Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Review: Lydia Bennet's Story by Jane Odiwe

Description (from Goodreads):
In Lydia Bennet's Story we are taken back to Jane Austen's most beloved novel, Pride and Prejudice, to a Regency world seen through Lydia's eyes where pleasure and marriage are the only pursuits. Lydia's dream of following the regiment to the fashionable resort of Brighton comes true, she is soon the darling of all the officers and tempted not only by a handsome royal dragoon, but drawn to the irresistible charms of one already well known to her. But the road to matrimony is fraught with difficulties and even when she is convinced that she has met the man of her dreams, she quickly discovers that her hero is not the man she believes him to be. Before long his reputation has her running back to Hertfordshire to be reunited with Bennets, Bingleys and Darcys, meeting once again for a grand ball at Netherfield Park. Will she resolve her problems to find happiness or will the shocking truth about her husband cause the greatest scandal of all?

My thoughts: 
First I have to mentio that I've never really liked Lydia. In Pride and Prejudice she is annoying, stupid and reckless character who just cares about having fun and spending time with the officers. After reading this book by Jane Odiwe I have to admit that I started to see Lydia in a different light. Odiwe portrays one of the most annoying characters of Austen's Pride and Prejudice in a light that makes her likeable, even lovable. 

Odiwe's story is divided into two parts; part 1 is concentrated on the happenings in Meryton and Brigton. The actions portrayed in Austen's Pride and Prejudice are told through Lydia and what happened to her. Part 2 continues the story of Pride and Prejudice and tells what happened after the point Austen ended her story. So, 'Lydia Bennet's Story' is partly retelling of Austen's Pride and Prejudice, partly a sequel to it. 

In the first part of the book, we get to know how Lydia fell in love with Mr. Wickham and how their relationship developed. Lydia is still that silly young girl who only cares about getting married before her older sisters. She runs away with Mr. Wickham and gets married with him because she honestly believes that he is in love with her. 

The second part of the book opens the relationship of Lydia and Wickham more widely to the reader. Lydia learns that Wickham has a relationship outside the marriage. She, of course, gets really upset, because she has really believed that Wickham loves her. While reading the second part of the book I really started to feel bad for Lydia. She grows as a person and understands that his love is not directed to her and that he married her only because he was forced to do so. 

During a ball at Netherfield, Wickham appears to the place looking like a begger. A great scandal from Wickham's past is revealed and Lydia notices that Wickham is totally different man that she thought him to be. Lydia is not sure will she ever be able to love again after a disappointment she has experienced with Wickham. Luckily a brother of Lydia's friend helps her to recover from the bangs of disappointment and offers her a new change to love again.

Almost every chapter of the book includes a diary entry from Lydia. From these diary entries it is evitable to Lydia grows as a person. I personally liked the second part of the book better because it introduced new characters and because from it, it is evident how Lydia grows as a person and learns from her past mistakes.

Jane Odiwe has also written a novel called 'Willoughby's Return: A Tale of Almost Irresistible Temptation' which is a sequel to Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and 'Effusions of Fancy' which is a nice little book consisting beautiful pictures from the life of Jane Austen. Odiwe is currently working on a novel called "Mr. Darcy's Secret" which will be published during the Spring 2011. 

Check out Jane's beautiful website from here and her blog from here.

Book Review: Jane Austen's Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades & Horrible Blunders by Josephine Ross

"This little guide is the oucome, ultimately, of a correspondence between the Authoress of several novels, including Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park, and her eldest niece - Anna Austen, of Steventon Rectory, in Hampshire."

Published: October 3, 2006 by Bloomsbury USA
Illustrations by Henrietta Webb

Description (from Goodreads):
Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners is a light-hearted, insightful handbook written as if intended for her original Regency Era readers, and illustrated throughout with beautiful watercolors. When Anna, Jane Austen’s young niece, sent her a novel for “literary comment,” Jane loved everything about it, except its utter disregard for the manners of the day. The resulting and tender correspondence between the two serves as the foundation for this instructional book.
Etiquette and social behavior of the early 1800s come to life in lovely chapters teaching one on how to pay and return formal “calls,” how to properly refuse a proposal of marriage, who should lead off the dancing at a country-house ball, and what to wear for a morning walk. Jane Austen used these daily customs and niceties to brilliantly illuminate the cloistered world of high society women in her timeless novels. Now with this delightful handbook of correct social behavior, readers will learn just why Mrs. Bennet of Pride and Prejudice couldn’t call alone on her new, rich, bachelor neighbor and had to force the reluctant Mr. Bennet to do so…even as he uttered “Tis an etiquette I despise.”
An indispensable gift for any Austen fan, this beautiful book will prove irresistible to anyone wishing to go back in time to the atmosphere of their favorite Austen novels.

