Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

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Burial Rites

by Hannah Kent

published by

2013

I borrowed an audiobook copy of this novel from my library.

My Review

When this book was published last year, it received  some really wonderful reviews from all over.  I remember other bloggers LOVED this book.  I read the synopsis and-meh- couldn’t really push myself to pick this up.  It sounded too dry and bleak.  Fast forward a year, and give me two teens who go to a school that is a 40 minute drive from home.  I have never listed to an audiobook before, but figured I should give it a try since I was spending so much time in the car now.  I grabbed Burial Rites on cd, figuring I would give it a shot.

First day, I was going a little crazy.  I thought-” Damn, I read so much faster than this lady is reading!!”  Then, I settled down, and I found I couldn’t stop listening.  I actually sat in my driveway until the track was over.  The story was amazing.  I found myself not only wrapped up in the story or Agnes, and the family housing her, but also about Iceland in the 1800′s.  I had to look up as much as I could about everything, because it was so fascinating.  To add to this, the audiobook was narrated byMorven Christie.  Her voice can transport you to the Iceland of the story better than reading the words yourself.  I loved her cadence and think I enjoyed the story so much better for having listed to her narration.

If you have not read this book, I would definitely recommend it to you.  More importantly, I would recommend the audiobook.  I think I might be a convert.

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Summary

Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. 

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard. 

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

Some great quotes-

“To know what a person has done, and to know who a person is, are very different things.” 

“They will see the whore, the madwoman, the murderess, the female dripping blood into the grass and laughing with her mouth choked with dirt. They will say “Agnes” and see the spider, the witch caught in the webbing of her own fateful weaving. They might see the lamb circled by ravens, bleating for a lost mother. But they will not see me. I will not be there.”

“Now comes the darkening sky and a cold wind that passes right through you, as though you are not there, it passes through you as though it does not care whether you are alive or dead, for you will be gone and the wind will still be there…”

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

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The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2)

by Samantha Shannon

published by Bloomsbury

expected publication- January 2015

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

 

My Review

When I read The Bone Season last year, I was pretty surprised by how much I liked it.  It was certainly not my kind of book, a little too dystopian/sci fi for me.   But I loved it, and I was very excited for a chance to read the sequel before it was published.  Net Galley was very emphatic that the version I read is NOT the finalized version that will come out in January.  Well, I thought it was great!  It has been sometime since I read the first book, and it took me awhile to remember all the characters, especially since the names are all pretty strange.  Once I got that all sorted, I was hooked just as much as I was with the first book.  It is a little hard to actually summarize, but if you read and enjoyed The Bone Season, read this book.  Then sit around and wonder why the third isn’t out yet!  But keep in mind, this is the second in what is supposed to be a series of SEVEN books!  Yeah- lots to look forward to.

Summary

Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal penal colony of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the fugitives are still missing and she is the most wanted person in London.

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on Paige, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city’s gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take center stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner.

Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided. Will Paige know who to trust? The hunt for the dream walker is on. (from Goodreads)

 

Bookish (& Not So Bookish) Thoughts

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Bookish & Not So Bookish Thoughts

is a weekly meme hosted by Christine over at Bookishly Boisterous, where we post things that are on our minds.  Head over there and check it out!

1.  Have you ever reread a series that you read a long time ago?  Did you ever think-hmmm, it’s not as good as I remember it being?  I am rereading the Vampire series by Anne Rice because I want to read the new one she has coming out- Prince Lestat.  It’s not as good as I remembered it being?  Or maybe knowing the story already takes away from it?

2.  I am hooked on audiobooks now, but I realize how important it is to have a great narrator.  Burial Rites was amazing, but the next one I tried?  I was yelling at her in the car- terrible.

3.  I came down with a pretty severe case of laryngitis after cheering on my son’s football team in the freezing cold last Friday night.  At first I just sounded like Harvey Firestein, but then I totally lost it.  It actually scared Jack- the chocolate Lab.  He kept looking for whatever was making that strange noise.

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4.  I am in my second week of realizing I am gluten intolerant.  I am not happy with all I cannot eat.  But wine doesn’t have gluten.  Neither does chocolate.

5.  What is it about turning 14 that makes putting laundry- clean, folded laundry mind you- away??  Why is it preferable to leave it until almost everything you own is in the damn basket?

6.  I went to put Revival- King’s new novel- on hold at my library’s online service the day it came out.  There were already over 80 holds!  WTF?

