I Refuse by Per Petterson

I Refuse by Per Petterson


Random House UK, Vintage Publishing/ Harvill Secker. Translated by Don Bartlett.

Description: I refuse to compromise. I refuse to forgive. I refuse to forget.

Tommy’s mother has gone. She walked out into the snow one night, leaving him and his sisters with their violent father. Without his best friend Jim, Tommy would be in trouble. But Jim has challenges of his own which will disrupt their precious friendship.

Dedication:

to Øivind

Opening: DARK. IT WAS half past four in the morning. I was driving towards Herregårdsveien from Hauketo. Just before Ljan station I turned off to the left over the railway bridge, the lights were red, but there was no one else around, so I turned anyway.

I am inordinately fond of Petterson’s writing when he is on top form, and he so very nearly is here, with a tragic tale of family and friendship. A fab slice of Nordic gloom with an underlying translucency of Steinbeck’s ‘The Moon is Down’ and Telemark, fortified with repression and suppression. Three and a half fishermen.

5* Out Stealing Horses
4* To Siberia
4* In the Wake
2* I Curse the River of Time
2* It’s Fine By Me
3.5* I Refuse

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Speaks the Nightbird (Matthew Corbett, #1) by Robert McCammon

 

Description: The Carolinas, 1699: The citizens of Fount Royal believe a witch has cursed their town with inexplicable tragedies – and they demand that beautiful widow Rachel Howarth be tried and executed for witchcraft. Presiding over the trial is traveling magistrate Issac Woodward, aided by his astute young clerk, Matthew Corbett. Believing in Rachel’s innocence, Matthew will soon confront the true evil at work in Fount Royal….
Evil Unveiled
After hearing damning testimony, magistrate Woodward sentences the accused witch to death by burning. Desperate to exonerate the woman he has come to love, Matthew begins his own investigation among the townspeople. Piecing together the truth, he has no choice but to vanquish a force more malevolent than witchcraft in order to save his beloved Rachel – and free Fount Royal from the menace claiming innocent lives.

4* Gone South
CR Speaks the Nightbird (Matthew Corbett, #1)

Somewhere down below there is a comment that this was written by a mid-life crisis guy who wasn’t having his bedroom needs resolved. Probably nearer the truth than said author would care to acknowledge. You can’t get away from the fact that this is written purely from a male POV, and some of it right from the playground and it would fail the Bechdel test in fine style.

However.

This was an eye-scorcher of epic proportions that at times felt rather long-winded and at other points I was breathless with anticipation. Quite the nail-biting period-piece murder-mystery.

Supernatural? No.

Horror? Hell no.

Just a riveting story that could have been a five star if McCammon shown more style, and have dropped a couple of scenes that were graphic and pointless.

Four Spanish coins from the belly of a turtle.

Cold Heart, Cruel Hand: A Novel Of Hereward The Wake and The Fen Rebellion of 1070-1071 by Laurence J. Brown, Derek Richardson

bookshelves: published-2004, historical-fiction, conflagration, britain-england, medieval5c-16c, revenge, war, norfolk, paper-read

Read in June, 2009


My cover is unavailable on GR:

Dedication: For Kaye, with love

Front Quote:

Cold heart and cruel hand
Now rule across the land

Anglo-Saxon Chronicles

Opening:

1070
They left York by the Jubber Gate, what remained of it, like thieves in the night. Behind them smoke from the blackened timbers of the burning City billowed skywards, choking the night air, obscuring the moon, covering their escape.

[..]the fens, a stinking wilderness of sky and mud. It was rumoured that the fen dwellers had webbed feet, that nature had intervened to prevent them sinking into the endless marshland.

Sweyn II Estridson (Svend Estridsen) April 28, 1074

A great fictional read about a very obscure part of English medieval history, although a proof reader would not have gone amiss and the book length may have been reduced by, say, four pages if all the modern curses had been taken away. But I loved it, all those ‘bloody’ villains – and what about the coracle action to set the bridge aflame.

Yes, loves me some neat coracle action.

Seeing that history can never be construed as a spoiler, I will add that Hereward ultimately loses the battle to keep the Isle of Ely out of The Conqueror’s hands.

3.5* upped to 4* for a great hero.

Pompeii by Robert Harris

bookshelves: ancient-history, published-2003, spring-2010, italy, roman-civilisation, historical-fiction, conflagration

Read from April 26 to 29, 2010

 

** spoiler alert **

Description: Ancient Rome is the setting for the superb new novel from Robert Harris, author of the number one bestsellers Fatherland, Enigma and Archangel.

Where else to enjoy the last days of summer than on the beautiful Bay of Naples. All along the coast, the Roman Empire’s richest citizens are relaxing in their luxurious villas. The world’s largest navy lies peacefully at anchor in Misenum. The tourists are spending their money in the seaside resorts of Baiae, Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Only one man is worried. The engineer Marius Primus has just taken charge of the Aqua Augusta, the enormous aqueduct that brings fresh water to a quarter of a million people in nine towns around the Bay. Springs are failing for the first time in generations. His predecessor has disappeared. And now there is a crisis on the Augusta’s sixty-mile main line — somewhere to the north of Pompeii, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. Marius — decent, practical, incorruptible — promises Pliny, the famous scholar who commands the navy, that he can repair the aqueduct before the reservoir runs dry. But as he heads out towards Vesuvius he is about to discover there are forces that even the world’s only superpower can’t control.

