The Weak Suffer What They Must

YanisAfter hearing Yanis Varoufakis speak at the Sydney Writers Festival I went straight out and bought a copy of his book. For those of you interested in global economics at a tectonic level, Yanis is your man. This book is delivered with a sense of energy and vision, added to this Varoufakis provides detailed academic support for his many insights – culminating in an informative and interesting read that challenges the current social disadvantages of modern economies.

4starsG

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Pride and Prejudice

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“With the arrival of eligible young men in their neighbourhood, the lives of Mr and Mrs Bennet and their five daughters are turned inside out and menide down. Pride encounters prejudice, upward-mobility confronts social disdain, and quick-wittedness challenges sagacity, as misconceptions and hasty judgements lead to heartache and scandal, but eventually to true understanding, self-knowledge, and love. In this supremely satisfying story, Jane Austen balances comedy with seriousness, and witty observation with profound insight. If Elizabeth Bennet returns again and again to her letter from Mr Darcy, readers of the novel are drawn even more irresistibly by its captivating wisdom.”

Jane Austin’s classic love story is still very readable for modern audiences and the relational dynamics explored remain universal. I first read this book as a teenager thanks to my sister’s enthusiasm for the character of Lizzy Bennet and now count it an important part of any English canon of classic writing. Go on, have a read and say hi to Mr Bennet for me!

5stars
PG

The Garden of Eden

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‘The Garden of Eden’ is one of Hemingway’s final works and was published posthumously. This character driven novel frolics though the European summer and follows the writer David Bourne and his wife Catherine as they Honeymoon together. Hemingway captures the flavour of an uncrowded and idyllic French Mediterranean, and he makes important statements about the nature of art and of love.

5starsMA

Graceling

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away… a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone.

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Pieces of Sky


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“Lucy’s life was going as smoothly as any teenager’s could. She was the state backstroke champion, and swimming obsessed. She lived with her parents and her brother, Cam, in the small coastal town she’d known all her life. She had friends, she had goals – she had a life.Now Cam is dead, her parents might as well be – and Lucy can’t bear to get back in the pool. All she has to look forward to now is a big pile of going-nowhere.Drawn to Steffi, the wild ex-best-friend who reminds her of her artist brother, and music-obsessed Evan, the new boy in town, Lucy starts asking questions. Why did Cam die? Was it an accident or suicide? But as Lucy hunts for answers she discovers much more than she expects. About Cam. About her family. About herself.”

Pieces of Sky is an effortless read from beginning to end. The voices are real, the emotional tenor rings true and within pages I was hooked. In a clever way the narrative progression orbits around a dead character and there is a really exciting sense of getting to know Cam vicariously despite his death occurring before the story begins. This novel works on so many levels, an adolescent expose of east coast life in Australia and a reflective journey through the process of grief, acceptance and healing. It’s a beautiful world to be in, so pick this gem up and let yourself sink beneath the waves.

5stars

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A Moveable Feast

a-moveable-feast-232x377Reading ‘A Moveable Feast’ is a sensory indulgence. The narrative follows Hemingway though his early years in Paris and gives insight into the art scene of Europe during this exciting time in history.  Although romantically focalised by an older Hemingway, there is a ring of authenticity in the emotional quality of the book and you can almost hear the hum of poignant memories brought back to life. I actually read ‘A Moveable Feast’ while bouncing around cafes in Melbourne; once you’ve read this little gem you’ll appreciate the parallel satisfaction I had during this experience. Heaps of fun and typical crisp Hemingway.
5stars
PG

A Visit from the Goon Squad

“Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption”

I really thought that this 2010 Pulitzer-winning novel by Jennifer Egan was gorgeous. Very clever structure that defies chronological ordering or a straight forward plot-line. The characters a beautifully drawn and despite the fragmented layout of the story, I found I was hooked on the characters’ stories and the way they weaved in and out of each other’s lives. The ‘goon’ in this story is time itself and Egan explores how none of us are exempt from it. A funny, insightful and very intelligent novel.
4stars MA

Golden Son

“I’m still playing games. This is just the deadliest yet.’ Darrow is a rebel forged by tragedy. For years he and his fellow Reds worked the mines, toiling to make the surface of Mars inhabitable. They were, they believed, mankind’s last hope. Until Darrow discovered that it was all a lie, and that the Red were nothing more than unwitting slaves to an elitist ruling class, the Golds, who had been living on Mars in luxury for generations. In RED RISING, Darrow infiltrated Gold society, to fight in secret for a better future for his people. Now fully embedded amongst the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his dangerous work to bring them down from within. It’s a journey that will take him further than he’s ever been before – but is Darrow truly willing to pay the price that rebellion demands?”

What began as an isolated display of strategic genius in Red Rising, now spills over into a far more encompassing effort to “break the chains.” The Sons of Ares are still active, the Jackal is still alive and Darrow faces more challenges than ever before. Sublime characterisation, authentic world building and more plot twists than G.O.T leaves readers with a tinge that will take days to fade. Read it, read it now.

5stars
MA

Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises

‘The Sun Also Rises’ takes readers into the beating heart of the Spanish fiesta. The central characters of Hemingway’s story find themselves tangled up in late night cafes and wine bars while in the day the Plaza de Toros becomes the focal point of the week long party. Beginning in Hemingway’s beloved Paris, Jake and his friends find themselves fly fishing in Spanish high country and enjoying the good life, meanwhile relationships are crumbling and nerves are boiling over in the hot Spanish sun. A beautiful circular book which captures Hemingway’s fascination with Spain, bulls and unrequited love.

M4stars

The Orphan Master’s Son – Adam Johnson

“Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother–a singer stolen to Pyongyang–and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans. There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor. Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of superiors in the state, rises in the ranks, and starts on a road from which there will be no return.”

Adam Johnson (who happens to be a creative writing professor at Stanford University) gave a lecture at the Sydney Writer’s Festival this year (which was exceptional) where I had the opportunity to meet him and discover his Pulitzer’s winning novel. This book is daring and captivating. The exploration and treatment of a culture and nation so isolated and mysterious to the Western mind, is both fascinating and thrilling. While I was critical about the way Johnson had positioned his audience towards the nation of North Korea and how realistic his narrative reflected life under the Kim Jong-il leadership, I have to admit that the more I have researched since reading this book, the more accurate (and shocking) I have found even the most unbelievable aspects to be. Outside of its possible political or cultural (in)accuracies, Johnson has written an entirely unique and gripping novel that, as the panel of the Pulitzer Prize declared, “carries the reader on an adventuresome journey into the depths of totalitarian North Korea and into the most intimate spaces of the human heart.”

Mature themes and content (most of which is implied rather than explicitly stated). MA
Really, really great read.5stars