Fox on Books

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Archive for the category “Four Foxes”

The Maze Runner – by James Dashner

maze runnerI’m going to start providing summaries at the top of my reviews, for those who want the TL:DR version. Behold:

“Oh my god just tell me what is happening!” – my brain the whole way through The Maze Runner.

I defy you to read this book slowly. I couldn’t wait to get to the end, although that was mainly so I could have some idea of what just happened! It’s a great YA adventure story, aimed squarely at teenage boys, and a good read for anyone who wants an unputdownable tale.

I was infuriated by the first few chapters of The Maze Runner. Without ceremony, you’re dropped straight into a confusing world full of teenage boys, living in a place called The Glade in the middle of, apparently, a giant maze. Would you have questions? Because both I and our protagonist, Thomas, had A LOT of questions. Such as:

– WHAT?
– Where is this place? WHAT is this place?
– Why am I here?
– Who am I? How can it be that I know my name and understand concepts but I know nothing about my history?
– WHY ARE WE IN A GIANT MAZE?
– Seriously, WHAT?? Let Me Feet Hit the Ground Running:

Short Stories, or, Review-Palooza!

It’s become clear that I read a lot of books. This year, I’m (still!) averaging one book every three days, across all sorts of formats, including manuscript, eBook, audio book and, of course, my true love, the paper book.

In order to keep them fresh in my mind, and to deliver opinions about them in a somewhat timely manner, I’m going to do bite-sized reviews of a recent selection.

Come along, then:

fathers eggersYour Fathers, Where Are they? And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? – by Dave Eggers

My second Dave Eggers, this was so intriguing! And whew, what a title. Written entirely in dialogue, Your Fathers is an exploration of America, a comment on a generation, and also a look at one really disturbed guy, spiraling into self destructive criminal madness. Very weird. Very cool.

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daughtersmokeDaughter of Smoke and Bone – by Laini Taylor

Karou’s never been exactly normal. How could she be, raised by Chimeras? She’s always been kept at arms length by those who raised her, but there’s more to Karou’s background – and her future – than she could ever have imagined. And not all of it is good. Even though it suffered from a little bit of too-many-recommendations-itis, this book and its sequel Days of Blood and Starlight left me reeling. Also, Laini Taylor exploded her own world twice in two books! I can’t wait to see what on earth the third book brings.

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unwindUnwind – by Neal Shusterman

In this future society, abortion is illegal. But before a child turns 18 they can instead be ‘unwound’. Every part of their body is used by someone else, so they’re not truly dead. Here, life is at once sacred and cheap. What a cool, freaky concept. And this book delivers – sometimes. It’s not as gripping as I wanted it to be, given the solidity of the premise, but it’ll keep you up at night reliving the brutal unwinding process. *shudder*

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TheFeelGoodHitOfTheYear C CVR SI.inddThe Feel-Good Hit of the Year – by Liam Pieper

I’m not that interested in memoirs unless you’re Stephen Fry (sorry, everyone else). But I absolutely raced through Liam Pieper’s accounts of misspent youth, from his birth in a sort-of hippy commune in the Melbourne suburbs to becoming an accidental teenage drug dealer, to figuring out that life’s more profitable when you’re a little less criminal. (Only a little…)

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So, whatcha been reading lately?

The Magicians – by Lev Grossman

MagiciansI’m going to start providing summaries at the top of my reviews, for those who want the TL:DR version. Behold:

The Magicians is incredibly ambitious, odd, cynical and sometimes downright infuriating. I LOVED it.

What if Hogwarts (or a place a lot like it) was real? But what if being a magician doesn’t magically solve all your problems, or automatically furnish you with a purpose and direction in life? What if you’re still just you?

This book came to me both highly and widely recommended as an adult’s Harry Potter. People I knew from disparate parts of my life were ranting excitedly at me about how wonderful it was. WOW. Talk about great expectations. Alohomora:

Short Stories, or, Review-Palooza!

It’s become clear that I read a lot of books. This year, I’m averaging one book every three days, across all sorts of formats, including manuscript, eBook, audio book and, of course, my true love, the paper book.

In order to keep them fresh in my mind, and to deliver opinions about them in a somewhat timely manner, I’m going to do bite-sized reviews of a recent selection.

Dear reader, dive in:

What Came Before – by Anna George

whatcamebeforeOof. This was a hard read. Following the spiral of a gradually abusive relationship, What Came Before challenges us to look at what we expect – and what we’ll accept – from those we love. Ambitious and confronting, it’s not for everyone, but is a particularly powerful novel.

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Looking for Alaska – by John Green
lookingforalaskaUK.indd
John Green’s first novel has all the hallmarks of his later work. Teens who act like teens (bright, loyal, apathetic and often a wee bit pretentious), a simple narrative that allows the beauty and poignancy of his prose to shine, and a quietly wrenching third act make this a must read for older teens and fans of this brand of honest, contemporary YA. (Also, have you read The Fault in Our Stars yet? If not, what are you even doing with your life??)

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Words of Radiance – by Brandon Sanderson

wordsofradianceThe Way of Kings (Parts One and Two) and their sequel The Words of Radiance are perfect examples of high fantasy with truly epic scope and huge payoffs. If you’re a fantasy reader, you’d be foolish to go past Brandon Sanderson. He and Patrick Rothfuss are the best current fantasy writers around. I’m repeating myself and I don’t care: Brandon Sanderson is the real deal. He is astonishing, and if you haven’t read him, you’re missing out.

