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Longest Books I’ve Ever Read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic is ‘ Longest Books You’ve Read’

So…

1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo ~ 1400 pages

2.War and Peace by Lev Tolstoy ~1220 pages

3. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell ~ 1020 pages

4. Anna Karenina by Lev Tolstoy ~ 860 pages

5. Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb ~ 742 pages

6. Ulysses by James Joyce ~ 730 pages

7. A Dance with Dragons by George R R Martin ~ 1040 pages

8. The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon ~ 992 pages

9. The Stand by Stephen King ~ 823 pages

10. The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss ~994 pages

What bricks have you managed? Happy TTT!

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Your Guide to Literary Road Trips Across America ~ Infographic

“Road trips are at the heart of American culture. From the pioneers who chased the Gold Rush out west, to college students who trade their academic obligations for the freedom of the summer, thousands of like-minded Americans hit the open road for a similar reason — the adventure.”

Road trip this summer? Here are some great literary ideas

Graph via CarRentals.com

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Breaking Night

“Many nights, I longed for home. But it occurred to me as I struggled for a feeling of comfort and safety: I have no idea where home is.” — Liz Murray, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard

Breaking Night is a memoir of Liz Murray that describes her journey from living on the streets to making it into Harvard. The title Breaking Night means staying up through the night until the sun rises. Liz was born to drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. At age fifteen, when she lost her mother, she found herself on the streets.

Eventually, Liz went back to school and then was awarded with New York Times scholarship which enabled her to go to Harvard.

I listened to Murray’s book on Audible where the author had narrated the book. It was really touching and saddening. When Liz and her sister Lisa were growing up, their parents would use all the money received from welfare on drugs so after burning through that money in two weeks, there was no money left for food or anything else. Liz occasionally went to school and she was somehow passed up in grades every year. When she was twelve, she tried to get a job to buy stuff but no one would hire her as she was too young. And then, one day her mother sat her down saying “I’ve got it, baby I’ve got it. I’m sick. I have Aids”..

“Life has a way of doing that; one minute everything makes sense, the next, things change. People get sick. Families break apart, your friends could close the door on you”. — Liz Murray, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard

I don’t know. It’s really hard even to start to process all the hardships described in this book. I was often walking around in a daze because I was so impressed and bothered by the book. The childhood spent figuring out why your parents are acting like this and what they do behind closed doors or living in an apartment where shower was flooding so badly you had to stand on a bucket.

And then the AIDS, the abusive boyfriend, having no place to live while figuring out the studies and where to keep the books and making through it all. It was really something special. I very much enjoyed reading this and would rate the book 4/5 stars

“But avoidance allows you to believe that you’re making all kinds of strides when you’re not.” — Liz Murray, Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard

How-To Read Breaking Night

1. It’s very inspirational and will help you realize that sometimes your dreams are closer than you think. And that sometimes you have to make choices like Liz made between pizza and a bus ticket.

2. It’s not one of those annoying self-help books. If you know what I mean. Okay Murray does say “It took everything I got” a lot but other than that it’s just facts and how she kept trying. There are no senseless life advices to be found here.

3. Audible and the audiobook edition is wonderful because author has narrated the work herself. I warmly recommend it.

Have you read this? Would you be able to make it if you were homeless?

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21 Lessons for the 21 Century

“Humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or equations, and the simpler the story, the better.” — Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21 Century

21 Lessons for the 21 Century is the newest work of best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari, first published just few weeks ago. We learned about the past from Sapiens. We learned about the future from Homo Deus. And in 21 Lessons for the 21 Century we embrace the NOW.

It’s hard to form words to describe my excitement and adoration for this book. As previous books, it certainly doesn’t let you down. 21 lessons cover many interesting topics about truth and how we are post-truth species and how some fake news only lasted for 700 years… So what you’re getting now is nothing.

Book is divided in five parts. First part explores the technological challenges: you might not have a job when you grow up because the world is changing so fast and because many jobs will be lost and it is still uncertain whether new jobs would come in their place. How big data is always watching and what would happen in case of a digital dictatorship. We are not equal now and we’ll be less so in the future because who will own all the data?

Second part explores political challenges of 21 Century. Humans have bodies…or do we, as separation of online and offline world is decreasing. And the immigration. No one seems keen to emigrate to Russia. Third part of the book is called ‘Despair and Hope’ and it is more philosophical and already offers some answers on big global questions like terrorism, wars and religion.

“Truth and power can travel together only so far. Sooner or later they go their separate ways. If you want power, at some point you will have to spread fictions. If you want to know the truth about the world, at some point you will have to renounce power.”— Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21 Century

Fourth part is exciting because it combines truth and science fiction (just kidding…or not). We do not only groupthink, we are also post-truth species. If you think propaganda spread out by Putin or Trump is bad, just imagine how some fake news lasted for centuries. Or forever. And we get to science fiction. You love movies and series like The Matrix, Westworld and Black Mirror. I know I do. But all of them seem to imply that machines would take over or that our authentic selves are trapped somewhere.

Last part, funnily, because I always tend to think that Harari is a hopeless pessimist, gives some hope and advise. By learning to adapt fastly, you might survive as change is now the only variable you can trust. And also a lot can be learned by just observing the world.

Perhaps, unlike Sapiens and Homo Deus, this book did not shock me and completely alter how I see the world (Homo Deus made me love evolution theory and turned me into atheist from agnostic). 21 Lessons for the 21 Century is deeply thoughtful and it mainly questions big global trends, not as much giving direct answers. This was also much more personal as Harari questions Judaism and openly discusses him being married to a man as well and his personal journey on how he came to understand reality through meditation for example. It’s a bit repetitive on fictional stories we love to weave though I guess that’s essential here. I loved this and would give it 5/5 stars

“To run fast, don’t take much luggage with you. Leave all your illusions behind. They are very heavy.”— Yuval Noah Harari, 21 Lessons for the 21 Century

How-To Read 21 Lessons for the 21 Century

1. Read, digest, think. And then think more. Maybe start meditation?

2. You should read Sapiens and Homo Deus before tackling this one although it’s great independently as well.

3. Not a book that will revolutionize your thinking, though definitely great tool for deeper reflection on the world.

Have you read it? Would you want to read it? Thoughts?

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Books I’d Mash Together

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. This week’s topic is ‘ Books You’d Mash Together (pick two books you think would make an epic story if combined) (Submitted by Rissi @ Finding Wonderland)’

1. Watership Down + The Song of Ice and Fire
Because why not? Hazel, Fiver, BigWig could be Stark family… And both are quite bloody. Umm did I ruin someone’s childhood now?
2. I, Robot + Harry Potter
Basically like Harry Potter. Except that they are all robots. Because god I love steampunk. And spells will be replaced by electricity.
3. The Martian + Robinson Crusoe + I Am Legend
Basically what I want is more Mark Watney. So this should be easy. Except it’s not. Because he’s not alone on that island?? Please send help.
4. Peter Pan + Invisible Man
Peter Pan is not quite visible. Har har harr. Oh poor Wendy and the children. This might pass for a horror story.
5. The Song of Ice and Fire + The Inheritance Cycle + Temeraire + The Hobbit & How To Train Your Dragon
Okay. Abort? Abort the mission? I’ve got no clue what I’m doing here but guys imagine all those pretty dragons together.
6. Mortal Engines Quartet + The Lunar Chronicles
The Lunar Chronicles, except that Luna and Earth are very very hungry umm planets + we could have other planets.
7. Hunger Games + Les Miserables So Les Mis cast in Hunger Games? From what district would Jean Valjean be?

8. Throne of Glass + A Court of Thorns and Roses

9. Septimus Heap + Tiffany Aching books

10.Shannara + His Dark Materials

Rissi…what have you done. What have you unleashed :o
What books are you cooking? Happy TTT!

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Kim Kardashian

She continues to lark about as cameraman starts to walk away. “Excuse me, are you leaving?” I’m Kim Kardashian. I’m the dopest of the ropest person in this class. I’m dope on a rope. When someone off camera interrupts, define “dope”, Kim, she answers “Dope is Kim”. / Kim Kardashian, 5th grade

Sean Smith’s biography Kim portrays the life of world’s top reality tv star. It’s no other than Kim Kardashian. The book was first published in 2015 and it describes Kim’s childhood in Beverly Hills, her Armenian roots, her turbulent relationships and of course her rise to become what she is today.

I’ve long been fascinated by reality tv. I don’t like watching it but I like how genius the concept of it is. Basically making fun of people, of usually very rich or very pretty people when in reality they’re far from that.

This book is a light read and it reveals a very different kind of Kim. Kim who as a girl dreamed of being not Madonna, but a wife and a mother.

The book covers Kim’s life pretty well. Describing the parents and siblings of Kim and then explaining her childhood growing up in Beverly Hills. Then, we move on to her dramatic relationships. She married for the first time in 2000 with Damon Thomas, later filing for a divorce, then she had a short marriage with Kris Humphries before meeting her current husband Kanye West. As for career, she appeared first on few episodes of Simple Life, then leaked a sex tape (coincidence, I don’t think so?) and then launching ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ in 2007.

I liked how book offered some insight to the reality tv (which we all know is scripted). For example, the book tells about that one time when Kardashians hired a porn star to be a babysitter. Funnily enough, they filmed Bree Olson for like 15 hours and in the end, her footage amounted to just barely over 5 minutes in the show.

And yes. It’s not that easy to be a reality tv star. As the book states, if you’re an actress, you can win an Oscar or an Emmy. A musician like Kanye will win applause for taking home a Grammy or a BRIT Award. Problem Kim has as a brand is: how can she be judged to be successful?

“People who think Kim can’t be taken seriously because she posts are confusing because she posts naked pictures of her famous rear online are confusing the brand with the person.”

I liked reading this and I like Kim more now because of this book… I think biographies like this give you a basic idea of who the people are as well as some basic facts about them. However, I do enjoy more reading autobiographies or biographies that have been written together with the person of interest (as that of Elon Musk) so that is why I call this light. Also, what the hell with the star sign and star chart chapter that went on for about 9 pages? I don’t know why the author decided to include it?
3/5 stars

How-To Read Kim & Fun facts
1. It’s very light read. Smith has written a ton of biographies, so far I’ve only read two but he’s pretty good. Not an expose but still entertaining. Like did you know, Kim is very religious?
2. Bunim/Murray … Google that. Are they genius or are they just taking over the tv? …And the world?
3. A brand or a person? And what to keep in mind when we watch reality tv.

Thoughts? Reality TV… yay or nay?

Picture credits: cover of the book, Kim Kardashian featured image: Kim Kardashian profile shot by Shelby Skrhak, Weekend Update Kim Kardashian Saturday Night Live Nicki Minaj by Zennie Abraham

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Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some. / Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel by Canadian author Margaret Atwood. It was first published in 1985. It’s a terrifying, truly dystopian book. The United States of America no longer exists. It has been replaced by the Republic of Gilead. This has been achieved through a nuclear destruction. And in Gilead, they follow the bible… or their own version of it.

The narrator of the book is Offred. She’s a Handmaid and her only function is to breed. This is achieved by something called ‘The Ceremony’ … Welcome to the patriarchal society of Gilead. Women are no longer free. They have no jobs, they cannot leave their houses, they cannot choose what to wear and they cannot read or write. among many other forbidden things. To put it simply, they have no rights. And if they rebel, they will either be hanged at the wall as an example for others or sent to deal with the aftermath of nuclear destruction.

“There is more than one kind of freedom,” said Aunt Lydia. “Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.” / Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

I first read Handmaid’s Tale over 10 years ago out of a recommendation from my teacher. I’m ashamed to say I did not like it or understand it very well back then. I think it was largely due to the translation (In Finland, the title translates as ‘Your Slavestress).  Well, blessed be  Hulu’s tv adaptation and the end of 2nd season that finally inspired me to dive back into this book.

Arwood’s novel is horrifyingly amazing.  It toys with many interesting ideas. Nuclear accident or weaponized nuclear power will always be a threat and then combining that with a religion gone wrong. You have some excellent ingredients for a dystopian there. Creepiness was on its own level. It was a matter of small things that could very well happen tomorrow. Freezing all the bank accounts with letter F on them. Saying women can’t go to work or own property. Moreover, it’s also spooky how Offred describes these things as something weird and absurd. She jokes about doing a jobbie and can’t imagine things like paper money anymore.  I think Handmaid’s Tale acts as a warning, of how easily things could go wrong especially if you don’t pick a side and let things slide. Personally, I did not enjoy the vagueness and the open ending so that cuts one star out of my rating.
4/5 stars

“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.” 
/Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

How-To Read Handmaid’s Tale

1. If you’ve watched it then you really ought to have read it by now. If not, go read it now.
2.  It’s kind of vague and I know it will bother some readers because it bothers me. We don’t learn how Gilead was created, we don’t know who our main character is, we only get the smallest glimpse of Offred’s life.
3. Not a lot of suspense, mainly just observations. Think of it as a biography that was only partly uncovered.
4. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Have you read this? Thoughts? Do you watch the show?

 

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A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness

“Was Hitler mad?”
“Corollary questions are: Were Nazi leaders mentally ill? Was the German nation, as a whole, deranged?” ― S. Nassir Ghaemi, A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness

At  First- Rate Madness is a book by  Dr. Nassir Ghaemi. It was first published in 2011 and as the title suggests, the book deals with mental illness and its connection to the leadership. It might not be the first thing you think of, but notable leaders such as Lincoln, Churchill, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., JFK, Hitler all suffered from some sort of a mental illness. Or if not of mental illness then they were the ones to face big difficulties in their lives as was the case with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s who spent last years of his life in a wheelchair.

The author doesn’t want to point out any upsides of mental illnesses, however, the book seems to do just that, when it argues how some mental illnesses such as mania and depression appear to promote a kind of crisis leadership. And characteristics that are associated with leadership: realism, resilience, empathy, and creativity.

“The depressed person is mired in the past; the manic person is obsessed with the future. Both destroy the present in the process.”  ― S. Nassir Ghaemi, A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness


For me, this was a very fascinating and refreshing read. And no German nation is not deranged as a whole. Regarding madness or mental illnesses…I don’t think it’s the first thing we think about the leaders that they are half mad or burdened by a mental illness. Often, instead, we see them as icons and worship them. Ghaemi has some interesting facts in his book, however, I would have enjoyed it much more if it would have been longer. I think that would have enabled the author to cover more theory and present more facts as to why he chose those particular leaders. Moreover, the book lacked the presence of the female leaders and current day leaders. I think that would have made this a much better read. All in all, I learned many new things so 3/5

How-To Read A First-Rate Madness
1. Very refreshing read especially if you have read a lot of political biographies and need a break from them. However,  I wouldn’t take it too seriously or after reading this. You shouldn’t automatically assume that all leaders must have some kind of a mental illness.
2. I warmly recommend this book if you like historical or psychological nonfiction or biographies.
3. Just 340 pages make it quite a light book when you consider how heavy the topic is.
4. There is some lack of neutrality in describing some leaders like George W. Bush and then because it’s a man’s world, there are no female leaders mentioned.

Thoughts? Are they all mad?

Picture of the book &cover image: Suspicion, rage, remorse Rare Books Keywords: Physiognomy; Bell, Charles

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How Much Would It Cost to Own These Famous Pop Culture Cars in Real Life? ~ Infographic

So…  Batman pays over $60,000 a year JUST in car insurance! Insane, right?

Graph via The Zebra

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The 33 Strategies of War

“Do not fight them. Instead think of them the way you think of children, or pets, not important enough to affect your mental balance”
― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

The 33 Strategies of War is a 2006 book written by American author Robert Greene It is a book that describes war tactics… in your own life, in everything from business negotiations to family quarrels…

You might remember my earlier review: 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene’s first book. I guess numbers are attractive and so I half-accidentally stumbled upon this book on Audible and decided to give it a try. I was not disappointed. The 33 Strategies of War is a book that combines the knowledge of great classics such as  ‘Art of War’ and ‘On War’ and expanding that knowledge and making it much more practical to use these strategies in your daily life.

 

“Events in life mean nothing if you do not reflect on them in a deep way, and ideas from books are pointless if they have no application to life as you live it.”
― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

I loved this book. It gives you countless  and countless of good guidelines on how to lead your life. Although, from time to time that advice can be quite realistic or even brutal. Preface of the book starts with some nice examples from Greek mythology. Ares was the greek god of war,  however Athene was the goddess of warfare and that is the often case in other mythologies. Point of war is not in killing, but in strategy. Not being the pawn, but the player.

Book has been divided into different strategies of warfare, every chapter giving you more insight on them. These strategies include: Self-directed warfare, organizational warfare, offensive warfare, defensive warfare and unconventional (dirty) warfare. Every chapter of the book contains own sub-strategy and it is (just as in 48 Laws of Power) purely genius. Couple of examplesfrom chapters under the dirty warfare. Chapter 23 is called Weave seamless blend of fact and fiction. Point of this chapter is to teach you how to confuse and to distract your enemies from what you are doing or what is goind on around them. Feed their expectations and manifacture their reality to match their desires. Or Chapter 28 is called: Give Your Rivals Enough Rope to Hang Themselves: The One-Upmanship Strategy.  “Life’s greatest dangers often come not from external enemies but from our supposed colleagues and friends who pretend to work for the common cause while scheming to sabotage us.”  Point is to confuse our enemies in these games they are playing.

“Your mind is the starting point of all war and all strategy. A mind that is easily overwhelmed by emotion, that is rooted in the past instead of the present, that cannot see the world with clarity and urgency, will create strategies that will always miss the mark.”
― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

To most of you, all of this might sound shocking, terrible and you might not to want to use these strategies though I think everyone should at least know of them. I adored this book also because it made so much easier to understand world politics and actions of world leaders such as Trump or Putin. It also has enabled me to see through people and recognize the strategy they are playing if they are. What I didn’t quite like about The 33 Strategies of War was how often it repeated the same examples used in the previous book. It was good in a way because I knew the example and could see it both from strategy and power perspective, however I still wanted more of novel ideas.

5/5 stars

“You may think that what you’d like to recapture from your youth is your looks, your physical fitness, your simple pleasures, but what you really need is the fluidity of mind you once possessed.”
― Robert Greene, The 33 Strategies of War

How-To Read The 33 Strategies of War
1.
If you love Art of War and On War, this should be your next read. And it’s perfect for history lovers.
2.
Quite a heavy book, it will probably take a while and for that it is the perfect book to listen to on your way to work for example.
3.
Umm… business is business?

Check out this awesome video:

Featured image: Photos: Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons…Soldiers in front of the wood of Hougoumont during the reenactment of the battle of Waterloo (1815), June 2011, Waterloo, Belgium, British artillery in action by John Warwick Brooke . And the video is linked here from the youtube site

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Mao: The Unknown Story

“We the Chinese nation have the spirit to fight the enemy to the last drop of our blood, the determination to recover our lost territory by our own efforts, and the ability to stand on our own feet in the family of nations.” /Mao Zedong

Mao: The Unknown Story

Mao: The Unknown Story is a 2005 biography of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong (1893–1976) written by Jung Chang and her husband Jon Halliday. In conducting their research for the book over the course of a decade, the authors interviewed hundreds of people who were close to Mao Zedong at some point in his life, used recently published memoirs from Chinese political figures, and explored newly opened archives in China and Russia.

Chang has previously written Wild Swans which was her autobiography. Mao is a highly interesting book and also it’s a brick with over 800 pages.

I remember reading this years ago in high-school (I read everything but school books) and I was shocked by it. Book begins with following line: “Mao Tse-tung, who for decades held absolute power over the lives of one-quarter of the world’s population, was responsible for well over 70 million deaths in peacetime, more than any other twentieth century leader.” It does not just tell about Mao and his life. It also tells of death of over 70 million people and not just that but how they died.

“The country is so beautiful, where so many heroes had devoted their lives into it. Sorry that the Qin Emperor or the Han Wu Emperor lacks a sense for literacy; while the founders of the Tang and Song dynasties came short in style. The great man, Genghis Khan, only knew how to shoot eagles with an arrow. The past is past. To see real heroes, look around you.” / /Mao Zedong

It’s another devastating book. It’s great book for history lovers as it covers Mao’s life, The Long March, opium trade, campaigns against Mao’s opponents, Sino-Japanese War, Korean War… But then I remember detailed descriptions of how people died of hunger or because they were enemies of the state and for reasons I can’t understand. I think it’s also a great reminder when you think of China now. China is economically strong nuclear superpower. But it was achieved at unimaginable cost.

“People who try to commit suicide — don’t attempt to save them! . . . China is such a populous nation, it is not as if we cannot do without a few people.” / Mao Zedong

There is a one big downside to this book, it’s extremely biased against Mao. He did a lot of bad things yes but can we really blame one man for deaths of millions. It’s like if you see a bunch of money lying around, would you pick it up? If you see power, would you grab for it?  In the book he is portrayed as the most evil man that ever walked this earth. Void of emotion. And that bothered me a lot in this book because nonfiction and biographies are supposed to be more neutral no matter how evil the person was. On the other hand, Mao did hold the absolute power over China for many decades and could have stopped all of it or at least lessen the amount of the dead. He didn’t so that also says  a lot.
4/5 stars

How- To Read Mao: The Unknown Story
1. It’s a fantastic book to get a general picture of 20th Century China. It’s also a brick, over 800 pages long and it will take time to read through it. Also many deaths.
2. It’s extremely biased against Mao. Perhaps for a great reason but it’s definitely not neutral if that is what you’re looking for.
3. If you want to read something less biased, read Chang’s auto-biography + biographies of her mother and grandmother called ‘Wild Swans’ (1991)

Thoughts?

Featured image credit

 

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Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

“They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it.”
― Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

Kuvahaun tulos haulle bury my heart at wounded kneeBury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West is a 1970 book by American writer Dee Brown that covers the history of Native Americans in the American West in the late nineteenth century.

Brown covers the plights of several Native American tribes.  Book starts with an overview and then one by one describes the horrors faced by Navahos, Sioux, Cheynnes, Doneghowa, Apache…eventually ending with the Wounded Knee Massacre.

“A short time later, near Gallina Springs, Graydon’s scouting party came upon the Mescaleros again. What happened there is not clear, because no Mescalero survived the incident.”
― Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

I first read ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West’ nearly ten years ago. It’s one of the most disturbing books I have ever read,  it has shattered my heart and it makes my blood boil.. each chapter being worse than the previous one. I have so many feelings about Dee Brown’s book.

His work scares me because of the fact that there was barely anyone who survived to tell the tale. And I suppose in many cases, no one did so we don’t know what happened. And what we don’t know, we cannot learn from. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee angers me because “what is wrong with the world” and also that before 1970’s there was not a single book like this and how is it that this is the only one that made it into some kind of fame. And it saddens me because of all the injustice.

Reading this inspired me because there were people who fought back. Great leaders like Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Bloody Knife, Red Cloud and Black Kettle. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee has become an icon that lasts time.
5/5 stars

“Already the once sweet-watered streams, most of which bore Indian names, were clouded with silt and the wastes of man; the very earth was being ravaged and squandered. To the Indians it seemed that these Europeans hated everything in nature-the living forests and their birds and beasts, the grassy glades, the water, the soil, and the air itself.”
― Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

How-To Read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West
1.
This is one of those iconic books you really should read.
2.
Quite heavy read with 500 pages. Either it will be impossible for you to put down or you’ll read it for many months.
3. I see this as a great reminder. I tend to think that America is the land of the free when really it is far from it.

Featured image by Graham Thomson

“Nothing lives long
Only the earth and mountains”
― Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West

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A Wrinkle in Time

“Qui plussait, plus se tait. French, you know. The more a man knows, the less he talks.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet, #1)

A Wrinkle in Time is a science fantasy novel written by American writer Madeleine L’Engle, first published in 1962. It is also a first book of a Time Quintet.

Book follows the lives of the Murray family. Father of Meg and Charles Wallace has disappeared mysteriously a long time ago. One day the kids meet a new friend Calvin and three strange women named: Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which. These ladies tell children that their father is in danger and that they have to travel through time to find him.

“We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time: With Related Readings

I had a hard time getting into this novel. I guess it had been on my TBR list for a long time because but I truly learned about the existence of this book when the movie adaptation hit the theatres. I have mixed feeling about Wrinkle in Time. I felt like the younger me would have loved it but somehow magic of this book didn’t reach me as adult. And that made me confused because I still love Narnia to death.

There were a lot of good  things in this book. First, genre is funny… it’s like science fiction except that it’s fantasy and that shows in the book. I feel like it has more emotion and less technical/ science fiction-y mumbo-jumbo. I liked W Ladies and them quoting everything and everyone because the words did not come easy for them. And I liked how simple everything was. Evil in this book is mostly described as ‘The Black Thing’ or/and ‘IT’, yet you knew exactly what it was.

“Euripedes. Nothing is hopeless; we must hope for everything.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Characters were well built and Meg is an unique persona. I don’t know that many main characters who’d be like her. Homely, awkward and math loving. Fantasy elements, new worlds and creatures were entertaining.
4/5 stars but I wouldn’t read it again.

How-To Read A Wrinkle in Time
1.
Short (just over 200 pages) simple and creative, perfect read for kids. I think it also has nice lessons on how things and people and places are different and how we should always fight the evil in this world.
2. First part of a quintet so there are 3 books more for those who adored this.
3. I sensed some religion-ess in this book. A bit similar to Narnia.

“A book, too, can be a star, “explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,” a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.”
― Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time

Have you read this? Thoughts?
Have you seen the newest movie adaptation? I haven’t but I found cast choices interesting.

Featured image source

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Necronomicón: The Book of Hell (2018)

Movie review

“El peor de los miedos, es el miedo a lo desconocido”
– H.P. Lovecraft

Necronomicón (2018)
H.P. Lovecraft’s extensive life work has inspired filmmakers for decades. New 2018 movie Necrónomicon dives deep into this world and delivers artistic and true Lovecraftian movie.

Movie focuses on the most important book in Cthulhu Mythos. As you might know, according to the mythos, one of the few existing copies of the Necronomicon is held at the library of the University of Buenos Aires. Movie centers librarian Luis Abramovich who is sent to salvage books from library’s flooded basement. Luis has no idea what the basement holds… and soon he is in a fight against cosmic forces of darkness.

 

“Los muertos hablan pero mienten, los muertos son el ojo de la cerradura, y el libro… es la llave.”

I had the pleasure to see Necronomicón at Night Visions 2018 festival in Helsinki. I was quite stunned by the movie. I liked how the movie was about a book and I loved the bookish settings: University library of Buenos Aires, a bookstore, the basement of the library … well, basically there were books everywhere. The movie is very visual and artistic and it does not toy that much with digital effects. Moreover, I felt like it was very true to Lovecraft, it wasn’t scary and it left a lot to your imagination and there was a sense of mystery and ambiguousness to it. You never knew what exactly would happen. And I believe that was also what the director wanted to say because the greatest fear is indeed the fear of the unknown.

 Necronomicon takes place in Buenos Aires. It is a beautiful city and the architecture of the city is fascinating and after seeing this I really want to visit the city and Argentina. No wonder Lovecraft was fond of it.I guess some parts of the movie were a bit repetitive and then I didn’t like some particular effects or scenes in the movie but I found it good.
3/5 stars

I also had the great opportunity to interview the director of the movie Marcelo Schapces and interview will be published later on elsewhere. Schapces gifted me this amazing book, art from the book was also used in the movie. I have included a picture gallery for you below. Enjoy and go see the movie.

& trailer

Tips:
1.
All you Lovecraft lovers out there, go watch this and let me know what you thought! 
2. I
think it’s a perfect horror movie for book lovers. It’s not really frightening and it leaves a lot up to your imagination. And it has a ton of books.
3. Good movie for Buenos Aires fans and if you want to watch some foreign movies.
4. If you’re in Helsinki, there are still tickets for Sunday’s night show.

Any thoughts about this trailer and movie? How do you like the visual art?

Picture sources: Movie poster from IMDb, Pictures from the movie from Night Visions press bank, copy of Necrónomicon gifted to me by the director of the movie. Thank you so much! Art work  of the book is by Aldo Requena.

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Finnish Nightmares 2: an even more different kind of social guide to Finland

“This is Matti. If you didn’t know him already.
Matti is just a regular Finn. He does things the way a regular Finn would do: in silence and trying his best not to stand out or bother anyone.”
– Finnish Nightmares, Karoliina Korhonen.

