The Secret River


Read 09/01/2018-21/01/2018

Rating: 4 stars

I’ve had The Secret River on my library wishlist since the Olympics Reading Challenge on the Reader’s Room in 2016. Weezelle reminded me of it when she mentioned that she’d received it as a gift recently. That spurred me on to reserve it at the library.

Kate Grenville has written just the sort of book I love. Think Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, or Shirley Barrett’s Rush Oh!, or even Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda. It’s historical fiction that records the painful lives of the poor in all its sorrowing detail, but which manages to also capture the indomitable spirit and resourcefulness of some when faced with adversity. More than that, it examines how humans judge each other by the colour of their skin, and how brutally the British treated the indigenous people of Australia. Continue reading




Read 12/11/2017-19/11/2017

Rating: 3 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room Read Around the World Challenge

Mullumbimby is the story of Jo Breen, a former musician, divorced from her husband, bringing up her daughter Ellen as a single mum. Jo lives in Mullumbimby, a town in New South Wales, where she earns a living mowing the grass in the white people’s cemetery. Jo is a Goorie woman from the Bundjalung nation. Her ex-husband Paul is a white Australian. Jo wants to reconnect with her Aboriginal roots. She is instantly likeable, warm and ready to laugh, easy going and a hard worker for the things she believes in – family, identity, and respect. Mullumbimby focuses on Jo’s attempts to re-establish herself on tribal land and reveals the conflict that forms the history of land appropriation and informs the native title claims process in Australia, as well as the conflict between different generations of Aboriginal people. Continue reading

The Current


Read 10/11/2017-12/11/2017

Rating: 2 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Read Around the World Challenge.

Eighteen months ago, Weezelle over at Words and Leaves interviewed Yannick Thoraval about his novel about climate change, The Current. I downloaded a free copy from his site, because I liked how he came across in his answers to Weezelle’s questions. I especially liked his perspective on self-publishing.

I read bearing in mind that this is a self-published novel, that despite employing a team to help polish the work in the way an independent publisher would, it might not feel like a traditionally published book. Continue reading

Wrong About Japan


Read 20/09/2017-22/09/2017

Rating: 4 stars

My husband noticed this on the non-fiction shelves in the library. I like Peter Carey’s novels, and a memoir of how he and his teenage son became captivated by manga and anime and travelled to Tokyo to meet artists and directors in each industry sounded interesting. Continue reading

Burial Rites


Read 18/09/2016-22/09/2016

Rating: 4 stars

This is my second book from the Willoughby Book Club subscription I won earlier this year. It’s another good choice. I’ve had Burial Rites on my wishlist since it was published three years ago.

Before I even started reading, I loved the book. It’s a book to fetishise. I have the hardback edition, with its black tipped pages, its black book cloth, its deep purple end papers, and its raven feather illustrated book jacket. It says dark Icelandic nights. It says murder. It says misery.

The scene setting quote from the Laxdæla Saga before the prologue is delicious.

I was worst to the one I loved best.

The book is based on historical murders that happened in Iceland in 1828. The author includes letters written by officials involved in the case and court records to provide context and moves between third person observation of the key players in the story and first person testimony from the murderer Agnes Magnúsdóttir.

It was a strange book to read. I enjoyed it and wanted to read it quickly, but I found the intensity hard going at times. I had to have frequent rests from it. It was quite tiring. The reading equivalent of being stuck in a remote farmhouse in the wilds of Iceland in 1828, I suppose. Continue reading

The Glass Kingdom


Read 12/09/2016

Rating: 4 stars

Read for The Reader’s Room Olympic Challenge

I bought this book because I wanted to read something by someone I’d never heard of. It sounded like it might be grimly funny, in the mould of Chuck Pahlaniuk or Irvine Welsh. It also sounded very, very male, and very, very male books both fascinate and confuse me.

The two main characters run a sideshow stall in a travelling carnival. Ben is ex-army and trying to make money dealing meth. Mikey is a wannabe rapper, inclined to fight and supremely interested in women. He’s a bit of a caricature, but engagingly so. Ben is the more sober of the pair, the man with an actual game plan. Continue reading