Review: Animal Farm by George Orwell


Animal Farm is one of the most famous warnings ever written. Orwell’s immortal satire – ‘against Stalin’ as he wrote to his French translator – can be read on many levels. With its piercing clarity and deceptively simple style it is no surprise that this novel is required reading for schoolchildren and politicians alike. This fable of the steadfast horses Boxer and Clover, the opportunistic pigs Snowball and Napoleon, and the deafening choir of sheep remains as unparalleled masterpiece. One reviewer wrote: ‘In a hundred years’ time perhaps Animal Farm … may simply be a fairy story: today it is a fairy story with a good deal of point.’ Over sixty years on in the age of spin, it is more relevant than ever.

Probably one of the most referenced books in my circle of friends, I’ve heard a lot about this book. But for some reason I have never read it. Until now. And dear me, it was good. SO GOOD. However, lets start with the synopsis:

Animal Farm begins on a farm somewhere in England where the farmer, Mr. Jones, is a drunken, miserable old man who neglects his animals. The workers slacken and the animals starve. One night the old boar gathers the animals to hear a prophesy – a dream he has seen of a time when animals overcome the tyranny of humans. Depressed by their current conditions, the animals take well into this idea and an ideology of Animalism is established. The pigs – the intelligentsia – study the thought and teach its ideals to the other animals. Soon the Revolution of Animals takes place and the man is abolished from his farm. Manor Farm transforms into Animal Farm where all animals toil for the sake of common good, following the Seven Commandments set in the beginning of the Revolution. At first things look good for the animal community, but eventually things begin to change.

The book features a plethora of characters from intelligent pigs to working horses to masses of sheep. What I found ingenious was that the story is written as a fable, but what you essentially read is the story of the Soviet Revolution. Although the historical characters are never mentioned in the text itself, I could not read the book without picturing Stalin and Trotsky in the leading roles. The imagery was powerful – especially the sheep that drowned everything with their ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’ chant – and it must have made an impact at the time of its publication. Orwell’s satire hits the Soviet government as well as the British one. What Orwell presents in his book is a story that mimics the Soviet revolution but also the Western nations in their role as the humans. In essence, it stabs the cult of Stalin but does not glorify the actions of the Western nation states.My edition of the Animal Farm also included Orwell’s essay The Freedom of the Press which he originally wrote as a preface to the book. Orwell wrote this essay as a response to the publishing houses that turned down his book in fear that it would injure the relations between England and USSR.

I approached this book with high expectations, and luckily they were all fulfilled. It is a gripping story of power, suppression, politics and the relationship between leaders and the citizens. The book truly deserves its place on the classics shelf; it is also relatively easy to get through which makes it recommendable to almost everyone.




Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth (Divergent #1)


In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

I know I’m a little behind on this trend, but better late than never, right? Divergent was originally published in 2011, but I wasn’t familiar with this trilogy until last year when the final book in the trilogy was published. Since then I’ve mentally ticked it off as one of the ‘check this out later‘ books.

The story follows Beatrice (Tris) Prior who is 16 and lives in a society that has been divided in to factions – Candor (honesty), Abnegation (selflessness), Amity (kindness), Dauntless (courage), and Erudite (intelligence). Every faction has the traits and duties that define the position of its members. Different factions don’t usually mix which makes it common that people stay in their faction for their entire lives. However, at the age of 16, you get to choose your faction. Before choosing, there is a test that measures your suitability to each faction; nevertheless, the final choice is yours. Once the faction has been chosen, the initiates are trained to the task of the chosen faction – and if you fail, you become an outcast, a factionless.

I read this book in two days and found it very enjoyable. The plot was fast-paced and didn’t go too much into detail with the dystopian society. I did get a very acute deja vu of The Hunger Games, but that is purely because it was the last dystopian book that I’ve read. The book has some distinct dystopian elements, and though it is not my favourite genre, it usually makes me ponder about the society and humanity. That being said, I must agree with a few bloggers who have described it as a “potato-chip kind of book” (see Iris on Books). This basically mean that once you start reading, you feel the need to read more and more, until the very end. However, the story is forgettable and as a reader you move into the next book without too much thought.

Divergent is well-written and includes some great themes of finding yourself and belonging. The choices between what you believe in and your family and closest friends is a great theme which could have been explored more. The writing is very cinematic and I could picture the story as if it where a film – an action film, no doubt. However, for me the book felt at times a bit forced and predictable. I guess I would have liked more on the society and factions and less on the action and training. These will hopefully be explored more in the following books of the trilogy. What I would like to highlight in this book is the strong heroine, Tris. It was refreshing to have a strong, brave female protagonist, although I personally had some problems in connecting with her. Nevertheless, Divergent was entertaining and quick to read. I’d recommend to people who enjoy YA and dystopian books.


