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).

 

 

 

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge: Favourite Author

Day 19 – Karin Fossum

Often called the Norwegian Queen of Crime, Karin Fossum is undoubtedly my favourite, although she does have competition from the likes of other Scandinavian writers.

I have read all but two of her 13 books that have been translated to English, most of them featuring the strong and dependable Police detective Konrad Sejer. However, the latest translation: ‘I Can See in the Dark’, offers a first person crime fiction story narrated by the perpetrator, and is not part of the Sejer series.

Not everyone will love Fossum’s books, even some Norwegians I know, don’t like her writing, but don’t let that stop you. It is presumably because Fossum’s characters are those who live on the fringe of society: They are troubled souls, who don’t always  feel they ‘fit in’  to society – sometimes they are the victim, sometimes the perpetrator and sometimes, the ones left to cope with the consequences of the crime. They may have a mental illness, or a borderline personality disorder, or disability, or they may just be lonely, but it is this quirkiness that makes them interesting.

I have not really thought too much about why these books appeal to me, but Karin writes in such a way as to enlicit empathy for the poor devils in the story. And, I also like the meticulous way her detective, Sejer identifies the culprit. But Sejer isn’t always there. In the psychological suspense novel ‘Broken,’ (2006),  Karin writes about characters within a story that come to life. But do they really come to life? Or, is this just another device, cleverly used by the author to tell a story? Click here to read my review of Broken.  Opening a window into the mind of an author just shows Karin’s versatility as an author. As her characters often narrate the story, I feel this gives her the opportunity to discuss their intentions, motivation and attitudes more than other writing styles.

In Elskede Poona (translation title: The Indian Bride 2005) Fossum’s character is that of an older single man looking for a woman to keep him company. There is much in that novel that sticks in my mind, even today. It was a tragedy from many angles, and interestingly has an American translation from 2008.

The plot lines hold my attention, and the books are crafted stories, not overly long or complicated.Every word Fossum uses is important, sometimes right down to the very last sentence!

Finally, I like that real towns and places in Norway are featured in Karin Fossum’s stories and that means I can visualize them better. ‘Broken’ was set in the Norwegian town of Drammen, one that I have visited several times.

If you like crime fiction: check out Karin Fossum

You can find the full list of her books here

I have just finished  (I Can See in the Dark) where Karin draws on her real life experience working in a nursing home to add authenticity to the plot.

Day 20 – Favourite Childhood Book

Something to Ponder About

Community

30 Day Book Challenge – A Book You Wish You Could Live In

DAY 18. – Fishing in Utopia – Andrew Brown

I blame the sadness. It caught me completely off-guard. In my defense, I would claim that I had only recently returned from an exhilarating vacation in Scandinavia, and had almost made it through the mandatory 3 weeks of post-holiday, emotional doldrums, that consistently ‘kneecap’ me on my return to the sunburnt land in which I live, when I borrowed this part-travelogue/ part-memoir, at my local library.

I will admit, of course, borrowing the book was a way to to feed my addiction: this inner longing for a land I had just left, (and would not see again for an indefinite period, or at least until my savings account rose significantly). If I can’t be in Sweden, (or Denmark or Norway ), I fathomed, I can, at least, immerse myself in a book about the place. After all,  a trip in your imagination is a trip, after all. (And at least I won’t have to contend with jet lag).  And so, it was with this mindset that I read Andrew Brown’s book based in Sweden, titled, “Fishing in Utopia.”

The Author is a storyteller and journalist who skillfully weaves a story spanning 30 odd years of his life, first as an English ex-pat married to a Swede living in Sweden in the 70’s, and then later again later in life, both through the lens of a recreational fisherman and the lure of ‘Pike’.

Through his fishing expeditions, Brown encapsulates well that special atmosphere that is the Scandinavian summer, with the long hours of daylight where people languish in a idyllic red timber cottage in the countryside, fringed with crystalline lake waters and air so fresh you would think it is pure oxygen, and where, according to Brown, “everything floats in a quality of light like mercury” or the water “glitters like pollen.” [Reading this, certainly didn’t actively cure my ‘Scandinavian withdrawal’ at all and I began to wish I lived in this book!] To Brown, ‘fishing is a form of inquiry. The patient, watchful wonder of the fisherman seems to me the root of all science’.