Finnish Nightmares 2 – An Even More Different Kind of Social Guide to Finland by Karoliina Korhonen is a series of comic strips. It’s a continuation to Finnish Nightmares.  I was happy that there is a continuation to Finnish Nightmares because the first part was very entertaining and it perfectly described many funny thoughts we Finns have about things. Finnish Nightmares 2 continues to explore many nightmarish topics like summer, traveling, shopping,  about how nightmarish can it be to be Finnish… Seriously there was own chapter for that one.

I liked how the book started describing Finnish summer (I remember last year when it was snowing in May) and I liked reading strips that went on for a page or two because I felt like they explained the situation much better that one strip in many cases would. Traveling part was my favorite one. If you see people who don’t rush after their luggage after the flight even if they want to…that’s just us Finns.

I have a bit mixed feelings about this second part.. I don’t know whether it was the hype of the first book or what. Even if I liked ‘Summer’, I think it dived too deep into Finnishness. And I wonder if anyone else than a Finn would get these summery nightmare scenarios. Other than that, I really couldn’t relate to some of the strips, for example about wearing or not wearing the graduation cap on Vappu. Moreover, I see that there’s more potential for FN. Maybe it could expand to describe Finnish history, different cities, maybe there could be more characters…

All in all, I liked the book so
3/5 stars

How-To Read Finnish Nightmares 2
1. Read the first part before this one, it will make more sense. And buy these two together too.
2. It’s very light read, just under 100 pages.  If you have a Finn friend, this will help you to understand him /her.
3. Pre-Order the book (it will be out in June in English) like Finnish Nightmares on Facebook & read the blog to get your regular update on us Finns & about what makes us feel awkward.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher (Thank you!) in exchange for my honest review.

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The 48 Laws of Power

“Be wary of friends—they will betray you more quickly, for they are easily aroused to envy. They also become spoiled and tyrannical. But hire a former enemy and he will be more loyal than a friend, because he has more to prove. In fact, you have more to fear from friends than from enemies. If you have no enemies, find a way to make them.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

Kuvahaun tulos haulle 48 laws of power

The 48 Laws of Power is a self-help work  by Robert Greene. It is  seen as a modern day classic. As the title says, the book is about 48 Laws that will help you to achieve a position of power and to master it.

This book stunned me. People want different things in life, however if you want power then this book is the one you must read.  I really loved this book. I don’t think there is a clearer book about power. There’s Art of War by Sun Tzu, yet that only gives vague tips that are open to all kinds of interpretation.

“To succeed in the game of power, you have to master your emotions. But even if you succeed in gaining such self-control, you can never control the temperamental dispositions of those around you. And this presents a great danger.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

Book follows an interesting formula, it starts by stating the law of power, for example: Law 10. Infection: Avoid the unhappy and unlucky. Then the book explains the transgression of the law and interpretation: Law 10: If you associate yourself with people who seem to attract misfortune then you might be infected with this misfortune as well. Then, observance of the law and interpretation: Book tells us an historical example of Lola Montez and every man who associated themselves with her was doomed (great men like Ludwig I of Bavaria fell). Keys to power: this part explains step by step instructions on how to follow this law. For example, with law #10: if you are gloomy by nature, try to associate yourself with cheerful people, if you tend to avoid human company, surround yourself with sociable people, only associate yourself with successful people in short. Last part of the book formula is Reversal of the law explaining when you should behave exact opposite from what the law tells you to do. I might be confusing transgression and observance of the law parts but I hope you get my point still.

“Never waste valuable time, or mental peace of mind, on the affairs of others—that is too high a price to pay.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

I like how 48 Laws of  Power tells you to do the exact opposite of what many others will try to tell you. It tells you to play games, wear masks and never trust another person completely no matter who they are to you. Never let other people to pull you down and always take credit even if you didn’t do it. Cunning, isn’t it? I loved the various historical examples in this book. For example, I was aware of the fact that Rubens barely painted any of his painting himself, he rather relied on the students of Rubenshuis, however I did not know that the great Thomas Edison did this as well. Edison might be remembered as one of the greatest inventors of our time and what he really was a cunning businessman. ‘War of the currents’ is not just about whether AC or DC was better, it was about Edison ruining Tesla’s reputation. He most surely did not come up with ideas for 1, 093 patents under his name by himself.

And stories of countless emperors, kings and rulers as well as  some amazing con artists. Like “Count” Lustig who sold the Eiffel Tower twice and who managed to con 5000$ from Al Capone just by showing Capone some good will.

“…But the human tongue is a beast that few can master. It strains constantly to break out of its cage, and if it is not tamed, it will turn wild and cause you grief.”
― Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power

It’s a long time since I have read a book as good as this one. Audio version on Audible was nearly 24 hours but it was definitely worth it. Simply wonderful book.
5/5 stars

How-To Read 48 Laws of Power

1. If you’re familiar with Art of War and have liked it, this is very similar to that. It’s one of those books you should keep on your nightstand.
2. Ste Davies has written a wonderful review (link) of this book also including all the laws and a nice graph, check it out. Laws alone even without explanations make a lot of sense.
3. Over 500 pages long so it’s quite hefty book so take it slow. Or I would recommend the Audible version. It is long as well, however the narrator was just wonderful. He had a powerful and clear voice which suited this book really well.
4. Be careful about applying these laws in your own life. You absolutely should apply them, however if you just suddenly start taking credit of all the ideas of other people, I can imagine what will happen to you. Be tactful and patient, power is like playing chess.
5. If you are not that interested about power and cunning people (I know it sounds evil…) I still warmly recommend this book for all the historical facts it gives.

Cover image source: Statue of Janus

Thoughts? Have you read this? Would you be interested in reading this?

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Behind the Beautiful Forevers

“What you don’t want is always going to be with you
What you want is never going to be with you
Where you don’t want to go, you have to go
And the moment you think you’re going to live more, you’re going to die”
― Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity is a non-fiction book written by  Katherine Boo in 2012.  The book describes life in Annawadi slum close to Mumbai airport. This was a really difficult read for me because human suffering is so terrifying. Imagine not just picking garbage to make a living but also being constantly hungry or suffering of tuberculosis or some other serious epidemic.

“Being terrorized by living people seemed to have diminished his fear of the dead”
― Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers

This book reads like a novel and it is so troublesome to think that this is not fiction. You don’t want to believe the things in this book. Of course, I know there are plenty of slums in the world and I’ve watched many documentaries, however it’s always a bit more real, a bit more personal with books like this. Everyone has their own story and we all should hear them, that is the approach Boo uses in her book.

“He wanted to be better than what he was made of. In Mumbai’s dirty water, he wanted to be ice…He wanted to be recognized as better than the dirty water in which he lived. He wanted a verdict of ice.”
― Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers

There’s a lot of life, there’s a lot of death and then there’s a lot of hope. People want to break out from slum life. Book tells a story of Abdul who provides for his family by picking up garbage,  Manju who wants to graduate from college, her “slumlord” mother Asha and so many other people. I guess what shocked me the most beside the poverty was the level of corruption. Corrupt police officers and politicians don’t really surprise me but doctors? Hospitals? It’s a logical path but you’d think Hippocratic Oath has some significance. Indian politics also surprised me… people in Annawadi are not considered as poor officially. Seriously. I don’t even want to know what is considered under poverty line in India…

What I liked the most about this book were the thoughts I think. We all think in an unique way and also different life circumstances make us think differently about life. Like the quote I picked before previous paragraph about water and ice, such a beautiful and sad thought. Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a good, very touching and informative read, however I didn’t like the way this book almost had a plot. I felt like the  narrative style would have worked better if there would have been just one character but now it seemed a bit like all over the place somehow. Then, I got the humanity point of view  but I really did not get the full picture almost like the story was left unfinished which shouldn’t happen with nonfiction.
 3,5/5 stars

“It seemed to him that in Annawadi, fortunes derived not just from what  people did, or how well they did it, but from the accidents and catastrophes they dodged. A decent life was the train that hadn’t hit you, the slumlord you hadn’t offended, the malaria you hadn’t caught.”― Katherine Boo, Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

How-To Read Behind the Beautiful Forevers
1.
I think it’s a wonderful book to understand slums in India and the lives of these people. And the effect it has on society. And this book will make you value how good off you are in life.
2. Writing style is different, interpretative, something called narrative nonfiction. It’s a very serious book but writing style is a lighter one. I feel mixed about this book and I think that caused it.
3. Quite a short of a book, just under 300 pages, although books like this are never short.

What do you think?

Picture credit: Pipe Play 2 by Meena Kadri

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The Vegeterian

“Why, is it such a bad thing to die?”
― Han Kang, The Vegetarian 

Kuvahaun tulos haulle the vegetarian han kang The Vegetarian is a South Korean novella written by Han Kang and first published in 2007. It’s quite  a fascinating book: Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband live an ordinary life. Then Yeong-hye  becomes haunted by splintering, blood-soaked images and she decides to become a vegetarian. If the plot description doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, don’t worry. It’s supposed to be more on a poetic side.

“I want to swallow you, have you melt into me and flow through my veins.”
― Han Kang, The Vegetarian

Either way, as a result of her decision, she becomes an outcast. Novel is divided into three parts and our Yeong-hye is described through three different people. First, her husband who already dislikes her and does even more so when she stops eating meat. We move on to a second part where Yeong-hye is described by her sister’s brother who sees her more as an artist painting flowers on her body. And then finally in the third part , we see Yeong-hye through the eyes of her sister as Yeong-hee is in a mental hospital

“Know what?”
“I didn’t you see. I thought trees stood up straight… I only found out just now. They actually stand with both arms in the earth, all of them. Look, look, over there, aren’t you surprised? Yeong-hye sprang up and pointed to the window. “All of them, they’re all standing on their heads.”
― Han Kang, The Vegetarian

I read this book a year ago and I found it too difficult to give it a proper review back then. Now I picked up Kang’s new book ‘Human Acts’ and I knew that I  had to review this one before finishing it. I adore The Vegetarian. First it seems normal and thriller-istic (or Gone Girl ish)  you meet a couple and think that this will end up badly for one of them. But it’s not a thriller, it’s almost like a piece of poetry.  I loved how it slowly describes the birth and evolution of madness in Yeong-hye. First, she abandons meat but then something in her thinking shifts a bit and she doesn’t want to be this animal any longer. So she stops eating and believes she is becoming a tree. And I feel like it’s not just her going mad but everything around her and the nature too.

And then it’s not even about Yeong-hye. She may be the sun but this sun is only described by the planets rotating around it. This creates a sense of mystery or even an illusion of sorts. Something you know is real but yet something you cannot see or touch. I guess it also describes how mental illnesses affects the other people, close family especially.
5/5 stars

How-To Read Vegetarian
1. 
If you have seen Yayoi Kusama’s work and you have liked it…well this is same but in written. Kind of. I’m probably mentioning since the author mentioned it? It’s beautiful, crazy and confusing. This reminded me of Plath, Kafka and Rushdie all mixed up together. If you didn’t like Steppenwolf by Hesse then maybe you should skip this.
2. It’s very deep book and with unimaginably beautiful thoughts. A lot of them on madness, so don’t dive too deep.
3. It’s quite short of a book, perfect weekend read. Also I think it explains Korea well. For example, I had no idea that they loved meat so much.

Have you read this? Thoughts?

Featured image: ‘Infinity Mirrored Room — Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity’ by Yayoi Kusama 2009 — The Hirshhorn Museum (DC) March 2017 by Ron Cogswell

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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

“We are biology. We are reminded of this at the beginning and the end, at birth and at death. In between we do what we can to forget.”
― Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach is non-fiction work first published in 2003. It details the unique scientific contributions of the deceased.

Yeah. . Umm…This was a really strange book and I really liked it although I wouldn’t recommend reading my review with a cup of coffee…or anything edible.

Opening line of the book: “The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back.The brain has shut down. The flesh begins to soften. Nothing much new happens, and nothing is expected of you.” is probably what got me into this book. Roach has a very different approach to the topic and she’s very humorous about that approach.

Stiff covers a wide set of topics. Starting from the beginning of dissecting bodies and how body snatching occurred. Before the Anatomy Act of 1832, the only legal supply of corpses for anatomical purposes in the UK were those condemned to death and dissection by the courts. And this was considered fate worse than death because how can you get to heaven if you’re all chopped up? So they had to steal bodies from cemeteries. Renowned doctors would criticize this in public and support it monetarily in private… I’m glad how times have changed and how doctors and surgeons don’t have to go in blind.

“The human head is of the same approximate size and weight as a roaster chicken. I have never before had occasion to make the comparison, for never before today have I seen a head in a roasting pan.”
― Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Then, we move onto how cadavers for used as crash test dummies. You could use normal dummies but then you wouldn’t know which bones are most likely to crush in a car accident. And then all the other interesting topics like: crucifixion experiments, beating heart cadavers, decapitation, cannibalism and alternative ways to burying and cremation…

This is a terribly important book. And I think it’s good to get out of your comfort zone (very much so with this one) and to think differently about some issue. I think for so many years, this was exactly the reason why dissecting humans was not allowed. Because people found it unmoral. But is it worse than letting people die? And they tried to learn by using pigs or primates and obviously unsuccessfully. Even if the dead feet here are quite disgusting…in the end, they’re just feet.

Stiff was very entertaining read. I never would have expected to like this book this much.
4/5 stars

How-To Read Stiff
1.
It’s great nonfiction. But you kind of need to stomach the topic first. Stop thinking of corpses and start thinking about cadavers who have a lot to tell us. Stop thinking about all the reasons why they are now what they are…
2. Then you will start wonder why things like dead bodies are funny. Or maybe it’s Roach’s storytelling. Either way, it’s ok. It happens.
3. I liked the audio version. Maybe reading all the “cadaver” words wasn’t as gross as hearing them?

“Death. It doesn’t have to be boring.”
― Mary Roach, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Featured image: In the morgue by Allsha Vargas (link)

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From Fiction to Nonfiction

I recently stumbled upon a great nonfiction blog called What’s Nonfiction? In ‘About’ section, author of the blog writes:

“Back then, I read almost exclusively fiction (an easier section to pinpoint). But in recent years, I found the opposite was becoming true, and I preferred nonfiction, in its many very different categories, to anything fictional. But when I tell people I only like to read nonfiction, they sometimes look disgusted, nose wrinkle and all, like I have no imagination or can’t appreciate fine literary art.”

Blog in question also has a wonderful slug: Where is your nonfiction section please. My little quote  here above doesn’t do the blog any justice so you should go check it out.
And maybe create nonfiction section to your blog?

