Iceland
Book review, Community

Summer Reading

Summer in Australia, means that many of us can use the excuse of the heat, to relax inside the air-con with a good book, guilt free. And if you are anything like me, it would usually be a good crime novel that you reach for.

As my summer is now over, I thought I’d share a few lesser known authors I read, in particular some Icelandic authors. 

Iceland Thingvellir

Authors from Iceland

One Icelandic author that you may not be familiar with is psychological thriller/crime writer, Arnaldur Indridason. I really enjoyed the tone of his books, particularly how he depicts the cold bleak landscape of Iceland using this to not only to illustrate the tragedy and sadness in the plot, but also to reflect thoughtfully on the past.

It’s easy to feel sympathy for Indridason’s protagonist, when the character reveals the great personal cost of police detective work. Two of Indridason’s books include, The Draining Lake and Tainted Blood which is alternatively: “Jar City” and both give an insight into police procedures.

Jar city is the story of a murder mystery that spans a generation and discusses the implications of inherited traits or diseases in a country where they Human genome project is extremely topical. (The Icelandic genetic pool has, to a large extent, been isolated from external influences). Jar city has been made into a motion picture and the cinematography in certain rural scenes, is absolutely fantastic, as one would expect from a country as scenic as Iceland. And right now, virtual travel is best!

‘The Draining Lake’ delves a little into historical fiction and Icelandic political attitudes during the Cold War era, so it also provided an insight into cultural beliefs of that time. For example, police staff being rung at home by members of the public or getting into political arguments with suspects, seems not to be an unusual occurrence for detectives in Iceland. 

Iceland

One Review states,” THE DRAINING LAKE boasts an interesting and unusual angle, especially for those of us not familiar with Iceland’s recent history. There’s a link to the Cold War and spying, and to the 1950s when idealistic Icelandic teenagers went to study in East Germany. Unlike Indridason’s earlier books, where I never felt much of a sense of place, Iceland and its society plays a more vital role in this book – particularly as the posting from hell for diplomats! “

Suggested reads  by Icelandic authors: Arnaldur Indridason or,  if your preference is not for thrillers/crime, you might like to try Iceland’s Nobel prize for Literature winner Halldor Laxness, whose books are available include, Independent People, The Fish can Sing, Iceland’s Bell and Atom Station. I hope you find these entertaining as Icelandic literature is something well worth pondering over.

snow

Reading Recommendations

Blogger M-R has just referred me to the Daughters of Time, which I downloaded on the Kindle last night, so I am keen to get started on that book today.

I hope you enjoy discovering some new authors this summer. (Or winter if you are living in the south).

Do you have any recommendations of books you have read lately?

Crime fiction/Historical Fiction/Autobiographies? It matters not the genre.

I would love to hear them.

stpa logo
kristina ohlsson book review
Community

Not Your Average Crime Novel – ‘Unwanted’

kristina ohlsson book review
Unwanted

‘In the middle of a rainy Swedish summer, a little girl is abducted from a crowded train.’

Suspicion immediately falls upon the husband who has previously been violent towards his estranged wife in the past, but is he really the killer? Despite hundreds of potential witnesses about on the platforms, no one notices that the girl  is taken from an arriving Stockholm train. Days later, she is found, dead, her body dumped outside the emergency department of a hospital, in the far north of Sweden.

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you will almost certainly know that I have a predilection for crime fiction. Especially Nordic crime fiction. Many of the Scandinavians write in a highly descriptive way that gives a depth to the narrative and the  visual imagery. This sets them apart, I feel, from crime writers from other regions. And it doesn’t help that I like the dark, rain-sodden, fog- filled descriptions of the Scandinavian countryside! Well, I am a winter person, living in a sun- soaked country where everything is hot and dry and brown, so can you really blame me?

‘UNWANTEDis a brilliant first novel by Swedish author, Kristina Ohlsson and gives me  no reason to change my overriding view of  Scandic crime novels. Yet it is better than your average read. Far better. Whilst the crime might be a tad more unsavory than that found in other novels, the reader is spared the goriest of details, yet remains fully aware of the terror taking place.  Skilled writing, I think!

