Review: Moby-Dick, or The Whale by Herman Melville


“It is the horrible texture of a fabric that should be woven of ships’ cables and hawsers. A Polar wind blows through it, and birds of prey hover over it.”

So Melville wrote of his masterpiece, one of the greatest works of imaginations in literary history. In part, Moby-Dick is the story of an eerily compelling madman pursuing an unholy war against a creature as vast and dangerous and unknowable as the sea itself. But more than just a novel of adventure, more than an encyclopaedia of whaling lore and legend, the book can be seen as part of its author’s lifelong meditation on America. Written with wonderfully redemptive humour, Moby-Dick is also a profound inquiry into character, faith, and the nature of perception.

In the beginning of June I announced that I would take part in the Moby-Dick: A Whale of a Read-along hosted by Roof Beam Reader. The plan of this read-along was to read the book in one and a half months, but for me it took two months of on-and-off reading to finally finish Moby-Dick.

Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is essentially a story about a whaling quest. The narrator, Ishmael, is looking for a new adventure and recruits himself to a whaling boat called Pequod. Before enlisting on this ship, Ishmael befriends an experienced whaler and pagan aborigine, Queequeg, with whom they set on their whaling journey under captain Ahab. However, Ahab has a quest of his own – to hunt down the whale that took his leg, Moby-Dick. The book is part adventure, part whaling encyclopedia, and part moral pondering.

Moby-Dick is considered by some as the greatest American novel ever written, and although I might not completely agree with this sentiment, I must however admit that it is an epic read. The plot is often interrupted by long chapters of cetology (study of whales) or descriptions of whaling practices or insights to the lives of the crew members. As much as I enjoyed these, there were several occasions that I hoped to get back into the quest itself. Ishmael presents whales as god-like creatures that are surrounded by mystery and that no man has been able to fully understand. In addition, Moby-Dick is filled with numerous allusions to Bible which makes it a very intertextual read. But beside whales, the book studies also the human nature through the crew of Pequod.

I enjoyed several parts of the book, but it also reminded me of Mrs. Dalloway in the sense that I had a feeling that I didn’t completely understand what was happening or what was referenced. I had read Melville before (Bartleby, The Scrivener) and I knew his writing style was eccentric and prone to getting a bit off tangent. However, I did enjoy his insights on life and death, tolerance and the double standards that are used in placing man above everything else. The characters in Moby-Dick are definitely memorable and for that, I’d definitely recommend you read Moby-Dick. It is a challenging book, but there is  a reason why it is part of the canon. For more thoughts on Moby-Dick, check out also Fariba’s review.


There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own.

Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood


Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She has only one function: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither Offred’s nor that of the two men on which her future hangs.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale is both a superlative exercise in science fiction and a profoundly felt moral story’ – Angela Carter

Perhaps considered as a modern classic, The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel centering around a first-generation handmaid. Set in the future, the USA has transformed into the Republic of Gilead where the society has taken a step back to the past. The birth rate of the society is low, so the government has issued handmaid’s to aid women who cannot give birth. The protagonist of the story, Offred, is defined by her body and evaluated by her ability to breed. The women in her position are powerless and invisible, but still despised by the wives. For the men, they are merely objects of reproduction and desire.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a powerful book without there being much action. The narration is subdued, almost like the handmaid itself, and this silence speaks louder than the actual events of the book – it makes the oppression feel truly suffocating. What makes the book so unique and relatable is the fact that Offred had been “one of us”; she has experienced the change from one system to another and suffered the loss of freedom. Atwood uses the phrase “Context is all” frequently to highlight how even the smallest everyday actions can carry meanings. The narration of the novel has a jumping timeline so that as the story progresses, we also get a glimpse of how the society transformed.

Though the overall story of The Handmaid’s Tale was not entirely my cup of tea, I definitely want to read more Atwood. Her writing is simply stunning and I was highly impressed by this novel. It explored the society and human kind deeply and profoundly as well as discussed the status of women throughout history. It is definitely “not your stereotypical dystopian book” like MarlinElina said. Marlin posted a great video where she discusses the thoughts raised by this book, and I highly recommend that you watch it (it contains some spoilers, though). I was also recommended to watch the movie adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale by Alexandra from Diverses et Avariées, so I might do a separate post about movie adaptations as I have quite a few I want to discuss.

To conclude my review, I can say I highly recommend The Handmaid’s Tale – especially to people who enjoy reading dystopian books.


