Sunday, April 27, 2014

[Dewey's]: End of Event Meme

Which hour was most daunting for you?
There wasn't none because I'm not hard core enough - instead of battling through 24 hours, I read very slowly, watched a movie and had 7 glorious hours of sleep. But I think that's the way for me to go, I wouldn't want to be zombie because of a reading event for the whole following week (I do feel a bit zombie now simply because I went to bed some hours later than usually).
Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Not naming titles, I think it doesn't matter as long as you enjoy your selections, but there is some truth in "short matters" when it comes to reading intensely for hours in a row :) Also for the later hours of the readathon one might want to consider something "lighter", maybe nothing from heavy classics or on rocket science...
Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Not really, it seems to be working fine.
What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
Well, it's quite obvious - Twitter, aslo the official readathon page was very helpful with hourly updates! Great job there.
How many books did you read?
I finished one and then started another one, so I'd say 1.25 books.
What were the names of the books you read?
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows) and Andeka kingsepa surm (Smrt talentovaneho ševce in Czech) (Vaclav Erben).
Which book did you enjoy most?
I haven't finished one yet, but I enjoyed Guernsey a great deal - it's a good pick for bookworms and those who are interested in war-time literature.
Which did you enjoy least?
I'm not able to answer this question
If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I'm very likely to take part again, given that life does not get in the way. I am very low key though, so will probably remain reader.

[Dewey's]: Update #3

I've got so many updates! *tries not to hyperventilate* I finished a book - I doubt I will finish another one, but I am very much pleased. I am a slow reader, apparently, and also very easily distracted. Last night Jan lured me to watch a movie instead of reading, and I don't even watch movies that often, so no idea where that went wrong... It was Crank with Jason Statham - one of those flicks where you feel like getting a bit dumber by each passing minute:p At midnight and after hours of reading, parts of it were hilarious though.

Even though I loved yesterday's snack dinner, I am very much ready to return my somewhat healthier food choices :p
Time: 12.05 pm local time
Hours read so far: no idea, maybe 12 or so.
Books read from: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Books finished: 1
Pages read: 270? I think.
Feeling: awesome! I slept like 7 hours :)
Misc: I will pick up another book, although I doubt I will finish anything else.

[Dewey's]: Book Jenga Challenge

This is my favourite challenge, and the only one I will be taking part of this time around (I wasn't planning to do any, but I cannot resist a little bit of book architecture...)
The challenge is hosted by Ellie at Curiosity killed the bookworm, go check it out if you like, there is time to take part until the end of the readathon.
Here's my attempt from last year - I can definitely see some progress.
I was quite ambitious this time around and used 24 books altogether, making sure I don't double any (directly on top of each other or standing with whole covers touching). The first attempt failed before I could take a photo - there was a major collapse of books that led Robert to flee under the bed. The second attempt was a lot better, though (key ingredient - I removed that slippery dust jacket from Bernadette - it's all in details, people). Jan helped as well (mostly by leading the cat troops) and all in all we had a lot of fun building the book tower.

Here's my official entry. All nice and neat.

This is where it all started going horribly wrong...
Let's take a moment to admire how cat-resistant
this book tower is.

Aand the collapse of the mighty fort...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

[Dewey's]: Update #2

Definitely one of the highlights of the #readathon so far.

Time: 11 pm local time
Hours read so far: 8
Books read from: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Pages read: 60% on Kindle.
Feeling: still excellent, though a tiny bit sleepy - I'm not gonna fight it, if I get really sleepy, I will just go to sleep. I ain't no trooper, and health comes first, and yadda yadda. Whether I will set an alarm remains to be seen.
Misc: a photo misc:

When Robert realised I'm getting a bit sleepy, he insisted on reading out loud from Kindle :)

[Dewey's]: Update #1

Time: 7 pm local time
Hours read so far: 4
Books read from: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Pages read: no idea, but I'm at 38% on Kindle.
Feeling: great!
Misc: I'm enjoying the book - it's an epistolary novel, you guys! And not the half-ass one like Bernadette* (though I very much love me some Bernadette), but it seems to be written only in letters and telegrams. There is a doppelganger of Drusilla Clack** in this book, how I miss good old Miss Clack and her preachy patronising antics! I have been wondering over the title of this book for ages, and now I finally know how and why it got to be.
* Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
** From The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

