No Dead bodies – Just a True Story of Courage and Love

 Quite unusually, I’ve been reading a book that has no dead bodies contained within its pages.

(See my book review page here for the lists of crime fiction novels I usually read). 

Biographies of interesting people, are also on my book shelf, but the title of this book, given to me by a work colleague, did not give me any clue as to the intensity of the story within.


Horse boy is the story of one family’s journey to heal their severely autistic son. Conventional western therapies were yielding little success and their son’s tantrums and neurological trauma appeared to be  increasing, exponentially.  Spurred on by an accidental discovery that Rowan had a special gift with horses, the family embarks on a monumental adventure that takes them to the outer regions of Mongolia. 

Continue reading “No Dead bodies – Just a True Story of Courage and Love”


30 Day Book Challenge – Book You Couldn’t Put Down

DAY 30 – To SiberiaPer Pettersen

I was fourteen and a half when the Germans came. On that 9th April we woke to the roar of aeroplanes swooping so low over the roofs of the town that we could see the black iron crosses painted on the underside of their wings when we leaned out of the windows and looked up.

In this exquisite novel, readers will find the crystalline prose and depth of feeling they adored in Out Stealing Horses, a literary sensation of 2007.

And it is all true, I enjoyed every minute of this novel. Couldn’t put this one down until the final page, type enjoyment. Written by a Norwegian but set in Denmark, it is a beautifully written coming of age novel about a brother and sister growing up in a small coastal village in Denmark just prior to the Nazi occupation. The children’s life is their own, as their parents take little interest in their upbringing. With a authoritian mother, that is too distant, and a father that is too busy with work in order to provide income for the family, the children rely on each other for companionship and affection and develop divergent dreams as they get closer to adulthood.

There is an underlying sadness in this book, and this may in part be the author’s way of conveying the danish psyche, or it may have more to do with a child’s vanquished dreams and the realities of adulthood. If you do read it, let me know if you agree.

I read an English translation of this novel and it is a moot point just how the translation itself changes words and meanings of a text, sometimes quite radically from what the author may have intended. These nuances of language were the subject of long discussions at my Scandinavian bookclub when we reviewed this book.

Above all, it is a book you should read. It captures the impending fear of those who lived through that period of history.

I give it 9/10

And this is the final post of the 30 day Book Challenge. To see links to each of the previous days, click here (for those obsessed with numbers, and precision, the challenge took longer than a month, but I did anticipate this).

Something to Ponder About

30 Day Book Challenge – Most Surprising Plot Twist or Ending.

Day 25 – The Snowman By Jo Nesbø

Harry Hole gets under your skin, and you feel ambivalent about him as a cop. There is much to dislike, in Nesbø’s tough, cool and marginal hero, but still we like him because he is almost as familiar as a dog-eared toothbrush. Just when you are feeling comfortable with it, it is time to finish with it, and buy a new one.  And so it is with the Nesbø books.

They are fantastic reads, and one becomes so close to Harry  Hole, the central character, that the reader can predict his next move, but then, he surprises us, with an added twist we did not see coming.

As luck would have it, I have just finished reading The Bat, Nesbø’s first novel, (although published in English much later in the Harry Hole series), and The Snowman, refers to circumstances from The Bat, although I had no way of knowing that it would be releveant. Harry is convinced a serial killer is operating in Norway, and the expertise he gained during his Australian trip (detailed in The Bat), both assists and  arrests progress in identifying the killer/s. (excuse the pun).  You see it becomes apparent that an alarming number of wives and mothers have gone missing in Norway over the years, often occurring when the first snow comes…..

The house was large and yellow. Too big for a family of three, Harry thought, as they walked up the shingle path. Everything around them dripped and sighed. In the garden stood a snowman with a slight list and poor future prospects.

In an interview, Nesbø said he felt he went a little too far in this and the subsequent novel, The Leopard, which I am yet to read, and that he, as an author, regrets that. He also said that the seemingly indestructible Harry will be killed off/retired at some point, in a future novel. I wonder when?

There is some interesting commentary in this novel when Katrine Bratt, a new detective from Bergen, is assigned to help him on the case. When discussing whether beautiful people are more preoccupied with beauty than ugly people and are obsessed with looking good even to the point of undertaking cosmetic surgery, Katine says:

“I don’t know. People with high IQs are so fixated on IQ that they have founded their own club, haven’t they? I suppose you focus on what you have. I would guess you’re fairly proud of your investigative talent.” 

” You mean the rat-catching gene? The innate ability to lock up people with mental illnesses, addiction problems, well under average intellect and well above average childhood deprivation?