We’ve all started to put down the virtues of the other factions in the process of bolstering our own. I don’t want to do that. I want to be brave, and selfless, and smart, and kind, and honest.” He clears his throat. “I continually struggle with kindness.

Liebster Award


I was nominated for this award by Heather from Cook’s Reviews. The Liebster Award is to recognize fellow bloggers and to help others discover new blogs. I’ve seen this award in other blogs but I never thought it might someday be my turn, haha. I’m feel very honored.

The Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger that nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Display the award somewhere on your blog.
  3. List 11 facts about yourself.
  4. Answer 11 questions chosen by the blogger that nominated you.
  5. Come up with 11 new questions to ask your nominees.
  6. Nominate 5-11 blogs that you think deserve the award and who have less than 1,000 followers. (You may nominate blogs that have already received the award, but you cannot renominate the blog that nominated you.)
  7. Go to their blog and inform them that they’ve been nominated.

11 Facts about me

  • I used to hate coffee. My family drinks mostly tea, and I drank coffee only out of courtesy. I guess the turning point was the summer before university when I worked in a cafe and my co-worker used to make me amazing coffee drinks when we weren’t busy.
  • I have a younger brother. He reads mostly fantasy and science fiction, and was the one who introduced me to Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy.
  • I’m not a good cook. I enjoy baking but when it comes to cooking, I become lazy and mostly just make the same dishes again and again.
  • I’m ovo-lacto vegetarian which means I don’t eat animal products, dairy and eggs notwithstanding.
  • I’m quite shy in front of strangers and prefer to listen instead of talk.
  • I’ve always been good at languages. I started studying English when I was 10, German when I was 12 and Swedish when I was 14.
  • I’ve been on an InterRail twice and I absolutely love it. The first was in 2007 and the second in 2012. I love to travel by train and see the changing scenery, the infinite possibilities in choosing the route, and the freedom.
  • I hate to disappoint people.
  • Besides reading books, I love to read newspapers. I enjoy the small details of layout and style. Every time I travel abroad, I buy at least one newspaper and read it cover to cover.
  • When I was a kid, I dreamed of becoming a ballet dancer. However, I’ve never been to a ballet class.
  • My favourite composers are Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Joe Hisaishi, Yann Tiersen and Alexandre Desplat.

11 Questions from Heather

    1. What made you start blogging?
    I discovered Goodreads in April 2013 and it inspired me to keep track of what I was reading. Soon enough, I was reading more and more each month and feeling the need to write down and share my thoughts on the books. I started my blog in Tumblr but soon felt that it wasn’t the right platform for me. Switching to WordPress, I’ve discovered several amazing blogs and bloggers, and couldn’t be any happier.
    2. Which book (books) has been the most influential in your life?
    This is a hard question. There have been so many books that have changed me, and in different stages of my life. To name a few: Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery, Iiris rukka by Anni Swan (Finnish juvenile fiction from 1916), the Mirkka series by Tuija Lehtinen (also Finnish juvenile fiction, 1987-1996).
    3. If you could only choose one, who would your favorite book character be? Why?
    Hmm.. this is almost as bad as the previous one. I guess my favourite character would be Elizabeth Bennet. Despite her prejudice, she is witty and clever and has inspired several heroines. I admire her braveness.
    4. What is your favorite book series?/What is your favorite standalone?
    I think my favourite book series must be either the Harry Potter series (quite obvious, isn’t it?) or the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series (Funniest. Ever). I’ve been reading a lot of standalones lately, but my all-time favourite is North and South by Elisabeth Gaskell.
    5. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 5 books would you need to survive?
    North and South by Elisabeth Gaskell (favourite), Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (TBR), David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (TBR), Oxford, Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (weapon), The Bible.
    6. Do you prefer buying your books in stores or online?
    Store. I like to feel the book and read parts of it in store. And the fact that you can dive in immediately after paying for it.
    7. How do you choose to organize your bookshelf (by genre/author/size/color/etc.)?
    By colour and genre. I have dictionaries and academic journals on one shelf, classics on the other, big hardbacks on the third, etc. With in a shelf, the books are organized by colour.
    8. If you could have dinner with any author, who would it be and why?
    I guess this also includes authors that have already passed away? In that case, my choice would be J.R.R. Tolkien. I’d love to hear him explain how he built the Middle Earth and the Elvish language. The dinner would ultimately take place in The Eagle and Child in Oxford 🙂
    9. What is your favorite genre?
    10. What is your least favorite cliche?
    Insta-love. It just… ugh. I can deal with it if the story is well-written, but otherwise it’s a definite no-no.
    11. Do you enjoy background noise while you read or do you need silence?
    It depends. I like to read in coffee shops, but I find it hard to read when the television is on (especially if the language in the broadcast and the book are not the same).

