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Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Jonathan Safran Foer
A Feast for Crows - George R.R. Martin We've been told 'winter is coming' since the start, and have been waiting for winter to come, the Others to invade, dragons to rise and other cataclysmic events foreshadowed so thickly that by now you'd expect something to happen, but no, I guess I'll have to wait longer. This book feels like one long prologue to the rest of the series. The storylines about Daenerys, The Wall, The Others, are largely ignored in this book. Instead it focuses on the politics of King's Landing with the Martell's and Tyrell's featured more prominently. Sansa and Arya's storylines are further developed, along with Sam's, which I enjoyed it the least.

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3)

A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) - George R.R. Martin This book is AMAZING! So many 'OMG I don't believe that happened moments' that rip at your heart and sense of morality. I thought I was wise to Martin's shenanigans after the 1st in the series but I was not prepared for the anguish he unleashed like a thunderbolt in this book. I'm just left admiring the way he ties things together, pulling together events that happened in book 1 and making them relevant in book 3. I love the way he makes you despise characters in book 1 but then by book 3 you're thinking 'well he's not that bad after all'....Although I think I'm always going to hate the Queen of Cunts, not sure if Martin's going to change that. I'm a bit wary of reading the 4th book because I don't know how he can eclipse this one. It sets the bar so high.
Solaris - Stanisław Lem, Joanna Kilmartin, Steve Cox Even after decades of study the ocean planet Solaris remains inscrutable to mankind's attempts at communication. They measure the planet with every device at their disposable, and can quantify the ocean's depth, it's mass and know where the underground trenches are. They have all the tools to take measurement of all conceivable metrics, but what they still can't understand the oceans will. At the same time the ocean understands human's at an individual level and can reveal their most hidden memories.
A Clash of Kings - George R.R. Martin I don't recall having read a book where the reader can be compelled to feel for, support and empathize with two or more characters who have goals that are divergent, conflicting and might require the annihilation of the other. The best thing about the series for me so far has been the way Martin is able to pull me into the characters and make feel for their struggle; the second thing he does is pits the struggles of the different characters against and in doing so I'm sometimes left omnisciently wishing 'if only you knew that it wasn't quite like that. they never wanted that for you. you were lied to.'

The Stand

The Stand - Stephen King This is a love story between a gal called Flan and her man Stew and how it survives the bad people who try to destroy them. The book starts with Fran getting pregnant (but not to Stew - someone else but I won't say his name cos I don't want to spoil the plot). Her boyfriend dies along with a lot of other people because there is this flu virus that is killing them. Anyway she hangs out with a creepy dude for a while who loves her but she doesn't like him because he smells and is useless. She travels with him until she finds something better. She meets Stew and he's a real man because he intends to fuck her. He says so in his head (you see it in italics on the page thats how I know it's in his head). So yeah he fucks her and takes her from creepy dude (thank God!). That dude is so creepy. Anyway creepy dude fades from the story and dies horribly later on. Anyway, back to Fran, she's pregnant and most of the book is about Stew consoling Fran and then crying and then fucking her, sometimes in that order and sometimes not. They talk about things like the baby and how much they love each other. Now there's a bad man in the West who's building an A-Bomb. A creepy old black woman tells Stew and his friends they should go West. She's meant to be the voice of God in the story but she's sooooo creepy. I don't get it. Anyway they follow this woman's instructions and head West. On the way Stew breaks his leg and his friends (Barry, Manny and Bob) leave him to die. Mean I know.... But they get what they deserve and die anyway cos you see there's actually 2 crazy evil people at work, the Walking Man and Trash Can Man, and Trash Can Man builds an A-Bomb and explodes it in Walking Man's face while Barry, Manny and Bob are around. It was soooo dumb of creepy black woman to send Stew and his friends West cos they didn't do anything. Trash Can Man would have killed Walking Man without them around. Anyway back to Stew. Remember we left him for dead but he doesn't die cos he has a dog that hunts and builds fires and shit. So him, the dog and a retard make it back to the town they came from, back to Fran who's given up Stew for dead. It's a bit of an adventure, kinda like the Incredible Journey (that story with a dog and a cat), and on the way they ride a snow mobile, cross glaciers and have all sorts of adventures before Stew is reunited with Fran. Then they have a baby!
A Crown of Swords - Robert Jordan From the mid nineties to the mid 2000's I followed this series. Eventually I got to the 7th book, tired and weary, like I'd been travelling for days with blisters on my feet and holes in my leather shoes, dirty and unshaven, on an eternal quest for ..... more of Nynavae tugging her braid. And I decided then that I didn't want more of Nynavae tugging at her braid. It was time to break the chains and unshackle myself from this addiction.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium Trilogy) - Stieg Larsson Disappointing. Easily the worst of the series. It was badly edited and rambled on in places far too much. At least it wrapped up the whole affair with Lisbeth's father though.
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel I don't know why but I couldn't get into this book. I think it was the dialogue between cromwell and the arch-bishop about how they were going to find a wife for the king, or something like that, when I decided to give up. Too tedious.
Vernon God Little - D.B.C. Pierre I wanted to like this book but abandoned it half way. That's over 100 pages in. It just couldn't hold my attention, which is odd because I've been captivated by books with a less remarkable premise than this. I couldn't relate to the teenage protagonist and his quips, one line smart responses. Yeah I got the humour in the book, but it seemed all the author was doing was setting up a funny scene every two pages, and not telling a story. It felt like the author was smugly smiling and saying, 'look at me and how clever I am to put these funny scenes in a book; marvel at the literary style I use to tie it all together.' I was writing without heart.
Summertime (Import) - J.M. Coetzee It’s only a writer of the calibre of Coetzee that can make a the banal story of an eccentric slightly socially awkward man appealing. In Summertime, Coetzee describes himself as seen through the lives of those around him. After his fictional death a biographer is attempting to write about Coetzee by interviewing the people that knew him. Summertime is the story that results. In writing this novel, Coetzee paints a portrait of himself during the 70’s. It takes courage to do this. There is little understanding in the tales people tell of their neighbours, lovers, colleagues; people tend to recite the actions of others as they see it. They tell of his actions without the prelude that could justify it if the book was an autobiography, where the writer himself has an opportunity to present excuses for his behaviour. And so we see Coetzee through this book, not as he sees himself, but as other people in his life saw him. The character described, if it weren’t for his talent as an author, in any other man’s shoes would be unflattering and ineffectual - like a mop something to be pushed around. A limp handshake. Spineless. A cold fish. A black hole that drains the life from those around him. The following do not apply: a Casanova, devilish rogue, fun loving criminal, the life of the party. Yet despite his staid persona his writing is heartfelt and sincere, and able to evoke the readers emotions. In typical fashion his prose is terse however it is a testament to his skill as a writer that he can still draw the reader into this tale of a very ordinary existence.

