Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book notes on four books

18. Frozen Assets (also known as Frozen Out) - book 1 in the Gunnhilder Mystery series
by Quentin Bates
mystery, 2011
Nook book 3
library book two
finished 4/6/12

This is the first ebook borrowed from my state's digital library. It is very exciting to be able to do this.

I chose it because of my love for Iceland which came about from reading all those Arnaldur Indridason books (if you want to read my book reports, click on the authors tab and scroll down to his name). Frozen Assets is set during the financial crisis in 2008. It is quite different from Arnaldur's books. His detective and his stories seem more timeless - not so rooted in current affairs. There is a book which deals with immigrants to Iceland, but no mention of the economic situation that I recall.

There's an interview with author Quentin Bates here, and an in-depth review here. The author's website is here where he describes the story of his Icelandic nickname.

My friend Kay wrote a review, and I left a comment in which I said:

'I just finished, and am still mulling over my feelings about it. I do know that I really liked Gunna. I found the names much more confusing than in the Arnaldur Indridason books. And the whole economic crisis left me quite muddled.'

And that's just about it in a nutshell. I will continue to read because of the policewoman Gunna. Though her age was once noted at 36, she seemed older to me. Having just watched Lilyhammer on Netflix Instant, the actress who played Laila, Anne Krigsvoll was in my head. She seemed quite like Gunna, only older.


I will also continue reading because of the setting. I'll probably never get to Iceland, but it is so interesting for me to read about it. I am looking forward to seeing Gunna's relationship with her daughter as time goes on; and a possible love interest in her life, as well as a new job. I really liked the book.

As soon as I finished, I put my name on the waiting list for Cold Comfort, the second in the series.


19. The Human Comedy
by William Saroyan
fiction, 1943
finished 4/7/12

If you don't know about William Saroyan, you may read about him here. And there's a very interesting connection between him, his cousin Ross Bagdasarian, and Rosemary Clooney here.

I must have been in my early teens when I first read this very special book, and saw the excellent film version with Mickey Rooney and Van Johnson.

I think this fictional 'Ithaca,' likely based on real places in California's San Joaquin Valley during the 1940s, was like an Eden.

Some things I noticed.
A four-year old could walk around town, which was probably a small city, on his own.
All boys were free to wander. When they were getting up to mischief like stealing apricots off Mr. Henderson's tree, the owner already knew the routine. He'd let them climb around a bit, and then would make his appearance on the porch and they would run off.
A fourteen year old could do a responsible adult job like delivering telegrams, even to mothers whose sons had been killed in the war.
Life happened in the town, not on the outskirts. So different from these days when so many businesses sprawl away from a town center.
A boy could ride a bike without a helmet, and could carry two others, one on the back and one on the handlebars, and no adult said anything.

You see where I'm going with this. There was real freedom for children, which wasn't without its possible dangers (falling out of a tree or crashing a bike). Nothing was organized. The kids, just boys in this story, decided on the spur of the moment what to do next.

There were many nationalities in this place, and they are described as all being Americans.

William Saroyan was very good at being inside a child's head. There is a society dedicated to this fine author.



20. Paradise Park
by Allegra Goodman
fiction, 2001
Nook book 4
finished 4/8/12

Before this, I'd read only one book by Allegra Goodman, and it is one of my favorites - Kaaterskill Falls. I have read it probably three times, all on unabridged audio, and a couple years ago I bought a used copy of the print edition. I hope to read it again as this summer begins.

Paradise Park could be a record of what life was like for a lot of young people in the 1970s. It is not my story, but it is a real story for many, many people who were in their twenties during those years. Sharon's travels, both literal and spiritual are true. She is sensitive, optimistic, exasperating, and loveable. The name of the book is taken from a place she visits in Hawaii, a sort of aviary where birds never need fear predators or starvation, but where there is a ceiling, an end to their flight. Is it really paradise when everything is controlled? Is safety equal to freedom?

This is a wonderful book which I loved. I could identify with Sharon even when she did things I had not done, and which I never would do. I'm just not that kind of person. But her spirit, her indomitable spirit raises her far above any questionable activities. She's a great character. I particularly loved the last section, and the ending of this book.

There's a review here, and the author's website is here. If your volume is up, you'll hear the little lamp switch on. I love things like that.

I look forward to reading everything Allegra Goodman has written.




