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Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Girl in the Painting - A Review


THE GIRL IN THE PAINTING by Kirsty Ferry.

This book was a lovely little gem!

I have never read any books by Ms. Ferry before and requested this one based purely on cover love and the mention of the magic Pre-Raphaelite trifecta of Rossetti/Millais/Hunt.  If you are not familiar with the artists – no worries – Ms. Ferry gives you all the pertinent information cleverly interwoven into the story.  In spite of the painters from the past and the little time slip to the mid-19th century I would not classify this as straight-up historical fiction or a time travel book.  And, even though it does have a healthy does of romance it is definitely a giant step above “chick-lit”.  And, yes there is a ghost and some definite “tingle” moments but it’s not just a ghost story either.  “The Girl in the Painting” is a book anyone who loves one, some or all of the above can enjoy. 

Cori Keeling has had a fascination with the Pre-Raphaelite painters for as long as she could remember.  It could be because of family rumor that a great-great (oh so many greats ago) relative had an affair with Dante Rossetti.  In fact Cori had been named after this wayward relative, Corisande and bore a striking resemblance to Millais’ Ophelia.   As the book begins Cori had been living in London for almost 5 weeks and had not yet gone to the Tate to see the paintings she loved.

Lizzie Siddal
The Pre-Raphaelites had a penchant for painting redheads, so when Cori was standing in front of “Ophelia” and looking so similar to the model, Simon Daniels couldn’t help but notice her.  Soon enough they find themselves enjoying a coffee together when they discover they have a mutual friend Lissy, who went to University with Cori and works with Simon.  Lissy is well aware of both Simon’s and Cori’s love of the “Ophelia” painting and surprises them with the news that a diary has been found that may call into question whether Lizzie Siddal (favorite Millais model and wife of Dante Rossetti) may not be the model for “Ophelia”.  This could be scandalous as Lizzie Siddal has been referred to as “the face of the pre-raphaelites”.

Cori comes into possession of the diary and something seems to posses Cori at the same time.  Daisy Ashford is one restless spirit and for some unknown reason is bound and determined to haunt Cori until the circumstances surrounding her life and death are resolved.  This plays havoc not only with Cori’s physical and mental well-being but with her budding relationship with Simon.

"Ophelia"
Can Cori survive being haunted by Daisy?

I wasn’t more than a few pages in and I was quickly hooked.  This little book had everything you could want in a wonderful Sunday afternoon read … a likeable female lead, romance, a little trip back in time, some wonderful art, a bit of art history and a vengeful ghost and, always a bonus, is well written too.  I mean, what else could you possibly ask for?

I fun, light read that I am glad I picked.  This is the second book in Ms. Ferry’s “Rosetti Mysteries” series.  I am definitely going to try and get my hands on the first book “Some Veil Did Fall”.

I received this book at no charge from the publisher, Choc-Lit via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her Amazon author page)

Kirsty is from the North East of England and won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 with the ghostly tale 'Enchantment'.

Her timeslip novel, 'Some Veil Did Fall', a paranormal romance set in Whitby, was published by Choc Lit in Autumn 2014. This was followed by another Choc Lit timeslip, 'The Girl in the Painting' in February 2016. The experience of signing 'Some Veil Did Fall' in a quirky bookshop in the midst of Goth Weekend in Whitby, dressed as a recently undead person was one of the highlights of her writing career so far!

You can find out more about Kirsty and her work at www.rosethornpress.co.uk, catch her on her Facebook AuthorPage or follow her on Twitter @kirsticupcake.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Just Sharing ...

My BFF cut this out, saved it and gave it to me when we had dinner together. She knows me so well!



Thanks M.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Sammi Jo and the BEST Day EVER! - A Review


Sammi Jo and the BEST Day EVER! by Dede Stockton

This is going to seem like an awfully long review for a children’s book.  Apologies in advance.

Samantha Josephine lives at a boarding school throughout the year.  She is 8 years old and her parents are very famous authors who must travel on book tours.  Sammi Jo likes her boarding school and doesn’t mind living there, especially since her best friend Kara also lives there.  The summer months are a different story.  The summer is when Sammi Jo spends all her time on the shores of New Hampshire with her parents in the summer cottage they own.  Usually Kara comes along for part of the summer but this year Kara’s family is traveling to Europe and that means Sammi Jo will be alone at the beach.  She is convinced that, although she loves being at the beach with her parents, without Kara there to play with it is going to be the WORST summer EVER!

Sammi Jo and Kara bid their tearful goodbyes at school and then go off on their own adventures for the summer, missing each other before they even get out of the parking lot.  It’s a whirlwind week of sightseeing in New York City, visiting a circus where she sees a baby elephant being born and then off to stay at the beach, where Sammi Jo and her parents start off the summer with their ritual first night bonfire for roasting hot dogs and making smores.

Right from the first day, hunting for dry driftwood for the fire some unusual things begin to happen.  No one can explain the strange splashes and mysterious piece of wood that appears but right then and there Sammi Jo decides she is going to solve the mystery.  And solve it she does … winding up with a new special friend and what turns out to be the BEST summer EVER!

Having no little ones at home I seldom get the opportunity to read children’s literature anymore.  But, having had some recent conversations about books for young people and then seeing this book available for request (Thank you Netgalley) I decided to give it a look-see.  I found it hard to resist the title and picture of the little red-headed girl on the cover.

I think any youngster would find this story of Sammi Jo’s summer exciting to read (or listen to).  Sammi Jo is smart and very self-reliant for an 8-year-old.  She comes from a privileged family but still has to make her bed and do her chores before going out to play.  Sammi Jo’s new “friend” is more than adorable and who wouldn’t want to go along on their adventure.

That’s how I think my daughters (20 odd years ago) would have reacted to the story.

As a (somewhat) responsible (and I realize now – somewhat jaded) adult I had a slightly different reaction to Sammi Jo’s adventure.

(Spoiler alert for the following section)

The first part of the book was charming and I loved the week that Sammi Jo spent with her parents in NYC and then on the trip to the Hampshires.  After that I started having some serious questions about the parents (and YES I realize this is a children’s book and their role is minor on purpose).

Sammi Jo’s mom and dad spend the first night with her at the bonfire and then as we read about the next few days – they have breakfast with their daughter and then each retreat to their respective offices to work leaving Sammi Jo on a deserted beach to fend for herself.  She is a very clever little girl and manages to amuse herself while trying to uncover the mystery, but she leaves after breakfast and returns home in time for supper?

She discovers and then meets her new “friend” who happens to be a “Loch Ness” type of sea creature.  Yes, he’s cute (as the charming illustrations imply) and yes, he’s friendly, if a bit shy.  She goes home with her fanciful tales of sea creatures and her parent smile and nod and speculate on her future career as a novelist.  Do they ever go out with her to see what has their daughter so captivated?  No!  Even when a bad storm was on the horizon they waited anxiously on the front porch for her to arrive rather than go out to find and bring her home. 

I even got a little bit of a “creepy” feeling about how “Screech” (the sea creature) and Sammi Jo met.  He started leaving mysterious gifts and shiny objects lying on the beach.  One of these was a “shell-phone” on which only Sammy Jo could receive his messages.  Soon after Sammy Jo merrily hops on his back to go for an undersea sight seeing tour.  It’s a delightful tour and Sammi Jo meets Screech’s parents for lunch before (thankfully) being returned safely home.

So, would I read this book to little ones?  Absolutely!  It was a charming story with lovely illustrations.

Would I have a little discussion afterwards?  Absolutely!  Maybe I have watched too many episodes of Criminal Minds, but I would want to have the “Stranger Danger” talk and stress the importance of Mommy meeting all new friends before any trips are taken.