Anyway,I feel like same thing is happening to me. I’ve always read nonfiction. Quarter of what I’ve read in recent years has been nonfiction but now if I have to choose between reading fiction or nonfiction, I would choose nonfiction. Same goes for reviewing it. I feel like it’s my duty now, as if I have to become an ambassador of knowledge.

Don’t get me wrong. I always have and I always will love fiction. I will always love fantasy and science fiction more than anything because I’m endlessly fascinated by what human mind can come up with. And I feel like sometimes only fiction can express what must be said. Like fairytales, we know that the dragon represents great evil, however we also know can be beaten (thank you Neil Gaiman). And of course, fiction is a must. You cannot read encyclopedias to your kids (or can you?).  I don’t want to make anyone feel bad about what they read.  Please do read whatever you love. I’ve written about how I hate snobbism in reading.
All reading is beautiful.

But.
This week I read and reviewed Night by Elie Wiesel. It’s an amazing work and it changed the way I think. One of my thoughts was that you have no right not to know. If silence is a crime, then what is not knowing?  Fiction is incredible and fiction on WW2 is heart-wrenching and it gives you so much (books like All the Light We Cannot See, Book Thief.. millions of stars wouldn’t be enough to rate them) But. Six million people died because of Holocaust. Most likely the number is much greater. Then all the lives lost in World War II, all the lives lost during Mao’s rule in China, all the lives lost during Stalin’s and Lenin’s rule in Russia. What is still happening in North Korea? All the lives lost when we colonized the world, all the lives lost during the crusades. All the things we have done. All the wrongs. If not us, who will remember those events? Who will preach about them? Who will not let them happen again?

Is it not our responsibility to carry that burden? Is it not our responsibility not let it come down to WW3? And to push humans forward? Achieve greatness through scientific discoveries? To become better individuals?

Nonfiction is about the truth and very often about someone trying to uncover it. Truth is the most beautiful and most cruel thing in this world. In nonfiction, heroes often don’t win and are often unknown. If fiction puts you in shoes of an another person, nonfiction will make you walk in those shoes whether you want it or not.

So please read both. Would be happy to give you some recommendations.
Moreover, I will try to blog more about nonfiction.

How-To Read More Nonfiction
1.
Audible and audiobooks in general are super worth it. You can listen to nonfiction while you do chores. I feel like it’s also sometimes easier to concentrate when someone talks.
2. Start with a topic you like. You like historical fiction –> historical nonfiction, science fiction –> try books by Michio Kaku, thrillers –> try true crime, fantasy –> books on writing and on world building,  or if you have hobbies like cooking or sports or travel, read memoirs. Or start with author you like.  If you like Murakami, try his nonfiction books. Same goes for some other authors.
3. Keep trying. Try different nonfiction genres. Try different places. Try different ways to read.

And I’m curious. What are your thoughts on this? Have your interest switched? Have you preferred fiction and moved to preferring reading nonfiction? Or maybe from one genre to another one? Do you prefer specific genres? Why? Any  tips on how to read more nonfiction?

/Anastasia

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Night by Elie Wiesel

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
― Elie Wiesel

Night, first published in 1960s is a work by Elie Wiesel about his experience with his father in the Nazi German concentration camps both Auschwitz and Buchenwald, at the height of the Holocaust toward the end of the Second World War. 

I read Night because of my earlier read Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. In that book, Sapolsky had quoted Elie Wiesel and that quote is stuck in my mind. “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” It’s unimaginably deep quote. If we do not care, if we stay silent,  if we do not pick sides, the world will fall apart. I don’t think I’ve realized it before or not to full extent of that it is a great crime to remain silent. And so I was intrigued by this book.

“To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

Night (again I listened to it) was shocking, beautiful, torturous read. It describes undescribable horros and undescribable pain. Thinking about the book makes causes me to shiver. I felt like  crying so many times but at the same time I couldn’t stop listening to this book.

Let’s start with the title. Night. It’s not just the darkness outside but also the darkness within. It’s not a night you’d imagine at first. It’s a night so full of smoke that you cannot breathe. Despair so strong that the dawn will never come. A Night that does not end.

“Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed….Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

People lost hope and stopped believing in their God. Because why would God be silent through all of this. As one man describes: “I have more faith in Hitler than in anyone else. He alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.” It’s a scary read because it also describes how people lose not just their belief but also their humanity. Cruelty becomes a new norm. People turn against one another as self-preservation takes over. Words like Brother, Father, Friend are meaningless.

“One more stab to the heart, one more reason to hate. One less reason to live.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

Audio performance by acclaimed George Guidall was just a stunning one. I felt like it was Wiesel himself was telling the story as Guidall’s voice truthfully carried all the impossible pain.  My audio book also included Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech and preface to new edition of the book and it made me so mad. Original version of the Night was over 800 pages long and it was cut basically every time it was published. And author had to plead and beg to get his work published in many countries. Imagine that.

I feel like I’m unworthy to review this book. I could write thrice as long review from what it already have and still I wouldn’t be able to describe this properly. I guess for me, the most important lesson from this and from Wiesel was how neutrality kills. How indifference kills.

Night touched me to the very core. It’s brutal but necessary read. One of the best reads of my life. I loved it and I will be haunted by it.

5/5 stars

How-To Read Night

1. Just 120 pages but it feels like 1000 pages long.  It’s a heart-wrenching book and even though I would like to urge everyone to read this, it’s a difficult book and I know some will find it hard to stomach. Then again, you have no right not to know.  We must take responsibility for humanity’s sake.
2.
Night is a trilogy so there are two more books to read: Dawn and Day. I’ve heard they’re more fragmented than Night but I cannot not leave them unread.
3.
It’s a beautiful book. Yes, it’s about holocaust but Wiesel’s thoughts on all his experiences are  uniquely expressed. So many lines make you stop and think.

“Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.”
― Elie Wiesel, Night

Have you read this? Thoughts?

Featured image: Smoke (Public Domain)

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Old Man’s War

I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday. I visited my wife’s grave. Then I joined the army.
Visiting Kathy’s grave was the less dramatic of the two.”
― John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Old Man’s War is a military science fiction / space opera novel by American writer John Scalzi, published in 2005. His debut novel was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2006.

Good news first. Humanity has finally made it into interstellar space. Bad news: planets fit for life are very few and we have to fight for them against other alien races.

“Guns don’t kill people. The aliens behind the triggers do.”
― John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Some minor spoilers in this review.
This sort of reminded me of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. Except that obviously, there are some great big differences. Major one being:  It’s not about the kids! It’s about the old people! Har har har! And it’s a space opera so it doesn’t carry the same almost depressing tone like Ender’s game. The plot and even the very first lines of the book are amazing.On his 75th birthday, John Perry joins the army. And it’s not something uncommon. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF or Colonial Defense Force. You’ll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You’ll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you’ll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets. John Perry takes the deal.

This is why I picked up the book really ..It was very unique story blurb to read from Audible description of the book.  Life apparently just starts when you’re old. And so our John joins the army and gets a new, green, better body, a BrainPal he call “Asshole” and off he goes to fight battles with alien life forms.

“Many BrainPal users find it useful to give their BrainPal a name other than BrainPal. Would you like to name your BrainPal at this time?
“Yes,” I said.
Please speak the name you would like to give your BrainPal.
“Asshole,” I said.
― John Scalzi, Old Man’s War

Needless to say that I very much enjoyed this book. There were many reasons.  As so often in books, I adored the humorous style. And jokes of Perry that no one but him really got (happens to me all the time). Then there was the age factor. Perry was so tactful about everything and simply wise in many situations and there was little of this stupid arguing between the characters. I Iiked how aliens were written… I liked how people were written. Descriptions of personalities were awesome. And world and aliens were just unbelievable enough for them to be believable. Moreover, even though it is a space opera, it carried some quite serious observations and thoughts. For example, there was no diplomacy because CDF had basically decided that it’s too slow and it’s easier just to start a war… Perry also describes his feelings when he fights seemingly intelligent life forms and the whole book also questions what it is to be human really. And then because it’s war, many die…
BUT there are great plot twists!

Once again, I listened to this on Audible (It’s my new favorite app) and I really liked William Dufris’ performance. This will sound weird to those of you who don’t listen to audio books but he was good with both female and male voices and old and young voices. Moreover, I guess with good audio books you can’t quite tell what it was but you just like the performance.
I guess what I didn’t like was that it ended so quickly :(

4,5/5 stars

How-To Read Old Man’s War

1. If you love science fiction, read this (or listen to it), you’ll be very entertained. If you like space opera, you’ll love this.
2. Just 10 hours on Audible! (Or about 400 pages).
3. Easy kind of sciene fiction, surely as a scifi fan you’ll overanalyze everything anyway but good authors make it easy for you to overanalyze it.
4. There’s  5 more books to this series! (Ah I can’t wait tor read them.)
5. John Scalzi has this greatest blog called Whatever – This machine mocks fascists. It’s quite humorous.

Do not mourn me, friends
I fall as a shooting star
Into the next life

― John ScalziOld Man’s War

 

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Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst

Why do we do things we do?

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst is a book by American author Robert Maurice Sapolsky. It was first published in May, 2017. This is  one miracle of a book. I don’t know where to start…

“Someone does something lousy and selfish to you in a game, and the extent of insular and amygdaloid activation predicts how much outrage you feel and how much revenge you take.”
― Robert M. Sapolsky, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst

Book focuses on Robert Sapolsky’s attempt to tackle seemingly impossible question. That is to look at our behavior from every possible angle: biological, psychological, physiological…and there are some historical and cultural angles thrown in to it too.  We start with neurobiological angle: what happens in our brains when some specific behavior occurs, what effect do our hormones have on us, what is our genetic makeup, how are we different or even not that different from rest of the animal kingdom… This is not enough. Sapolsky continues by how environment affects us and also focuses on age-old question:  are we formed more by nature or nurture? And indeed as mentioned, then  we continue with psychology, history, culture…

Behave is among the best nonfiction reads ever. It’s stunning, it’s big and it’s absolutely beautiful. I learned so much and it also changed the way I see some things.  Here are some of my picks throughout the chapters of the book:

Chapter 4: Hours to Days Before: How testosterone increases confidence and optimism and decreases fear and anxiety.  Chapter 5:  Days to Months Before: Enough time for Arab spring, for a discontented winter or for STDs to spread a lot during a summer of love…and also plenty of time for our brains to change…How there’s long-term LTP and LTD. And veryy long term LTP and LTD and how they work differently in different regions of our brains.

“Testosterone makes people cocky, egocentric, and narcissistic.”
― Robert M. Sapolsky, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst

Chapter 15: Metaphors We Kill By: How Rwandan genocide came to be and how metaphors were used as a weapon.  Oh the power of metaphors. I have never before realized this. During Rwandan genocide, Tutsis were described as cockroaches. And those cockroaches would steal your husband. They became something that had to be exterminated, swept away from the country. Almost 1 million people dead within 100 days.

“Some translation is needed. The Rwandan genocide did not involve tanks, airplanes, dropping bombs or shelling at civilians. There were no concentration camps. No transport trains. No Zyklon-B. There was no bureaucratic banality of evil. There were hardly even many guns.”
― Robert M. Sapolsky, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst

Chapters 6 & 16: Author explained PMS syndrome.  He also explained how PMS syndrome has been used as a criminal defense. And this is not the only sort of crazy sounding criminal defense in the book. There’s also a lot of talk about the development of the brain in earlier chapters and whether a person is or isn’t fully aware of his actions and consequences of those actions due to it… Adolescence. Or. Dude, where is my frontal cortex as the chapter is called.

What else… Sapolsky uses the analogy of a car with faulty brakes to describe antisocial human behaviour. How judges give less harsh sentences after they have had lunch! Yes you read that right, judges’ rulings’ are harsher when they are hungrier. And this also works with smells. If you’re in a place that smells bad, you more likely to judge a person or a thing in a negative manner, how there was a Christmas truce in 1914 and how in many wars since soldiers had to be threatened to go kill soldiers from the opposite side. And how opposite of love is not hate …it’s indifference. And to conclude. There is no such thing as free will.

I loved this book. As you can probably tell from my review, it’s packed with loads and loads of information in a very simplified, easily understood form. Moreover, there’s a sense of humor or sarcasm in the writing and that always gets one more star from me because it’s like authors are laughing at how idiotic some of the things we do are and I really appreciate that (…we do a lot of dumb shit). Maybe the only downside to the book as I was listening to audio version were all the: “footnotes” and “i see her see i see her see i see?”. They were a bit much in spoken. All in all, a fantastic piece of literature.

5/5 stars

How-To Read Behave

1.Please read it. If you read one nonfiction book a year, let this be it. And watch this awesome video too:  https://www.ted.com/talks/robert_sapolsky_the_biology_of_our_best_and_worst_selves
2. It’s not a easy book. Writing and thinking of Sapolsky is clear and easy to understand, however it’s still nearly 800 pages long…or 30 hours on Audible. But big is beautiful.
3. I think it was wonderful book to listen to. However, if you’re not used to audio books, don’t start with this one.
4. Chew on it.
5. Sapolsky has written a lot of books so check them out as well.

How does this sound?

/Anastasia

Picture credits: Behavior CC BY-SA 3.0 Nick Youngson / Alpha Stock Images ,Christmas Truce image from Wikipedia and cover of the book used as featured image on this post.

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No fairy godmother. No magic pumpkin. Just one grumpy girl and a glass slipper.

If the shoe fits, wear it.
If it doesn’t, make it.


Happily is a fairy-tale retelling by author Chauncey Rogers. This fantasy retelling will be published April 3, 2018. I received advance reader copy of the book in exchange for honest review.

This is not your typical happily ever after kind of story. It does not even begin with once upon a time….

“Ten days ago, the weather was nice. I suppose I’m obligated to tell you about the weather fist, right? It seems that’s what they always do. Either that or that awful cliché of “once upon a time.” Only this wasn’t once upon a time. It was just ten days ago.” ― Chauncey Rogers, Happily

Guess what happened? Well ten days ago, the prince fell in love with a girl whose name and face he didn’t even know and then lost her. And now? Well, a shoe was their best approach to finding her…
Meet Laure. Laure is a teenage street urchin just trying to get away. Where the rest of the world sees an enchanting love story, Laure sees royal incompetence and an opportunity to exploit it. She’ll have wealth and a way out of a life she detests, if she can only manage to hoodwink the royal family and survive to tell the tale.