Bought at Rome airport March 2010 for M’s birthday. Discussion points that raised their heads during reading:

– plot spoilers for this story are everywhere
– when those plot spoilers are ignored, Iceland is reminding us very subtlety.
– M is getting frustrated at the countdown method of layout
– ‘Who in their right mind would climb up to look at what’s happening’

A pal sent through a jokey email on Friday written in pidgin swedish/icelandic.

Put 30 billion euros in the bin outside the Icelandic Embassy and we will turn off volcano. Not call Polis.

M’s verdict – he thought the facts about the volcanoes and the aqueducts were stunning, and the story surrounding the historical facts, exciting. He would give the overall result somewhere between a 3 and 4 star.

My Verdict – I liked it a little more and the descriptions of the eruption were staggering.

4* Fatherland
4* Pompeii
3* Imperium
2* The Ghost
4* Lustrum
3* Selling Hitler

The Gambling Man by Catherine Cookson

bookshelves: spring-2014, film-only, published-1975, gambling, filthy-lucre, britain-england, county-durham, bullies, casual-violence, conflagration

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Laura
Read from April 22 to 23, 2014

 

Description: Rory Connor was a gambling man and he had a gambler’s luck. From the day he was born, his mother had known that Rory would be the one to make something of his life. At seven years old he was earning money from odd jobs and by fourteen he was in full-time work. By the time he had escaped the factory to become a rent-collector. Now, at twenty three, ambition was in full flow and he was always looking to bigger and better games to play. He feared nothing and nobody, not even the unscrupulous landlord he collected for. For an ordinary working lad, he was doing well – until one day his luck changed and suddenly things did not go as smoothly as he was used to…

Ay-up! looksee here: it’s Robson Green. Watch here. This story is slightly different; usually Cookson’s stories centre on strong women who persevere through to make a better life regardless what is thrown at them.

3* The Dwelling Place
3.5* The Glass Virgin
3* The Fifteen Streets
3′ The Girl
5* The Rag Nymph
3* Katie Mulholland
3* The Cinder Path
4* Feathers in the Fire
3* Colour Blind
3* The Silent Lady
3* The Branded Man
3* Pure as the Lily
4* The Maltese Angel
3* The Fen Tiger
4* The Wingless Bird
3.5* The Black Candle
4* The Black Velvet Gown
5* The Round Tower
3* The Gambling Man

5* Tilly Trotter
5* Tilly Trotter Wed
5* Tilly Trotter Widowed
5* Tilly Trotter Alone

3* The Mallen Streak
2* The Mallen Girl (to revisit)
3* The Mallen Litter

4.5* The Mallen Secret by Rosie Goodwin, which leads straight into …
4* The Mallen Curse

A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths

bookshelves: published-2013, series, spring-2014, tbr-busting-2014, conflagration, fraudio, archaeology, britain-england, norfolk, lancashire, library-in-norway, cults-societies-brotherhoods, historical-fiction, lifestyles-deathstyles, mythology, anti-semitic

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Series recommended initially by Carey
Read from March 22 to April 17, 2014

 

Narrated by Clare Corbett

Description: Ruth Galloway is shocked when she learns that her old university friend Dan Golding has died tragically in a house fire. But the death takes on a sinister cast when Ruth receives a letter from Dan written just before he died. The letter tells of a great archaeological discovery, but Dan also says that he is scared for his life. Was Dan’ s death linked to his find? The only clue is his mention of the Raven King, an ancient name for King Arthur. Then Ruth is invited to examine the bones Dan found. Ruth travels to Lancashire- the hometown of DCI Nelson- with both her eighteen-month-old daughter, Kate, and her druid friend, Cathbad, in tow. She discovers a campus living in fear of a sinister right-wing group called the White Hand. She also finds that the bones revealed a shocking fact about King Arthur- and they’ ve mysteriously vanished. When Nelson, visiting his mother in Blackpool, learns about the case, he is drawn into the investigation, especially when Ruth and his beloved Kate seem to be in danger. Who is willing to kill to keep the bones a secret?

The Raven King by Christian Schloe

Enjoyable enough as a gothic-cosy; all the cast are here in their individual, quirky glory yet somehow I feel a disinterest settling in when contemplating continuing this series. This happens with series doesn’t it, when the point of elegant sufficiency is reached.

the skeleton dance 1929

Pendle Hill

This image is traditionally associated with the Witches of Pendle Forest and their Trial.

The Pendle Witch Trials 1612 were the most notorious witch hunts in English history.

Singing Detective – Dem Bones

4* The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway, #1)
4* The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway #2)
3* The House at Sea’s End (Ruth Galloway, #3)
3* A Room Full of Bones
3* A Dying Fall
MB The Outcast Dead (Ruth Galloway #6)

Burning Girls

bookshelves: shortstory-shortstories-novellas, published-2013, e-book, spring-2014, anti-semitic, boo-scary, conflagration, disaster, doo-lally, eye-scorcher, families, fantasy, gangsters, jewish, lifestyles-deathstyles, mythology, newtome-author, ouch, tragedy, women

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Melki
Read from April 10 to 11, 2014


Opening: When we came to America, we brought anger and socialism and hunger. We also brought our demons. They stowed away on the ships with us, curled up in the small sacks we slung over our shoulders, crept under our skirts. When we passed the medical examinations and stepped for the first time out onto the streets of granite we would call home, they were waiting for us, as though they’d been there the whole time.

Within a few years, I was able to help my bubbe as she wrote out amulets to preserve infants from the lilim[..]

Bundism is a Jewish socialist and secular movement that originated with the General Jewish Labour Bund, founded in the Russian Empire in 1897. (wiki sourced definition)

Read online here

Spoilers after the break

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