Blog Archive

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Reader's block

I do not know if it's a thing but that's just what I call it. That feeling when you want to read but just can't get yourself to do it. Or it takes weeks, even months to finish a book that's actually good but you just don't have the motivation to read. That's how it's been for me for the past few years. Which is partly why I joined the Reading challenge.

As a kid I pretented to write and read my own books when I didn't know how to do either. I was just excited to be a part of that magical journey that is a book. In elementary school, inspired by my friend, I started bringing a book with me and reading it during recess. I've usually had a book with me ever since where ever I go. Bus rides used to be my favourite reading time. Something about the way the bus moved and having your own little nook made it really peaceful. During high school I read about 100 books a year. How I managed that with all the school work, friends and other hobbies I do not know. Lately it's been a struggle to read 12 books a year.

When I joined HelMet reading challenge last year I was hoping to finish it. 1 book a week, most of them with a theme I wouldn't normally choose so I would have to be very open minded. I was hoping it would get me out of my reading rut. It did in a sense. I never finished the challenge but I did read 44 / 50 books I put as my goal on Goodreads. I got so busy before Christmas that I fell of the wagon but I'm still happy about how many I actually read.

Looking back I endured reading quite a few books that just weren't for me. Like all of Immortal instruments. I can see why teens would love it but it was a struggle for me to get through them. Same with the very first book of the year which talked about Finland's former president's hunting and fishing trips sprinkled with some politics. I'm glad it had so many pictures as I was not interested in how many and how big fish Kekkonen got during these trips. Especially when he apparently lied in his notes.

It wasn't all bad though. Michael Crichton books I read were great. Same with Stephen King as always. I even finally read Planet of the apes. I'm not sure what my reading journey looks like this year after I'm done with Potter books but I'm hoping it tops last year.

Happy reading everyone!

Saturday, 6 January 2018

New year, new books

Acording to Goodreads I read 44 books last year. I fell short 6 books of my goal but I don't even mind. I mostly just wanted to read more and I achieved that goal. I gave up fitting books to the Helmet reading challenge and have no idea how many I actually read for it. I decided to give the challenge another go and combine it with a second challenge.

Here is a link to Helmet reading challenge if you want to start the journey with me. It has the list in Finnish and English so more people can join.

The second challenge is simple and I'm hoping I can combine it with Helmet but if not it shouldn't be a huge problem. Simply read one book a month from your own bookshelves that you haven't read yet. Every year I buy few dozen new books and rarely actually read them as I'm just overwhelmed. Even clearing up 12 books this year would help a bit.

I'm almost finished with my first book of the year, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's stone. I haven't read Potter books since they came out so figured I'd re-read them. I'm sure the reading experience will be different after all these years. First book also fits Helmet challenge as the one that starts a book series so that is a nice bonus.

Any challenges you are taking part this year? Or maybe you just have a reading goal? I hope everyone has a great year with some lovely books!

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

So in Goodreads this is said about Jurassic Park "A billionaire has created a technique to clone dinosaurs. From the DNA that his crack team of scientists extract, he is able to grow the dinosaurs in his laboratories and lock them away on an island behind electric fences, creating a sort of theme park. He asks a group of scientists from several different fields to come and view the park, but something goes terribly wrong when a worker on the island turns traitor and shuts down the power. " Just in case you have lived under a rock and have never seen the movies. If not, what are you waiting for?

I'm just going to get this out of the way because I'm slightly embarrassed. The 13th Warrior is one of my favourite movies ever. I don't even know how many times I watched it with a friend but I enjoyed it immensely. Same friend told me it's based on a book by Michael Crichton. Same friend knew Michael has also written Jurassic Park books. I feel like I've lived under a rock. This year has definitely been a year of literary discovery.

I loved this book. I adore the movies but the book was even better. It reminded me of the time when I was a kid and just obsessed with dinosaurs. I would borrow all the dinosaur books from the library, I would learn names and everything I can about these fascinating beings. It is even said in the book that kids have easier time learning the names because of just how passionate they are. How curious they are.