I was very positively surprised by Happily. By surprised, I mean that I don’t usually set very high expectations for self-published books. Happily exceeded my expectations by millions of miles… First, just look at the cover. Let’s start with that. It’s perfection, I adore it. Glass slipper, title and tagline and the ambitious “If the shoe fits…” …there’s no confusion to what the book is about. You kind of want to turn it around and see what’s it about. Next, I loved the humor in the book. I guess whenever authors lighten up the mood by supposedly funny/ sarcastic descriptions, it always wins me over. I liked the characters. Laure was an interesting main character. She seems a bit rebellious and that might annoy you at first but then her bravery wins you over. And friendship…between Laure and Luc was adorable because Luc is in many ways opposite of Laure.

“Yep”, Luc said. “See, what I did was called work. That”, he said, reaching up and grabbing the coin from my hand, “is called payment. A lot of people do it every day ― both the working and the paying.” He put the coin back down in the bag and said, “Maybe someday you’ll experience it yourself.”
“Very funny.”
(…)
“Nah, not really. I mean, I suppose some work is funny. Most of it is just a part of life, though.” ― Chauncey Rogers, Happily

There were some plot twists that were a bit weird before I thought about them so I didn’t like that. Moreover, I didn’t quite like the ending (although no one likes coming to an end of a good book) because it felt a bit rushed. All in all, though, this was a lovely read and I warmly recommend it if you have a passion for retellings.

4/5 stars

Tips:
1.
If you are a reviewer, you can get free e-book copy of the book up to March 26.
2. 
Fast-paced and sweetly humorous adventure. I would read this to my kids if I had ones. According to the foreword of the book, Rogers was working on his last book ‘Cleaving Souls’ when his three-year-old asked what was he doing. He replied that he was writing and his daughter asked whether he could read it to her. At a time, Rogers was working on thriller so he declined but promising he would write the next story for her. 
3.
300 pages but honestly it feels like one hundred, not lacking anything in the plot and there’s never a dull moment.

Do you like retellings? How does this sound to you?

/Anastasia

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Books I Can’t Believe I Read

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is: Books I Can’t Believe I Read…This should be fun. Interestingly, I have rated some of these books as high as 3 stars (what’s wrong with me).

1.Pride and Prejudice aka no plot and lots of manners by Jane Austen : As Mark Twain beautifully put it: “I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ I want to dig her up and hit her over the skull with her own shin-bone.” I, unfortunately, feel the same way.
2. Sheepshagger by Niall Griffiths
: Too disturbing. Especially the sheep shagging part(s)…
3. Unnecessary Fifty Shades of too much Grey  and the rest of it by E.L. James
: This would have been great as unknown internet fanfiction, not an international bestseller.
4.The Chronicles of Blarnia by Aslan hater Michael Gerber
: This is a book for people who hate Narnia…but no one hates it. So this is a big problem of a book. Oh and the author also hates Harry Potter and Downtown Abbey. I just can’t. 
5. The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq
: Basically sex is the only meaning of life and we hear this from a man named Daniel who clones himself like 20 times . Then it’s supposed to be science fiction and that should be exciting but it’s not. I’ve never read anything more boring.
6. The Interpretation of Dreams and how everything is about sex by Sigmund Freud
: How basically every dream has a sexual interpretation… I think gypsies nailed explaining dreams way better.
7. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
: It feels like a 600-pages long rant about nothing. “Resist much, obey little.”  How does this make any sense? The most annoying part about Leaves of Grass is that it theoretically could be good. But there’s no comparing this with Sylvia Plath…
8. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
: Imagine watching a movie on super slow-motion.  Like 0,25 of the normal speed. That’s how I felt about this book. I think I missed the plot because of that slowness too. Does it get better? 
9. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell 
: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn“. Also can I just slap Scarlett because she was so annoying.
10. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
: Lacking meaning. Makes not want to go on a road trip…

 Featured image:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/14768011294

What books can’t you believe you’ve read? Have you read any of these? Thoughts?
Happy TTT! :)

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The Decameron

“Essere la natura de’ motti cotale, che essi come la pecora morde deono cosi mordere l’uditore, e non come ‘l cane: percio che, se come cane mordesse il motto, non sarebbe motto, ma villania” – The Decameron, Boccaccio
The nature of wit is such that its bite must be like that of a sheep rather than a dog, for if it were to bite the listener like a dog, it would no longer be wit but abuse. 

The Decameron is 600-years old collection of novellas by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio. The book contains 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three men who are sheltering in a villa outside Florence. Decameron apparently has something to do with number ten. Ten nights are spent telling stories. The book is quite humorous, the tales are full of wit and practical jokes and from time to time they offer some wisdom, although some of the tales are quite old-fashioned.

.There’s  a lot to The Decameron and that makes it hard to review it. There’s a lot of sex and many tales center priests and women. On the other hand, it’s always nice when church is mocked. There are many lies and lots of deceit in Decameron and those two are perhaps the core themes here.

“Io ho inteso che un gallo basta assai bene a diece galline, ma che diece uomini posson male o con fatica una femina sodisfare.” – The Decameron, Boccaccio
I have always been given to understand…that whereas a single cock is quite sufficient for ten hens, ten men are hard put to satisfy one woman.

I liked how they were well aware of these natural laws like there was Murphy’s Law Nature, Fate, Fortune No matter what you do in life, life is out of control. Characters in stories are prank each other yes, however there also seems to be a lot of bad luck.

I also liked this tragic backstory. Our storytellers have ended up in villa outside Florence because they are trying to escape the Black Death raging in Florence. Good sense of humor is vital survival skill. I’m rating this book 4/5 stars. It might seem quite high, however I wasn’t expecting anything much from this, in fact I don’t think I have ever even heard of this book so it was quite entertaining read.

How- To Read The Decameron
1.
You should really chew on it. The Decameron has so many themes and many wise lines so just take your time with it.
2. Paperback has almost 900 pages… so definitely take your time. Maybe read one tale a day? Maybe ask fellow readers which tales they liked.
3. If you have to read this for college or for some literature class, just skip reading and wikipedia what happens in book. It will be painful to read this for a class :D
4. Tales about lustful monks might tire you but main theme of Decameron is lies and deceit so it’s quite entertaining even with sex factor. Reading this is like watching a soap opera.
5. If you’re really excited about this, I would recommend you this book called La Divina Commedia from fellow Italian for further reading.

“Leggiadre donne, infra molte bianche colombe aggiugne più di bellezza uno nero corvo, che non farebbe un candido cigno.” – The Decameron, Boccaccio
Charming ladies, the beauty of a flock of white doves is better enhanced by a black crow than by a pure white swan.

This book pretty much  wrecked my Goodreads ‘year published’ stats. There’s no fixing that huge century-long gap… is there. Have you read any books written centuries ago that you have liked? Have you read The Decameron?

//Anastasia

All pictures very kindly borrowed from the internet & Wikipedia Commons.

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The Sunday Post #10: Quests, Snipers and Magick

Hi guys, how’s your week been?  I read a lot of nonfiction this week and surprisingly two ARC’s. My reads this week were The Twelve Faces of the Goddess: Transform Your Life with Astrology, Magick, and the Sacred Feminine by Danielle Blackwood, Lady Death by Lyudmila Pavlichenko and The Quest for Mary Magdalene by Michael Haag.

Lady Death: The Memoirs of Stalin's Sniper (Greenhill Sniper Library)Lady Death: The Memoirs of Stalin’s Sniper by Lyudmila Pavlichenko
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Lyudmila Pavlichenko was not just any sniper, however, for she was to become the highest-scoring female sniper with 309 official kills. Official kills, it should be noted, were those observed by a second party.“ ― Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Lady Death

You might have heard of American Sniper. And even Simo Häyhä. Now meet Lady Death. Fascinating tale of Russia’s most efficient female sniper. This book made me feel like I had been living under a rock because I had no idea there were female snipers. And quite a lot of them. This book transports you in time to Russia in World War 2 and it is interesting to learn what Pavlichenko thought in some situations and what was life like in general. I warmly recommend this book to fans of history.

The Quest for Mary Magdalene explored the identity of Mary Magdalene and how she was reinterpreted in every age. Pope Gregory reduced Mary Magdalene from an independent visionary to a sinner and a prostitute while making Jesus’ mother Mary, who is a nonentity in the gospels, into a creature of the Church, hailing her as the epitome of all things feminine and holy. It was an interesting book, I like to read about things the church has invented throughout the history and what is actually historically accurate.

Then I  read this weirdly fascinating short story by Karin Tidbeck called Sing. There is a village in Kiruna and there outcast Aino has worked hard to create a life for herself. One day, offworlder Petr arrives… 

It’s a good story with interesting concepts and a lot of Finnish words. And look at that cover. It’s just gorgeous. I really like how the bird is coming out man’s mouth.

“I told him about how Oksakka kills the sound of birds, and how giant Maderakka peeks over the horizon now and then, reminding us that the three of us are just her satellites.” – Karin Tidbeck, Sing

If you’d like some motivation to read through your ARC’s, Evelina @ Avalinah’s Books has a wonderful State of the Arc meme going on. Check it out.

I also managed to be more social this week and met up with some old colleagues and friends so it was a pretty cool week.

What have you done? What you have you read?
//Anastasia

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

 

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Countdown: Our Last Best Hope for a Future on Earth?

“Whether we accept it or not, this will likely be the century that determines what the optimal human population is for our planet. It will come about in one of two ways:
Either we decide to manage our own numbers, to avoid a collision of every line on civilization’s graph – or nature will do it for us, in the form of famines, thirst, climate chaos, crashing ecosystems, opportunistic disease, and wars over dwindling resources that finally cut us down to size.”
― Alan Weisman, Countdown: Our Last Best Hope for a Future on Earth?

Tick tock. 10 years ago Alan Weisman wrote a book called ‘A World Without Us’. Basically, the message of the book was that without us, our planet would heal.  In  2013, Weisman wrote another book called Countdown: Our Last Best Hope for a Future on Earth? (which was brilliantly translated as ‘A World Full Of Us’ in Finnish. Countdown is another thought experiment. What if the world would go on with us?

Countdown starts with four questions and some scary facts. First question is, How many people can the Holy Land support? In some regions in Israel, there were 740 persons per km2. What will happen when Israel’s population will double by 2050? Second question, if population must remain under 10 billion, is there an acceptable way to convince all the representatives of different religions, cultures, political systems, nationalities, and tribes that decreasing the population is in their best interests? Third question, what kind of an ecosystem can support human life? What other life forms can we not live without?

In 1960’s, Israel released 50 000 strychnine chickens to nature in order to fight rabies epidemic. It worked incredibly well against rabies. Unfortunately, it likely also lead to near extinction of Arabian Leopard. Fourth question, how do we create an economic system that is not dependent on economic growth? And those scary questions and multiple examples were in just 50 first pages of the book.

“In the 1950s, Chinese people didn’t know about environment. To the Chinese Way of thinking, we are a huge country rich in resources, so we don’t need to worry about that. Until, of course, 1958. The Great Leap Forward, you know. We did many silly things. We cut trees in the mountains until they were bald. We tried to smelt iron in poor ovens. ” ― Alan Weisman, Countdown: Our Last Best Hope for a Future on Earth?

 Next, Weisman takes us to different countries across the world, across Europe, Africa, USA, Asia and Middle-East. Many more scaring facts that explain how people will soon face struggle to find something to eat. Or worse, how there won’t be enough of water for everyone.

I really liked A World Without Us and this seemed even better (probably should re-read AWWU again). I love thought-provoking books and this was one of the most informative book I’ve read in a long time. Moreover,  I admire people who try to make us see these unpleasant and inconvenient truths and change our ways.
5/5 stars

How-To Read Countdown
1. I think you should start with A World Without Us if you haven’t read it yet. You’ll perfectly get this without reading that one but together they make a fascinating combination.
2. You can take a look inside at http://bit.ly/1kNW3GG 
3. Read this before having kids.
4. It’s a quite a heavy book and probably will take you some time to read it. Perhaps, you’ll need some light fiction after you’ve read this.

Countdown shots from https://vimeo.com/50872925, a recreation of an SMPTE Universal Leader that would appear at the beginning of old films. Really loved this one. Featured image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/laurenmanning/2979574719

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2017 in Books

2017 was crazy and magical. I was in Night Court with High Fae, I tried to rule Amber, I was in Underland with giant rats, beetles and bats, I founds answers in Weep and met Lazlo Strange, I participated in international Warcross Championships, I did quite a lot of travelling: I was on Mars, Erilea & Moon…also I sneaked into Ministry of Magic. I met a Lightning Girl who bore the weight of Silent Stone, I watched Endgame reach its final phase and I was obsessed with a beautiful stranger, an art student of a name Miranda.

Moreover, I imagined that Shakespeare had a sister: a sister equal to Shakespeare in talent and equal in genius, I had a nightmare and I became a vegetarian and then I think I sort of lost my mind and then there were hungry demons and howling werewolves.

I made some new friends. Death…  Desire, Despair, Delirium, Destruction and Destiny and a girl with a mysterious psychic link with a monster. Those were interesting encounters not to forget about infamous inhabitants of folklore were forced into exile.

I learned about different kind of Hunger, of how Marilyn Monroe called every man in her life “daddy” and then I was also Thinking Without Thinking. I met Thousand Naked Strangers and realized that truth can be so much worse than you could imagine and how there always are forgotten heroes.

 

 

In 2017, I read 60,224 pages across 200 books. A lot. You can check my adventures here: https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2017/21610643 This year I intend to read 300 books… it will be an adventure of kind I haven’t had in a long time :)

What were your best reads in 2017? What were your favorite places? Did you make any new friends?

Wishing you prosperous and bookish year 2018!

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Top Ten Favorite Non-Fiction of 2017

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is:Top Ten Favorite Books of 2017.

I’m twisting this topic a little bit to best nonfiction I read this year because I don’t review enough of it…and these lists are only way to give out some recognition to these great authors.