My thoughts:
The ones that I've been following my posts frequently already know that I am doing this school essay called EE (extended essay) about a topic related to Jane Austen. At this point my research question is: What was the role of dance during the time and life of Jane Austen and how does it affect the relationships and plot of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Emma? Because of this essay, I ordered several different books related to Jane Austen and dance (you can see the other books from my latest IMM post.)

This little guide to good manners was a light and fast read. It has some beautiful illustrations by Henrietta Webb. Those illustrations make the reading even more pleasing. Even though I've done different types of research about Jane Austen for years now, and I already knew something about the manners of the society, it was interesting to read this book, since it highlights some advices Miss Jane Austen herself gave to her niece about how to act in the society.

Since I first time read Pride and Prejudice I have wanted to build a time machine so I could travel back in time to 19th century. The world Jane Austen's novels portray is the world I dream about. I know there were many negative things in the society of that time, and all and all, in the life of the people. But the way Jane Austen portrays the society has made me fall in love with it, and I have become extremely interested about the history of Jane Austen herself and about the society of her time. 

For me, the most useful part of this book, considering my essay, is 'Dancing and Dining'. The other sections of this book are 'Manners makyth Man- and Woman', 'The Forms of Introduction', ' Calling and Conversation', 'Dress and Taste', 'The Subject of Matrimony', 'The Family Circle' and 'The Assistance of Servants'. 

The ideal society I would love to live in would be the mixture of Jane Austen's society and the society we live in right now. I would love to attend formal balls, learn how to sing and dance properly, live in a big country house or manor and ride horse carriages. But I would not want to say goodbye to proper shower, computer, cell phone and the fact that I can wear jeans and short dresses. What I really would love to get from Jane Austen's society to the current society is the manners and respect. I want guys to act like gentlemen, not like animals. I want young people to show respect for older people. I think that the current society is slipping at those things.

I recommend this little book to every fan of Jane Austen, especially at those who are not yet so familiar with the society Jane Austen's novels talk about. This is a delighful addition into my collection of Jane Austen related titles.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Book Review: Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter

There are so many of these Pride and Prejudice spinoffs that you really cannot keep count with them. Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter is one of them. It is a story about life, love and most importantly dating literature's ultimate hottie, Mr. Darcy. 

Emily Albright from New York has got some horribly dates. She is getting desperate. She decides that everything is over between her and modern-day life dating. She rather just curls up at sofa, takes out her favorite novel, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and starts reading about the man of her dreams, Mr. Darcy. When her best friend suggest a wild party trip to Mexico with the girls, Emily decides to travel to England for a guided tour of Jane Austen's country. 

The trip is not like she expected. The bus is filled with giggling old ladies and only one men, Spike Hargreaves, a journalist writing an article about why Mr. Darcy has earned the title of the most desired men of the world. 

At points the story gets all supernatural when Emily suddenly meets Mr. Darcy himself. Darcy is broodinly handsome and the first time Emily sees him he rides across the field in a damp shirt which clings to his chest. (lol) All this supernaturality and the fact that at points Emily and Darcy start to speak the words Elizabeth and Darcy speak in Pride and Prejudice just made me laugh, not in a good way. 

Emily starts to question that is Mr. Darcy really the man he wants, or is someone else, perhaps Spike, more her type. Eventually Emily stops dreaming about Mr. Darcy because he is fantasy and settles for something else.

