Fox on Books

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

Archive for the category “Three and a half 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?

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

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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?

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:

Between the Lines – by Tammara Webber

BetweenEmma Pierce just got it. Her big break. That one huge movie that can create a career. It’s a modernisation of Pride and Prejudice, set against the backdrop of an American high school. The reason this movie has the potential to make Emma a star is her co-star, Hollywood’s hottest commodity, Reid Alexander. The thing is, Emma’s not completely convinced that she wants the huge career. She loves acting, but it’s not about the fame. And she can’t help but feel there’s more to life than the glitz of the silver screen.

Reid always knows what he wants. And knows how to get it. Money? Yep. Fame? Uh-huh. Girls? Ha! Of course. And now Reid wants Emma. There’s something about her – maybe because she’s so close to his world and yet so far. Whatever the reason, he’s determined to tick Emma off his to do list. Everybody Wants to Be on TV:

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith

statisticA few weeks ago, all I wanted to read was a nice, cute, straight forward YA love story. Do you ever get that urge? The cover of Jennifer E Smith’s Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight seemed to promise just what I wanted. At a slim 215 pages, it was a whirlwind affair: here’s what I thought.

Hadley’s never been to London before. She’s also never been a bridesmaid. You’d think she would be excited? You’d be wrong. This isn’t just any wedding. Hadley’s Dad is getting remarried, to a woman Hadley’s never met. Hadley hasn’t even seen much of her Dad since he left two years ago for a job and then never came home.

So, no. This isn’t exactly a dream come true for Hadley. Perhaps the only thing that convinced her to even get on the plane was the boy in the seat beside her. Because what are the chances that the person next to you is a cute British guy who’s interesting and funny and her age too? Oliver’s all that and more: and if Hadley’s not careful, she might end up not hating everything about this day after all. I Was Enchanted to Meet You:

Blaze: Or Love In the Time of Supervillians by Laurie Boyle Crompton

blazeI got this book as an e-ARC from Edelweiss, and wolfed it down in a single afternoon. Why? Read on:

Blaze is, despite the unusual name, a pretty normal 17-year old girl. She’s a little shy, interested in boys in theory but a little more like terrified in practise. She’s also really into comic books: specifically, classic Marvel verse, and anything Stan Lee. Blaze spends most of her free time since her Dad left chauffeuring around her little brother Josh and his three best friends, to school and soccer.

At least at soccer there’s Mark, Josh’s really, really cute coach. He’s never noticed Blaze, which is fine with her. She watches soccer practice with her head in a comic or her sketch book, and if she sometimes daydreams about Mark’s great legs or chest, well, she’s only human.

Then, inexplicably, Mark notices Blaze, who can’t believe her luck! She finally has her first boyfriend – right? They went out a couple of times, and there was an unfortunate incident with a ‘helpful’ ‘friend’ called Amanda sending him a half naked picture of Blaze, but Blaze wan’t sure – until Mark made it clear he wasn’t looking for anything more than the *ahem* interactions they’d had in the back of Blaze’s minivan. Go On and Take A Bow:

Smitten (Unlucky Break) – Kate Forster

UnluckyThis is the first in an upcoming crossover YA/New Adult series from Hardie Grant called Smitten. They’re described as being an antidote to the many (many) paranormal heart-throbs clogging up our shelves at the moment, and as light, fun, reads with lots of pining and a happily ever after. Here’s how I found the first Smitten book, Unlucky Break:

Andi’s not having the best time. Her Dad was never in the picture, and her Mum’s just died. Her Mum never gave up fighting, but this meant that she refused to make plans for Andi, leaving her effectively stranded, with no family in Australia and very few options. Oh, yeah – and she just caught her long-term boyfriend with her best friend. So, not a great month.

When Hollywood’s darling and Andi’s estranged aunt, Cece Powers, offers her a home in LA, Andi’s mostly just relieved to have somewhere to go, even if she has no idea what she’ll do with herself once she’s there. Transplanted into the bright lights and huge city, she’ll have to learn to navigate life amongst celebrities, paparazzi and people with far too much money. She’ll also have to figure out what she wants to do and the kind of person she wants to be. It’s time to grow up – and it might also be time to fall in love. I’m Not Cool/Just A Regular Girl In An Insane World:

The End of Your Life Book Club – by Will Schwalbe

bookclubThis is a biographical/autobiographical account of Will Schwalbe’s last years with his mother, Mary Anne Schwalbe, after she was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. On the back of the ARC I found at work, it simply reads: A mother and a son. A life-long love of books. This was all I needed. Here’s what meeting Mary Anne and Will was like for me:

There’s no easy way to reconcile yourself to the fact that someone you love is going to die; and not in some vague, we’re-all-going-to-die-someday sense, but in the form of a terminal diagnosis. Will wasn’t ready to let his mother go – and neither was Mary Anne ready to leave. There was still so much to do. Over the course of her treatment and final years, Mary Anne and Will would meet for her chemo appointments and discuss whichever book they had both been reading, in an exclusive, two person book club. Their discussions were about the books, but also about their lives, their bond, and their grief. “Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.” – Napolean Bonaparte

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