My only other problem with this book was that it came to such an abrupt end.  I don’t know if there are any other Sammi Jo books but I would have liked to know more about Screech and Sammy Jo and their summer.  Maybe if the story had gone on a bit longer it would have addressed and alleviated some of my “creepy” feelings.

I received this book at no charge from the publisher, Tate Publishing,
via Netgalley in exchange or an honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her website)

Hi! My name is Dede Stockton. I love to read and have enjoyed reading my whole life. As a child, I was a military brat and so lived all over the world. Most places did not have television, or at least not American television, and because I am an only child and there were no electronic devices in those days, I read… Anything I could get my hands on!
Growing up in Colorado, I have grown to love “The Tattered Cover Bookstores” and am so pleased to announce that Sammi Jo and the BEST day EVER is now a resident on their shelves! Please visit my link in the left hand border!

I live in Colorado, with my husband, children, grandchildren and dogs. I absolutely love Colorado! I see the mountains from the windows in my office and can frequently enjoy all 4 seasons on any given day! I also own a home based business as a virtual assistant and love interacting with clients all over the country. Part of the freedom of being self-employed is one of being able to pursue other dreams. Writing a book is one of those dreams and I hope to be able to write many more in the coming years.

I have two grown children, Kirstin and Cody, who were the inspiration for the book. I look forward to writing additional stories about Sammi Jo and Screech in the future, as the first book is intended to be the beginning to a series of many adventures under the sea!
Current Books in the Series are:
Sammi Jo and the Best Day Ever – Book 1 and the beginning of the Sammi Jo Adventures

Gallery Pieces - A Review


GALLERY PIECES by Larry Witham

A former Navy Intelligence officer now working for Medici Studios in New York Julian Peale is entering the art world as an attempt at a new start in life.  Russian art smugglers are wreaking havoc on the New York art scene and Julian is tasked to run a sting operation in cooperation with NYPD.  The sting does not quite go as planned but an interesting clue emerges in the form of an art catalogue with some graffiti type markings on various pages.  When Julian begins to investigate the markings it takes him on somewhat of a wild goose chase as he learns about art auctions, street and performance artists as well as the seedier side of the art world including forgery and organized crime.  Coincidentally it also leads him down an unexpected path allowing him to try and resolve some ugly family history.  Julian never believed the accusations of stealing works of art made against his grandfather when he was involved with WWII’s “monuments men”.

Always intrigued by books dealing with the art world the book description caught my attention right away.  I must admit that I was also quite captivated by the cover image, although the book has nothing to do with the infamous art theft in Boston, it did bring to mind the empty frames hanging in the Gardner.

This book is well written, filled with interesting insights into the art world (and it’s underworld) yet not bogged down with facts.  Mr. Witham weaves his research and knowledge expertly into the story so it never feels like a lesson in art history.  I did enjoy the chase of the bad guys, the insight into the inner workings of the art auctions and the under story involving organized crime and forgery, but the part of the book that really took off for me was the part tying in the “monuments men” and the looting after WWII.

Julian Peal is an interesting character and Mr. Witham included just enough of his personal life to keep me invested in what happens to him during the book.  An obviously well thought out plot, the ending leading right back to the beginning, rounds out the rest of the book nicely.  Well-done Mr. Witham.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who, like me, enjoys a fast paced mystery set against a backdrop of the art world.

Thank you to WordSlinger for sending me a copy of this book 
in exchange for an honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from his website)

Larry Alan Witham is a veteran journalist and author in the Washington D.C. area who has covered current events, history, religion and society, science, philosophy, and the visual arts. He is currently exploring new writing and visual arts projects, following a decade of full-time writing and editing of books. He is the author of fifteen books, editor of a ten-book series, and in 2007 served as editor of the bimonthly magazine Science & Spirit. His latest three books have been on the visual arts and art history. From 2011 through 2012 he wrote a weekly art blog, "Artschooled."

A native of Los Altos, Calif. (born June 1952), Witham earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts from San Jose State University (1974). He and his wife, Kazui Yamamoto, live in the Maryland suburbs of Washington D.C.

