The Czar’s Madman by Jaan Kross

 

spotted on Nancy’s update

Translated by Anselm Hollo from the Finish edition by Ivo Iliste: so this is a translation of a translation uh-oh!

Estonia under Imperial Russia 1850

Opening: First, let me recall the occasion that impelled me to begin this journal.

Alexander I of Russia

Schlusselburg Fortress

The ‘Mad’ Tsar, Paul I

The translation is a bit ropey, however one becomes so engrossed in the story, that doesn’t seem to matter. Started to get well and truly fed up with the journal-keeping bro’ by page 100 or so.

Toyed between 3 and 4* and went for the lower because of the translation and that annoying brother. That said, I am pleased to have read another perspective on the era that leads up to the revolution.

A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

bookshelves: handbag-read, paper-read, winter-20122013, tbr-busting-2013, published-1982, amusing, doo-lally, japan, magical-realism

Read from May 17, 2012 to February 28, 2013

 

Translated from the Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum

Opening: It was a short one-paragraph item in the morning edition. A friend rang me up to read it to me. Nothing special. Something a rookie reporter fresh out of college might’ve written for practice.

Ginko leaves strewn across the ground.

#60 TBR Busting 2013

Also have the audio file:

This is Murakami’s version of a Moby Dick story, and fun it was too.

5* The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
4* Kafka on the Shore
2* Norwegian Wood
3* A Wild Sheep Chase
4* After Dark
2* 1Q84 (will re-read at some point)
TR Dance Dance Dance
TR The Elephant Vanishes
4* After the Quake
3* Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen

The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles by Roy Jacobsen
bookshelves: finland, paper-read, hardback, war, slavic, spring-2012, one-penny-wonder, wwii, published-2005, historical-fiction

Read from March 20 to 21, 2012


Withdrawn from London Borough of Enfield Public Libraries. Translated by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw.

Dedication: To my children – Maria and Daniel

Opening: Suomussalmi was set ablaze on 7 December, after all four thousand inhabitants had been evacuated, except for me, I was born here, had lived here all my life and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else – so when I became aware of a figure in a white uniform standing in front of me, reading from a piece of paper and telling me I had to get out, I dug my heels into the snow and refused to budge.

That is some sentence!

Wanted to read something more from this author as I enjoyed his short story Ice in the anthology: The Norwegian Feeling for Real.

From wiki – The Soviet–Finnish Non-Aggression Pact signed in Helsinki on 21 January 1932. On the left is the Finnish foreign minister Aarno Yrjö-Koskinen, and on the right the ambassador of the Soviet Union, Ivan Maisky

Karelia.

Some history from the Familj Malm archives that I was told today. When f-i-l was a very young boy he lived in Halmstad where there was a Finnish Hostel and one of these young evacuees liked f-i-l so much that he lived with the family for a year or so.

 

P148: “…and from what I heard in Suomussalmi, Sweden and Norway’s betrayal of Finland didn’t necessarily mean they would take kindly to Russian deserters; quite the opposite – these countries feared the Soviet Union.”
 
P158:
 
 
 

Leopard VI: The Norwegian Feeling for Real by Harald Bache-Wiig, Birgit Bjerck, Jan Kjarstad

Leopard VI by Harald Bache-Wiig
 

 

Who doesn’t like the cover (excluding Scott from Utah of course); an extra star right there!

1. On An Old Farmstead in Europe by Hans Herbjörnsrud, translated by Liv Irene Myhre. A recounting of one of Norway’s oldest myths ‘Blind Margjit and the Man with the Eyes’.

2. The Dogs in Thessaloniki by Kjell Askildsen, translated by Agnes Scott Langeland. Pug-Ugly domestic scenario.

3. Ice by Roy Jacobsen, translated by Kenneth Steven. Had to read this one eyes through splayed fingers. Excellent suspense.

4. The Cock and Mr. Gopher by Jonny Halberg, translated by Don Bartlett. Culinary addiction.

5. I Could Not Tell You by Jon Fosse, translated by May-Britt Akerholdt. blergh – s.o.c. affected shite.

6. Cows by Lars Amund Vaage, translated by Nadia Christensen. Well that was a dairy farmer’s wet dream but no more entries like that, I hope.

7. The Last Beat Poets in Mid-Hordland by Ragnar Hovland, translated by James Anderson. Lovely story.

8. The Jealous Barber by Lars Saabye Christensen, translated by Kenneth Steven. A psychological thriller that was noirly amusing in its absurdity.

Just when I am mentally composing the end rant about the lack of female writers here, next up is a goodie:

9. The Pillar by Karin Fossum translated by Robert Ferguson. Bullying father reveals his fecklessness.

10. The Catalogue by Jostein Gaarder and translated by James Anderson. Superb piece of nihilism surrounding an every leap-year global publication.

