I picked this up as it had been recommended to me after buying another book on Amazon, had a fantastic title, was intriguing and even better was justI picked this up as it had been recommended to me after buying another book on Amazon, had a fantastic title, was intriguing and even better was just 20p on Kindle (which it still currently is, so I recommend you buy it right now this second, what have you got to lose?)
Translated from the original Swedish, the book begins in May 2005 as Allan Karlsson climbs out of the window of the old people’s home where he lives in order to avoid the party being thrown for his 100th birthday.
The centenarian is wearing his indoor slippers and has no particular destination in mind – however, circumstance soon finds him embroiled in a plot that involves theft, gangs, murders and even an elephant called Sonya! (Note the spelling – I am ‘with an i’!)
On top of all this, it appears that the cops are after him, and closing in rapidly.
Thrilling as this may seem, it has nothing on the life that he led before he landed in the old people’s home.
I don’t really know what I was expecting from this book – but it definitely wasn’t what I got!
Allan Karlsson’s life leading up to his dramatic ‘escape’ was dramatic in itself, even though the man himself seems the coolest, calmest person I’ve ever come across in fiction. He seems to plod along, doing whatever he fancies, and taking it in his stride that he seems to regularly come into contact with world leaders and somehow be responsible for various events in recent history.
The story of his life is so obviously ridiculous, and yet Allan himself is so undynamic and reasonable that it feels almost plausible! How confusing is that.
Murders aside (which are quite frankly cartoonish and almost laughable themselves), this story is gentle and harmless and amused me page by page.
Overall, I did in fact take away one valuable thought – don’t judge old people on how you see them, the longer they’ve lived, the greater the opportunity for adventure they have had. Of course, the majority of them will have had no influence over Chairman Mao or Stalin!
I can honestly say that this is by far the best (*) book I have read this year – and I am now looking forward to the film which is allegedlyh due out on Christmas Day this year!
You may have noticed that I haven’t reviewed any books for ages. This usually happens when I read a book that I haven’t particularly enjoyed and am caYou may have noticed that I haven’t reviewed any books for ages. This usually happens when I read a book that I haven’t particularly enjoyed and am caught up as I want to give it a fair review and also think I should be honest.
This happened with Twelve Months that I read a couple of months ago, and have since been thinking “I have got to write that review” and have written it in my head about 20 times over!
I was contacted by the author and asked whether I would like a copy to review, which I was very happy to – the actual premise was intriguing, if not unique.
Don DiMarco has everything he wants in life, a loving family, adorable grandchildren, a good job, a lovely home and all seems great.
But then suddenly Don is diagnosed with colon cancer and given just one year to live. With the total support of his family, Don creates his own ‘bucket list’ ad sets about doing all those things that he never got around to before, but which suddenly feel that he needs to do while he still can.
As I said before, a bucket list isn’t a new idea, but it sounded like it would likely be a heart-wrenching, emotional read – a complete change from the kind of books I have been reading lately.
It should have been emotional. I should have felt moved to tears. I should have clung onto Don every step of his difficult journey. I should have felt elated every time he crossed something off of his list, and I should have sobbed thinking of his family watching him slowly deteriorate before their eyes.
But I didn’t. I couldn’t stand Don DiMarco and to be completely honest, I couldn’t wait for him to die. I am not heartless and cold, but he didn’t feel real to me. For someone so family-orientated and dying, I felt he lacked any emotion – and even worse, any character.
I think my main problem with the book was the acceptance of his impending death. There never seemed to be any anger, from anyone. This felt to me like the kind of book that a church group would recommend as a good read, even though there wasn’t anything religious within it.
And the dialogue was clunky – I couldn’t believe that anyone would really talk to each other the way that they did. especially within such a close-knit family about to lose one of their own.
It was all so sickly-sweet. There were far too many lines that literally made me want to either vomit or throw my Kindle across the room. For example:
“Bella and I talked for hours. “Sweet dreams,” she finally said. “I’m living one of them, babe,” I told her and could feel the warmth of her smile.”
“You really are a beautiful man, Dad,” she said, her eyes misting over. I shook my head. “I’m not sure about that, but I do have a beautiful daughter.”
And that is how they all speak to each other ALL THE TIME. I’m sorry, that kind of candy-floss just isn’t for me. It doesn’t feel real and although I guess it’s meant to convey their love for each other, the unrealistic dialogue just makes them feel one-dimensional and lacking any emotion at all.
Of course, the book did manage perhaps one of its intentions – it did make me wonder what I would do in Don’s position. And I guess that is something.
I am really sorry Mr Manchester, but this book wasn’t for me at all. I do not feel I am the ‘taget market’....more
As it ‘that’ time of year, I was asking in various places if anyone could recommend a good spooky read. It’s very hard to find a book that gives me aAs it ‘that’ time of year, I was asking in various places if anyone could recommend a good spooky read. It’s very hard to find a book that gives me a thrill – something atmospheric and other-worldly. In fact the only recent book I can think of is The Drowning Pool by Syd Moore.
This one was recommended to me by someone in a group on Facebook. I was slightly concerned as it is the first in a trilogy, and I was worried that there would be no conclusion. But, I thought I’d give it a go, as it was a recommendation :)
Set in South Carolina in the modern day, Amelia Gray is a cemetery restorer. This may seem a rather morbid choice of career, but this hasn’t been chosen by chance. She is following in her father’s footsteps, and is drawn to this kind of work as, like her father, she can see ghosts.
Unlike others that have this gift in fiction (I’m actually thinking Ghost Whisperer etc), Amelia has been instructed to ignore them and pretend that she hasn’t spotted them. If she acknowledges their presence, and they know that she can see them, they will haunt her, and drain her energy. She can be safe on hallowed ground (like that of a cemetry).
However, when a the body of a new murder victim is found buried in the graveyard that she is working on, she is introduced to Detective John Devlin, and the rules that she has lived by to protect herself are thrown out of the window. Devlin himself is haunted, although he seems to have no idea of this…and Amelia finds herself inexplicably drawn to him.
I loved this book. It is beautifully written and atmospheric and modern, even though it retains something of the mystery of traditions thanks to some of the older characters within the book. Amelia is a wonderful feisty and yet wary young woman, so although she has a bit of fight in her, she has also seen more than most, and so has a reason to be scared of the dark – and at twilight, the time when ghosts step through the veil.
Even just the way that is described was creepy. And the touch of the ghosts fingers in her hair sent shivers down my spine.
There’s no out and out gore, not a huge amount of peril, but that underlying danger, something not quite explained and seemingly rational yet supernatural reasonings behind some of those ‘odd’ feelings that we all have from time to time certainly made for a good spooky read. Definitely will be tempted by the next in the trilogy....more