An artist by avocation (painting and drawing), Witham's artworks may be seen at: www.larrywithamart.blogspot.com.

"After college, class of 74, I detoured from my training in the visual arts. Now I am finding time to return to that lifelong interest. I enjoy using traditional mediums and, at times, copying from traditional works, all part of a learning process as I form my own topics, voice, and techniques. For the past thirty-four years, I have been in the writing business. This has probably given me an overly literal view of the world—and of art. With me the art of painting or drawing is about observing nature, objects, or society, and enhancing that with human invention."



Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The Night Bell - A Review


THE NIGHT BELL by Inger Ash Wolfe

When the night bell tinkled over the back door at the Dublin Home the sleeping boys hid under their blankets and tried not too breath too deeply for fear of attracting the attention of Old Father Crumb.  He came often, always announced by the gentle ringing of the bell hanging over the back door, to collect one or another of the boys living in the orphanage.  Those taken were never seen again.

Could the boogeyman these young lads imagined be real?  There had definitely been something going on at Dublin Home in the 1950’s that no one wanted to talk about and when bone fragments started turning up in the freshly turned soil of a new subdivision it became a puzzle for the 2015 police to solve.  Hazel Micallef didn’t believe in the boogeyman, but her 40 years with the Port Dundas OPS had confirmed that there were certainly evil men – even in her little corner of Northern Ontario.  After the discovery things take a turn for the worse when residents of the new subdivision are getting murdered.  Hazel suspects the two incidents are related.

Hazel doesn’t take kindly to the fact that the RCMP are taking over “her” case so when she is ordered to stand down on the murder investigation she and Detective James Wingate (on limited duty since he is still recuperating from the incidents in the last book, “A Door in the River”) decide to investigate a little bit more about the bones.  Little did Hazel know that the case would take her down memory lane to when she was 15 years old and her friend mysteriously disappeared.

This is the fourth installment in the Hazel Micallef series and I have enjoyed every one of them.  The danger that comes with being invested in a book series is that the stories start to become a little “cookie cutter”.  Not so in this case.  I think “The Night Bell” is the best to date.  Wolfe weaves a page turning mystery intricately with enough character growth to keep the books fresh.  Even in a book in which the main plot idea has been done many times before, he finds twists and turns to make one want to continue reading (voraciously) until the very last page.

In the mystery/thriller world of books where ex-army, special ops and damaged cops rule the pages Hazel is a welcome, refreshing and very entertaining change.  In her early 60’s Hazel is a small town career cop, divorced and living with her ex-mayor mother who is suffering from the early signs of dementia.  She sounds like the hobbyist sleuth in a “cozy mystery” but these books are far from that … plenty of blood, guts and nail-biting suspense to hold the attention of any fan of the genre.

“The Night Bell” could be read as a stand-alone novel despite some mentions of things that have transpired in previous books, but since it’s only the fourth in the series I would suggest starting with the first book, “The Calling”  to get Hazel’s whole story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from The National Post)

Who is Inger Ash Wolfe?

This was the question asked in March 2008, when a novel entitled The Calling was released by McClelland & Stewart. It was one of the most heavily hyped books of the spring season, not only due to its disturbing subject matter — a detective named Hazel Micallef finds herself on the trail of a serial killer targeting the terminally ill — but because of the secrecy surrounding the author. Wolfe was promoted as “the pseudonym of a well-known and well-regarded North American literary writer.”

Immediately, the hunt was on. Michael Redhill was an early suspect. Linda Spalding was a possibility, too. In Maclean’s, literary journalist and critic Sarah Weinman concluded that Wolfe was none other than Jane Urquhart. Eventually, the buzz settled down and the identity of Wolfe seemed destined to remain an unsolved literary mystery. But in aGlobe and Mail essay published late last month, as Wolfe’s third novel, A Door in the River, arrived in stores, readers finally learned the truth.