In this novel, you are very much taken along for the ride with the detectives, seeing what they see, thinking what they think. Readers are given more insights into the police process and procedures. We see how it is they try to piece the murder puzzle together: what steps must be followed, what angles have to be investigated, when discovering a new lead and how collaboration reveals important snippets of information. I’ve not found this in other crime novels. So it comes as no surprise to find that Kristina Ohlsson herself has worked for a police organization in Sweden and no doubt this makes her writing all the more authentic, and readable. It seems like real life!

Many crime novels reach their climax via a detective/investigator fitting the pieces of information together by having a private epiphany of sorts, which is only partially  shared with the readers until the final reveal; thus the reader is usually left to figure out his or her genius in crime analysis, for themselves, before a later explanation is given.  But not so with Kristina’s writing. She takes you along, on the roller coaster, with her characters, and I found this terribly appealing and definitely a ‘can’t put down’ factor.

The reader is also reminded that police detectives are humans with their own sets of personal entanglements and dramas and the policeman’s families also suffer from a case. Peder, a mid level detective on the team, with ambitious, slightly misogynistic leanings, begins to have marital problems as he tries to juggle the needs of his infant twins, his tired depressed wife, his long working hours and his own personal needs outside of work. At one point, he breaks down and it is his Mother who attempts to console him in a profound statement:

‘Things will change, Peder,’ she says. ‘Misery has its natural limits. There comes a point when you know for certain that things can’t get worse, only better.’

Now that we have been introduced to Peder, I am sure his personal journey will continue in subsequent novels, in this crime series. I will surely ponder about that.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

CPD (Can’t put down) Factor: 9.5/10

The good: Wonderful descriptive writing and imagery without being over the top

The bad: Haven’t found anything bad about this book yet.

The Ugly: We learn that police make blunders and have to live with that, somehow.

What will you think of it?

Will you enjoy it as much as me?

Who are your favourite crime authors?

 

xmas
Community

Three Seconds – To the Dark Side

It is a strange feeling when you start to feel support for a villain, even if it is just a fictional character. If  on reading this post, you’re thinking that sounds a tad like the so-called, ‘Stockholm Syndrome,’ you’d be right, – because I have just finished reading Three Seconds, a Swedish crime novel, set in Stockholm, an offering from writers Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom.

city hall stockholm
Stockholm in Winter

Being set in Sweden, with vignettes in Denmark and Poland, was enough to pique my interest in the story, but that increased tenfold when I began reading about Ewert Grens, the ageing Swedish detective. He is the kind who stubbornly refuses to give up on unsolved cases, and the plot contrasts him with another character, Piet Hoffman, a man with a secret life, who risks everything he loves every single day. As I read on, I thought, ‘Could these men ever be free of the choices they’d made?’

20161015_162120

The book makes you think and such is the skill of the authors that the reader might even find him/herself, as I did, admiring the villain, who is known to you from the start. No matter how murky his world becomes, no matter how much deception or corruption this character engages in, the reader is, surreptitiously, drawn to the ‘wrong’ side of the moral and legal fence, rather than championing the side of the police hero, who solves the crime.

I began to admire the criminal’s intellect, his fortitude and his cunning, to the point that I even began to secretly wish for him to ‘to come out on top,’  to be free, to beat the odds, yet knowing that he couldn’t possibly ever win. It was then that I thought, “How could I be siding with criminality?”

On reflection, I think, it is because the villain in this story is so human. He is just like any of us, a man faulted with good and bad feelings, a man with mixed emotions. A man who shows tenderness, and hardened self-control, but also one that faced some tough choices in navigating a duplicitous existence in the criminal underworld. Yes, that is why he has my sympathy.

Freedom is a package deal – with it comes responsibilities and consequences” – Anonymous

And so the plot continues until the final reveal and ‘twist,’ that arrives almost in the very last sentence! You are on the edge of your seat until the last. Wow… my kind of writing!!!