Okay, the idea of this novel is... okay? But otherwise, it was pretty much a mess to be honest. The beginning of the novel was okay, the ending so so, but otherwise, it was pretty much wasting my time. The name of the novel made me all interested about it, even the synopsis at the cover was okay, but as a novel, this was a disappointment for me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book Review: All that Mullarkey by Sue Moorcroft

Description (from Goodreads):
Revenge and love: it's a thin line... The writing's on the wall for Cleo and Gav. The bedroom wall, to be precise. And it says 'This marriage is over.' Wounded and furious, Cleo embarks on a night out with the girls, which turns into a glorious one night stand with... Justin, centrefold material and irrepressibly irresponsible. He loves a little wildness in a woman and he's in the right place at the right time to enjoy Cleo's. But it is Cleo who has to pick up the pieces of a marriage based on a lie and the lasting repercussions of that night. Torn between laid-back Justin and control freak Gav, she s a free spirit that life is trying to tie down. But the rewards are worth it!

My thoughts:
Cleo and Gav. Gav and Cleo. In the eyes of their friends, they are the perfect couple with a perfect marriage. And that is what they both also believed. When Cleo finds the writing from their bedroom wall, everything changes. "This marriage is over". The writing on the wall drives hurt Cleo into a one night stand with Justin. Will Justin remain as a one night stand, or will he become something more?

Justin, good looking and charming. He meets up with Cleo at the local night club. A night of chatting and dancing turns up into a night at him bedroom. Right after the action he notices that they forgot something important. Protection. 

Gav. He has a secret of his own he tries to hide from his wife. Cleo, the love of his life. At least he believes so. The worries he hides from his wife changes him. After confessing his secret for Cleo, he hears that the wife he thought was so perfect, has a secret of her own, a secret which changes their life. Can their marriage survive what has happened? Will they get a second chance?

Hearts are broken, secrets are revealed, and lifes change. With will Cleo do when she has to face the consequences of the one night stand? How far is Gav ready to go in order to get her wife back? And will Justin turn out to be something more than just a one night stand? 

I read 'Starting Over' by Sue Moorcroft a while ago and enjoyed it a lot. This book did not turn out to be a disappointment either. All the way from the beginning I started to like Cleo. She is independent and she does not hesitate to say what she thinks. He is compassionate and caring and calm, but she also has a wild side. Justin, a bit of a bad boy, has a one night stand with her, which eventually turns out to something more complex. 

All and all, All That Mullarkey was a enjoyable, fast read. Moorcroft's characters are interesting, and the plot keeps moving smoothly. After reading 'All That Mullarkey' and 'Starting Over', I must say that Sue Moorcroft has definitely become one of my favorite authors. Her writing style is very engaging, you just have to keep going. 

I want to thank Choc Lit publishing for sending me a review copy of this book. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Review: Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

Description (from Goodreads):
For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human ... until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

My thoughts:
Since this novel was published, I've seen it everywhere around blogsphere. Seriously, everywhere. It of course catched my attention, but I never reacted like "OMG, I JUST NEED TO READ THAT BOOK ASAP". When I saw that the Finnish translation of this book was coming to the collection of the local library, I decided to give it a try. 

Grace has been watching a certain wolf for the last six years. This is the wolf who saved her from the forest when she was still a child. It is her wolf. One day a boy appears to Grace's door. When Grace sees the eyes of this boy, she knows that he is her wolf, the one she has been watching for the last 6 years, the one she has been obsessed about, the one she cannot live without. 

Sam has been living a two lifes; during the summer he is Sam, a human, during winters, he is a wolf. The winter is coming and Sam cannot understand why he is still in the form of a human. When the weather gets colder and colder, he has to fight not to be transformed into a wolf. Now, when he has met Grace, the girl he has been watching for the forest for the last six years, he is ready to everything to stay as human. 

I really liked this book. I really did. At Goodreads I gave it five stars. One major complain I have is the fact that I had to read this one in Finnish and the tranlation sucked big time. Seriously, I am not even going to go there since I could write thousands of words about the horrible translation. I really need to get this one in English, since I really want to read the whole amaziness again.

I really like the character of Grace. She has been basically raising herself all the way from her childhood. She has a good relationship with her parents, but they seem more like her friends than her guardians. She likes reading and she is interested about the wolfes of the forest behind her house. Rachel and Olivia, her best friends, know about her obsession for the wolves and somewhat also share the interest. As the story progresses, the reader gets to know more about Grace's friends, especially about Olivia. The death of Jack Culpeper, a boy from Grace's school, ravishes the whole school. But is Jack really death? Isabel, Jack's sister, knows that Grace knows something. But what?

Love between Grace and Sam is something special. They've had connection for a long time, and when Grace meets Sam as a human, it feels like all the pieces of the puzzle are put into their right places. One reason why I really want to read this novel in English is the fact that there were some poetry and songs Sam told to Grace, and I really want to read those in English. Especially in those, the Finnish translation sucked.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater was a lot better I expected it to be. I can't wait to get my hands into Linger. I am definitely going to read that one in English, the Finnish translation of Linger will be published in 2011. 

This is the first novel written by Maggie Stiefvater published in Finnish, so it is her Finnish deput. Because of that, I can use it in the deput author challenge hosted by Kristi@the Story Siren.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Review: The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier

Description (from Goodreads):
A world of possibilities opens up for Joy Harkness when she sets out on a journey that’s going to show her the importance of friendship, love, and what makes a house a home

Coming-of-age can happen at any age. Joy Harkness had built a university career and a safe life in New York, protected and insulated from the intrusions and involvements of other people. When offered a position at Amherst College, she impulsively leaves the city, and along with generations of material belongings, she packs her equally heavy emotional baggage. A tumbledown Victorian house proves an unlikely choice for a woman whose family heirlooms have been boxed away for years. Nevertheless, this white elephant becomes the home that changes Joy forever. As the restoration begins to take shape, so does her outlook on life, and the choices she makes over paint chips, wallpaper samples, and floorboards are reflected in her connection to the co-workers who become friends and friendships that deepen. A brilliant, quirky, town fixture of a handyman guides the renovation of the house and sparks Joy’s interest to encourage his personal and professional growth. Amid the half-wanted attention of the campus’s single, middle-aged men, known as “the Coyotes,”and the legitimate dramas of her close-knit community, Joy learns that the key to the affection of family and friends is being worthy of it, and most important, that second chances are waiting to be discovered within us all.

My thoughts: 
The reader is introduced to Joy, a 48-year old women from New York. She has built an impressive career and she is successful, but along other people, she do not know how she should act. She got married when she was young, but after couple of years of the marriage, she divorced and moved from St. Louis to New York City. She moved to the city with big dreams. She had always dreamed about her life in New York, but when she got there, she realized that it is nothing like she dreamed about. She goes on years, just by doing her job and not getting to know people. When she is offered a job from Amherst College, Massachusetts, she leaves the city and begins a journey which changes her life.

Without much of a thought, Joy buys a Victorian House, which is on a bad condition. My bad, I really mean bad. Everyone in the city recommend her to call to Teddy Hennessy, a handyman who has specialized on renovating Victorian houses. Teddy renovates the house, and at the same time, makes it feel like home. Sooner or later, Joy notices, that without Teddy, the house does not feel like home. But it is not that easy, even though they both are adults. Teddy is utterly blind when it comes to his possissive mother. Can Teddy start a life of his own or will he be ruled by his mother? What can Joy do to make Teddy choose her?

Even though Joy is a lot older than me, I was somewhat able to identify with her. She is not a very social person. She likes to be on her own, read novels and poetry. She does not know how to act with children, I get the sense that she does not even like them that much. I had to pick this part from the book which was totally hilarious and reminded me of myself:

I was left with four little girls, and I was on my own. 
"Okay," I said, searching for suitable subjects to discuss, "who likes Jane Austen?" This was met with complete silence. 
Jackie, the oldest and the most sophiscated of the girls, looked at me with furrowed brow, as though she couldn't quite remember. "Who is she?"

When Joy moves to Amherst, her life changes. First she feels that other people are trying to push themselves into her life. She feels like she just wants to be on her own, like she did in NYC. But when she gets to know these people better; Josie and Fran from her work, people from her work project and the other people of the town, she notices that she actually likes them, and eventually she starts to see them as her family. It is interesting to follow how Joy changes and in a way grows up throuhg the time she spends with these new people who eventually take an important place in her life.

I really liked this novel. It made a difference to my current reading. I've been mostly reading YA novelsrecently, and this definitely wasn't YA novel. This is one of those books I would love to give to my mother and tell her to read it. Too bad she does not read novels in English. I recommend this novel especially to women at the age of Joy, the narrator of this novel but for others too. If you come by this novel, you definity should give it a try.

