Fox on Books

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Archive for the tag “Brandon Sanderson”

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.

threenhalf fox


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??)

threenhalf fox

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?

Steelheart – by Brandon Sanderson

SteelheartIn a world where people with extraordinary powers exist, what happens when the superheroes are the bad guys?

David knows. He’s seen first hand what having that kind of power has done to the Epics. David was only eight when his father was killed by one of them, a particularly strong Epic called Steelheart. David’s the only person who survived the Epic’s attack on the bank that day. He’s the only living person who has ever seen Steelheart bleed. Ten years later, David hasn’t forgotten the vow he made that day: he will see Steelheart bleed again.

Okay guys. I LOVE Brandon Sanderson’s work. It’s inventive, detailed and consistently brilliant. This means two things:

1) I’m probably predisposed to like any Brandon Sanderson book by now, but also
2) I have incredibly high expectations for his work.

Each new book makes me both gleeful and wary, because I look forward to them SO MUCH that they have the potential to be a huge let down.

Thankfully, Steelheart was not a let down at all! In fact, it might be my favourite Sanderson novel since the Mistborn series. And that, dear reader, is no mean feat. Walk In Like a Fistful of Bottle Rockets:

Sensational Quote Sunday

Some books change your life. They change the way you see the world. They do this not only with the story as a whole, but sometimes with an idea, a beautiful phrase, or even a word, that resonates with you the way nothing has before.

Sensational Quote Sunday is my way of paying homage to those books that remind me every day why I love reading.

I’m doing something a little different this week. Instead of a direct quote, I’m featuring two diagrams from The Rithmatist, the excellent young adult fantasy from Brandon Sanderson which I just read (and loved).

They’re a great example of the detail Sanderson includes in his work, and how much this adds to his storytelling:

rithmatisttaylor  rithmatics

Have you come across many novels that use artwork to add to the story? I think it’s a lovely technique!

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?:

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:

The Lies of Locke Lamora – by Scott Lynch

imageHello there! It’s been too long – because I’m on holidays! I’m blogging from Stratford Upon Avon right now, which seemed appropriate. For the past month I’ve been gallivanting throughout Europe, and there’s a post full of bookish goodness on the way about that. But first and foremost, a review!
The Lies of Locke Lamora was recommended to me by a bookseller in London, after we’d been chatting about The Name of the Wind and the Mistborn trilogy. It’s a debut fantasy novel that’s been getting some interesting buzz, so I was excited to try it. Here’s what I thought:
Locke Lamora has an interesting problem: he thinks too big. While this may be an admirable trait, as a thief in Camorr it’s a liability. The Gentlemen Bastards, Locke’s gang, are successful because they make sure they aren’t noticed. Little thefts, little rewards. But that’s not enough for Locke – he’s in it for the challenge, and for the win. Before long, he’s accidentally infamous as the Thorn of Camorr, and attracting notice from all the wrong people.

Top Ten Characters (and Literary Figures) That I’d Name My Children After

top ten

Hosted by the awesome folks as The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme celebrating all things book.

This week, it’s all about great characters with great names. Names that you like enough to potentially inflict on your children. These are the top ten characters/literary peeps that I’d theoretically name my kids after:

Let me preface this by saying I met a guy called Oberon the other day. Hem. And that’s not what I’m looking to inflict on my theoretical children. (Mostly…)

finalempire

I don’t think I could call my daughter Vin. But I love the name Elend for a boy. Although, again, probably not Kelsier for a boy. Also, have you read the Mistborn series yet? If you love high fantasy with strong characters, a plot that just keeps escalating when you don’t believe it can, and hands-down the best magic system I’ve ever seen – what are you waiting for?! SO GOOD.

Sabriel

I’ve always wanted to call a kid Sabriel. Or maybe Lirael? They’re just lovely names! And the fact that this is a less well-known series means not too many people would get the connection, and I’d just be really cool. Right?!

Crown2

In a series the size of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time there are going to be a fair few character names to choose from. For my part, I’d be happy with a girl called Egwene or Nynaeve, or even Moiraine (I actually love Moiraine!) But not so impressed with a boy called Rand. Or Perrin. Or even Lan – way too easy to tease people called Rand or Lan!

scent

Avry is an excellent name! For an AMAZING character. And I’d love it – for a girl or a boy. I also think Loren and Quain are awesomesauce names. But I don’t think I could inflict them on a child. Maybe Quain for a girl if I was a little mean…

hunger

Not so much for the Katniss factor. Everybody’s gonna have a Katniss, like all these small humans running around called Hermione. But I think Gale makes a fine boy’s name.

CityofBones

I just like the name Clary – it’s actually a normal name, especially compared to the others on this list, which makes sense as City of Bones is modern urban fantasy. (Make that, kick-ass modern urban fantasy!) Also Jace. Because Jace.

P&P

Again, Austen names are classic (see, I said this list wasn’t going to be all about inflicting childhood scars!). I’d love a Jane, or an Elizabeth, or an Anne – with the ‘e’ at the end. I insist! And I’m back and forth on whether a boy called Darcy is a bit cute or a bit awful – or a bit both…

gameboard

I’m reading the (freaking awesome) Gameboard of the Gods at the moment, and the Praetorian female protagonist, Mae, is just fantastic. Also Mae is a family name, so I could totally get away with that for real! The male lead, Justin, is pretty messed up and great too…

One Day

Because Dexter is a great name for a boy. Dammit, that’s a normal and boring reason. If it helps, I’d be reluctant to do this because of the TV show Dexter. Just a little too creepy for me…

Name of the Wind

Oh, well. Not really, I guess… But I TOTALLY want a kid called Kvothe because Kvothe and The Name of the Wind are both made of awesome and I’d like to think that’d rub off on the child lucky enough to bear his name. A girl called Kvothe might just work, don’t you think??