21. Pictures of the Past
by Deby Eisenberg
fiction, 2011
Kindle book 12
finished 4/8/12

The author has titled each chapter with a name, a place, a date which ranges from 1937 Berlin to 2005 Illinois. We begin in modern day Illinois, and shift all around. Though there are many interconnected characters, it isn't difficult to keep track of them because of Deby Eisenberg's great device of chapter names. More writers should do this.

I can't praise Pictures of the Past highly enough. It is romantic and informational with a great sense of many places, and characters that seemed very real to me. Lovely, lovely book. I'll not say more so you may discover this excellent story on your own.

You may visit the author's website here.

38 comments:

  1. Some interesting books there. (I've noticed how we read at the same rate, I've just finished book 22.) I like the sound of The Human Comedy. I think I probably saw the movie yonks ago but will see if my library has the book. I have an Indridison book on my library pile at the moment - The Draining Lake. I haven't read a lot of Icelandic crime, just one by the author whose name begins with Y. (I do wish I was better at remembering author's names.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Human Comedy could qualify for a California book for you!
      The Draining Lake isn't the first in the series. I'm not sure it matters terribly, but there are a few things that happen in earlier books that continue on in the series. I LOVE his work. I can't say enough good things. I haven't read the Y. :<) woman yet. I just looked it up - Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

      Delete
    2. That's what occurred to me, Nan, so I've just reserved The Human Comedy from the library.

      I've just checked Indridison's books on FF and you're right, it's book four. And I do actually have book one, Tainted Blood on my tbr pile, so I will read that before The Draining Lake as I prefer things to make sense. LOL.

      You mentioned D.E. Stevenson to me on my blog. I didn't realise she was the author of Miss Buncle's Book. I'll put that on reserve at the library soon, as well.

      Delete
    3. Isn't FF just THE best!!
      I am so very fond of DES. I recently began a book but let it go back to the library unfinished because I had others I wanted to read first.

      Delete
  2. Allegra Goodman! I had never heard of her before her Intuition was recommended to me, and now here she is. Glad to see you've liked several of her books, I'm going to keep a better eye out.

    Pictures of the Past sounds wonderful, sort of Maeve Binchy-esque. And more Iceland stories has to be good. Sprite managed to get to Iceland, maybe we will some day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think she is a great writer.
      Good description of PotP.
      I sure hope so!

      Delete
  3. I've been meaning to try A. Goodman. (You've been reading up a storm Nan).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It just seemed to work out that way - finishing up all those books around the same time. :<)

      Delete
  4. Pictures of the Past and Human Comedy sound just like the kind of book I enjoy. Thank you for keeping to provide me with ideas for good reading!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are so many great books out there, old and new!

      Delete
  5. I haven't read the next Gunna book yet, but hope to soon. Thanks for the mention of my review. :-)

    I'm interested in PICTURES OF THE PAST. Sounds wonderful. Trying to recall if I ever read any of Allegra Goodman's books or if I've just heard you talk about her. Think it might be the latter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have the only 'hold' on the ebook from the library, and they can be out only two weeks, so I expect soon I'll have the second.
      PotP is wonderful.
      I have probably raved to you about Kaaterskill Falls for years. :<)

      Delete
  6. Isn't eborrowing library books a great idea. I am still looking for my ancient copy of The Human Comedy, thanks to you. Also, I think Picture of the Past looks like an interesting book, so I will have to put in on the list and look for it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is fantastic! I've been buying for a while now, and I'm thrilled to not have to! I think you'll like both those books.
      It was different for little kids in the US during the war, but they were still affected daily by the loss in their communities. My aunt was telling me just the other day that there used to be a whole crowd of high school kids who hung around together. Ten boys in that group from one little town went to war, and they all died.

      Delete
  7. Lots of books to put on my list. I also read The Human Comedy when I was very young and loved it. A whole new world for me. I never knew there was a movie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, the movie is wonderful. It brings to life the locale and those characters. Frank Morgan is particularly excellent in it. It used to be on dvd from Netflix but I don't see it there anymore. It can be bought at iTunes.

      Delete
  8. I'm definitely going to check out Pictures of the Past. I'm intrigued. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I shall be adding all of these to the list. I'm fascinated by Iceland, too, and like Yrsa Sigurdardottir's books. I haven't read Indridason yet, but they showed Jar City on television here a while ago, very atmospheric.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have the first one, and will read it soon, I hope. Oh, I watched Jar City too and it was so great to see Iceland!!

