countdown boutiques-francophones Beauty home Kindle sports Tools
Profile for Sverre Svendsen > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Sverre Svendsen
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,072
Helpful Votes: 294

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
Sverre Svendsen "Uni" (Canada)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
The Birds
The Birds
by Tarjei Vesaas
Edition: Paperback
Offered by Blackwell's U.K.
Price: CDN$ 9.26
19 used & new from CDN$ 9.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Simple but weighty prose, Jan. 8 2017
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Birds (Paperback)
Most of Vesaas’ novels build on two themes: the characters’ communion with Norwegian nature and their psychological struggles with relationships. This work deals with only three characters, Mattis, in his late thirties, who is mentally deranged. He lives with and is supported by his kind but lonely fortyish sister, Hege. The third character, Jørgen, is a stranger, a male woodsman, who incidentally is offered overnight lodging by Mattis. Jørgen has a contract to log nearby and his overnight stay becomes a convenient permanent one. The setting is an inland rural farm community adjacent to a large lake.

Mattis thinks a lot but emotionally he lives in an anxious world of reality enmeshed with delusions and fantasy. He interprets natural events to be symbolic of dire portents or special favors. For example, a woodcock flying directly over his house enthralls him. Or he thinks that two gnarled dried up trees visible from the house represent him and his sister. When a storm comes to break one of them he interprets its meaning to be that one of them will meet with misfortune. His biggest fear is that Hege will abandon taking care of him. Jørgen’s presence disrupts the comforting routine he has grown up to rely on with Hege.

At least fifty percent of the narrative chronicles Mattis’ confused thoughts and irrationality. Although it is fiction the book serves to describe the mental and emotional turmoil of someone with such a deep-seated developmental deficit. It provides the reader with an insight that is disturbingly unsettling. The author’s laconic prose befits the telling of this tragic tale about Mattis and Hege.


What We May Be: Techniques for Psychological and Spiritual Growth Through Psychosynthesis
What We May Be: Techniques for Psychological and Spiritual Growth Through Psychosynthesis
by Piero Ferrucci
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.32
28 used & new from CDN$ 8.57

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Overcoming darkness and pain, Dec 27 2016
Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974) was an Italian psychiatrist and psychologist who developed Psychosynthesis, a form of psycho-spiritual theory about human consciousness, creativity and potential. Generally, he agreed with the work of Carl Jung (1875-1961), the distinguished Swiss psychiatrist and psychologist, but he added to the levels of human existence proposed by Jung to include spiritually empowered artistry and altruism. He also enhanced the roles of imagination and fantasy in mental and emotive perceptibility.

The author of this book, psychiatrist and lecturer Piero Ferrucci, studied under Assagioli. He has written at least six books related to the theory and practice of psychosynthesis, this being the first, published in 1982, the most recent ‘Your Inner Will’ published in 2014. Ferrucci is erudite but very comprehensible. He is not pretentious but realistically and spiritually practical. This is to a large degree a self-help manual to develop keener perception, explore the unconscious, examine our functionality, recognizing our sub-personalities (identities), discover ‘pure’ consciousness, activate the potential of inner love, and many other objectives used to open ourselves to transpersonal wholeness.

Our lives are works in progress and as Ferrucci states: “Awareness of the personal self is a precondition for psychological health.” And further: “The realization of the Transpersonal Self is the mark of spiritual fulfillment.” He concludes the book by saying: “If you work on yourself, you are already participating in the extraordinary, ageless work of overcoming darkness and pain, and of the evocation of latent potential. Take some time to realize that this work is not only your own private project, but the part of a wider unfoldment in which countless individuals are participating in many ways: the evolution of mankind.” This book is not one to read and then put in storage or on the shelf to collect dust. I keep going back to it to help me recognize the role of the personal self and realize the universal unifying presence of the Transpersonal Self.