I found this book emotionally difficult to read. There were times in the novel I felt that he was describing me. His asexual nature; his inability to form a connection with women; his relationship with his father that felt like something out of duty rather than love; the feeling of being an outsider and some sort of social failure - they are all themes that resonate with me. It’s one of the few books that made me cry.
A Thousand Acres - Jane Smiley I read this when I was 15 or 16. Maybe if I read it now I'd like it better.
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho Someone recommended that I read this book so I did. I did not know what to expect. The writing style was boring but this might be because it suffers from translation, so I can't really say much about the style. However, the content is something I have an opinion on. It became clear after a while that this book is used as a vehicle for a parable from the author; a spiritual message about life; a truism that transcends everything real, concrete and worth dealing with. The message simplistically summarised is this: what you seek is within you and don't be afraid to follow you dreams because the universe will help you. Love is all around. You just have to be willing to tap into it. Tell that to the lost boys of Sudan who were orphaned and walked for years across the north african desert, most dying, either of starvation, disease or animal attacks, as they made their way for thousands of miles to find some godforsaken refuge camp. Tell that to Fritzel's daughter, the one he kept in the basement for 20 years while he raped her and forced her to bear his children. That the author has the temerity to preach, and he is preaching because the writing style leaves no room for a counter opinion when an opinion is posited, means he knows something more about the universe and how it has him at it's centre revealing the stunning level of arrogance with which he must live his life. If I didn't feel he was preaching a spiritual view of the world my criticisms would not be as harsh. If his book read more as a story with character who learns something from a life experience rather than the learning being imparted on him by an endless series of trials then being so mercilessly critical of this book would not be appropriate. However this is not the case; the story lacks the conflict and melding of multiple viewpoints between characters that are hallmarks of story written for the reader. Instead all the characters in the book are essentially vehicles of the author's voice; they all speak with the same opinion, and the protagonist is you, the hapless reader stumbling through life in search of answers. His fan base must have a few brain cells more than an amoeba, but not many, because otherwise he would not write a sentence like this “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” and expect a thinking reader to simply lap it up.
A Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin I read this after watching HBO's series of the same name. Maybe that affected my enjoyment of the book, because the HBO series is good. It's also a faithful adaptation of the book but, after reading the book, I suspect a faithful adaptation was easy.
The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga Really enjoyed this book. For a Booker prize winner it's an incredibly easy read.
Disgrace - J.M. Coetzee Easy read, terse and gripping prose, great storyline and many themes all relating to back to the title. By the end of the book you'll realise the many ways the the meaning of 'disgrace' was exposed.
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller Hard to read but worth the effort. I'd never read anything like it in style.