11. A Good Heart by Karin Sveen and translated by Katherine Hanson. Crofting community and the question of hand-me-downs ♥♥♥

12. The Motif Herbjørg Wassmo and translated by Donna H Stockton. Not so much!

13. Dublin in the Rain by Frode Grytten and translated by Peter Cripps.

14. I’m Asleep by Tor Ulven and translated by Sverre Lyngstad. Lots of individual ideas to ponder upon here, however, does that make a good story?, I don’t think so.

This is the most ‘quotable snippets’ entry but I cannot recommend it as a whole.

15. Love by Hanne ørstavik and translated by James Anderson

A path runs into the forest, from a secret, forgotten place.
If you can only find it, your body will follow its trace.
Past trees and flowers and anthills and up to a castle so rare,
In the castle sit three damsels, fabulous, fine and fair.
For the prince they sit there waiting, naybe he’ll come one day,
They’re singing a song in the meantime, a lilting, lugubrious lay.

16. The Man Who Collected the First of September, 1973 by Tor Åge Bringsværd and translated by Oddrun Grønvik.

17. A Forgotten Petunia by Bjørg Vik and translated by Don Bartlett.

18. Deep Need – Instant Nausea by Trude Marstein and translated by Don Bartlett.

19. The Story of the Short Story by Kjartan Fløgstad and translated by Sverre Lyngstad.

20. Life of a Trapper by Gro Dahle and translated by Katherine Hanson.

21. It’s So Damned Quiet Øystein Lønn, trans by Steven T. Murray.

22. Veranda With Sun Laila Stein, Katherine Hanson

22. Homecoming Jan Kjæstad, Sverre Lyngstad

23. The Long Trip by Beate Grimsrud, translated by Angela Shury-Smith

————————————-

Edited by Harald Bache-Wiig, Birgit Bjerck and Jan Kjærstad.

Introduction by Harald Bache-Wiig.
—————————————-

Now a good thing about anthologies is that you can get a taster, a little peek at an unknown writer. Having enjoyed #3 I have ordered a book by Roy Jacobsen about the northern war.

A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard, Alice Provensen (Illustrator), Martin Provensen (Illustrator)

bookshelves: published-1981, summer-2014, art-forms, poetry, kiddlewinks, paper-read

Read on July 31, 2014

 

Description: Inspired by William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, this delightful collection of poetry for children brings to life Blake’s imaginary inn and its unusual guests.

Perfect example of a nursery book in the mode of Lear and Carroll. Beautiful images and fun poems and although it would not be fair to copy over complete entries, I shall give you a snippet of my favourite:

THE MAN IN THE MARMALADE HAT ARRIVES

The man in the marmalade hat
arrived in the middle of March,
equipped with a bottle of starch
to straighten the bends in the road, he said.
He carried a bucket and mop.
A most incommodious load, he said,
and he asked for a room at the top.

Now all I need is a grandchild.

Lovely fayre so I went through twice.

Black Man by: Richard K. Morgan

 

Home read. Hard Cover 546 pages AND the audio file.

Description: Marsalis is one of a new breed. Literally. Genetically engineered by the U.S. government to embody the naked aggression and primal survival skills that centuries of civilization have erased from humankind, Thirteens were intended to be the ultimate military fighting force. The project was scuttled, however, when a fearful public branded the supersoldiers dangerous mutants, dooming the Thirteens to forced exile on Earth’s distant, desolate Mars colony. But Marsalis found a way to slip back – and into a lucrative living as a bounty hunter and hit man before a police sting landed him in prison – a fate worse than Mars, and much more dangerous.

Luckily, his “enhanced” life also seems to be a charmed one. A new chance at freedom beckons, courtesy of the government. All Marsalis has to do is use his superior skills to bring in another fugitive. But this one is no common criminal. He’s another Thirteen – one who’s already shanghaied a space shuttle, butchered its crew, and left a trail of bodies in his wake on a bloody cross-country spree. And like his pursuer, he was bred to fight to the death. Still, there’s no question Marsalis will take the job. Though it will draw him deep into violence, treachery, corruption, and painful confrontation with himself, anything is better than remaining a prisoner. The real question is: can he remain sane – and alive – long enough to succeed?

First Sentence: He finally found Gray in a MarsPrep camp just over the Bolivian border and into Peru, hiding behind some cheap facial surgery and the name Rodriguez

Now if the story unfolds along the same lines of this brilliant first sentence I will have a damn fine read, don’t you think?

After a quick skim down through the community ratings this seems to be a marmite read and I am already (in chapter three) fed up with the f bomb.

Throwing in the towel at 40%. Life is too short for this annoyance.