Brown goes further than mere descriptive and romantic accounts of Swedish life. He delves deeper into what he sees as the ‘psyche’ of the Swedes themselves, who less than three generations ago, were mere subsistence farmers, conformist, religious, yet fundamentally conservative. Was Sweden in the 70’s really that different with its egalitarian welfare state where poverty and crime was nonexistent and the Prime Minister lived an ordinary life? Judge for yourself:

… its language is shaped by the cold, so that one spends as little time as possible with one’s tongue exposed. How even on wide, open roads its motorists keep to 55 mph. How to be expelled from the consensus there is ‘like being thrown out of a space station’. http://www.spectator.co.uk/books/1736216/the-end-of-eden/

Brown maintains the Swedish individual was less important than the nation as a ‘whole’ : “It was the life of a battery salmon: packed into a crowd in the middle of a boundless stretch of water by a cage of netting that you could not see at all. It appeared to be part of the sea.”

But life changes with the passage of time, as did Brown’s marriage, and Sweden and its people; so that when he returns in 2006, he laments the disappearance of the traditional, uncomplicated Sweden (where Swedish lapland supermarkets stock reindeer blood and industries were owned by the state) and the Sweden he thought he knew had been transformed into a multicultural ‘cafe’ society, now a common phenomena throughout Europe.  Gone is the the socialist welfare state and like many large cities, crime rates and unemployment has risen. This Sweden is seeminlgy more open, and every village, even those villages too small to support a local grocery store has, Andrew claims, ” a Kurdish family running a pizza restaurant.

So is this so bad?

I had mocked Sweden for failing to live up to its own ideals, but I had always supposed these were ideals that everyone shared. I had not considered the possibility that some people could want a less equal society.” Even with this statement, I still get the distinct impression Brown has a soft spot for Sweden. After all, his son is there and therefore like me, also a small piece of his heart.

To know Sweden and live there in the 70’s, sounds awfully much like Utopia to me. Yet, while I wait for the development of the time machine that will take me back to the 70’s, I must be content living in my imagination, through this book, and the egalitarian and romantic Utopia those words created in my mind.

Something I often ponder about.

DAY 19. – A favourite author.

 

Book review, Mental Health

30 Day Book Challenge – Most thought-provoking book.

DAY 16 –

Endearing Love by Ian McEwan

This story is a surprising book about obsessional love and the actual psychiatric condition that underpinned the story added realism to the plotlines. It really make me think a lot about the mechanisms in the brain that trigger mental illness and those feelings and action that may not yet be classified as such, but have this same basis.

In this thought – provoking book, I found myself, as reader, really wanting the victim to mount an assertive response and understand he was contributing to the situation. I pondered how much this happened in reality. (After all, celebrities have, at times, contributed to their own stalking issues. For example: Agnetha Falskog from ABBA.

I was led to questioned his own sanity at one stage in the story as he delves into the criminal underworld for solutions to his problem. Had he really gone off the rails? Buckled under the constant pressure and stress?

This is a book that won’t grab your immediate attention, but once it has you in its grip, it won’t let go. I still think about some of the things that were said and discussed as well as the events that occurred in this book.

Something I will continue to ponder about.

Day 17 – An Author I wish People Would Read More

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge – A Book Character Who You Can Relate to the Most.

DAY 15. – A character who you can relate to the most.

The Year of Wonders – Geraldine Brooks

I read a lot of thrillers/mystery fiction so I can’t say I relate to the victims, in those stories, but Anna in Geraldine Brook’s historical fiction novel: The Year of Wonders, grabbed my attention, for she is an extraordinary person.

Anna is a housemaid, who is in service to the village pastor in 17th century England. An infected bolt of cloth brings the plague to the village in 1664, and decimates the population. There are many important themes addressed in this book, as the Village Rector spearheads a campaign to quarantine the village, in an attempt to stem the spread of the disease, albeit via religious motives.