What names would you like to inflict on give to your future kids? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Sensational Quote Sunday

Some books change your life. They change the way you see the world. They do this not only with the story as a whole, but sometimes with an idea, a beautiful phrase, or even a word, that resonates with you the way nothing has before.

Sensational Quote Sunday is my way of paying homage to those books that remind me every day why I love reading.

I owe a reader’s debt to The Wheel of Time and Robert Jordan. By which I mean that I don’t think I’d love fantasy nearly as well as I currently do without the influence of Jordan’s world.

I’d like to introduce this series with one paragraph, as the books themselves do:

wheeloftime

This opening gives me shivers, because it is the gateway to a rich, layered, insanely intricate story that has taken fourteen books, two authors, and twenty years to tell. Even though the story drags a little around the middle, the Wheel of Time will always be a series I admire and thoroughly enjoy. And Brandon Sanderson brings it home so, so well that I’m sure Robert Jordan would have been proud.

Have you read any of the Wheel of Time? Or Brandon Sanderson’s own work? (Please do, if you haven’t. You will not regret it!)

(Picture credit goes to daesdaemar on Tumblr.)

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most

top ten

Hosted by the awesome folks at The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme celebrating all things book.

This week, they’re asking what ten books you recommend the most. I LOVE this question! I recommend books all the time – it’s the best part of my job. We often get customers looking for their next book, or trying to find a present for someone. I have to be able to recommend books over a range of genres, and it’s a fabulous opportunity to share books I love with others, passing on the obsession. These are my go-to recommends:

peculiar

The Peculiar is my top pick for 10-15 year olds who enjoy fantasy, both boys and girls. It’s a steampunk faerie tale, and has some of the most glorious language I’ve ever seen, let alone in YA. Absolutely wonderful book.

promise

Promise was the debut crime novel of a former Australian crime reporter, Tony Cavanaugh. Smart, creepy, exciting crime set in Queensland that was good enough to distract me from the real world all day when I couldn’t quite finish it in time before having to go back to work. (The sequel’s stellar, too!)

finalempireBrandon Sanderson is amazing. His magic system in Mistborn is probably the best, most well-established that I’ve come across. And the scope of his storylines is beyond ambitious. The trilogy is complete and infinitely satisfying – this book and this series is a sure thing.

(Actually, I’ll recommend either Mistborn or The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss interchangeably as my never-fail fantasy series. At work we’ll usually have run out of one or the other because I so regularly sell them through, so whichever’s there that day gets my plug!)

This is the old-school cover, the one I have!

I see your Caelena from Throne of Glass and raise you Yelena, from Maria V Snyder’s exceptional YA Fantasy series. She’s one of the original badass heroines, kicking butt and taking names before it was a big deal that she was a woman. This series is phenomenal for YA fantasy fans of all ages, and I keep passing the obsession on.

Rosie

A new favourite, this is one I recommend to customers who like contemporary romance/chick lit but want something a little smarter and more memorable than average. The Rosie Project fits the bill and then some. There are no clichés here, and this book was such a great experience.

stars

Do I even need to explain this one? I recommend it to teens (usually 14+, given the tragic nature of the story) and make a point of telling their parents to read it too. I’ve never come across anyone who hasn’t been deeply affected by how insightful, honest, painful and simply beautiful this one of a kind book is. John Green has delivered an absolute masterpiece with The Fault In Our Stars.

watermelon

Marian Keyes is chick-lit with heart. For women (hey, not stereotyping, just basing it on who I sell this to) who want drama, heartache and for everything to be mostly okay at the end, no-one fits better than Marian. Her grasp of the complexity of human emotions make her novels stand out.

woman

Not only do I recommend this all the time, I’ve bought about five copies for family and friends. Caitlin Moran is hilarious (think Kaz Cooke, Australians!), but also intelligently articulates truths about life as a woman that we don’t necessarily pay enough attention to. The perfect gift for your best friend, or a woman you don’t know all that well but need to find something for. Clever, sarcastic, sassy, and insightful.

wolf

A memoir I recommend to customers looking for something a little different. Scott Johnson‘s dad was a spy, working for the CIA through the Cold War. How this affected Scott, and his relationship with his Dad makes for compelling reading. Added to this, Johnson’s journalistic background is evident – his writing is evocative and often unexpectedly gorgeous.

SabrielNew

I have to have Garth Nix in here! Whenever possible, I’ll introduce someone to my favourite author. Nix’s work is just as good for teens as adults, and I’ve read the Old Kingdom trilogy, starting with Sabriel, more than a few times. Nix’s world-building, characters and inventive magic systems make this a Fantasy/YA Fantasy crossover series that stands the test of time. Unmissable. (Also, I couldn’t be more excited about the forthcoming – 2014 – release of Clariel, the fourth book set in this universe!)

Who are your go-to authors to recommend? I’d love to know what you think of my old reliables!

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books On My Autumn TBR list

top ten

Hosted by the awesome folks as The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly meme celebrating all things book.

This week, it’s all about upcoming Spring Autumn reads – because like The Moonlight Library, I’m an Aussie. Here’s what I can’t hardly wait for:

Top Ten Books On My Autumn TBR List

divergent

CoLS

good news

dead girl

knife

convent

golden

warp

WoK2

SoM

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