The inclusion of a final appendix of ‘notes,’ felt as if the authors wanted to answer the questions I already had spinning around in my head. That’s a unique and welcome surprise in a crime novel, especially considering the plot is not completely fictional! Knowing that gave me so much more to Ponder About.

Winner of the Swedish Crime Novel of the Year for 2009, Three Seconds dominated the Swedish best Sellers list for 18 months and was translated into English, in 2010.

Highly Recommended.  Forestwood’s Rating: 9/10

Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden

Save

Save

shadows
Community

Shadow – Book by Karin Altvegen

Very Lord of the RingsNowadays people talk a lot about chasing happiness. There are a multitude of books courses about being happy. Feeling happy has become something that we constantly desire convinced that when we have found the secret to being happy, everything will fall into place perfectly. Not being happy has come to be equated with failure. Is it possible to be happy each waking day, year in year out? Is it something worth striving for? Karin Altvegen explores this in her novel, “Shadow.”

Prior to reading this book, I had only read one other book by this author. Shame which had been described as:

“An existential thriller about the power of fear and the brains capability to repress things that is to painful to remember. About the fatal consequences of an atypical childhood.  And about the biggest shame of all: The feeling of not having been loved by one’s parents.”

It seems this theme and moral stand is continued in Karin’s novel, Shadow; So it was with trepidation and a pre-conceived idea that I read this book. And it certainly was about not facing one’s fears and loneliness! The shadows of the past can be forgotten, but their imprint might be indelibly fixed.

This is the story of a son trying to emulate his father: a psychological thriller about relationships and how the past can influence the future – how actions live on after they are long forgotten – what starts from a lack of good parenting, is then compounded by a serious lack of communication, ends with characters who take drastic and monumentally tragic couses of action.

shadow3

Featuring the writers Alice and Axel Ragnerfelt who hold a dark secret, ‘Shadow’ is a family history marked by what seems almost to be a generational pattern of despair. communication.

“She remembered how at first she was so proud to bear the Ragnerfeldt name. Her friends would get a dreamy look in their eyes whenever he was mentioned, and they wanted to hear all about what he was like. But when they noticed her ambivalence and lack of enthusiasm, she was met with suspicion, as if her words had sprung from envy. No one wanted to hear anything negative about Axel, the national treasure. She stopped saying what she felt and joined his crowd of admirers, at least outwardly. It was easier that way.”

One protagonist ponders the moment at which a personal calamity begins?

“When does the first flake fall that will form the snowball? At what stage does the movement start? Was it the day when he secretly chose the linguistic path, …. By now everything had been in motion for a long time. There was only one hour left until what they thought was theirs would be lost for ever.”

“But even a bell’s invisible crack is revealed by a dull peal. Had the evil always been inside him? Or had it taken over when everything was stolen from him. When all that remained to him was the ability to shatter in order to retaliate.  Too late he realized that he had directed his revenge at himself. That what he had shown himself to be capable of had chained him to a shame too heavy to bear.

So how does he handle it?

Gratefully he felt it (the alcohol) take over. The feeling of liberation when the brain when numb. When he was no longer capable of comprehending the depth of his pain. Why weren’t human beings born this way? With their blood spiked from the start with a small percentage of alcohol? With the defense mechanism disconnected and the soul in a state of peace. Was survival really so important that it outweighed all suffering?

Sometimes I think that today we have trouble finding happiness because of our deep fear of suffering. Is happiness a type of contentment?
Contentment is a feeling of having obtained or achieved what can reasonable be desired. And this novel discusses individuals who struggle with contentment…..the courage to settle down and dare to be satisfied with what they have.Very Lord of the Rings

But then on page 154 Altvegen writes, “Someone who puts caution first stifles the life he’s trying to save.”  and the writer’s astute observations made me ponder more about happiness and life, but in a different way.  A tale of murder and family secrets is not for everyone, yet I wondered why this novel was left sitting on my TBR shelf, for so long. It is seriously good.