The book was definitely more scientific than the movie was and that is understandable. How many people would be fascinated to hear about chaos theory or any mathematic theories that Malcolm obsseses about. Or learning about possible eating habits, nesting habits or pondering how intelligent dinosaurs actually were when you can have dinosaurs eating people. It might sound boring to some but it sucked me in. Made me think how much of it was actually solid science and if all the facts about dinosaurs were true. Maybe it's just because I'm curious but I was happy the book wasn't just about evil dinosaurs wrecking apart the park.

There were cruesome parts of course. People did die and their deaths weren't exactly peaceful. I was rooting for some of them which did make me feel evil but also gleefully happy. The way some of the attacks were written just made my skin crawl because I could see it happen like I was a part of it. I would of been terrified. I wouldn't have survived let's be honest.

Only time I wasn't too happy to be reading was when the little sister of Tim (who knows everything about dinosaurs and computers apparently) was just whining and being irritating. I love kids but it got on my nerves. Which of course was pretty realistic. Not everyone can be super smart geniuses with a love for dinosaurs. Some prefer sports and find dinosaurs boring. Which boggles my mind if I'm honest.

Overall Jurassic Park is one of my favourite books this year. If you love the movies and haven't read this one yet I'd recommend it. It does have around 500 pages so it's not the quickest read but it's worth it in my opinion. Unless I'm the last person on Earth to have not read this book before now. This is is my 3rd book from Crichton I've read so far and I'm excited to read more.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Risteily by Mats Strandberg

This is the first book I'm talking about here without English translation. As far as I know it's only available in Finnish and Swedish right now. It makes sense as the Cruise is a booze cruise between Finland and Sweden.

My friend gave me this to read and told me not to read the back of it. Just go blindly in. She hated this so much she wanted to share it I guess. According to her there was nothing good about the characters or even the story but she still read the 500 pages in one setting. I was worried but intrigued to get into Risteily. All I knew was something bad was going to happen since the cover has blood all over it.

Book starts off by introducing the cruise goers. Every chapter is named after a character it talks about and this is the theme for the entire book. First we have Marianne who used to be married, have kids and a job but who is now lonely. Cruise is the biggest thing to happen to her in a long time. We have Albin who goes to cruise with his family, his mother is in a wheelchair which is utilized somewhat in the plot. There's couples, best friends, people working at the cruise, all just focusing on this one night trip of alcohol and karaoke.

If you're ever gone to a cruise like this then you already know these characters. I felt like I was in the boat with them. None of them really jumped out at me, I didn't really care for any of them. I'm not a booze cruise fan so the stereotypical cruise people aren't my type of tea.

At first everything goes fine. You get to know a little about everyone when they arrive at the boat. Even the karaoke guy is fleshed out since he used to be a somewhat known singer who still has middle-aged fans, mostly women. I have to admit I struggled at this point. It just wasn't interesting to me.

I am not going to spoil what happens in the cruise, what the bloodbath is about. It does start relatively fast around page 85 and it involves a child. They always do, don't they? Horror and creepy children go hand in hand. As soon as the kid was mentioned I knew something bad was going to happen.I was right. The way this was written was oddly sexual and it creeped me out. I took a screenie of the creepy passage and send it to my friend asking "Really?" and she just laughed "I told you it was bad!" She was right.

The plot after that just sped up incredibly. Bad things started to happen everywhere and it felt like the book was on steroids. Sadly a lot of it was written in the same describing way, even using the practically same sentences. It really didn't help make the story appealing to me. I don't think I've ever read horror where I'm not scared at all but just laugh and don't even care if everyone dies. I just finished Stephen King's book and that made me tear up in the end. Cruise? Not so much. I thought books were supposed to make you care for the people, especially if they are in danger.

