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Reading List Jan2013

Good morning/afternoon/evening and night to you all

In the last year and a half I have gone through a lot. A have seen the funeral of my father, worked for a few weeks in a farming town, survived Halloween in an old hotel built in the 1800s with only the ghost-story-loving owner and her partner for company, I have completed my first Bachelor's degree and spent my time working hard as an admin officer/sometimes PA of the executive director, in a research organisation.
It is hard to imagine how I have come so far and yet still manage to feel so at a loss. In my last placement I worked 4 weeks at a high-ranking private hospital in the city. There I was told that I could go far if I was able to just get a job first, the only problem with that being that I am 'shy' which makes interviews rather difficult. In this scenario shy is defined as: terrified of other human beings, and, will his and arch up if approached. Okay... maybe not that bad, but bad enough that people have noticed and we all know that if you aren't a master at charisma you don't get very far in job hunting these days.

Anyway, moving on to the book section of this post. Recently I have had a strong craving for short stories which has been fed by 3 books in particular: Strange Brew; edited by P.N Elrod, Naked City; Edited by Ellen Datlow and Metro Winds by Isobelle Carmody.

Metro Winds
This is a fairly recent book and is one of only two short story books I have read by this author. As always she is writing her own fantasy style with stories that challenge both the logical mind and imagination. I felt that, in comparison to her previous book (Green Monkey Dreams), Metro Winds was a bit more light and fairytail-esque. Although it was a great read and will have a place of honor on my shelf, it goes without saying that many of these stories were made to appeal to young adults and did not contain many of the darker themes that can be read into the stories of Green Monkey Dreams. It is a little bit strange that something so uplifting could be written by the same person who wrote short stories about the contagion of depression or finding out that the one person looking out for you is a prostitute. Yet, at the same time it makes sense. The main thing I admire about her stories isn't how dark or otherwise they are anyway, it is about how they tell a story, giving as little detail as possible and leave you to figure out what really happened. In this way every time you end a short story you find out a little bit about yourself. Perhaps I am just rambling now so will try to explain in a different way: I think the lemmings died while running off a cliff but I also think they found what they wanted and I believe The Girl That Could See the Wind lived happily ever after until her policeman died and then returned to the park be with her sister.

Strange Brew
This one I might have spoken about before, I actually bought it and read it a while ago but under the  circumstance I thought it deserved a second look. This is a book full of Urban-fantasy stories written by different authors, many of whom I recognised. I have had many happy hours with books by Patricia Briggs and Jim Butcher in the past so It was definitely worth the look. It was also a good way to scope out the work of other authors whom I had not yet looked into. Sadly this also is the cause of me getting hooked on Charlaine Harris's, Sookie Stackhouse series. For those of you who haven't read them, Sookie Stackhouse books work under three themes: paranormal, mystery and p0rn. Sookie Stackouse is to good books what crack cocaine is to hot chocolate. Within a week I had read the first eight books and by the end of the next week I was only just starting the overcome my cravings for more. There is also a certain type of shame that comes with enjoying that type of book and that is something which I don't think I will ever overcome.

Strange Brew also contains another writer which I had previously never heard of. Karen Chance. Her story was neither fantastic nor bad but it was a good concept and I enjoyed reading it. So, months later when I was browsing a local second hand book store and saw her name as the author of Claimed by Shadow I decided that $6 wasn't too bad a price to pay to give her a chance. After I finished reading it that six dollars metaphorically went down the toilet..... like certain torn up pages of that book. I would like to say that I have learnt my lesson on buying books from little known authors on the off-chance that they're any good, but I know that would be a lie. But I would just like to make one statement  relative to this book; I do not believe that anyone in a million years could be as useless a hero/heroine as the main protagonist is this book and I do not believe that someone who has remained a virgin for 20+ years just gives it up to a boy that she likes as a friend and struts off happily afterwards.

Naked City
Naked City is like Strange Brew in that it has different authors writing short stories. In fact Patricia Briggs and Jim Butcher also wrote stories for this one as well. The difference in this book all stories follow a trend, that is; there must be a strong connection to a particular place/time/environment. This is interpreted in so many different ways through-out the book and each way is just as brilliant as the last. This book is definitely a favourite of mine. It also features stories by Holly Black, Ellen Kushner and Peter S. Beagle. I believe I've talked enough about my love for Ellen Kushner before to leave her alone for now. Holly Black's claim to my heart is her dark urban fantasy books for young adults. In particular Tithe and Valiant. Peter S. Beagle is the author of The Last Unicorn and The Rhinoceros Who Quoted Nietzsche. Suffice to say that when I came across his story I couldn't believe my eyes. I had always been predisposed to think that if he was still alive he would be sitting back enjoying his retirement by now, but not only is he still alive but he is still writing! The story itself seemed to be written in such a modern urban-fantasy style that it didn't help me to believe it was him any more either. However, unlike most modern writers it had a subtlety to it that most books lack. Unlike Sarah Douglass, who likes to have children clawing their way out of their screaming mothers stomach in the first chapter, the horror that Peter S. Beagle writes tends to sneak up on the reader bit by bit, until it totally consumes them.

Well, I have tried not to give you a complete essay on what I have been reading this time and I hopefully have still given you some  idea as to what everything is. Other than that I have read the first two books of Robin Hobbs, Rain Wild Chronicles, they are addictive and the third book is already out but only in a larger size to the first two and I am a little obsessive on having all my books looking nice when on the shelf. I also read a new book by Brandon Sanderson called Warbreaker. If you recognise the authors name it is because he also wrote Mistborn, which I love with a passion, The Well of Ascension, ...it was okay I guess and Elantris. If I could find every copy of Elantris and burn it to cinders I would and I to not take book destroying lightly. Elantris was a book about a young man and woman with brains the size of peanuts and egos the size of Mars and what happens when they decide that they can rule a country and beat the peace and love into everyone in it. It goes from being a country run by merchants into a country run by people who have no idea about how to maintain an economy.

For the first half of the book I was reading Warbreaker with growing dread, already hearing the obnoxious philosophy of Elantris under a different façade. But, It is only after halfway through the book that everything gets turned on its head. It is one of the few times where I have managed to misjudge a book so completely and if you are a Brandon Sanderson fan it is worth a read. The one thing that really had my back up most of all was a particular character who had reminded of a documentary I once watched about Charles Manson and how to brainwash people with low self esteem.

Anyway, my time is up now and my laptop has almost run out of power, so until next time.

Stay awesome




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