Pax (Sara Pennypacker, 2016)

pax

Why did you choose this book?

It’s an adorable novel about a fox!  What more need I say?  Those of you who read my review of Tor Seidler’s Firstborn know that I have a thing about books told from the perspective of a dog/wolf/fox.

What’s it about?

Peter’s father is headed to war and sends Peter to live with his grandfather until the fighting is over.  Peter’s father forces Peter to turn his pet fox, Pax, loose in the woods.  Chapters alternate between the perspectives of Peter and Pax.  Peter runs away from his grandfather’s house, trying to travel the hundreds of miles back to Pax.  Pax runs into a pack of foxes and tries to learn to survive in the wild.

Categories

Juvenile fiction

Other recommended reads?

I know this one is old, but one of my favorite books from childhood was Child of the Wolves by Elizabeth Hall.  The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford is also a good one.

Review

I was expecting this book to be a real tear-jerker with a heartbreaking conclusion.  I read it in one sitting, being completely sucked into the story.  But I didn’t shed a single tear.  I loved Pax and wanted the best for him, but Peter struck me as overly whiny and self-centered.  I also was bothered by the unspecific setting.  It was wartime, but when and where?  We don’t know.  Definitely a cute read, recommended for animal lovers.  It’s a little unique because the portions told from Pax’s point of view don’t tell the reader his thoughts, like many other books with this sort of perspective do.  It is also difficult for adult readers to believe, since no one seemed to try to find Peter during the weeks he was gone.

Up next?

The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman or The Infidel Stain by MJ Carter

 

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Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures (Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater, 2015)

pip bartlett

Why did you choose this book?

Any good librarian will brush up on literature for every age group.  This is a JFIC pick for middle-grade readers and I think younger me would have snatched it up and devoured it immediately.

What’s it about?

The story takes place in a world just like ours, except that in addition to normal animals, magical creatures roam the world.  Pip Bartlett is a young girl who loves these creatures, but seems to be the only person who can communicate with them (no adults believe her, however).  The majority of the book involves issues with Fuzzles, small fluffballs considered pests due to their ability to burst into flame at the slightest provocation.

Categories?

Juvenile fantasy

Other recommended reads?

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede.  A very different premise, but an equally intriguing series for kids with a love of magical creatures or just creatures in general.

Review

I thought it was a good read, though I personally will not read the rest of the series.  Pip was an enjoyable character and I really liked the fact that the magical creatures she encounters don’t fit the mold.  For example, the unicorns were not the wise and majestic figures they are in so much other literature.  Instead they were either completely vain and self-absorbed or paranoid and anxiety-ridden.

Up next?

Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridason

The Masque of a Murderer (Susanna Calkins, 2015)

masque of a murderer

Why did you choose this book?

l honestly don’t remember.  It came out in April and has been languishing on my TBR (to be read) pile ever since.  I think I probably read about it somewhere and decided it sounded good.  I am an avid cozy mystery reader, and this is my first attempt at reading one set in the distant past.

What’s it about?

This is the 3rd in a series, though the 1st of that series I’ve read.  The story takes place in London, after the plague and Great Fire have swept through, sometime in the mid-1660s.  Lucy works as an apprentice at a printer’s shop, though she maintains close ties with the family she previously served as a maid.  Sarah, the daughter of that family, just returned from America with her Quaker friends.  The pair receives word that a Friend, Jacob Whitby, has been run over by a cart.  But on his deathbed, Jacob’s final words warn Lucy that he was pushed and that he fears one of the Quakers cannot be trusted.  Is he right, or are these the delusional mutterings of a dying man?

Categories?

Mystery, cozy mystery, historical fiction

Other recommended reads?

Really, anything in the cozy genre.  I know her mysteries are set in a more recent time period, but if you like this one you’ll probably enjoy Agatha Christie, the Queen of the cozy.

Review?

I didn’t enjoy this as much as I wanted to.  I found myself becoming annoyed with the stilted dialogue of the Quakers (lots of thee and thou), and I didn’t really have sympathy toward any of the characters.  There was no sense of suspense and no worry for the protagonist.  I honestly didn’t even care which romantic interest she chose.  I didn’t figure out the culprit, but was that because it was well-written or because I didn’t care?  It was an average read for me.

Up next?

Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater

Firstborn (Tor Seidler)

firstborn

Why did you choose this book?

When I was a child, I was obsessed with books told from the perspective of animals, particularly those told by wolves and dogs.  I still have a copy of Child of the Wolves by Elizabeth Hall.

What’s it about?

The narrator of the entire book is a magpie named Maggie.  She discovers that the typical life of a magpie doesn’t appeal to her and falls in with a wolf after he saves her from a fox.  The wolf, Blue Boy, was taken from Canada as part of a project to reintroduce wolves to Yellowstone.  He escaped and is travelling back to Canada to try to save his mate and pups from the neighboring wolf pack in his home territory.  Maggie and Blue Boy stick together for the duration of the book, and the story follows their adventures, and those of the other members of their pack.

Categories?

Juvenile fiction (chapter books), animals, wolves

Other recommended reads?

Child of the Wolves by Elizabeth Hall or any book by David Clement-Davies (The Sight and Fell focus on wolves, Firebringer on deer)

Final thoughts?

I enjoyed the story, though I wonder if I would have enjoyed it more told by one of the wolves and thus more thoroughly incorporated into the pack structure.  Maggie is always a narrator outside the action and the way the other members of the pack think.  While I didn’t enjoy it as much as the readalikes I listed above, it was a good book and kept me entertained.

Up next?

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie