How Long Would It Take You To Read Game of Thrones

I have stumbled across quite a few article recently about how long books will take someone to read. Some I have agreed with, others I’ve wondered at the methodology behind the outcomes. The boring stuff (mostly). This quiz, meme, thing, is a little different in that I suspect it might be a little more accurate. The results I came away with aren’t far off.

Enjoy! (I take no ownership of the incorrect coding)

<a href=”; target=”_blank”><img src=”; border=”0″ width=”505″ height=”505″ /></a><br /><span style=”font-size: 12px;”>The average person could read Game of Thrones in 484 days.<br />Click the image to find out if you could read it faster.</a> (via <a href=””>BlinkBox Books</a>).</span>


Fools or Charlatans written by Arthur Wright


ARC received from NetGalley.

0 stars out of 5

I cannot pinpoint a good place to start this review.

Mr Wright takes a belligerent, arrogant tone from the first page and accuses readers, almost, of being out to get him. He seems to suggest we have all been fooled or are in some way connected and responsible the the perpetuation of historical mythologies.

To be quite honest, I didn’t read the entire book, as quite frankly, who wants to be insulted for 400 odd pages. Life is to short for bad books.

[Review] Manuscript Found In Accra written by Paulo Coelho


4 stars
ARC received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Please note, this e-version may cause discrepancies in referencing.

“None of us can know what tomorrow will hold, because each day has its good and its bad moments” (9%).

“Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it – just as we have learned to live with storms” (69%).

Manuscript Found In Accra (MFIA) is uplifting, positive and motivational. If you have faith, no matter the form it takes, this book will bring you deeper into that faith. Yes, this book is essentially Christian but unlike what we see in the media, there is no harsh, indoctrinated preaching. The words are commonsense, practical and honest.

“The important thing is to get back on your feet. Only he who gives up is defeated” (12%).

I started reading MFIA after an horrific day at work. I was angry, I was tired, I was miserable and I wanted to throw in the towel, find a cave and never emerge. So many people took a little piece from me I no longer knew who I was. A mind and a body going through the motions with no purpose.

“Solitude is not the absence of company, but the moment when our soul is free to speak to speak to us and help us decide what to do with our life. Therefore, blessed are those who do not fear solitude, who are not afraid of their own company, who are not always desperately looking for something to do, something to amuse themselves with, something to judge. If you are never alone, you cannot know yourself.” (15-17%).

My heart lifted. Someone else had felt, experienced, written my need for being alone. Suddenly, I realised others felt a similar longing.

“In solitude, they will learn that saying ‘No’ does not always show a lack of generosity and that saying ‘Yes’ is not always a virtue” (18%).

How many of us, daily, hourly or by the minute feel we cannot say ‘no’ without offending the person making the request. How many of us agree to undertaking tasks, or joining activities, going on outings, seeing a movie, listening to a song, all because saying ‘yes, ok’ is easier than saying ‘no’.  “The most terrible of all weapons is the word, which can ruin a life without leaving a trace of blood, and whose wounds never heal” (84%).

How do we explain to the person making the request that what fills their souls with joy and pleasure are thorns for us.

Perhaps for them it is as Coelho writes, “For those who feel oppressed by solitude, it is important to remember that at life’s most significant moments we are always alone… Take all of us, when we find ourselves face to face with that Unwanted Visitor, Death: we will all be alone at that most important and most feared moment of our existence” (18%).

To be perfectly honest, I could go through MFIA page by page and explain how if has enhanced my life and my outlook but to do so would diminish your own reactions. “May I look at myself as if this were the first time I had ever been in contact with my own body and my own soul” (46%). If you allow MFIA to become a part of your psych it will answer and address the problems, trials etc. you are experiencing. “No matter how you are feeling, get up every morning and prepare to let your light shine forth” (54%).

The reviews of other readers, for the most part, confirm my own thoughts. Many readers found something in the text that spoke directly to them. One, however, bemused me. A 26 year old, writing on Goodreads states, “I guess I’m too old and pessimistic for this…”  and I feel only sadness because the next 40 to 50 years of their lives is going to be an enormous disappointment.

I won’t end on this depressing note. MFIA is not about negativity. Instead, I finish with this;

“The simplest things in life are the most extraordinary. Let them reveal themselves” (56%).

“Go in peace” (92%).

[Review] Red Rising by Pierce Brown


3 stars
ARC received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I must make a confession.

I read this book because of the promotion and hype associated with it on Twitter and Goodreads. Normally, this form of aggressive marketing results in me ignoring the book until the hype burns down. Often, when I come back to the book, I find the hype completely justified but this time I want to kick myself for being so gullible. I blame jet lag.

I want to preface this review with one idea I have been pondering, which may be untrue and is certainly not based on fact. I will risk saying it. YA writers have a hard time creating realistic characters (as do we all), and the problem is two fold. The writer is either too young to write well and their ideas are not completely thought out so you get arrogant stories full of soliloquizing how wonderful they are and how no one cares enough to understand them -or- the writer is too old, psychologically, and the feelings and emotions of this in between age are lost, faded memories resulting in characters who have wisdom beyond their years and are not accurate reflections.

I have great respect for those who write YA and I would not know where to start. This is also because I secretly read Pet Cemetery by Stephen King at 13 and never looked back when it came to age appropriate literature.

Let me go through Red Rising one step at a time.

At 5% I highlighted the sentence “The Sons think we are mistreated, so they blow things up. It is a pointless tantrum.”

Reaction: thoughts of suicide bombers, Iraq, Syria, MH17, Ukraine, Russia. It read as an extremely plausible connection to the current geopolitical situations around the globe.

At 12%, in the chapter entitled “The Martyr” I started to wonder where the author was going. Here was an interesting plot, with characters beginning to grow in my mind and take form, set on a planet currently uninhabitable, with people doing jobs that don’t exist under an unfair, unbalanced hierarchy we can all identify with. Then all of a sudden, other than to progress the plot (lazily) there’s a bitter affair. I’m not going to give anything away here, suffice to comment that the sacrifice is ludicrous, the emotion isn’t quite right and yet the reader is expected to care. The most thrilling part of this section is one particular paragraph, “Then the thumping of the Fading Dirge begins. Fists on chests. Fast, like a racing heartbeat. Slower. A beat a second. A beat every five. Every ten. Then never again, and the mournful mass fades away like dust held in the palm as the old tunnels wail with deep winds.”

This paragraph works. It highlights what seems to be engagement with anthropological and ethnographic studies of group reactions with a death. Reaching the end of the book, this is, sadly, the first and last time the writing achieved an emotional reaction. Thankfully, having read other reviews, I am far more at ease with admitting to boredom through great chunks of the remainder.

I must make another confession. I haven’t read or watched The Hunger Games but unless you have been living under a rock, there is no way you avoided the juggernaut it is.

In Red Rising the students make their way through the Passage and into the Game where House is pitted against House and they make ‘war’ against each other. It develops, fairly obviously, to be a war against the Proctors. I won’t go further on this my aim in this review is not to spoil the main thread.

I cannot finish this review without mentioning the irritating demi-god, Darrow. To be honest, Darrow was not irritating in the beginning. Sure, he was cocky and very pleased with himself but he’s 16. Who at 16 didn’t think they were perfect and wonderful. It is unfortunate though that Darrow doesn’t grow and become something more robust. He devolves into a caricature of his original self and the original condition of his situation, his ‘carving’ and his relationships with Dancer and Eo are lost to him self aggrandizing and feeling wounded.

The author, threw Darrow, appears to lose sight of the original driving point of the plot. Contributing further to the aforementioned boredom, is never being exposed to the thoughts and opinions of the other characters. It is an easy way of avoiding character development but it is also lazy when, in book two, the reader will be expected to remember and perhaps empathise with one dimensional and forgettable characters. Even the “bad guy” is under developed and no more nuisance than a slapped mosquito.