“I’m relieved that it’s over with,” says Wolfe, better known as Michael Redhill, sitting in the backyard of the east-end Toronto home he shares with his partner and two children.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Safe As Houses - A Review


SAFE AS HOUSES by Susan Glickman

Recently I’ve traveled to Iceland, Victorian England, the no-too-distant-future New York City and a small town in Virginia – all without leaving my house.  That’s part of the adventure of reading.  But sometimes it’s a treat to stay closer to home so I like to pick up a book that takes place in a familiar city and neighborhood.  Such was the case with “Safe as Houses”, set in the Hillcrest Village area of Toronto.  Hillcrest Village is a well-established neighborhood of larger homes, high real estate values and few “For Sale” signs.  The streets are quiet, tree lined and the area overlooks the Davenport Escarpment.  It has it's own little "downtown" with storefront shops and outside seating areas (weather permitting - not always a given in Southern Ontario) for coffee and snacks.  It is a neighborhood that can boast of old Toronto style and new Toronto fun.

Ms. Glickman stays true to the personality of the neighborhood in this book and uses the setting very well as the backdrop to her mystery.


 

Liz Ryerson’s life is a bit complicated.  She lives in a large home in Hillcrest Village with her two teenage children; a son she indulges and a daughter just entering the rebellious stage that involves boys and parties.  She and her children live on the main floor of her converted house while her ex-husband and his latest girlfriend share the top floor.  Unconventional to say the least, but it has to work because otherwise Liz could never afford to stay in the house she loves.  Sometimes the only moments of quiet she gets are in her bookstore, which occupies the street level of the house, or walking her dog through the nearby park.  It is on one such walk by the park’s duck pond that Liz’s dog unearths the remains of a man, a real estate agent Liz knows by reputation only.

Despite being traumatized discovering the body she is shocked that something like this could occur in "her" park at "her" duck pond and in "her" own neighborhood.  Suddenly she no longer feels safe in her own home.  The police are doing what they can but Liz feels the investigation is going too slowly.  Having recently befriended an elderly widower with too much time on his hands and an inquisitive nature, Liz finds herself taking on an investigation of her own.

This sounded like the type of book that I might start on a Sunday morning with my coffee and not want to put down until I finished it (That’s what Sundays are for – right?).  That was, unfortunately, not the case with “Safe as Houses”.  I often found my mind wandering.  The book is well-written and the story was engaging, but where I was expecting a riveting murder mystery this was more of a study of Liz Ryerson’s life with a side serving of murder.  I read entirely too much of her problems with her daughter’s new boyfriend, the awkwardness of having her ex-husband co-habitat one floor up and the difficulty of keeping the bookstore afloat.  Not boring … just not what I was expecting.

I very much enjoyed the Toronto setting and the short trip to northern Ontario Ms. Glickman included but, as I said, it was not quite the story I was expecting from the book’s description.  Still a solid three-star read, I would not hesitate to recommend this book to fans of a cozy mystery (as opposed to a mystery-thriller). 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book cover)

Susan Glickman is a novelist, poet, critic, and teacher.  Her previous fiction includes “The Violin Lover” and “The Tale-Teller”.  She lives in Toronto, where she teaches creative writing at Ryerson University and the University of Toronto.

Ashes to Dust - A Review


ASHES TO DUST by Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

Dubbed the “Pompeii of the North”, archeologist Hjortur Fridriksson is trying to unearth some of the homes still buried on Heimaey Island after the 1973 volcanic eruption. For some reason this has Markus Magnusson in a bit of a tither.  He wants to get into the basement to retrieve a box he stored there the night the eruption began … a box, the contents of which he professes to have no knowledge because he did not ask any questions when his high-school crush asked him to hide it for her.  Lawyer, Thora Gudmundsdottir filed an injuction preventing Fridreksson from going ahead with any excavation of Markus’ home until he can enter the basement. 

When Thora and Markus go down to retrieve the mysterious box they get more than they had bargained for – there among the ashes and dust lie three near-perfectly preserved bodies.  Markus is so shocked he drops the precious box only to reveal its grisly contents – a human head.