I want to thank Jason Liebman from Henry Holt and Company for providing me a review copy of this gorgeous novel.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Book Review: The Importance of Being Emma by Juliet Archer

Description (from Goodreads):
Mark Knightley - handsome, clever, rich - is used to women falling at his feet. Except Emma Woodhouse, who's like part of the family - and the furniture. When their relationship changes dramatically, is it an ending or a new beginning? Emma's grown into a stunningly attractive young woman, full of ideas for modernising her family business. Then Mark gets involved and the sparks begin to fly. It's just like the old days, except that now he's seeing her through totally new eyes. While Mark struggles to keep his feelings in check, Emma remains immune to the Knightley charm. She's never forgotten that embarrassing moment when he discovered her teenage crush on him. He's still pouring scorn on all her projects, especially her beautifully orchestrated campaign to find Mr Right for her ditzy PA. And finally, when the mysterious Flynn Churchill - the man of her dreams - turns up, how could she have eyes for anyone else? With its clueless heroine and entertaining plot, this modern re-telling of Jane Austen's "Emma" stays true to the original, while giving fresh insights into the mind of its thoroughly updated and irresistible hero.

My thoughts:
Emma Woodhouse is 23 years old. She is successful, beautiful, and rich. Her father owns a food company at Highbury, a little village in England. After studying marketing at universities like Harvard, Emma moves back to Highbury and starts working at her father's company. What Emma does not know when she is coming to Highbury is that her father Henry has asked Mark Knightley, Emma's teenage crush, to mentor her. Mark has been working at India for past 8 years and last time he has seen Emma she was still a silly teenager. Mark notices fast, that things have definitely changed during the 8 years of his absence.

Emma and Mark has always been like brother and sister. That is at least what they say. Emma is still embarassed about her teenage crush to Mark. When they see each other again, especially Mark notices that Emma has become gorgeous and he definitely has some un-brotherly thoughts in his mind. Emma also sees that 35 year old Mark is still as gorgeous as he was before.

Like we know from Jane Austen's Emma, Emma Woodhouse likes to do matchmaking. She thinks she was the one who matched Tom Weston and Kate Taylor. Kate worked for Henry's company, but after she got married she stopped working. To replace Kate Henry hires Harriet Smith, a pretty but a little bit silly girl. Emma sees Harriet as a project and she starts to match Harriet with Philip Elton who works for the Finance at Highbury Foods. Quite fast Emma notices that Harriet is not the one Philip has his eyes for.

Flynn Churchill, the son of Tom Weston is a legend at Highbury. Everyone is talking about him but nobody has really met him. When he finally arrives to Highbury, Emma believes that he is the man of her dreams. Quite fastly she notices that he is not the one for her, but she still thinks of him as her friend.

A night after Highbury Food's party something important happens between Emma and Mark. The next morning they both try to make the actions of last night look un-important, but in the end they both know that what happened was really important and unforgettable. When they clear their heads by avoiding each other they notice that they are the one's for each other.

As a lover of Jane Austen I just had to pick this up when I saw it at the bookstore while I was in London. And I must say that I really enjoyed it (it was among the top 10 books I read in 2009).  It is funny, romantic, exciting and it had a gorgeous guy, Mark Knightley, on it. What else could I wish for?

Currently Juliet Archer is writing a book called 'Persuade Me' which is a 21st century version of Jane Austen's Persuasion. It will be published later this year. You can read the prologue and first chapter of the novel from here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book Review: An Ideal Husband by Oscar Wilde

Description (from Goodreads):
A dazzling blend of farce and morality, this play explores human frailty and social hypocrisy. Sir Robert Chilton's secret is discovered and exposed. He is accused of having exploited government secrets for his own gain early in his political career. With this revelation from Mrs. Cheveley comes the threat of blackmail and the ruin of Sir Robert's career. Yet in order to be a successful blackmailer, one's own reputation must be beyond reproach.

My thoughts:
I bought this while I was in London and read this a while ago for the first time. Currently I've read for like 4 times. Reason for that is the fact that I am going to direct this play next fall. 

The Importance of being Earnest was familiar play for me when we started to discussing about doing 'An Ideal Husband' as a play. When I read this for the first time I right away knew that this would work well. There are many interesting characters and the relationships between them are complex and interesting to follow.