Anna, a servant of low class, shows intelligence, strength and resourcefulness in facing the catastrophe decimating her village. As the disease progresses, she does not succumb, physically or emotionally, but rather blossoms into a leader and heroine.  She exhibits a keenness to learn, and it is her eagerness to attain knowledge that not only landed her the initial job with the Rector, but also facilitates her transition to independent survivor and healer in the novel. Those in authority whom she once feared, and kowtowed to,  she feared no more.

The overriding message for me  in this book is “Knowledge is empowerment” and it is for this reason I identified and liked the character of Anna.  Knowledge and the attainment of knowledge, through education or informal learning, is of fundamental significance in improving the status of women in the world, especially so, in developing countries.  And so it was for Anna.

I also felt this novel was also critical, well, perhaps suspicious, of the intentions of religion and Anna was someone that kept her options open, as her knowledge developed. “Perhaps the Plague was neither of God nor the Devil, but simply a thing in Nature … We could simply work upon it … knowing that when we found the tools and the method and the resolve, we would free ourselves …”

Anna personified the ideal that kindness will be rewarded intrinsically or extrinsically. As one reviewer puts  it,

“The image of freedom, independence and escape from the past, from death and from convention is realized in a sequence of symbolic potency shortly after the plague fades away, when Anna, with no permission, takes charge of Mompellion’s great stallion, Anteros: “The wind rushed by, blowing off my cap and freeing my hair so that it blew out like a banner … We live, we live, we live, said the hoof-beats, and the drumming of my pulse answered them. I was alive, and I was young, and I would go on until I found some reason for it.”    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/neither-of-god-nor-the-devil-20130719-2q8du.html#ixzz3JHvKijXo

The novel is littered with old French and Middle English terms and this added to the book’s feel and authenticity. An interesting epilogue to the book is that the real Rector in the village of ‘Eyam’ sent his family away prior to quarantining the village, but his wife died anyway.

DAY 16. – Most thought-provoking book.

Something to Ponder About

Community

30 Day Book Challenge – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.

DAY 12. – The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

After selling more than 90 million copies and combining the genres of detective, thriller and conspiracy fiction, I must be the only person who has NOT read this book in the western reading world.

Being a fan of thriller and detective novels, I have always been intrigued, but there has been so much talk and media about this novel, that it never seemed a priority to buy it. (no pun intended).

I once read an account of the Historical figure of Jesus Christ, as opposed to the legendary or spiritual), and I was initially hoping this book would be of the same ilk, but it appears to be completely fictional or so it’s critics claim.

Did Jesus in fact, marry or have an intimate relationship with Mary Magdalene? Are these Kings really descended from Jesus? Even if Jesus died without a progeny, someone must be related to him, distant. I seem to be related to half of Denmark, from my Danish genealogical research going back 500 years.

Getting back to the book itself, one day I will have to obtain a copy, but because of the media hype, it will most certainly come from a library, and not a book shop!

Something to Ponder About

Still to come:

DAY 13. – A book that disappointed you.
DAY 14. –  Book that made you cry.
DAY 15. – A character who you can relate to the most.
DAY 16. – Most thought-provoking book.
DAY 17. – Author I wish people would read more.

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge- Favourite Classic Book

Day 11 – Great Expectations

Dicken’s 13th novel, and in my opinion, the best. This book has so much written about it and by more scholarly persons than me, so I will limit my commentary to those specific points that appealed to me.

I liked that the theme, that good prevails over evil, and the attempts by of a criminal to redress a crime and that government steps in to thwart his efforts: so lifelike! I like that colonial Australia is mentioned, rare in British novels, and the plight of those who came to our shores are highlighted, as are those in the poor conditions of the prison hulks.

I like the typically Dickensian character names: Pymblechook, Magwitch, Pip, Mr Jaggers, and Herbert Pocket.  In reality, I really dislike these kind of names, but in a book, that are fantastic triggers to the visual imagery.

Apparently, Dickens changed some of the final words Pip says to Estella, and there is much discussion on the net about this, so this also makes it interesting.

Made into a multitude of tele-series and movies, Great Expectations is my favourite classic book that was initially published in installments in a periodical.

Something Well Worth Pondering About

DAY 12. – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.

