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Archive for the category “Four and a half Foxes”

Fangirl – by Rainbow Rowell

ArthurRainbow Rowell’s in the midst of a surge to fame, taking the YA genre by storm. The effects ripple out further than YA, too, with John Green publicly commenting on how much he loved Eleanor & Park. Needless to say, I’ve been meaning to read her work for a while now. I started with Fangirl because even the name is something I identify with!

Cath’s always been the quiet one, overshadowed by her twin sister, Wren. Online, though, it’s a completely different story. Cath’s in love with the world of Simon Snow, a wildly successful series of books and movies about a teen wizard (yes, the echoes of Harry Potter are there for a reason). Like a lot of fans, Cath’s not satisfied with the limited look into Simon’s world she gets in the canon. Writing fanfiction about Simon Snow is a way to stay connected, and Cath and Wren are widely reputed as the best writing duo around.

When the twins go to college, Wren’s looking to break out of the virtual world and experience the ‘real world’; something Cath just can’t understand. Their writing is just as real and just as important as anything happening out there. She keeps posting updates to her fic, feeling more and more involved with her online fans (who number in the thousands), and less connected with Wren than ever. This whole college thing is certainly life changing. But no one mentioned that it can be a change for the worse. Engorgio! (Or, embiggen, more this way):

The Fiery Heart – by Richelle Mead

FieryOh yes, the fourth book in Mead’s fantastic Bloodlines spinoff series is finally here! I went in to this book with high expectations, since I really enjoy Mead’s work in general (for example, Gameboard of the Gods, and The Indigo Spell). I’m really invested in Sydney and Adrian’s story now – as are we all – and I was counting on Mead to deliver a cracker of an installment. Here’s how I thought she did:

Sydney and Adrian have come a long way since they were first forced to work together. No longer is Sydney the standoffish, distrustful Alchemist, and no longer is Adrian the dissolute, oft-drunk mess he once was. Well, mostly, anyway. Truth be told, they’re been more than tolerating each other for a long time, now.

Oh, Sydrian. I love ’em. And they’re finally getting it right.  Which is a good thing – because they’re facing a whole lot of problems that they can’t fix alone. In fact, they might not even be able to fix them together. I Fell Into A Burning Ring of Fire

The Way of Kings (Part Two) – by Brandon Sanderson

imageTravelling means more time for reading, right?! I’ve been testing the theory, so while exploring the sights of London and Amsterdam, I was catching up on my Brandon Sanderson, with The Way of Kings, Part Two. Here’s what I thought:

Welcome back to Roshar. The landscape remains as unforgiving as the people holding Kaladin and his bridgemen; who are still defying their intended purposes by refusing to die. It’s clearer than ever to Kaladin that there’s almost no way to avoid this fate. Unless, perhaps, he changes the rules of engagement.
Dalinar, a brightlord and (formerly) one of the most respected leaders of the Alethkar nobility, remains unsure whether he is mad, or if the visions he has during highstorms are somehow real. These visions tell him he must do the impossible, and unite the Alethkar forces as one. But until he ascertains whether these are real warnings or merely delusions, Dalinar knows it is dangerous for him to remain in charge of his House. Other nobles have noticed his ailment, and sense that there may be blood in the water.
In Part Two of The Way of Kings, we see the payoff from Part One’s lengthy set up. We Were the Kings and Queens of Promise:

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) – by Mindy Kaling

kalingI’ve embraced the intriguing world of audiobooks! In my new city, I walk to work and back – 40 solid minutes each way. And it’s such a waste of perfectly good reading time – but not any more! So far, I’m loving entertainment memoirs read by the authors (I’m listening to Tina Fey now and really can’t wait to get to Stephen Fry next). Mindy Kaling’s autobiography was my first foray into this format: here’s what I thought of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me:

You guys, I loved this book. Audio was the perfect medium, because Mindy Kaling is one funny lady. I love the Mindy Project. It’s a little slice of absurd joy in my week. I was thrilled to find Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me just as  engaging, smart, relatable and generally fabulous as the lady herself. I’ll Go By What You Do, ‘Cause Talk Is Cheap:

The Duff – by Kody Keplinger

duffWritten by 19-year old Kody Keplinger, The Duff is a fast-paced YA novel about standing out for all the wrong reasons. I’ve read this book before but have been hankering for a re-read for the last few weeks. I finally gave in – and like the last time, I read this in one sitting, in less than a day. Here’s why:

Bianca calls herself a typical seventeen year old girl. (Personally, I think she’s a-typical in the best way.) She’s sarcastic, defensive and a little bit more grown up than people expect. And, so Wesley Rush kindly informs her one fateful evening, she’s the DUFF. The Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Ouch.

Wesley blithely elaborates that this doesn’t mean Bianca’s ugly, per se – just that her friends are SO much hotter than she is that she might as well be an actual troll for all the attention she’ll get. Double freaking ouch. Wesley finally shuts up when he gets Bianca’s drink in his face, but that’s only the beginning. I Knew You Were Trouble:

Dead Girl Sing – by Tony Cavanaugh

dead girl singTony Cavanaugh’s first novel, Promise, came out in early 2012. I’ve been recommending it steadily ever since I devoured it over a 48-hour period. Dark, creepy and very well written, exactly what a good crime novel should be. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to read the follow up:

Darian Richards is no hero. He’s not even a cop any more – he retired a couple of years ago, left the nightmares behind for the serenity of a far North Queensland river view. Well. He’s mostly retired. Last year he caught a killer who needed to be stopped, because no one else could. When one of the girls who got away calls Darian, months later, in tears, saying “Only you can help,” he means to ignore it. He really does. But old habits apparently die hard. If Ida’s in trouble and he can fix it, he’s got to try.

Taut, atmospheric and with exactly the right kind of darkness, Dead Girl Sing was an impressive follow up novel for Cavanaugh. There’ll Be No Rest For These Tired Eyes:

Every Day – by David Levithan

every dayI’ve been hearing a lot about this book lately, from reviews to recommendations. I’m a huge fan of John Green, and he and David Levithan have worked together in the past on ‘Will Grayson, Will Grayson’. (Which I’ve not yet read.) In itself this association is enough for me to be interested in checking out David Levithan’s work. This week I read Every Day:

‘A’ doesn’t think his life is all that strange any more. All right, to anyone else it’s probably a little weird, but he’s used to it. You see: every morning A wakes up in a different body. And each day he has to live as whichever person he’s residing in, just for the day. When he goes to sleep (or when midnight rolls around) A’s turfed out to the next body. This has been the case A’s whole life, and he’s learnt to cope: disrupt his host’s life as little as possible, make it through the day, and never, ever, tell anyone.

Until one fateful day, when he’s Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend: Rhiannon. Just another girl. An extraordinary girl; a girl A can’t forget. In spite of his better judgement, A reaches out, yearning for a connection that lasts longer than one day. But even if Rhiannon can accept his wildly unbelievable story, is it possible to love someone whose exterior changes every day? Don’t You Forget About Me:

The Indigo Spell (Bloodlines Book 3) – by Richelle Mead

indigoAh! A long-awaited book arrives at last. Isn’t that the best feeling as a reader? I’m a huge Richelle Mead fan. Her Vampire Academy series is probably the best vampire-centric YA Fantasy around.

The Indigo Spell is the third instalment of her spin-off series, Bloodlines. Our protagonist is Sydney Sage, a member of a secret society called the Alchemists: sworn to protect humans from the vampires living amongst them. Bloodlines is (largely) the story of Sydney’s evolution.

This is also a story of magic and danger, friendship and love, secrets and high stakes. Initially, Sydney was only a facilitator, ensuring that her important Vampire charge, Jill Dragomir, wasn’t discovered by the wrong people. She never anticipated finding friends in the group she’d been assigned to, yet now she can’t imagine life without them (as reluctant as she may be to admit it).

Richelle Mead’s character development is one of my favourite things about her writing. She is consistent and plausible in allowing her creations to change – and to resist change. Each character gets this treatment to a degree, from Adrian and Jill, to Eddie and Angeline. In The Indigo Spell, Sydney Sage begins to realise how different she is in some aspects: and how she hasn’t altered in others. Who Can Say If I’ve Been Changed For the Better But, Because I Knew You:

The Rosie Project – by Graeme Simsion

RosieThis came to me highly recommended by a friend in the publishing industry – it’s being tipped as a big hit, touted as “Intelligent and romantic, endearing and funny. A love story like no other.” The trick with love stories is, of course, making one stand out from the crowd, reading something you’ve not read many variations of before. The Rosie Project promised that: but could it deliver?

Don Tillman accepted long ago that he’s different. He has a detailed schedule that allows him to make the most not only of his time at work as a professor of genetics, but also his home life. Don has lobster for dinner each Tuesday and has never used his balcony. He is frequently frustrated by his friends making demands on his time with little notice, disrupting his schedule, and has never been on a second date.

Looking at his options, Don decides that the best way to find himself a partner is to design and administer a questionnaire to any potential dates, that will disqualify unsuitable women. For example: smokers, drinkers and anyone prone to arriving late are immediately out of the running. Gene and his wife Claudia, Don’s only two friends, are wary of Don’s plan but willing to help. Gene sends Rosie to see Don, and after a disastrous date (really, what was Gene thinking?) Don dismisses Rosie from his mind. Or tries to, at least. When You Walk On By/Will You Call My Name?

Reached – by Ally Condie

Matched, the first book in this trilogy by Ally Condie, was a favourite of mine. I wasn’t as impressed by Crossed, the second in the series, but I was already invested enough in this world and these characters to want to follow their journeys to their conclusion in Reached. This is what I thought of the final volume in Condie’s trilogy:

Cassia’s come a long way from the obedient Society member who never asked questions or deviated from the expected. After falling in love with Ky rather than her Society-decreed Match, Xander, Cassia was forced to stop accepting the Society’s word as gospel, instead making her own choices – even when they have huge consequences.

Now Cassia’s one of an increasingly powerful rebellion called the Rising who refuse to believe that the controlled, bland, cookie cutter lifestyle maintained so fanatically by the Society is the only way to live. They want freedom – they want choices. After years of biding their time with small refusals to conform, the Rising is now in a position to enact their plan, and challenge the Society for control. After a move this big, nothing will ever be the same: for the unquestioning Society members, for the Rising, or for the outcasts. May the Odds Be Ever… No, Wait:

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