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Archive for the category “Two and a half Foxes”

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 Cinderella Moment – by Jennifer Kloester

cinderellaAngel’s dream has always been to become a fashion designer. But as the daughter of a housekeeper, it feels like that dream may never come true. When Angel’s best friend, Lily, begs Angel to pretend to be Lily in Paris for two weeks while Lily attends drama school in London, it seems like Angel’s chance may finally have arrived. Lily’s grandmother, the Comtesse de Tourney, is one of Paris’ most influential figures, with an invitation to one of the world’s most prestigious fashion events. What if Angel can use this chance to meet the right people, and start living her dream?

It’s a madcap setup that leads to all sorts of mayhem, as Angel quickly discovers that being Lily isn’t just a little white lie. People are going to get hurt – including Angel. But if she doesn’t take this opportunity while she can, will Angel miss her moment forever?

Okay. No summary is going to do justice to the several complicated concurrent story lines fighting for attention in this novel. There’s the Parent-Trap-esque swap. There’s a Teen Couture competition. There’s theft of fashion intellectual property and a bogus entry into said competition. An absent father (Lily’s). A sick mother (Angel’s). An evil almost-stepmother and  almost-stepsister. Two or three extremely convoluted back stories. And a boy (of course). Phew. You Don’t Even Know My Last Name:

Jess Talks: Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley

I’d like to give a warm welcome to Jess, my good friend who’s just as big a book nut as I am! Today in Jess Talks, Jess gives us her thoughts on Queen of Kings, by Maria Dahvana Headley:

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History merged with magic is an intriguing idea, and that’s what Maria Headley sets out to do in Queen of Kings. The trick to this sort of story is how well you pull it off: is it realistic, despite the magic? Do the characters stand up? Is the narrative clear? Here’s what I thought of Headley’s execution:

It’s 30BC, and Octavian Caesar and his legions are determined to take Alexandria. Having always wanted Cleopatra for his own, Octavian devises a ruse that leads Cleopatra to believe her beloved Mark Antony has taken his own life. Driven to the brink of madness by Octavian’s deception, Cleopatra calls upon the god Sekhmet, seeking his aid in reclaiming her Kingdom, and returning Mark Antony.

Calling upon Gods is never free, however, as Cleopatra quickly discovers. Sekhment agrees to return Mark Antony: in exchange for Cleopatra’s own soul. Under Sekhmet’s influence, Cleopatra is transformed into a shape-shifting, blood-sucking immortal being with only one driving force: vengeance. Completely devoid of anything human or good, she will settle for nothing less than the complete destruction of Octavian, and the world he has taken for himself. Hell Hath No Fury Like A Cleopatra Scorned?

Be Careful What You Wish For – by Gemma Crisp

carefulThis book is the first by the former editor of Cleo and Dolly magazines. It proudly declares that “If you liked The Devil Wears Prada, you’ll love this.” I did enjoy Prada, and I also really enjoy a good chick lit read, so I dove in. Here’s what I thought:

Nina Morey doesn’t love hospitality. As much fun as it is catering for the every whim of rich, entitled guests at one of London’s most exclusive hotels, she’s had about enough. Figuring out what she does love to do is the hard part – but when Nina spies an opportunity to intern at a fashion magazine, she jumps at the chance. Soon, she’s racing through the ranks of glossy mags in London and then in Sydney, juggling deadlines, professional frenemies, potential boyfriends and nightmarish hours as she tries to live the age old adage of the working woman who has it all. When She Was Just A Girl/She Expected the World:

The Casual Vacancy – by J K Rowling

There are very few bigger names in our literary world than J K Rowling – and the legacy she’s built and now has so much pressure to live up to is huge. The Casual Vacancy was a closely guarded secret, embargoed, with very little information about the plot available before the release. I, like so many people, have been wildly curious to see what Rowling is like, post-Harry. This was my take on The Casual Vacancy:

Pagford is a small town. The kind of small town that Hobartians* can probably appreciate better than most: everyone knows (or at least knows of) everyone else. Gossip is part of the framework. Things seem a little more personal, and what might be seen as a small issue in a bigger place takes on a much greater importance.

We’re introduced to some of Pagford’s residents, such as Barry Fairbrother, whose big plans for Pagford are cut somewhat short by his abrupt death of an aneurysm. Barry’s death opens a seat on the Pagford Parish Council, and opens the door to the ambitions of a number of locals. There’s Miles, the town’s First Son, looking to follow in his father Howard’s footsteps. Colin, the local school principal, is hoping to continue the work Barry started. And Simon just wants a piece of the action. ...The Plot Thickens: The Plot (Really) Thickens:

172 Hours on the Moon – by Johan Harstad

Fifty years after the first man walked on the moon, we’re going back. What’s more, in honour of the occasion three teenagers will be chosen in a lottery to accompany the astronauts and become the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth people to set foot on the moon’s surface. Norwegian Mia, the Japanese Midori and Antoine, from France are three of millions of teens worldwide to register for the lottery, and chance or fate steps in – they’re going to be a part of man’s return to the moon!

This incredible mission has the world in a frenzy of excitement, patriotism and optimism about man’s future. Everyone is watching to see the teenagers prepare and to see the trip come together. In what feels like no time at all to Mia, Midori and Antoine, they’ve blasted off and are on the moon, to spend 172 hours making history.

Mia isn’t as giddy with excitement about the opportunity as the whole world seems to expect. There are too many questions that haven’t been answered. Why wait so long to go back? Why send teenagers along; just for the press coverage? What is this base that no-one has ever heard of since it was built in the ’70s, DARLAH 2? And, since it’s DARLAH 2, what happened to DARLAH 1, and why won’t anyone talk about it?

I Guess History Can Be Made In Different Ways:

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