Sir Robert Chiltern is a successful and respected man in the Victorian Society of London. He is the under-secretary of Foreign Affairs and whatever he does turns into profit. His wife, Lady Chiltern, idolizes her husband and keeps him in a high pedestal. When Mrs. Cheveley, a woman from Lady Chiltern's, and suprisingly also from Sir Robert's past, comes to London she causes some problems to the ideal life of Lady Chiltern and Sir Robert.

Mrs. Cheveley knows a secret from Sir. Robert's past which could destroy the entire career of Sir Robert. She blackmails Sir.Robert and promises to declare his secret to the public is he does not do what she says. Lord Goring, a dandy bachelor, is prepared to help his friend Sir Robert and he knows exactly how he will do it. 

When Lady Chiltern hears about dark past of Sir.Robert she declares that she cannot love her husband anymore. She feels deceived and hurt, she has lost her Ideal Husband. Luckily Lord Goring does the right actions in this case too. Can Lady Chiltern forgive her husband? Can she love him as she loved him before? Is Sir Robert's career destroyed? Does Mrs. Cheveley get want she wants? Can Lord Goring save the day? Read 'An Ideal Husband' and find out.

I am so looking for to work with this play. One of the things I especially love about this play is the fact that it takes place in the high society of Victorian London. I can't wait to see all the costumes and other stuff we will have for this play. I will probably update the progess as it goes on. 

Has anyone seen 'An Ideal Husband' performed as play? Has anyone seen the movie?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Book Review: Purge by Sofi Oksanen

Description (from Goodreads):
Soon to be published in twenty-five languages, Sofi Oksanen’s award-winning novel Purge is a breathtakingly suspenseful tale of two women dogged by their own shameful pasts and the dark, unspoken history that binds them.

When Aliide Truu, an older woman living alone in the Estonian countryside, finds a disheveled girl huddled in her front yard, she suppresses her misgivings and offers her shelter. Zara is a young sex-trafficking victim on the run from her captors, but a photo she carries with her soon makes it clear that her arrival at Aliide’s home is no coincidence. Survivors both, Aliide and Zara engage in a complex arithmetic of suspicion and revelation to distill each other’s motives; gradually, their stories emerge, the culmination of a tragic family drama of rivalry, lust, and loss that played out during the worst years of Estonia’s Soviet occupation.

Sofi Oksanen establishes herself as one the most important voices of her generation with this intricately woven tale, whose stakes are almost unbearably high from the first page to the last. Purge is a fiercely compelling and damning novel about the corrosive effects of shame, and of life in a time and place where to survive is to be implicated.

My thoughts:
Wow. For the first time in a long time I can honestly say that I am proud about being Finnish and proud about the fact that I speak language such as Finnish as my mother tongue.

After winning the Finlandia Prize (the most prestigious literary award in Finland, awarded to the best fiction book, best children's book and best non-fiction book, 30,000 euros) Sofi Oksanen has been everywhere. Literally. She is in the news, in the newspapers, everywhere. Probably a week after she won the prize I got totally annoyed of her and her praised novel, Purge (Puhdistus). I did not know what the novel was about, and I did not even want to know.

Like you can probably guess from my previous paragraph, I had a huge amount of negative expectations towards this novel. I visit the bookstores weekly and every week this novel has been on the "most sold" shelf. Now when I broke my ankle and I am just spending time at home, I told my mother to bring me it from the library. I was too curious to pass it.

I am so happy that I overlooked my negative taughts and read this book. All the way from the beginning of the book I knew that I would like it. The way Oksanen uses the Finnish language (yes, I read this in Finnish, which is really rare, since I mostly read in English) is amazing. I did not even know you can use it like that without making it hard to understand. I would love if you would have a change to read this in Finnish too, but probably the translation is pretty good as well. I saw the English copy of this novel at the local bookstore, maybe I buy it at some point and read it since this is definitely one of those books I will want to go back to.

The Purge tells a story through the eyes and thoughts of three different characters. Aliide Truu is a elderly woman living alone in the Estonian coutryside. One day she notices a body of a girl laying on her yard. The girl, Zara, is in need of help. She has left from her home to the West, to Germany, in hope of a money for studying. The work that was promised to her turned out to be something very different she thought, and she notices that she is working as a prostitute for an employee who is ready to do anything to keep her working. Aliide decides decides to help her and by seeing a photo Zara carries around she discovers that it is not by coincidence that Zara popped out to her yard. 