[Dewey's]: Kick-off Meme and Snack Special

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Helsinki, Finland, Europe. The weather is sunny, 12 degrees of Celsius.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
Ella Minnow Pea and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
Why so difficult questions! Is it supposed to be informative answer, or a random little fact, like ... that I never, ever go to bed with make up on? :p Hi, I'm Riv, I live in Helsinki with my fiancé and two furballs... that sounds like the About Me section.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
I participated in October, but didn't have a ton of time to read, so this time I have made myself free of all obligations, filled the apartment with food and caffeine, and ready to tackle the books. What I'm most looking forward to is the snacks! (See below.)
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

To Estelle, and all you other snack lovers out there :)
Snack Special!
Snacks are almost as important part of Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon as books, right? Right??? Here's what I have for myself for those moments I feel like om-nom-nomming on something :)
Beverages: regular coffee (with milk and honey); Pommac - a Finnish soft drink, which ain't as sweet as most of your other fizzy ones; apple-carrot juice from a farm in Estonia - my favourite; hot chocolate with Daim; regular water, which I flavour with lemon or strawberries.
Fruit (there ain't many things in life I love better than fruit...): oranges, apples, grapes, bananas, avocados, strawberries.
Misc: garlic cheese rye bread balls - a Finnish snack I haven't tried; ranch flavoured potato chips (haven't had those for a while, I kinda eat healthy nowadays, but when else to indulge if not today...), Camembert cheese (can't wait, honestly... - I think this is one's my answer to the question of which I am most looking forward to), candy! of Finnish variety.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

I couldn't resist the pressure and signed up for Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon, which takes place this Saturday, which means TOMORROW!

Now, going back to autumn 2013, which was so far my first and last attempt at Dewey's - it was a memorable failure. Though I had all the best plans in the world to spend all the time reading, it didn't happen because we went out in the evening, came back really late, I was hungover in the morning... So this time, no plans to socialise this weekend, there will be me and the books (and the snacks).
Okay in all seriousness, I know I won't be reading for 24 hours. I will make an attempt to read a lot more than usual, but I know that I can't just read, and do nothing else, I'm a restless person like that. I have to have the time to do go outside if I feel like, or work out if I feel like, or take a nap or play with cats, or play some Diablo 3 with Jan. Or have a good night's sleep. I am already this age (:p) when one all-nighter means not one or two but possibly near a whole week of messed up energy rhythms, so even though I love to read, I'm not going to do that to my body.
Since I live in Helsinki, the readathon starts 3 pm for me, which is just fine because it means I have time to do get some stuff done with in the morning. Though I will probably go snack hunting already today. And I get to read on Sunday morning as well, which is, again, just fine.
Here is my tentative Dewey's TBR list (the books I'm planning to choose from):

I don't read graphic novels (which seems to be the bread and butter during readathons), so I just tried to find a variety of various genres, and books that are kinda short-ish:
On Kindle:
* Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn (very short)
* Breaking Stalin's Nose, Eugene Yelchin (very short)
* The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows (very short)
* What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami - non-fiction, currently reading
* Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen - a short classic
* Andeka kingsepa surm, Vaclav Erben - a Czech mystery
* Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - book I am currently reading (though I don't think it's best readathon material)
* Red Seas Under Red Skies, Scott Lynch - fantasy
* The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley
* Karlsson stories, Astrid Lindgren - children's n+th re-read (the book's literally falling apart)
Are you taking part as well? See you tomorrow!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bout of Books: 10

It's gonna be Bout of Books time again in May! Last spring it was my first time to participate and this must be one of my favourite reading events.