To my surprise goodreads have a lot of 4-5 positive reviews for Risteily. Some are even horrified and claim they aren't going to a cruise for a long time. Makes me wonder if we read the same book. If Risteily is ever translated to your language , give it a go if you are into ridiculous plot with boring characters. Lets you enjoy the chaos when you aren't rooting for anyone to survive.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Fablehaven #1 by Brandon Mull

"For centuries mystical creatures of all description were gathered into a hidden refuge called Fablehaven to prevent their extinction. The sanctuary survives today as one of the last strongholds of true magic. Enchanting? Absolutely. Exciting? You bet. Safe? Well, actually, quite the opposite.

Kendra and her brother, Seth, have no idea that their grandfather is the current caretaker of Fablehaven. Inside the gated woods, ancient laws keep relative order among greedy trolls, mischievous satyrs, plotting witches, spiteful imps, and jealous fairies. However, when the rules get broken -- Seth is a bit too curious and reckless for his own good -- powerful forces of evil are unleashed, and Kendra and her brother face the greatest challenge of their lives. To save their family, Fablehaven, and perhaps even the world, Kendra and Seth must find the courage to do what they fear most." 

I think Fablehaven series was the first books Mull has written but I could be wrong. The world reminds me of Harry Potter with all the fantastic beasts it has. Some I've heard of and some were completely new. I loved the fairies and they had a part in pretty much every book. Each book provides new creatures and people you get to know. Story expandes through 5 books so if you are looking for a series to spend your time with then maybe check your local library for Fablehaven.

I read the 5 books back to back. I liked them but didn't love them. Seth was constantly reckles and causing trouble which caused me to figuratively bang my head on my desk. I related with Kendra probably because I don't like breaking rules. I'd be excited to meet all the new creatures though, even zombies. My issue was that 3/4 of the books were kind of a slow read for me. The last 100 pages I practically swallowed. Not everyone has the patience for that which is understandable. The writing was fine but it wasn't really nothing special. I'm glad I read these but I'm not sure I'd want to re-read them. Characters were kinda one dimensional and only few really grew on me. I was a little sad when I was finished but I didn't feel empty, like I do after an amazing book.

I was surprised how dark the series got. It is aimed for younger people but it doesn't shy away from death or betrayal. First book teaches you what happens to fallen fairies and it is not pretty. The insident also made me dislike Seth. I think he gets off way too easily considering what his role is in these books. I have very low tolerance for characters who's only job is to rebel and never listen. All in all character growth seemed a little weak over all. I guess I'd say the experience was mediocre. If arpund 500 or more pages per book doesn't scare you and you feel like you've read everything, Fablehaven can provide some nice afternoons. Just don't expect it to change your world the way Harry Potter or Lord of the rings did.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Kizuna Coast: A Rei Shimura Mystery

The Kizuna Coast is the latest book in the Rei Shimura series.

From Goodreads:
"When an earthquake triggers a tsunami that floods Japan's northeast coast, amateur sleuth Rei Shimura is pushed into her most rugged adventure yet.
It starts with an SOS from Rei's beloved elderly friend, the antiques dealer Mr. Ishida, who's trapped among thousands on the ravaged Tohoku coast. Rei rushes from Hawaii to blacked-out Tokyo, where she discovers Ishida Antiques may have been burglarized and its cuddly watchdog, Hachiko, needs a caregiver.
Rei and Hachiko board a bus full of disaster volunteers headed to the damaged town of Sugihama. Once there, they learn about the disappearance during the tsunami of Mr. Ishida's antiques apprentice, Mayumi, a troubled young woman from a famous lacquer-making family.
Making use of her volunteer friends, as well as her knowledge of Japanese manners and antiques, Rei investigates Mayumi's suspicious disappearance. Complicating the situation is a police force overwhelmed by counting the dead, and a stalker who's set his or her own sights on Rei." 