The Piano Maker
The Piano Maker
by Kurt Palka
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 18.19
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping good novel, Dec 22 2016
This review is from: The Piano Maker (Paperback)
A gripping good novel. There are two or three elements to the plot that do not ring true but this is fiction so I didn’t allow them to spoil my reading pleasure. The story is about a fortyish French woman who finds an outlet for her musical artistry when she seeks tranquility in a small French-speaking community on the shore of the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, in the early 1930s. She had grown up learning how to build high quality pianos from her parents and eventually she inherited the factory. Then she became acquainted with a salesman who negotiated a contract for her instruments with retailers in North America. That salesman became enamored of her but she had no romantic attraction to him. In time, however, she valued him as a business partner and friend. He was always on the lookout for ways to make money—whether ethically or not. This novel tells about a risky profitable venture in which the two of them got involved. A dangerous venture that had fateful consequences for them both.

This was the first of the author’s books that I have read. Palka’s writing style is matter-of-fact, nonelaborate, but conveyed sufficient drama and emotion to carry my interest to the last page. He could have written one more chapter but most readers could easily guess what it would contain. Not much doubt about it. I intend to investigate Palka’s other books.


The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe
The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe
by Marci Shore
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.82
24 used & new from CDN$ 7.27

3.0 out of 5 stars Anecdotally scattered format, Dec 19 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I had to ask myself several times “why am I reading this book?” But, still, I felt compelled to read it to its end. The author, an American historian specializing in 20th century East European ideological, military and racial conflicts, made numerous excursions to the Czech Republic, Poland and Russia from the mid-1990s to the late 2000s. Her special focus was on the strong connection between the Jewish diaspora and its members’ frequent involvement with communism as directed by Stalin and his Soviet puppet regimes. The persecution of the Jews by the German, the Russian, the Czech, the Slovak, and the Polish authorities, as well as the complicity of just plain common folk in those countries to participate in anti-Semitic behavior prior to, during and after World War II, describes the author’s thematic presentation. The divulging of generational (and sibling) discords and factionalizing in the Jewish population is prominent.

The list of historical figures provides about seventy names. It becomes not a small chore to keep track of them through the book because the author reports findings from historical archives and her own interviews in an anecdotally scattered format, with no chronological order. This is not a deliberate, cohesive, comprehensive study of “the afterlife of totalitarianism in Eastern Europe” as the book’s sub-title purports. For certain, the subject matter is often serious, dramatic and tragic but overall it lacks scholastic gravitas. I was disappointed.


Towers at the Edge of a World
Towers at the Edge of a World
by Virgil Burnett
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.95
3 used & new from CDN$ 9.95

3.0 out of 5 stars A weighty descriptive fantasy, Dec 13 2016
Fifteen short stories about a fortified French town, Montarnis, where Romans once camped. The first story starts in the middle ages, then, supposedly, each following story progresses until the end is reached in the twentieth century. Except for the last four chapters, this is weighty descriptive fantasy. In fact, dialog between characters is non-existent until the twelfth chapter! The narrative style is contrived to simulate the chronicling of scriptorium historians. Although it is dry, it is stately, not stilted; it is peppered with quaint visualizations of contrasting goodness and beauty with heinous barbarity and destruction. Hate, deceit, greed and evil reside in every stratum of Montarnis’s foundations. I suppose this work can be disdainfully lauded for its artful pomposity, but that would be undeserved. It is artfully made. That said, most readers of fantasy would find it a heavy slog, as I did. Each chapter is preceded by the author’s own magnificent illustrations. Two and a half stars.


The Fifteen Streets
The Fifteen Streets
by Catherine Cookson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
6 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Drama, tragedy and romance, Dec 10 2016
An excellent short novel from Cookson’s early 1950s period. This one has drama, tragedy and romance. The setting is one with which the author was familiar: a poverty-stricken strife-torn family in England’s Newcastle area at the turn of the century. It is mostly somber fare but is illuminated by ardent love-at-first-sight infatuation. Cookson explores the deep divide between the rising middle class and the underprivileged. Surprisingly, supernatural spiritualistic mind-over-matter beliefs and healing practices are woven into the narrative and contrasted with prescribed Catholic dogma. Two strong female characters who help to overcome societal antipathies are crucial to the book’s success.


