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Old 02 August 2018, 08:57 AM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
Join Date: 19 February 2000
Location: High Wycombe, UK
Posts: 26,440

I did read a few new books in July, mostly short, at the expense of getting on with the Baroque cycle:

Love by Angela Carter: She has more early novels that I've not read than I'd realised. This was great, albeit somewhat depressing and inevitable. It's about a sort-of love triangle relationship between a woman, her husband and his brother. (Her sun and moon). If you didn't want to start with one of her later ones with too much magic realism, this might be a good starting point for her books. There's still a lot of fairy tale imagery and magical thinking but the actual events of the plot are realistic. It's also quite short.

(I re-read an Order of the Stick book to recap some past plot, but that only took a couple of hours...)

Embassy of the Dead by Will Mabbitt: This is the first of my friend Will's new series of children's books, about a boy called Jake who accidentally comes into possession of a supernatural artefact that's being sought after by various forces, and has to escape and sort things out. (The series hook is that in the course of doing so, by the end he's registered to work at the Embassy in the title). This description sounds generic - partly because I was being vague to avoid giving much away - but I really enjoyed it, as usual. It's funny and exciting. It's aimed at slightly older children than Will's Mabel Jones series - maybe 10+. (Not that adults can't read it too; lots of adults read the first Harry Potter without embarrassment, after all, and it's for a similar age group).

Also, one that The Guardian sent me unexpectedly because I'm at the subscriber level which gets sent free books occasionally, and which jumped to the top of my pile thanks to current events:

Collusion: How Russia Helped Trump Win the White House by Luke Harding. This started off disappointing, because to set up some of the background Harding keeps going off on tangents about random Russian people and it's hard to keep track and remember why you're supposed to care about them (since not all Russians are venal and not all contact with Russians is suspect). But it gets better as he moves away from Carter Page to Manafort, and then gets to Trump himself. It's mostly a recap of things already reported, rather than anything new, but it's a good summary and there's detail and background here that I'd not read before.

It's also been overtaken slightly by recent events (which might be why The Guardian hurriedly sent it out), what with Trump and Putin in Finland, and with Cohen confirming that Trump knew about Donald Jr.'s campaign "adoption" meeting, but that just continues the theme! In fact Trump said very similar things before at the G20 summit, where he made similar remarks about believing Putin on the hacking and slagged off the FBI, and then had to backtrack, but it was less prominently reported (although reported in Russia, apparently) since he wasn't actually standing next to Putin at a press conference at the time, and there was all the other G20 fallout to deal with as well. If you wanted to look at that charitably, it also fits with Trump's apparent pattern of simply believing the last person with conviction that he spoke to... which doesn't make him any more suitable for high office.

I'm still reading The Confusion, the second volume of the Baroque Cycle, but I'm not very far in. (I'm just going from the first part of Book 4 to the first part of Book 5 - its structure is headed unusually in that Book 4 and Book 5 are interleaved; not an unusual structure as such but it's unusual to actually label it that way). Also this is one of the books that got soaked in my rucksack during a rainstorm a few days ago, so it's a bit crinkly at the front.

And I've read the first page or two of The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, which I've been meaning to read for a while. Her books are often quite dense and depressing, so I hope it will be interesting and informative too.
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