Book Reviews

Five Things Series: Hannah Kent

Hello peeps, and welcome back to my blog, Tea and Paperbacks! This post is a special dedication to one of my new favourite authors, Hannah Kent. Ever since I picked up Burial Rites and loved it, I have been meaning to read her other works and review them for you.

I read her two books quite a long time ago. I finished the second book I read by her, The Good People, on June, while I read her first novel, Burial Rites on October last year. Here are five things I loved about Hannah Kent’s books.

My review of Burial Rites, and The Good People.

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#1 The atmosphere and setting of her books

Both Kent’s books are set in Ireland in 1820s, but revolves around different events. In both novels, she has a similar theme running through the atmosphere and vibe of the books. They were all set in a cold country, and you can really feel the climate taking a huge role on the stories and the characters. The cold was what really struck to me as very Hannah Kent, echoing across both the books similarly.

On another note, the location of these stories are also very important. I can still clearly imagine the hills and small houses in Burial Rites, while the edge of the forest in The Good People, as well as the creeks and houses scattered in the village where the main character lives is still fresh on my mind.

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#2 Her few yet very well carved out characters

In her first book I wrote a review and stated that I didn’t really remember or had a strong impression of her side characters, but her main characters were so strong and well written that those who weren’t in the spotlight became just a blur. Overall though, her books do not have a huge cast of characters. Only a bunch of main characters, each of them unique in their own ways and so fleshed out you can feel how human they are.

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#3 Those book covers!

Just look at them.

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#4 That beautiful and quotable writing

This is almost the main reason why I picked up The Good People after reading Burial Rites. Hannah Kent has a way with writing her stories, weaving in the atmosphere and weather (like I mentioned), the characters, their dialogues, while also paying attention to the flow of the story. I agree, it is quite slow at lots of times, but I realized that those are the types of books that I love, the books that have a slow paced story with amazing writing that makes you want to underline a lot of the passages.

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#5 How the themes she discusses makes you contemplate about life

In Burial Rites, Hannah Kent tells a story about the last days of a woman who was persecuted to die because of a crime she claimed she didn’t commit. That’s a very heavy topic and reading the story from partly the woman’s point of view is very eye-opening. Additionally, in The Good People we find the main character, a grandmother who thinks her grandson is a changeling and tries to save him but in the end kills him instead. There are so many layers into the main characters, and the events that happened in the books, and it really makes you think about them a lot.

The sky comes closer and for a moment I am going to collide with the clouds, but then I see, they have put me on a horse, and like a corpse they are going to take me to the grave, like a dead woman they will bury me in the earth, pocket me like a stone. There are ravens in the sky, but what bird flies underwater? What bird can sing without stones beneath him to listen?
Natan would know. I must remember to ask him.

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So, have I convinced you all enough to pick up a book by Hannah Kent? I hope so! To find out my full thoughts on these two books, check out my review of them in Goodreads. Until next time!

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Writers, Psychopaths, and Pain: Misery by Stephen King Book Review

Hello fellow book lovers, my name is Ayunda and welcome back to my book blog, Tea and Paperbacks, posting every Monday and more! On May I read a phenomenal book by Stephen King by the title of Misery. This will be the spoiler-free review of the book!

Misery is a novel first published in 1987 by one of the most famous thriller and horror authors in the twenty-first century. I have read several books by King before: The Shining being my favourite so far. But I must admit that Misery comes close to the top of the list.

Title: Misery
Author: Stephen King
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Date Published: March 2010
Num of Pages: 356 pages
Date Read: 25th May, 2017
Goodreads Link
Book Depository Link

In this novel, there are only a handful of characters, and the characters we really know and read about are only two: the narrator, a famous writer named Paul, and Misery, his captor. The story starts with Paul waking up in pain, paralyzed and unable to move, lying on a bed in Misery’s house. The book covers his realization that he had gone into a car crash, was “saved” by his biggest fan, and now being held as ‘patient’ in her house. What we come to realize as the story continues is how psychopathic Misery is, and Paul’s attempts to escape from her, despite the fact that he’s drugged all the time and has no control over his disabled legs.

This book is not a horror book, but it’s definitely thrilling and much more scary than a lot of horror books/movies. It makes your heart race so fast, and leaves you wanting to read more and more and never stop reading until you see what happens in the end.

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What really amazes me is Stephen King’s ability to describe the feelings that Paul felt while he was lying 24/7 in the bed. His need for his drugs that will numb the pain in his feet. His desperation, and his fear, but also his determination. And most importantly his pain. A huge part of this book involves Paul being in excruciating pain, and it’s amazing how King is able to depict that, making us readers really understand how Paul is suffering so much, by words that aren’t just “it hurts” or “Paul felt huge pain” or something like that.

