June Reads and 20 Books of Summer

Happy summer, readers!

June marked the beginning of my summer, expect that nobody seemed to have told Mother Earth that it was time to crank up those temperatures. Oh well, the dreary and rainy days definitely gave me enough encouragement to read and the month was filled with many amazing books. Oh man, the books. Lately I had been reading a lot of OK-but-not-really-amazing-nor-mindblowing books and, aside from a few glimmers of brilliance, I felt a bit underwhelmed with my reading. I guess it was all down to picking the right book – and especially the beginning of June introduced MANY that were beyond amazing.

In total, I read 11 books in June (with the exception of Dracula which I finished this morning) and signed up for two reading challenges: Books on the Nightstand Summer Bingo and 20 Books of Summer (see below). 11 books is a lot to me, and I do not expect to achieve that again – mainly because July will be a busier month and I have some real chunksters on my TBR. In July I will take a break from my dear local library and focus on tackling the books on my shelves. I have formed a bad habit of taking out too many books from the library and then prioritizing them over my own books, which is why I feel that I should probably take a little break and show some love to my personal collection. And as I’m once again heading to Berlin, I expect a slight (hopefully very small) growth in the collection.

Books read in June:

I do plan on writing full reviews for most of these books, but Saving Wishes by G.J. Walker-Smith isn’t one of them. Mainly because it really wasn’t my cup of tea and I don’t have much to say about it – or should I say, I have more problems with this book than positives. The story follows a young 17-year-old girl in an Australian small town who wants to get away as soon as possible. She and her best friend have been planning on this trip for a long time when a handsome visitor enters the town. The book is a first in the series, and with all its instalove and woe-is-me-life-is-unfair, I can see some people really enjoying it. Unfortunately I am not one of them. For me it was more of an exercise in eye-rolling. If it hadn’t been my dear friend pushing me to read it, I probably would have stopped after the first two chapters. It is by far not the worst of its genre, but the story needs more work and the writing more showing, not telling. For what it’s worth, it was a quick read for a 300+ paged book. 2/5

TBR for July & August: 20 books of summer

This summer Cathy from 764 Books is hosting a reading challenge called 20 Books of Summer in which the challenge is to pick 20 books that you hope to read during the summer months. Since I am already doing the BONTS Summer Bingo challenge, I decided to pick books that would also fit to the bingo squares as well as books that have been on my TBR for some time now. The end result can be seen below. Since I posted this picture on the 10th of June, I’ve already read 6 of the 20 books, but I don’t think I’ll be able to read all of the rest in July alone. So I think it’s more appropriate to call this my combined July & August TBR. The only thing missing from the picture and the list is the complete collection of poetry and aforisms by Edith Södergran which I’ve been reading since March (I think). With poetry I feel that it serves the experience to take your time and read only a few pages at a time. I could easily rush through the rest of the collection, but I probably wouldn’t remember anything of what I was reading after a while.

20booksofsummer2015

20 Books of Summer 2015 (from bottom to top):

  • Dracula by Bram Stoker (illustrations by Becky Cloonan) ✓
  • The Egyptian by Mika Waltari ✓
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith ✓
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath ✓
  • A Girl is A Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride ✓
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan ✓
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens ✓
  • Hägring 38 by Kjell Westö
  • Kiinalainen puutarha by Markus Nummi ✓
  • The Beggar and the Hare by Tuomas Kyrö ✓
  • Tähtikirkas, lumivalkea by Joel Haahtela ✓
  • A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell ✓
  • The Tenant of Wilderfell Hall by Anne Brontë
  • The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh ✓
  • Quiet by Susan Cain (on Kindle) ✓
  • Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (on Kindle) ✓
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman (on Kindle) ✓
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer (on Kindle) ✓
  • The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (on Kindle) ✓

A lot of reviews and a progress report on my 2015 reading challenges are waiting to be written, so this shall be all for now. Happy reading and lots of sunny days wherever you are!

July Reads and August Plans

July, dear July.

I know I complained that June had been cold. So it is quite ironic that the heat of July has been almost unbearable for someone like me who is not used to hot weather. However, it has given me good excuse to sit in the shadow of my balcony and read. I read 6 books in July, and I must say that I enjoyed all of them in different ways. The selection of books was again very varied, and despite some doubts on my part, I also managed to finish Moby-Dick ( only a couple weeks after the read-along ended). In addition to book reviews, I posted my May-July book haul as well as shared some of the blog inspiration in the Very Inspiring Blogger Award post.

Aside from reading for pleasure and blogging, I’ve been working in July and studying for a book exam in politics. Nevertheless, July has been a fun months with a few summer parties, weekend trips, swimming in the lake by the summer cottage, going to see The Fault in Our Stars with friends and heading for tea and ice cream afterwards.

Books read in July:

I blogged about most of the books I read in July (and I still do plan on reviewing As White As Snow), but I’ll quickly talk about the book that didn’t get its own review. I began the month by reading Pikku Pietarin Piha (eng. Little Peter’s Yard) which is a collection of causeries. The perspective in the book is mainly that of a young boy who spends his days in the courtyard shared by several families, and relates their lives. Peter has recently lost his mother and beside the events of the yard, the book also includes his dreams in which he talks to God about his mother, asking how she is doing “up there”. The humouristic tone of the book comes from the naïveness of the child, but there is also sadness in the conditions and struggles of the time period. This book was recently listed as one of the vital reads from the 1950s Finnish literature, and though I didn’t catch all the historical references, I enjoyed it very much. 3/5

Books on my August TBR:

  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
  • The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
  • White Hunger by Aki Ollikainen (Finnish)
  • Salo by Turkka Hautala (Finnish)
  • Kiinalainen puutarha by Markus Nummi (Finnish)

I’ve actually already read The Kite Runner, but because I finished it on August 1st, I decided to include it in the August TBR. Both The Kite Runner and Tess of the d’Urbervilles were on my July TBR, so I’ve added them into my August TBR list. Although I feel a bit hesitant to pick up bigger books so soon after Moby-Dick, I want to read the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, Storm of Swords, this month. I have high expectations because many say it is their favourite of the series. I was originally planning on including only books from my own shelves in this month’s TBR, but then I discovered that a mobile library that has a stop really close to my home. So I took a glimpse inside and saw that they had The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – I had to get it. The book is set in WWII and tells the story of a young German boy who befriends a Jewish boy trapped in a concentration camp. I’ve heard it’s one of those books that makes you cry, so I’ll try to have tissues close by for that.

As you might have noticed, there are three Finnish titles on my TBR list. I’ve lately been reading more Finnish fiction which is great because the first six months of 2014 have been awful of that account – Tove Jansson notwithstanding. And I’m enjoying it. I mean, I love reading in English and in other languages, but Finnish is my mother tongue and thus there are some things that come across better in Finnish. However, none of the Finnish books in my TBR have been translated into English (UPDATE: White Hunger was translated into English in early 2015). From what I gather, Salo is supposed to be a narrative about a small Finnish community coming to terms with the changing society (similar to Pikku Pietarin Piha – just more modern time period). White Hunger was nominated for the Finnish national literature prize in 2012, and Kiinalainen puutarha (eng. The Chinese Garden) tells of a young girl and her uncle who are running from their home in Kashgar, China.

And that is all for my July Reads and August Plans. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these books or have suggestions on what I should read first. Happy reading! x

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!