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Wool and Dust – both by Hugh Howey

dusthoweywoolhowey

I’m a little late on this bandwagon but Wool and its sequel Dust are something you definitely want to experience. Howey’s exploration of a possible future after the world has been destroyed by nuclear warfare is sophisticated, claustrophobic and nail-bitingly tense. It’s the kind of sci-fi you’ll rant excitedly about in turn. I listened to these as audio books, and the SECOND I finished Wool I had to find out what happened next. four fox

Have you read any of these? I’ve covered a range of genres – what’s your pick of the above?

The Dream Thieves – by Maggie Stiefvater

Hello, dear readers.

dreamthievesI’m going to start providing summaries at the top of my reviews, for those who want the TL:DR version. Behold:

Gansey and the Raven Boys need Blue’s help to find the resting place of a long-gone Welsh King, Glendower. Time’s running out, though, because they’re not the only ones searching. This is brilliant YA fantasy, and one of the few series that’s great for boys and girls. It’s also SFT (safe for teens) – Blue has to worry a little about boys, but the focus is on the race against time, the chase, and the bromances rather than the romance.

Want more than two cents? Read on!

Do you know what one of my favourite things in YA fantasy is? Originality. It’s not a prerequisite – I enjoy many YA fantasies that are variations on themes, such as a really well done dystopian novel. They’re hardly rare, but a well-executed story will often override the sense of deja vu.
Read more…

The Impossible Knife of Memory – by Laurie Halse Anderson

ImpossibleHayley and Andy have never had what you’d call a normal father-daughter relationship. Andy’s been away at war most of Hayley’s life, and now he’s back, but in many ways still as far away as ever. They’re managing, for the most part. After a few years being home schooled by her father on the road, Hayley’s going to school for the first time. Andy’s working, sometimes. The nightmares make that hard. The only thing that helps is the booze – but that has consequences too, for him and his daughter both.

Hayley’s dealing, looking after herself and her dad, as far as she can. After all, she’s only ever been able to rely on herself. Letting people in, letting people help, means letting yourself get let down. Now, though, it seems she might need that help more than she needs to protect herself. Let it Go, Let it Go, Can’t Hold it Back Any More:

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy – by Helen Fielding

JonesBridget Jones is crazy. I mean that in the best possible way – I love her! I’m also a fan of Helen Fielding in general. Cause Celeb was good, and I LOVED Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination (and not even just for that phenomenal title). But Bridget is my first Fielding love, as it should be.

The books, brilliant. The movies? Amazing. (Colin Firth. Enough said.) Bridget’s world is full of panic, disasters, incredible friendships, and trying family members as well as a whole lot of love, and it’s magical.

This third book was quite a tricky customer, though, for one very important SPOILER FILLED NO SERIOUSLY YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THIS reason: Spoilers! Spoilers Ahoy! Abandon All Hope of a Spoiler-Free Review All Ye Who Enter:

Austenland – by Shannon Hale

austenlandI love Jane Austen. Shocking, I’m sure. I love the novels (P&P, of course, being the favourite, but also a shout out to Persuasion), I love the BBC adaptations, I love the Hollywood Pride and Prejudice and Emma, and also sometimes love derivative works like Lost in Austen, that take Austen’s world or stories and play with them. It doesn’t always work, but when it’s done right, it’s a riot! See: Clueless, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

This was one of those rare books that I did the wrong way around – by which I mean I saw the movie before I read the book. I was hooked by this hysterical trailer, and went to the movie with a bunch of gals – a highly recommended venture. It was absolutely hilarious, and we were flailing with laughter the whole time! Naturally, I had to read the book. Will you judge me if I admit that I bought the movie tie-in edition?? Go ahead, if you must. I have no regrets. (And quite possibly, no shame.) It is a Truth Universally Acknowledged that Every Woman Loves Mr Darcy:

Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea – by L. M. Montgomery

greengablesRecently, I felt the need to revisit Anne, Marilla and Matthew on Prince Edward Island. Anne of Green Gables and its many sequels were one of my most beloved childhood series, and there’s something beautiful in the nostalgia you experience in re-reading these classics. At the same time, the story is a somewhat different experience when you’re an adult.

It took a little while for me to empathise with Anne, this time around. Perspective changes things, and as a grown up, I’m now approaching Anne’s story from more of a Marilla standpoint than from Anne’s. Does that make any sense? Just go with it. What I’m trying to say is that Anne wasn’t a kindred spirit (to borrow a term) as quickly now as she was when I was ten. I think it took time to settle into the cadence of Anne’s thought patterns, and her dramatic whimsy. But I love her. I defy anyone not to love Anne. Her boundless imagination, wild flights of fancy, and implacable optimism are incredibly endearing. Why Can’t I Say Goodnight:

The Rithmatist – by Brandon Sanderson

RithmatistBrandon Sanderson remains one of my favourite fantasy authors. His work is consistent, detailed, and engrossing. Here’s what I thought of his latest offering, his first young adult novel, The Rithmatist:

Joel knows not everyone can be a Rithmatist. Rithmatists are those chosen to defend the American Isles against the chalklings: two-dimensional chalk drawings, somehow infused with life – and with the ability to kill. But the fact that Joel isn’t one of the lucky few cannot curb his fascination with their arts.  He knows more than almost any non-Rithmatist about the subtle battle techniques, defensive diagrams, and offensive chalklings that form the basis of the Rithmatist’s craft. And when Rithmatic students start to go missing from Armedius Academy, Joel might be the only one with the right combination of knowledge and perspective (as well as a healthy dose of recklessness) to be able to get to the bottom of it. Where’s an Eraser When You Need One?:

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