January 27th, 2012

Books read this year

Book One: A Game Of Thrones 
In a world where the approaching winter will last four decades, kings and queens, knights and renegades struggle for control of a throne. Some fight with sword and mace, others with magic and poison. Beyond the Wall to the north, meanwhile, the Others are preparing their Army of The Dead to march south as the warmth of summer drains from the land. A Game Of Thrones is the extraordinarily rich opening novel in the Song of Fire and Ice fantasy book series.

Book Two: A Clash of Kings
Two great leaders are dead, victims of royal treachery. Chaos reigns. Brother plots against brother and the dead rise to walk in the night. A princess masquerades as an orphan boy, a knight prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress, and wild men prepare to ravage the countryside. With fratricide, alchemy and murder, victory may go to the men and women possessed of the coldest steel – and the coldest hearts. For with A Clash of Kings, the whole land trembles.

Book Three: A Storm of Swords
Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as violently as ever. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the land of the Seven Kingdoms.
As opposing forces maneuver for a titanic showdown, a horde of mythical Others – a supernatural army of unstoppable animated corpses – is on the march. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable Storm of Swords.

Book Four: A Feast For Crows
It seems too good to be true. After centuries of bitter strife and fatal treachery, the seven powers dividing the land have decimated one another into an uneasy truce. Or so it appears.
It’s not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters start to gather, picking over the bones of the dead and fighting for the spoils of the soon-to-be dead.
It’s time for nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages to come together and stake their fortunes – and their lives. For you see, at A Feast For Crows, many will be guests – but only a few will be survivors.

Book Five: A Dance With Dragons (STILL READING)
Due to the previous war, the fate of the Seven Kingdoms is unknown. Daenerys Targaryen, the true (and last) rightful heir(ess) to the throne rules with her 3 dragons in the eastern part of the kingdom. She has a multitude of enemies that would love nothing better than to see her head on a stake.
In the north there’s Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, a group of men dedicated to guarding their part of the kingdom which exists behind a towering wall of ice and stone. Jon is facing numerous challenges: he not only has to lead the effort to safeguard and protect the wall against non-human creatures, he also has to watch his back against internal foes.
As the opening notes of the funeral dirge are played and the long and arduous marathon of death begins, sworn enemies and adversaries become partners in a ballet of survival, as the     A Dance With Dragons begins.  

George R. R. Martin is slated to write 2 more books in the series:
6. The Winds of Winter
7. A Dream of Spring

Info thanks to bestfantasystories.com

My up and coming reading list

My Life in France - Julia Child
Julia Child single handedly awakened America to the pleasures of good cooking with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and her television show The French Chef, but as she reveals in this bestselling memoir, she didn't know the first thing about cooking when she landed in France.

Indeed, when she first arrived in 1948 with her husband, Paul, she spoke no French and knew nothing about the country itself. But as she dove into French culture, buying food at local markets and taking classes at the Cordon Bleu, her life changed forever. Julia's unforgettable story unfolds with the spirit so key to her success as a cook and teacher and writer, brilliantly capturing one of the most endearing American personalities of the last fifty years. (Info thanks to Amazon).

Marley: A Dog like no other - John Grogan
Acquired by Grogan and his wife in Florida when he was a puppy, Marley, an oversize, energetic, and supremely loving yellow Lab, was expelled from his first obedience school but successfully auditioned for a part in a movie. He bolted his food, chewed everything in sight, and went berserk in thunderstorms. After moving to Pennsylvania with the growing Grogan family, he discovered the joy of snow, tobogganing down the hill on his master's stomach. Although never really well-behaved, Marley made his home in their hearts for 13 years. Grogan has trimmed down his best-selling account, Marley and Me (2005), for younger readers, leaving out considerable detail about the family but keeping all the deeds and misdeeds that made Marley so entertaining. The dog's poignant last days are detailed as well. Young readers with pets of their own will recognize the unconditional affection Marley gave and the love he earned in return. Both humorous and sentimental, this should attract a broad range of readers. (Info thanks to Amazon).

The Forgotten Affairs of Youth/Book 7

I just finished The Forgotten Affairs of Youth, an Isabel Dalhousie novel by Alexander McCall Smith. It made book 7 for this year. Up to his usual standards, the book gave me more glimpses into the lives of Isabel Dalhousie, her son Charlie, Her fiance (and now husband) Jamie, and other familiar characters from the series. I particularly like the philosophical musings in the books of this series b/c I am a philosopher by trade.
Now I am reading Wizard's First Rule, a book by Terry Goodkind recommended by a friend.
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Book 6 for 2012

The Miracle At Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith.249 pages.
Another enjoyable visit to the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, this time involving an adopted lady seeking her birth family, anonymous letters and a possible treatment for the paralysis suffered by Mma Ramotswe's adopted daughter Motholeli.
This book is perhaps a little more melancholy than previous entries in this series, but it's a gentle melancholy, laced with hope and compassion and I think the book is better for it. 

#4 Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

I was surprised how many emotions this book evoked in me. At first I found the plot and particularly the love story dwo-dimensional and naive, silly even. The love triangle and the curse were sadly predictable and all these kissing scenes and boys being hot-and-cold scenarios were  tiresome and burdened with high potential to annoy (Although I must admit I found myself girlishly agitated and flushed while reading them, which contributed to the annoyance and irritation - mostly with myself).

However the more I read, the more I wondered: in spite of their shallow appearance, should the misunderstandings, faulty timing and choices between breaking someone's heart or yours be truly called silly? Don't we all fall victims to such misfortunes?

I could dwell on many issues: the fading intensity of emotions over age, the question of whether being cared for by someone is conditional to our existence, the ability of building happiness on your friend's misery and the other way round: the inability to support their happiness when based on your despair.

Of course I might be reading to much into it and seeing non-existent meanings, however I wouldn't like reading books any other way.

(Not to mention all the book and poetry to-be-read-ideas I got from this book - I cannot decide what to purchase next)