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Reading List Feb2013

Hi all

I have been dragged away from reading to work on something of much greater importance: the practice of avoiding having a life. Sadly, this could not last long and soon I found myself taking a long jog down to my local library after my own printer had broken down. I suppose it should be obvious that putting me in a library is like giving the internet to a porn addict. It is never a good idea unless you don't want me to see the light of day for a few weeks. So, at the end of the day, I shut myself away with a few books of my choosing after several weeks without so much as a single novel and renewed my addiction to the written language. I still have a lot of time to make up for but I am feeling optimistic that my time of fasting has ended for a while.

The few books that I have managed to read in the last four days include:

City of Dragons by Robin Hobb - This is the third book the The Rain Wild Chronicles. I had started this series a long time ago but have left of keeping up with it for various reasons. The first being that I generally don not like Robin Hobb's books. The first one I had ever read had been  Shaman's Crossing (the Soldier Son series) and from that point on I had her labelled as a hippy. I read books for enjoyment but If I feel that the author is strongly pushing for a point of view/logic that I don't agree with then it is hard for me to continue. So, as much as I was drawn in by the first book it took me a while before I decided to give the second, Dragon Haven, a go.

When I did I was pleasantly surprised. Not only had the plot become even more intriguing but if this series was anything to go by, my view of the author's belief system (as represented in the character's reasoning in each book) had been completely wrong. However, the next obstacle occurred when I found out that the only edition of the third book available had dimensions that were almost twice as bog as the first two books. I am picky about how my books look and in hopeful optimism I decided the not purchase or read the third book until I could get it as a perfect set with the first two books. This painful waiting continued for many months before I stumbled upon the book on my library visit.

It took my two days to finish and now that I have I am torn between wishing I had borrowed and read it months ago, and wishing that I had waited a little longer so I wasn't forced to endure waiting for the fourth book in the series to be published. Only recently I had been lamenting that many of my favourite series were now getting long and tiresome. However, the Rain Wild Chronicles is unique in the way that I am actually more intrigued and fascinated by them with each ensuing book.

The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman - I don't think I have mentioned it before but my partner's mother is a librarian. As such a couple of years ago when the libraries in my area were doing an event to pick out new books to align the shelves she signed us up to come along. I was initially disappointed as the book picking was meant to take place in a large Borders bookshop that I new well. However, that year it was revealed that Borders was going bankrupt and instead the event was held at a much smaller store around the Croydon area. There was not much to choose from and the list I had made up of possibilities were all unavailable. In my haste I started reading back covers on everything that stuck out as looking interesting and this was the book I picked.

It was strange that years later I should stumble across it, after not even having thought about it since the event. Opening the book I found it well worn from use which was surprising considering I had only chosen it a few years ago. Curiosity and pride, I suppose, were what forced me to borrow it. The urge to know If I had made the right choice and if not, to find out why the book appeared to be so well used.

It is a fantastic piece of work. At first I was unsure if the similarities between Catholicism and the Redeemer's religion were an accident or the author's own fanatical dislike for organised religion. However, it soon became clear that many things such as phrases, place names and games had been taken from the real world and in some cases changed to the point that you really do feel like a stranger looking in at this strange new world. It is hard to describe how well put together this book is and if it could be done I do not think I would be the one to do it. It contains horror, but not the type of horror that is uselessly shoved in your face over and over again. Instead it is necessary in the plot and although the character's are changed by what they see they do not take on the now popular characteristics of the 'traumatised victim'. The main character is talented but flawed and there is a type of wit and dry humour to the book that makes you smile even through some of the darkest chapters.

The book is not overly suspenseful but it is always nearly impossible to guess what will happen next before it happens and that is half the fun of it. The book is only one of a series and as much as the ending could be viewed as a cliffhanger moment, it also did an almost miraculous job of concluding the story in a way that is satisfying without admitting many things which I hope will be revealed later in the series.

Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger - One day when I had gone to the city with my partner we stopped by a strange bookshop that neither of us had ever seen before. The window was lined with stuffed dolls of people such as Oscar Wilde and the Saggy Baggy Elephant and inside were two moderate sized rooms. The first room contained a small but smart collection of everything from fiction to philosophy and the second, smaller room was filled with kids books and shelves of children's book-oriented merchandise. I was busy perusing their selection in the first room when I noticed my partner had gone off to check out the second. My sister always tells me that the best, most imaginative stories, usually come from children's book writers but it has been a while since I have been able to peruse that section in a bookshop without feeling self-conscious. Luckily my partner is a better person than I because as I was rapidly and nervously scanning the shelves he was already properly looking through things and thus uncovered the Origami Yoda books.

Each book is about as thick as an adult's pinky finger and can be easily finished in an hour, which doesn't sound like such an impressive thing for a fully grown adult to be obsessing over but it is the concept that had me won over. Each book contains a story surrounding a group of highschool kids and their paper, finger puppet advisor which takes the form of Yoda from Star Wars. It is often speculated through the book that the finger puppet gives strange powers to the wearer or that in some way through the force each student really is receiving wisdom from Yoda himself. The books are fun and good for a laugh and if that wasn't enough, the final pages contain an explanation of how to make your own origami finger puppets like the ones mentioned in the book.




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