11 Questions to nominees

  1. What are you reading right now?
  2. How do you choose the books that you read? Based on recommendation/review/cover/etc?
  3. How would you describe yourself as a reader?
  4. What is the book that you recommend to people most often?
  5. Do you have any genres that you hate/dislike?
  6. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 5 books would you need to survive?
  7. What was the last translated book that you read?
  8. Do you have a specific place where you read?
  9. What would you be doing if you weren’t reading?
  10. Which book (books) has influenced you the most?
  11. Do you sometimes fake that you’ve read a book that you actually haven’t?

My nominees

Review: Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf


On a June morning in 1923, Clarissa Dalloway, the glittering wife of a Member of Parliament, is preparing for a grand party that evening.

As she walks through London, buying flowers, observing life, her thoughts are in the past, and she remembers the time when she was as young as her own daughter Elizabeth; her romance with Peter Walsh, now recently returned from India; and the friends of her youth. elsewhere in London, Septimus Smith is being driven mad by shell shock. As the day draws to its end, his world and Clarissa’s collide in unexpected ways.

In Mrs. Dalloway Virginia Woolf perfected the interior monologue, and its lyricism and accessibility have made it one of her most popular novels.

Usually I begin my book reviews briefly describing what the book was about. However, this time I decided to do something slightly different. The main plot of the book is really in that blurb, so I will jump straight into my thoughts on the book. And as Mrs. Dalloway is said to be the book where “Woolf perfected the interior monologue”, I decided to describe the internal monologue that I had while reading this book. I won’t even try to imitate the amazing style with which Virginia Woolf writes, so don’t expect lyricism and semicolons. Here goes:

Beginning: Hmm… interesting. I kind of like this style. Needs some time to get into, but once you start going with the flow it gets easier. And the jumping perspectives, oh my. Is this really set in the Twenties? I keep picturing the characters dressed in Victorian fashion.

Halfway: I wonder where all these people fit into. Is she going to do like Dickens and tie all the strings together in the end. It is an awfully short book for that. And what will happen? The blurb in the back didn’t specify. Is he going to …?

End: OK, it is about time for something to happen – I’m living in suspense here! And the book is almost at an end. … Wait, what?! Just like that? Oh, okay. But what about the other one? … Why are you there? Where are you? Where is SHE? WHAT IS HAPPENING? CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN?!!

As you can probably tell, I was royally confused after reading the last paragraph. I felt like an elephant had gone by and I hadn’t seen a thing. It’s that nagging sense of not understanding something. So as I had no one to really talk to about it, I turned to the infinite source for all information: the Internet. I read a few discussion forums, blog posts, and notes on the book, and slowly started to understand the small details in this book. However, I still don’t get what happened in the end (maybe it’s just me). The fact that the ending confused me so much, dropped my rating slightly. In comparison to other books that I’ve read recently, this just didn’t live up to it.

I believe Mrs. Dalloway is required reading for most high-school students, and perhaps that is why it has a reputation of being difficult. I’ve heard several people say that her other works are better and easier to read. The overall style is something that people might struggle with, but in the end, you learn so much about writing through reading this. I definitely recommend you to at least give it a try (it’s only 190 pages).


He thought her beautiful, believed her impeccably wise; dreamed of her, wrote poems to her, which, ignoring the subject, she corrected in red ink.

Review: Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo

TAMMI, 2008/2000

From Goodreads:

Everyone has their rough nights, but things have clearly taken a turn for the surreal when Angel, a young photographer, finds a group of drunken teenagers in the courtyard of his apartment building, taunting a young troll. Trolls are known in Scandinavian mythology as wild beasts like the werewolf, but this troll is just a small, wounded creature. Angel decides to offer it a safe haven for the night. In the morning Angel thinks he dreamed it all. But he finds the troll alive, well, and drinking from his toilet. What does one do with a troll in the city?

Angel begins researching frantically. He searches the Internet, folklore, nature journals, and newspaper clippings, but his research doesn’t tell him that trolls exude pheromones that have a profound aphrodisiac effect on all those around him. As Angel’s life changes beyond recognition, it becomes clear that the troll is familiar with the man’s most forbidden feelings, and that it may take him across lines he never thought he’d cross. A novel of sparkling originality, Troll is a wry, peculiar, and beguiling story of nature and man’s relationship to wild things, and of the dark power of the wildness in ourselves.