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 12th and runs through Sunday, May 18th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 10 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Honour by Elif Shafak

Honour has been sitting on my bookshelf for the longest time and for some reason I never felt the urge to pick it up until adding it as part of my TBR Pile Challenge 2014 - and was pleasantly surprised.
This is a story of a Turkish family moving to London. Cultures, personalities and beliefs collapse hard.
If London were a confection, it would be a butterscotch toffee - rich, intense and traditional. Istanbul, however, would be a chewy black-cherry liquorice - a mixture of conflicting tastes, capable of turning the sour into sweet and the sweet into sour. /p. 75/
The book covers plenty of tough topics (violence, alcohol and gambling addiction, mistreatment of women, racism, for example), and in that sense it is not an easy or pleasant read. It is one of those books I personally appreciate because it is so thought provoking.
For example - what does it mean if you are part of a family that lives by tradition and past, but where one or two elder family members go and break those traditions? How would it be for an elder son of such family if father left? Iskender is very young, yet he finds himself in situation where his life is full of conclict between different cultures, his father has left and mother has been seen with another man - what is he to do? Iskender feels the responsibility and expectations of immediate and extended family. He does not make a good choice, but it's not possible to hate him for it, I think.
I thought long and hard about the quote
Not everyone would understand this, but their honour was all that some men had in this world. /p. 153/
It made me grind teeth to think that in some cultures honour might be more valuable that human feelings or human life. This quote says "some men" not "some people". It feels like under the slogan of honour, performing violent and abusive acts would be justified.
All in all, that book made me feel very lucky and very privileged. To live in the world where I do not have to think about arranged marriage, where the sole purpose of my life is not serving men. To be able to make my own decisions, to live my life the way I want. To not be a target of racist comments. But even so, it is important to acknowledge that not all of us are in such position.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Snippets #18 - the new books edition

It's raining, and it's very windy. And I've slept away my neck in the way that I can now barely move it from side to side. So that means I have plenty of time to read, and post - it's the second post in two days! Instead of the regular Sunday Snippets, in which I ramble over my boring life, I decided to show some of the new book loot Jan and I have received lately (in the past 3 weeks or so). This week there was one of those huge sale campaigns in a department store here in Helsinki and they usually have pretty good book sales as well. Last year I only got a few books, but this year's selection was so good I could have easily walked away with, maybe 15 or even more books. Good thing I wasn't on my own...
From top to bottom:
* In One Person, John Irving - even though I've only read one John Irving book, I've been tempted to buy more from him. I have The Cider House Rules on my Kindle, and this one I found from the book sale. I rated A Prayer for Owen Meany with four stars last summer, but honestly, more than once I've thought of going and changing it to a fiver...
* The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Eugenides - I haven't read anything by Eugenides yet (zomg I know), so why I bought this book I have no idea. I have Middlesex as well and I intend to get to that one in May. Sam from Tiny Library recently published a nice review on The Marriage Plot, go check it out.
* Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I was surprised to see this one on sale because Adichie is enjoying quite a bit of literary sunshine right now with her Americanah shortlisted for Women's Prize this year. I had to get it.
* The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver - Barbara Kingsolver has become one of those authors who I like but don't quite love (The Flight Behavior and The Poisonwood Bible were both four out of five for me). But if I find her book with a good price, I will definitely get it.
* The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov - this book was on sale, and Jan had to buy it. Basically I forced him. (I would have gladly lent my own... only it's in Estonian.) And he has already started reading it so, great success.
*Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson - that one I got for full price, but who cares - the copy is gorgeous. I am not a fan of photo-covers, but this one is really good looking. Here:
Ok, the photo quality is crap, and in reality the cover looks a lot better, so you just have to take my word for it - the book's friggin gorgeous looking. After Life After Life came first in my own personal TOP of best books from 2013, I knew I had to read more by Kate Atkinson, but had no idea where to start from. I think it was Ellie who recommended me to start with this one, and I can't wait.
* Number9dream, David Mitchell - so after both Jan and I had finished The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, we sat down and went through the online book shops and picked out our next David Mitchell book, which is this one. The story once again goes to Japan, and in my mind there really is a little better in the world than a top-notch word master using the setting I love a lot. Can't wait.
* Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll - guys, they had a bunch of Penguin clothbound classics on sale. And if there's a book cover lover person in this family, it's definitely Jan. I swear he likes the fanciest covers in the bookshop :p I didn't buy any of those myself because let's be honest, I have most of them on my Kindle and for perfectly free, but I didn't fight back when he wanted to buy this (and the next one). They will look pretty next to my own clothbounds on the bookshelf. Plus I'm not sure I ever even read Through the Looking Glass, and this one is illustrated.
* The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde - this may be my favourite cover design among the Penguin clothbounds. I read it while back and remember loving it, but I want to re-read it for the Classics Club anyway.