Later in the book, Aune, Hole’s confidante and former psychological colleague, also makes a meaningful commentary about society, and punishment of crime.

 “The more aged I become, the more I tend to the view that evil is evil, mental illness or no. We’re all more or less disposed to evil actions, but our disposition cannot exonerate us. For heaven’s sake, we’re all sick with personality disorders. And it’s our actions which define how sick we are. We’re equal before the law we say, but it’s meaningless as long as no one is equal. During the Black Death, sailors who coughed, were immediately thrown overboard. Of course they were. For justice is a blunt knife, both as a philosophy and a judge.”

This story has the hallmarks of classic Nesbø with its twists and turns, but the astute reader should be able to determine the culprits, despite the detours Nesbø puts in place. As one questions the various dances the author makes his characters play, it is becoming easy to see I should listen to those questions more, if I want to solve the crime.  Nesbø is a fantastic author and if you have never before read Scandinavian crime fiction, he is the one to read……


The good: Plot twists, descriptive elements, intriguing turns, and there is a snow man in the story!

The bad: Hole’s miscalculations and errors…. he is starting to slip up.

The Ugly: The crimes themselves……


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.

30 Day Book Challenge – A Book You are Embarrassed to Say You Liked

DAY 24.  – A Girl Most LikelyRebecca Sparrow

2004 runner up One Book, One Brisbane ( an annual award based on a fiction book set in Brisbane) Why would I be embarrassed? Read on…..

This is a great teen and young adult comedy  based on a girl growing up, not only in my hometown, but also in my home suburb, so it was a bit of a nostalgic read, albeit like a weird conduit back to my growing years.

I read this book in  just a few hours. It is not in any way a stretch for the brain, but the local references of my home town made up for that.

Here is the blurb:

 On leaving school Rachel Hill was nominated as “The Girl Most Likely,” but now she’s turning 27 and facing a bleak future. Unemployed and living back at home, with a secret marriage turning into a secret divorce, Rachel confronts the future – a future complicated by her unknowing mother’s enrolment of Rachel in a beauty Pageant, a love affair with her ’talent’ coach, a sexual harassment case for ‘hotslicing’ the local priest and the interventions of an erotic-porn writing lesbian. Rachel is set to ride a vicious pendulum of success and set-back. Is there a way out of her quarter-life crisis? Can Rachel come to terms with who she really is before she’s exposed? And what is a hotslice?

Rachel Sparrow is entertaining as a speaker and writer.  There was moves to make this into a feature film, again I imagine, would be aimed at young adults, but it seems this didn’t happen.

  • This book does not pretend to be an esoteric study of a young woman’s life in the ‘burbs’ but is peppered with humour, and if you up for a light fun read, pick it up.
    After all, it won’t hurt you. That’s a good thing about books.
    Something to Ponder About

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.


30 Day Book Challenge – A Book that Made You Cry

Day 14 – A Book that Made You Cry

The Potato Factory – Bryce Courtenay

Cry? How about bawl my eyes out? Because that is what I did when I read this book released in 1995. And I really can’t remember much about why?  It was some years back and I know that it affected me to the point where I would recall it for days, nay, weeks later, thinking, “It is just not FAIR” – such was the effect of Bryce Courtenay’s writing.

Perhaps it is the story of a convict consigned to the colonies, or that of a female trying to make her way, or a female with a gift for mathematics. Such an  unlikely character, I think. There has been some criticism of this novel being anti-semitic, and Bryce Courtenay, despite living most of his adult life in Australia, did grow up in Apartheid South Africa, however, I did not notice any anti-jewish overtones in the book.

This is apparently the first of three books in a series, but the pervasive and sad thoughts that lingered with this book meant that I have not ever felt emotionally strong enough to read them.

As I can’t remember too much about the content of the book, other than the basic plot line of common thief makes good – an Australian version of Oliver Twist), I will also nominate another book: Elisabeth’s Daughter by Marianne Fredriksson, an author who I mentioned previously in this challenge. Elisabeth’s Daughter is a full on tear-jerker about a relationship between a damaged mother, and her adult daughter and how personalities can sometimes be shaped by our past experiences. A young girl from a dysfunctional family,  who is frightened of commitment in relationships, falls pregnant and decides to keep the baby. Her partner, however, believes he is being deliberately trapped by her and resorts to violence against her, as his communication device. Memories of her own childhood and regular abuse of her mother come flooding back to Katrina, and confused, she goes to her Mother to talk things through.

The Author wonders whether violence can be inherited by the Victim as well as the Perpetrator and explores the very deep bonds that occur between mother and daughter.

Keep your Kleenex handy!

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

Other challengers: