iceland
Book review

The Darkest Room – Johan Theorin

Imagine a bitterly cold Swedish winter, on the bleak treeless coastal island, in an old manor house built from the wood of a wrecked ship in which scores of sailors drowned, where one’s only neighbours are 2 lighthouses, one of which no longer works and is haunted. Is there any better location for a thriller/murder mystery?

Iceland

I’d not heard of this author before, but I have had more opportunity to read lately and picked up this Swedish novel, set on the very real Swedish island of Oland, in mythical locations. This is the world that the character, Joakim Westin has recently moved to, with his family of wife and two small children. The grand plans to renovate and rejuvunate the manor house is destroyed when shortly after their move, one of the family drowns not far from the house.

Joakim struggles to come to terms with the death, while others on the island become immersed in a struggle of their own. One is a young female police officer finding her feet in a new beat, and another is a young man involved in petty crimes, who becomes haunted by his the results of his misdemeanors. As Christmas approaches, a sageful relative of the police officer tells of an old Swedish folk tale where the dead come back to visit the living on the darkest night of the year. What does this mean for Joakim, and his family, isolated in the manor house during one of the worst blizzard’s of the decade?

Atmosphere by the bucketload is what you get from Theorin’s spine- tingling novel. Whilst it remains a murder mystery, those who like supernatural touches or ghostly happenings would get their kicks from the story. Theorin weaves a mystery into believable occurrences, yet manages to get the reader to sympathize with the bereaved man and remain hungry for the next chapter.

Theorin also gets into the head of the protaganist and takes the reader on a psychological journey of grief. Themes of retribution/karma also simmer under the surface when it becomes clear what happened to Ethel.

emotion

Despite a head splitting migraine, I was determined to finish the book, such was the effect this story had on me. Be warned….

The good: Dark windswept landscape expertly described. You are there in the blinding snow along with the characters.

The bad:   Would a father leave his children alone?

The ugly:  Depiction of alcoholic tarts…….

Rating out of 10: 9

Community

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

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

30 Day Book Challenge – Day 3 – The longest book you’ve read

I started this challenge and am already in denial that it is tedious, well at least this topic is. The longest book I’ve read, an epic novel?Do we have to talk about the long boring ones?

As I haven’t read War and Peace, and the Stieg Larrson trilogy is just that: a trilogy,  the longest individual book I have read, would have had to be Tolkien’s, Lord of the Rings. Don’t ask if it is 1,2, or 3….

I waded through that with my son when he was young.  Can’t say I remember too much of the book, that hasn’t been indelibly imprinted in my brain from watching re-runs of LOTR on DVD.

I will ponder more interesting topics tomorrow I hope….

27 days to go….

Book review, Community

The 30 Day Book Challenge – Can it be done?

I found a book challenge at Becky’s blog from last year, but I thought I would resurrect it  for this month, and half-wondered whether I could actually write about books for 30 days. Let’s see if I can do it. Feel free to join in – see more below….

Day 1 – A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would
just end already.

Well, that is easy: I wish the Stieg Larsson trilogy had gone on longer, but sadly, Stieg passed away under mysterious circumstances. There is another unpublished version of the fourth novel, but as it is incomplete, his father said it would not be published. I wonder how many people would give their right arm to see what Lisbeth Salander got up to….

To answer part B: I really wish years ago, that Harry Potter grew up, put up and shut up. I am so tired of hearing kids talk about wizards and spells and this kind of crap. I am not saying the series is not good by any stretch of the imagination, just that it has been done to death, so really can we let Harry be and not have any more talk of it. There are plenty of other good books out there…give them a chance.

Having said that so forthrightly, you will notice a preponderance of Scandinavian novels in my list. For that is my leaning, as you will no doubt discover later in the month.

DAY 2. –Favourite side character

DAY 3. – The longest book you’ve read
DAY 4. – Book turned into a movie and completely desecrated.
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.

Join in with me if you like and let me know you are doing this by adding a comment below, so that if other want to join, they can find your post too.

Something to Ponder About

Book review

2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge – from Bookish – Update

2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge – from Bookish

Update on my progress…..Behind on my level….

For book lovers:

Eve over at Bookish has created a TBR challenge for 2014. I would better with deadlines so this is just what I need to get through some of the books that seem to be breeding in my study, in my spare room, on my bedside cabinet, ( well, you get the picture).

Some of the guidelines:

  1. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2014, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.
  2. Anyone can enter, you don’t have to be a blogger.
  3. Any genre counts, even short stories.
  4. Pick a level, create a post,  link to her blog and start reading!

On the 25th of each month Eve-bookish will post a wrap-up post on her blog. Every wrap-up will have it’s unique theme, a mini-challenge, a giveaway and place for you to link up your reviews from this monthFor each review you link up, you will get one entry in a drawing of one book of choice from Book Depository. 

It’s open to INTERNATIONALS – Yay!!!! Usually we are excluded.

The giveaway will be open until the next wrap up post goes up! (i.e. the entire month)

Levels:  (how many books I’m planning to read for this challenge in 2014)

you can move up levels but not down…..

Even though I am Married with children, I could never find time to read 50 + books, so I am going for a Friendly Hug, sounds like me, and I am taking some very long plane flights, which will help to knock a few over!!
 1-10 – A Firm Handshake
11-20 – A Friendly Hug

21-30 – First Kiss
31-40 – Sweet Summer Fling
41-50 – Could this be love?
50+ – Married With Children

Joining in? Click the link for more information:

http://evie-bookish.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/2014-tbr-pile-reading-challenge-sign-ups.html

The guidelines state that you can list your books and then change them as you like, so here is the first edition of my list:

T.B.R. 2014

Jo Nesbø – The Leopard COMPLETED.

Mons Kallentoft – Mid winter Sacrifice

Karl Ove Knausgaard – A Death in the Family

Thomas Enger – Burned

Anne Holt – 1222 COMPLETED – Review coming

Liza Marklund -Last Will

Camilla Lackberg – The Lost Boy COMPLETED – For Review click here

Leif Persson – Between summer’s longing and winter’s end

Liza Marklund – The Bomber

Liza Marklund – Red Wolf – Reading

Johan Theorin – The Quarry

Jo Nesbo – The Snowman – completed. For Review click here

Kerry-Anne Walsh -The stalking of Julia Gillard

 

How many I will ACTUALLY read is something I ponder about.