The Falcons of Fire and Ice

The Falcons of Fire and Ice - Karen Maitland

bookshelves: cover-love, published-2012, summer-2012, historical-fiction, iceland, hardback, paper-read, portugal, roman-catholic, jewish, medieval5c-16c, mythology, ouch, slaves, seven-seas

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Pat
Read from August 27 to September 03, 2012


No dedication
Three front quotes
Cast of Characters

Prologue – gripping, high drama twinned with a prophecy.

Opening of Chapter One:

Anno Domini 1539

The Queen of Spain once had a dream, that a white falcon flew out of the mountains towards her and in its talons it held the flaming ball of the sun and icy sphere of the moon. The queen opened her hand and the falcon dropped the sun and moon into her outstretched palm and she grasped them.

Cheese before bedtime will do that.

I wonder if anyone else felt the auto-da-fé section went on too long?

Some very exciting moments in this story however it is within the similarities of the Iberian Catholics and the Danish Lutherans of the period that gripped me most.

 

On the topmost branch sits an eagle, and perched between the eyes of the eagle is Vedfolnir the falcon, whose piercing gaze sees up into the heavens and down to the earth, and below the earth into the dark caverns of the underworld.” 11 comments

 

Little King Sebastian of Portugal 1564″

 

She was the most beautiful creature who ever lived”

 

Sintra, Portugal”

 


Torre de Belem portugal”

 

He is a Draugr, a Nightstalker.” 3 comments

 

Lucet is a method of cordmaking or braiding which is believed to date back to the Viking era. Lucet cord is square, strong, and slightly springy. It closely resembles knitted I-cord or the cord produced on a knitting spool. Lucet cord is formed by a series of loops, and will therefore unravel if cut.”

 

The doorway to possession = Dyra-dómr of Draugr (approx.)”

 

1 comment

 

Gilitrutt the troll wife”

 

Zaphod Beeblebrox is remembered, lampooned, a dress-up favourite; I have a feeling the characters here won’t pass the test of time in the same way”

 

Ptarmigan”

Solid 3*

5* Company of Liars
5* The Owl Killers
4* The Gallows Curse
3* The Falcons of Fire and Ice
TR Hill of Bones (in bedroom stack)

=====================================================
BOOK BLOG – the lead up:
9/3/2012 email to Karen Maitland:

Hello there Karen,
We* are wondering where we can get our handsies on The White Room, are you planning to re-publish now you are garnering such prestige?

* Goodread readers Bettie and Pat

Thanks in anticipation.

……………………………………..

10/3/2012 email back:

Dear Bettie & Pat,
Thank you for your email. I only wish I was garnering any prestige. But its lovely of you to say so.

No, I’m afraid there are no plans to republish The White Room. It was a a modern story about a British girl being drawn into the fringes of terrorism. At the time it was written no Middle Eastern Terrorist acts had been carried out in England, but events have now sadly overtaken fiction. It was based on events I experienced in Belfast and Nigeria, so was in a sense a piece of cathartic fiction I had to get out of my system before I could write anything else.

I’m in the process of getting a new website (going live next Thursday I hope) and I will drop the mention of the book on the new website, as it isn’t available, apart from the occasional 2nd hand copy popping up from time to time on Amazon etc.

Sorry, I can’t be more help, but thank you so such for getting in touch and happy reading!
warmest wishes,
Karen

……………………………….

Karen Maitland with a side order of Iceland is my only weakness (hah) – jeeeepers this is going to be good. Now I know of this it will seem like a l-o-n-g drag until the autumn.

More recent history: The Order of the Falcon or Hin íslenska fálkaorða is a national Order of Iceland, established on July 3, 1921 by King Christian X of Denmark and Iceland.

The Order has five classes:
Keðja með stórkrossstjörnu or Collar with Grand Cross, only for heads of state
Stórkrossriddari or Knight Grand Cross
Stórriddari með stjörnu or Grand Knight with Star
Stórriddari or Grand Knight
Riddari or Knight

DAY OF PUBLICATION 16/8/2012: You know how I swore that there would be no new books bought because of our boracic straits after crawling over northern europe like a cheap suit – I lied.

I lied to myself and to you.

Just pressed the ‘place order’ button. I can’t be trusted.

23/8/2012: Still not here!

 

The Lost Villages of Britain by Richard Muir

bookshelves: reference, dip-in-now-and-again, history, paper-read, one-penny-wonder, nonfiction, skoolzy-stuff, published-1982, summer-2014

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Richard III FutureLearn
Recommended for: Jemidar
Read in July, 2014


Diagrams, colour plates, black and white piccies on glossy paper. Absolutely lovely and something I shall dip into a lot when planning our UK cottage rental short breaks.

Although the main reason for reading is to do with when the landed gentry started enclosing the lands for sheep back in late mediaeval times, it is surprising the amount of more recent evacuations such as when Tottington in Norfolk became deserted when the army took over.

Tottington

The most ominous desertion I have seen is in Farmagusta where the washing still hung on the lines and the buildings taken over by nature.