Shadow is a novel  by Karin Altvegen from 2007 that has been translated into English.

Rating: 8/10

The good: Skillful and suspenseful convoluted plot that switches back and forth with  surprising twists and turns. The depth and layers of this book gives me somethings to ponder about.

 

snow
Book review, Community

Strange Shores – Arnaldur Indridason Book Review

 

Iceland

Arnaldur Indridason is one of my favourite crime authors, and when I read novels that form part of a series, I  become quite attached to the characters,  as I did, with Detective Erlendur, in Strange Shores. This is the final book in the Detective Erlendur series, although there is the possibility of Erlender prequels being mooted, across the net, at the moment.

Erlendur,  himself, is a bit of a loner; a somewhat sad character who nevertheless has a keen intellect for solving crime. He hails from a family that has encountered hardship, loss and mental instability, which has been the undercurrent permeating story lines in the series, including Jar City, Hypothermia and Silence of the Grave.

Erlendur has, since he was young, been deeply affected by the disappearance of his only brother, who was lost in a Snowstorm, never to be found. It seems guilt is a driving factor in his inability to emotionally move on from this traumatic event.

Strange Shores wraps up this background story in a surprising way as Erlendur, ostensibly on leave in the East Fjords, becomes interested in the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of a young wife back in WWII, in circumstances similar to that of his young brother, Beggi. The subsequent rumours were, that after Matthildur’s disappearance, she returned to haunt her husband, who then later drowned in a storm. During his leave in the area, of his childhood, Erlendur chats to locals, and discovers that there just might be more to the ghost story than meets the eye.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Iceland – where nature can so quickly turn ugly

This novel is not what one would call, fast-paced, but it does illuminate life in Iceland in the post war period and the public and private difficulties associated with living in a harsh environment, of that era. I found the splashes of history interesting and especially useful in anchoring the story to make it more believable.

Then there is the way the old Icelandic culture contrasts with the modern innovations of industry in contemporary Iceland and this pivots well with the connections between the old and new story lines.  Indridason’s character portraits are well-developed and the ‘old timers’ literally jump out from the pages with their craggy beards and pointed fingers.

One of the few remaining Icelandic sheep farms

In attempting to investigate and perhaps solve the mysterious disappearance of Matthildur, Erlendur comes face to face with his own demons and, in the process, the reader learns a lot about what drives the detective, as a person. This adds an element of psychological depth to the story that I found highly readable, however, this may not be so much the case for first – time readers, of an Indridason novel, as they would not have formed such a strong bond with Erlendur, as a character, as yet.

There are tragic themes in this novel as well, and it does delve into some of these. Society’s loners, recluses, and those suffering with mental illness feature in this novel, with the added issue of  how that may affect the family as a whole. The resilience of the Icelandic folk is self – evident throughout.

Iceland Hekla
Hekla – Volcano Iceland

Traveling through Iceland in the winter of 2008, I remember encountering the occasional abandoned farmstead, some, such as the one below, that Icelandic folk vehemently claimed, is haunted by ghosts. In the barren and unrelenting winter landscape that is Iceland, where nature reigns supreme and man is simply an afterthought, I don’t for one second doubt that the locals find imaginative ways to explain adverse happening such as the ghost in this story. So, it was with this memory and images in my head that I read Strange Shores, a story so Icelandic, with subterranean spiritual and psychological undertones. A fitting end to the Erlendur series.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Good: Visual imagery of the characters and landscapes and how life in Iceland is really living at the very edge of possible human habitation

The Bad: Jacob’s treatment of Ezra and the strange dreams Erlendur experiences

The Ugly: Erlendur’s actions in the graveyard

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Something to Ponder About

Community

Friday Fiction Review : Hypothermia – by Arnaldur Indridason

 Hypothermia  – by Arnaldur Indridason

Book - The cop killer
Nordic crime fiction books

A Reykjavik Murder Mystery

It is a cold Autumn night, the ice has already formed in chunks on Lake Thingvellirvatn… In a holiday cottage a Doctor’s wife is found hanging. She has a history of depression and her Mother recently died of a terminal illness. But is it suicide… Erlender the gloomy and withdrawn Rejkjavik detective must decide. This case is unofficial, it won’t change the outcome of the case and everything is clear cut. Yet Erlender pursues it like a murder case with a drive to find out why the woman’s life ended in such an abrupt manner. As he begins to collects information, he again faces his own personal demons and confronts cold missing persons cases that have laid dormant for years with some suprising results….