 

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge– A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving.

 DAY 10.

How often can you say that there was nothing at all you disliked about a book? Not too often but this is what  I said about Simon and the Oaks by Marianne Fredriksson. When I first heard the title and the subject matter, let me tell you, I wasn’t champing at the bit to read it, but it was on the list for the book-club, so read it I did. I didn’t regret it.

An uplifting and sad tale about a gifted boy growing up in Gothenburg, Sweden during World War II, who is sent to a school where sons of the working class do not go. Here he makes friends with a Jewish boy and during his formative years some truths are revealed about his own background that destroys his close relationships and makes him question his future.

There are so many layers to this story, and Marianne tells it with empathy, sensitivity, and a little bit of daring. The characters are highly believable, especially that of Simon and his parents, and the descriptive prose almost engrossing. A great book to discover the history of this era and its effects on everyday life, particularly in countries not directly involved in the conflict. ( Sweden maintained neutrality during WWII)

The book was made into a Swedish movie in 2011 and deservedly won a multitude of awards. A young Skårsgard (Stellan’s son) plays the leading role giving a outstanding performance as Simon.

If you haven’t read this book, please do.

Tomorrow DAY 11. – Favorite classic book.

Something to Ponder About

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge – Most Overrated Book

Day 9- The Shell Seekers

Despite being nominated by the British public as one of the top 100 novels (I am not sure where in the top 100 of the ‘Big Read’),  I thought the 1987 novel, The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher, to be lacklustre. It did not grab my attention at all, and I yawned all the way through, waiting for the fun to begin. It didn’t.

The only thoughts I have on this book are:

Did Penelope really love her children Noel and Mary or did she subconsciously resent them for being like Ambrose and therein affecting the relationship?

They also speak about the shock of epilepsy, but it was epilepsy, and not leprosy.

She claimed to be Bohemian and accepted Doris for her frailties but could not do the same for her own children.

As a parent of adult children, I can relate to some of these feelings, and there is one passage, that describes being in love, that did weave a little ‘magic’ for me:

Now day to day her inner vision cleared and her preceptions were sharpened by a new awareness…. a sharpened sensitivity.

Needless to say that was the first and last novel by Rosamunde Pilcher I have read.

Something I won’t be pondering about for long!

Upcoming posts  in this challenge-

DAY 10. – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving.
DAY 11. – Favorite classic book.
DAY 12. – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.
DAY 13. – A book that disappointed you.
DAY 14. –  Book that made you cry.
DAY 15. – A character who you can relate to the most.
DAY 16. – Most thought-provoking book.
DAY 17. – Author I wish people would read more.

Book review, Community, History & Traditions

30 Day Book Challenge – Most Under-rated Book

Thunder God by Paul Watkins

Every publishing house and author wants to sell their books, so you can find glowingly positive reviews for the crappiest book out there. Personal reviews are sometimes more telling of the worth of the book, but again these could be skewed by individual idiosyncrasies. Even so, this book needs and deserves a little more promotion for readers of historical fiction.

Hakon was a young, Viking villager in the tenth century destined for an average life until he is lured out into the field by a ‘spirit’ one night and is struck by lightning. After that, he is apprenticed to a pagan priest, a position of prestige in his community. However, the village is soon raided by enemies and he is taken away as a slave.

Over the course of his life, he travels far and wide in the Viking, Roman and Byzantine World, learning their myths, legends and practices, both religious and civil, and the reader journeys through significant incidents in history (fictional or true), with Hakon. He is a loyal slave and eventually rises to a position of power along with his master (in the Varangian guard) and gains his freedom when his master dies returning home to some changes in his village.

This book may have shortcomings if you are looking purely for historical facts, but I liked the story and found it an absolutley fascinating walk through daily life in the Viking age.

Definitely an under-rated.

Something to Ponder About

Day 9 – Most Over-rated Book

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge DAY 7

A guilty pleasure book

Strange Fits of Passion by Anita Shreve

Unusual choice for guilty pleasure? Yes, but perhaps this book has more to do with guilt, than pleasure. A journalist’s story of her experience with domestic violence and the re-telling by another journalist, 20 years later. There are several different perspectives in this book which assist in highlighting how each incident can, and might, be perceived differently, by different people. The book also makes the reader aware of the change in attitudes towards domestic violence that occur, with the march of  time.