7.  In the next  two weeks, we have: a field hockey team dinner, a football team dinner, a baby shower that I am hosting, an overnight guest, and then Thanksgiving, which I am also hosting, then more overnight guests.  And then we are getting our Christmas tree that Saturday, so my daughter can be with us.  That is way too much.

8.  Not all green tea is created equal.

9.  I read Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarity.  It was SO SO good.  I don’t know why was surprised- I loved The Husband’s Secret.  It was even better than that.

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10.  I am listening to The Drop by Dennis Lehane.  The narrator talks in a boston accent when someone is speaking.  It is so much fun!  But I am afraid people look at me strangely in the car as I laugh.

Make them a STAR- Characters who should get their own book-a Top Ten list

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke & the Bookish. It’s awesome. Every Tuesday, the lovely ladies over there give us book bloggers wonderful and fun topics to create our lists! Check out what others have posted by going over there!

http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.com

This week’s topic is -

Top Ten Characters You Wish Would Get Their Own Book

1. & 2  from Harry Potter-

Sirius Black and Albus Dumbledore

Wouldn’t you love to know more about when Sirius meets James, or gets kicked out of the house by his crazy mother?  And what was Albus like as a kid?  Was he a know it all?

3.  from Macbeth

The Weird Sisters

These ladies are awesome- and pretty funny.

4.  from Rebecca

Mrs. Danvers

How did old Danny get so attached to Rebecca and why?

5. & 6.  from Lord of the Rings

Tom Bombadil and Legolas

I can’t even explain who Bombadil is- he just always was. Legolas now looks like Orlando Bloom in my mind, so of course I want more.

7.  from To Kill a Mockingbird

 Miss Maudie Atkinson

Why is she so nice?  Why isn’t she married?  Will she marry Atticus?  Buy Scout a dress?

8.  from The Stand

Ralph Bretner

We know more about the others who head West, but not much about Ralph.  Who was he before the plague?

9.  from Gone With the Wind

Ellen Robiard O’Hara

How did this elegant woman marry Gerald O’Hara?  How did she produce a child like Scarlet?

10.  from Jane Eyre

Bertha Mason

I need to know more about this crazy beauty.  Was she ever sane?  Did she want to marry Edward?

Hello From the Gillespies- a review

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Hello From the Gillespies

by Monica McInerney

published by NAL Trade

2014

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

Something is wrong with the Gillespie family.  Life is not as great as it always seems from the yearly Christmas letter Angela sends about her, her husband Nick, and their four children.  Angela is experiencing painful headaches, and suspects Nick is having an affair.  Twins Genevieve and Victoria, along with younger sister Lindy have seen their personal and professional lives spiral out of control and are on the way home for the holidays to lick their wounds.  Youngest Ignatius has run away from boarding school for a third time.  AND Aunt Celia is coming to stay.  With all this piling up on her, Angela finds it hard to summon a cheerful image for her letter.  So, she tells the truth, and then has to deal with the fallout.

I liked the first third of this book, felt the second third was in danger of becoming too cliche, and then got wrapped up in the ending.  This book really surprised me.  I love dysfunctional families and this story started pretty strongly with the implosion of the Gillespie family.  When it seemed things were going a little off, the author offers up a surprise that saves it from being a little boring, and has it become unputdownable.  I really enjoyed this.  I felt I was in a weird Australian groove, reading this and listening to Burial Rites, written by Australian Hannah Kent, and then The Rosie Effect, where both main characters are Aussies.  I loved the description of the outback, the sheep station, and life on it.  A great-and quick-read!

 

Summary

For the past thirty-three years, Angela Gillespie has sent to friends and family around the world an end-of-the-year letter titled “Hello from the Gillespies.” It’s always been cheery and full of good news. This year, Angela surprises herself—she tells the truth….

The Gillespies are far from the perfect family that Angela has made them out to be. Her husband is coping badly with retirement. Her thirty-two-year-old twins are having career meltdowns. Her third daughter, badly in debt, can’t stop crying. And her ten-year-old son spends more time talking to his imaginary friend than to real ones.

Without Angela, the family would fall apart. But when a bump on the head leaves Angela with temporary amnesia, the Gillespies pull together—and pull themselves together—in wonderfully surprising ways….