Receiver of the 2000 Finlandia Prize, debut novel of the author, and generally recommended by readers, I must admit tha the blurb in the back didn’t particularly drawn me in. I’ve never been interested in trolls and my experience with Finnish science fiction has been like a wacky rollercoaster – not that good. Nevertheless, I bought this book in October when visiting the Helsinki Book Fair with good friend of mine. She highly recommended me to get the book and as it was cheap, it ended traveling home with me. And since then it has been sitting in the TBR pile.

I’m not going to lie: I started to read this book because it was the second shortest book in my March TBR pile. The Finnish version has abruptly 270 pages and the layout of the pages leaves a lot of white space making it a real page-turner.

This book, however, completely surprised me. I started reading it on Wednesday night and picked it up the next morning, finishing it before midday. The narration is a mixture of first person narration, long quotes of books (either real or fictional), and news articles (real articles adapted to the story). The articles and passages of books gave more insight on the impact that the discovery of trolls have had on the society. Besides following the life of Mikael, or Angel as he is referred to in the local lgtb scene, it features the perspectives of his former lovers. In fact, notwithstanding the mail-order bride living next door, all of the characters in this book had or had had a relationship with the main character. Which makes it quite odd.

The story reads easily, and can be read as a description of a man who finds a wild beast and brings it home. However, there are a lot of symbolism in the book and the Troll of the book could also stand for a lie, a secret. The book discusses themes such as humanity, love, freedom, and morality which all make it a highly interesting book with various interpretations. For me, the book had some a few faults, some of which can be forgiven in the name of style. The explicit sexuality did throw me off in some points, but in the end it didn’t bother me as much as I had expected. All-in-all, the story drew me in and I really enjoyed it.

The book has been translated into English under two titles: Troll: A Love Story and Not Before Sun Down (literal translation of the Finnish title). From what I gather, the book was published under the later title in the UK in 2003, but that the title was changed for the US market where it was published a year later. Personally I prefer the UK title but based on Goodreads, the US seems more popular. The translation of both version have been done by Herbert Lomas.


 I’ve locked him in here. I’ve tried to capture part of the forest, and now the forest has captured me.

For more reviews, go read A Striped Armchair‘s thoughts on the book here and Bookslut‘s here.

Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

VINTAGE, 2004/2003

A dazzling novel in the most untraditional fashion, this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare’s passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap, and it is Audrey Niffenegger’s cinematic storytelling that makes the novel’s unconventional chronology so vibrantly triumphant.

An enchanting debut and a spellbinding tale of fate and belief in the bonds of love, The Time Traveler’s Wife is destined to captivate readers for years to come.

The Time Traveler’s Wife is a book that follows two characters, Claire and Henry, who in the future/past are a couple. Henry involuntarily travels through time and space, and sometimes even meets his older/younger self on these travels. This was something that in the beginning of the book took a while to get my head around. The timeline of the story takes odd turns because of Henry’s “disease”, and it was sometimes hard to grasp how the sequence of events connect to each other. However, after the first chapters it gets easier as you get into the story. Although the story revolves around how the couple work their relationship around the unpredictability of Henry’s life, the main story is still about two people coming together.

Already half way through the book, I knew it would end up on my favourites shelf. It just had everything: originality, love, pain, and relatable as well as oddball characters. There were a few side characters that were plain, but the ones in the core of the story were well-developed and interesting – instead of characters they felt like people. The main characters are naturally explored more as the narration switches between their perspectives.

I started reading this book when I was bedridden for the second time in a month and it was definitely a right book for the right mood. I won’t reveal much of the ending but I can tell you that the book is a rollercoaster of feelings that range from happiness and joy to heartbreak. The writing is colourful and emotional with beautiful sentences that make you stop and re-read the previous passage. One thing, however, I would change in this book and that is sex. I mean, it isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey or anything, but there’s a lot of sex in this book. I understand that it is a natural part of every relationship, but for some reason it took me completely unawares. Or maybe it’s just that the overall mood of the book was so tranquil that the bursts of passion and violence really stood out. In which case I applaude you, Ms. Niffenegger.

The Time Traveler’s Wife was made into a movie in 2009 (staring Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana) and after reading the book, I’m interested to see how they adapt it to screen. Might even do a short movie review once I get round to watching it. In the meantime, I definitely recommend that you read this book if you haven’t already done so. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea but that’s how these things go.


Maybe I’m dreaming you. Maybe you’re dreaming me; maybe we only exist in each other’s dreams and every morning when we wake up we forget all about each other.

January-February Book haul

It’s book haul time!