As the story develops, the past of both characters, Aliide and Zara, is opened to the reader. Aliide's youth, her love to her sister's husband Hans and the acts she was ready to do in order make him love her are described wividly. Zara's past is told as it is, violent and disturbing. What I really liked about this was the fact that the sexual abuse Zara experienced was told without hesitation. It really opened my eyes about the situation Zara was in. The novel also introduces us to Hans, who through his journal entries opens up his story. I think that the journal entries were a great addition to this novel since otherwise the story is about the situation of women. By reading the journal entries by Hans we get to know what was going on in a man's head.

The disturbing harshes of the lifes of these two women, the despair of Hans in losing this wife and daughter, the passionate love of Aliide towards Hans and Zara's hope of better future make this story a breathtaking read. It opens up the Estonian history by introducing us to there three very different personalities who have a deep connection between them.

It is hard to define how wonderful this book was by using words. You just have to read it by yourself. I cannot believe I am actually saying this about a Finnish book. I think this is actually the first Finnish novel I ever review to my blog. So that shows you how much Finnish literature I read. I am so happy this book will be published on different languages, since I want others to have a change to read this amazing novel about passionate love, despair, shame, history, the need for home and the want to be free.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (#1)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill@Breaking the Spine. It allows us to introduce some upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

The Infernal Devices: Clockwork Angel Book 1 by Cassandra Clare
Published by Margaret K. McElderry
Published: 06 September 2010
Description (from Book Depository):
It was London, 1878. Sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray's priority should be finding her brother, not falling in love, especially with two boys. She is soon caught in a dangerous love triangle where a wrong decision could prove fatal. Tessa will need all her strength to save her brother and stay alive.

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares
Published by Riverhead Books
Published: 24 June 2010
Description (from Book Depository):
Daniel tells me that he's always loved me. That I feel the same. That I always have. Not just in this life, but in my last life, and all my lives before. But I don't remember him. He says he is always searching for me. Always hoping that one day I will remember. But it is only he that carries the memory of our love. I know that finding true love is never easy. Perhaps you have fought for it. Perhaps, like Daniel, you have endured the pain of it being unrequited. But I hope your quest ends happily. I hope you never have to face the heartbreak that inevitably awaits us. This is our extraordinary, unforgettable story.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Published: October 12, 2010
Description (from B&N):
BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.

PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.

Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.

Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart. 
The Secret Diary of Ashley Juergens by Ashley Juergens
Published by Hyperion
Published: June 15, 2010
Description (from B&N):
I got called into Principal Miller's office again. She handed me a notebook. This notebook. She told me keeping a journal is an excellent way to express oneself. So I have to write in this stupid thing and turn it in at the end of each month.
Little does she know what she's in for. With everything that's been going on—Amy's band camp pregnancy, my parents' divorce, a secret wedding—it's practically one- stop shopping for all your Grant High gossip needs.
Property of Ashley Juergens. Read at your own risk (especially you, Amy).

Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Review: The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees

Description (from Goodreads):
Young and beautiful Violetta may be of royal blood, but her kingdom is in shambles when she arrives in London on a mysterious mission. Her journey has been long and her adventures many, but it is not until she meets the playwright William Shakespeare that she gets to tell the entire story from beginning to end. Violetta and her comic companion, Feste, have come in search of an ancient holy relic that the evil Malvolio has stolen from their kingdom. But where will their remarkable quest—and their most unusual story—lead? In classic Celia Rees style, it is an engrossing journey, full of political intrigue, danger, and romance.

This wholly original story is spun from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and includes both folly and suspense that would make the Bard proud.

My thoughts: One of my favorite free-time activities is to surf on the database of my city's library. From there you can see all the different books they have on the different libraries of this city. The Fool's Girl was among the new books which had arrived to the library. What I love is the fact that you are able to pick the book online and then you can fetch it from the library you want. My mother works at one of the city libraries so it is easy for me to send the books to her workplace and she then brings the books home for me. 

I think I tried to read 'Witch Girl' by Celia Rees in Finnish years ago. I never finished with it, if I remember right. The city library does not have that many YA books in English, so nowadays I am open for almost everything. And the cover of 'the Fool's Girl' looked so beautiful I just had to give a change for it. When I got it from the library I noticed that it had something to do with William Shakespeare. At that point my interest towards the book rouse hugely.

