Monday, 25 November 2019

The Secret Chapter

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

I would like to remind everyone that we are not here just to obtain books for our personal reading lists. The Library is tasked with maintaining the balance between order and chaos, between the dragons and the Fae, and is bound to protect the alternate worlds they claim, and the humans living in them.

The Secret Chapter is the 6th book in the Invisible Library series and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous books. They are loads of fun though, so you should check out the series if you haven't already.

The world where Irene attended boarding school is at risk of being lost to ten days' time. Fortunately, there's a unique book that can help anchor that world to the Library. Unfortunately The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor is in the collection of a mysterious Fae who lives on a top secret island. When Irene and Kae secure an invite to Mr Nemo's island, they are to discover the payment required for the book is the theft of a painting and the Fae has assembled an unlikely team to perform the heist.

Irene had seen dungeons, bloodstained theatres, battlefields and conflagrations - but now she had truly experienced hell. And it was inside a minibus with four Fae and two dragons.

The Secret Chapter vibes are a mix of Bond villainy and heist plot, with the usual charm of this series. The theft of The Raft of Medusa takes the team to Vienna in a world apparently plagued by supernatural creatures. They need to keep out of the sights of CENSOR, the government organisation that hunts down all things that go bump in the night. Irene's not sure if that includes her but she doesn't want to risk finding out.

Also on the heist is an estranged dragon from Kai's extended family, they are not pleased to see each other, and four Fae representing the archetypes of gangster, gambler and getaway driver. This leads to plenty of opportunities for cheesy lines as they live up to their Fae narratives, but they also have they're touchingly "human" sides at times. The flung together team soon become a real team.

He was such a truly perfect example of the genus Thug, species American Thirties Gangster, that he had to be Fae.

However all is not as it seems and this instalment is sort of a join between series arcs. It picks up a loose end from the treaty that was signed in the previous book, but also hints at what may be in store for the future. It's quite a standalone plot though, so you could probably enjoy it by itself, even though you should read all the others. Who wouldn't want to read about Librarians hopping between alternate worlds?

You are tough dragon, You will break less easily than puny Librarian.

The Secret Chapter is published by Pan Macmillan and is available now in paperback and ebook formats. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive | Wordery

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

The Warehouse

With temperatures and unemployment rising, one American company is striving. Cloud. Each MotherCloud is a city, a huge warehouse with accommodation, food, healthcare and entertainment for its thousands of employees. There's no reason to leave. You're lucky to get a job there.

Cloud is quite clearly based an Amazon and some of the dubious working practices that have come out in recent years. Employees live on site, have strict quotas to fill, are searched leaving the warehouse to make sure they don't steal, and they are underpaid, of course. They work long hours and risk their safety, just to keep their star ratings and calling in sick has penalties. Their every move is tracked by their CloudBands.

Stay hydrated. Hit your numbers. Don’t complain. If you get hurt, walk it off. The less you have to talk to the managers, the better. Don’t even SAY the word union.

Paxton is an ex-prison guard who doesn't want to work security...but that's the job he's assigned at Cloud. His business (some egg gadget that wasn't very convincing) was driven under by Cloud, but now his one time competitor is his only option. He's put on a special task force to get to the bottom of the Oblivion problem, how's the drug getting in and who's involved? He meets another new recruit, Zinnia, a corporate spy, on a mission to steal Cloud's secrets.

It's a bit cheesy in places and the characters are a little cliched. Zinnia's "tough guy" persona was a bit much (she's beautiful and clever too). It tries to address sexual harassment but I think having it happen to Zinnia was the wrong move. She's calculated, rather than afraid. Yes, she doesn't want to lose the job at Cloud because of her other job, but she's not put in a position of desperation. She manages to get revenge rather than justice.

Cloud isn’t just a place to work. It’s a place to live. And when you’re here, you’ll never want to leave.

The blog posts from Cloud founder, Gibson Wells, show how his vision of the company differs from the reality of working there. He believes he is a philanthropist, helping to save the world. He has kept people in jobs, when automation was looming, but at what cost? He's also a multi-billionaire in a world with increasing inequality.

What is never explained is who is buying all the stuff? Apparently jobs are hard to come by outside of Cloud, even teachers are being laid off. The delivery drones mean they're not just selling products internally and a lot of things are non-essentials. So who were the customers?

There were other things that would be easy to pick holes in if you start thinking about them, however it was an entertaining thriller, with some quite valid points to make about monopolies.

ATY Rejects: Related to Monopoly

Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive | Wordery | Blackwell’s

Book Source: Purchased

Saturday, 2 November 2019

On My Radar: November

A little later than usual, here's my round up of intriguing sounding books hitting the shelves in November. I'm most excited about The Toll and The Secret Chapter. As always, inclusion here isn't an endorsement and books may be available on different dates in different territories/formats (and sometimes they just change). Dates stated are generally for the UK print edition unless otherwise noted.


Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters by Emily Roberson (US)


Skein Island by Aliya Whiteley
Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand (US)
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machad (US)
Jakarta by Rodrigo Marquez Tizano (US)
They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears by Johannes Anyuru, Saskia Vogel (US)
The Book of Lost Saints by Daniel Jose Older


The Toll by Neal Shusterman
The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis
The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah
Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas


Day Zero by Kelly Devos (US)
The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada


The Secret Chapter by Genevieve Cogman
Realm of Ash by Tasha Suri
Body Tourists by Jane Rogers
On Swift Horses by Shannon Pufahl
Now Entering Addamsville by Francesca Zappia


The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black


Blood Heir by Amélie Wen Zhao


The In-Betweens by Mira Ptacin (US)


The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

Friday, 1 November 2019

The Month That Was... October 2019

Last month has been my quietest blog month since I started waffling here in 2011! I've not been feeling that great and I think it's impacted my enthusiasm for blogging. Then I got a cold and even missed Readathon, which was a bummer. I have a few ideas to get my blogging mojo back, and I will have my November "On My Radar" post up this weekend.

I finished the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge though! And I'm one book away from completing Popsugar. The 2020 ATY list is ready now so take a peek if you're looking for a prompt based reading challenge next year.

I reviewed Pet on the blog and War Girls on my Instagram (another place I've been neglecting).

So what did I read?

Command and Control by Eric Schlosser

Non-Fiction - Nuclear War
This history of nuclear war and the many near-disasters is terrifying. I do not know how we are still on this planet after reading this. If you've seen the Netflix documentary already, this book has the specific accident in the Arkansas silo runnign through it but has a lot more information on the history of the bomb, its effect on world politics and a lot of other near misses... Highly recommend if you're into this subject matter.
ATY: 8. 2 books related to the same topic, genre, or theme: Book #2

Sweet Fruit, Sour Land by Rebecca Ley

Cli-Fi - Dystopia - Reproductive Rights
Whilst not specifically a Brexit book, this does feel like a depressing premonition of our future. The population is dwindling and there are policies in place to make women reproduce, all the while food shortages mean everything's rationed, yet somehow there's still the elite who manage to have it all. Slightly Ballardian.
POPSUGAR: 22. A book with SALTY, SWEET, BITTER, or SPICY in the title

Gotta Get Theroux This by Louis Theroux

Autobiography - TV
I knew going in that there would be a lot about Jimmy Saville, but gah, there is a little too much. I can totally understand Louis having to come to terms with his friendship knowing what we know now, but I didn't really want to read about it in depth. I listened to this on audio though and it was nice having Louis chat in my ear. If you've seen all his documentaries, there's not a lot new here, he really doesn't have much artifice in his TV.
ATY Rejects: By, or about, a current or former journalist