The Remnant
The Remnant
by Monte Wolverton
Edition: Paperback
Offered by Wordery Canada
Price: CDN$ 11.22
12 used & new from CDN$ 11.22

4.0 out of 5 stars A blend of science fiction adventure and speculative religious cogitation, Dec 7 2016
This review is from: The Remnant (Paperback)
This is about the Cochrin family plus a few close friends, a group of ‘ignorant’ Christ-followers who set out on a dystopian quest seeking two things: first, a Christian church or organization that will embrace them, and second, a copy of the Bible. They are ignorant in the sense of ‘lacking knowledge’. The only scripture they are in possession of is a remnant, one incomplete page which has been torn out of a Bible long ago and kept for generations in one family. Other than that one source their beliefs are based on a few memorized passages passed on from their ancestors and sequestered associates.

They live in the 22nd century, in North America, in a world ruled by an autocratic federation headquartered in Tunisia. The Final War decimated most of the large cities of the world, eliminating ninety percent of the population. Because religious people have been deemed to be a querulous lot, the Federation has tried to eliminate their influence by destroying all forms of religious scriptures, symbols or icons. Religious organizations have been disbanded and proselytizing banned. Those individuals who insisted on keeping their religious beliefs were confined to stay in escape-proof work camps. Others who were indifferent to religious practice were permitted to live in ‘safe zones’ but these were dominated by the Federation’s constraints. Vast geographical areas, termed the Wilderness, were largely unregulated, hence lawless, ruled mostly by criminal cartels in the form of biker gangs, ‘raptors’.

The Cochrins and friends have found a way to escape from the Minot Work Camp through a pre-existing underground tunnel leading out to the Wilderness. The dangers and obstacles they experience are numerous. In their brave quest to find Christian fellowship they encounter several peculiar variations of Christ-followers as well as practicing Muslims and Hindus. They have many difficult decisions to make, especially in light of the fact that they are so ignorant about the nature of true, Jesus-based, Christian beliefs and traditions.

Having been encouraged and inspired by others, this is Wolverton’s first venture into futuristic alternate historical dystopia. It is an unusual blend of science fiction adventure and speculative cogitation that (if true intentions be known) relates to the querying of today’s (2016’s) Christian beliefs and practices. Towards the end of the book there are clear indications where the author wants to channel the Cochrins’—and, by extension, his readers’—beliefs and sympathies, but he is not at all preachy. This is a good read for anyone who has an open mindset about religion and enjoy dystopian possibilities. On the last page the author invites input from readers and opens the door to include their suggestions in a sequel to be published in 2018.


Where Roses Never Die
Where Roses Never Die
by Gunnar Staalesen
Edition: Paperback
Offered by Wordery Canada
Price: CDN$ 8.28
33 used & new from CDN$ 8.28

5.0 out of 5 stars Detective Veum won’t let Flash Gordon and Thor the Hammer get in his way!, Dec 3 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Where Roses Never Die (Paperback)
According to Goodreads, this is the eighteenth of the Varg Veum detective mystery novels, but it is only the first that I have read. At least six are available in English translations. This one can be enjoyed without having read the previous books. Based on this novel I will probably read more of Staalesen’s books.

The disappearance of Mette, a three year old girl, almost twenty-five years ago is the case that private detective Veum takes on for Maja, the girl’s mother. This was a cold case the police had filed away in the back of the drawer long ago. Because the statute of limitations would soon expire, Maja seeks Veum’s help hoping that answers can still be found. After such a long time since Mette’s mysterious disappearance, Veum follows every thread that he thinks can have any connection with what occurred, or not. Dozens of people are interviewed. It turns out that ‘New Year Party Games’ activities are integral to finding answers to the puzzle. Also, a separate very recent robbery and murder arouses Veum’s suspicion to be somehow related to the girl’s disappearance. Two unsavory characters known by their nicknames Flash Gordon and Thor the Hammer, are anxious to keep the detective’s probing at a distance, whatever it takes.