The Good:  A wonderfully written Scandinavian crime mystery; a delight for continuing readers of Indridason as the character continue their own personal story; atmosphere plus in descriptions of Glacial lakes, blizzards and cold desolate landscapes..

The Bad:  Hard to find fault… but I am partial to this genre…

The Ugly: Predictable in parts, but not boring…. No happy ending…. but this is not ugly either…

Verdict: RECOMMENDED

Other titles by Indridason: ( these have been translated to English)

Jar city ( aka Tainted Blood)
Silence of the Grave (to be read soon I hope)
Arctic Chill
Voices
The Draining Lake

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge – A book you hated.

DAY 29. – HUNGER by Knut Hamsun

Hunger is a 1890 novel by Norwegian author Knut Hamsun. Parts of it  were published anonymously in the Danish magazine ‘Ny Jord‘ in 1888.

It is an astonishing book for its time, belonging I think more to the avant-garde modernist writing than to the sometimes considered “proper” late 19th century.  A writer encounters difficulties financially and mentally when he loses his job, and then is left without income for food and essentials in 19th century Christiania, (the former Oslo), where he slowly and agonizingly descends into mental confusion.

George Egerton claims this book is:

“One of the most important and controversial writers of the 20th century, Knut Hamsun made literary history with the publication in 1890 of this powerful, autobiographical novel recounting the abject poverty, hunger and despair of a young writer struggling to achieve self-discovery and its ultimate artistic expression. The book brilliantly probes the psycho-dynamics of alienation and obsession, painting an unforgettable portrait of a man driven by forces beyond his control to the edge of self-destruction. Hamsun influenced many of the major 20th-century writers who followed him, including Kafka, Joyce and Henry Miller. Required reading in world literature courses, the highly influential, landmark novel will also find a wide audience among lovers of books that probe the “unexplored crannies in the human soul”

Notwithstanding the huge body of opinions that this is/was literary genius, I disliked the book, neigh, I hated the book, yet I hung on reading it to the final page.  If I was to read it now, I can honestly say I would never finish it. I found the novel too brutal, raw and dark.  If I wanted to feel utter despair at the world and at the human spirit, I would read it with a passion. But I don’t. Can this really be the role of the writer? To depress readers under the guise of giving them reality, no matter how brutal?

I want my books to be entertaining, to lighten my spirit, to take me to a place where I can momentarily forget the gloom and doom a worldly future might bring. This is not to say that I would read Romantic novels, or smarmy soap operatic stories, rather, I have no patience to be suppressed in the realms of the negative. This is why I hated Knut Hamsun’s book.

But perhaps I missed the point, for there were sections that I admired for their literary power.

“The intelligent poor individual was a much finer observer than the intelligent rich one. The poor individual looks around him at every step, listens suspiciously to every word he hears from the people he meets; thus, every step he takes presents a problem, a task, for his thoughts and feelings. He is alert and sensitive, he is experienced, his soul has been burned…”

But then again, this:

“The heavy red roses smoldering in the foggy morning, blood-colored and uninhibited, made me greedy, and tempted me powerfully to steal one–I asked the prices merely so I could come as near them as possible.”

The sad tale of this writer’s mental demons and his fight to survive without income, in a non-existent welfare state was depressingly repetitive throughout the book, and then one day: (N.B. Spoiler alert!) – he ups and leaves on a ship….. and that’s it? Ummmm, did I miss something? I read pages and pages of long detailed descriptions of hunger, and despair and mental anguish, the complete all encompassing absence of hope,  to reach a point with no closure?????  I felt completely marooned – let down by Hamsun.

