The Saddler Boys by Fiona Palmer

Published:  23rd September 2015 (print)/11th August 2016 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Penguin Australia/Wavesound
Pages: 371/9 discs
Narrator: Danielle Baynes
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Rural Fiction
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Schoolteacher Natalie has always been a city girl. She has a handsome boyfriend and a family who give her only the best. But she craves her own space, and her own classroom, before settling down into the life she is expected to lead.

 When Nat takes up a posting at a tiny school in remote Western Australia, it proves quite the culture shock, but she is soon welcomed by the swarm of inquisitive locals, particularly young student Billy and his intriguing single father, Drew. 

 As Nat’s school comes under threat of closure, and Billy’s estranged mother turns up out of the blue, Nat finds herself fighting for the township and battling with her heart. Torn between her life in Perth and the new community that needs her, Nat must risk losing it all to find out what she’s really made of – and where she truly belongs. 

A big reason why I had a hard time enjoying this was the narrator of the audiobook; she made Natalie sound like a constantly cheery childish girl which was annoying. I know she was meant to be 22, but it changed my perspective of her when she sounded so innocent and naive all the time even when she wasn’t meant to. I had read the first few chapters in a physical book and was really engaged, I think switching to audio changed my enjoyment in part.

There were good parts that I enjoyed, Palmer portrays the country lifestyle well and the characters were interesting. Some parts were predictable but I was surprised by other parts. It was a nice wholesome story that touched on some more serious topics. Even when it did that it didn’t feel as serious though, maybe that was because of how it was read too, I don’t know.

Palmer includes a few different dramas, a few I felt had to be there because it gave Natalie more justification for her decisions rather than a believable character choice. I think a different approach would have been better. But for the most part, I enjoyed the different dynamics, young single father, a child with a few special needs, interesting supporting characters. It worked well on that front.

I was surprised by the ending, I was waiting for a sudden change but Palmer followed through which was impressive. Overall it’s not the best rural story I have read, but it wasn’t too bad either. I’m almost tempted to reread it as a book just to see if I enjoy it more…almost.

You can purchase The Saddler Boys via the following

Dymocks | Booktopia

Book Depository | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust

BookWorldQBD

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Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Published:  10th September 2013 (print)/10th September 2013 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
  Little, Brown and Company/Bolinda Audio
Pages: 336/10 discs – 12hrs
Narrator: Morven Christie
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Historical Fiction
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

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. 

I quite liked this book. It was slow but not unenjoyable. Kent uses her language with intent and there’s weight behind her choice of words making you feel everything she is telling you with importancemakes you feel the drawn out winters and longer periods of time. The house and the surrounding environment are described in vivid detail that make you understand the close knit quarters and the family dynamic. There is a great sense of heaviness as you read as well; the looming sentence and fear over Agnes’ head, the reluctance of the family, the ostracisation by them towards Agnes, not to mention the mystery over what actually happened.

I enjoyed the historical era that the story is set, the true history it is based on is fascinating as well. I enjoyed learning about the region and the farm as well as the culture and history. It was a lot better than other literature and acclaimed novels I’ve read. I can see how it won the awards, and I’m surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did. I wasn’t blown away, but it kept my attention and even surprised me at times.

You can purchase Burial Rites via the following

Dymocks | Booktopia

Book Depository | Fishpond

Amazon | Amazon Aust

BookWorldWordery

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The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Published: 1st October 2011 (print)/13th December 2011 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Pan Macmillan Australia/BolindaAudio
Pages: 480/1 disc – 16hrs (MP3)
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Ellen O’Farrell is a professional hypnotherapist who works out of the eccentric beachfront home she inherited from her grandparents. It’s a nice life, except for her tumultuous relationship history. She’s stoic about it, but at this point, Ellen wouldn’t mind a lasting one. When she meets Patrick, she’s optimistic. He’s attractive, single, employed, and best of all, he seems to like her back. Then comes that dreaded moment: He thinks they should have a talk. 

Braced for the worst, Ellen is pleasantly surprised. It turns out that Patrick’s ex-girlfriend is stalking him. Ellen thinks, Actually, that’s kind of interesting. She’s dating someone worth stalking. She’s intrigued by the woman’s motives. In fact, she’d even love to meet her.

Ellen doesn’t know it, but she already has.

I have been told that the early works of Moriarty aren’t as good as her later stuff, which is good and bad because I started with her earlier works and thought what I’ve read so far had been mediocre. Which was a huge shame since I have been looking forward to reading her stuff for years. So it’s a matter of working through the back catalogue until they start getting better I suppose. That sounds quite terrible, and I didn’t dislike this one, it was ok. The premise of The Hypnotist’s Love Story sounded interesting, and it began promisingly enough, but I found it was a bit lacklustre soon after.

Because I listened to the MP3 I had no real way of knowing how much longer was left in the book. I found myself keep waiting for it to be over and it just never came. Even when I thought there had been a conclusion there was still more story to come. The book itself is 480 pages I discovered, which is why it felt like it went forever, it definitely was a story that could have been a lot shorter.