Violetta, a beautiful young girl, has traveled far away from her home from Illyria to London with a clown called Feste, her only friend at that point. They are in London with a great task. Violette wants to get back an object which belongs to her, the Duchess of Illyria, and to her country. Without that object she is not able to save her country from the hands of her enemies. She seeks out help from William Shakespeare, a playwright and actor, working at London. Violetta tells her story for Will. Will feels bad for the young girl lost in a weird place for her, and decides to help her. With Will, Feste and new friends Violetta starts and adventure with a goal to earn the object back to the rightful owner. The adventure spreads from London to Stratford and all the way to Illyria. During her journey Violetta meets friends from the past, falls in love and fights for the future of her country.

I visited both Stratford-Upon-Avon and London about a month ago. At Stratford I saw 'Romeo&Juliet' performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company and at London I saw 'Macbeth' at Globe. In this book the milieu streched from London to Stratford and the characters of the book even visit Oxford, the third city I stayed at while I was in UK. It was interesting to read how Rees defines there cities during the 1600. 

The beginning of the book was quite boring and I even though about giving up with the reading. But after the boring start the book gets a lot more interesting. New characters are introduced and the story starts to built up. The presence of William Shakespeare was one of the main reasons why I kept reading this book. Like Rees says in the author's note at the end of the book, this novel introduces William Shakespeare as Will, the playwright before his success. It was interesting to read Rees's portrayal of this great man who had an impact on the whole English language. 

I suggest this book for the fans of William Shakespeare, but also for the ones who do not know anything about Shakespeare before hand. This book tells the story of Shakespeare's 'Twelth Night' in a other way, so for the lovers of Twelth Night, this is a great read. I myself haven't read 'Twelth Night' but after reading this book I think I will pick it up at some point and read it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Book Review: Starting Over by Sue Moorcroft

I want to thank Choclit publishing for sending me a review copy of this book.

Description (from goodreads):
New home, new friends, new love. Can starting over be that simple? Tess Riddell reckons her beloved Freelander is more reliable than any man - especially her ex-fiance, Olly Gray. She's moving on from her old life and into the perfect cottage in the country. Miles Rattenbury's passions - Old cars and new women! Romance - He's into fun rather than commitment. When Tess crashes the Freelander into his breakdown truck, they find that they're nearly neighbours - yet worlds apart. Despite her overprotective parents and a suddenly attentive Olly, she discovers the joys of village life and even forms an unlikely friendship with Miles. Then, just as their relationship develops into something deeper, an old flame comes looking for him ...Is their love strong enough to overcome the past? Or will it take more than either of them is prepared to give?

My thoughts: I had not been reading chick lit for a long time, so I was very happy when I received this one for review from the Choclit Publishing. Along with this I received Sue Moorcroft's second novel published by Choclit, which will be review a little bit later. 

Tess has been dumped by her fiance Olly just a couple of days before their wedding. Which makes the situation even worse is the fact that Olly dumped her through e-mail. Yes, you read right, through e-mail. After the break up Tess miscarriages Olly's child and gets really sick. After getting better she knows that she has to find a totally new environment where she can heal the wounds Olly has created. A little cottage at the countryside of England seems like the perfect place for her to get better and just to spend time by herself.

On her way to her new home Tess crashes her car and meets Miles Rattenbury, Ratty. His arrogance and meaness makes Tess dislike him instantly. When Tess gets familiar with Angel and meets her husband Pete, she notices that if she is going to be friends with Angel, she has to get along with Ratty too. The new friends, Angel's and Pete's gorgeous children and the developing friendship with Ratty make Tess fell better and for a while, she is able to forget her problems.

Suddenly Olly appears to the little English village Tess has run away by bringing new problems to Tess's life. The relationship with Ratty keeps developing into something deeper until people and secrets from Ratty's past come into the picture. Is Tess able to love Ratty despite these secrets? Is their love strong enough to go through the obstacles of their way?

All and all, Starting Over is a very niece chick lit with interesting characters. It is the perfect read for hot summer days at beach or pool or for the cold winter days in front of fireplace. It will make you laugh and cry. You will fall in love with the English countryside, with Angel's and Pete's gorgeous kids and with dark and handsome Ratty who is ready to anything in order to make Tess love him.