“But remember that forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold or bestow it is a power, perhaps the greatest.
Maybe none of this is about control. Maybe it isn’t really about who can own whom, who can do what to whom and get away with it, even as far as death. Maybe it isn’t about who can sit and who has to kneel or stand or lie down, legs spread open. Maybe it’s about who can do what to whom and be forgiven for it. Never tell me it amounts to the same thing.”

Review: Letters from Klara and Other Stories by Tove Jansson

WSOY, 1991

Disclaimer: This book has, unfortunately, not been translated into English. Thus all the excerpts here have been translated by yours truly.

Kitty raised her hand and asked in a baby voice: Teacher, teacher! Can we play the game where one goes outside and then the rest tell the truth? – No, she is not inebriated, Eva thought to herself. She’s upset. What am I to do now..?

Tove Jansson explores the complicated games and relationships between people in her short story collection Letters from Klara and Other Stories. In her stories a group of middle-aged women try to regain their youthful vigor in a class reunion, and a young art student runs away from people without ever connecting with them. The eponymous short story, Letters from Klara, showcases the vast variety of different relationships and how a simple letter can reveal so much not only of the sender, but also of the receiver.

Letters to Klara and Other Stories is Tove Jansson’s second to last short story collection, and it was published in 1991. In a way this book could also be considered as her last original collection as her final book – The Winter Book – is more of a combination of previously published short stories along with a few unpublished ones. As I mentioned in my Tove100 update, I wanted to delve into Jansson’s later works, and it definitely paid off. Not to say that her earlier works are in anyway inferior, but this collection truly displayed Jansson’s talent of writing refined stories. The plethora of different characters in different stages of life displays Jansson’s writing at its best.

Letters to Klara and Other Stories contains an interesting mixture of characters ranging from stubborn independent child (not unlike Sophia in The Summer Book) to middle-aged men to elderly people who’ve seen and experienced it all. Reading the short stories, I could see connections to her previous works and I think Letters to Klara and Other Stories summed up many of the great qualities of Jansson’s writing. My favourite short stories must have been In the summer, Pirate rum, Lily pond and Trip to Riviera. However, there were some that did not resonate with me as much as the others. I’ve noticed that this is fairly common in the case of short story collections, and it definitely makes rating them harder. On one hand, I want to rate the stories I loved high, but one the other hand, I have to look at the collection as one entity.

All in all, I adore Jansson’s writing, her insights to life and relationships, as well as the life experience that is translated to the pages of her novels. Her writing and the stories all appear so easy and genuine. I’d definitely recommend this as one of my favourite Tove Jansson short story collections so far. Such a shame it hasn’t been translated.



May-July Book Haul

Hello, dear readers!

It has been a while since my last book haul. Life’s been busy and thus there has not been a lot of time or money for book shopping. However, I’ve managed to collect 7 books in the span of about 2 months which, to be fair, is quite a number. This means I have been buying 1.14 books per week – and with this pace I would buy 59.4 books a year. Yikes. Luckily for me (and my bank account), my book buying tends to happen in small spurts. Below you’ll see a small overview of the books I’m going to show in this post.

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The first three books were bought during my trip to Berlin. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Tess of d’Urbervilles were found from a quaint little English bookshop/library called Another Country. I also saw Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go on the shelves, but unfortunately it was for library use only. Soul Kitchen I picked up from a used books street vendor – of which there were a lot of – because one of my goals in Berlin was to get some modern German literature . Most of the books that I’ve read in German have all been translations so I thought it’s time that I read something that has originally been written in German. I’ve actually seen the movie a few years back, so I hope that the book is as good – if not better – as the movie.


Also in the end of May I received a review copy of The Jedi Doth Return from Quirk Books. I’ve already read and reviewed the series and I can truly say that though science fiction isn’t really my genre, I am happy that I read these books. Simply the inclusion of different references to Shakespeare’s works makes it worth the read. The covers for this series are beautiful as well as the books themselves – the surface of the hardcover books have been made to resemble worn leather and the endpapers have lovely colours.

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After Berlin, I decided to focus more on reading books I already own as well as getting some library books read. The last three books have in fact all been acquired in the short period of two weeks. I received Silent House from my mother who had picked it up for travel reading for her trip to Czech Republic. After a few chapteres, she decided it wasn’t her cup of tea and asked if I would like to have it – of course I said yes. I don’t know much about the book itself but the author Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2006. Kiinalainen puutarha (eng. The Chinese Garden) I picked up from my summer cottage because I have read some praising reviews, and have wanted to get my hands on a copy.


And finally, A Tale of Two Cities. I seem to accumulate more Dickens than I can read, but I’m staying positive that reading one Dickens a year will get help me conquer all of them – eventually. I actually spotted this book in a charity shop already in the beginning of May, but left it there because I knew I wouldn’t get to it anytime soon. Nevertheless, the fact that it was only 2 euros stayed in the back of my head. So imagine my surprise when I visit the same shop two months later and the book is still there – now only 1 euro. I’m a sucker for bargain classics.

That was it. Hopefully there won’t be another haul until September. Let me know in the comments which of the books you own or have read, and what you thought of them. Cheers!

Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike #1)

SPHERE, 2013

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and call in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his life in in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves in to the young model’s complex world, the darker things get and the closer he gets to terrible danger…

A gripping elegant mystery steeped in the atmosphere of London – from the hushed streets of Mayfair to the backstreet pubs of the East End to the bustle of Soho – The Cuckoo’s Calling is a remarkable book. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

I’ve lately been on a crime kick – This is the Water, And Then There Were None, The Snow White -trilogy, etc. Crime novels just seem like the perfect read for sunny summer days and thus The Cuckoo’s Calling seemed to fit right in. The release of the second book, The Silkworm, has inspired many bloggers to read the first one, and it is interesting to see how differently people view this book. Some love it and some don’t like it at all.

The Cuckoo’s Calling centers around a private detective Cormoran Strike whose life is currently a mess. He has just broken up with his fiancée, his business is going down and he sleeps in his office. Thus when a temporary secretary Robin walks into the office, she meets a grumbly, slightly overweight employer who’s ready to give up. Luckily for Cormoran, in walks also a client who wants him to investigate the death of her super model sister. Turns out that besides being a good secretary, Robin has a knack for detecting and the two start unraveling the mystery of Luna Landry.

This book was not my first “adult Rowling” as I have read and reviewed The Casual Vacancy here in my blog. What I enjoyed in The Cuckoo’s Calling was the tight mystery plot – there are a lot of jumbled clues that all seem to point at different suspects. The book is a real page-turner, and made me stay up late on several nights. However, I was a disappointed by how cliché the main characters were. Rowling crafts her characters well, and both of the main characters are likeable and have personality. But he is the archetype of crime novels: dark, brooding, lonely, Sherlock Holmes type of mastermind, whereas his sidekick Robin is young, unknowingly beautiful and surprisingly good in a job she has never done before. The quantity of the different clues confuse the reader, and though I did not guess who the killer was, the ending wasn’t mind-blowing. In addition, I appreciate book titles that reveal their secret once you’ve read the book, but in this case I can’t see any meaning behind it.

In short, I liked the story and the mystery, but I expected more from the author. However, this is only my personal opinion. I know many people who love this book and I am still planning on reading The Silkworm, just maybe not in the near future (I ran into a big spoiler). So if you are already interested in the book, do read it.


“It’s an illness,” she said, although she made the words sound like “it’s uh nillness.”

Nillness, thought Strike, for a second distracted. He had slept badly. Nillness, that was where Lula Landry had gone, and where all of them, he and Rochelle included, were headed.

Review: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank


From Goodreads: Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.

In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, they and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annex” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death.

In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and amusing, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

I only want to be a teenager.” These are the words of a 13-year of Anne Frank whose diary was published after WWII as The Diary of a Young Girl. Anne is Jewish and lives in Amsterdam, but is rather typical teenager. Naturally there are restrictions on what Jew can and cannot do, but you are still allowed to walk outside, have suitors and laugh with your friends. However, soon after beginning her diary, Anne’s father announces that they have to go to hiding. Anne’s family moves into a secret annex – small attic rooms above an office building. They share the rooms with the van Daan family as well as few others Jews, and as the misery continues, the relationships in the annex are put to test.

Anne Frank’s diary dates from June 1942 to August 1944, before the secret annex was discovered and it’s habitats shipped to concentration camps. Anne’s father, Otto Frank, was the only survivor of the Frank family, and after the war he came to possession of Anne’s diary. What first began as harmless confessions of a teenage girl was transformed by the war and the hiding, and one of Anne’s wishes was to publish her diary after the war. Otto Frank decided to fulfill his daughters wish, and The Diary of a Young Girl was published in 1947.

This is one of the books that should not be forgotten, so moving is the true story behind it. It projects hope against hope that things would turn out well and that there would be a better future after the war. It has its depressing moments, but for the most part, it reflects the thoughts of a girl and a young woman. It’s not the greatest piece of literature, but it covers several issues that were considered highly controversial in the 1940s. I did not love Anne, but I felt for her, and I found her inner musings very insightful and mature for her age. I definitely recommend that you pick this up, if you already haven’t.


People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn’t stop you from having your own opinion.

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award


Exciting news! I have been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! First, let’s just take a moment to appreciate the beautiful design of this award. I’m very humbled by this award and I just want to thank both of my nominators. I was nominated by Anasylvia from bibliosa and Anastasia from Read & Survive. Both of them have amazing book blogs, so go check them out.

The rules for this award are:

1. Thank and link the amazing person who nominated you.
2. List the rules and display the award.
3. Share seven facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
5. Optional: Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

7 Facts About Me:

1. I don’t watch much TV nowadays, but when I do, it’s mostly series. Some of my favourite TV series are Gilmore Girls, Pushing Daisies, Bones, Castle.

2. I adore Miyazaki films, my favourite being Spirited Away. Howl’s Moving Castle is a close second.

3. Snakes freak me out. I hate them. It’s irrational, but I just can’t even stand to look at a picture of a snake.

4. One of my dreams is to move and work abroad after graduation. I haven’t planned where I’d go; however, I was quite charmed by Berlin during my last trip.

5. My favourite season is spring. Although I do like the warmth and sunshine that comes with summer, I like spring because it is the season when the nature awakens, plants start growing and there’s more light.

6. I am very much a fan of libraries. Some of you might have noticed that most of the books I review in this blog are from the library. Here in Finland every city and municipality has to have a public library, and to becoming a membership is basically free. There are no limitations on how many books you can borrow, but if you don’t return your books on time, you’ll be fined. I’m a heavy user of this state service mainly because my budget would not support my reading habits and because I’m already running out of shelf space.

7. One of the funniest things I discovered during my exchange in the UK was Berger & Wyse. They do comics about food, and it is hilarious. They do a regular feature on The Guardian.

The 14 Bloggers Who Inspire Me:

There are many blogs and bloggers who inspire me, so it is rather hard to edit it down to just 14. Thus, I decided embrace inspiration by including also a few blogs that are not written in English or that don’t primarily discuss books. This is because inspiration isn’t tied down to specific settings. I could be reading a blog post about a lovely country brunch which it might inspire me to read Mr. Rosenblum’s Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons.

bibliosa – Anasylvia reads a variety of different genres and usually her book reviews feature books that I might have heard of, but don’t really know anything about.

Read & Survive – Amanda is a fellow Finnish book blogger who also writes her reviews in English. I love her ‘survival’ take on book reviews and I find her posts very entertaining.

Turning Pages and Tea – Emma started blogging around the same time as I did and her book reviews always feature interesting points about the book that I might have missed myself. We both love North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, and might be doing a small Gaskell read-along in the future.

Iris on Books – Iris’ book blog was one of the first book blogs that I started following when I joined WordPress. I enjoy her style of writing and have discovered many books through her blog.

Exploring Classics – Fariba was the one who suggested that I join the read-along to read Moby-Dick during the summer, and if it hadn’t been for her, I don’t know if I could have ever picked up that monster of a book. Nevertheless, I’m glad I did. Fariba occasionally blogs about French classics, and has inspired me to broaden my knowledge of French literature.

Eye of Lynx – kainzow is one of the most inspirational readers I know. He reads mostly classics, and really analyzes them in his posts. It’s always a pleasure to read his reviews of books that I’ve also read and compare my thoughts with his.

Sunny Sweet Pea – I first discovered Jenny through her BookTube videos, but I do also adore her blog. We have a slightly similar taste in books, and it’s funny

Cook’s Reviews – I discovered Heather’s blog around the time when she nominated me for Liebster Award, and I love her mix of both book and movie reviews. I’m a bit lazy on the movie front, but her blog has made me add some classic films to my to-be-watched list.

Diverses & Avariées – I discovered Alexandra also through BookTube. Her blog is in French, and although my French is not all that good, I really love reading her blog posts. Similarly to Fariba, Alexandra has also inspired me to read more French fiction.

Luettua – Sanna is a Finnish book blogger whose blog I’ve followed quite a while. She posts regularly about the latest Finnish fiction as well as newest translations. Before discovering Bloglovin’, I used to go through her sidebar to spot new book blogs.

52 books or bust – Tanya’s blog is a rather recent find for me, but I’ve discovered new books through her and her blog has inspired me to read more literary fiction.

Books Speak Volumes – Leah’s blog is very inspiring, and participating in her Jazz-Age January event, I met so many new bloggers as well as got introduced to many new authors.

