Tuesday, August 27, 2013

R.I.P. VIII reading event

It's almost autumn! My favourite season. And I feel it's time for some season-appropriate reading. I read about R.I.P VIII event in Ekaterina's blog and instantly felt that I want to join in!
The event is hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings; visit this post to learn more about the event (and possibly join in). The event takes place during September and October. We read from the following genres:
Dark Fantasy.
Or anything sufficiently moody that shares a kinship with the above.
My list of things I plan to read:
1. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James - 126 p; also for Classics Club
2. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - 508 p
3. Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson - 703 p
4. Dracula by Bram Stoker - 402 p; also for Classics Club
5. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes from The Penguin Complete Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle - 174 p; also for Classics Club
6. The Shadow Over Innsmouth from Great Tales of Horror by H.P. Lovecraft - 52 p (a novella)
There are several categories of participation available; I guess my goal and list put me in Peril the First box (read four books).

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sunday Snippets #8 (on Monday)

From my childhood home.
I've been slacking with my Sunday posts mainly because I am lazy and don't get anything done. The fact that I am on vacation has little to do with it; in fact, if anything, I should get more posts up because of all the time I don't have to slave off working :p
Today started the last week of my summer holiday, I will be back to work next Tuesday (how I love it is not Monday this time - it's so nice to have that extra day in the beginning of a week). It has been a nice holiday, full of mainly just lazing around but also going to places and doing stuff.
Right in the beginning of the holiday the boyfriend and I visited a music festival here in Helsinki for a day, and it was an awesome day. I haven't been to many festivals mainly because those around here tend to take place in the middle of nowhere and I hate tents with passion, but this one was in the middle of the city, so yay.
It started raining on Monday and it rained straight through the first four days of the summer holidays, so that meant a lot of staying in and playing a computer game and reading.
Also, our Mammucat fell ill right before the start of the holidays, which meant we had to start treatment combined of pills twice a day, washing her hears once a day and putting some ear medicine into ears twice a day, so that pretty much meant that longer trips will not happen. She feels better now and we will go for a check-up to the vet tomorrow afternoon.
A solitary Mammu :)
A week ago we did visit my parents in Estonia, for about three days. Many of my relatives visited during the same weekend and it was nice to catch up with all my cousins. We returned with a big suitcase full of food, mainly from my mother's garden and greenhouse. Plus a big batch of chanterelles we picked from the forest - I love mushroom picking! And my dad is a pro and knows all the best mushroom places. In fact, one year I gifted him a huge bright yellow ceramic chanterelle for birthday. He loves mushroom picking.
This last Friday we took a small train trip to another town here in Finland, we started this tradition last year and both trips were very nice. We saw an awesome medieval church, an awesome museum are that consisted of a small wooden town of different buildings from past - like houses of leather makers, tobacco makers, bakery, string instrument maker, smith, etc. etc. In some houses people dressed in appropriate clothes were still working on the crafts and this place was awesome. We spent so long there that we didn't make it on time to the main tourist attraction of the town, an old castle. So we just admired that from outside. We also had a quite extravagant 3-course lunch in one of Finland's oldest restaurants, and had in total 4 hours in trains - and I am obsessed with trains. One year I told my boyfriend I want nothing else for birthday gift than a train ride. I got a pile of gifts, plus a train ride, so nothing to complain about. Anyway, back to food, after eating we spent an hour in a totally empty park; the boyfriend took a nap on one bench and I read on the other. Pretty much a perfect day based on my standards.
Glove maker's apartments.
On the town streets, there were plenty of visitors and this was the only
shot I got with only people with time-appropriate clothes on.
String instrument maker. I played violin for 9 years myself,
so this room I loved specifically.