The plot is incredibly exciting. It’s like your typical thriller, kidnapping movie, but better and more exciting. When you read the blurb you’d probably think, this is just like any other “psychopath kidnapping a prisoner and torturing him little by little and killing him slowly because of the kidnapper’s mental illness” and all you want to know is how it ends, because to be honest there are only two ways it can end, right: either the prisoner escapes, or he doesn’t escape. But in here, of course I was wondering whether Paul will be able to escape in the end or not, but I was also intrigued with the whole story, about Misery herself, about how Paul will escape and what will happen to Misery. That’s what makes this book different. And I think this book owes it to King for making it unique and good.

In terms of characters, I think the book also fresh and unique, because like I mentioned, there were only two major characters in the book. Sure there would be people coming by and leaving and so and so throughout the book, but in the majority of the scenes, it’ll be just Paul and Misery. Paul is an okay character. He’s flawed, in the way that there were times when he’d just give up trying to survive or live, and accept his “fate”. The fact that he’s a writer, gives me a thought that Paul might be sort of based on Stephen King himself, being a successful and famous writer. Misery on the other hand, is twisted, crazy, and extremely dangerous, but at the same time she’s a character and she’s different than the typical mentally ill woman who does everything out of her disease. Misery is despicable and so so fricking scary, but I think she makes a wonderful antagonist.

So all in all, this book was fast-paced, such a page turner, filled with great writing, amazing plot and well rounded characters. King does it once again! I definitely recommend it if you like thrillers and psychopathic books. If you’re afraid of blood, gore, and other scary stuff, I’d suggest don’t read this. But for everyone else, GO AHEAD AND READ IT!

4 stars

Have you read Misery? Do you like reading books by Stephen King? Any similar thriller novels you’d recommend? Share with me your thoughts on the comments and let’s chat! Until next time, happy reading!

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Being a Uni Student, Music, and Family Secrets: Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien Book Review

I haven’t posted in 9 months in this blog, meaning that there are 9 months worth of books that I haven’t reviewed or posted in this blog. Therefore, here is an excellent book I read quite some time ago that I am eager to share with you. It won a lot of literary prizes and I think it really deserves all the longlists and wins.

Love, music, history, finding yourself, family, books, university. I have always loved books with themes revolving around immigrants or minority descendants living in Europe: The Namesake , White Teeth , and The Kite Runner are some of my favourites. This is a slightly more unique one, because it’s set in Canada and China, two countries whose history I am very unfamiliar with.

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Do Not Say We Have Nothing not only has a beautiful and intriguing title but also and interesting premise. It starts are the narrator’s house when she is a young girl, as she meets a family friend’s daughter who is moving from China to Canada where she lives. From there she discovers the intertwining secrets between their two families and the stories behind their parents.

We told each other secretly in the quiet midnight world
That we wished to grow together on the earth, two branches of one tree
Earth endures, heaven endures, even though both shall end.

The characters in this book are wonderful. My favourite is probably the narrator, Marie, but I also love the older generation characters, because they take up most of the part of the book. I enjoy their personalities, and how they deal with different phases of their life. I also love how they incorporated music into the history of their family, how the family members are very musical and really love and enjoy music deeply.

Title: Do Not Say We Have Nothing
Author: Madeleine Thien
Publisher: Granta Books
Date Published: July 2016
Num of Pages: 473
Date Read: 31st December, 2016
Goodreads Link
Book Depository Link

What I really really love about this book is its writing style. It’s slow and atmospheric but also explains a lot about the current situation, and at the same time can make the readers fall in love with the location and the characters.

For me the plot was also intriguing. I was never bored. True, sometimes I’d lose track of what the scene was about or forget some of the names, but most of the time the book is very engaging and I just can’t help but keep reading it to find out more. It’s definitely a different kind of page-turner from an action young adult, but for me this slow-build, intriguing stories are way more enjoyable and I love reading these type of books.

He’d been thinking about the quality of sunshine, that is, how daylight wipes away the stars and the planets, making them invisible to human eyes. if one needed the darkness in order to see the heavens, might daylight be a form of blindness? Could it be that sound was also be a form of deafness? If so, what was silence?

This book made me really think about university life, politics, history, family, love (familial love, forbidden love, unspoken love), and identity when living in a foreign country. It’s beautiful, lyrical and touching and I loved every page of it. In addition, you can really get an insight to the history of China related to the Tiananmen Square protests in the 1900s. I really enjoyed this novel and I recommend it if you enjoy slow, long, and character-driven historical fiction.

4 stars

Have you read Do Not Say We Have Nothing? What are your thoughts on this novel, and how much do you like historical fiction? Share us your thoughts on the comments down below!

 

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