 

More about the author
Www.facebook.com/monicamcinerneyauthor

Monica McInerney is the internationally bestselling author of eleven novels including Hello from the Gillespies, The House of Memories, Lola’s Secret, At Home with the Templetons, Family Baggage, The Alphabet Sisters and Those Faraday Girls (which was named the General Fiction Book of the Year in the 2008 Australian Book Industry Awards.)

Monica, 49, grew up in a family of seven children in the Clare Valley wine region of South Australia, where her father was the railway stationmaster and her mother worked in the local library. Before becoming a full-time writer she worked in children’s television, tourism festivals, book publishing, arts marketing, the music industry and as a waitress, a hotel cleaner, a Kindergym instructor and a temp. For the past twenty-three years she and her Irish husband have been moving back and forth between Australia and Ireland. They currently live in Dublin.

Do Over! Top Ten Books I Want to Reread.

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke & the Bookish. It’s awesome. Every Tuesday, the lovely ladies over there give us book bloggers wonderful and fun topics to create our lists! Check out what others have posted by going over there!

http://brokeandbookish.blogspot.com

This week’s topic is -

Top Ten Books I Want to Reread

I am a huge fan or rereading books that I love.  I think I have reread the Harry Potter series about 7 times.  (and need to reread again)  But here are some others that are definitely worthy of a second-or third- reading.

1.  Shadow of the Wind by Carols Ruiz Zafon

Maybe I will reread all three?

2.  The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I try to reread these every few years, and it has been awhile.

3.  The Historian by Elisabeth Kostova

I know I loved it when I read it, but I don’t remember why.

4.  Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice

With her new Prince Lestat out, I need a refresher.

5.  The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My daughter will be reading this in the spring for school and I want it clear in my memory so we can discuss it.

6.  Tender is The Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I read this-pretty quickly- a few years ago, and it left quite an impression on me.

7.  Northhanger Abbey and 8.  Sense and Sensibilty by Jane Auster

Two of the few by Austen that I only read once

9.  The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

The first book I read by Allende that began my love for her writing.

10.  The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

What?  It will only be the 4th reread.  They are good, quick, and easy.  AND Mockingjay comes out in a few weeks so I need to brush up.

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

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Vanessa and Her Sister

by Priya Parmar

published by Ballantine Books

December 2014

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Library Thing’s Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.

My Review

I always love when I get books through Library Thing, and was excited to receive a copy of Vanessa And Her Sister by author Priya Parmar.  This is an epistolary novel told through the diary and letters of Vanessa Stephen Bell.  Bell tells us the story of herself and her sister, Virginia Woolf, and there famous friends, the Bloomsbury Group.  I loved the story, especially the artists and friend who came into the lives of the Stephen family.  When history is interwoven into a well written piece of fiction, it creates a peephole into what might have happened in the past.  Some names were very familiar, some not.  I was most surprised by the portrayal of Virginia Woolf.  I didn’t not know very much about the famous author, though I did know she had some mental problems.  Parmar writes of a very disturbed Woolf, one that had trouble maintaining sanity for long stretches and is overly attached not her sister.  I was surprised by this portrayal, but left wanting to know even more about Woolf.  This is a  very well written novel and I would definitely recommend reading it!

Summary

London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend and come to be known as the Bloomsbury Group. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer.
 
Each member of the group will go on to earn fame and success, but so far Vanessa Bell has never sold a painting. Virginia Woolf’s book review has just been turned down by The Times. Lytton Strachey has not published anything. E. M. Forster has finished his first novel but does not like the title. Leonard Woolf is still a civil servant in Ceylon, and John Maynard Keynes is looking for a job. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London.
 
But the landscape shifts when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love and her sister feels dangerously abandoned. Eerily possessive, charismatic, manipulative, and brilliant, Virginia has always lived in the shelter of Vanessa’s constant attention and encouragement. Without it, she careens toward self-destruction and madness. As tragedy and betrayal threaten to destroy the family, Vanessa must decide if it is finally time to protect her own happiness above all else.
 
The work of exciting young newcomer Priya Parmar, Vanessa and Her Sister exquisitely captures the champagne-heady days of prewar London and the extraordinary lives of sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf.

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Educated at Mount Holyoke College, the University of Oxford and the University of Edinburgh, Priya Parmar is the author of one previous novel, Exit the Actress.

Her new novel, VANESSA AND HER SISTER will be published by Ballantine/Random House on 12/30/14.

She divides her time between Hawaii and London.