary Magical North.

Oh, squeal of delight! (10 points to the sci-fi nerd who can tell me the obscure show that comes from. Without mocking me). What a completely delightful and surprising story. Love love LOVE the magic and pirates and library and bad-ass librarians and messenger gulls and sea monsters and evil bird-fish and giant octopi and ice that stalks its prey. Love all the plays on words and quips and puns. Love Brine and Peter and Tom and Ewan and Tim and Trudi and Cassie and their friendships.

The characters just leap off the page at you. Brine and Peter take a slow route to friendship, overcoming initial jealousy and dislike and mistrust to acceptance and mutual admiration. Tom comes later to the crew, but is open and eager for friends his age, something his isolated life has never allowed. And the pirates are fantastic! They are just what pirates should be – loud, dirty, distrustful, funny, scheming, with hearts of gold. If you don’t stand in the way of them getting gold. A ship full of colorful oddball individuals with quirks and personalities that had me howling with laughter. Add a sociopathic villain that strikes just the right balance between crazy and terrifying and you have the perfect cast of characters for a great adventure.

The world building is fabulous. Ships and star shells and mysterious lands and magical storms and land beneath ice and an island that holds all the world’s stories in a library that goes on and on and on. The ocean makes an endless, ever-changing backdrop that gives author Claire Fayers the opportunity to take the story in any direction. She takes full advantage, and the fast pace will keep you turning pages right to the end. And then wishing the sequel was already written!

I love how Fayers writes the novel around the idea of the stories we tell, and the ones we leave out. How stories define our lives and how others see us, how we sometimes try to manufacture the life we want others to believe. And how sometimes, we might want to erase the stories, and rewrite them. (If only… My teenage years, anyone? *cringes*)

This is an awesome middle-grade book for everyone who loves a fun adventure, with enough magic and mystery to keep it totally unpredictable. But still believable! I want to sail again on The Onion and explore the eight oceans with her crew, and cannot wait to read their next adventure.

The Voyage to Magical North was published July 5th, 2016 by Henry Holt and Co.

Ink and Bone: The Great Library

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What a fantastic concept: history has been re-written, and the Great Library of Alexandria is still in existence, the most powerful force in the world.  Knowledge is power. And whomever controls the books, controls the knowledge.

There are branches, or Serapeum, of the Great Library, in most major cities throughout the world. They control the flow of knowledge. While personal ownership of books is outlawed, each individual can read the great works of literature, science, philosophy and art from throughout the ages with their Codex – a blank book that instantly fills with the desired reading.  Think magical Kindle.

The Library is ruthless. Books are controlled with alchemy, practiced by a dwindling few who are kept locked away in the Iron Tower, for their protection, and for that of the Library. But that makes the Library vulnerable.

In London, 2025, Jess Brightwell is the son of a book thief.  He spent his early years as a runner, one of the boys who strap a stolen book to his chest and outrun the police, or Garda, to deliver the object to a client.  Being caught means being disowned by family, and death by hanging. But Jess survived.

Now he is 17 years old, and sitting the entrance exam to study and work in the Library.  His father wants a contact there. Which means spy. Thief. Provider of goods for the smuggling trade. Jess wants to see and touch and read real books.

Ink and Bone is about love and the power of real books. The Codex may be a technological wonder, but the feel of paper, the smell of a story, that is what people want. What lengths will they go to achieve it?

I absolutely loved the world building in this novel.  Beautiful.  I felt like I was walking through the back streets of London, and exploring the halls of the Great Library.  Rachel Caine’s writing evokes wonderful images of a lost treasure and a dystopian future.

I have mixed feelings about the various characters; I liked Jess, although his behaviour did not always seem true to his personality.  But he grew and changed and made mistakes and evolved.

Thomas was wonderfully naive.  Wolfe, possibly my favourite.  I love the nasty professor with the hidden heart of gold. He is Snape! The other students, Santi, the Artifex, and Jess’s many and questionable relatives, were all interesting characters, but I didn’t really connect with them as much. Their personalities seem flat to me, underdeveloped, but perhaps that is for another book in the series.

The pace of the story did not move quickly.  All the scheming and backstabbing and extra detail and character interaction that did not always add to the story slowed the action. But not a fatal flaw by any means!

I know we are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but COME ON.  This one is GORGEOUS.

This story is great for anyone who loves the touch and smell and look of a great book.

Ink and Bone: The Great Library is the first in the Great Library series, and published by NAL.