Professional Reader

Some people don’t like the term ‘beach reads’ and neither do I. I think it’s because i’m not quite sure what a good ‘beach read’ should be, and why it should be anything different. A good book is a good book isn’t it? It shouldn’t matter where you are; although lying in a hammock, listening to the waves while the resort staff bring you drinks is a pretty good reading situation to be in!

I want to share with you my holiday reads. The books I took away to read, relax and lose myself a little. To get away from the stresses of Sydney life and to switch off and be in another world for a little while.

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The first of my five reads was Wolf Winter by Cecilia Ekback. I am a bit late to the party with this book and it’s been sitting quietly on my TBR pile for a while. This tale is dark, stark and incredibly harsh; I wonder at times how past generations survived and just how plump, spoiled and protected we are today.

A family in Swedish Lapland swaps their coastal home for a homestead at the bottom of the Blackasen mountain. It is remote, but the change for the family is needed. The two young daughters are herding goats to the nearby glade to eat when they come across a body. A gruesome murder of a local man has occured. The daughters alert their mother and soon the small, isolated collection of families who live amongst the backdrop of the mountain know that one of their own is dead. Who killed Eriksson? More importantly, was it one of their own?

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The prose was poetic in places with a gothic edge and I felt the shadow of the mountain followed the settlers everywhere, weighing heavy on their lives, pushing dark secrets down so deeply that they may never be exposed.

Secrets are slowly revealed, but the reader is kept to the very end to discover the whole truth. I wasn’t sure about the ending and feel some readers may find it a little unsatisfying. It all wrapped up just a little too quickly for me in a matter of fact way, which was at odds with the rest of the book.

This is not a light, jolly read. There are no jovial moments or grand love affairs. This is a window into past, harsh lives and how tough and at times unbearable it would have been to live in 1717 beneath a Swedish mountain full of sorcery, suspicion, and the darkest evil.

Solid 3 stars from me. You will lose yourself, but it will not take you to a happy place.

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My next holiday read will follow soon!

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The Book Jacket

Wolf winter, she said, her voice small. I wanted to ask about it. You know, what it is. He was silent for a long time. It s the kind of winter that will remind us we are mortal, he said. Mortal and alone. Swedish Lapland, 1717. Maija, her husband Paavo and her daughters Frederika and Dorotea arrive from their native Finland, hoping to forget the traumas of their past and put down new roots in this harsh but beautiful land. Above them looms Blackasen, a mountain whose foreboding presence looms over the valley and whose dark history seems to haunt the lives of those who live in its shadow.

While herding the family s goats on the mountain, Frederika happens upon the mutilated body of one of their neighbors, Eriksson. The death is dismissed as a wolf attack, but Maija feels certain that the wounds could only have been inflicted by another man. Compelled to investigate despite her neighbors strange disinterest in the death and the fate of Eriksson s widow, Maija is drawn into the dark history of tragedies and betrayals that have taken place on Blackasen. Young Frederika finds herself pulled towards the mountain as well, feeling something none of the adults around her seem to notice.

As the seasons change, and the wolf winter, the harshest winter in memory, descends upon the settlers, Paavo travels to find work, and Maija finds herself struggling for her family s survival in this land of winter-long darkness. As the snow gathers, the settlers secrets are increasingly laid bare. Scarce resources and the never-ending darkness force them to come together, but Maija, not knowing who to trust and who may betray her, is determined to find the answers for herself. Soon, Maija discovers the true cost of survival under the mountain, and what it will take to make it to spring.”

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