Have you read any of those books, what did you think? Are some of those in your TBR lists/mountains as well?


On general bookish update, I finished American Gods! And didn't like it. Took me 1.5 months to finish this book. It would have been maybe edible if it hadn't been almost 600 pages. Neil Gaiman is not for me and I don't intend to try any of his other books (I had lots of problems with Neverwhere as well). Right now I'm reading Nana by Émile Zola and Honour by Elif Shafak. I noticed it's difficult to get into Nana, which makes me a bit sad because Germinal was such a shiny star read for me last year, then again it's hard to write better book than Germinal so I shouldn't get my hopes that high... Honour was longlisted for Women's Prize last year, and I'm enjoying it quite a bit. It's a story about Turkish people and some of them moving to London, with chapters presented in mixed-up timeline, which I always enjoy.
Hope you're all having a lovely weekend!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Most Influential Books in My Life

I've seen this post around in blogs lately, though I think I saw it for the first time in Booktube. I am not sure whether and where it originates from, but some bloggers who have done it lately are, for example, Jillian at Random Ramblings, Adam at Roof Beam Reader and Rayna at Libereading.
The most influential books are not necessarily your favourite books of all time, although mine mostly are because I don't feel like the books I didn't enjoy affected me all that much.
I think the idea behind this post is to simply list the books and offer no explanation why they are so important, but I'm going to cheat a bit here for the sake of clarification. For example, I have an anthology in Estonian in the list, which without explanation says exactly zero things to 99% of my blog audience. I also picked the books that I haven't read for the first time in the past, say, 5 years, because although I have no doubt that one of David Mitchell books may take one of the positions in this TOP10 some day, it hasn't been through my own personal test of time yet.
The books are listed in alphabetical order and with Estonian title, if I read it in my native language for the first time. I currently own seven of these books, the rest three I either lent from the library or are at my mum's house, somewhere.
1. American Psycho (Ameerika psühhopaat) by Bret Easton Ellis - the book that taught me to look through blood and violence and to appreciate the idea behind. The lesson I still appreciate today, and not only when it comes to books.
2. Lilled Algernonile - published in 1976 in Soviet Estonia, this book was probably the closest thing in many years for Estonians to get a good glimpse at sci-fi and fantasy that came from the western world. The impact that Lilled Algernonile has had on me and so many others cannot be underestimated. The title is that of Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon, which was the story that affected me the most out of all the others in this book. Other authors represented in this anthology are Isaac Asimov, Brian Aldiss, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Marshall King, Clifford Simak, Poul Anderson, Robert Sheckley, Murray Leinster and Theodore Sturgeon.
3. The Fellowship of the Ring (Sõrmuse vennaskond) by J.R.R. Tolkien - no comments needed here.
4. The Martian Chronicles (Marsi kroonikad) by Ray Bradbury - my first Bradbury book. Among other fantastic values it has, The Martian Chronicles also taught me that you should not lend out your favourite books to random people - I gave it to my ex's brother to read, and never got my old, tattered, Estonian copy with an ugly cover back. I now own a copy in English, but it ain't the same :)
5. Martin Eden (Martin Eden) by Jack London - this book is fantastic, with 4.30 average rating on Goodreads and during my 1+ years of blogging, I don't think I've seen any blogger mention it. I am not a fan of London's White Fang, but this book made me open it 5 am each morning for about a week and read before I went to work.
6. The Master and Margarita (Meister ja Margarita) by Mikhail Bulgakov - dare I say this book is underrated as well? Interestingly, after my first read in high school, I didn't think much of it (clearly the intellectual abilities of my brain were not quite there yet...), but the following reads proved me so wrong. This book is so funny, so intellectual, so fantastic, so sarcastic, so many things. Read The Master and Margarita, people.
7. My Family and Other Animals (Minu pere ja muud loomad) by Gerald Durrell - one of my childhood favourites, which I probably read a few times every summer. Every time it ended with a tummy ache because laughing can do serious miracles to your abs. I also felt connected to Durrell for his infinite love for all things living, be it big animals or small insects. The way he describes life with his crazy family on a Greek island is utterly enjoyable.
8. Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami - though not my favourite Haruki Murakami book, it was good enough to make me want to read *counts* six other novels by him. Murakami is the only author so far who has made me believe that a character sittin' by the kitchen table, sippin' beer, or then, chopping vegetables on the counter are the most fascinating bits of story ever created.
9. The Sound and the Fury (Hälin ja raev) by William Faulkner - the brightest memory I have from American Lit courses in uni. I'd probably hate it if I had to read it alone and not be able to discuss with teacher and the others, but alas this was not the case; we took this book apart from cover to cover and it was so good.
10. The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Olemise talumatu kergus) by Milan Kundera - probably the most poetic non-verse novel I've read. Full of vague plot and extremely flawed characters. I could have easily written down half of this book in quotes.  Kundera also taught me to despise the kitsch.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Closing the lid of March - an exceptional reading month

