Book Review: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine

25890355Title : Paper and Fire (The Great Library #2)

Author : Rachel Caine

Publisher : NAL

Release date : July 5th, 2016

Rating : 4.5/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control. . . .

Review :

Take a look at my review for Ink and Bone, which is the first installment of The Great Library series.

All I can do for this current review, is to update the first one.

The writing is still great, and the characters as well. But here, our characters have grown, and they now have more responsibility, and more laws dictating their actions. You can see that they now know how their world works, but they still fight for what they think is right.

Action is more abundant in this installment, as Jess is now a soldier, and a capable one at that. The places in which the action takes place are all well-described.

Really, there’s not much difference from the first book, and luckily, it didn’t suffer much from the Second-Book Syndrome.


Book Review: Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

20643052Title : Ink and Bone

Author : Rachel Caine

Publisher : NAL

Release date : July 7th, 2015

Rating : 4/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family, who are involved in the thriving black market. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe that knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn…

Review :

Ink and Bone was a fast-paced and exciting read! And it’s perfect for book lovers J

Jess is 16, and is a book smuggler. However, unlike the rest of his family, he actually loves books, and doesn’t only see them as a means to make money. His intelligence and his passion for reading get him into Library training in order to become a Library worker.

Guys, he’s 16. In the midst of all that is happening around him, we can feel his sixteen-ness. How rare is it, that characters actually act their own age? Jess is not a cold-faced boy. He flirts, and winks, and has those sudden urges of innocent teen recklessness. He is ADORABLE. He’s a bright and pragmatic boy, capable of empathy and compassion. Again, how rare is it that we have male characters who have feelings?… 10 points for Jess, and 100 points for Caine, for having created such an amazing character.

It’s actually so obvious that Caine is an experienced author. The pace is great; whenever I feel like a subject or event has been used up to its complete capacity, the plotline goes right on to the next one. Nothing feels dragged, and there’s always potential for action at the next corner. The descriptions are amazing; I actually feel like I could be there, and see what they’re seeing. Caine is expert at revealing secrets little by little. She keeps her readers waiting for more, without ever making them wait too long.

The chapters alternate between the actual events, and official documents relating what is happening behind the scenes; the secret messages being passed around in the Library. I love when books introduce new ways to relate a story. It’s always refreshing. I noticed that Ink and Bone is the parallel to our real world’s debate about eBooks and print books. But Caine doesn’t drive us in one direction; both formats are presented with their pros and cons.

There is a sense of mystery, but also companionship coming from Jess and his friends. It’s like a school of elite students. I really liked all his friends, who all add their own personalities to the mix. They come from different backgrounds, and Caine made sure to respect their culture and their way of thinking.

All in all, great work from Caine! I would recommend it to all YA lovers.

Book Review: The Muse by Jessie Burton

27213208Title : The Muse

Author : Jessie Burton

Publisher : Ecco

Release date : July 26th, 2016

Rating : 3.5/5

Synopsis (from Goodreads) :

On a hot July day in 1967, Odelle Bastien climbs the stone steps of the Skelton gallery in London, knowing that her life is about to change forever. Having struggled to find her place in the city since she arrived from Trinidad five years ago, she has been offered a job as a typist under the tutelage of the glamorous and enigmatic Marjorie Quick. But though Quick takes Odelle into her confidence, and unlocks a potential she didn’t know she had, she remains a mystery – no more so than when a lost masterpiece with a secret history is delivered to the gallery.

The truth about the painting lies in 1936 and a large house in rural Spain, where Olive Schloss, the daughter of a renowned art dealer, is harbouring ambitions of her own. Into this fragile paradise come artist and revolutionary Isaac Robles and his half-sister Teresa, who immediately insinuate themselves into the Schloss family, with explosive and devastating consequences . . .

Review :

This book reminded me of why I love reading in the first place.

When I requested The Muse, it wasn’t because I was attracted to the subject. Actually, I was utterly uninterested in the plot, which featured a mysterious painting and super vague references to character changes. All in all, the plot wasn’t impressive.

What drew me to The Muse was the author, Jessie Burton. I had heard of her work before with The Miniaturist, and I thought it would be nice to give her a try with this one. And boy, did I enjoy my reading! Again, I wasn’t invested in the story; I was invested in her writing. Wow wow and wow! She could have been writing about someone’s stance for pages and I would have been sucked in nonetheless. Her words just flow effortlessly, in a way that captivates the reader with its rhythm and vividness and a certain kind of dry politeness.

In the beginning, it started out slow, and never really picked up any pace. There wasn’t a lot of action, I didn’t feel very active while reading the book, but the atmosphere and the characters made up for it so much that it counterbalanced the lack of “physical excitement”. What can I say, Burton’s writing was -and is- formidable. What excited me throughout my reading were the drama and intrigue, the mystery going on around that painting. What also helped greatly to add to this story’s awesomeness was the amount of research Burton must have done to come up with a believable plotline. It was obviously very well researched, and I felt like I actually learnt some things from it.

The characters themselves were stars in their own right. On the one hand, we have Odelle Bastien, in the 1960s. She is a well-educated, curious and lively poet, who is very conscious as to how hard she has to work in order to become a published writer since she’s an immigrant. As a poet, she has a way with words that is completely lovely and appealing, which made her my favorite character. Odelle is, actually, the perfect heroine, one who isn’t too annoying because of recklessness and one who isn’t too perfect as a character. On the other hand, we have Olive Schloss, in the 1930s. She’s cool also, but compared to Odelle, she’s rather plain. She’s the one who paints and allows another to take all the credits. So obviously, that says something about her, but I guess Odelle was just too radiant for me to appreciate Olive like I should.

All in all, it was a great read! The writing and characters were awesome, but I would only recommend this book for those who are already into reading.

** Thank you to Edelweiss and to Ecco for providing me with an e-copy of this novel.