In the front of reading, it has been slow but steady. I finished Mansfield Park for Austen in August event - so proud I actually managed to finish a book during the event! At parents, I organised all my childhood books and brought back some 10 or so that I want to read. These are such comfort reads, I've read three of them already. I am thinking I should do a post about my childhood reads, because being from non-English language environment (not to mention a post-Soviet country), my reading material as a child was very different from most I have read in other blogs. I made a post of the huge pile of books I got almost for free on Thursday, and I started A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, which I am reading now. It has been an odd experience in the way that being almost half-way through (and it's 600+ page one), I have absolutely no idea whether I like it or not. I realise it basically depends on the later parts of the book what I will think about it in the end. So it's exciting!
Robert's idea of a comfortable sleeping position?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

C_Club #9: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (Austen in August reading event)

After having finished my second Jane Austen novel, I am willing to take back all the prejudices that I used to have towards her and feel confident to say that I will intend to read all her bigger works - at first I only added two books to my Classics Club (CC) list and now I have read them both and can safely say I've not yet had enough of Jane Austen. It's no "chick lit of the past times", as I mistakenly thought. She was clearly a clever and eloquent woman.
I had heard of Mansfield Park as being the most boring and "meh" out of Austen's six biggest novels, and that was partly why this was the book I added to my CC list. I deliberately did not add the more popular ones, knowing that if I did like what I read from the two more controversial ones, I would get to the more popular ones anyway.
My guess is that the reasons why people are not that into Mansfield Park lie in characters and the pacing of the story. It is a slow roller, that is true, the romance is not that "in your face", and there are parts that can bore some people (for example, the whole fussing around with the play, which took several chapters). I personally am not disturbed by slower stories, maybe even quite the contrary.
When it comes to characters, and specifically the character of the female heroine Fanny, I actually liked her a lot more than I think I will like girls from Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility or Emma. I liked Fanny's quiet ways; she was almost invisible most of the time, but she had her values that she did not trade for anything. I think the mistake that is easy to make here is taking quieter personality for spinelessness. Fanny has a spine, and I would actually tip my hat to her (if I was wearing one) for what I think is her great survivability instinct. Here's what I mean: in the age of a child, Fanny was sent away from home, to live with relatives. Even if it was better for her, no-one asked whether she liked it or even, what she thought of it. In the family there were the children, and then there was Fanny, often an object of oppression and basically free workforce. I guess what I am trying to say is that Fanny never had the home field advantage, and in such situation, I think it's wiser to lay low and see how it goes, rather than show a lot of personality.
Illustrations from
One can probably claim that Fanny is a bit boring in the sense that she is not noticeably strong heroine, but I disagree; Fanny, like many others, is a character similar to those we meet in life, and not everyone of us is always vastly unique, original, witty, snarky, et cetera. Life is full of different characters, some more outstanding than others, and although I certainly can value a very strong female character (think Marian Halcombe from The Woman in White), I am a bit disturbed by the fact that it is the characters with lots of extravagance that get most attention. I am a quiet, modest person myself, although with a lot of spine and stubborness ;), and I guess a part of me would like to think that in skilled writer's hands, a character like me would also form a (half) decent story.
In short, I did enjoy Mansfield Park, but partly because of low expectations to begin with; I am glad I am getting over my prejudices towards Austen, even though I know that she will never be my favourite author.
Here are few other reviews on Mansfield Park that I have recently read and liked:
* Thoughts: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen by Adam from Roof Beam Reader
* Mansfield Park by Jane Austen by Eszter from Anneish Imaginary Adventures
* Mansfield Park by Mary from bibliographic manifestations
* Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (Review) by Ekaterina from In My Book
* Mansfield Park by Jane Austen by Brona from Brona's Books
Austen in August is hosted by Adam at Roof Beam Reader.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

All the books I bought today

... or, how I felt like I just robbed a bookshop.

The bookshop near here, which sells used books, had a sale today - lots of books for half price. I bought 11 books, and boyfriend bought 6. For this lovely pile up here I paid 18 euros, which explains how I felt a bit like a criminal - most of these look like new or are in an extremely good condition.