Rating is five ‘munching-the-land-where-there-used-to-be-kitchen-gardens’ sheep.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

bookshelves: one-penny-wonder, true-grime, published-1994, spring-2011, nonfiction, north-americas, amusing, paper-read

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Brazilliant Laura
Read from May 13 to 14, 2011, read count: 2


** spoiler alert ** There is an inserted map, i.e. non attached, and given that this is a one-penny wonder I will forgive that I have seen the map with the biro comments – at this stage, the opening, nothing means nothing to me.

Double negatives do work the right way sometimes.

So, given that I have just gawped at how many have already have read this I am, right now, un-hyped and uninitiated as to what this is all about. I am hoping it will be along the lines of Savage Garden where there are follies and secrets in a garden designed as if it was the woods before the journey into Dante’s circles of hell. ETA I like surprises, that is why lots of books are bought, if I can nab ’em for a penny, without any prior knowledge as to genre. Just a few pages in and this is non-fiction, however it has not been established yet whether the line is Charles Manson or real life Savage Garden.

First line He was tall, about fifty, with darkly handsome, almost sinister features: a neatly trimmed mustache*, hair turning silver at the temples, and eyes so black they were like the tinted windows of a sleek limousine – he could see out, but you couldn’t see in.

*mustache – what a weird way of spelling moustaches.

Page 31 – ‘If you go to Atlanta, the first question they ask is, “What’s your business?” In Macon they ask, “where do you go to church?” In Augusta they ask your grandmother’s maiden name. But in Savannah the first question people ask you is “What would you like to drink?”‘

——-

Round about page 250, which is a fair way into Part II, I started skimming; first paragraphs then full pages and then only honing in on key words. Does anyone else see this as a cheap writer’s trick? The same way I saw Capote’s In Cold Blood

To sum up then, Part I has some beautiful portraiture and endearing whimsy. I loved learning about the restoration of Savannah and its lovely squares. Berendt lived/leached off Savannah and its occupants, and if I feel soiled then think of the people who live there.

4* for the wonderful characters; 1* for the journalist’s insiduousity; 5 stars for showing me around Savannah; 3* for (front-loaded) reading pleasure.

‘You mustn’t be taken in by moonlight and magnolias. There’s more to Savannah than that.

 

Monterey Square, Savannah”

 

1973 pontiac grand prix”

 

Tybee Island”

Twelve miles east of Savannah, beneath shallow layers of sand and water, an abandoned 7,600 pound nuclear bomb is biding its time, waiting to rain death and destruction on the southern Atlantic coastline. If not disarmed, perhaps some sleepy Sunday morning an atomic fireball will erupt on picturesque Wassaw Sound, shooting along nearby heavily travelled Interstate 80 with the force of a hundred hurricanes, instantly vaporizing tidal wetlands, and brutally fire-storming a vibrant, thriving metropolis—women, children, more than 200,000 people instantly incinerated—into a crumbling, deserted heap of radioactive rubble.
A cold, calculated act of terrorism? Not quite. It’s simply that the United States Air Force isn’t in the habit of picking up after itself.

 

McX: A Romance of the Dour by Todd McEwen

bookshelves: paper-read, one-penny-wonder, published-1991, britain-scotland, fife, palate-cleanser, amusing, summer-2014, tbr-busting-2014, teh-demon-booze, racism, shortstory-shortstories-novellas, giftee

Read from March 04 to June 27, 2014

 

Description: A fretful inspector of weights and measures, McX is unhealthy, unsightly, unloved and, to top it all, he comes from Fife. His grim existence centres on the Auld Licht, a dank, maloderous public house haunted by the dank, maloderous and dreadful McPint; a man unstintingly devoted to beer, peanuts and pornography. McX, meanwhile, dreams of fair women and requited love in a rural idyll – a Scotland without rain, without repression, and without McPint. He resolves, quite simply, to escape.

Little know you of the hearts
I have hidden here. Hogg

Opening: Consider a long and famous river, it teems with salmon and story. Winds majestic through the most various of Scottish shires. Where it passes under several bridges and reflects a suggestion of Georgian elegance, sad tales begin.

Although this was published in 1991 it does read like an out-in-the-sticks 70s offering, I’m sure that the hugely offensive terms ‘wogs’ and ‘niggers’ had long been shown the door by everybody else’s 1990s.

Take no notice of the Aberdeen-esque chunterings from other dour reviewers, this is ladishly pithy, gloomily pawky, and a fat satirical prod at lowlanders in general and Fifers in particular: I’m sure Ian Rankin would have had a chuckle.

The sun is known in Scotland, but chiefly through myth and legend.[..] Appearance of chicken flesh at the first jerk of the thermometer: Scots in the sun. What need to brown yourselves? You’ll be roasting in Hell soon enough. Page 103

Good enough as a palate-cleanser.