After my last book haul in December, I planned to go easy on the book buying. But sometimes the books find you, not the other way round. The first three books in this haul I got in January (around the same time I did my library haul post), but because there were only three, I didn’t feel that it was enough for a book haul post. But come February and my birthday, the amount of books quickly grew from 3 to 10!

The first of the three books is Forty Years On and Other Plays by Alan Bennett. I picked this up from the book exchange shelf that our department has at the university. Alan Bennett is one of my all time favourite comedians and playwrights, and this collection contains some of his earlier plays. I’m currently reading this and it is absolutely fabulous!

The next two books I found on sale in a bookstore, and they are both in Finnish. Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow by Peter Høeg is actually a Finnish translation of a Danish book. I’ve read a small excerpt of this in school and thought then that the premise of the book was interesting. It tells of a boy who goes missing and his neighbour, Ms Smilla, who starts looking for him after seeing his footprints in the snow. It is crime fiction but the book also explores the differences between Danish and Greenlanders, and the problems that the Greenland immigrants face in Denmark.

Huojuva talo by Maria Jotuni is a piece of Finnish fiction that is set in the time of the World War I. Based on the description, the book is a dark tale of marriage, evil, and cruelty in relationships. It is said to be very dark and, to be honest, I’m a bit daunted by the premise. However, it’s again something that I haven’t read before and might turn out to be very interesting reading experience. Sometimes it’s good to step outside the comfort zone.

Behold the glorious box set of A Song of Ice and Fire! I read the first book, A Game of Thrones back in October and was just stunned by the sheer amount of detail and work that has gone to the book series. However, these books are massive and require a time and place to be read. I initially borrowed my library copy of the first book in July and kept re-loaning it until October. This, however, is not very nice for the other readers, so I’m now happy to own all of the ASOIAF books so that I can read them when I want wherever I want. The Clash of Kings is not on my March TBR, but it will happen sometime this spring!

The other two books I got in February are Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and Dial M for Murdoch by Tom Watson and Martin Hickman. I’ve never read anything by Virginia Woolf and as Mrs. Dalloway is on my ultimate TBR list, I didn’t hesitate to buy this copy of the book – it was only two euros! Dial M for Murdoch deals with the scandal that surfaced in 2011 when the widespread corruption of the News of the World empire was revealed. During my exchange in England in 2012, the debate on press regulation was a hot topic and I’ve actually read 20 odd pages of the Leveson report. It’s a fascinating topic and I look forward to reading this book.

So this is all for my first book haul of the year. Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what were your thoughts on them. Cheers! x

February Reads and March Plans

February – the shortest month of the year, but also my favourite month. It’s the month of my birthday and usually the time when, instead of constant darkness, the sun breaks though and all is bright and white. However, this year February was clouded by two bouts of cold along with stress from university and student organisation duties. Nevertheless, I had a fairly good reading month with 6 books that rated on average 4/5 stars. I’m actually surprised by how much I read as many of the books this month were almost 500 pages. Blogwise the month was pretty quiet and I ended up posting only 3 reviews along with a Valentine’s post of Top 5 Literary Couples.

Books read in February:

During my first bout of cold, I was reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. The book, however, required too much thought and energy so I ended up putting it aside. Instead, I read Hipster Hitler, a comic my boyfriend had bought in Berlin last year. I read it in German which added an extra flair to the text and although some of the jokes were lost on me, there were some pretty funny ones. I read it in one day and gave it 3/5 stars in Goodreads.

After that, I continued reading Rebecca and finished it a couple days later. I very much enjoyed the book and the story, but it didn’t hold my attention as much as it could have. I found the narrator odd and occasionally annoying, but in the end I read the last 100 pages in one sitting. The afterword opened my eyes to another perspective on the story and left me pondering on the importance of introductions and afterwords when reading classics. 4/5 stars.

My birthday was in the beginning of the month, but it was only at the end of February that I received my bookish present – the box set of all the (published) A Song of Ice and Fire books. It’s something I had been considering to buy and I’m overjoyed to finally have it. However, I don’t know when I’ll get started on the second book The Clash of Kings as it is 969 pages.

Books on my March TBR:

  • Forty Years On and Other Plays by Alan Bennett (currently-reading)
  • On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  • Missä kuljimme kerran by Kjell Westö (Finnish)
  • Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo
  • The Egyptian by Mika Waltari (This book is a beast, though)

In February, I also started using Literally which is a new site for readers. It’s a bit similar to Goodreads and still a beta version, but it seems really fun and I’m liking it very much. So if anyone of you is using Literally, feel free to add me: To join, you need an invite code – I have two extra, so leave a comment if you’re interested.

Cheers! x