Yesterday Jan took a look at my blog and said that I haven't posted in three weeks. It's a sad truth and I'm a major slacker. Moving on though, March was an awesome reading month - all the books I read I rated 4 or 5 out of five. Yep! I don't think this has happened before. (If I had managed to finish American Gods this wouldn't have happened! But I didn't finish.) I also read two books in Estonian, which is good since I tend to forget some words in my native tongue already - not cool.

* Ready Player One by Ernest Cline -5/5
* The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell - 5/5
I can now say David Mitchell is one of my favourite authors. If I had to say what was better, this or Cloud Atlas, I'd have real hard time deciding. I already have next book by him that I plan to read - Number9dream. It's also pretty cool that both Jan and I love Mitchell books and it's nice to discuss stuff and share the opinions.
* Timuka tütar by Indrek Hargla - 5/5
Indrek Hargla is an Estonian author who started out writing fantasy, but the books I've read by him are from this series of medieval mystery. The main character is druggist Melchior Wakenstede, who helps to catch crooks in old Tallinn around 1400s. It's funny and a treat for everyone who knows Tallinn Old Town fairly well because all the locations are very recognisable (I lived in Tallinn over 10 years before I moved to Helsinki). The direct translation of the title would be "Daughter of the Hangman" or something like that.
* Burial Rites by Hannah Kent - 4/5
Very solid debut by Hannah Kent, although I didn't find it quite as mindblowing as some other people. It did take me to the midst of cold and cruel Icelanding landscapes, though. Ending felt a bit abrupt.
* The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury - 5/5 (re-read)
Since this is one of my favourite books of all time, rating it is kinda pointless.
* Bullerby lapsed by Astrid Lindgren - 5/5 (re-read)
My favourite book from the childhood. I must have read this book maybe 30+ times.
* Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - 4/5
I think this is the kind of book that meets the goal it sets. It's an easy read and in that light it is quite well done. I am glad I tried a Rainbow Rowell book, but it's unlikely I will be reading anything else by her because this is just not the kind of literature I prefer most of the time (like... 95% of the time). I did give it high rating though because rating it lower just because I am not that fond of the genre would be a bit weird. A very decent poolside read (if you are the kind of person who likes hanging out by the pool, that is - I ain't.)
* Something Rotten (Thursday Next #4) by Jasper Fforde - 4/5
Thursday Next kicking ass once again. It doesn't get maximum points though because even though it was a very fun ride, I missed inclusion of such hilarious literary characters as there were in past (Miss Havisham!). I mean Hamlet's okay but okay ain't exceptional. I am curious of how this series is going to go on now because several loose threads were tied in this book and from what I've heard, some pretty big changes are going to take place in future books.
I don't think we watched any movies this month - the story of my life...* There are a few things though that are going to be in Finnish movie theatres soon that I definitely want to see - The Grand Budapest Hotel and Miyazaki's latest treat The Wind Rises (Kaze tachinu).

Edit: I remember now that we did watch a movie in the beginning of the month - Blade Runner (1982). I am very fascinated with everything AI-related and this film was overall very atmospheric, very well done. Though when I heard the film music at first (Vangelis - it's just so recognisable you don't even need to check it) it felt a bit odd but I think it matched well with the movie. I'm curious to read Dick's novel as well since from what I've heard, it's hugely different from the movie (not sure the movie can even be called an adaptation).