From the top:

* Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction by J.D. Salinger - I don't have Holden-hate in me, and I devoured Salinger's Franny and Zooey, so continuing with his works is a natural progress. Love his Glass family dynamics and characters.
* The Turn of the Screw/Daisy Miller by Henry James - first of them is for my Classics Club list. This book is tiny! Perfect to carry around.
* A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving - there has been so much positive fuzz around it lately in the book blogs.
* A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - I haven't read anything by him and probably would never had purchased those books for full price; on the other hand, for 2 euros each, I figured I might look into this phenomenon.
* Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather - I haven't read any Cather so far, so I grabbed this slim volume.
* North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell - it's a Penguin Classics edition that looks brand new and I've wanted to read it anyway.
* The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.
* The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - oh, so long have I wanted to get my hands on this book, and now I did, for a ridiculous sum of money. Lovely edition.
* Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett - I want to read this! Leaving my cover whore out now, I have to say it's the prettiest of all the books I got today.
* Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James - it might just happen that I read this book before Pride and Prejudice :)
* Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy - this is a lovely hardcover edition, with illustrations - and it cost me 2 euros. Blasphemy :)

It was a successful day.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Closing the lid of June and July

Due to tumultous events and overall busy times, I missed my June recap post, so I will do a recap of two months now.
June-July 2013:
* R. Yancey "The 5th Wave"
* A. Tarttelin "Golden Boy"
* A.M. Homes "May We Be Forgiven"
* T. Gauld "You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack"
448 + 460 + 338 + 343 + 480 + 160 = 2229 pages in two months. Jetpack-book doesn't actually have page numbers (which I found so odd!), so I'm relying on Goodreads information here.
This month it's Austen in August, and also Bout of Books, which I still haven't decided on.
I'm currently reading Mansfield Park (2 chapters a day), and The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde - I think Thursday Next are my choice for the best summer read.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Snippets #7

I missed Sunday Snippets last weekend, mainly because I was just. so. tired after arriving from the amazing concert some vague time at night, with feet aching from standing and jumping around for hours.

But, it's a new week and I'm baack!

Weather has been nice, summery but not overly hot. For some reason, I have had this unexplainable craving for snow and Christmas lately; it's actually quite common that I get it in July, but this time it has been going on for a good week or so and I'm getting slightly concerned.

Bout of Books is approaching again and I see the sign-up posts popping up in my reader quite regularly, but I haven't decided yet. I will be on vacation during the Bout of Books, but I have no idea yet whether I will be at home or not, so it might happen that I won't have much online time. And also, pushing myself to reading a lot right now can be either a very good thing or a total disaster.
I won this from a giveaway. Very suitable comic strip to booklovers and overall nerdy people.
Tom Gauld on Tumblr.
I've been struggling majorly to pick a book to read. I have a few unfinished books from June, from the time my grandmother died - okay, I get it, they are at the moment associated to a very sad feeling so I'll wait a bit before I pick them up again. I tried The Prague Cemetery, but didn't get into it at all and it went back on the shelf. Finally, some Jasper Fforde books arrived in the mail, and I managed to finish Lost in a Good Book last night. Sooo good. Now I'm on the fence whether to continue with Thursday Next or to try Robin Hobb - I also started Ship of Magic and it was going really well, maybe I need this kind of escapade that fantasy literature can offer right now...
Mammu with a pair of my new shoes :)
Been watching:
Modern Family, Season 3 - watching with boyfriend, continually hilarious.
I finished Season 3 of Downton Abbey a few days ago and I am happy to be caught up with this one, though this season there were sooo many cases where I rolled my eyes, but oh well. It's a guilty pleasure, so eye-rolling is part of the business :)
Then, boyfriend and I went a bit more into House of Cards, Season 1 - a very well done series with some ridiculously good acting (Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright). I have a good feeling about this one.
Aand, I am weekly hooked to my guilty pleasure number 1 - Project Runway, Season 12. I can't comprehend the warm feelings towards this series myself because aside from that, I take interest in exactly zero other reality shows/contests/whatever, but I've seen and enjoyed every single season and episode of Project Runway, so yes. It's somewhat of a conundrum.

And here's a sight you one doesn't see every day, or to be more precise, almost never.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Austen in August Reading Event

It's Austen in August time! As the name suggests, this event is about reading Jane Austen (and texts related to Jane Austen) and it is hosted by Adam over at Roof Beam Reader (click here for master post).
I have "Mansfield Park" on my bookshelf, and I haven't read it, so why not? I read "Persuasion" earlier this year and totally didn't hate it (surprise!). I haven't read her other novels (yet? yet.)
I'll probably get to Austen in the second half of the month during my 3-week holiday from work.