Burial Rites – Hannah Kent

17616535

In northern Iceland, 1829, Agnes Magnusdottir is condemned to death for her part in the brutal murder of two men.

Agnes is sent to wait out the time leading to her execution on the farm of District Officer Jon Jonsson, his wife and their two daughters. Horrified to have a convicted murderess in their midst, the family avoids speaking with Agnes. Only Toti, the young assistant reverend appointed as Agnes’ spiritual guardian, is compelled to try to understand her, as he attempts to salvage her soul. As the summer months fall away to winter and the hardships of rural life force the household to work side by side, Agnes’ ill-fated tale of longing and betrayal begins to emerge. And as the days to her execution draw closer, the question burns: did she or didn’t she?

This book was recommended to me by a librarian. When I first started reading it, I felt way out of my comfort zone. I usually read books set in modern times, and I tend to gravitate more towards books that have a more predictable story line and ending. This book took me in a completely new direction. Hannah’s way with words really allowed me to connect with the characters, and lead me into the world within the book.

Agnes Magnusdottir is sentenced to execution for playing a role in the brutal murder of two men. She is sent to a farm to await execution. While at this farm, we learn about Agnes’ life, but we also get to know a but about the family she lives with, as well as a priest who visits her. Although there are several characters, the book focuses mostly on Agnes. Each character plays their role, and the way Hannah has written each character’s narrative allows us to gauge the importance of them in the book.

The book’s transition between first-person (Agnes) and third-person perspectives is fantastic. I never felt confused as to which character we were following, as it is always clear – the perspective doesn’t shift within paragraphs. We also get to know each character a little bit, and that really drew me into the story.

Hannah’s style of writing really drew me in. I felt like I was right there, amongst the characters, and experiencing their lives. I could feel the snow on my feet, the smoke in my lungs, the taste of blood on my tongue. It’s very rare that a book can lead to activating my senses. Even as I write this, I can still taste the metallic taste of blood as I think about the book.

This book is not usually a book I would choose myself to read – I tend to stick to my comfort zone. However, I am really glad that I read this novel. It is one of the books that will stay with me for a long time.

Charity Reading Challenge

Hello again!! As 2016 draws to a close, I find myself thinking about what reading challenges I want to complete in 2017. I have already mentioned that I am completing the Australian Women Writers Challenge, and this post is to raise awareness of the Charity Reading Challenge that I am completing in 2017.

The charity/organisation I am supporting in this challenge is the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. For each book I read in 2017, including books that won’t be reviewed on this blog, I will be donating $1 to ILF. My goal is to read 100 books over the year, so I aim to raise $100.

If you would like to follow my progress and support me over the year, as well as support the ILF, please like my Facebook page, add me on Goodreads, and donate money through my fundraiser page. Just click on any of the links below!

Melly’s Charity Reading Challenge

My Goodreads profile

My fundraising page

Tell the truth, shame the devil – Melina Marchetta

30280756

Chief Inspector Bish Ortley of the London Met, divorced and still grieving the death of his son, has been drowning his anger in Scotch. Something has to give, and he’s no sooner suspended from the force than a busload of British students is subject to a deadly bomb attack across the Channel. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board.

Also on the bus is Violette LeBrac. Raised in Australia, Violette has a troubled background. Thirteen years ago her grandfather bombed a London supermarket, killing dozens of people. Her mother, Noor, is serving a life sentence in connection with the incident. But before Violette’s part in the French tragedy can be established, she disappears.

Bish, who was involved in Noor LeBrac’s arrest, is now compelled to question everything that happened back then. And the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put away, the more he realises that truth wears many colours.

This book is intense! Other books of Melina’s that I have read have basically been typical YA novels, but this book goes in a totally different direction. I was hooked from the first page. I devoured it in only 5 days! I really, highly recommend this novel, even if you’re not a fan of Melina’s other works. It keeps you gripped, and it’s well written.

5/5

My life as an alphabet – Barry Jonsberg

17261404

This isn’t just about me. It’s also about the other people in my life – my mother, my father, my dead sister Sky, my penpal Denille, Rich Uncle Brian, Earth-Pig Fish and Douglas Benson From Another Dimension. These are people [with the exception of Earth-Pig Fish, who is a fish] who have shaped me, made me what I am. I cannot recount my life without recounting elements of theirs. This is a big task, but I am confident I am up to it.