Yes, perhaps I missed the point!       – Something to Ponder About

30 Day Book Challenge Update

It has been over 30 days, but I admit that I had reservations as to whether this challenge could be done. Read here

Final day of the 30 day Challenge:
DAY 30. – Book you couldn’t put down.

Architecture, Community, History & Traditions, Motivational

30 Day Book Challenge – Favourite Quote from a Book

DAY 28. Jonathan Wunrow – Adventure Inward: A Risk-Taker’s Book of Quotes

Where else does one find a quote, but in a book of quotes.

Jonathan is a rock climber and mountaineer, and has been stuck in places where he has been tired and exhausted, but nevertheless stuck. It is there he does his best thinking and problem solving.  He contemplates, death, extreme sports, personal actions and faults, in his book of quotes.  This is the quote I have chosen to highlight today:

ACCEPTING THINGS AS THEY ARE, IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM ALLOWING THEM TO REMAIN THAT WAY! – Jonathan Wunrow

Simple, but poignant. Inspiring Action!!! Do not just sit there and take it! Make change!!!

In reference to the above quote, Jonathan also adds, There are times in our life when acceptance is cause for inaction, and there are times when taking actions is the only way to accept a situation and MOVE ON>>

Something to Ponder About.

Final two days of the 30 day Challenge:
DAY 29. – A book you hated.
DAY 30. – Book you couldn’t put down.

Environment, History & Traditions

-30 Day Book Challenge – A Book that has been on your “to read” list the longest.

DAY 27 – REGAINING COMPASSION  for HUMANITY and NATURE by Charles Birch

“Charles Birch is one of the most exciting and provocative scientists writing on fundamental issues today,” according to Paul Davies.

Whether or not you agree with his theological conclusions, this book will make you think. It is especially recommended to those who think that science has all of the answers –  Paul R Ehrlich

I heard winning Australian author Charles Birch speak about the rebirth of compassion, for ourselves, each other and our planet, and  set about finding his book, (with great difficulty), many years ago, in fact, over 14 years ago. It is heavy going and the constraints of time and many other books TBR, have  thus far prevented me from reading it.

In the book, I one day will read, Birch presents a persuasive argument that only compassion has the power to enrich and heal a world which too often seems senseless, unintelligible and accidental.

An important contribution to the science/religion dialogue.

Something to Ponder About, when I get to reading it.

Book review

30 day Book Challenge – A Book that Made You Laugh Out Loud

Day 26 – Håkan Nesser – The Mind’s Eye

“Van Veeteren was generally able to decide if he was looking the culprit in the eye in nineteen cases out of twenty, if not more.  No point in hiding his light under a bushel.”Birch tree

Such is the wry humour behind Swedish crime fiction novelist Håkan Nesser 1993 novel’s protaganist: Inspector Van Veeteran, (which has been ably translated from Swedish to English by Laurie Thompson), published in 2008.

This novel I have chosen to profile for Day 26, is philosophical at times, due mainly to comments raised by the alleged perpetrator, Janek Mitter’s, (a philosophy and history teacher). Comments which inspire the reader to ponder more about the nature of life and death. This occurs several times throughout the book, and is something rarely found in the crime fiction genre, and therefore, makes this author special.

The story itself, revolves around a disconnected innocent husband (isn’t it always the husband? according to ‘Harry Hole’), who is held to trial for the murder of his wife. He claims he is not guilty, his only pathetic defense is memory loss. In the novel, he wakes with a severe headache and an enormous hangover, and can’t remember any events of the previous night except that he finds his wife dead in the bath tub, (behind a locked bathroom door). Suspiciously, upon finding her, he cleans the flat and to add to his worsening prospects, he ridiculously claims in court, that he “will admit to everything if someone would give [him] a cigarette!