1. Hunger:A Me­moir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay

“So many years past being raped, I tell myself what happened is “in the past.” This is only partly true. In too many ways, the past is still with me. The past is written on my body. I carry it every single day. The past sometimes feels like it might kill me. It is a very heavy burden.”
― Roxane Gay, Hunger

2. Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich

“Show me a fantasy novel about Chernobyl–there isn’t one! Because reality is more fantastic.”
― Svetlana Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

3. Underground by Haruki Murakami

“It was just that, no matter where I found myself, I felt like there was a hole inside me, with the wind rushing through. I never felt satisfied. From the outside you wouldn’t imagine I had any troubles.”
― Haruki Murakami, Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche

4. A – Bomb Mayor: Warnings and Hope from Hiroshima by Shinzo Hamai

5. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

“It’s hard to be told to lighten up because if you lighten up any more, you’re going to float the fuck away.” — Roxanne Gay

6. Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel

“Some friends don’t understand this. They don’t understand how desperate I am to have someone say, I love you and I support you just the way you are because you’re wonderful just the way you are. They don’t understand that I can’t remember anyone ever saying that to me. I am so demanding and difficult for my friends because I want to crumble and fall apart before them so that they will love me even though I am no fun, lying in bed, crying all the time, not moving. Depression is all about If you loved me you would.”  – Elizabeth Wurtzel

7. Kind, versprich mir dass du dich erschiesst by Florian Huber 

8. Guns, Germs And Steel by Jared Diamond

“In short, Europe’s colonization of Africa had nothing to do with differences between European and African peoples themselves, as white racists assume. Rather, it was due to accidents of geography and biogeography—in particular, to the continents’ different areas, axes, and suites of wild plant and animal species. That is, the different historical trajectories of Africa and Europe stem ultimately from differences in real estate.” — Jared Diamond

9. The Underground Girls of Kabdul by Jenny Nordberg

When one gender is so unwanted, so despised, and so suppressed in a place where daughters are expressly unwanted, perhaps both the body and the mind of a growing human can be expected to revolt against becoming a woman. And thus, perhaps, alter someone for good.” —  Jenny Nordberg

10. Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

“The medical literature on the causes of food poisoning is full of euphemisms and dry scientific terms: coliform levels, aerobic plate counts, sorbitol, MacConkey agar, and so on. Behind them lies a simple explanation for why eating a hamburger can now make you seriously ill: There is shit in the meat.” —  Eric Schlosser

 

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Ten Bookish Settings I’d Love to Visit

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: Ten Bookish Settings I’d Love to Visit

1.Scottish Highlands ( Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon)  in the year of Our Lord…1743. After Outlander, who doesn’t want to go to Scotland? And just throwing in 1743 to make things more interesting…
2. Barcelona 1945 (The Shadow of the Wind by  Carlos Ruiz Zafón)

Secrets and shadows of postwar Barcelona, who is not curious? 
3. Mumbai (Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts)
Burning slums and five-star hotels, Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas… I’m scared but also excited.
4. Egypt, 14  Century BC (The Egyptian by Mika Waltari)
Kings and queens, pharaos and gods
5. Paris, 1832 (Les Misérables by Victor Hugo)

To the barricades?
6. New Orleans 200 years ago (Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice)

Théâtre des Vampires anyone? 
7. Victorian London (Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens)
London has so many good settings in books…hard to pick just one.
8. Southern Rocky Mountains (The Shining by Stephen King)
One night at Overlook Hotel will do you good…
9. Long Island, 1922 (The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Lavish parties and all
10. Mars (The Martian by Andy Weir)
I mean I’m just curious, aren’t you?

Happy TTT! What settings would you like to visit?

Cover image: Forged. An Teallach, West Highlands, Scotland.

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Top Ten Scifi Books On My Winter TBR

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the BookishThis week’s topic is: Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR and as we are still in SciFi month so I made this post a part it. Check it out.

1.The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodreads blurb: The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

2. Artemis by Andy Weir

Goodreads blurb: Jazz Bashara is a criminal.
Well, sort of. Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you’re not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire. So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right? Not when you’ve got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers the rent.

3. Saga #8 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Goodreads blurb: After the traumatic events of the War for Phang, Hazel, her parents, and their surviving companions embark on a life-changing adventure at the westernmost edge of the universe.

4. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown (Red Rising Saga #4)


Goodreads blurb: They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second of his life. 

5. Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny

Goodreads blurb: Earth is long since dead. On a colony planet, a band of men has gained control of technology, made themselves immortal, and now rule their world as the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Only one dares oppose them: he who was once Siddhartha and is now Mahasamatman. Binder of Demons, Lord of Light.

6. WE by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Goodreads blurb: WE tells the story of the minutely organized United State, where all citizens are not individuals but only he-Numbers and she-Numbers existing in identical glass apartments with every action regulated by the “Table of Hours.” It is a community dedicated to the proposition that freedom and happiness are incompatible; that most men believe their freedom to be more than a fair exchange for a high level of materialistic happiness.

7. All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Goodreads blurb: On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is. But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

8. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Goodreads blurb: John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife’s grave. Then he joined the army. The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce– and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

9. Larklight Series by Philip Reeve

Goodreads blurb: Arthur (Art) Mumsby and his irritating sister Myrtle live with their father in a huge and rambling house called Larklight…that just happens to be traveling through outer space. When a visitor called Mr. Webster arrives for a visit, it is far from an innocent social call. Before long Art and Myrtle are off on an adventure to the furthest reaches of space, where they will do battle with evil forces in order to save each other―and the universe.

10.  A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Goodreads blurb: Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me be on my way. Speaking of way, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract”. Meg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

What books are on your winter TBR? What books are you looking forward to being published? Have you read any of these? Tell me where I should start.

Picture by: https://pixabay.com/fi/users/tombud-1908037/ and Goodreads cover images.

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

 

“Maybe there was once a human who looked like you, and somewhere along the line you killed him and took his place. And your superiors don’t know.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by  Philip K. Dick, first published in 1968. The novel takes place in  a post-apocalyptic San Francisco. Post-apocalyptic because life has been damaged by nuclear World War Terminus. The plot follows a bounty hunter Rick Deckard whose job is to “retire” (read: kill) Nexus 6 model androids who have escaped from the outer colonies and try to pass as humans. There’s also subplot that focuses on John Isidore, a man of sub-par IQ who aids our fugitive androids.

“You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

I’ve long been a fan of Philip K. Dick. I think it all started when I was a kid and my dad brought me a paperback called The Man in  the High Caste. My dad is huge fan of history and probably thought it would be interesting read. It was and so was Do Androids… Author has very fascinating thoughts and he is very deep with them. We can see this already in the title. You can go with androids. Or you can go a step further and ask if they dream…if they dream of electric sheep? The novel beautifully explores topics like: What is real, what is fake what makes us human? In book, the androids are said to possess no sense of empathy. It’s not quite true, is it?  And if to forget about androids, there are other interesting topics to explore too: How UN always makes super clever decisions,  nuclear war: hasn’t yet happened but it could?

 

“You have to be with other people, he thought. In order to live at all. I mean before they came here I could stand it… But now it has changed. You can’t go back, he thought. You can’t go from people to nonpeople.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

4/5 stars

How- To Read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
1. Read it in English.
I first read this in Finnish and they had translated the title as ‘Bounty Hunter’. Not fun. Many other translators apparently thought the title  was too difficult to translate…In Swedish: Dreams of Androids, Dutch: Electric Nightmares, Italian: Then Hunter of Androids? I can imagine how they translated everything else.
2.
A must read for PKD fans and for those who love science fiction :)
3. Cult classic thing. You know how it is with those.
4. Many interesting adaptations, for example: 1982 film Blade Runner and its 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049.

Have you read this? Thoughts? What makes you so sure you’re human?
This post is a part of a very happy event called scifi month. Check it out.

“You mean old books?”
“Stories written before space travel but about space travel.”
“How could there have been stories about space travel before –”
“The writers,” Pris said, “made it up.”
― Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Pictures: Black sheep from PixabayDo androids dream of electric sheep? | by Bill McIntyre ,do androids dream of electric sheep? | by cdrummbks

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How-To Travel Through Time

“Looking at these stars suddenly dwarfed my own troubles and all the gravities of terrestrial life.”
― H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

The Time Machine is a science fiction novel (or a long short-story?)  by H. G. Wells, published in 1895 and it has become a classic. In the book, the narrator introduces us to inventor and scientist whom the reader will know only by as Time Traveller. It’s impolite to call him anything different. In The Time Machine, our Time Traveller travels far into the future, into year 801, 701. There he learns that humanity has evolved when he meets Eloi. Eloi are described as naiive and small post-humans with large eyes and small ears and mouths.

Time Traveller soon learns that sweet Eloi do not inhabit this new world alone. There are also Morlocks who are quite different from the other human species.

“The fact is, the Time Traveller was one of those men who are too clever to be believed: you never felt that you saw all round him; you always suspected some subtle reserve, some ingenuity in ambush, behind his lucid frankness.”
― H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

The Time Machine is epic. H.G. Wells was a pioneer and this is one of the cornerstones of all science fiction works that came after…and especially dystopian genre? I like this novel a lot. I think Wells was one of the first ones to tackle the question of what the world would look like 800 000 years in the future. There is already a gap between people so what if after many millennia our world would look like this? Who would become Eloi and who would become Morlocks? I like Wells’ style, he’s whimsical and yet his language is beautiful and descriptions are rich. What did make me drop one star from the rating was the pessimism. I like to think that there is some hope for humanity. I want to read about people who push above everything, whereas here it just got more and more hopeless.

 

4/5 stars

How- To Read The Time Machine
1. 
Just 118 pages! The perfect read if you’re having a busy phase in your life! Whimsical and beautiful style of writing ought to keep you entertained. You can get the book at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/35
2. 
Essential read for all science fiction fans and I think this is great piece of work even if you don’t like the genre too much.
3. Plenty of good, entertaining and very different kinds of adaptations.

Have you read this? Thoughts? This post is a part of a very happy event called scifi month. Check it out.

“Face this world. Learn its ways, watch it, be careful of too hasty guesses at its meaning. In the end you will find clues to it all.”
― H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

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How-To Fight Buggers

“Perhaps it’s impossible to wear an identity without becoming what you pretend to be.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

 

Ender’s Game is a 1985 military science fiction novel by American author Orson Scott Card. Set in Earth’s future, the novel presents an imperilled mankind after two conflicts with the alien species called “buggers”. In preparation for an anticipated third invasion, children, including Ender Wiggin, are trained from a very young age through increasingly difficult games.

“I don’t care if I pass your test, I don’t care if I follow your rules. If you can cheat, so can I. I won’t let you beat me unfairly – I’ll beat you unfairly first. ”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

About the plot: After certain events, Ender is offered a place in battle school located in earth’s orbit. Ender’s life in Battle School is a difficult one, he is isolated from his fellow recruits and given tasks that are increasingly difficult. The cadets of the school participate in competitive war simulations in zero gravity and we learn soon that Ender quickly masters whatever simulation he participates in, he is a strategic genius. He seems to pass every simulation, every game there is…
But the simulations aren’t quite what they seem…

At first, it was hard for me to get into this book because main characters seemed too young and too cunning and they’re sent to learn how to fight when they’re 6? Yet that’s what we do, right? We screw things up or in this case aliens has screwed everything up and then send kids to fix everything.

“Peter, you’re twelve years old. I’m ten. They have a word for people our age. They call us children and they treat us like mice.”
― Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game

I got into this book quite quickly. I liked Ender a lot. He’s smart, he does not want to cause any harm, yet he will do what has to be done. His brother Peter is a ruthless sociopath and his sister Valentine is compassionate and kind. Ender is somewhere in between. I also liked the plot, even if the battle scenes were a bit boring from time to time. Also, the narration wasn’t too clear, however, somehow it suited the book well.

In the end, I guess why I rated this book so high was because of how humans had encountered alien life form. Buggers came and then there were many wars and there was no common language or understanding between the two species. And now, 30 years after this book, would we understand aliens or would we end up in Ender’s Game?
5/5 stars

How- To Read Ender’s Game
1. 
If you liked this, there’s more.  3 books worth more. While I was a fan of two first books in Ender’s Quintet, I had quite big difficulties finishing the last two books.
2. 
If you don’t like war fiction, I don’t think you’ll find this too exciting. Moreover, everyone in this book manipulates others and so it certainly does not present you with best human characteristics.
3.
There is a film adaptation from  2013. Written and directed by Gavin Hood, the film stars Asa Butterfield as Ender.

Have you read this? Thoughts? This post is a part of a very happy event called scifi month. Check it out.

Cover image by: Gwydion M. Williams, Post pictures: Ender’s Game Fromic Fight on VimeoEnder’s Game Formic World Fight on Vimeo.

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Top Ten Unique Book Titles

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: Top Ten Unique Book Titles

1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Why I like it: It’s creative. Androids look like human but what kind of dreams do they have? Do they dream of sheep? This is somehow very clever title.
2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury / Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Why I like these two: They are just iconic titles. A catch-22 is a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules. And Fahrenheit 451 is a pretty genius title for a book where the books are burnt.


3. Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Why I like it: Let the Right One In…not the wrong one. Except that in this book it’s kind of the wrong one anyway.
4. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Why I like it:  It’s a combination of something beautiful, yet devastating. There’s all this beautiful, amazing light and we cannot see it.
5. By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho
Why I like it: There’s a surprise in the title. Anything could have happened. For example, By the River Piedra, there were birds…or maybe a boat? But this makes you wonder that who is crying.
6.  A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Why I like it: Because it’s odd. It’s like something has gone terribly wrong with the orange and it is now half clockwork.
https://thefloatinglibrary.com/2009/04/20/a-clockwork-orange-resucked/
“I do not think so because, by definition, a human being is endowed with free will. He can use this to choose between good and evil. If he can only perform good or only perform evil, then he is a clockwork orange — meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or (since this is increasingly replacing both) the Almighty State.”



7. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
Why I like it: You can guess that it will be a wild ride ahead.
8. Tales of Ordinary Madness by Charles Bukowski
Why I like it: Madness is ordinary. Or is there something mad with the ordinary?
9.The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
Why I like it: Because I don’t quite get what it means but because it’s obviously meant for me. You know.
10. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Why I like it: The symbolism goes over my head (if I didn’t catch it). Knife is obviously not only a knife. It’s a decision

Happy TTT! What are the most unique titles you’ve encountered? Do you like these?

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Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

“Death is the fairest thing in the world. No one’s ever gotten out of it. The earth takes everyone – the kind, the cruel, the sinners. Aside from that, there’s no fairness on earth.” ― Svetlana Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

On April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear reactor accident in history occurred in Chernobyl and contaminated as much as three quarters of Europe. Voices from Chernobyl, first published in 1997 is the first book to present personal accounts of the tragedy. Alexievich, then in her 30s, interviewed more than 500 eyewitnesses, including firefighters, liquidators (members of the cleanup team), politicians, physicians, physicists and ordinary citizens over a period of 10 years.