The location the main character escapes to with her child is described brilliantly and 10 years on, I can still visualize the images I constructed in my head when I read that book, and it is for that reason it is today’s choice.

Despite the unpalatable subject matter, many of us have moments when we would like to run away and start a new life, unencumbered by the ghosts and anchors of the past. The  idyllic and somewhat isolated village of Maine, would be one that offers much needed security the character in this book was looking for.

The subject matter may be trite, and or tragic for some readers, but it is reality for some women and epitomizes not only the victim as helpless and sometimes being their own worst enemy, but the ‘truth’ as being relevant to the era in which it was spoken and who spoke it!

The analogy of the mess of manuscript strewn across the floor to me indicated that the story would be told differently, yet again.

Tomorrow: DAY 8. – Most underrated book

Something to Ponder About

Book review, Community

The 30 Day Book Challenge – Comfort Book

DAY 5. – Your “comfort” book.

Again, this challenge requires more thought than I imagined. A comfort book might be one that you read again and again or it might be one that is so good you go back to it in your mind’s eye remembering the plot, characters or storyline. As I don’t re-read books, (unless by accident), I must hatch a Plan B for finding a comfort book i.e. Find a book something so appealing you think back to it long after your have finished reading it.   That leaves out the majority of the mystery and crime fiction I normally read.

So Hanna’s daughters by Marianne Fredrikksson must be my comfort book.

Why?

Because it is a story with strong feminine roles, a story of resilience despite adversity, and to some extent, of continuity and immortality.  Three generations of woman, a grandmother, mother and daughter tell us a story of lives in Sweden over a century  from the late 1800’s. Society is dynamic, but the patterns of lives isn’t always so different. Having an avid interest in family history and in re-discovering my own Scandinavian past, this book was absorbing and comforting. This book also reminded me a little of the Chinese book, Wild Swans by Jung Chang, another chronicle of a family through several generations.

My own torturous relationship with my mother and respectful admiration for grandparents and great grandparents who were in “servitude, ” with few rights,  and how they battled to eek out a living in very difficult circumstances was echoed in the experiences of Anna, Johanna and Hanna in this book.

As Anna holds vigil at her mother’s bedside, she longs for reconciliation–not just with her mother, Johanna, but with her grandmother, Hanna, a woman she never really knew. Determined to piece together the fragments of her past, Anna sifts through tattered letters, cracked diaries, and old photographs, as the vivid lives of Hanna and Johanna at last begin to unfold.
Through shades of memory and history, longing to join the ancient threads of the family tapestry, Anna begins searching for answers to questions that have haunted her for a lifetime. What was it like for her grandmother, Hanna, more than one hundred years ago, when she married a miller and raised an illegitimate child in a staunch, rural community? What drove Anna’s own mother, Johanna, once a fiery revolutionary, to settle down? And why did the ties binding Anna to her mother and grandmother drive all three apart–only to bring them back together again?

I admired Hanna’s resilience and how she overcame adversity as did my great grandmother and grandmother; how a rebellious girl became a mother and housewife, and how Anna, the third generation, seeks to connect with the past and get to know her female ancestors through fragments of memory and photographs.

The concept of belonging and reconciliation with one’s estranged family, discussed in this book, is a concept that is endearing. As Anna realizes she is ‘of her mother and grandmother’ and ‘they are of her,’ her expectations of them diminish and her acceptance and love for them flourish.

Beautifully written, I am happy to recommend it and perhaps it also will be your ‘go to’ comfort book when seeking maternal connections and love.

Join in the 30 day book challenge by linking back with a comment or pingback

DAY 6. – Book you’ve read the most number of times.
DAY 7. – A guilty pleasure book.