Introducing Candice Phee: twelve years old, hilariously honest and a little … odd. But she has a big heart, the very best of intentions and an unwavering determination to ensure everyone is happy. So she sets about trying to ‘fix’ all the problems of all the people [and pets] in her life.

Candice is a great character! She’s so honest and open. I love this novel! I laughed reading it because it had some funny parts. The things that Candice does to try and bring her family back together and bring them happiness is amazing. A great read!

5/5

The Flywheel – Erin Gough

19488665

Seventeen-year-old Del drops out of high school when her romance with another girl goes horribly wrong. Preferring chaos to bullying, Del makes it her mission to save her dad’s crumbling café, the Flywheel, while he ‘finds himself’ overseas.

Accompanied by her charming troublemaker best friend Charlie, Del sets out to save the cafe, keep Charlie out of prison, and maybe get a date with Rosa, the beautiful flamenco dancer from across the road. But when life is messy enough as it is, can girl-on-girl romance ever have a happy ending?

A rather enjoyable YA read. I really felt for Del as I read the story – being bullied at school by the girl she used to be with (and denies every moment), and falling for the girl across the street, as well as trying to run a café on her own, I sympathised with her and kept wishing for the best throughout the book. I highly recommend it!

5/5

Missing – Melanie Casey

28267126

On any night, 1 person in 200 is homeless. Someone is targeting Adelaide’s homeless. Men are disappearing off the streets, and body parts are turning up in a local dump. Still haunted by her last run-in with a serial killer, Cass Lehman is trying hard to focus on the future. That’s not easy when she has the ‘gift’ of retrocognition the ability to spontaneously re-live the last minutes of a person’s life. Cass and Detective Ed Dyson are now trying to make a normal home together, but when she gets entangled in Ed’s latest case things are far from normal. A twisted tale of love, desperation and murder. When the psychic meets the psychotic, who will come out unscathed?

I didn’t enjoy this book to be honest. It didn’t grab me, and there was too much going on in the story. It probably doesn’t help that afterwards, I discovered that the book is the third in a series. I didn’t like the characters, and couldn’t put myself into the story.

2/5

On Brunswick Ground – Catherine de Saint Phalle

25831809

In the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, a female narrator, who remains unnamed is trying to come to terms with the absence of Jack, the man she loves. In a bar she meets Bernice, a radio personality, in her late thirties and flirting with IVF. Finding a job as a gardener, she discovers that her co-worker, Mitali, has an unresolved mourning that attracts other deaths into its orbit. Later on, she befriends the resolutely mysterious bar owner, Sarah, and her daughter, Mary, who has, for potent (and as yet unrevealed) reasons, converted to Islam and donned a burqa.

The lives of these women are characterised by love and loss, and are woven together by their shared grieving at the senseless murder of Jill Meagher.

I found this book to be quite intense. It touched on a lot of relevant topics, especially the murder of Jill Meagher, which is a true event here in Melbourne (This is a novel though). It is confronting, but really interesting to read.

4/5

Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty

29616384

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbours, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

This book was a bit of a letdown. I have read some of Liane’s other novels, and they have been great! But this one seemed to drag on for a long time, and I didn’t really enjoy it. The event that happened at the barbecue is sad, but I feel like the reactions weren’t realistic. I couldn’t connect with the story.

2/5

The Laughing Clowns – William McInnes

15853445

Peter Kennedy is a very large man who is remarkably happy with his life. Yet something is not quite right, and it started with a dream that smelt of luncheon meat.

Peter is successful at what he does, even though he is not sure what that is anymore. When Titan Development contracts him to go to Queensland to assess a prime piece of real estate on the Pickersgill Peninsula Showgrounds he jumps at the chance. It will give him time out from having to be with the family he loves. And it will take him back to the home where he grew up; to his parents, who are members of the Show society, his twin sister Pearl, a bingo caller and foster mother, and his brother Gary, the TV weatherman.

Over these few days, he will come to realize that sometimes when you go back to where you came from you find out how much you actually have, and how much you could lose.

All he has to do is make his mind up, and listen to the advice that he is given by, of all people, the King of Hot Dogs.

But will he?

Initially, this book felt a little slow. But that’s how it was meant to be written! It was set only over 2 or 3 days, and it felt like I was reading it in real time. I really enjoyed it! I felt like I was there, and this book invoked a lot of feelings. It makes you really think about relationships that you have, and the people that you love.

4/5