“Come get your apples! Chernobyl apples!’ Someone told her not to advertise that, no one will buy them. ‘Don’t worry!’ she says. ‘They buy them anyway. Some need them for their mother-in-law, some for their boss.” ― Svetlana Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl

 

Voices of Chernobyl is one of the most devastating and heartbreaking books I have ever read.  I spent all week reading it and often I just stopped and stared at some lines in complete shock: “My daughter was six years old. I’m putting her into bed, and she whispers in my ear: “Daddy, I want to live. I’m still little.” In chapter titled ‘Monologue about a whole life written down on doors’ a father of the girl asks you to picture yourself little girls being shaved bald. And the little coffins, like boxes for large dolls.

Or in chapter titled ‘Soldiers’ Chorus’, Sonny describes how he’s not afraid to die. He’s not afraid of death itself. But he doesn’t know how he will die. “My friend died. He got huge, fat, like a barrel. And my neighbor – he was also there, he worked a crane. He got black, like coal and shrunk (…) I was in Afghanistan too. It was easier there. They just shot you.”

Alexievich doesn’t succumb to explaining the hows and the whys of what happened. She does ot speculate. She just gives you these annihilating monologues by people who were impacted by this event.

5/ 5 stars

 

Tips
1.
UK title for this book is Chernobyl Prayer: A Chronicle of the Future, translated more directly  from the original title Чернобыльская молитва: Хроника будущего.
2. This is truly bone-chilling read. I think everyone should read it but it’s not easy to stomach these stories.
3. Upsetting read, yet this is the truest and the most beautiful form of journalism. I applaud Alexievich for her courage to write this.
4. 
 It’s always about people and about human tragedy. To prevent anything like Chernobyl disaster from happening ever again, one should read this. Tragedies like this can’t be understood by looking at figures.
5. There’s a beautiful film adaptation of this book by Pol Cruchten: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9RVnTeApSI

“Is there anything more frightening than people?”
― Svetlana Alexievich, Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster

Cover image:  One Day in the Life of Chernobyl by Diana Markosian from Wikipedia Commons

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The Long Room – The Library of Trinity College Dublin

Greetings from Dublin & Library of Trinity College Dublin. I visited Dublin during the weekend… visit to Trinity College is a dream come true for every bookworm :) How are you doing?

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Ten Hidden Gems In Fantasy Series

As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: Pick a genre and share with us some books that have gone under the radar in that genre!
And I’ll go with fantasy as it is my favorite genre.I do not own the pictures in this post, please see the end of the post for the credits.

1.The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny

“I like libraries. It makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around me. I always feel better when I can see that there is something to hold back the shadows.”
― Roger Zelazny, Nine Princes in Amber


Goodreads blurb:
 Amber, the one real world, wherein all others, including our own Earth, are but Shadows. Amber burns in Corwin’s blood. Exiled on Shadow Earth for centuries, the prince is about to return to Amber to make a mad and desperate rush upon the throne. From Arden to the blood-slippery Stairway into the Sea, the air is electrified with the powers of Eric, Random, Bleys, Caine, and all the princes of Amber whom Corwin must overcome.


2. The Soldier Son trilogy by Robin Hobb

“Anticipating pain was like enduring it twice. Why not anticipate pleasure instead?”
― Robin Hobb, Renegade’s Magic

Goodreads blurb: Nevare Burvelle anticipates a golden future. He will follow his father into the army; to the frontier and thence to an advantageous marriage.Over twenty years the army has pushed the frontiers of Gernia as far as the Barrier Mountains, home to the enigmatic Speck people, who retain the last vestiges of magic in a progressive world. Exotic and misunderstood, they are believed to spread a sexual plague which has ravaged the frontier, decimating entire regiments.

3. The Witcher  by Andrzej Sapkowski

“People,” Geralt turned his head, “like to invent monsters and monstrosities. Then they seem less monstrous themselves. When they get blind-drunk, cheat, steal, beat their wives, starve an old woman, when they kill a trapped fox with an axe or riddle the last existing unicorn with arrows, they like to think that the Bane entering cottages at daybreak is more monstrous than they are. They feel better then. They find it easier to live.”
― Andrzej Sapkowski, The Last Wish

Goodreads blurb: Geralt of Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin.  And a cold-blooded killer. His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world.  But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good. . . and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth. 

4. The Gatekeepers by Anthony Horowitz

“There are two worlds. The world you understand and the world you don’t. These worlds exist side by side, sometimes only centimeters apart, and the great majority of people spend their entire lives in one without being aware of the other. It’s like living in one side of a mirror: you think there is nothing on the other side until one day a switch is thrown and suddenly the mirror is transparent. You see the other side.”
― Anthony Horowitz, Raven’s Gate’

Goodreads blurb:  He always knew he was different. First there were the dreams. Then the deaths began.  When Matt Freeman gets into trouble with the police, he’s sent to be fostered in Yorkshire. It’s not long before he senses there’s something wrong with his guardian: with the whole village.  Then Matt learns about the Old Ones and begins to understand just how he is different. But no one will believe him; no one can help. There is no proof. There is no logic. There is just the Gate.

5. The Shamer Chronicles by Lene Kaaberbøl

“Because even though you don’t want anyone to own you, it doesn’t mean that there is nowhere you belong.”
― Lene Kaaberbøl, The Shamer’s War

Goodreads blurb: Dina has unwillingly inherited her mother’s gift: the ability to elicit shamed confessions simply by looking into someone’s eyes. To Dina, however, these powers are not a gift but a curse. Surrounded by fear and hostility, she longs for simple friendship. But when her mother is called to Dunark Castle to uncover the truth about a bloody triple murder, Dina must come to terms with her power–or let her mother fall prey to the vicious and revolting dragons of Dunark.

6. Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones

“Christopher discovered that you dealt with obnoxious masters and most older boys the way you dealt with governesses: you quite politely told them the truth in the way they wanted to hear it, so that they thought they had won and left you in peace.”
― Diana Wynne Jones, The Lives of Christopher Chant

Goodreads blurb: Cat doesn’t mind living in the shadow of his sister, Gwendolen, the most promising young witch ever seen on Coven Street. But trouble starts brewing the moment the two orphans are summoned to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Frustrated that the witches of the castle refuse to acknowledge her talents, Gwendolen conjures up a scheme that could throw whole worlds out of whack.

7. Demon Road by Derek Landy

“I… I think I broke his jaw. And bit his finger off.”
“You bit his finger?”
“I bit his finger off.”
― Derek Landy, Demon Road

Goodreads blurb: Killer cars, vampires, undead serial killers: they’re all here. And the demons? Well, that’s where Amber comes in…Sixteen years old, smart and spirited, she’s just a normal American teenager until the lies are torn away and the demons reveal themselves.

8. Tales of Alvin Maker by Orson Scott Card

“I understand that you believe that it works,’ said Thrower patiently. ‘But everything in the world is either science or miracles. Miracles came from God in the ancient times, but those times are over. Today if we wish to change the world, it isn’t magic but science that will give us our tools.”
― Orson Scott Card, Seventh Son

Goodreads blurb: In an alternate version of frontier America, young Alvin is the seventh son of a seventh son, and such a birth is powerful magic. Yet even in the loving safety of his home, dark forces reach out to destroy him.

9. Redwall by Brian Jacques

“Even the strongest and bravest must sometimes weep. It shows they have a great heart, one that can feel compassion for others.”
― Brian Jacques, Redwall

Goodreads blurb: Book 1: A quest to recover a legendary lost weapon by bumbling young apprentice monk, mouse Matthias. Redwall Abbey, tranquil home to a community of peace-loving mice, is threatened by Cluny the Scourge savage bilge rat warlord and his battle-hardened horde. But the Redwall mice and their loyal woodland friends combine their courage and strength.

10. Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

“No proper princess would come out looking for dragons,” Woraug objected.
“Well I’m not a proper princess then!” Cimorene snapped. “I make cherries jubillee and I volunteer for dragons, and I conjugate Latin verbs– or at least I would if anyone would let me. So there!”
― Patricia C. Wrede, Dealing with Dragons50a8f4e73d82f486d844de505b2a3f84-dragon-illustration-here-be-dragons

Goodreads blurb: Cimorene is everything a princess is not supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish, smart – and bored. So bored that she runs away to live with a dragon – and finds the family and excitement she’s been looking for.

Images: Featured image of this post by Stefan Keller, The Court of Amber by Donato GiancolaForest Mage covers by John Howe,  Witcher by CD Projekt , Red Prophet: The Tales of Alvin Maker comics by Marvel. Pencillers: Miguel MontenegroRenato Arlem. Dealing with Dragons cover by Peter de Sève, Redwall: The Long Patrol by Troy Howell, Shamer’s Daughter movie, Demon Road covers.

 

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10 Schools You’d Rather be Attending

…Or not

Happy TTT!   As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: Back To School Freebie: anything “back to school” related like 10 favorite books I read in school, books I think should be required reading, Required Reading For All Fantasy Fans, required reading for every college freshman, Books to Pair With Classics or Books To Complement A History Lesson, books that would be on my classroom shelf if I were a teacher, etc. I decided to go with 10 schools you’d rather be attending.

1.
 Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (obviously)
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
2. Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy
The Magician trilogy by Lev Grossman
3. The Unseen University (UU)
Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
4. Battle School & Command School
Ender’s Game series by Orson Scott Card
5.Camp Half-Blood
Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan
6. The Magician’s Guild of Kyralia
The Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canavan
7. Jordan College
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
8. X-Mansion
Marvel Comics
9. The University
The Kingkiller Chronicle series by Patrick Rothfuss
10. Harper Hall
Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey

 

What schools would you go to if you could? Do you know of any other notable fictional places of learning?

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Ten Book Recommendations For Horror Junkies

I’m so happy TTT is back! As always, Top Ten Tuesday meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: Ten book recommendations for ______________: (Skies the limit here…examples: for Hufflepuffs, for fans of Game of Thrones, for people who don’t normally read YA, for animal lovers, for video game lovers, etc. I decided to go with horror. I love horror, don’t you? As a warning, this list might include many works by Stephen King. And I might add some suspense and thrillers here too.

1.Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King
“Hearts can break. Yes, hearts can break. Sometimes I think it would be better if we died when they did, but we don’t.”― Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis

Hearts in Atlantis holds a very special place in my heart as it was the first book by Stephen King that I read. I don’t think it’s his scariest books but it is definitely creepy. And what it doesn’t have in scariness, it has in depth.

2. IT by Stephen King
“We lie best when we lie to ourselves.” 
― Stephen King, It

IT is just a masterpiece. It’s scary and a book that makes you really uncomfortable. Also, some disturbing events makes you wonder why they were written in the book in the first place.

3. The Outsider by H.P Lovecraft

Best Lovecraftian horror I have ever read.

4. The Black Tongue by Marko Hautala

“You’re all sitting here wondering what Granny Hatchet does. Granny Hatchet kills children.”
― Marko Hautala, The Black Tongue

I bet you didn’t know that we Finns write horror too. Black Tongue is something I would describe with a word odd.  It has good descriptions and interesting story.

5. Duma Key by Stephen King

“Life is like Friday on a soap opera. It gives you the illusion that everything is going to wrap up, and then the same old shit starts up on Monday.” 
― Stephen King, Duma Key

This, again, is one of my favorite ones by King. You’d think you get what’s coming but I didn’t guess and that was pretty exciting.

6. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
“The mad sometimes drilled holes in their own heads to let the demons out. To relieve the pressure of thoughts they could no longer bear. Jude understood the impulse. Each beat of his heart was a fresh and staggering blow felt in the nerves behind his eyes and in his temples. Punishing evidence of life.”
― Joe Hill, Heart-Shaped Box

Joe Hill writes as perfectly as his father.

7. The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan
“Awareness of insanity does not make one any less insane. Awareness of drowning does not make one any less of a drowning person–it only adds the burden of panic”
― Guillermo del Toro, The Night Eternal

Vampires. Better-made vampires.

8.  Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist
“We are always in a certain amount of pain. There is chafing somewhere, and if it isn’t in our body, then it’s in our mind. There’s an itch, all the time.”
― John Ajvide Lindqvist, Little Star

Creepiest girl (have I over-used that word already) in literature ever.

9. Jaws by Peter Benchley
“The great fish moved silently through the night water.”
― Peter Benchley, Jaws

I wasn’t really even afraid of sharks before reading this.

10. Watchers by Dean Koontz
“It’s so damn hard to bloom… to change. Even when you want to change, want it more than anything in the world, it’s hard. Desire to change isn’t enough. Or desperation. Couldn’t be done without…love,”
― Dean Koontz, Watchers

I really liked Travis and Einstein.

Happy TTT! What are your recommendations and for whom? Have you read any books out of my list?

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The Sunday Post #6: That’s The Way The Road Dogs Do It

So now we’re properly in August. How’s your week been?
I fell in love with this song and have been listening to it non-stop.

I read two books this week. Empire of Cotton: A New History of Global Capitalism by Sven Beckert. I liked the book, it had many strong points on how at the same time Europeans created laws and yet the laws only applied to Europeans, not the slaves that were imported from Africa. I didn’t know how cotton affected everything in such a wide scale before reading this book. 4/5 stars.

Then I read The Abominables by Eva Ibbotson. I have never read any Ibbotson books before and reading this made me feel like I should have?  The Abominables follows a family of yetis who are forced, by tourism, to leave their home in the Himalayas and make their way across Europe to a possible new home. Fun, lighter read. I missed reading children’s books. 4/5 stars.

This weekend I went to WEEKEND17 festival in Helsinki, biggest party in northern Europe. It was a lot of fun.

Next week: Worldcon 75 in Helsinki! I’m so excited. Maybe I’ll manage to post about something else too.

What have you done? What you have you read? Any new favorite songs?
//Anastasia

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

 

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Eragon

“First, let no one rule your mind or body. Take special care that your thoughts remain unfettered… . Give men your ear, but not your heart. Show respect for those in power, but don’t follow them blindly. Judge with logic and reason, but comment not. Consider none your superior whatever their rank or station in life. Treat all fairly, or they will seek revenge. Be careful with your money. Hold fast to your beliefs and others will listen.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

Eragon is the first novel in the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. Shortly about the plot, the book tells the story of a farm boy named Eragon who lives in a small village in the kingdom of Alagaësia. In the very beginning of the book, Eragon finds a mysterious stone. Or so it appears until Eragon realizes it’s not a stone but an egg. A dragon egg which should not be possible as dragons have long disappeared from Alagaësia. The reason for their extinction is a dragon rider Galbatorix who killed all the dragon riders and their dragons and crowned himself king. Of course, Galbatorix soon finds out about Eragon and Saphira and wants to hunt them down.