Sujata Massey was done with Rei Shimura's character after Shimura trouble but when the tsunami hit Japan's coast she knew she had to bring Rei back. It's been years after the supposed end of the series but it feels like coming home. Still, this book feels different than it's predecessors, just in a good way. Eventhough there is a mystery to solve I feel like it focuses on the catasthropy itself a lot more and explores how it effected not just the country, but the people. It worked for me. I loved the new people we meet and get to know. I have missed Mr.Ishida though and I'm so happy he had quite a big part in the story.

I've read these books since a friend introduced me to them in the high school and I remember falling in love with Rei immediately, trying to borrow all Shimura books at once. I've been on this journey for over 10 years. With Kizuna Coast I realised my tastes have changed, I've changed.I used to love Rei's romancies because she wasn't definied by a man she was dating. Reading this though, I couldn't shake the feeling of being annoyed. As much as I love Rei and her husband, Michael, I feel weird when they express jealousy. I'm not sure if it's a cultural thing or if I just lack that trait but after reading the last two Shimura books I realised how big of a deal it can be. It causes situations where Michael acts possessively and Rei irrationally and it just makes me very uncomfortable. I wouldn't tolerate their actions for long personally.

Over all I really liked this book. It was a quick read as always since I just get sucked into the story , meaning I had a hard time putting the book down. For some it's probably not as good as the adventures before but I enjoyed the change of pace . Of course it has those moments where plot requires suspense of belief because things are solved with amazingly convenient events. I don't think anyone reads Rei Shimura for it's complicated and realistic plots but because of the characters, the ambiance and knowledge of new things the books share with us. Learning about antiques, history and customs have always been a draw for me when it comes to our lovely adventurer. I'm not sure if Sujata Massey has planned on continuing this story or if this was officially final book but either way I'm happy with how it ended. I think I'll look for her other works for now.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

This is not the first book I've read this year but it is the first interesting one I'd say. The girl who loved Tom Gordon is the first book I remember reading from Stephen King and I absolutely loved it. When I saw it at the bookfair last year I knew I had to get it. It fits perfectly in the reading challenge as well since we are meant to read a book from someone who has written over 20 books.

This is the blurb from Goodreads "Nine-year-old Trisha McFarland strays from the path while she and her recently divorced mother and brother take a hike along a branch of the Appalachian Trail. Lost for days, wandering farther and farther astray, Trisha has only her portable radio for comfort. A huge fan of Tom Gordon, a Boston Red Sox relief pitcher, she listens to baseball games and fantasizes that her hero will save her. Nature isn't her only adversary, though - something dangerous may be tracking Trisha through the dark woods. "

Just to get this out of the way, there was something in the beginning that annoyed me. When Trisha realised she was getting lost, she didn't turn back. Why? Wouldn't it be safer? She does so many things right later on that this just baffled me. I guess there wouldn't be a book if she had been smarter but still.

I like this book because you can basically choose to believe there is something supernatural in the woods with Trisha or you can try to logic it out. If you aren't a big fan of supernatural books but are still curious about King then I'd say this is the book for you. It does get rather gross if you are faint of heart but it didn't really bother me. After all she is just a little girl doing her best to survive all by herself. There's no public bathrooms in the middle of forests. I read afterwards that everything she eats in the forest is actually something you can find in real life at that time of the year. Even more if you know your plants.

I think I like this book partly because I can relate to the girl. If I were lost with little food and all I had was radio I could only listen to every once in a while to save battery, I'd turn to my imagination as well. I wouldn't be surprised if I conjured a person to keep me company while I try to find the way out. I am not a sports fan and know nothing of Boston Red Sox but parts about Tom Gordon were still entertaining to me. Also I learned he is a real person so I guess I learned a lot while reading this. Only sad part was that I remembered how the supernatural part turned out so it wasn't a surprise for me but I still enjoyed the athmosphere.

The book itself is a quick read so I will probably keep going back to it once I forget most of the storyline. It's a curse and blessing because I can enjoy reading my favourite books over and over again. It seems that The girl who loved Tom Gordon is either liked or hated. It divides people for some reason. Which makes me curious, have you read it and what were your thoughts on it? I would recommend at least giving it a try.