Venice – Nick Earls

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Venice is about love and the tensions that pull us apart: the love between Harrison and his uncle Ryan, who is in need of a person to belong to, Natalie, who is pulled between her art and her heart, and Phil’s awkward stilted love. Think, Nick Hornby’s About a Boy.

Quite an enjoyable novella! This novella, the second in a series of 5, is beautifully written and thoroughly enjoyable.

Ryan is a man who is down on his luck. He lives with his sister Natalie, her husband Phil and their son Harrison. Natalie is an emerging artist, and Phil is a dentist. Ryan and Harrison embark on a road trip to collect something for Natalie’s exhibit, and forge a strong bond.

Nick Earls has a way of writing novellas with a great amount of detail. When I finished reading Venice, I felt like I had read a 400-page novel! The descriptive language and the characters are fantastically written, and you really get drawn into the story. This novella will stay with me for some time.

Gotham – Nick Earls

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Published as Cargoes in Griffith Review 50 Tall Tales Short—The Novella Project III, Gotham tells of the encounter between music journalist, Jeff Foster and ‘boy pharaoh’, Na$ti Boi. It reveals how hollow celebrities cast their spell. Think, Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe.

Quite an interesting novella! This novella, the first in a series of 5, is beautifully written and thoroughly enjoyable.

A music journalist, Jeff, spends an evening with rapper Na$ti Boi. Although the story only covers a short amount of time, we get a really good insight into both characters and their lives, both personal and professional.

Nick Earls has a way of writing novellas with a great amount of detail. The descriptive language and the characters are fantastically written, and you really get drawn into the story. I felt like I was there, observing the character interactions! Gotham is a touching story that still sits with me.

The Good People – Hannah Kent

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Nóra Leahy has lost her daughter and her husband in the same year, and is now burdened with the care of her four-year-old grandson, Micheál. The boy cannot walk, or speak, and Nora, mistrustful of the tongues of gossips, has kept the child hidden from those who might see in his deformity evidence of otherworldly interference.

Unable to care for the child alone, Nóra hires a fourteen-year-old servant girl, Mary, who soon hears the whispers in the valley about the blasted creature causing grief to fall upon the widow’s house.

Alone, hedged in by rumour, Mary and her mistress seek out the only person in the valley who might be able to help Micheál. For although her neighbours are wary of her, it is said that old Nance Roche has the knowledge. That she consorts with Them, the Good People. And that only she can return those whom they have taken…

Another fantastic novel by Hannah Kent! I was very lucky to find a copy of this book at a library – it is quite popular!

Nora Leahy has lost both her daughter and her husband in the same year, and is left alone to care for her grandson, Micheal. Micheal cannot walk or talk, and as Nora finds herself struggling to care for him, she hires Mary, a 14 year old girl, to help.

Nance Roche has the knowledge. She has a connection to the Good People. She uses herbs and potions to help heal those who need her help. Nora and Mary seek out Nance’s help to heal Micheal, who they think has been taken by Them.

This novel is emotionally powerful, and it really draws you in. I felt that I was an observer in this story, and saw myself in the environment – feeling the mud on my feet, the heat of fire, the icy cold of the river. I found myself actually being in the story as a character in the background, rather than just reading the story.

Hannah’s writing style really draws you in. The story is quite intense, and not something you can read in only one or two days. However, it is really easy to follow, even as the narrative moves between characters. I also relished the fact that this book didn’t have a “happy ending”, but rather the ending was left open in a way that allows readers to wonder what might happen next.

I really enjoyed reading this novel, and it will stay with me for a long time.

Bro – Helen Chebatte

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Romeo knows the rules. Stick with your own kind. Don’t dob on your mates, or even your enemies. But even unwritten rules are made for breaking. Fight Clubs, first loves and family ties are pushed to their limit in Helen Chebatte’s explosive debut novel.

I discovered this book through my local library’s eBook collection. The main character, Romeo, gets into a fight with another boy at school over a girl. Then he is attacked by the boy and his friends after school one day, and then a final fight is organised between the two. But things get out of control, and end in tragedy.

I really felt for Romeo when reading this book. I found that I could easily empathise with him – I have a similar character to Romeo, in that I really don’t like fighting or conflict, and try and avoid it as much as possible. Unfortunately, Romeo makes a bad decision, to fight another boy, which lead to the tragic consequences. Something that a lot of teenagers may consider, or get involved in.

Helen has written a fantastic debut novel about what many teens may face in high school. Her writing style allows you to be drawn into the story, and brings out powerful feelings and emotions. It wasn’t a book that I could devour in one sitting, but it will stick with me for a long time.