At the same time Alda, Markus’ high school crush, is found dead in her apartment.  At first it appears to be suicide, but then is quickly ruled to be a murder.  The timing is too coincidental to rule out the two incidents being related.

And so begins a twisted story of the happenings that fateful night that the volcano erupted on Heimaey Island.

I have enjoyed the previous two Thora Gudmundsdottir novels (Last Rituals, My Soul to Take) and although I enjoyed this one as well I found it to be one of those books that I struggled with for the first half and then devoured the second half in a couple of sittings.  It was definitely a slow burn to get to the meat of this book, but when the mystery started to resolve itself it was definitely worth plowing through.

As do most of her books “Ashes to Dust” has an extensive cast of characters and with the Icelandic names it took awhile to keep them all straight.  Again – worth it in the end.

Despite some of the drawbacks this was a good mystery with an ending that I thought I saw coming.  All I’ll say about that is that I was quite mistaken.

I have the next book in the series on reserve at the library and am looking forward to reading it.  Bella, a previously minor character in the role of Thora’s secretary, is given a more major part in this story and she is quite a “colorful” character so hope to get to know her a little better in the next book.  Also, Thora’s home life looks like it is about to become a little more complicated, so I am intrigued to see where that goes as well.

This is a series I enjoy and would recommend it to anyone looking for some good murder mysteries set in a most interesting locale.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from the book cover)

Yrsa Sigurdardottir works as a civil engineer in Reykjavik.  Her books for children have won prizes and gret acclaim.  Ashes to Dust is her third adult novel.

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR (from the book cover)

Philip Roughton is a highly respected translator of Icelandic literature, having translated works by the Nobel Prize winner Hallidor Laxness, among others.  He lives in Reykjavik.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Women Who Read are Dangerous


WOMEN WHO READ ARE DANGEROUS by Stefan Bollman

This book was first published in German in 2005 under the title “Frauen, die Lesen, Sind Gefaerlich” and then in English in 2006 titled “Women Reading”.  This 2016 incarnation translates the German title and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to have a look buy it … art and reading … and, with such a title – how could I resist?

The forward, written by Karen Joy Fowler, gives the reader an overview of attitudes through the ages on the though of women reading.

“Should women be permitted to have secret lives?  Should they be permitted, even within the confines of their own imaginations, to be unchaste?  Can they be allowed to imagine themselves as men?  Is reading, in its inextricable essence, a combative act; the woman so engaged being temporarily self-interested and independent rather than other-directed in an appropriately womanly way?

In 1523 the Spanish humanist Juan Luis Vives proposed careful male surveillance – ‘The woman ought not to follow her own judgment’ he said, as she has so little of it.  She should read only what men deemed proper and wholesome’.” 

Fifty years later, Edward Hake proclaimed that the woman who loved frivolous books would “smell of naughtiness even all her life after”.  If that’s true then that is my cross to bear – I guess I smell of books and naughtiness!

Ms. Fowler has her own image of the modern female reader.  A young girl in her own bed all too soon being told by her parents to turn off the light and go to sleep – this she dutifully does until she hears her parents occupied in another room – at which point she “will make a cave under the blankets and open her book inside the cave.  This girl knows the value of a good flashlight; she learned that from Nancy Drew”.

If paintings are any indication reading for women began to take firm hold in the 17th century and then took root more strongly in the eighteenth.  The introduction gives the reader a little more historical background to reading (for women) and takes us through subjects such as where we read, how we read and, why we read. 

Then the book moved on to my favorite part – the art depicting the act of women reading.  Divided in seven sections with subtitles such as “Blessed Readers” (religious paintings), “Enchanted Readers” (depicting quiet time spent reading in solitude), “Self Confident Readers” (reading as a pleasure of the mind), “Sentimental Readers” (identifying with emotions set out in books), “Passionate Readers” (searching for oneself and the dangers of equating what we read to real life) and, lastly “Solitary Readers” … “once a passion, reading now offers women the possibility of escape”.  Each painting depicted is accompanied by a brief explanation of the artwork as well as its present location. 