RonLit – I only recently discovered her Youtube channel but I love her videos and her style of discussing different themes in literature. It has made me wish to take more English literature courses as well as reread some classics.

Les! Lue! – Norwegian literature in Finnish, Finnish literature in Norwegian. This the motto of Reeta, a Finnish expat living in Norway. She posts reads and reviews books in both Norwegian and Finnish, highlighting the best of both countries. I can’t really read Norwegian, but the Finnish posts are interesting and I’ve discovered many new books through her blog.

Note: There’s no pressure to do the tag. Some of you might have already been nominated, and some might not be into doing these tags. No worries. I simply enjoy sharing your blog and the inspiration that I’ve received from you.

June Reads and July Plans

Hello readers!

After a few busy spring months, it seems I’ve found refuge in reading – not that I’m complaining. I read a total of 8 books in June which is just crazy. Granted, I’ve had more time to read and most of the books were under 300 pages, but still – 8 books! In June, I took part in the Blogistania 24h readathon which was awesome. I had a blast racing against time and interacting with other participants through Twitter, and I hope that I’ll be able to do it again in July. I also announced that I’m taking part in the Moby-Dick read-along in June and July. I’m very much behind, but if you want to see how others have progressed, I suggest you go check out Alex’s post in Roof Beam Reader.

In June, I also posted about the Penguin Cup and about my progress in my Tove100 challenge. I also got nominated twice for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award, which I’m very grateful for. I’ll try to write that post as soon as I can. Otherwise my month included a bit of traveling, a lot of fun times with friends, eating ice cream outside, and enjoying the summery feeling – even though the weather hasn’t been that warm.

Books read in June:

June saw me read two Finnish books that fall under the ‘chick-lit’ category. Once upon a time I was a rather avid reader of this genre, but today books of this genre tend to end up being disappointments. For long, Lehtinen has been my go-to author for entertaining, not-too-serious type of reading and I devoured many of her young adult books as a teenager. I enjoy her sense of humour and style of writing as well as the detail of research she does to construct a variety of characters with different backgrounds. However, her latest releases have fallen below her normal level, and whilst reading, I found myself skipping a few paragraphs here and there. I guess I’m out-growing her books, and it’s time to take some distance. I rated both Suklaapolkuja and Tuhansien aamujen talo 2/5.

I also finally finished Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks. The book is based on his own adventure in 1997, which starts with a drunken bet that he can hitchhike round Ireland in 30 days – with a fridge. I started reading this back in April and read most of it during May, but got distracted after the trip to Berlin. So after reading the two above-mentioned books, and not feeling like picking up Moby-Dick, I ended up finishing this one. And it was funny. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t rock my world. At times it tended to go off tangent in the description of some of the sights, and towards the end, the writing started to feel a bit rushed. However, if you ever want to travel to Ireland or just read what it was like the 90’s, then this might be your book. 3/5 stars

Books I plan to read in July:

  • Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (currently-reading)
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
  • Pikku Pietarin Piha by Aapeli (Finnish)
  • Letters from Klara and Other Stories by Tove Jansson
  • As White As Snow by Salla Simukka

Due to the huge amount of books that I read in June, I decided not to limit my TBR list. We’ll see how many of these I’ll eventually get through. The Moby-Dick read-along continues until July 15th, and since I haven’t so far posted about my thoughts, here goes: Moby-Dick is epic. Besides being a great adventure across wild seas, it is also Melville’s collection of short essays discussing sex, race, religion, privilege, etc. These are interwoven into the story along with references to the Bible, which makes this a book that requires a lot of thought. I might not finish this in time with the read-along, but I will do it by the end of summer.

My TBR contains 7 other books, one of them being Tess of d’Urbervilles which I picked up in Berlin. After that I have The Kite Runner which everyone is recommending. My latest library visit brought me two books which I’m very excited about: The Cuckoo’s Calling because JKR, and The Handmaid’s Tale which many people have read and loved. I’ve also added some Finnish fiction to the list, because I’ve been slacking on that front. Pikku Pietarin Piha (eng. Little Peter’s Yard) is a collection of causeries that examines the lives of the people from the eyes of a small boy. Letters from Klara and Other Stories will be the third book in my Tove100 challenge. And finally, the second part in the Snow White trilogy, As White As Snow by Salla Simukka. If anyone is wondering: yes, I’m reading them in Finnish, and no, I’m not sure if that will be the translated title.

That’s it for now. Let me know if you’ve read any of these books, or if you have suggestions on which TBR book I should start with. Happy reading!