I found I grew tired of the characters, I felt Moriarty drew them out far too long, it could have been more impactful if the story hadn’t’ve dragged on. I couldn’t sympathise with any of the characters, not even Patrick which I’m sure I was supposed to. He was a bit dull and uninteresting and Ellen was no better, I felt that she was the kind of person who liked to poke the sleeping bear. She kept pushing and pushing, aggravating Patrick (and me) as she pushed for information to stave off her curiosities about the stalker.

Moriarty’s stories seem to work around the slow reveal, the teases and taunts and clues that something has happened but she’s not going to tell you what just yet. This is much the same, we know there is a stalker, the mystery is figuring out who it is. There are a few candidates and Moriarty makes sure a few possible people act as red herrings. Even with this tease of the stalker and the unknown about what could happen, I couldn’t engage with the story and the ending fizzles out quite remarkably. It was a strange conclusion to an ok story.

aww2017-badgeYou can purchase The Hypnotist’s Love Story via the following

Dymocks | Booktopia | Fishpond

QBD | Book Depository | BookWorld

Amazon | Amazon Aust

AWW 2017 Update 2

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This second update is a lot shorter. I didn’t read as many books of Aussie ladies in the past four months. But I did read some, so my number is going up which is a positive. I read my first Liane Moriarty book and read a beautiful anthology that has short stories from incredible Aussie YA authors. Some are men, admittedly, but there are some awesome Aussie ladies in there so it’s being included. I am not going to increase my 25 book goal but I will see how I go in the next update. The next one should be in December based on my 4-month update, so my next update should be the conclusion to the 2017 AWW Challenge.

 

AWW17 BOOKS May-Aug

What Alice Forgot by Liane MoriartyReview

Begin, End, Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology by Danielle Binks (ed.)

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood – Review

 

AWW17 TOTAL

Read: 17/25

Reviewed: 8/15

 

 

 

 

 

The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

Published: 1st October 2015 (print)/2nd June 2016 (audio) Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Allen & Unwin/Wavesound Audio
Pages: 320/1 disc – 7hrs (MP3)
Narrator: Ailsa Piper
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Fiction
★  – 1 Star

The Natural Way of Things is at once lucid and illusory, a brilliantly plotted novel of ideas that reminds us of mankind’s own vast contradictions—the capacity for savagery, selfishness, resilience, and redemption all contained by a single, vulnerable body.

Drugged, dressed in old-fashioned rags, and fiending for a cigarette, Yolanda wakes up in a barren room. Verla, a young woman who seems vaguely familiar, sits nearby. Down a hallway echoing loudly with the voices of mysterious men, in a stark compound deep in the Australian outback, other captive women are just coming to. Starved, sedated, the girls can’t be sure of anything—except the painful episodes in their pasts that link them.

Drawing strength from the animal instincts they’re forced to rely on, the women go from hunted to hunters, along the way becoming unforgettable and boldly original literary heroines that readers will both relate to and root for.

Potential spoilers ahead.

I am learning the hard way that acclaimed and well awarded books are often the least enjoyable. People raved about this and it won The Stella Prize and so I finally got hold of a copy and read it. Well, I listened to the audiobook which I think actually made it worse.

It starts off with mystery which is fair enough, but Wood builds it up like there is going to be an answer. I was curious about how these girls had gotten into this situation, who it was that had placed them in the middle of nowhere and for what purpose. What happened was I put up with so much boring nothingness, and instead read an extreme version of big brother where no one gets voted off but instead sit around in their glib new life doing nothing whatsoever and do it with no food.

There are many girls who have been taken but the story is mainly told by two women, both who have different reactions to their circumstances, one becomes stronger and wants to fight back, the other becomes more animalistic as time goes on. There is a little mentioned about the other girls, as well as the “guards”, but none of these characters are that remarkable, it’s a bit unbelievable they even were there running the place in the first place. I kept going through the non-events and the general dull day to day nothing that was probably meant to show just how terrible these girls’ lives had been reduced to, but after a few chapters of it I was over it. I needed something to happen, something more interesting than illness and the ongoing mental reclusiveness of the characters.

I get that it is meant to be profound, and not having answers is ok. We don’t need everything wrapped up in a neat bow. Normally I don’t need answers, and I’m happy to have a bit of mystery or whatever, I think the reason I wanted it this time is because I disliked this book so early on I kept going in the hope I could at least get some answer for why I had to sit through such a boring and, frankly, gross book. A fair warning it is a bit graphic. Wood doesn’t hold back in her descriptions of trapping/cooking rabbits, again, in context I get, and for the emotional and mental state of characters it does fit. But I will say listening to it as an audio was very hard. There’s also some graphic detail about what people do and look like in terms of injuries etc just in case that isn’t your cup of tea.

It was a pain to keep going but I did and not only did it not get better, I feel cheated. In hindsight, I respect the absence of answers. I think not having answers gives it some power that these things could happen, but the fact we’re given almost no reason why any of it is happen irks me. I needed the answers as a reward for putting up with such a boring book.

aww2017-badgeYou can purchase The Natural Way of Things via the following

Dymocks | BookDepository

Booktopia | QBD

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Fishpond | Wordery

Audible | BookWorld

 

 

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