The text in each section was as interesting as it was informative, most well known artists were well represented as were some lesser known (and some, to me, unknown) painters.  The art ranged from 17th century paintings to 20th century sketching and photography.  The book itself is beautiful with glossy pages that do the reproductions justice.  It was a pleasure just to flip through the pages and look at the art.

I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed going through this book, but if I’ve left you with the impression that I enjoyed it very much then this review met its objective – I loved it – and it has a deserving home on my shelf along with some of my other art books.

“Reading is a free dream”
          Jean Paul Satre

Of course, how could I resist sharing some of my favorite examples from the book?

 An Old Woman Reading
Rembrandt

A Young Girl Reading
Fragonard

Girl Reading
Ebyl

Goodnight Story
Ebert


The Magic Grammar
Jessie Marion King

Rose Garden
Kroyer

Friday, 4 March 2016

Thursday, 3 March 2016

I Remember You - A Review

I REMEMBER YOU by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

I am always in the market for a chilling ghost story and this is certainly a good one … part ghost story, part thriller.  The setting – Iceland – makes it chilling in more ways than one.

As Katrin, her husband Garoar and their friend, Lif accompanied by her little dog, disembark from a boat onto the lonely island in the Icelandic Westfjords the captain warns them, not for the first time, that cell phone reception is sketchy at best and the weather can turn nasty in minutes as he again reminds them that he will return in one week to pick them up.  Their reason for being on the island is to renovate an old house they purchased in the hopes of turning it into a successful guesthouse for summer tourists to the island.  Now, in the dead of winter, was the only time to get the renovations done.  They had heard rumors about the tragic history of the house and the previous owner, also in the midst of doing renovations had mysteriously disappeared, but this did not daunt them.  Neither curious nor superstitious they were determined to make this venture work.  The dog seemed to be the only member of the party even remotely apprehensive.

At the same time, on the mainland, a primary school has been broken into and vandalized with the word “Dirty” left scrawled on the walls.  Psychiatrist, Dr. Freyr is on the scene to help the police make sense of what has happened.  Having just moved to this small town from Reykjavik to try and move on after the disappearance of his son, Freyr is just glad to be busy.  Interestingly enough, an elderly patient of his attended this very school and it seems the same time of break in/vandalism happened some sixty years ago.  As Freyr investigates further into the crime some very astounding “coincidences” arise involving not only his son’s disappearance but also that of a boy sixty years before.

Admittedly this sounds like two different stories, but this is where Ms. Sigurdardottir shines.  The chapters alternate between what is happening on the island and what is happening on the mainland … after some cleverly distributed clues and elaborate twists and turns … everything eventually coming together in both a most chilling and quite unexpected manner.

While part of the book definitely falls into the thriller category I consider this book a good story of a haunting.  “I Remember You” does not rely on “in your face” apparitions and gore, but rather on those things that you just catch out of the corner of your eye; the smells that assault you unexpectedly and the mysterious stains that no amount of scrubbing removes.  All the wonderful elements that give you goose bumps.

I wanted to rate this book at 4 ½ stars.  Unfortunately, in the case of “I Remember You”, Ms. Sigurdardottir took the story a couple of pages too far for my liking.  I felt that rather than having a more than satisfying ending I closed this book slightly upset … not the way I wanted to leave the story.  Despite that if you enjoy an excellent haunting that will keep you turning that pages I do recommend this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from her GoodReads profile)

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir is an Icelandic writer, of both crime-novels and children's fiction. She has been writing since 1998. Her début crime-novel was translated into English by Bernard Scudder.

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir graduated from high-school in 1983, finished a B.Sc. in civil engineering from the University of Iceland in 1988 and M.Sc in the same field from Concordia University in Montreal in 1997.

Yrsa now works as a civil engineer for the company Fjarhitun, as well as being a writer.