The Invisible Library – Genevieve Cogman

Title: The Invisible Library the-invisible-library
Author: Genevieve Cogman
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Pages: 329
Category: 21. Read a short book, one between 5,000 and 100,000 words
Format: Paper

Date Started: April 1st 2017
Date Finished: April 14th 2017

In keeping with the theme of the year so far this book also had a huge focus on the importance of words with the librarians having a language all of their own that was able to impact the world. Throughout the book this was frequently used to open locked doors or animate an object. In the lore of this series objects are easier to influence if you are asking them to do something that is natural for them such as opening a lock or animating a stuffed animal (in this case the animal was once alive and therefore movement is the natural state. This use of language is distinct from anything else I’ve read and kind of quirky which I like.

The plot follows a librarian and her apprentice who are seeking a book from an alternate reality which is supposed to be quite important to the (invisible) library for reasons unknown to the main characters. Of course, the book is not where it is supposed to be and of course there are some politics that get in the way from both the library and the alternate world.

I actually really enjoyed this book. It was an interesting premise, though there was quite a lot going on with a lot of different lore mixed in together making it seem like a bit of a hodge podge rather than a cohesive lore.

This is the first book in the series and I liked it enough that I plan to read at least the next book in the series even if it will probably never make it to my top 10 (I was kind of hoping it would with such a great premise for it).

Rating: 3/5 stars

1984 – George Orwell

Title: 1984poster_1984_lrg
Author: George Orwell
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 267
Category: 41. Read a book that has been on your to read list for more than a year
Format: Paper

Date Started: January 30th 2017
Date Finished: February 5th 2017

In all honesty, I started reading this one a really long time ago, straight out of high school and trying to read the classics. I made it 30 pages in (maybe) before giving up on it. The writing style wasn’t for me, the story was boring and nothing was really happening. In the back of my mind I’ve always intended to go back to it and now seemed like the perfect time.

You may or may not have noticed that lately 1984 has made it into the news and back onto bestseller lists (part of what prompted me to pick it back up). In the wake of Trump’s inauguration people have turned to 1984 to make sense of the world. Indeed it’s not hard to find an article that compares the current state of affairs in America with Orwell’s classic. But is that actually an accurate depiction of the book?

I would argue, no, it’s not. While there’s certainly some similarities there are also fundamental differences. While it’s true that we’ve seen the truth twisted slightly by Trump we have yet to see the past erased, and there are still those who feel free to speak out against what they see, one would not have dared to do such a thing in Orwell’s world, even in the privacy of their own home.

1984 paints a much bleaker picture of life than what many of us could imagine, a world where food is bland and scarce, work hours are long, you are watched constantly, everybody wears the same clothes and goes to the same community events after work and believes the same propaganda because there is no other alternative. History books and newspapers are revised with the latest version of the truth so that the all knowing, all seeing Big Brother is always correct. People are erased from history if they step out of line. There is a lottery but never a winner, only small prizes to appease to poorest citizens. Your own children would happily turn you into the Thought Police. Love is not allowed, sex is for procreation only and not to be enjoyed.

He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past. – George Orwell

Perhaps this picture of life is even bleaker than Orwell imagined it to be in a world that has changed since the writing of the book. Today it is creativity and individualism that the world values, slogans like ‘be yourself’ are everywhere, this was slightly less of a focus in the post World Ward II society.

Ultimately, I think the connections between Trump and 1984 have been greatly overstated but if you haven’t read it already then 1984 is still definitely worth a read. It’s a little slow to get going which appears to be a deliberate choice by Orwell to truly immerse you in the world he created. The prose is not what I would usually enjoy and the plot somewhat bland if you’ve grown up reading the likes of JK Rowling and Michael Crichton, but Orwell’s world is both terrifying and immersive enough to make up for it.

Rating: 3.5/5

A Vision of Fire – Gillian Anderson

Title: A Vision of Fire41gwghh5gll-_sy344_bo1204203200_
Author: Gillian Anderson
Genre: Drama/Thriller/Mystery
Pages: 304
Category: 29. Read a book about Politics and/or Religion
Format: Paper

Date Started: January 5th 2017
Date Finished: January 7th 2017

Ever since I found out that Gillian Anderson had written a book I knew I needed to read it. I’ve loved X-Files since I was 6 and trying to sneak peeks at what my parents were watching in a hotel in Tasmania. They told me I was too young, I was at uni before I got to watch the whole series from start to finish. Nevertheless, I bought and gifted the book to my mother who was also an X-Files fan, she seemed less enthused than I was.  Eventually I proceeded to borrow it back from her to read myself. That was probably six months ago and it’s been sitting on my bookshelf ever since.

I think I was a little scared it would turn out to be awful, that I’d make it a chapter in and decide it wasn’t for me. I almost did. But for once I stuck it out and bit longer and I was drawn in. I wanted to know what would happen. It’s possible you might see the other books in the series on the blog before the end of 2017.

Every time I’ve tried to describe this book to someone the first thing I’ve said is ‘it’s weird’. It’s true, there’s a lot about this book that was weird for me. First, it was halfway through the book before I could shake the feeling that something was wrong, reading a  book written by Dana Scully (okay, not by her but the actress who played her) a skeptic by all accounts, but here’s Dr. O’Hara who cautiously embraces these slightly supernatural occurrences. Secondly, the main character shares my first name, something I’ve never encountered before. Third, there’s a lot going on and for most of the book I was right there with my namesake thinking maybe I knew what was happening but it was too strange to be true. Fourth, it’s a hard plot to explain without giving too much away, my favourite parts about it are the ones I won’t share here for fear of spoiling those of you who haven’t read the book.

What I will tell you is that the book centers around a psychiatrist named Dr. Caitlin O’Hara who is drawn into the mystery of the Indian ambassador’s daughter’s illness. The daughter is Maanik who begins acting strange after an assassination attempt on her father, Caitlin is called by the Ambassador’s translator who happens to be her close friend. Unfortunately for Maanik the Ambassador is amidst difficult negotiations with Pakistan and India over a place called Kashmir and does not want to jeopardise them by sending Maanik to a hospital.

In Haiti another woman experiences a similar episode, and a young man in Iran. Caitlin is sure that the three fit together somehow. And what about the viral video of the rats swarming the monument, maybe that’s connected too. And what about that strange artifact that was mentioned in the prologue and the man who was trying to steal it, surely that’s important somehow?

You might be wondering why politics and religion when this book could clearly fit in one of many categories. While not the major character in the book the Ambassador’s negotiations are a major theme within the book, as are the spiritual threads that Caitlin begins to uncover Hindu and Buddhist mostly but there are also links to Vodou.

This isn’t the type of book I would normally read in the sense that I rarely get pulled in by either politics or religion but what I do love is a good mystery. Would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes mystery or paranormal or even history. And I’m definitely looking forward to the next books.

Rating: 4/5