Some other readers and bloggers have suggested that Darrow is a prime example of a Mary Sue but of the reviews I’ve read, they all stop short of pinning this label to him. I think the term “Mary Sue”, now so prominently in use, is transcendent of gender and can be applied to any character fitting the profile. For Red Rising, however, I want to allow a little bit of leeway because the author himself is only 26 and what he has written and the backing he has amassed, suggests someone believes in his capability as a writer. Unfortunately, I cannot count myself as one of them and probably won’t read further instalments.

[Review] Burial Rites written by Hannah Kent

5 stars

“The ice will haunt you, in ways so deep, locking up inside you the dreams that you keep.”
Barefoot. k.d.lang from the 1991 movie, Salmonberries

At 17, I watched Salmonberries, a film set in Alaska and wondered how anyone survives the cold. I wondered at the brutality of an environment I could not reconcile to my own experience of sub tropical Queensland.

At 17, Hannah Kent, a fellow Australian, went on student exchange to Iceland.

There is no real similarity in the two situations.

Except there is.

A few years ago, I went to the Middle East. Brave, foolish, call it what you will, I experienced Jordan, Syria and Egypt and I would not trade those five weeks for anything. The culture shock is incredible in these countries. The mid to high 40 degree temperatures, the evening picnics along the highway during Ramadan, the camels, the children and adults that stare at white westerners with, in my experience, curiosity rather than animosity. I threw myself into an experience vastly oppositional to my comfort zone.

Kent, in the postscript of Burial Rites, writes about feeling exposed and isolated in a community and I can identify with this. When you don’t speak the language, know few of the customs and want desperately to blend in and be accepted, being different is an enormous challenge. Fast forward to the time when Kent was writing this novel, we should remember that she did not speak the language so the story she heard of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the research involved and the interviews and conversations take on a construction level, beyond the challenges we face when thinking and writing in our primary language.

Agnes Magnúsdóttir, protagonist of the factual, historical novel is instantly endearing. Everyone has made assumptions about her because of her mother, her childhood, her status as pauper, her status as maid, her relationship with her alleged victim. No one, even the family and the junior priest sent to counsel her, truly know her. She remains the murderess almost right to the end.

As the reader, Kent exposes us to the internal monologue of Agnes. We learn about her life and her treatment. We learn about her dreams, the ambitions she had to gain a slightly higher, though still modest, status and her fears. Agnes speaks to us in the first person. She could be sitting next to you on the tube, or across from you in a cafe. Her words are striking and sometimes so powerful, you read the sentence again to be sure you’ve understood her correctly. I found myself, in moments, wishing she would tell more of the story, however, the steady progression of the farms year, the reaping, the culling, the making of sausage and salting of meat add to the sense of urgency that Agnes will be executed before you have learnt all there is to know. The descriptions of the cold can be felt in your own bones and this is even more poignant remembering days spent in Stockholm at -18C degrees.

Watching the pages remaining decrease in number adds to the feeling of agitation that Agnes is slipping away. I am convinced, having begun using a Kindle for some books recently, the same emotions would have arisen. Knowing the percentage you’ve read is not the same tactile experience of paper.

I want to praise Hannah Kent for this book. She took me to a country I have yet to travel to and immersed me in the cold brutality of winter, the beauty of a spring and the comfort of having a home to come back to even if it isn’t your own and is a fleeting moment of security. For a first novel there is a level of skill within the pages you may not expect.

Every moment of this book was worth the emotions and the experience. I do feel sad though that I will never read this book for the first time again. This might seem a strange thing to say, but every so often a book is so special you want to relive it, share it and if necessary, force people to experience it.

Agnes Magnúsdóttir and Friðrik Sigurðsson were the last people to be executed in Iceland – 12 January 1830. RIP.



Hannah Kent was the focus of Australian Story on 1 July 2013. The transcript can be found here

Further reading

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