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Showing posts from August, 2017

The Last Kings of Norse America by Janey Westin and Robert Glen Johnson

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I found this book in the museum of Njal's Saga in Iceland. An interesting account on the Vikings presence in North America. The sub-title is " Runestone Keys to a Lost Empire " and it makes for exciting reading. The authors explore a possible 14th century visit to North America on behalf of the Norwegian king Magnus. He sent his son Haakon VI as leader of the expedition and Johnson and Westin investigate available manuscripts and rune stones to follow in their foot steps as far as possible. It is a fantastically, exciting journey they take us on. They start with an historical background on the situation in Scandinavia, Iceland and Greenland. As everywhere there were political turmoil and fight for power. The Norwegian had early ties with North America and the fur trade, but due to circumstances the trade had ceased. Now was the time to try to establish this lucrative business again. The authors base their book on earlier research but have made a lot of new research, i

Maigret Mystified by Georges Simenon

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I have lately read som reviews of Maigret books. I remember the TV-series from when I was very young and I really liked them. The books never came my way though, and when I found one in a second hand shop, I quickly grabbed it. This mystery was first published in 1932. Although the writing is old, it does not feel old fashioned. I quite enjoyed the story and the way he was solving the crime. An industrialist, Raymond Couchet is shot dead in his office one evening. The office is situated in an apartment building, so more or less all of the people in the building are suspects. They are a bunch of extraordinary individuals, so it takes a sharp brain to disentangle the web. At the murder scene he meets Couchet's mistress Nine who came to look for him when he did not turn up for their dinner. In the building lives Couchet's first wife and her new husband. Next to the room in the hotel where Nine stays, Couchet's son Roger (with his ex-wife) is lodging with his mistress. Th

The Saga of Egil

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Iceland is forever connected to The Sagas . They tell the story of the Vikings and the early settlers on this wild island. Our recent trip to Iceland was more of a natural experience and there was not so much time for the more historical, cultural theme. I managed to pick up a few books though. The Saga of Egil is a short version of the original saga.  As is normal for the Icelandic sagas, a lot of terrible, violent things happens. Here is the story in short, taken from the Introduction to the book. "The Saga of Egil was written in the 13th century, possibly by chronicler Snorri Sturluson. It is about the famous Viking-Poet Egil Skallagrimsson who lived three centuries earlier and left behind a lot of outstanding poetry. Egil, born in Iceland of refugees from Norway, participated with vengeance in the long and bitter feud his family fought against the Norwegian royal family, especially against Hing Harold Fairhair, King Eric Bloodaxe and Queen Gunnhild. Tall, strong and brut

Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson

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As you, who follow me, know, I am a great fan of Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason. Now I have made the acquaintance with another Icelandic crime writer, Ragnar Jónasson. It is a meeting that will lead to more, of this I am sure. As with Indridason, Jónasson works on two levels. One old story that never got an ending and one contemporary murder mystery to solve. I think this is what I really love with these two authors. Their ability to totally engage the reader in an interesting, old story, which most of the time has a very tragic course.  I find that these cold cases sometimes are more interesting than the contemporary story, but in the end they do complement each other. "1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedingsfjördur. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have b

Book Beginnings on Fridays and Friday 56

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Rose City Reader , is hosting Book beginnings on Fridays . She says: Please join me every Friday to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Please remember to include the title of the book and the author’s name. Freda’s voice is hosting Friday 56 and the rules are: *Grab a book, any book. *Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader (If you have to improvise, that's ok.)  *Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) *Post it. *Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. *It's that simple. My book this week is " Brazzaville Beach " by William Boyd Book Beginnings on Fridays "I live on Brazzaville Beach. Brazzaville Beach on the edje of Africa. This is where I have washed up, you might say, deposited myself like a spar of driftwood, lodged and fixed in the warm sand for a

Bookmark Monday

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I am joining Guiltless Reading for Bookmarks Monday meme. I have been travelling in Iceland for two weeks and I found some really nice bookmarks. Three with pictures of the wonderful Icelandic nature as seen here.  Two from Icelandic historical sagas. I think they are from a tapestry they are creating, something like the Bayeux tapestry. You can see it as the work progress in the Njal's Saga Center in Hvolsvollur in the south of Iceland. Great museum. Here is a picture of what the tapestry will look like.

Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You by Alice Munro

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Finally, I got around to read something of Alice Munro. As a Nobel Literature Laureate she is easy accessible to everyone, which, I find, is not always the case with the Laureates. Alice Munro writes short stories, which is not really my cup of tea, although I read them from time to time. This is a time when it was really worth it. From the back of the cover the Observer  notes: " Read not more than one of her stories a day, and allow them to work their spell: they are made to last ". I can agree to that, although I read half the book before I left for my holiday and half of it when I came back. Her stories are about life, often included middle aged or older aged people, and they all tell something about life. Our inner thoughts, how the world change around us, or something that happened in their youth and which has affected their whole life. The stories are engaging, real and the characters she creates on only a few pages are incredible. You are right into them from the

Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd

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This book came by recommendation by my brother-in-law, who is a big fan of William Boyd.   After this initial meeting with him, I am looking forward reading more books, and I do have another one of his books in my book case,  Waiting for Sunrise. "What cannot be avoided, must be welcomed, as Amilcar had told me." Brazzaville Beach  was written in 1990, and is narrated by Hope Clearwater, a scientist. There are several stories in the novel; Hope in the present time, where we find her studying chimpanzees in Grosso Arvore in Congo. We are presented to her fellow researchers; Eugen Mallabar who is the leader and the acknowledged expert on chimpanzees, with several books to his name. He is working on his final book on the peaceful chimpanzee, when Hope discovers something that does not add up to his conclusions; Ian and Roberta Vail, who are more or less her friends and Anton Hauser that she dislikes. The whole camp seem to be full of conflicts and the behaviour of the scienti

6 Degrees of Separation - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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To celebrate the bicentenary of Jane Austen's death, host to 6 Degrees of Separation, Books are My Favourite and Best starts this month with one of her most popular books; Pride and Prejudice . It also happens to be my favourite book by Austen. My chain starts with my second favourite book of hers which is Northanger Abbey . It has a Gothic theme, which reminded me of The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe, who was, more or less, contemporary with Jane Austen. This is a Gothic tale in all its glory. I somehow liked it, although it is rather long and could have been shortened.

Checking in from Iceland

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It has been far too quiet on this blog the last couple of weeks, which is because we have been touring Iceland. We have been camping and driving around the whole island. I thought there would be time to read a lot (I did download extra e-books just for the occasion), but we had full days from morning to late evening. I did read a short Icelandic saga The Saga of Egil  and a big part of Williams Boyd's Brazzaville Beach.  That was it. Icebergs! The reason being that Iceland had so much to show and we had a great time. Our son is studying geology, so he had prepared an itinerary that was very ambitious. We drove around most of the island, camped and saw so many spectacular things. Iceland is fantastic, magic and blessed with most of the wonders of nature. It was one of my best trips ever. Kirkjufellsfoss This is just to say that I am back in rainy Brussels and will catch up with you, to see what you have been up to this summer. See you soon!