      Delete
  10. I have to comment on The Human Comedy (the movie, not the book). It's such a wonderful, innocent movie that deals with some very complex issues of war, sorrow, and coming of age. As you said, I love the way the boys were allowed to roam free without their mothers having to worry about anything. I loved the littlest boy. He was so cute! It reminds me of my childhood (sans war). We grew up in a little town and we were allowed to go anywhere and do anything we wanted (within reason) during the long summers. It was a different time -- more innocent. My mother, as in the movie, didn't have to worry about where we were. We always showed up in time for meals! I really feel sorry for kids nowadays who don't have the same fun and feeling of safety that we did as children.

    I have a copy of the book and I'm sorry to say I haven't read it. I'm going to have to dig it out and give it a try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel just the same way. It is a movie that has stayed with me my whole life. The earth, the telegraph office, the house. I think you'll like the book if you begin to read it. The movie just brought it alive, but the words were first and they are still wonderful.
      I had the same kind of childhood.

      Delete
  11. Four books that I don't already have on my Kindle (I've been skipping your book reviews because I didn't want to find out you hated a book I have bought but haven't yet read~).... Saroyan.. oh, I devoured every book he wrote back years ago -- hadn't thought of him for years, but remembered his relationship to the chipmunks guy. I think it's time for some re-reads. ...... I think I remember Katterskill Falls, need to look that one and this one up.... the other 2 were new to me. More for my TBR list, as usual.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I almost never hate a book because I quit it if I don't like it. Only very rarely have I posted anything negative here, and felt badly when I did so.
      I recently bought an old copy of My Name Is Aram. I didn't happen to read it when I was younger.
      And how I love Kaaterskill Falls!!

      Delete
  12. A Human Comedy, both book and movie will stay with me too forever. I remember those times and towns with people like that. To have that recorded for others to see is important. I also like How Green Was My Valley and I Remember MaMa and the books both came from. Also the movie Our Vines Had Tender Grapes staring Edward G. Robinson. I don't know if it came from a book. These are classics. Stories that had heart and meaning. Stories that become a part of your life. I just found our blog and I ever so happy I did. Thank you for all the information! :) Sarah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My daughter and I used to watch I Remember Mama when she was little. How we loved that movie.I think I've only seen the PBS version of How Green Was My Valley and I remember it being sad. I haven't seen or even heard of the EGR movie. I'll look into it.
      Thank you for your kind words, and come again please!

      Delete
  13. I now want to read the first one you highlighted! I think you had some amazing books!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They were all good, each in their own special way.

      Delete
  14. A new Icelandic mystery series!!! I'm so excited. Yaay! I hadn't even heard of it. This made my evening! lol

    ReplyDelete
  15. hi Nan
    just finished watching Lilyhammer on Netflix - after reading your review of the Quentin Bates book

    now I really really want to go to Iceland - who knew it was so beautiful - not me

    the movie (TV series) was so good - who couldn't love Frankie - hope there will be another season

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There were so many good characters in Lilyhammer. I was just sorry the cop was killed. But I guess that was realistic in the story. Great, great setting. I love all the snow, the meadows, the villages. I think I heard there will be another season but Steven Van Zandt is on tour so it has to wait.

      Delete
  16. I love The Human Comedy which I read at least 55 years ago, my mother's copy. And my childhood had all that freedom. There are slight downsides at times, but I wouldn't change it for life as it is here and now....It is not the same everywhere in the world, of course. It's better someplaces and worse in others and always in change.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, what we didn't have when I was a girl were shootings anywhere nearby. And yet, there were two horrible episodes in my little state just yesterday.

      Delete
  17. And I'm enjoying Lilyhammer though I don't like all of it.The humor and the acting are great.I find myself wondering how it might have been different.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't want the young policeman to be killed. Yes, it fit into the mob thing, but I thought that didn't have to happen. Didn't like those guys who came to Norway from NYC.

      Delete
  18. correction - that wasn't Iceland in the movie, it was Norway. I suspect Iceland may not be so lush and green in summer

    by the way, Nan, I do love your sweet stone bunnies

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought you meant the Iceland you've read about in other books. You can go to google images and type in Iceland in summer for a lot of pictures. It is pretty green!!
      the bunnies thank you. :<)

      Delete

Now that I am a grandmother, it seems that I am often late in replying to your most-appreciated comments. But I read them as soon as they come in, and I will write as soon as I can. Please do come back and check. I love these blogging conversations. A little addendum - I've just spent quite a long time catching up with dear notes you left me months ago!! I do hope you can get back to read them. And I'm trying to be much more prompt now!

Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.