Burial Rites – Hannah Kent

I encourage anyone who hasn’t read this book to seriously put down whatever you’re doing, and hop to it. I picked it up last Saturday night, and when I put it down what felt like 3 minutes later, (but was actually closer to 2 hours) I was halfway through. It’s Hannah Kent’s debut novel, and the story itself of how the book came to be written is extraordinary. The writing is truly something else, lyrical but yet taut and very atmospheric- I read it with a growing sense of foreboding which I felt I could almost reach out and touch.

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It’s based on the true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman to be exiled in Iceland for her part in the murders of Natan Ketilsson and Pétur Jónsson in 1828. The novel tells the story of her last few months, in a combination of first person narrative and through the eyes of those around her- which I thought was a nice touch to keep the story moving, and not at all as jarring as it can feel penned by a lessor author. Some voices are sympathetic, like the young and compassionate preacher, Reverend Thorvadur “Tóti” Jónsson  who Is Agnes’ self requested confessor, used as a vehicle for Agnes to voice her side of the story. Continue reading

Unwind – Neal Shusterman

This book had been on my list for some time, after seeing it over and over again in the ‘must read’ dystopian fiction lists that seem to pop up every once in a while. It’s surprisingly hard to track down, given it was only published a couple of years back.

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The premise is this: After the bloody Second Civil War fought between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice, a set of constitutional amendments known as the ‘Bill of Life’ were passed.  The Bill basically means that human life can’t be touched from conception to the age of 13. But from 13-18, parents may choose to retrospectively abort that child…but their life doesn’t technically end. They are ‘Unwound’ and kept in a divided state…that is, their organs are divided up and implanted to those who need it most. Continue reading

Twice Upon a Time – Kate Forster

A fun and flirty Young Adult read, Twice Upon a Time sucked me in from the first page….I do love a good fairytale retelling!

Lucinda, or Cinda (rella?) is a young, vivacious girl backpacking around Europe with her friend (ehem, fairy godmother) Jonas, when she finds herself hanging  off the side of a cliff in Sardinia in pursuit of the perfect landscape to paint. Enter Prince Charming to rescue her…no, an ACTUAL prince. 
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Apple Pie Bites

There’s nothing I love more than curling up with a good book, a pot of a tea and a sneaky sweet treat.

Winter + lots of sweet treats = a not so happy summer body.:(

So to this end, my sweet treats tend to err on the home made, healthier side (well, most of the time…). Continue reading

Marina | Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The sense of nostalgia in Zafon’s writing gets me every time. I meander over his words, going back to read them and they seriously make my heart melt. He is always a pleasure to read and I really really must say thanks again to my friend Neen for introducing me.

Marina promises to be a ‘Gothic tale for all ages’ and that sums this novel up so well.

I’d been wanting to read this for some time, as even the novelist himself admits  ‘Of all the books I’ve published ever since I picked up this odd business of novelist trade back in prehistoric 1992, Marina remains one of my favorites.’
He goes on to say that ‘By then I had already published three novels for young adults but soon after embarking on Marina I knew that this would be the last I’d write in the genre. As the writing advanced, everything in the story began to acquire a shade of farewell, and by the time I’d finished it, I sensed that something inside me, something that even today I cannot explain, but that I still miss every single day, was forever left among its page’ 
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The year that was in books

So this year I managed to read 39 books. Not bad, however I had a goal of reaching 52. I blame our trip to Europe entirely of course! I normally read about a book a week. So, being away for 7 weeks meant I was 7 books short…oh wait, that still doesn’t add up. 😉

In any case, there’s always next year, however, I fear my new Galaxy Note tablet may have something to say about that too. I find myself spending hours watching Youtube vloggers, reading eMags from my library, or just..ya know, doing stuff.

So what really stood out?

My ‘ohmygod you have GOT to read this’ list!
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Full circle

I have seen unspeakable things in my life. Damage. Destruction.  Death.

I have felt the very moment when life exits the body. The frenzied panic giving way to a slackening of the limbs and a glassy eyed, empty stare. The moment when the soul passes through, unseen yet keenly felt in the emptiness left behind.

I carry around with me the blood of my victims, their screams and their stories. These well worn horrors stalk the earth with me, casting a shadow which one can’t help but notice. Do you see it in the set of my mouth? Or is it the jumpy gaze, the tightness in my limbs? Continue reading