Despite this, Van Veeteran has reservations that he is the real killer and this is confirmed when, a month after Mitter’s imprisonment in a psychiatric facility, he is murdered. The dead wife, a sex goddess type with a dysfunctional family background is another real mystery, and the colleagues at the school where Mitter worked, seemed unwilling to support him in any way so his guilt seems obvious, except that he is also now dead.

“Eva Ringmar turned up in the fourteenth chapter of his life. Between pages 275 and 300, she played the role that overshadowed all others: the priestess of love, the goddess of passion, and then she went away, would probably continue for a while to live a sort of life between the lines, but soon she would be forgotten. It had all been so intense that it was preordained to come to an end. An episode to add to the plot? A sonnet? A will-o’-the-wisp? Finished. Dead, but not mourned. End of valediction. End of contradicton. No doubt this must be the state of shock that was driving his thoughts into such channels. That had crushed and demolished everything, made it impossible for him to grasp what had happened. To grasp what was happening to him….?

Van Veeteran’s tenacity comes from his belief in a “determinant” and this helps him solve this puzzling crime, even in the absence of leads.

It’s an unusual story, solvable but only in the dying pages of the book. The humour is apparent from page 1 and really sets Nesser’s novel apart from other crime writers. One cannot get enough of them, and it comes highly recommended.

If you are hoping to read about the real Sweden in these pages, forget it, as the locations are as mythical as the stories themselves! Still the Scandinavian genre of murder mysteries is evident in the wintry, cold rainy atmosphere so pervasive in this book!

The Good: Humour, in small to moderate doses that compliments the story and the philosophical touches

The Bad:  The frustration a reader feels when one’s instinct tells one that the wrong person will be jailed. And the tragedy that leads to the murder and depressing nature of institutional life.

The Ugly: The meaning of the title?

Rating: 9 out of 10

Here is a list of Nesser’s Van Veeteran series that have been translated, thus far:

1993 The Mind’s Eye translated 2008

1994 Borkmann’s Point translated 2006

1995 The Return translated 2007

1996 Woman with Birthmark translated 2009

1997 The Inspector and Silence, translated 2010

1998 The Unlucky Lottery, translated 2011

1999 Hour of the Wolf, translation 2012

The following are available but am not sure if that includes Australian bookstores at this point:

  • 2000 – Ewa Morenos fall English translation: The Weeping Girl, 2013
  • 2001 – Svalan, katten, rosen, döden English translation: The Strangler’s Honeymoon, 2013
  • 2003 – Fallet G; English translation: The G File, 2014

Nesser is the winner of the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award three times over and a Glass Dagger Award in 2000 for another book in the Van Veeteren series.

Nesser has written another detective series, none of which have yet been translated into English.

I have ordered the two more of his books from Amazon! Does that say something that I am pondering about?

Other entries worth reading:

http://keatspeare.wordpress.com/2014/12/10/30-day-book-challenge-day-26/

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge – Least favourite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise

Day 22- Wordy Title but I get it  and the least favourite plot device is….

Waking up in another person’s body or going forward/back in age in your own body.

You know those stories where the protagonist goes to sleep and dreams he or she is 40, (if they are young), or 16 years old, again, if they are middle aged. When they awake, they realize it is real. They are inhabiting another body.

Stupid, inane, detestable plot device that insults our intelligence. Waste of resources, space and our time.

I will admit to them having a small modicum of entertainment value, and note that they seem to have been used in more American films than I could count. So clearly, some people enjoy this kind of rubbish.

Do you?

Something to Ponder About.

See guidelines and links to previous days of this challenge here

DAY 23. – Best book you’ve read in the last 12 months.
DAY 24. – Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like/liked.
DAY 25. – The most surprising plot twist or ending.
DAY 26. – Book that makes you laugh out loud.
DAY 27. – Book that has been on your “to read” list the longest.
DAY 28. – Favorite quote from a book.

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge – Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t

Day 20 – Harry Potter Series

Okay, I admit it – I haven’t read them!!! My kids have, and I half listened to their reading aloud, in their primary school years, so that counts??? and I read the first three chapters, but that was it.