Without taking notes, it may be a bit difficult to keep track of who is who in the present as well as twenty-five years ago. However, everything gets sorted in the end. The excellent translation by Don Bartlett is his fourth of this series. I sympathize with non-Nordic readers who may be perplexed by all the Norwegian place names—trying to enunciate them in a book club environment would be a challenge! But only a few of them need to be remembered. The rest are only there to provide authenticity to the setting. Although slow-paced, the plot and progression of the story are handled intelligently by Staalesen to its unexpected dramatic conclusion. In the crime genre I give this book four and a half stars.


The Road to the World's End
The Road to the World's End
by Sigurd Hoel
Edition: Paperback
7 used & new from CDN$ 26.11

2.0 out of 5 stars Peculiar and quaint, Nov. 15 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A peculiar narrative placed in rural mountainous inland Norway in the 1920s written from the perspective of Anders, a boy growing up on the family farm with parents, siblings, servants and laborers. From beginning to end the book takes us through Anders’ life from his early childhood to his youth. Part I, titled ‘The Garden of Eden’, comprises his childhood. Anders is a very introspective, sensitive and apprehensive boy whose insecurity overshadows his formative years. Much of his time is spent trying to interpret the behaviors and customs of the adults in his surroundings. In Part II, titled ‘The Hamlet’, he becomes of school age and by the book’s conclusion he has his Christian confirmation although he is none too sure about God or theological propositions. He has a strained relationship with his father. One of the elderly farm workers, a woodsman, endears himself to Anders.

The book is completely involved with the narrow provincial environment. The influence of the outside world is almost nonexistent. Peoples’ mindsets are parochial, lacking any sophistication. Only one chapter of the book gives the reader any emotional involvement in what is happening. The rest of the book is lamentably melancholic although some incidents are provocative and even humorous. Anders can definitely be described as an anti-hero. The best I could feel about him was compassionate sympathy. Hoel was a popular author whom I have appreciated however I found this work to be quaint but a laboured presentation. It is a good resource for someone interested in the rural lifestyle of backwoods Norway of one hundred years ago but would hold little attraction for most modern readers—especially non-Nordics.


Commonwealth
Commonwealth
by Ann Patchett
Edition: Paperback
6 used & new from CDN$ 21.11

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Scant plot or drama, lacking spirit, Nov. 8 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Commonwealth (Paperback)
I bought this book because I read some good reviews in four papers and magazines. I seldom do that and once again I regretted it. Unlike movie reviewers, who usually tell it like it is, most (professional) book reviewers try hard to put a positive spin on what they have read. That is especially true if the author is successful and has written a best seller—such as relates to Ann Patchett. There is also a tendency that readers who have one or more previous good reading experiences with an author’s books will be loyal to that author and frequently show a positive bias when rating his/her newest book.

‘Commonwealth’ was the first book of Ann Patchett that I have read. I was sadly disappointed. I thought this book lacked spirit or soul. A novel should be enjoyable for any number of reasons. I could not find much of any of them in this book. It features a large cast of characters but although none of them are villainous, none are truly likable either. It was often hard to remember who was related to whom. The work comes across as fragments from the scribblings of a high society gossip columnist. People get born; they live lives of topsy-turvy mediocracy; they die of disease, or by accidental mishaps; their survivors get over it or not—that pretty much summed up this book for me. Oh, the futility of it all…too bad, so sad. The literary device of inserting flashbacks in the middle of present-time narratives was overused. The plot, if there was one, lacked drama. There were some brief high points when siblings and/or stepsiblings, and/or parents or stepparents had meaningful dialogues. Those interactions saved the book from being a total waste of time. Two stars.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20