Fox on Books

Book reviews, opinions, musings and ramblings. General bookish excitement!

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Starcossed – by Josephine Angelini

A recent grab from work, released in May 2011. A new angle on YA Fantasy: here’s what I thought.

When Helen tries to kill the new kid, Lucas Delos, with her bare hands on his first day at school, her lifelong quest to remain unnoticed is somewhat derailed. Helen’s always felt different, but it’s not until the Delos clan come to town that she discovers exactly how different she is: Helen’s a direct descendant of the Greek Gods. And as fate (or the Fates, for that matter) would have it, she and Lucas are destined to love each other, and also to try as hard as they can to kill each other. And you thought your high school crush was complicated!

Helen and Lucas are only part of the Fates’ plan: the end game is coming, and millenia of warring that began in Ancient Greece, at Troy, and continues to this day is coming to a head. It falls to this generation of Scions to close the cycle, one way or another, and the stakes have never been higher. Dare you accept the quest?

The Gift – by Alison Croggon

A few weeks ago, I had one of those days where every book you pick up is disappointing, or not interesting enough to grab you, or just really not what you want. After trying three different new books to no avail, in frustration I turned to an older book, a favourite, a re-read that I knew would bring me out of my bout of book ennui. This was my experience re-reading The Gift:

Although she has dim memories of another place, a place of warmth and light and safety and home, Maerad accepts her lot as a slave in the remote holding called Gilman’s Cot. The Cot’s other residents think she’s a witch because of her oddly coloured eyes, so she is at least left well enough alone. But when she sees a man no-one else can perceive, and that man offers her a chance at escape: at something else if not necessarily something better, Maerad jumps at the opportunity. She soon discovers that the man, Cadvan, is a Bard of Lirigon, and that Maerad herself is more than she seems: more important and more powerful than she could ever have imagined.

So begins Cadvan and Maerad’s journey, an epic tale woven over four books in a beautiful, lyrical high fantasy style. Come, my Pretties, to Pellinor:

The Peculiar – by Stefan Bachmann

This book’s an upcoming release, due out in Australian on October 1st, and I was lucky enough to get a copy from the publishers early to read. Watch out people: there’s a rave a’coming!

Sometime around the 19th century, the faeries came to England. “Goblins and satyrs, gnomes, sprites and the elegant, spindly white beings with their black, black eyes.” The Smiling War between the humans and the fae was so-called because of the sheer number of grinning, white skulls it left behind in the fields. But in the end even the faeries’ magic was no match for the numbers of red-coated soldiers sent against them with cannon and gunpowder, and the remaining Hidden People were relocated to Bath, where they would live in slums, defeated and ostracised. After a time, they became simply another facet of England, living in the cities, “no worse off than the thousands of human poor that toiled by their side.” But the high faeries, the Sidhe, were by no means satisfied with their lot. They bided their time, plotting and patient.

I can hardly tell you how much I adored this book. It is without a doubt the best new young adult fantasy book I’ve come across this year, for a myriad of reasons. Rave Commencing:

No Sex in the City – by Randa Abdel-Fattah

This is the first adult novel from Abdel-Fattah, who’s known for her Young Adult novels, like the award-winning “Does My Head Look Big In This?” I picked this up free from work (score!) for a few reasons: a) I’ve a soft spot for pun titles, b) YA to adult contemporary fiction? Very me! and c) I’m interested in the perspective here. Abdel-Fattah’s a young Muslim-Australian, and I thought her insight into such a culture in contemporary Australian society would be fascinating and valuable. Here’s my take on No Sex in the City:

Esma wants to find The One. Who doesn’t, right? And as a twenty-eight year old, intelligent, funny, attractive woman with integrity and standards, this shouldn’t be too hard. Sure, she has a few more criteria for a partner to fulfil if they’re The One – they must be Muslim, able to hold up their end of a conversation, educated, interested in social justice, employed, and spiritual without being too overbearing. But Esma refuses to settle for less in her settling down – why should she? It’s just a matter of waiting it out. Boys and Besties and Fun: Boys and Besties and Fun: Boys and (Grown Up) Best Friends:

The Uninvited – By Liz Jensen

ImageThis intriguing new crime novel caught my eye at work: children inexplicably start killing their parents, before lapsing into a passive, fugue state and not recalling the murders. Creepy, interesting premise. Here’s my take on the follow through:

Hesketh Lock is an anthropologist by trade, brilliant at identifying patterns both in nature and in people, which makes him an excellent investigator for Phipps & Wexman. Currently, he’s working on uncovering the links between a series of corporate sabotages carried out by seemingly loyal employees, in dozens of unrelated companies all over the world. Add these strange occurrences to the outbreak of child murders and Hesketh is sure there’s a bigger, more dangerous pattern emerging – the implications of which may be felt for generations to come.

This novel has a compelling and creepy central mystery – is it just me, or are murderous children more frightening than their grown up counterparts? Hesketh, our protagonist, is an absolutely wonderful character. He has Asperger’s syndrome, and provides the reader with a unique perspective not only on his inner thought processes but also on the world through his eyes. I loved Hesketh for his incredibly unique and yet surprisingly relatable personality. The Creepy Continues:

Throne of Glass – by Sarah J Maas

Another reading copy snagged from work! Yay for bookshops. The synopsis for this book caught my eye:

“Meet Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful. Deadly. Destined for greatness.” Celaena’s an assassin, infamous and extremely skilled. But she got caught. When she’s offered an unlikely opportunity to escape from her prison by representing Dorian, the Crown Prince of Adarlan, in a contest to decide who will serve as the Court assassin for three years before being granted freedom, she accepts the challenge. How could Celaena have anticipated how much things would change once she set foot on this path?

The elements of this story are all familiar: there’s a beautiful, dangerous main character with plenty of suffering in their past. There’s a chance of freedom and possibly redemption. There’s a test, in this case a tournament between fourteen champions chosen by the nobility. There’s a corrupt power structure that must change. There’s dissidence in the new generation and the hope of reform/revolution. There’s magic, mysterious forces that have been outlawed for generations but not gone from the world, but that no-one now understands. And there are tangled emotional problems. Danger and Drama and Fighting, Oh My!

The Rise of Nine – by Pittacus Lore

I’d been keeping an eye out for this book, the latest in a series that so far comprises I Am Number Four and The Power of Six. I Am Number Four used some familiar elements as well as some refreshingly original twists, making it a good read and a story I’ve enjoyed following since. Here’s my take on the latest instalment:

John Smith, Number Four of the handful of the survivors of Lorien, has spent his life waiting and hiding. Hiding from the enemy aliens who pursued John and the handful of remaining Garde from Lorien to Earth, and are determined to eliminate every last one. Waiting to come into his powers, or legacies. Waiting to find the other Lorien survivors, the rest of the Garde, who are all charged with finding a way to defeat the enemy Mogadorians. Waiting to avenge his people and find a way home. Now the members of the Garde are finding their way together, and after all the waiting they will finally have the chance to fight. But Not Quite Yet:

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