DAY 8. – Most underrated book.
DAY 9. – Most overrated book.
DAY 10. – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving.
DAY 11. – Favorite classic book.
DAY 12. – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.
DAY 13. – A book that disappointed you.
DAY 14. –  Book that made you cry.
DAY 15. – A character who you can relate to the most.
DAY 16. – Most thought-provoking book.
DAY 17. – Author I wish people would read more.
DAY 18. – A book you wish you could live in.
DAY 19. – A favourite author.
DAY 20. – Favorite childhood book.
DAY 21. – Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t
actually finished).
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.
DAY 29. – A book you hated.
DAY 30. – Book you couldn’t put down.

Something to Ponder About

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge DAY 4. – Book turned into a movie and completely desecrated.

Which book have I read that was turned into a movie and completely desecrated?

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Even though I like horror films, I never, ever read books about Vampires, and that includes the popular Twilight series. Nah! No! Never!I have no specific reason, they just seem rather pointless to me. A little unreal, perhaps? So how did I come to read a book about people of the night?

I had to read a Swedish book for a book club, and this was the one I chose. And guess what, it was fantastic. This romantic horror is really about more serious life themes than Vampires. The ‘Vampiring’ is a minor side plot, that does not really take centre stage at all.

You’ll read more about relationships and adolescent bullying, love and revenge than sucking one’s blood and world domination! But I digress, we were talking about the movie that was completely desecrated.

The 2008 Swedish film version of Let the Right One in, won  a string of awards, but the American remake retitled: ‘Let me in’ [2010], failed dismally. Despite receiving positive reviews, it did not do well at the box office. Why? Because culture, atmosphere and “feel” is as difficult to translate as humour.  If you read any Scandinavian crime fiction, you will know what I am alluding to. A Scandi crime novel can be descriptive, foreboding, dark, yet entrancing to read. An American/Australian crime novel is raw, rough, in your face, and the descriptive elements are restricted to sex scenes or rape.  It is the same with the movies.

Americans are very good at making American stories, but I don’t feel the same emotion from watching an American story as a Swedish one. And it is not just the language. It can be cinematography, locations, lighting, dialogue, the chemistry between the actors, what is not said as much as what is.

Before I hear a protest from my American friends, I also think an Australian or other international version, would not have captured the essence or magic of the Swedish version, either.

The Director himself expressed reluctance about the American version and several changes were made for the English (American) version, such as altering the setting from Stockholm, Sweden, to New Mexico and renaming the lead characters. The film’s producers stated that their intent was to keep the plot similar to the original, yet make it more accessible to a wider audience.”What’s missing is the alluring otherness of Let the Right One In. Let Me In puts the emotional pressure in different places”, says one reviewer.

From IMDB

Everything about Let the Right one In is thought through. Where a more traditional horror film might have opted for endless ultra violence or else cut everything out in favor of a kiddie friendly rating. director Tomas Alfredson steers the line right down the middle. When the violence comes it is brutal and horrific, but it is never dwelt upon. We are left to question what we just saw rather than see kidneys on display.And then there is the quiet, understated ending. Some will find it haunting, others will find it whimsical, I went back and forth more than a few times. No two people will have the same understanding.

“Let the Right One In” is, at its heart, a sweet coming-of-age story which is so unique and different that it simply defies categorization. In this Swedish film, adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s bestselling book, director Tomas Alfredson dares to mix pleasure and pain in a way that is both horrifying and tender.

A romantic horror that is better in Book or subtitled movie form, the English version is something best not to ponder about.

Join in with this challenge by leaving a comment and pingback. Running through November 2014.

DAY 5. – Your “comfort” book.
DAY 6. – Book you’ve read the most number of times.
DAY 7. – A guilty pleasure book.

DAY 8. – Most underrated book.
DAY 9. – Most overrated book.
DAY 10. – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving.
DAY 11. – Favorite classic book.
DAY 12. – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.
DAY 13. – A book that disappointed you.
DAY 14. –  Book that made you cry.
DAY 15. – A character who you can relate to the most.
DAY 16. – Most thought-provoking book.
DAY 17. – Author I wish people would read more.
DAY 18. – A book you wish you could live in.
DAY 19. – A favourite author.
DAY 20. – Favorite childhood book.
DAY 21. – Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t
actually finished).
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.
DAY 29. – A book you hated.
DAY 30. – Book you couldn’t put down.