“The greatest enemy is one that has nothing to lose.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

I first read Eragon when I was 13 and back then I was immediately hooked by this story and it’s just impossible not to adore Saphira. I was so enamored with her, that I used her name + some characters as my first nickname in various internet pages. Reading and reviewing Eragon now, ten years later, is harder than I expected. There are issues with Eragon and you have to keep in mind that Christopher was only 15 when he wrote Eragon (I was so jealous of that fact). Sometimes the pace of the book is very fast and sometimes one event seems to go on for tens of pages. Writing is a bit clumsy and there are grammatical errors.

“It’s amazing that a man who is dead can talk to people through these pages. As long as this books survives, his ideas live.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

Where the magic of Eragon lies, is the interaction between Eragon and Saphira.  Their relationship is everything you want a creature and a human to have. And I love how they’re similar, yet different in many aspects and how they grow in the story.

5/5 stars

How-To Read Eragon
1.
If you love Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance or Earthsea series, I’m sure you’ll adore the Inheritance Cycle. There are similarities between this one and LotR that may annoy some readers, yet I think that if you read enough of books, you’ll see that there are nothing but similarities everywhere. 
2.
This is a wonderful read for fantasy lovers and especially for dragon lovers. Though the length of the book is not very easy.
3.
You can read a sample chapter of the book by clicking here.
4.
There’s a movie adaptation yay. The movie got mostly unfavorable reviews. I just don’t get why they always fail with movie adaptations of great books like this.
5.
 Eragon is the first part of the Inheritance Cycle, so if you liked this, you’ll have 3 more books to go.

“Books are my friends, my companions. They make me laugh and cry and find meaning in life.”
― Christopher Paolini, Eragon

Have you read Eragon? Who is your favorite dragon in literature?

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The Sunday Post #5: Lost In the Sky

July is almost over soon? This turned into 1000 word post (sorry)…Mostly because I did not read anything last week and it bothered me a lot so  I managed to finish 7 books this week. I read: #1 Kind, versprich mir, das du dich erschiesst freely translated as Child, promise me that you will kill yourself (Lupaathan tappaa itsesi in Finnish) by Florian Huber describes something you won’t learn in your history lessons. Book describes a German city of where over 1000 people took their own lives, in less than 72 hours to avoid the horrors of the Red Army.  A lot of people don’t get what war is about. It’s not about who won or who lost. Not about the medals. Not about the few heroic individuals. It’s about human tragedy. When you die out of desperation. When you have no choice. 5/5 stars.

I read #2 How to Be an Alien: A Handbook for Beginners and Advanced Pupils by George Mikes and #3 Fanny Hill by John Cleland

How to Be an Alien: A Handbook for Beginners and Advanced PupilsHow to Be an Alien: A Handbook for Beginners and Advanced Pupils by George Mikes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In England everything is different. You must understand that when people say’England’, they sometimes mean ‘Great Britain'(England, Scotland and Wales), sometimes ‘the United Kingdom’ (England, Scotland,’Wales and Northern Ireland), sometimes the
‘British Isles’ (England, Scotland,Wales, Northern lreland and the Republic of Ireland) – but never just England.

In Europe nobody talks about the weather; in England, you have to say ‘Nice day, isn’t it?’about two hundred times every day, or people think you are a bit boring. …

Very humorous little book.

Fanny HillFanny Hill by John Cleland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It’s still hard for me to comprehend how this was written almost 300 years ago and people are going crazy about 50 Shades of Grey? Or that something like this was written 300 years ago in the first place. I think all the modern romance/erotic authors could learn something by reading this.

I scrolled through Project Gutenberg top lists for some classic to read and thought that Fanny Hill sounds like something big and that maybe I should read it. As mentioned, did not know anything of the book beforehand so reading Fanny Hill was very amusing…

Then I read #4 Jaws by Peter Benchley. I don’t think I ever was afraid of sharks and now this book has changed something in me. 4/5 stars. #5 Business @ the Speed of Thought: Succeeding in the Digital Economy by Bill Gates. I think this explains why Gates is who he is. The book was written 17 years ago and it described all technology we now have or are trying to have. Although, for the most part, I suppose the book is out-of-date. 4/5 stars. #6 A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen which I didn’t really like. I never enjoyed reading plays because the names of the people who speak keep repeating endlessly and in CAPITAL LETTERS. It affects my reading flow. And then the plot, there is Nora who realizes that she’s living a life of a doll by her husband. I suppose this was shocking when it came out. Questioning the gender roles and that woman should not live like a doll. And, I’m sorry, but what does a modern woman do? Modern woman (worst case scenario) reads Cosmopolitan and think of how to be a better doll for her man. I mean how far have we come? Then Nora…she seemed so dumb and vain. …. In the end, I rated this as 3/5 stars on Goodreads. Mostly because of the ending. It’s like with Gone With the Wind film. First, you torture yourself by watching something you don’t get for 3,5 hours and then there’s that awesome highlight: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”

 

“Only about one Martian in a thousand dies of sickness or disease, and possibly about twenty take the voluntary pilgrimage. The other nine hundred and seventy-nine die violent deaths in duels, in hunting, in aviation and in war; but perhaps by far the greatest death loss comes during the age of childhood, when vast numbers of the little Martians fall victims to the great white apes of Mars.2”
― Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars

# 7: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I can’t believe I haven’t read this! Or that I haven’t read Barsoom series. I recall reading some of Burrough’s Tarzan books. And I can’t believe I saw the John Carter movie before reading this… Best science fiction I have read in a while. 4/5 stars

I’m still behaving like a tourist even if I have been living in Helsinki for more than a month now. This week I had a mission of visiting different observation decks and rooftops in Helsinki.  I discovered observation deck on the top of Verkkokauppa.com in Jätkäsaari, Helsinki. Lovely views over the city and the sea and the observation deck also had MG-130 jet fighter aircraft. No entrance fee and very few people around so I absolutely loved this place.

Stockmann Roof left me cold at first. It’s a fancy place, however, at first, I didn’t like it for a couple of reasons. First of all, it was difficult to get there. I took the elevator from Pohjoisesplanadi (first floor) and someone pushed all the possible buttons and there was only me and one other person in the elevator so you can imagine how long it took to reach the 7th floor. Same repeated on the way back. Stockmann is a department store so really I think and when there’s only one elevator to 7th floor, maybe some floors could be turned off? Stockmann Roof logo is pink, yet everything inside was white-green-black. I don’t even like pink, yet I wanted to see some pink or I think it some interior items could have been pink. Pink flowers? Then there were these flower head pots…My second visit yesterday was far better as department store had closed. All in all, I did like the vibe the place, music was nice and the staff was friendly and they had delicious Strawberry Margaritas.

& lastly I visited Ateljee Bar on top of Helsinki Torni hotel.

How’s your week been? What have you done? What you have you read?
//Anastasia

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

 

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The Sunday Post #4: I Now Walk Into The Wild

So another week has passed! How’s your week been? I finally got some reading done. This week I read 5 books:  Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy #2) by Stephen King: Slow at first and then everything happened at once. Stephen King does not let you down. I’m looking forward to reading the third part of Bill Hodges trilogy. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab: Darker kind of fantasy and I really missed that ♥ Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor & Tribe: We Need You To Lead Us by Seth Godin .Below two of my reviews on Goodreads. Click here to befriend me on Goodreads :) or you can follow me too … as I am terrible at writing proper reviews on my blog.

Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Strange, dreamy and utterly beautiful book. If you thought that Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy was wonderful, you know nothing.

 

Into the WildInto the Wild by Jon Krakauer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What drives a young man to abandon everything and to go into the Alaskan wilderness. Krakauer tries to tackle that question in his book Into the Wild. It’s a story of Chris McCandless who went into the Alaskan wilderness when he was 23 years old and never returned. Eventually, his body was found in a converted bus.For quite some time I was wondering if it really was necessary to turn that article into 200 pages long book. I had trouble concentrating on reading this because of that thinking. I have reached the conclusion that it was necessary to turn that article into a book. I think what is captivating about this book is the conflict. Many of us live unhappy lives and never do anything to change anything about their lives. Into the Wild is perhaps extreme example how life can be changed but there lies the core message of the book. Make the changes. Don’t settle, walk into the wild.

On the blog I reviewed: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

I went to movies thrice this week. Seriously thrice. Should I start a movie blog?  I saw: War for the Planet of Apes, Spider-Man: Homecoming & Baywatch. War for the Planet of Apes: I think the title is a bit misleading. After the events of the previous movie…can we really call it a war? But the movie was epic. I don’t know how else to describe it. Apes riding horses on the beach. Apes in some giant castles. Apes carrying machine guns. Apes talking. That was all very entertaining. It was a sadder movie, however, I’m hoping there will be a sequel trilogy as I’m not ready to let go … Spider-Man: Homecoming: Silliest Marvel movie ever. I loved the lighter tone of this movie. It’s different to any Spider-Man movies before this, different in a good way. I liked this one a lot and there were pretty good plot twists. Baywatch: Ah, Priyanka Chopra is just gorgeous ♥  Even if her character was kind of the bad…and what happened to her in the end. And Dwayne Johnson ♥ I have an issue with developing instant crush on tall men and I can tell immediately who is tall and who is not on screen…I think I liked Johnson more than Efron o.O Anyways Baywatch was a lot of fun & it is the perfect summer movie. I warmly recommend it!

I did some shopping. Look at my Mini Deadpool and Awesome Mix Vol. 2 ♥♥♥ Then I spent plenty of time outside just bicycling around the city. Good weather has FINALLY arrived in Helsinki.

What have you done? What you have you read?
//Anastasia

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

 

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How-To Walk The Yellow Brick Road

“There is no place like home.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children’s novel written by author L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. It was first published in 1900. Book consists of twenty-four chapters that tell the story of Dorothy’s arrival in Oz and her adventures in that magical country.

A tornado picks up Dorothy Gale’s house and carries it all the way from Kansas to the land of Oz. Dorothy’s house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, crushing her. The Munchinks (people dressed in blue , group of the Queerest people Dorothy had ever seen)  give Dorothy the witch’s prized silver slippers as thanks for freeing them from the Wicked Witch. They also advise Dorothy to seek out the Wizard of Oz who has the power to send her home. On the way to the Emerald City, Dorothy befriends Scarecrow, Woodman, and Cowardly Lion. They all seem to want something from the wizard.

“You have plenty of courage, I am sure,” answered Oz. “All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

It’s somehow hard to believe that it’s already been 117 years since this was first published. It’s a story that has lasted time very well. I love Baum’s imagination and how he came up with this. Characters are pretty cool. And they have these very simple flaws or wants. Dorothy wants to go home,  the Tin Man wants a heart,  the Scarecrow wants a brain and the Lion wants courage.

“Oh, I see;” said the Tin Woodman. “But, after all, brains are not the best things in the world.”
Have you any?” enquired the Scarecrow.
No, my head is quite empty,” answered the Woodman; “but once I had brains, and a heart also; so, having tried them both, I should much rather have a heart.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

3,5 stars/5.  This might seem like a low rating and it’s not. I do like the whole series actually, however this was somehow too light and cute for me.

“Oh – You’re a very bad man!”
Oh, no my dear. I’m a very good man. I’m just a very bad Wizard.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

How- To Read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
1.
If you like fairytales in general and like Alice in Wonderland and haven’t read this yet, then I warmly recommend this to you.
2.
In case you liked this, there’s plenty of more.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the first part in Oz Series which consists of 14 books.
3.
This is quite short, just a little over 150 pages. Perfect for younger readers :) You can find WWoO for free on Project Gutenberg as an e-book.
4.
I reviewed Peter Pan on my blog a while ago and I remember writing about how sad it is. With The Wonderful Wizard of Oz the case is the opposite. It’s almost too happy.
5.
In case you haven’t heard Judy Garland yet: Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Have you read this? Thoughts?

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The Sunday Post #3: I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure

“I’m selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”
― Marilyn Monroe

Okay. So I have a feeling that my blog consists of these Sunday Posts…I promise you’ll get better content soon!

Books I read this week. I managed to finish three books:  Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us  by Daniel H.Pink, The Killing Lessons (Valerie Hart, #1) by Saul Black: I mean imagine a thriller with not just one but two serial killers…so this was pretty good book. And then the highlight of my week: The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli. As for  so many of us, Marilyn Monroe has always been a huge icon for me. My mother always adored Marilyn and that’s how, I think, I ended up seeing all of her films when I was a kid. I knew Marilyn Monroe had a tragic life, however I never realized the extent of it before reading Taraborrelli’s book. This book made me appreciate her career so much more. And also I ended up re-watching her film ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’.

“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
― Marilyn Monroe

 

 

Otherwise, it was quite quiet week. I visited National Library of Finland and that was amazing, then I visited Cat Café in Helsinki called ‘Helkatti’ with an old classmate and then on Friday we had this farewell dinner party for some colleagues  at a very nice restaurant.

How’s your week been? What have you been reading? What’s your favorite movie with  Marilyn Monroe?

//Anastasia

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

The Sunday Post 16: Breaking Night

Hey peeps, how was your week?

Mine was good, I finished two books: 21 Lessons for the 21 Century by Yuval Noah Harari and Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. Review of the first book is up and the second one is hopefully coming out soon.

I’ve also been listening to Breaking Night on Audible. It’s inspiring and heartbreaking biography about a young woman who at age fifteen was living on the streets, and who eventually made it into Harvard. Breaking Night is urban slang for staying up through the night, until the sun rises

The book saddens me because kids shouldn’t suffer. The innocence of handful of years should be protected at whatever cost.

Other than that, I haven’t been up to much. I think I’m feeling a bit melancholic… Sometimes I’m out with friends having a good time and I go back sone years and think oh this is what it should’ve felt like. It’s as if before I didn’t live the happy moments as deeply as now and also it’s like oh this is what people do. Anyway… September is here. How did it creep up on us so slowly … And ah we finally get Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks 😍

I’ve been writing sad poems on Wattpad if you want to follow me.

Finished watching La Casa de Papel on Netflix. So good… recommend me something new? Also watched Destination Wedding, very cute in a way.

What have you done? Read? Bought? Watched?

//Anastasia

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

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