This series just didn’t grab me like it did the entire population of the Western world.

Perhaps the heady commercialism of it all put me right off.

Perhaps if Harry and Hermione took off to Stockholm or Fjallbacka, I might sit up and take more notice.

Perhaps if I was interested in Twilight, I would like Harry Potter?

I really don’t know what more I can say on this day’s topic.

Oh! And I am not into Twilight either!

Something I don’t ponder about – ever.
DAY 22. – Least favourite plot device employed by way too many books you actually
enjoyed otherwise.
DAY 23. – Best book you’ve read in the last 12 months.
DAY 24. – Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like/liked.
DAY 25. – The most surprising plot twist or ending.
DAY 26. – Book that makes you laugh out loud.
DAY 27. – Book that has been on your “to read” list the longest.
DAY 28. – Favorite quote from a book.

Book review, Community, Food

30 day Book Challenge – Favourite Childhood Book

Day 20 – Winnie The Pooh Series by A. A. Milne

It’s a tad embarrassing but yes, it’s Winnie The Pooh!!!!

The challenge did ask for  the favourite childhood book, as opposed to favourite children’s book. That’s my childhood, right?

All things considered, A.A. Milne had a captive market with me, and his Winnie The Pooh  series. As a child growing up in the sixties, in a lower-middle class family from the “burbs”,  we were far away from being poverty stricken, yet even so, I only had five or six books to my name, (and A.A. Milne was the author of four of them). This was due mainly to my spendthrift father who ensured we utilized the city council library, with its many literary resources,  (costing him next to nothing), as opposed to him buying books, which he clearly considered an extravagance to a child in my era. Geez, we were lucky to get a new t-shirt or pair or socks for our birthdays, let alone something as non-essential as a BOOK!

Thus, I read and re-read those Pooh books over and over, to the point where I could easily recite parts of the ‘hundred aker wood’ dialogue some 40 years later. Eeyore’s depressive comments, Owl’s wise lyricisms, (but incredibly bad spelling), the dopey but lovably loyal Pooh Bear, the neurotic Piglet and the blubbering Tigger were such a delight. I could never forget Rabbit’s attempt to ‘unbounce’ Tigger, or the discovery of the ‘North Pole’ in the flooded river when Pooh was rescuing Roo, nor Pooh getting ‘stuck’ in his quest for ‘hunny’.’

Such was the mind of the 7 year old me that it was a several years before I realized Christopher Robin was in fact, a boy. After all, the book’s illustrations had him wearing some pretty girlish attire to say nothing of his long unruly hair! Every boy I knew sported a #2 crew cut and bat wing ears, so this ‘Robin’ must therefore be a girl!

To say it was my favourite childhood book is a slight exaggeration, as I didn’t really have many other book to compare it too, only discovering classics like Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ when a friend introduced me to that series, years later. (By then, it was too late, I was hooked on the hunt for the ‘heffalump’ and the rest of Pooh corner).

When my own children came along, (being the bookworm that I am), I was determined to create a mini-library in their bedrooms, but the world had significantly changed and Pooh Bear had long been supplanted by the likes of Mem Fox, (who writes the best-ever-carefully crafted, children stories), Spot and his various escapades, Postman Pat, Thomas the Tank,  (modern editions) and several individual stories that are memorable more for their iambic pentameter and illustrations than for their author’s names.

Piglet and Eeyore didn’t endear themselves to my kids, nor did the map of the 100 Aker Wood tantalize their imagination as it did mine for theirs was the world where books were made with high tech “lift-the-flaps” adaptations. In my day, children read the words  in books and illustrations were few, and far between,  forcing imagination to create the visuals, not Disney.

Perhaps one day, I will get to see the real Pooh Corner and the 100 Aker wood in Ashdown Forest, Sussex, England and compare my memory to that which inspired A.A. Milne.

That is something like Pooh, I will spend some time pondering about.

DAY 21. – Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t
actually finished).